The Vista first appeared April 1982 as a nicer trim level of the second generation Toyota Camry, and was sold exclusively at a new Toyota dealership channel with the same name, Vista. The bodystyles offered were the 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback with a 5-speed manual transmission initially the only offering, with an automatic transmission introduced later in August 1982. Trim levels were the VC, VL, VE, and the VX at the top. The official name of the vehicle was the Camry Vista. A glass moonroof was available on the top level VX, with the 2S-ELU engine.
August 1983 saw the 1C-TL 1.8 L turbodiesel offered. June 1984 saw the suspension given a more sporting approach, and a DOHC 2.0 L engine was offered on the VS trim level. A DOHC engine in a front wheel drive vehicle was unusual at the time. The diesel was upgraded to 2.0 L August 1985.
The second generation Vista was first offered for sale August 1986, and unlike its higher spec cousin, the Lexus ES, the Vista was not available with a V6 engine. The 5-door hatchback was replaced with either a 4-door sedan or hardtop bodystyle, with a similar appearance and social status to the larger Mark II. The Vista continued a Toyota tradition of becoming a sportier version of a more basic sedan, and came it a GT trim level. All engines now use fuel injection exclusively.
October 1987 saw the introduction of 4WD on the 2.0 L 4S-Fi engine, mated to an automatic transmission, and the Vista Etoile used the 4S-FE engine.
This version of the Vista shares similar styling with the Windom. It was introduced July 1990. The engines available were the 3S 1.8, 2.0 and a 4S 2.0 L. The diesel engines used the 2C-T and all engines came with DOHC. Four wheel steering was also available on vehicles with the 2.0 L gasoline engine. The VX trim level was available in May 1991 with leather interior. July 1992 saw the removal of the 3S-GE engine on upper trim level vehicles, and the air conditioning refrigerant switched to R134a CFC-free instead.