After a string of recalls tarnished Toyota’s reputation early last year, the Japanese automaker now plans to release a rapid-fire burst of new models in the coming years to win back U.S. customers. According to Automotive News, Toyota has at least 10 new or redesigned models set to arrive in dealer showrooms by 2012.
The decision to release more vehicles can be attributed to a recent shift in strategy, which involves a longer lifespan for Toyota platforms, but more frequent and more dramatic updates. Under the old product plan, a model would be redesigned about every five years and get a facelift around the three-year mark. The new strategy calls for an increased platform life, requiring Toyota to wait six years to perform a redesign, with more drastic sheet metal changes and powertrain upgrades in between. Per Automotive News, here’s a breakdown of what Toyota’s lineup for 2012 and beyond will look like.
Yaris – Held up by the March earthquake and Tsunami that crippled Japan’s economy and supply chain, a redesign of Toyota’s sub-compact is finally due this fall. The new Yaris will be a bit larger, at two inches longer than the current model and also riding on a longer wheelbase. Three- and five-door hatchbacks will be the first body configurations offered, with a sedan version also reportedly in the works. The 1.5-liter four-cylinder will likely remain the base engine in North America, mated to either a CVT or five-speed manual transmission.
iQ EV – A fleet-only electric version of Scion’s iQ (called the Toyota iQ elsewhere in the world) could arrive by 2012. The iQ EV’s anticipated range of just 50 miles will limit its use to commercial fleets with short routes centered around facilities with charging stations.
Corolla – Redesigned for 2009, the current-gen Corolla will be the first to stretch its lifespan beyond the five-year standard. A minor facelift for 2011 may have turned off some consumers, but it ushered in the new product strategy and makes way for a 2012 refresh that’s expected to bring more than just a nip-tuck for the fascia. A redesign could come by spring 2014, which could draw inspiration from European designs rather than go the curvaceous, wind tunnel-sculpted route of the Hyundai Elantra and Ford Focus.
Camry – The best-selling Camry will undergo a redesign for 2012, focusing on interior design and improving amenities and convenience features. Size shouldn’t stray far from the current model’s dimensions, and the base four- and six-cylinder engines will carry over for the first year. A Camry hybrid model could boast over 200 hp.
Prius – The Prius line will grow to include four models over the next few years, comprised of a plug-in version of the normal body style, a sporty hatchback, and a stretched MPV model. The Plug-in will arrive by summer 2012 and will come with a lithium-ion battery that allows for a 14-mile all-electric range. Nickel-metal hydride batteries will continue to be used in the regular Prius until that car’s scheduled 2015 redesign. The Prius C is set to arrive by spring 2012, and will target younger buyers with its two-door hatchback look. As the Prius C will be smaller, fuel mileage and acceleration should be improved over the standard Prius. The Prius V will offer more room for passengers, but achieve lower fuel economy when it launches this fall.
Prius Pickup – Automotive News reports that the Prius line could grow by one more, as powers within Toyota are battling to create a small pickup that could launch under the Prius nameplate. The biggest argument regarding this vehicle now revolves around where it will fit in price-wise, since hybrid tech would add cost and compact pickups generally carry low prices. If produced, Automotive News speculates that a Prius pickup will only be able to handle light loads, and won’t arrive for at least a couple years.
Avalon – The new Avalon apparently had dealers excited when it was introduced at the national dealer meeting in Las Vegas this past June. Toyota’s next full-size flagship car will reportedly take styling cues from such curvy four-doors as Audi’s A7 and Jaguar’s XJ. The 3.5-liter V-6 will carry over, while handling is expected to improve. The redesign could finally improve the Avalon’s image with the younger set, something Toyota has tried unsuccessfully to do in the past.
FT-86 – The much-anticipated spiritual successor to the ‘80s Corolla AE86 could arrive with 240 hp from a Subaru-sourced boxer engine equipped with a Toyota head. However, Automotive News thinks that the risk of competing with the versions from Scion and Subaru might prompt Toyota to release the car as a four-door coupe instead. We’re not sure about that, but at any rate, Toyota’s FT-86 is at least two years away.
RAV4 – A redesign is scheduled for the slow-selling RAV4, with the next-gen model set to arrive by summer 2012. The 3.5-liter V-6, which made for a fun but overpowered crossover, will be dropped the next time around, leaving the 2.5-liter four-cylinder as the only engine option for the first year or so. An all-electric version is being developed jointly by Toyota and Tesla, and should have a real-world range of 100 miles. A hybrid version is also reportedly in development.
Highlander – Automotive News expects the current Highlander to retire this year alongside the Camry on which it is based. The next Highlander will again share a platform with the Camry, meaning a new model should be available in 2012, likely with carryover powertrains at first.
Sequoia/Land Cruiser – Yes, you read that right. Toyota could merge its two large SUV nameplates, relegating the Sequoia name to a lower trim level of the Land Cruiser, possibly even the base model. As for which platform will be used, there is debate within Toyota on whether to continue to import the rugged Land Cruiser, which is watered down and luxed up from the versions sold in Australia and the rest of the world, or move the model to the Tundra platform like the current Sequoia. Whatever the case, changes won’t take place until the 2014 model year.
While most of Toyota’s lineup will live on to see a new generation, the Corolla-based Matrix won’t make the cut. The Solara name is also not expected to return, as the next-gen Camry likely won’t get a coupe version. Other models that won’t see major changes anytime soon, whether due to a recent redesign or other reasons, include the Venza, Sienna, FJ Cruiser, 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)