CHICAGO -- Toyota’s broader light-truck strategy came into sharper focus at last week’s Chicago Auto Show. While the refreshed Tacoma and new trim levels for the Sequoia, RAV4 and Land Cruiser certainly will play a part, the automaker’s actions across its light-truck lineup can be summed up by a single word:
More Tundras from its pickup plant in San Antonio because another plant can now make more Tacomas, allowing for broader variations and greater improvements in the refreshed 2020 versions.
Toyota also is adding variants, including the 2020 Sequoia TRD Pro, which aims to boost the off-road chops of one of the brand’s beefiest SUVs. The upcoming 2020 RAV4 TRD Off-Road finally gives some legitimate off-road bona fides to one of the vehicles that first embodied the phrase “soft-roader” two decades ago, aiming to give even more consumer appeal to what is already the nation’s top-selling crossover. And the Japanese automaker will offer more high-end nostalgia in its light-truck lineup in the form of a limited-run, specially badged 2020 Land Cruiser Heritage Edition.
It’s all part of a strategy to strike the light-truck market while it continues to be hot, and doing so -- because Toyota has the resources and discipline to pursue more than one global strategy at a time -- while continuing to invest in its historically strong position in compact and midsize sedans.
In 2018, sales of Toyota-brand light trucks -- its two pickups, as well as its SUVs and crossovers -- in the U.S. rose 8.9 percent to 1.33 million units, making up 62 percent of the brand’s overall sales. Five light-truck nameplates had more than 100,000 sales for the year, and all had sales increases:
- RAV4, up 4.8 percent to 427,170
- Tacoma, up 24 percent to 245,659
- Highlander, up 13 percent to 244,511
- 4Runner, up 8.9 percent to 139,694
- Tundra, up 1.7 percent to 118,258.