The third-generation Toyota Hilux pickup (called the “Toyota Truck” in the United States) was a legend of reliability and frugality well into our current century, and plenty of small motorhomes were built on its sturdy platform. You’ll still see them occasionally today, but the skin-crawling ickiness of tenth-owner RVs tends to mean the end comes quickly when they wear out. Here’s one that took nearly 40 years to reach that point, now residing in The Final Campground: a self-service wrecking yard near Denver.
Five years have passed since the Scion FR-S — known elsewhere as the Toyota GT86 and known now in America as the Toyota 86 (and at Subaru as the BRZ) — arrived in America. Buyers, never particularly numerous to begin with, are few and far between. Toyota now sells 62 percent fewer Toyota 86s in America than the Scion FR-S managed during its first year.
You expect to see sports cars peak early and then gradually fade. The degree to which the Toyota 86 née Scion FR-S has faded, however, has been more than a little striking. FR-S/86 sales have fallen so far, so fast, that U.S. car buyers are now ten times more likely to acquire a new Chevrolet Camaro, three times more likely to acquire a new Volkswagen Golf GTI, and twice as likely to acquire a new Mazda MX-5.
But is the Toyota 86 deserving of such rejection? Not according to a just-completed CAR Magazine comparison test in which the five-year-old Toyota claimed victory — ahead of the Mazda MX-5 RF and BMW 2 Series.
The 2018 Honda Odyssey went on sale three weeks ago. The Chrysler Pacifica has only been on the market for a year. The Toyota Sienna will enjoy another refresh for the 2018 model year.
If ever there was a time in which America’s minivan segment needs to shine, the second-half of 2017 is it.
Minivan sales tumbled 14 percent, year-over-year, through the first five months of 2017. Only 3 percent of the auto industry’s volume is now minivan-derived. Year-over-year volume decreased in nine consecutive months between August 2016 and April 2017.
There are far fewer competitors now than there were a decade ago. Therefore, the minivan market doesn’t need to produce the sort of volume it did a decade ago. However, minivan sales can’t continue to plummet, month after month after month.
Minivan sales need to rise. If they can’t do so now, then when? And if the segment can’t do it with fresh product from Chrysler, Honda, and Toyota, then who can supply the growth?
The 2018 Toyota Camry will be priced from $24,380, including delivery, when it goes on sale this summer — a $425 increase compared with the base 2017 Camry.
Riding on an evolution of the Prius and C-HR’s Toyota New Global Architecture, the 2018 Camry is an all-new design for the first time since the 2012 model year. Market positioning is key, even for a Camry that’s been America’s best-selling car for 15 consecutive years, as demand for midsize sedans is quickly falling and even Toyota is seeing greater interest in the RAV4 than the historically dominant Camry. With new competitors approaching from Honda and Nissan, Toyota isn’t fooling around with this hugely important launch.
All eighth-generation Camrys are equipped with an eight-speed automatic. There’s essentially no tangible weight increase. The Camry offers the most standard horsepower in the midsize segment, the optional 3.5-liter V6 now produces 301 horsepower, and all Camrys now include Toyota Safety Sense P with pedestrian detection, radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, and auto high beams.
Perhaps most notably, highway fuel economy jumps all the way to 41 miles per gallon; above 50 mpg for Camry Hybrids.
The all-new 2018 Toyota Camry’s new 2.5-liter four-cylinder base engine generates 203 horsepower in the entry-level model, 206 horsepower in the 2018 Camry XSE.
This means the eighth-generation Camry offers the most standard horsepower of any car in America’s midsize segment, at least for the time being.
We know not yet what the 2018 Honda Accord will bring. Honda released some engine details last Friday, including information that reveals the death of the Accord’s V6 and future reliance on the 1.5-liter turbo from the Civic and CR-V — as well as the 2.0-liter turbo from the Civic Type R. But we don’t know how much power Honda, notoriously not a participant in any horsepower war, will allow the Accord’s basic 1.5T to produce.
Meanwhile, the Camry’s upgrade engine continues to be a 3.5-liter V6, and Toyota’s gone and done the right thing with that powerplant, too. Moar powah.
The Toyota MR2 has always been a somewhat rare Junkyard Find, partly because not many were sold in the first place, and partly because the surviving examples tend to be cherished by MR2 enthusiasts. Here’s a solid ’86 that showed up in a Denver self-service wrecking yard a couple of weeks back.
“Stepping up to a midsize is basically a no-brainer for buyers at this point,” CarsDirect’s senior price analyst Alex Bernstein tells TTAC.
With demand for midsize sedans drying up, deals on aging models are warming up.
Now in its sixth model year, the 2017 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T S — the entry-level Passat — is available in June for a 36-month lease at $189 per month and $1,999 due at signing.
The 2017 Honda Accord, a new version of which is due later this year, is also available in June in basic LX trim on the same terms.
Meanwhile, the mid-grade 2017 Toyota Camry SE 2.5, set to be replaced in the coming months by an all-new model, is likewise available in June for $189 per month with $1,999 down over 36 months.
“This is about as cheap as lease deals have ever been on these midsize sedans,” Bernstein says. But it actually gets even cheaper, marginally cheaper, according to CarsDirect’s examination of 500 lease deals.
Forget, if only for the next few minutes, the way it looks. You may hate it, you may love it. But don’t let your interpretation of the 2018 Toyota C-HR’s exterior angles cloud your judgement.
While you’re at it, set aside class designations, as well. Whether you, like me, consider the 2018 Toyota C-HR to be unqualified for “crossover” status because it’s missing all-wheel-drive availability, the C-HR is still positioned as a rival for front-wheel-drive HR-Vs, Renegades, Encores, and CX-3s, among others.
The Toyota C-HR was initially intended to form part of the Scion lineup in North America, but with that brand’s demise, Toyota wisely moved the C-HR into its own lineup. Slotted below the Toyota RAV4 with dimensions that all but mirror the old Toyota Matrix, the 2018 Toyota C-HR is a $23,495-25,435 hatchback that’s garnered more attention during its stay with me than any vehicle I’ve ever tested.
To my surprise, almost all of that attention was positive. But is the Toyota C-HR worthy of such attention?
In late 2015, Toyota revealed that the automaker’s increasingly popular RAV4 would be increasingly leaned upon for major U.S. sales volume.
As of five years ago, Toyota USA had never sold more than 200,000 RAV4s on an annual basis. Toyota didn’t touch the 300,000 marker until 2015.
But the goal set in 2015 was loftier: 400,000 U.S. sales of the RAV4 in 2018. An SE trim level helped. Then the RAV4 Hybrid became a real success. Toyota sold 352,154 RAV4s in 2016 and is on track for 380,000 sales in 2017.
What will put the Toyota RAV4 over the hump?
If all goes according to plan, the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure that goes on sale in September won’t be a mere oddball offshoot.
Yes, we’re talking #brands, because brand value is a point of pride for all companies, not just automakers. In the latest ranking of brand value, it seems Toyota needn’t worry about losing its lofty perch among automakers.
For the fourth year, the Japanese automaker beat out all other car companies in the 2017 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking published by market research company Kantar Millward Brown. Valued at $28.66 billion, Toyota sits in the 30th spot, one notch above Walmart. That’s two spots lower than last year’s rankings, something Toyota can blame on increase costs and a weak yen.
The ranking also contains good news for Ford and troubling news for BMW.
Making its way around the internet lately is this photo of a Toyota Prius, tastefully modified by its present owner. Dancing boldly across the side of the hybrid is the iconic 1990s teal and purple Solo Cup theme. This jazzy decal is well known to anyone who has drank a beverage between 1992 and now.
We need to have a candid discussion about flying cars. Automobiles and airplanes entered into the mainstream around the same time, and we’ve talked about combining them into a singular platform ever since. While nobody has successfully pulled it off, we keep acting like the technology is right around the corner. The closest we’ve gotten are the Terrafugia Transition and Pal-V One. However, both of those products make major on-road sacrifices, undergo a pre-flight metamorphosis, and require regular access to a runway. They’re still not representative of anything we’d consider a real car.
Lack of success hasn’t stopped automakers from dabbling in the field of aviation. Toyota has purchased Cartivator Resource Management in the hopes that its “flying car” expertise will yield a vehicle capable of lighting the torch at the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo. Still, based on the firm’s progress to date, we can only imagine the attempt ending in a globally broadcast fiery disaster.
People want to talk to me about the 2018 Toyota C-HR.
Since I took possession of a Toyota Canada-supplied C-HR last Friday, more people have approached me to discuss the C-HR than any other car I’ve ever had the pleasure or displeasure of testing.
Naturally, I assume they’re not going to have kind things to say. Let’s be honest: the Toyota C-HR is not a conventional beauty. “It’s not mine,” I quickly declare to a couple examining the C-HR in the grocery store parking lot as I approach it, bags in hand. “You can say whatever you think.”
And then they do. But the words they speak are not in keeping with my expectations.
A great advantage to being one of the world’s largest automakers is that one can afford to wait for a bet to pay off. Witness this body-on-frame fifth-generation 4Runner, introduced to an apathetic and SUV-adverse public in the dark days of the 2009 as a ’10 model. It is still sharing showroom space with Corollas and Camrys today. Contrast this to Kia that introduced its body-on-frame SUV – the Borrego – at around the same time. It landed in the market with a dull thud and quickly resigned itself to the automotive dustbin of history in North America.
The 4Runner’s fortunes are on the upswing assisted by consumers consuming SUVs with all the restraint of a record producer with a garbage bag full of cocaine and a garden hose. Toyota sold more 4Runners in 2016 than at any other time in the last dozen years despite the brand’s glacier-like design cycle and the 4Runner being largely unchanged since the turn of the decade.
A concept vehicle which bowed at April’s New York International Auto Show could adopt a somewhat familiar name if it makes it to production.
Toyota has filed a trademark application for the TJ Cruiser name — a moniker which harkens back to the large, rugged and funky FJ Cruiser of yesteryear. However, if this name does find its way to a production vehicle, don’t expect similar proportions.
The current 2017 model year will be the last for the Lexus CT200h.
An indirect successor to the Lexus HS250h sedan, the Lexus CT200h will end a seven-year model run in the United States that resulted in more than 90,000 sales.
Imported from Miyawaka, Japan, the Lexus CT has seen its average U.S. monthly output fall 58 percent over the last three years. Never a tremendously popular entry-level luxury car, the hybrid-only Lexus was forced to compete against very successful luxury sedans from Mercedes-Benz and Audi — CLA and A3, respectively — in the latter portion of its tenure.
The Lexus couldn’t compete.
Which automaker stands the best change of gobbling up more of the U.S. light vehicle market in the near future? According to the results of a newly released study, and not entirely unsurprising, it’s two of the world’s largest automakers.
General Motors and Toyota are each planning a slew of new and refreshed products over the next few years — something which should serve to lure buyers away from other brands. Among domestic automakers, one brand is forecast to suffer at the hands of its Detroit rival’s success. You know the one.
I really enjoy encountering the cheap and cheerful compacts of the past. Their lack of technological complexity, superb integrity in exterior design, and complete absence of flim-flam is refreshing.
Our Rare Ride today is such a compact, from a company many in North America don’t know. It’s the Daihatsu Charade.
Vinay Shahani, a former decade-long Nissan employee, has just been poached from Volkswagen of America by Toyota.
Shahani was Volkswagen’s U.S. vice president in charge of marketing, responsible for cementing a cohesive product message after the eruption of the now infamous diesel emissions scandal that broke in September 2015.
“Things are definitely difficult for the Volkswagen brand,” Shahani told the Automotive News New York Marketing Seminar one year after Volkswagen’s wrongdoing was made public.
Shahani’s perseverance through said difficulty obviously drew the attention of Toyota Motor North America, particularly since Shahani’s resume proves he’s no mere ad man.
Back in late May of this year, I inquired which modern automaker was the most daring. While I posited it could be Nissan or Volvo, many of you replied it was actually Dodge, followed by Kia and Mazda.
This week, let’s turn back the clock a couple of decades and see if all our answers require a bit of reworking. We’re off to everyone’s favorite car decade, the 1990s. Which automaker was most daring in the era of the neon and teal fanny pack? I’ll give you two specific model examples, much like I did before.
Daring. Thinking outside the box, as it were (a three box, naturally). Putting forth a car which is a bit risky and against the grain of the accepted beige [s]sedan[/s] CUV. Increasingly, automakers are unwilling or unable to play in this space. Regulations, fuel economy and stiff competition force each manufacturer in line with the others. A midsize vehicle that’s almost identical to the offering at the dealer across the street is not out of the question.
But there has to be an answer to my Question of the Day, which is thus: Which modern auto manufacturer is the most daring?
Even as it develops efficient new platforms and streamlines its operation where it can, Toyota finds itself against the ropes as a falling yen and rising costs sends profits tumbling. Its end-of-fiscal-year financial statements, released today, are enough to send bean counters to the medicine cabinet in search of antacid, while the company’s president warns of more trouble ahead.
To Akio Toyoda, the increasingly gloomy picture has all the hallmarks of a failing sports team.
America’s insatiable crossover thirst has made the Nissan Rogue — a relative newcomer to the segment — a sales juggernaut and a top rival to the likes of the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.
As summer approaches, two of those vehicles are undergoing a sales strategy shift to better position the models against each other. No, one of the models isn’t the new-for 2017 CR-V. Nissan and Toyota, however, hope to draw in more customers by tweaking prices and content on the Rogue and RAV4, though the two automakers are going about it in very different ways.
Last week, my Ace of Base selection was met with loud derision from certain corners of the web. My intent was to prove how it’s possible for one to get into a comfortable, well-equipped, diesel-powered Canyon pickup without springing for an SLT or Denali trim. Nevertheless, my efforts were met with a chorus of WHY DON’T YOU JUST DO AN ACE OF BASE ON A ROLLS-ROYCE RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE.
Well then, without further delay…
Heads of state and other dignitaries typically like to ride around in large, sedan-shaped vehicles. Offerings like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and contemporary Rolls-Royce sedans have long been the go-to around the world. Of course, there are exceptions. For places like the United States, national pride dictates an American-made Cadillac or Lincoln.
The Japanese also have a strong sense of national pride, and for decades there was only one vehicle appropriate for heads of state and CEOs — the Toyota Century.
Now it’s gone.
As automakers dial back sales projections in a year that’s seen a rough start, the industry could be holding out hope for a legislative solution to lagging demand.
Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz made this claim during the opening of the company’s expanded Ann Arbor research and design center on Thursday, adding that incentivizing new vehicles to draw down bulging inventories can’t continue forever. In his view, automakers are keeping extra vehicles on hand for a reason, not just because production hasn’t adjusted for slow sales.
Lentz, like other auto executives, is hoping for a sales bump in the event the Trump administration green-lights its proposed $1 trillion infrastructure plan.
In February, a Texas Toyota dealership and The Genesis Center of Kaufman County joined forces to raffle off a fully restored 1994 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo. Donated by a local resident battling cancer, the entirety of the proceeds from the draw were designated specifically to help fund the center. Genesis is a faith-based shelter which also provides job placement, parenting classes, financial management programs, spiritual counselling, material needs, and medical referrals to women and children in crisis. It is funded largely through the church or via direct donations.
All in all, the dealership managed to raise more than $50,000 for the center. However, when Rebecca Rawl was announced as the winner of the raffle in April, many stated that the name was suspiciously close to that of the wife of sales manager Danny Rawls. Toyota of Rockwall was quick to rectify its mistake, specifying that the name given had been a mistake and “Rebecca Rawls” had in fact been the lottery winner.
As you can imagine, this did not go over well.
Popular? Most definitely. In fact, the Lexus NX is twice as popular as Lexus anticipated.
The Lexus NX, a crossover you must never confuse with the Nissan NX, is marketed in the United States both in NX200t and NX300h variants. At the New York International Auto Show three years ago, Lexus revealed the brand hoped to sell around 26,000 NXs per year; roughly 2,200 per month. At that point, in the lead-up to the NX’s 2014 Q4 launch, there were two schools of thought. One, the NX was so ghastly to behold Lexus surely wouldn’t sell 2,200 per month. Or, because Lexus is such a luxury crossover powerhouse, even the NX — with a face even a mother couldn’t love — will be more popular than Lexus anticipated.
Dealers believed Lexus’ forecast was on the low side.
But could anyone have expected the Lexus NX would be more than twice as popular as originally forecasted; that the Lexus NX would be America’s fifth-best-selling luxury utility vehicle; that the NX would account for one-in-five Lexus sales in America?
High atop Mount Forbidden, the “other market’s” imported vehicle stands alone. It awaits that special day, some 25 years in the future, when the clouds will break and a descent into the mortal realm is possible.
And, after that special day comes, the vehicle gets a chance to stand out beyond all normal cars in any given American parking lot. It was never meant to be seen in this country, and yet someone with an entrepreneurial spirit made it possible. Come with me now, as we experience JDM van goodness.
Call them frenemies. BMW and Toyota are working together on a high-profile sports car project that will result in a long-awaited Supra successor and a replacement for the Z4. Two heads are better than one.
“The concept works, the platform can deliver and now we have two proud sets of engineers — one group German, one group Japanese — who are each fighting and arguing for the car they want,” BMW sales boss Ian Robertson said last year.
The fighting and arguing extends beyond the R&D facilities in Munich and Toyota City.
No. BMW chose the most basic, beige, new Toyota Camry to make a point on behalf of a bright red pre-owned 3 Series.
Hardly the work of a BFF.
Newfound hybrid competition from the likes of the Hyundai Ioniq has forced Toyota into a mid-year strategy shift. Starting imminently, the automaker plans to offer a less expensive base model of the Prius while bulking up the model’s content with no-charge added safety features.
According to automotive research and car-shopping website CarsDirect, the entry price of a Prius should drop by $1,210, bringing its base MSRP (including destination) to $24,360. That helps close the gap between it and the Ioniq, which has strategically positioned itself as the segment’s value pick.
Gil’s my next-door neighbor. We live in very similar homes, we share a fondness for canine companions, and we would both happily live on pizza alone.
But Gil and I couldn’t be more different. Gil is cool, you see.
Gil’s young; I’m not not as young as I used to be. Gil can change the alternator on an old Ford Explorer in mere minutes; I can change a lightbulb if given time. Gil goes out on Friday nights; I have little children to put to bed.
And while I spent the last week driving a basic version of the outgoing 2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid, Gil pulled his Suzuki Katana out of storage. Yes, Gil drives a motorcycle. I drive a silver Camry Hybrid LE.
But who does Gil call in the middle of a workday when his Suzuki breaks down?
Camry Man, naturally. Mr. Dependable.
Are you the “casualcore” type? If you have to ask what the hell that means, you’re not hip enough for this concept. There’s also a chance you live outside the city, or perhaps in the suburbs, and don’t take seldom, unplanned adventures with your trendy urban buddies on their day off from PR work or coding.
If so, Toyota didn’t spare a thought about you when it crafted the promotional copy behind its new FT-4X four-wheel-drive crossover concept. Based on the same platform as Toyota’s C-HR pseudo-crossover — a vehicle that omits four-wheel motivation from its roster of options — the FT-4X is meant to be a do-anything, go-anywhere vehicle for the trendiest people you’ve ever met.
So trendy, in fact, that you’ll need to take a Gravol just to read about them.
Four words. That’s the extent of the details dropped by Toyota today, along with a picture that displays not quite an entire wheel. Perhaps the automaker should take a page from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and release 397 feature-length films about each of the mystery vehicle’s components.
The four words and one picture depict the upcoming FT-4X, a Toyota concept bound for a New York Auto Show unveiling on April 12. From the few clues we have, this concept — in Toyotaland, “FT” prefixes mean “future Toyota” — should boast some measure of off-roading bona fides, possibly enough to make Jeep worried.
Is this the best car in the world?
Not necessarily this car, but the 2002-2006 XV30-generation Toyota Camry in general. Is this Camry better than all the rest?
It doesn’t handle like a modern Mazda 6, doesn’t stop as well as a modern F-150, doesn’t have the perceived interior quality or features of a modern Honda Fit, and has suffered greatly from the effects of alloy wheel corrosion over the last winter.
But the 2004 Toyota Camry LE V6 we told you about last fall just made its way through another harsh, Prince Edward Island winter. Another 7,000 miles were smeared across its odometer. One trip was taken all the way from Prince Edward Island to Toronto; another from Prince Edward Island to Hamilton, Ontario, and another from Prince Edward Island to Mont Tremblant, Quebec.
Credit a single oil change.
Toyota is teaming up with Clear Channel Outdoor Americas to help clean California’s air with a billboard advertising its hydrogen-powered Mirai fuel cell sedan.
From April 3 to May 28, a total of 37 billboards in Los Angeles and San Francisco will filter smoggy air, thanks to the titanium dioxide-coated vinyl used in the sign.
While Toyota missed an opportunity to explicitly rub salt in a certain rival’s wounds, this is nonetheless a pleasant change of scenery in the automotive world, especially considering all of the [s]Volkswagen[/s] emissions scandals of the past couple of years.
The Toyota Prius is struggling.
That’s not terribly surprising. Fuel prices are low. Efficient hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric cars are available at virtually every new car dealer. The Prius has lost its early adopter buzz.
Oh, and the 2017 Toyota Prius is a grotesque little creature, shaped for the wind; not your eyes.
Toyota sold fewer Prii in America last year than at any point since 2004. In 2017, Toyota expects to sell far fewer than in 2016.
Making matters worse is the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid I’m driving this week. The Ioniq is $2,485 cheaper than the Prius. The Ioniq is, at the very least, less unattractive. The Ioniq’s interior is both more attractive and more straightforward. And hear ye this: the Hyundai Ioniq is rated at 55 mpg city and 54 mpg highway; better than the Prius’s 54/50 ratings.
But the Toyota Prius has witnessed the arrival of a direct competitor from a major passenger car player before. Yes, the Toyota Prius saw the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius killed that Honda dead.
Will the Toyota Prius become a serial killer and murder the Hyundai Ioniq, too?
Can a hybrid vehicle really shine when there’s a plug-in sibling hogging both the spotlight and the technological podium? For some automakers new to the game, time will tell. But at Toyota, which first made “hybrid” a household word, it seems the introduction of a new Prius variant has tentatively confirmed doubts about the viability of the stock Prius.
We’ll gain better perspective as 2017 plays out, but so far, it’s looking like the Prius Prime plug-in is doing well, and the Prius is maintaining the status quo. Which is to say, it’s not doing well.
Surely it’s time for a new minivan from Toyota. Despite significant interior updates for the 2015 model year and significant powertrain improvements for 2017, the third-generation Toyota Sienna that launched in 2010 is still kickin’, seven years later.
First, the 2015 Kia Sedona shook things up. Then the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica confounded expectations. Landing shortly is the 2018 Honda Odyssey, which won’t surprise anyone if it’s the best in its class.
Clearly then, it’s your turn, Toyota.
Uh… Toyota, hello? Paging Toyota. Call for Toyota on Line 1, all-new Sienna required on the Princeton, Indiana, production line.
The 2018 Toyota Sienna gets a facelift. A refresh. An update. A refurb. What’s up with that?
If you didn’t stay up to the wee hours last night excitedly singing the Toyota Yaris’ praises in an internet chat group, you’re forgiven. Demand for the subcompact hatch has fallen to remarkably low levels compared to years past, as newer, more dynamic hatches increasingly hijack buyers’ attention.
Still, the subcompact segment isn’t one Toyota wants to yield to its rivals. As such, the little Yaris (not to be confused with the Mazda 2-based Yaris iA) is due for a makeover. While the refreshed 2018 Yaris hasn’t been to the gym, it does look like it stared in the window and took notes.
A year and a half since Scion introduced the iM in the United States, little more than a year since Toyota announced the Scion brand’s discontinuation, and six months since the Scion iM began to operate as the Toyota Corolla iM, almost every Toyota Corolla buyer chooses the inferior Corolla sedan instead of this hatchback.
Fortunately, the iM generates more sales activity for Toyota than it did for Scion. Over the last four months, for instance, the Corolla iM produced 6,548 U.S. sales, up 34 percent compared to the year-before figure claimed by the Scion iM.
After spending a week with the refreshed 2017 Toyota Corolla XSE sedan in January and the last week with the 2017 Toyota Corolla iM, it’s clear the iM is the superior Corolla. It’s clear that a far greater percentage of the 28,000 monthly American Corolla buyers should be choosing this car.
But they don’t. And they won’t. And there are a number of reasons why.
In our last Rare Rides entry, we saw a Saleen sporting a lot of engine and little room, carrying a maximum of two physically fit human beings inside the cramped cockpit. That’s assuming neither of them brought any baggage, emotional or otherwise.
Today, we’re going in the other direction. I present to you what is undoubtedly the most intense passenger vehicle Toyota has ever produced: MEGA CRUISER. And it’s in full capital letters for a reason.
Lexus has lofty goals for the new LC performance coupe, a two-car range encompassing V8 and V6 hybrid cars. The Lexus LC, Toyota’s premium division hopes, will attract 400 buyers in America per month.
That’s a big number.
Granted, Toyota sells more than 1,000 Camrys in the United States every day. In fact, Lexus sells 300 copies of the RX, America’s all-conquering premium utility vehicle, every day.
But the 2018 Lexus LC is not America’s best-selling midsize car 15 years running, nor is the LC the dominant luxury crossover in a market gone gaga for luxury crossovers. The Lexus LC, on the other hand, is a $92,995–106,295 Japanese coupe. 400 monthly sales for a two-door priced in that stratosphere is truly a big number.
And Lexus believes it will outsell the Jaguar F-Type, Porsche Cayman, Mercedes-Benz SLC, and Audi TT. Lexus believes the LC will sell roughly three times more often than the Nissan GT-R ever has. Lexus intends to attract more buyers with the LC than Mercedes-Benz can with The Establishment, the SL-Class; more buyers than BMW attracts with the vast BMW 6 Series range.
Why? Lexus certainly has its reasons.
With so much online page space taken up by the RAV4, Corolla, Camry, Tacoma and other practical, high-volume Toyota products, it’s often easy to forget that the staid and sensible automaker sells an entry-level, rear-drive sports car.
February marked a significant milestone for the Toyota 86 (née Scion FR-S), sibling to the Subaru BRZ, in that it was the first month since 2013 that didn’t see a year-over-year sales decline. That year was also the high water mark for sales.
No doubt aware of the rebranded coupe’s lagging fortunes, Toyota has adopted a time-honored method of drawing eyes back to its 86. Offer a slightly enhanced version, raise the price, and cap production numbers.
Like so many vehicles, Toyota’s C-HR leads a somewhat confused life. Its identity, like that of the Kia Niro, seems obvious to PR types, but wary observers continue to cite both vehicles’ lack of available all-wheel drive as a reason why neither should carry a “crossover” label.
We haven’t come to blows here at TTAC, but in the great Crossover Or Not debate, the “tall wagon” camp has a clear edge. Certainly, the C-HR, billed as a subcompact crossover, has the proper dimensions and ride height to qualify, but its lack of four-wheel traction sets it apart from its rivals. Usually, an automaker would prefer to live up the segment’s tepid go-anywhere pretensions by tossing in an optional prop-shaft and rear differential.
It could be that the C-HR’s missing AWD has more to do with its humble, one-size-fits-all Scion origins than anything else. However, there’s mixed information coming out about the model’s future.
Attentive readers will have, by now, recognized that my automotive choices tend to run towards the, shall we say, flamboyant side. Our family daily is an inky-black Dodge Charger with a vanity plate which is guaranteed to enrage bumper-ogling Methodists. New, oversized rims are scheduled to be fitted the minute all this snow goes away. Meanwhile, the Ram 1500 with which the Charger shares driveway space is painted Look-At-Me Red, accented [s]garishly[/s] nicely with chrome 20-inch rims. I drove a Lincoln Mark VII with an uncorked exhaust for many years. My neighbours love me.
So what am I doing in a Prius when my tastes tilt to the extrovert end of the spectrum? Well, it’s always fun to see how the other half lives, and in this case, I wanted to see how the thing would fare on a 1,000-mile journey in the dead of winter.
Toyota hasn’t even delivered the new 2018 C-HR to dealers and there are already plans to supplement the automaker’s subcompact crossover lineup.
In concert with the C-HR’s U.S. launch next month, April 2017 will also play host to the Toyota debut of a small crossover concept at the New York International Auto Show if all goes according to plan.
“I think we’re very well set up (with the C-HR and midsize RAV4 CUV), but we’re also kind of looking at what else could we be doing there if this continues to be a growing segment, which we anticipate it will,” Bill Fay, vice president for the Toyota division, told Wards Auto.
Toyota expects to sell 60,000 C-HRs in the United States annually, more than the Yaris, Yaris iA, and Prius C combined. For America’s third-highest-volume SUV brand, that’s apparently not enough.
Slip an extra SUV on the barbie.
Maybe they should have called it the Toyota Camry SportWagon.
Maybe it wouldn’t have made a hint of a difference.
The first-generation Toyota Venza lingered for seven model years in the United States, ending its run with MY2015 before managing to collect 593 sales since, including four in January 2017. (They’re not easy to clear out, apparently.)
But the end of the Venza’s U.S. run in June 2015 was not the end for the Venza in America. Venza production at the Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant continued through the first 11 months of 2016 because of insatiable Canadian demand.
Well, now that demand has been sated. The Toyota Venza is officially dead. Kaput. Gone. Defunct.
Did it have to be this way?
For far too long, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid has been an especially costly version of Toyota’s popular three-row crossover.
Fortunately, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid’s base price drops by $11,600 in 2017 as Toyota introduces two additional lower trim levels, which have eased the cost burden of upgrading to the hybrid.
Ridicule it if you must, but the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Adventure gives the people more of what the people want.
Yes, consumers are buying utility vehicles for reasons related to hatchback practicality, all-wheel-drive availability, and peer review equivalency. But they’re also buying SUVs and crossovers — more often than cars now — because they sit up high.
And the RAV4 Adventure sits up a little higher. Improved towing capacity, black wheels, more black cladding, and “dirt-inspired styling” have, however, led Toyota Canada to call the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Adventure the Toyota RAV4 Trail.
Yes, Trail — a name Toyota off-road enthusiasts will know well. Why isn’t Toyota using the Trail name in the United States?
Because the Trail, my friends, has ended.
It’s hard to go a day without overhearing people on the street whispering excitedly about the scandalous Toyota Sequoia. Okay, that statement is completely false, and no doubt part of the reason why Toyota saw fit to add an off-road-minded sport trim to its lightly refreshed full-size SUV for 2018.
Ah, hell, why not add it to the full-size Toyota Tundra pickup, as well?
2017 will be the fifth consecutive year of U.S. year-over-year sales decline for the venerable Toyota Prius.
The core member of the four-pronged Prius lineup — this non-Prime liftback — was once a seemingly unstoppable presence in America. Annual volume shot beyond 100,000 units in 2005 and rose to an all-time high of 181,221 sales in 2007.
But America’s post-recession enjoyment of lower fuel prices and an accompanying turn to SUVs and crossovers (plus a measure of distaste for the current model’s egregious exterior styling) led to a 98,866-unit U.S. sales result in 2016, a 12-year low for the Prius.
2017 will be worse. “We’re going to follow the market,” Toyota Motor Sales USA’s vice president for automotive operations, Bob Carter, told Wards Auto.
What’s that mean?
Toyota is planning a $600 million expansion of its Princeton, Indiana assembly plant to enhance production capacity and modernize the factory for the next-generation Highlander.
The company’s financial commitment underscores Toyota’s new and carefully domesticated image while serving to remind everyone that its cars are built in America for Americans — not unlike the company’s red, white, and blue display cars at this year’s North American International Auto Show.
“This announcement shows Toyota’s commitment to continued U.S. investment,” the company said in its official announcement. “This expansion is part of Toyota’s localization strategy to build vehicles where they are sold.”
The Toyota Echo, known as the Platz in its homeland (the hatchback was named Vitz), was available in the United States for the 2000 through 2005 model years. It was an inoffensive and reliable little commuter appliance, but something about its proportions seemed wrong to American car shoppers and few signed on the line that is dotted.
These days, even a Daewoo Lanos is easier to find than an Echo, but I was able to find this forlorn silver ’00 in a Denver-area self-service yard.
If you want a new midsize truck, you have four-and-a-half options. The geriatric but delightfully trucky Nissan Frontier, the recently reintroduced unibody Ridgeline, the insipid GM Colorado/Canyon twins, or the relatively fresh Toyota Tacoma. Each of these trucks has something to recommend it, but the midsize segment is not the dynamic space it once was. There are more station wagons available to American consumers today than mid-size pickups.
Amid the thin field of competition, the Toyota Tacoma is the undisputed sales leader. In 2016 it outsold its next closest rival by 46,000 units on its way to a 43 percent market share. And despite the lack of choice, consumers acquired 25 percent more midsize trucks in 2016 than they did in 2015. Thankfully, growth ensures that this highly visible yet under-served corner of the market will soon offer a selection more like Amazon than a Soviet-era grocery store. The Ford Ranger returns to the market in about two years, along with the much-anticipated Wrangler pickup. Nissan will soon update the prehistoric Frontier. And both Volkswagen and Mercedes are contemplating midsize entries.
Sales are robust for Toyota’s mid-sizer, but is it ready for tomorrow’s competition?
So you say you want to understand Toyota. You want to look the company in the eye and get a sense of its soul. Without spending hours studying kaizen and poring over 2000GT imagery and learning the significance of the number 86, you want to know why Toyota is different from, say, Porsche.
Allow the 2017 Toyota Corolla to be your tutor. In LE Eco guise, the fuel-sipping Corolla’s 1.8-liter four-cylinder produces 140 horsepower. In “sporty” SE and XSE trims, the 1.8-liter produces eight fewer horsepower.
With nothing more substantive than rear disc brakes, bigger wheels, and wider low-profile tires, the 2017 Toyota Corolla XSE and its less luxurious SE sibling hardly bring performance to the Corolla lineup. The loss of eight horsepower — and the gain of two pound-feet of torque – compared to the more efficient LE Eco aren’t performance-altering characteristics, either.
Think then of this Corolla XSE as just a Corolla, as merely a Corolla, as only a Corolla, as perhaps the most prudent transportation-oriented purchase a North American car buyer can make this year.
Or as the most joyless way to spend $24,130 on a new car.
Toyota promised the world a Yaris hatchback that would valiantly rise above the role of a plain-Jane commuter car, and here it is.
Expected to premiere at the Geneva Motor Show this March, the high performance three-door subcompact borrows inspiration, parts, and probably a name from Toyota’s Gazoo racing division.
“When you get into next year and you look at 2018, I believe with these three products
and the excitement they bring back to that segment, I don’t see it falling anymore.”
– Jack Hollis, Toyota Motor Sales USA’s VP of marketing
U.S. sales of midsize cars tumbled by more than 250,000 units in 2016 even as new vehicle volume rose to record highs. The rate of decline was sharper than the decline experienced by the car sector at large. Only Chevrolet, with the all-new Malibu, and Subaru, with the relatively low-volume Legacy, sold more midsize cars in 2016 than in 2015.
Fleet sales excluded, retail data manifests a worsening of results as the year wore on. According to J.D. Power’s PIN December Industry Health Report, midsize car market share fell below 10 percent for the first time ever.
But Toyota USA’s marketing chief, Jack Hollis, believes 2017 could mark the end of the midsize decline, and 2018 sales of midsize cars could even begin to increase.
Toyota is hoping to inject some vigor and flair into the best-selling car in America. With the midsize-car market shrinking thanks to affordable gas and a generational shift toward crossovers, the Camry has lost ground for the second consecutive year. While it is undeniably clear that something needs to be done to recapture buyers’ attention, the methodology behind Toyota’s response is more enthusiastic than sound.
The company says the 2018 Camry has a new “emotionally-charged design,” but the mood its designers tapped into must have been bitter sadness. It is an almost unfortunately futuristic modeling of a car. Following some of the Prius’ head-scratching styling cues, the Camry’s new look stands to be extremely polarizing.
Its face is exaggerated and slightly hostile, though the merkinized grille seems to be covering up a damaged — or perhaps missing — piece of bumper. Thankfully, appearances aren’t everything.
Long, long ago (2003), in a land far, far away (Torrance, California), Toyota’s American division woke from a fever dream of beige sedans, took a long, hard look at its life, and promptly embarked on a midlife crisis.
While the flow of staid and sensible Corollas and Camrys never ebbed, a funky new alter ego with a polar opposite personality emerged on the automotive scene. Scion was the Mr. Hyde to Toyota’s Dr. Jekyll. Youthful, offbeat, unapologetically boxy — anything but beige.
[s]Poochy[/s] Scion made a splash, but even crises have a shelf life. Eventually, the free-thinking, free-wheeling designs that temped college graduates a decade prior morphed into warmed-over second-generation models with watered-down attitudes. The brand’s original clientele, having abandoned their amateur photography websites and once-a-week DJ gigs for babies and 401(k)s, fell away.
After 13 years, it was time to ditch the gold medallions, torch the little black book, and go home to the wife. But Toyota didn’t pull up in the driveway empty-handed.