Dealers Expect Toyota to Come Through With New Crossover Models

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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.

“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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Turbosasquatch Turbosasquatch on Mar 23, 2018

    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.

    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Mar 24, 2018

      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.

  • Akear Akear on Mar 25, 2018

    Those are divisional sales not company sales.

  • ToolGuy First picture: I realize that opinions vary on the height of modern trucks, but that entry door on the building is 80 inches tall and hits just below the headlights. Does anyone really believe this is reasonable?Second picture: I do not believe that is a good parking spot to be able to access the bed storage. More specifically, how do you plan to unload topsoil with the truck parked like that? Maybe you kids are taller than me.
  • ToolGuy The other day I attempted to check the engine oil in one of my old embarrassing vehicles and I guess the red shop towel I used wasn't genuine Snap-on (lots of counterfeits floating around) plus my driveway isn't completely level and long story short, the engine seized 3 minutes later.No more used cars for me, and nothing but dealer service from here on in (the journalists were right).
  • Doughboy Wow, Merc knocks it out of the park with their naming convention… again. /s
  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.
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