By on March 23, 2018

2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure - Image: Toyota

While Toyota already boasts a well fleshed out utility lineup, it seems everyone agrees there’s more money to be made in the middle. By that, we mean the juicy sweet spot spanning roughly the compact to midsize segments, where sales potential is the greatest.

Toyota has already suggested there’s another model to come, but we now hear that dealers — the best gauge of buyers’ desires — fully expect the automaker to follow through. And not just with a single model.

Speaking to Automotive News, Mike White, chairman of the Toyota National Dealers’ Advisory Council, said there’s room in the lineup for new offerings.

“Obviously, the market shifted to light trucks, and more trucks is something we would all like,” White said, explaining the dealer network’s reaction to a U.S. sales plateau. “I think we’re all very optimistic about another really solid year.”

The source of this optimism isn’t just the fact that Toyota sells tons of Tacomas, RAV4s, and Camrys. A decline in any of those nameplates could see the brand lose ground. No, White seems confident the utility vehicle product pipeline didn’t dry up after the C-HR popped out.

2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum - Image: Toyota

“I think with the market shifting to light trucks, we’re confident that Toyota is going to come up with the products we need to fill those slots,” he said, referring to the space between the compact RAV4 and midsize, three-row Highlander. He added “we know they’re working on it, and we’re confident that they know what the needs of the customer are, and they listen intently to the dealers, so we’re confident they’re working on more SUVs to fill those slots.”

Just going by White’s language, it’s possible Toyota is considering more than one new utility vehicle. There’s other evidence for it. Late last year, 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.

Hollis mentioned a small, all-wheel-drive crossover with a starting price that could fall under $20k, placing it slightly above the subcompact, front-drive C-HR. It’s an obvious space for a new vehicle, and Toyota’s modular TNGA platform would make creating a small, brawnier addition an easy task.

There’s a new RAV4 bowing for 2019, but we haven’t yet seen it in full. From what we have seen, it adopts some of the styling cues of last year’s FT-AC concept — a roughly RAV4-sized vehicle displaying a ruggedness not present in the brand’s existing compact. Hollis implied the RAV4 was too much of a sales magnet to allow for another vehicle of similar size and price. He did not, however, rule out a new model positioned above it.

The midsize space in Toyota’s lineup is already well-populated, with the unibody Highlander and body-on-frame 4Runner offering buyers a choice of capability and image. Whether the gulf between RAV4 and Highlander is large enough to accomodate a new model — without cannibalizing RAV4 sales — remains to be seen.

 

In a market that shrunk by 1.8 percent in 2017, Toyota brand sales rose 0.52 percent in the U.S. compared to a year earlier. Over the first two months of 2018, Toyota trucks and SUV sales are up 17.4 percent compared to the same period in 2017. Toyota cars sales rose 0.5 percent in this period.

[Images: Toyota]

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31 Comments on “Dealers Expect Toyota to Come Through With New Crossover Models...”


  • avatar

    Unlike hapless Ford, Toyota can build cars, trucks, and SUVs all at the same times. Fords future strategy is mainly build trucks and SUVs. I guess Ford cannot walk and chew gum at the same time.

    When is there going to be a Ford deathwatch?

    • 0 avatar
      Sub-600

      I agree, as far as calling Ford an “automaker”. Auto implies cars and it doesn’t look rosy for cars at the blue oval. Ford might be a ”truckmaker” pretty soon.

      • 0 avatar
        9Exponent

        au·to·mo·bile
        ˈôdəmōˌbēl/Submit
        nounNORTH AMERICAN
        a road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine or electric motor and able to carry a small number of people.

        I’m sorry you struggle with the definition of simple words, Sub-600.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      akear

      Call it what you like. Ford will still sell 2.5 million vehicles in the U.S this year. Plus the Ranger will cut into Tacoma sales.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Sometimes 2.5 million isn’t enough. And ANY sale of another midsize pickuptruck will cut into Tacoma sales.

        The amount necessary for profitability is disproportionately spread over the product line with F150 pickup trucks making the bulk of it.

        I have read commentary that suggested Ford keeps some lines open just to keep from firing its assembly line laborers.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Hertz and Avism agree whole heartedly.

      Unlike hapless Toyota, Ford manages to build *the* most popular vehicle on the continent. Toyota’s attempts at competing have failed over and over and over. Same story with large SUVs, although GM leads, Toyota is so far behind in sales, it’s quite pathetic. The Expedition at least justifies its being built. Time to start a bigger-than-Tacoma Toyota BOF death watch?

      But, at least with the news of this article, now we will have more choices of vehicles that are beautiful, dynamic, fun to drive and will each and every one run 500k miles with occasional oil changes and 0 other issues. Anyone who has had an issue with a Toyota at less than 499,999.9 miles is a fluke and a singularity, no matter how many there are. All praise be to our Lordship, Toyoda.

      Btw, which segment is gaining in popularity by leaps and bounds, and which is tanking and considered unprofitable?

      • 0 avatar

        Toyota is now the top automaker in the world. It surpassed GM in 2009. I would wager Toyota is now twice the size of Ford.

        Toyota is where GM was in the early 60s. They are completely dominant in international car markets. Nissan as of last year surpassed GM in international sales, helped by their acquisition of Mitsubishi. I would guess Ford is fighting it out with PSA for fifth or sixth place.

        Hackett is not helping things. It gets worse every day.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Ford serves a purpose, at least in America. There is no better truck for the common man than a Ford F-series truck!

          There is a reason why GM and RAM run behind Ford in annual sales.

          And while I now prefer The Gentlemen’s Truck, Tundra, not everyone can afford one.

          Ford’s a player, even if only for diehard Buy American fans.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Running a shop, I wouldn’t say F-series trucks are better than much else. GM’s trucks might not be good, but they have fewer near-universal failure modes. Look at the trucks that you still see on the road that are more than two generations old. Out of production Fords are thin on the ground, particularly when you consider that they’ve been made in huge numbers ever since CAFE created their private use market almost forty years ago.

            Used LS motors are everywhere and cheap. Try finding a decent used Triton, and you’ll know there is something desperately wrong. They’re as bad as Mopar 3.7/4.7 engines when it comes to failure rates, judging by the shortage of Ford trucks that go to the junkyards due to wrecks instead of engine failures.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Everyone has their own preference and you are right on all counts.

            Plus, I live in Ford F-series country, out West. So from my perspective I see more Ford trucks.

            In addition, I’m a member of the Traveling Elks from our local Elks Lodge and the predominant tow vehicle is an F-series truck. (I use a Dodge 440-powered 30ft Southwind)

            And finally, monthly and annual national sales numbers (WSJ/lifestyle/autos) show a national preference for Ford trucks.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            I didn’t say Ford trucks don’t sell like crazy. I’m just astounded by how awful they tend to be. The number of times I’ve heard a Ford F250 owner say something like, “this is the sixth one I’ve had, and they all suffer complete brake failure due to rusty brake lines breaking!” Then they gripe about the cost of the repair and get another one if they still have decent credit.

            For years Fords had spark plugs that either welded themselves to their heads or shot out of their heads due to being designed with too few threads before being sunk into aluminum heads to start the galvanic corrosion process. Fixing the spark plug issue often reveals cracked exhaust manifolds, which lead to studs that snap off in the heads. As bad as Tritons and Powerstrokes are, they look like slant-6s compared to the ruthlessly lightened garbage Ford is putting in F150s today.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I understood what you communicated and I agree with your assessment of how awful they can be.

            I owned a 2006 F150 XLT and it had loads of problems. At that time I tooled and wrenched on my own vehicles so although annoying I didn’t have to shell out for Labor as well as parts. (The folks at Autozone called me by my nickname “Cat” when they saw me comin’.)

            And that F150 was also my last Big 3 truck. That’s when I switched to a 2011 Tundra 5.7, and was pleasantly surprised and about $5K poorer than if I had bought another Ford, GM or RAM truck.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        -smirks- the EX350 and Explorer are unibody and cash cows. It all depends on how much you want to spend.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Because numbers and facts are pesky things for the uninformed. 2018 YTD sales tops six: Toyota, VW, Ford, Nissan, Honda, Chevy. Or your average grocery store parking lot. Car companies are in the business to make money, leading in sales usually leads to that.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    How many f***ing models do you need?

    “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”
    -Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2.

    “The next thing we do, is kill all the marketeers”
    -His Torqueyness, Pope 28 III.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Toyota is applying the VW sales model: One vehicle for every $500 price point. They’ll have 85 different CUVs in a few years.

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    It’s funny how just a couple years ago this segment was left for dead…Toyota dropped the Venza and Rav4 V6 and basically told these customers to buy the Highlander or beat it. Plenty of former midsize sedan buyers want something nicer than a compact SUV but not as large or expensive as a three-row family bus, and I would argue that Honda and Toyota’s refusal to meaningfully cater to this market drove a lot of intenders to the Subaru lot.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      I agree that for myself, a luxed out 2 row Highlander Sport (to coin a name) would catch my eye. I absolutely LOVE the Highlander (it’s a superb luxury car), but I don’t need the third row.

      Of course, you can have my GTI when you pry it from my cold dead hands. So consider the source here.

      • 0 avatar
        NetGenHoon

        My wife and I are in this group. We want a nice mid-size two-row designed for 4 adults with luggage, not a three-row with a cramped second row and compromised cargo area. Right now, that means Grand Cherokee or Explorer.

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          “My wife and I are in this group. We want a nice mid-size two-row designed for 4 adults with luggage, not a three-row with a cramped second row and compromised cargo area. Right now, that means Grand Cherokee or Explorer.”

          Buick Envision, in theory, is the perfect car for you.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          This is the space of Muranos and Edges and RX350s currently (and Grand Cherokees as you note). Apparently Honda has something in the works for this class as well.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      the trouble with the Rav4 V6 is Toyota couldn’t justify the loss in MPG in the footprint of the Rav4, and also the fact that Rav4 buyer are generally cheapskate appliance buyers who would rather pay for leather seats and gadgets than the cost increase of a V6.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    A pickup truck in that size range would be nice, too.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    I was thinking about this idea in relation to the Subaru model QOTD the other day. Could either Toyota or Subaru have success with a butched up 2 door CUV? Take the Forester/RAV4 platform, jack it up an inch with aggressive wheels/tires, square up the styling and remove 2 doors, maybe even offer an appearance package with brush guards and a roof rack with lights. Make sure that the back hatch opens wide and the rear seats fold flat for good cargo space. Bonus points if the back section of the cabin could be removed. It wouldn’t be a rock climber by any means but it could handle a logging road. Basically, a Jeep with more comfort and safety built in. It could be the Bronco that we know Ford is not going to provide.

  • avatar
    Kato

    Who cares about another crossover? What they should build is a 7/8 scale version of the 4-runner that isn’t ugly. Think gen-3 4-Runner (’96-’02) which was 11″ shorter and 6″ narrower than the current one. Perfect size, not ugly. There’s a reason they are still sought-after on the used market.

  • avatar
    turbosasquatch

    Would Toyota ever attempt to break into the 3/4 ton and 1 ton pickup truck market? Tundra owners are crazy loyal, it could be a hit.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Toyota is already in the 3/4 ton and up line in Asia and the Middle East through their company named Hino.

      The Hino badge can be found on a wide range of trucks, semi-tractors and construction equipment.

      Just not in the US.

      As a Tundra aficionado I doubt I could afford a 3/4-ton or 1-ton Tundra pickup truck considering the higher cost of a 1/2-ton Tundra compared to Ford, GM and RAM.

  • avatar

    Those are divisional sales not company sales.

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