The 1990s Return at Toyota; Automaker Prepares to Double Up in a Single Segment

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

What’s stopping Toyota from fielding more than one vehicle in a single class? Answer: absolutely nothing, assuming there’s sales to be had.

After unveiling three crossover concepts over the course of the calendar year, the automaker, not unsurprisingly, now says it’s going to go ahead and build one. Sure, the body might revert to something a little less showy, but the decision means Toyota diehards will soon gain more choice — and the opportunity to pass over a vehicle many reviewers find lacking.

Speaking to Motor Authority last week, Toyota Motor North America General Manager Jack Hollis confirmed a new small crossover will join the brand’s lineup within the next two to three years. “It’s like the 90s again, we can have more than one vehicle in each segment if they are different enough,” Hollis said.

Though the three concepts — FT-4X, TJ Cruiser, and last week’s FT-AC — differ greatly in outward appearance, they all appeal to buyers who are likely new to the Toyota brand. It’s also likely they’re urban and not in need of anything too large or too extreme (in terms of off-road prowess). As such, the new crossover will ride atop Toyota’s TNGA platform, which underpins several small vehicles in Toyota’s stable.

Hollis’ comments reveal where Toyota plans to position the new model. The vehicle, though front-wheel-drive based, will offer all-wheel drive, and could start under $20,000. That’s C-HR territory. The C-HR, despite its unique styling, doesn’t have much to offer buyers who sometimes traipse off the hard asphalt surface of America’s roadways. It’s front-drive-only, with a single powertrain of modest output. It also utilizes the TNGA platform.

The RAV4 on the other hand, is simply too much of a sales juggernaut for another model to get too close in terms of size and price. The new crossover will, however, influence the next-generation RAV4 and 4Runner, Hollis said.

November’s sales figures shouldn’t give Toyota much pause about adding a new crossover. Last month was the best November in both the RAV4 and 4Runner’s sales history. Year-to-date, RAV4 volume in the U.S. is already 19-percent higher than 2016’s record tally. 4Runner sales are up 15.8 percent, year-to-date, with Highlander volume over the same period is up 17.3 percent.

[Image: Toyota]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

More by Steph Willems

Join the conversation
2 of 4 comments
  • Dave M. The Outback alternates between decent design and goofy design every generation. 2005 was attractive, 2010 goofy. 2015 decent. 2020 good, but the ‘23 refresh hideous.Looking forward to the Outback hybrid in ‘26…..
  • Lorenzo Subaru had the ideal wagon - in 1995. The Legacy Outback was a straight two-box design with rear quarter and back windows you could see out of, and was available in brown with a 5-speed manual, as God and TTAC commenters intended. It's nice they're not raising prices, but when you've lost the plot, does it matter?
  • Bkojote Remember a month a go when Cleveland wanted to create a more walkable Cleveland and TTAC's 'BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM' dumbest and dullest all collectively crapped their diapers? Here's the thing- look on any American highway and it's littered with people who don't /want/ to be driving or shouldn't be. Look at every Becky on her phone during the morning commute in her Tucson, look at every Brad aggro driving his 84 month loan GMC. Hell look how many drivers nowadays can't even operate a headlight switch. You expect these people to understand a stoplight? In my neighborhood alone 4 people have been rear ended at lights from someone on their phone. Distracted driving over the past 10 years has spiked, and it's only going to get worse unless Becky has an alternative, because no judge is going to pull her license when 'she needs it to get to work!' but heaven forbid she not check fb/tiktok for 40 minutes a day.
  • Scott Shouldn't the The Italian Minister for Business be criticizing The Milano for being too ugly to be Italian?Better use of resources doing that....
  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.