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