Between dealing with its unintended acceleration woes and production shortfalls from last year’s tsunami, Toyota’s North American product line has fallen behind the competition. The new 2012 Camry is selling well, but what else is in store?
There are a few bright lights in Toyota’s stable of cars. The best-selling Camry was overhauled for 2012, as was the subcompact Yaris, and the Scion iQ and FR-S were both introduced in the past year. Next up is the recently revealed 2013 Avalon that, based on styling alone, will shake up the otherwise-bland large sedan class. Following that will be an “all-new” Corolla. The Corolla’s update will mirror that of the Yaris, gaining a more attractive design and updated interior, but continuing on with the same chassis and engines. Automotive News reports that the Corolla will (finally) gain a new transmission to help boost the current car’s 34-mpg highway rating. The compact sedan’s Matrix companion will be axed after within a year of the new Corolla’s introduction next fall.
Those who mourned the loss of the Celica will still be out of luck here. An FR-S-based convertible or a turbocharged variant is apparently in the cards, but only for Japanese and European markets. What we will get is an all-electric version of the iQ city car at the end of this year; however, the iQ EV will only have a range of about 50 miles.
As of this year, Toyota has completed fleshing out the Prius lineup. Complementing the original namesake, there is now the larger Prius v, the smaller Prius c, and the plug-in electric hybrid. An all-new, fourth-generation of the iconic green car is due in 2014, and may potentially bear a close resemblance to the the 2012 NS4 Concept from the Detroit show. Also expect to see lithium-ion batteries replace the current car’s nickel-metal hydride cells thanks to the brand’s tie-up with Tesla. There will also be more architecture sharing with the Corolla, meaning that the Prius could be built at the company’s Blue Springs, Mississippi plant – a boon to help hedge against the fluctuating Yen-dollar exchange rate and to help bring the new Mississippi plant up to full capacity. In fact, the Prius models are the only Toyotas not built in North America outside of the low-selling FJ Cruiser, 4Runner, and Land Cruiser SUVs.
Speaking of SUVs, the big news for Toyota will be the next RAV4. Due early next year, the fourth-generation crossover will actually shrink in size, eschewing the nominal third row, a source close to Toyota told us. Also, don’t expect to see the 3.5-liter V-6 return – the 2.5-liter I-4 will be the only engine option for the next RAV4. Rumors that the next RAV will grow roughly to the size of the original Highlander are unlikely – a new third-gen Highlander is due next fall and isn’t slated to grow. Again, the midsize crossover will share its underpinnings and powertrains with the Camry. Elsewhere in Toyota’s crossover lineup is a new Venza due for 2015 (it was just lightly refreshed for 2013); the Sienna minivan will carry on with its 2011 redesign until 2016 or 2017.
The truck-based SUV range will be trimmed with the loss of the FJ Cruiser, thanks to the car’s low demand. Both the Land Cruiser and the 4Runner recently saw updates and will carry on for the time being. The question remains on what Toyota will do with the Sequoia – AN reports an all-new model for 2014, but there is no saying if it will continue on sharing with the Tundra pickup or become a long-wheelbase Land Cruiser. No matter what, the Sequoia will remain as a body-on-frame SUV.
The Tacoma saw a mild update for the 2013 model year, but a full changeover is due in 2014 to meet new emissions and safety regulations. Don’t expect too much different from the new Tacoma or the revised Tundra, which is coming next year. Toyota will call it an all-new truck, but our source tells us that it is little more than a heavy facelift in the name of cost savings. Powertrains will carry over for now, but a new, more efficient engine is supposedly in the works for the Tundra, but, no, it won’t use turbocharging like Ford and its EcoBoost V-6 F-150.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)