What future Toyota cars and trucks will we see?
SUV roundup (2/9/2023)
A new Sequoia is due in late 2022, along with a re-engineered Highlander which will get you ready for the Grand Highlander in late 2023.
The 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander is like a Grand Cherokee L or Grand Wagoneer L or Grand Caravan—an extended wheelbase Highlander. First shown at the 2023 Chicago Auto Show, the 2024 Grand Highlander fits between the Highlander and Sienna, with another six inches of leg room, two and a half inches of shoulder room, and an inch of head room; there's also 4.6 cubic feet more space in the cargo area. It was designed in the United States and will be made in Indiana; its powertrains are the 2.4 turbo four and two hybrid setups. At best, it can get 34 mpg or 362 horsepower, with maximum towing of 5,000 pounds. The 362 horsepower rating brings it close to the Dodge Durango V8 (not the SRT version, though), but with better economy. Inside, it will have a 12-inch touch screen and new audio system designed to work mostly from speech, along with a full panoply of safety and convenience features; a new feature is Proactive Driving Assist, which appears to be a combination of radar-based cruise control and lane control.
A new 4Runner is expected in 2024, along with a refreshed Venza.
Car lineup changes (2/9/2023)
The Avalons was replaced by the Crown series.
Corolla has a hot new GR version, with a true high performance engine.
A revised Camry is due for 2024. Toyota’s first battery-electric, a sedan, is due for 2025.
Toyota Tundra and Tacoma pickups (8/4/2022)
That center light bar is indeed real, and ready to blind any unfortunate car that might be ahead of the Tundra. If you’re still driving a sedan or coupe, prepare to put sunglasses on your rearview mirrors—especially with those high-mounted headlights. Expect it in early 2023.
Full size pickups are the final frontier for Toyota in the United States; the company dominates nearly every part of the market other than full size pickups and battery-electric cars, and the market for the big pickups is larger than any other segment. What’s more, once a pickup is developed, a highly profitable big SUV invariably follows—the Sequoia and possibly the Land Cruiser can share powertrains and engineering.
The Toyota Tundra’s redesign is quite comprehensive, to leapfrog the aged truck for last place to first place in large American pickups for a while—which it does in powertrain, if not in ride quality. See the full 2022 Toyota Tundra section.
It’s not the only pickup being changed; a new generation of Tacoma is finally coming for early 2023. While Tacoma hasn’t lagged nearly as much as Tundra, and while sales have been excellent, new competition has been capturing more buyers, so a new Tacoma can’t come early enough.
Toyota Land Cruiser and Lexus LX
The new Sequoia is being codeveloped with the Tundra, and the Land Cruiser will join it around a year after the Sequoia. The Land Cruiser doesn’t sell well enough to justify its own body, and the Jeep Wagoneer showed the solution for that back in 1963, and again this year. The original Wagoneer was launched at nearly the same time as a new Jeep Gladiator full-size pickup—no relation to the current Wrangler-based Gladiator. Confused? Buy the book.
The Land Cruiser and Lexus LX sit on a new platform, dubbed GA-F—440 pounds lighter yet 20% more rigid than the outgoing model, with the safety and convenience features one expects from the price. The lower weight brings a lower center of gravity, while a new suspension improves on-road and off-road handling alike; a high-mount double wishbone suspension is used up front and a new trailing-link rigid axle system is used in back, with new shock absorber locations. Hydraulic-electric steering supports lane tracing assist, and reduces kickback from road issues.
A Torsen limited-slip differential distributes torque between left and right wheels, while a multi-terrain feature has six modes. A new monitor allows checking for blind spots with four cameras, and has a computer-generated view of what is currently underneath the vehicle.
The Land Cruiser’s V8 is gone, and is likely gone from the Tundra as well, replaced by a achoice of 3.3 liter diesel (309 hp) and 3.5 liter twin-turbo V6 (415 hp), each coupled to a ten-speed. Fuel economy on the Japanese version rose by 18% on the gasoline engine and 45% on the diesel.
The 2022 Lexus LX 600 uses the same 3.5 liter twin-turbo engine, with a 12.3 inch upper instrument panel screen and 7-inch lower instrument panel screen; the lower display shows the climate control and supports MultiTerrain. The upper screen supports the terrain cameras. An Ultra Luxury grade is new and supports a great deal of luxury for rear passengers, including maximum leg space of 43 inches. A new F Sport model has special wheels and other touches, with a special seat design to support higher g-forces.
New features incldue a fingerprint sensor on the starter, and pedestrian and bicyclist detection on the pre-collision setup. A new GR Sport edition is tougher on off-road use, and includes the world’s first electronic kinetic dynamic suspension, independently controlling front and rear stabilizers.
Sales of the vehicle are roughly 300,000 per year, across 170 countries. However, it is being dropped in the United States; the new model will never arrive. It is built in Japan. The earliest Land Cruiser, cloned from the Willys Jeep in 1951, was one of the first Toyotas to be sold in the United States.
Toyota’s decades of work on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles may be key to the company’s future success, as demands for zero-emissions cars meet up with wind turbines, solar power, and rural buyers. Battery-electrics are unlikely to ever be useful in long-haul trucking, ships, or rural vehicles; but hydrogen power can fill in the gaps. What's more, because wind turbines spend a good deal of time with their brakes on—because they are faster to spin up or down than traditional power sources—they may be tapped to generate hydrogen when the grid has enough power from other places.
A new fuel-cell-powered Mirai car is coming soon, because Toyota plans to use their hydrogen engineering for trucks, trains, ships, and power generation. Dual power stacks will run Class 8 trucks (the big semis, or tractor-trailer trucks) at two ports in California; in Japan, the company will test single power stacks in light duty trucks. Meanwhile, in Europe, Peugeot (Stellantis) has started developing cars where an area is set aside for either storage batteries or hydrogen fuel cells, allowing the rest of the car to be shared; this should slash development costs, a move that is unlikely to be ignored by Toyota.
Battery-electric and PHEV
Toyota is finally releasing battery-electric vehicles. They are targeting Europe first, because fuel prices remain high, emissions rules are tight, and people are moving on from diesel. Toyota has grown its market share in Europe by roughly one percentage point in the last year, due to the shift from diesels to hybrids.
The first of the new electrics will be similar in size and shape to the RAV4, and is due in late 2022. A new electric developed on the e-SUBARU Global Platform has been named Subaru Solterra; the Toyota concept was named bZ4X.
Toyota is also to release an updated Proace City small electric van (really a rebadged Stellantis/Peugeot) for next Fall. Toyota already the Lexus UX300e in Europe—a battery powered small crossover. e-TNGA is designed to range from small cars up to three-row crossovers, with rear, front, or all wheel drive, and batteries from 50 to 100 kWh. The overall goal is having ten zero-emissions vehicles for sale in Europe by 2025 (some created with Subaru, and six based on Toyota’s e-TNGA).
Starting around 2025, Toyota plans to use a new solid state battery, which has different chemistry from existing car batteries; it is said to be lighter and faster to charge (it may have more space between layers, which would avoid rupturing).
More Toyota news
Lexus’ planned high-performance V8 might be shelved because it could not hit performance goals. Indeed, Toyota may stop all V8 development, despite the Tundra and Land Cruiser, replacing V8s with hybrid V6 setups. Ford has replaced truck V8s (though not entirely) with turbo-V6 engines; Toyota could carve a similar path using hybrid-V6 combinations.
Toyota, like most other automakers, is trying to move cars onto common platforms dimensions and architectures; the Corolla, Camry, RAV4, Highlander, Avalon, and future Yaris moved onto a single new platform/architecture. These newer versions have more invested in the suspension and chassis; years of cost-cutting are being reversed. The new C-HR subcompact coupe crossover is on the same chassis and to be updated soon.
A formerly huge seller, the Toyota Sienna minivan — America’s most reliable minivan for many years, easily beating the Honda Odyssey — has been moved onto TNGA as a 2021 model, and was made hybrid-only. For 2020, the old Sienna was the #4 selling minivan in America, with roughly half the sales of the Pacifica. It appears the Sienna might be the #1 minivan in the USA for 2021.
The Lexus UX is a subcompact TNGA crossover. The Yaris sedan, a Mazda2 with Toyota labels (formerly called “Scion iA”), is being dropped.
Toyota worked with Subaru, which is partly owns, on a sports car, the Toyota 86 (formerly called Scion FR-S, and also sold as Subaru BRZ) — the name being old slang for getting rid of something (hence also Maxwell Smart’s code number). There’s another joint venture based sports car coming — the next-gen Toyota Supra, which is mainly a BMW. A four cylinder and six cylinder are anticipated; the race version, likely not sharing parts with the production version, has already been shown.
In 2009, nearly ten years ago, Akio Toyoda took control of Toyota as President and almost immediately dropped his predecessor’s plan to boost global market share, instead changing Toyota’s priorities to focus on high-quality, affordable cars. Akio Toyoda said that rapid growth had strained Toyota’s resources. Today, Toyota is, like other automakers, pushing resources into the increasingly-popular crossovers; but it has not stopped supporting cars, either.
At Lexus, the IS and GS may be dropped, and the ES may be extended with all wheel drive and a power boost to take up where the GS left off. A new three-row Lexus crossover is likely, and the company is looking into other crossover niches. The new ES gained a power boost and an additional two forward gears in the transmission, and moved to the capable new TNGA platform/architecture. A new F Sport package is expected to account for nearly a quarter of new Lexus ES sales.
Stay tuned for updates to this page.