Platform shift drives Toyota changes
Toyota is accelerating the shift of its unibody products to a new modular platform that offers both better efficiency and sportier driving dynamics, known internally as Toyota New Global Architecture, or TNGA.
It already has moved the Prius hybrid, the new C-HR crossover and the Camry to the platform. A new crop of cars and utility vehicles are being readied for TNGA, which executives say will transform the brand into a more stylish and sportier player while creating flexible factories.
Toyota is considering inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto after becoming the last major holdout. Models not slated for an imminent move to TNGA — as well as body-on-frame trucks on a longer life cycle — are receiving regular updates.
Yaris: The U.S. version of the aging subcompact car gets a minor freshening for the 2018 model year with a bolder front grille and headlamps, as well as a wider stance at the rear and updated taillamps. A backup camera with trajectory comes standard as part of a revamped cabin. A full redesign and move to TNGA could come in 2020.
Yaris iA: The sedan version of the Yaris is sold in most markets as the Mazda Mazda2. It was redesigned for 2016 and sold as a Scion before migrating to Toyota, where it now outsells the Yaris hatchback by about 3-to-1. The iA comes in a single midlevel trim for now. Additional trim levels could come later.
Corolla: Freshened for the 2017 model year, Toyota's bread-and-butter compact carries over into next year without any changes other than the discontinuation of the 50th anniversary edition. In 2019, the redesigned TNGA version will emerge. Spy photos show early-stage testing but no styling details.
Corolla iM: The stylized hatchback is the sportiest-looking Corolla and comes from Toyota's European lineup, where it's sold as the Auris. It was introduced as a Scion for 2017 to inject some fresh blood into the now-defunct brand and carries over for the 2018 model year. Spy photos suggest the hatchback will move to TNGA around the same time as the Corolla sedan.
86: The former Scion FR-S received a midcycle freshening last year. For 2018, there is an 860 special edition with 860 units in orange and 860 in white. The special edition forms the basis of an upmarket trim level for the previously one-spec car, with LED fog lamps, 17-inch wheels and leather seats. Toyota builds the sporty rear-wheel-drive coupe with Subaru, and the two reportedly are working on the next generation, together or separately, which is likely to debut in 2019.
Camry: America's best-selling midsize sedan is completely redesigned for the 2018 model year following its move to a TNGA platform with double-wishbone suspension in the rear, an all-new four-cylinder base engine with around 200 hp and a mostly new V-6 good for 300 horses. Styling is more aggressive, especially in the sportier-looking S trims. The interior is new, and the infotainment system gets an update to Entune 3.0 with navigation standard via a smartphone app. The higher-end system gets built-in navigation with dynamic maps and JBL sound. The most-efficient hybrid model breaks the 50 mpg barrier. A midcycle freshening is expected in 2021.
Avalon: Built alongside the Camry at Toyota's Georgetown Ky. plant, the Avalon flagship sedan will move to a similar TNGA platform next year (likely as a 2019 model) and undergo its own conversion in style and substance. Spy photos suggest a more angular look and a continuation of the fastback design. Some of the Camry's new interior elements are likely to find their way into the Avalon.
Prius/Prius Prime: The world's most successful hybrid nameplate added the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid for the 2017 model year, doubling the electric-only range of the previous plug-in. It sits on the same TNGA platform as the regular Prius, which was redesigned for 2016. Both models carry over for 2018.
Prius c/Prius v: The Prius — hatchback gets a mild freshening for the 2018 model year but no move to the TNGA platform yet. Exterior updates include a black roof rail accent on models without a sunroof, silver-accented body guards and new eight-spoke alloy wheels. Inside, an integrated backup camera is standard. The wagonlike Prius v also carries over on the old platform.
Mirai: The hydrogen fuel cell sedan receives minor interior updates in 2018, including additional USB charging ports and a larger charging tray. Starting next year, the Mirai will venture outside California and launch in several Northeastern states. A smaller fuel cell vehicle in the Mirai family could come before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Supra successor: Spy photos of a two-door coupe expected to revive the Toyota Supra nameplate, as well as a BMW ragtop that is sharing the platform as part of a cost-saving collaboration, have been out for a while. Expectations in the automotive media are that the BMW Z4 successor would go first but that both would be built in a contract factory in Austria. The Toyota should show up at a car show next year and perhaps be sold as a 2019 or 2020 model.
C-HR: The subcompact "coupe high-rider" is new for the 2018 model year and sitting on the TNGA C-segment platform. Conceived as a Scion, the cute ute comes in just two fairly close trim levels, XLE and XLE Premium. It also only comes in two-wheel drive with a continuously variable transmission. But more trim levels are coming, as is all-wheel drive and perhaps a hybrid in the next few years. A midcycle freshening is expected in 2021.
RAV4: The compact crossover now is Toyota's best-selling vehicle in the U.S. For the 2018 model year, a new Adventure grade slots between the XLE and the sporty SE. The Adventure has large over-fender flares and special sill protectors and rides slightly higher for more of an off-road look. The RAV4 was freshened for the 2016 model year and is on track to move to a TNGA platform sometime next year as a 2019 model.
Highlander: Freshened for 2017, the large crossover and its hybrid version carry over unchanged for next year and are queued up for a move to TNGA, likely in 2020.
4Runner: Despite its aging body-on-frame platform, Toyota's midsize SUV is on a hot streak, with double-digit sales gains in the first half of the year on the strength of its chunky good looks and off-road capability. The only thing new for 2018 are a couple of trim packages to make it even more trucklike. Look for a redesign, possibly in 2021, but Toyota is in no hurry.
Sequoia: Riding on a full-size truck platform that has had few updates over the last decade, the Sequoia sits in last place on the sales chart among large SUVs. For the 2018 model year, it gets the TRD Sport grade for the first time, with better on-road handling and meaner blacked-out looks. All Sequoias get minor exterior updates plus Toyota's now-standard safety suite. A new generation should debut with the Tundra pickup on which it is based, probably for the 2020 model year.
Land Cruiser: Also in the sales basement, the large premium SUV Land Cruiser soldiers on another year, with minor exterior and interior updates for 2018. Its last freshening in 2016 brought a few nods to the modern world with an eight-speed gearbox and the Safety Sense suite. The Land Cruiser is a global product on a very long life cycle, so there's no sign of a full update in the short term.
Tacoma: The segment-leading midsize pickup received a full redesign for the 2016 model year, and no major updates are expected in the near term. For 2018, the truck gets the full suite of Toyota Safety Sense security features standard plus some minor grille updates. The five-speed manual transmission on lower grades is discontinued while the six-speed manual lives on. A freshening is likely in 2020.
Tundra: Toyota's full-size pickup gets some minor styling updates for 2018 in addition to the new TRD Sport trim with better on-road handling. The off-road TRD Pro package is discontinued as is the regular (non-extended) single-cab version. The brand's full safety suite is standard. Still a relatively strong seller for a non-American pickup, the Tundra should get a full redesign in 2019.
Sienna: Freshened for 2015, Toyota's minivan is getting another dose of styling and technology updates for the 2018 model year. There's a new front fascia, the new Entune 3.0 infotainment system with standard navigation through a smartphone app, and a full suite of safety features. A full redesign and the move to TNGA is likely to come in 2019 for the 2020 model year.
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