Toyota plans to move into new product segments over the next 18 months, as well as redesign several mainstream models.
By the spring of 2012, Toyota will launch all-new versions of the Camry, Yaris, Tacoma and RAV4. Also, the new FT-86 sport coupe, developed with Subaru, should arrive on these shores by that time. And in the wings are a plug-in version of the Prius and a Prius coupe.
Yaris: A redesign is scheduled for the 2012 model year. Japan may get a hybrid version, but the strong yen will prevent the hybrid from coming to the United States. Instead, expect a six-speed automatic transmission with short lower gears and tall upper gears to improve acceleration and fuel economy. A newly engineered 1.5-liter engine is probable, as the current one has been around for more than a decade. Forget rumors of a 1.8-liter engine. Unless Toyota significantly widens the engine bay, it won't fit.
Corolla: Toyota extended the Corolla's cadence to six years for its last redesign and, with all the engineering challenges the company faces, probably will do so again. That will make its 2012 model year restyling more extensive than a mere fascia change -- more likely a reskin -- and would push a redesign to spring 2014.
Matrix: The Canada-built five-door compact is based on the Corolla platform, so expect it to continue until the spring of 2014, when the Corolla is redesigned. But with the strong yen pushing Toyota to build more Corollas in North America -- and with the Fremont, Calif., assembly plant now closed -- the ratio of Corollas to Matrixes built in Cambridge, Ontario, is likely to swing away from the Matrix.
Camry: The Camry was being redesigned as Congress was setting stricter corporate average fuel economy standards, delaying development a few months. Expect the next Camry to arrive in late 2011 or early 2012 as a 2012 model, as opposed to the typical late-summer launch.
Toyota will maintain the Camry's current footprint, although it may be wider. The fascia will follow the styling of the Venza. There also may be updates to the V-6.
Camry Solara: It's dead.
Prius: A plug-in version is expected in the 2012 model year. Current prototypes have a 14-mile battery-only range, but that may be extended with a larger battery pack. The prototypes also have a lithium ion battery pack, which may be added as part of a 2013 model year midcycle change and give the hybrid 50 mpg in the combined city/highway cycle.
A full redesign slated for the 2015 model year will have the lithium pack. A decontented version code-named "Package Zero" -- meant to undercut Honda's Insight -- is planned once U.S. production starts.
Prius coupe: Using Prius underpinnings but with more dramatic styling, the coupe would be built at Toyota's new plant in Mississippi. It's meant to be a Honda CR-Z competitor. Toyota already has conducted a design competition involving the company's four global design studios and a couple of outside coachbuilders. The global vehicle could be built in Japan in 2012 as a 2013 model.