EARTH DAY: The 1985 Toyota AXV got 80 mpg thanks to clever design

Toyota is known leading sales of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and pioneering hybrid tech (even as early as 1977), but back in 1985 they didn’t reinvent the wheel with a new powertrain. They simply tried to build the most efficient internal-combustion automobile imaginable. That car was the Toyota AXV.

The Advance eXperimental Vehicle debuted in October 1985 at the Tokyo Motor Show. Dubbed an “Experimental Econo Vehicle,” the goal was simply to squeeze as many miles out of a gallon of dead-dinosaur juice without sacrificing space for a family of four.

Toyota accomplished this by designing a sleek and funky-futuristic exterior, said to have a Cd of just 0.26 (by comparison, a C4 Corvette had a Cd of 0.34). Slim bumpers, aero wheel covers, and tapering greenhouse helped it slice through the air. Even its door handles were flush with the bodywork. A window-in-window design (that would later appear on the Sera) minimized the airflow disruption area.

The car was said to weigh just 1,430 pounds in total. Exterior mirrors were paper thin and likely not powered. That figure was also surely helped by the fact that it used an asymmetrical design that had only one rear door. Rear passengers boarded on the right (curb) side and slipped in, saving the weight of one extra door and its associated hardware. Toyota said that the interior volume was about the same as a compact sedan of the day, too.

Powered by a 1.1-liter turbo-diesel 3-cylinder with direct injection, the car was said to return 34 km/l, which translates to an astounding 80 mpg. Obviously the car was never built, but elements of the design would appear on cars like the Starlet and Tercel hatchbacks of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

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7 Responses to EARTH DAY: The 1985 Toyota AXV got 80 mpg thanks to clever design

  1. Ant says:

    The Japanese brands had some great forward-looking concepts in the 80s and 90s – and most had a focus on small size and light weight that just doesn’t seem to be prevalent any more in new concepts, beyond the few kei-sized concepts at the Tokyo show every few years.

    Not too much longer before the Honda J-VX from 1997 becomes a JNC (“Japanese Nostalgic… Concept”). That really did preview realistic high-mpg production vehicles, given it spawned the first-gen Insight.

  2. Daniel says:

    It sounds a lot like the performance of the Daihatsu charade g100 with a 1.0 liter diesel engine, it had similar consumption records. even the form I recognize some lines.

    • Lupus says:

      Yeah, i’ve had such car also. In most Europe we calculate xL/100km. Daihatsu had the three-pot 1.0 diesel in NA and turbo form. I owned the NA and it used about 4-4,5L/100km of diesel fuel, heating oil (pupular with farmers), parrafin oil or even used edible oil after fring french-fires. ;D

  3. Papa Smurf says:

    Look at that thing! Not the kind of car you’d WANT to be seen in.

    It got 80mpg because anyone who drove it hypermiled waaaay on the outskirts of civilization!

    ***Please cue the old man muppets shame-laughing***

  4. Greyfox says:

    Where does one acquire aero wheel covers like that? I have had a look around and cant seem to find anything like that yet…

    • Greyfox says:

      Yeah, that looks similar to what the car above has. Might seem a bit silly, but I thought it might give my car that retro futuristic look. Painted black, coupled with the curvy design of the NX Coupe, might look interesting.

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