Toyota’s hybrid strategy will spread

Avalon: The large sedan got a mild freshening this year and is likely to see continual small improvements as necessary instead of a costly major redesign, given the collapse of sedan sales in general. Under the brand’s traditional product cycle, the Avalon would be due for a full freshening in 2022, but it remains questionable as to whether the struggling segment will warrant the added investment.

Supra: Reintroduced for the 2020 model year, the Supra won’t be due for a cosmetic freshening until at least 2023, given Toyota’s product cadence.

86: Toyota and Subaru are working on a next-generation 86/BRZ that will sport a new 2.4-liter boxer engine. It’s expected in late 2021.

Mirai: The second-generation hydrogen-powered sedan gets a full-body makeover for 2020, with sleek styling that will fit in well with other luxury sedans when the Mirai arrives in a few showrooms late this year. A lack of fueling infrastructure will continue to limit sales — the current generation is on sale only in California and Hawaii — but Toyota remains committed to hydrogen’s promise for the future.

Prius/Prius Prime: Toyota sought to expand the reach of its trailblazing hybrid by adding an all-wheel-drive derivative in 2020, following the introduction of its plug-in Prime model in 2019. Executives at Toyota Motor North America are taking long looks at the Prius’ declining sales, seeing some customers getting poached by Tesla and others moving into one of Toyota’s other now-prevalent hybrid offerings. If the Prius stays — and Toyota is normally loath to give up any segment, let alone one it created — it could undergo one more refresh in 2023, given Toyota product cycles.

Subcompact crossover: Likely to be known as the Toyota Corolla Cross, this subcompact crossover will split the burgeoning segment with the older, Japan-built C-HR when it goes into production alongside a twin from Mazda at the new joint plant in Alabama. Expect a hotter hatch than the C-HR, and one that could be a better draw for young buyers looking for their first Toyota but who might not want a sedan. It should be in showrooms very late in 2021, but it may slip into 2022, given the delays this year from COVID-19.

C-HR: Toyota has already done some mild interventions with its C-HR subcompact crossover since it was introduced in 2017. A redesign would be due as early as 2022, but the brand’s experiment with splitting the segment by adding another subcompact crossover could impact the timing and scope of that update.

RAV4: Toyota’s hottest-selling nameplate and its hybrid version have been going great guns since the redesigned RAV4 debuted in 2018. A full refresh is likely in 2022 under Toyota’s traditional product cycle for its popular compact crossover.

Venza: The 2021 Venza midsize crossover, arriving at dealerships in August, is an Americanized version of the Japan-built Harrier. The two-row hybrid, slotted between the RAV4 and the Highlander, will boast up to 40 mpg in combined fuel economy with its hybrid-only powertrain, Toyota says. The Venza is equipped with a 2.5-liter inline-four engine mated to three electric motors, delivering 219 hp. Inside, the Venza features an available center-mounted 12.3-inch touch screen, a 7-inch display in the instrument cluster, a digital rearview mirror and a 10-inch color head-up display.

Highlander: Toyota’s three-row crossover received a redesign in 2019, including some much improved creature comforts and safety features. Toyota is likely to do some one-off special editions before the Highlander is due for its first midcycle freshening in 2022.

4Runner: With no significant signs that Toyota is considering a return of the FJ Cruiser, executives will be keeping a close eye on the success of the new Ford Bronco lineup to guide the redesign of the Tacoma-based 4Runner midsize SUV in 2023. The redesign onto the brand’s body-on-frame F1 platform should allow designers and engineers to greatly improve the 4Runner, with the off-road performance package getting extra goodies to accompany Toyota’s latest safety and infotainment offerings, and with a hybrid powertrain for added power and torque. If done right, a redesigned 4Runner might be able to interject itself into an otherwise two-way debate between the Jeep Wrangler and Bronco among off-road enthusiasts.

Sequoia: Like the Tundra on which it’s based, Toyota’s three-row, body-on-frame large SUV is long in the tooth and in desperate need of an overhaul, which will arrive in 2022, when it is to be redesigned onto the F1 platform. The redesigned Sequoia is expected to get a full roster of ungraded infotainment and driver-assist systems, along with a hybrid powertrain that will improve torque and horsepower as well as fuel economy for the thirsty SUV.

Land Cruiser: In an era when big SUVs are in vogue, it may seem counterintuitive that Toyota Motor North America would think about voluntarily giving up its fabled Land Cruiser, the 60-year-old three-row luxury off-roader. The future of the low-volume, high-profit Land Cruiser was in doubt, given fuel economy standards and the fact that it bumps hard into the heart of the Lexus lineup. However, sources say Toyota will redesign the Land Cruiser onto the GA-F platform in the second half of 2021.

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