In the United States, the Cressida was also known as a "four-door Supra", because the Supra and Cressida shared the same M series straight-6 engine, had rear-wheel drive, and were both flagship cars for Toyota North America at the time. Since the introduction of the Cressida in the USA, its primary competitor has been the Nissan Maxima.
The Cressida was available worldwide in a variety of forms and engines. Available engines included the G-series I6, M-series straight-6, and R-series straight-4 gasoline engines, as well as the L series diesel straight-4.
Japanese market tastes were generally "formal" in the mid-1980s for this segment and the Cressida followed. In 1985, the Cressida, Mark II and Chaser went slightly more upright and square, when overseas trends were beginning to move toward rounded, fluid shapes.
Because of its luxurious characteristics, the Cressida is often said to have provided the inspiration for the Lexus brand, which is a separate division from Toyota.
The name Cressida was used from a William Shakespere play Troilus and Cressida.
The first generation Cressida (designated MX32) was available as a sedan, wagon, and a coupe version (which was available in Japan but not in all world markets). In Japan, it was sold as the Toyota Mark II. Standard features included air conditioning (unusual as a standard feature at the time), automatic transmission (a 5-speed manual was available), power steering, rear seat armrests, AM/FM cassette stereo with amplifier (again unusual), steel-belt radial tires, reclining front seats, and a rear window defroster. The automatic transmission was a four speed overdrive with an overdrive lockout - very unusual for that time. Power windows were optional. Soundproofing was extensive, and the Cressida was famous for being one of the quietest cars on the road at the time. The 4M-E straight-six was an SOHC unit that was both powerful and quiet, however gas mileage was somewhat of a weak point, but still better than American luxury cars of the era. Cornering was reported to be very good by standards of the times, despite a smooth ride. On the New Zealand market, where it was locally assembled and sold in a highly specified 'GL' form, the car used a 2.0 L 4-cylinder engine.