Cynthia Tenhouse, vice president, Vehicle Marketing & Communications, Toyota Motors North America, made it quite clear about the company’s intentions when it comes to things like the Camry and Avalon.
“I’m often asked, ‘Why so many sedans?’” she said. “There is a simple answer: Because we are selling them.”
The 2021 Toyota Camry. Yes, people still buy midsize sedans. The Camry has been the best-seller in the segment for 18 years. (Images: Toyota)
While she acknowledged the SUV and truck market is huge—“We are benefiting from those, as well” (e.g., in the first half of 2020, the company has sold 183,360 RAV4s; to put that into context, during the same period Ford sold 84,797 Escapes)—she also said that the car segment represented about 4.5-million units int 2019, so they’re not going to give those a pass.
To that end, they are bolstering the offerings within the lineups of the Camry and Avalon, and are even offering a 2021 fuel-cell-powered Mirai on a new RWD platform.
17 different choices in the midsize sedan segment:
- Three 301-hp V6 grades – XLE, XSE and TRD
- Five 203-hp 4-cylinder FWD grades – LE, XLE, SE, SE Nightshade, XSE
- Five 203-hp 4-cyl. AWD grades – LE, XLE, SE, SE Nightshade, XSE (this has 205 hp)
- Four hybrid (system output: 208 hp) grades – LE, XLE, SE, XSE
Camry will be the first Toyota model to offer the company’s Toyota Safety System (TSS) 2.5+ standard. Toyota’s Tom Kretschmann said that the system makes use of improved radar and camera systems, that allow things like detection of bicyclists in daylight and pedestrians in low-light. For vehicles that have the Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control option, if the system is engaged and the vehicle in front is going slower, when the driver flicks on the turn signal the system will provide an initial increase in acceleration so as to get the vehicle better prepared for changing lanes.
The big change here is that it offers all-wheel drive for the first time. The system—“Dynamic Torque Control”—can direct up to 50% of engine torque to the rear wheels if slipperiness is detected or at acceleration from a start.
Avalon, for the first time in its 26 years, is now available with AWD.
There is an electromagnetically controlled coupling on the rear drive axle that disengages the prop shaft when AWD isn’t needed.
Toyota anticipates the AWD take rate will account for about 20% of all Avalon sales.
The previous-generation Hyundai Elantra (2010 to 2015) had the edgy Fluidic Sculpture design forming its sheet metal; it’s bigger brethren, the Sonata, was more visible in this regard, though the smaller size of the Elantra gave the skin a greater tautness than was the case on the Sonata.
What happens if that $2.29 a gallon goes up by a couple of bucks a year from now? How are the pickup, SUV and crossover sales going to be then?
If heritage means anything in this industry, then it is surprising that Buick doesn’t make more of its history because the story of the early years of the company is nothing short of astonishing.