Long known as a purveyor of reliable yet uninspiring transportation, Toyota recently started making cars and crossovers that are more interesting and more fun to drive. And soon, this effort will be capstoned by the long-anticipated return of the Supra.
2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
The Toyota Corolla sedan is our favorite over-the-counter sleep aid, but the new Corolla hatch seems to have a bit of life in it. Essentially an Americanized version of the European-market Auris, the hatchback shares its TNGA architecture with the Camry, a car that has impressed us way more than we expected. The 168-hp 2.0-liter naturally aspirated I-4 feels lively when mated to a six-speed manual, and although the continuously variable transmission dampens the fun, it gets points for trying: It uses a geared connection at low speeds for snappier starts and imitates a 10-speed stepped transmission when it’s on the move. Practicality is limited, as the Corolla hatchback is sized more for parking than packing.
On sale: Now
Base price: $20,910
2019 Toyota RAV4
We know, we know, but we’re kind of excited about the new RAV4. Like the new Camry, it’s based on the TNGA platform, and we expect it’ll work the same magic on the RAV that it did on the sedan. It’s exciting visually as well; although the size is about the same as the old car, the proportions are completely different. We like the aggressive new look and are pleased to see Toyota backing away from the bottom-feeder grille that afflicts the new Camry and Avalon. Toyota plans nine variants, two powertrains (conventional and hybrid), and three all-wheel-drive systems. Non-hybrid RAV4s will get Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select system, which should give the RAV4 better-than-expected all-wheel-drive chops. As with the Camry, there will be a high-end sport-themed XSE model, which will be available with the hybrid drivetrain.
As for another potential Toyota crossover that has piqued our interest, it’s been more than a year since the FT-4X concept bowed at the 2017 New York auto show, and although Toyota announced no production plans, it hinted heavily that the FT-4X foreshadowed a future product. There’s certainly a big hole in the company’s SUV lineup beneath the RAV4, one that the front-drive-only C-HR doesn’t quite fill. We imagine a small, rugged crossover that combines the cool factor of the original Scion xB with off-road abilities derived from the 4Runner—something along the lines of a less capable but edgier-looking Jeep Renegade Trailhawk. The RAV4 and upcoming Supra will no doubt keep Toyota busy for a while, but we’d hope to see a production version by 2020 or 2021.
On sale: December 2018
Base price: $27,000 (est)
2020 Toyota Supra
We’ve been waiting so long that it hardly seems possible the day is upon us—the day the new Supra will finally appear. We’ve published enough photos of camouflaged Supras to paper our office, and then there’s the GR Supra race car Toyota showed undisguised at the 2018 Geneva auto show—a shrewd move on its part, as an aeroed-up and stripped-down racer reveals next to nothing about the production version’s body trim and interior. We know the Supra is being co-developed with BMW and that it will share its architecture with the upcoming Z4. That means the new version will be significantly trimmer than the behemoth it grew into in the 1990s. It will feature the classic long-hood, short-deck proportions, and it now seems the nifty double-bubble roof will make it into production. The big question, though, is whether the Supra will feel like a proper Toyota or a rebadged BMW. And then there’s the engine: Chief engineer Tetsuya Tada has acknowledged that Supra fans expect an inline-six. Toyota doesn’t have one, but BMW has a lovely straight-six ready to go, which is all but assured to be the Supra’s primary powerplant. The car should hit the streets in 2019, but whether the U.S. will be one of the first countries to receive it remains yet another mystery.
On sale: Mid-2019 (est)
Base price: $45,000 (est)