After years of being on top, the Japanese automotive conglomerate has finally been dethroned from the number one spot of the biggest carmakers in the world list for 2017. The Volkswagen Group, with 10.74 million vehicles sold worldwide, and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance with 10.61 million units, have managed to overtake Toyota, which sold 10.47 million vehicles during the same period. The top three are in a healthy position to keep the status quo (with possible shuffling between them) since GM is in the fourth spot, following with “only” 9.6 million vehicles sold. With MY 2019 just around the corner, we’ll now analyze the 2019 Toyota lineup and disclose our opinion on what U.S. buyers probably should buy and what they might want to stay away from.
Speaking of the U.S. market, Toyota still represents the largest bastion of the Japanese presence here. The brand has sold 2,129,177 vehicles during 2017 and has been making a continuous improvement since 2011 when they recorded their lowest sales figure in the U.S. in the 21st century by marketing only 1,396,837 vehicles. When you add 305,229 vehicles marketed by their luxury offspring Lexus, the Japanese automakers’ totals come to almost 2.5 million vehicles sold in the U.S. alone. A figure they’ll almost certainly manage to surpass come 2019 for reasons disclosed below.
What’s Hot In the New 2019 Toyota Lineup
07. 2019 RAV4
After six progressively successful years on the market, the Toyota RAV4 is undergoing a generational shift. The all-new fifth generation of the Japanese brand’s best-sold crossover was first unveiled at the 2018 New York auto show. In fact, with 407,594 units sold during 2017, the RAV4 is actually the brand’s best-selling vehicle on the U.S. market, beating even the poster-child Camry by some 20,000 units. Moreover, it was only bested by the usual suspects of Ford, Chevrolet, and Ram full-size pickups, which speaks volumes. All the reason more for a timely-executed switch as the Japanese simply can’t afford to let their bread and butter vehicle become outdated and outperformed by the fierce competition in the compact SUV/crossover segment. The new 2019 Toyota RAV4 is bearing improvements in all major segments, and that’s the very least one would expect from such a strong seller.
First and foremost, the compact sports a new, more aggressive exterior design complemented by also new, more upscale interior arrangements. The new TNGA platform helps it grow in size while shedding some weight at the same time. The chassis is now 57 percent more rigid whereas a new multi-link rear suspension helps provide a better handling. A 2.5L 4-cylinder engine remains the sole offering across the range, but it’s paired with a new 8-speed automatic transmission this time. It should also generate more power than the outgoing models which developed 176 horsepower. There’s another version of the engine working on the Atkinson Cycle which will end up in RAV4 hybrids. The new RAV4 XSE hybrid will serve as a range-topping model that’s poised to redefine what hybrid vehicles are capable of, thanks to its performance. Not to mention the next-gen of Toyota safety features and the new dynamic torque vectoring all-wheel-drive system; featuring a rear driveline disconnect that can send 50 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels and redistribute it evenly between the two, it’s sure to be a noteworthy addition to the Toyota brand.
06. 2019 Supra
The long-awaited return of the archetype Japanese sports car is nearing its end. The all-new 2019 Toyota Supra was co-developed by BMW and Toyota, and will enter the production phase sometime during 2018; it will likely see the light of day in early 2019. Its unlikely stablemate, the new BMW Z4, has already been revealed as a concept at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and should arrive a tad sooner than the Japanese icon. While the BMW has been built with both a manual and automatic transmission in mind, the Supra apparently won’t be so lucky. In a move that can only be described as a travesty, the long-awaited Mk V will be offered exclusively with a ZF 8-speed auto. There’s still hope for a proper stick in a Supra, though as the company’s assistant chief engineer Masayuki Kai told it’ll largely depend on a market feedback. If that’s the case, we can all start spamming the Japanese with requests in hope they’ll make it available as soon as possible.
The powertrain lineup, on the other hand, should be shared between the two. Again, the Japanese iconic sports car won’t feature a potent and reliable domestic turbocharged inline-six engine, but a corresponding German alternative. It will likely be offered with a choice between a turbo four and turbo six as well, with the former being a 250-horsepower BMW B48 unit and the latter being a 335-horsepower BMW B58 mill. In addition, the Supra should offer some 37 horsepower of overboost which should come in handy moving the 3,284-pound sports car around. The GR Supra Racing Concept car from the 2018 Geneva auto show should be a close preview of what’s to come for the all-new Supra, both visually and philosophically. The Gazoo Racing contribution means the future Supra will be involved in at least Japan’s Super GT series racing with a World Endurance Championship door half open as well.
05. 2019 Avalon
The all-new fifth-generation Toyota Avalon is ready to rock the flagship car market as of MY 2019. What’ll definitely be one of the best sedans 2019 is bringing our way is now more aggressive-looking and more luxurious than ever at the same time. Although still not at the level exhibited by Lexus, the new Avalon’s large 9-inch touchscreen display, which seamlessly melts with the center console and its genuine cowhide leather upholstery, sends a clear message to Toyota’s rivals. The 2019 Avalon will also sport a host of advanced electronic safety systems such as standard automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and automatic high-beams. Not to mention the optional blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, automated reverse emergency braking, and an around-view camera.
The powertrain lineup remains basically unchanged, but both available engines have received an increase in power. A base 3.5L V6 now develops 301 horsepower instead of 268 ponies in the outgoing model. The 2.5L 4-cylinder engine that motivates the Avalon hybrids should deliver 208 horsepower from now on. The former is paired with an 8-speed automatic gearbox, while the latter retains its CVT gearbox. The new Avalon will also be the first-ever Toyota with adaptive dampers, but just on the upper ‘Touring’ trim level, which also adds Sport+ and Custom driving modes to the conventional lineup’s selection of Eco, Normal, and Sport. The next-gen Avalon’s sales commence earlier than usual (Spring 2018) and base prices shouldn’t take a significant hike.
04. 2019 Corolla Hatchback
The absolute best-seller in automotive history simply can’t afford to become outdated, hence after six years on the market, it’s now time for the next-gen to take over. The all-new 2019 Corolla hatchback debuted at the 2018 New York auto show, despite the international version being presented earlier in Geneva. The same overseas model from Geneva will actually don the Auris nameplate. Both units ride on the same new TNGA modular platform that greatly increases body rigidity among other things. Following the latest Toyota design strategy, the twelfth-generation Corolla sports a sharper look and more advanced interior with an 8-inch touchscreen as standard. Also standard is the Apple CarPlay system, whereas Android Auto still hasn’t been incorporated into the package.
In order to fully enhance the new Corolla on all fronts, the Japanese have also replaced the old 1.8L 4-cylinder engine with a new 2.0L unit. The outgoing engine generated either 132 or 140 horsepower depending on the chosen trim level, whereas the new four-banger will definitely develop more than that. Available transmission choices might look like they’ve been carried over from the old model, but they’re also more advanced than their predecessors. The new 6-speed manual gearbox now features rev-matching, whereas the new CVT unit sports as much as 10 simulated gears and paddle shifters to help you go through them. The hatchback Corolla should soon give birth to the next-gen sedan version of the car and both should be available throughout MY 2019.
03. 2019 Yaris Sedan
In a move similar to the introduction of a new Corolla hatchback, the U.S. market Toyota lineup is getting bolstered by the addition of the new Yaris sedan. One of the most popular subcompacts across the globe and winner of numerous “Car of the Year” awards, the car was formerly marketed with the Scion badge in the U.S. The new 2019 Yaris is a Scion no more, but its Mazda roots remain. You see, the Scion/Toyota Yaris iA is actually a rebadged Mazda 2 manufactured in Mexico, but the next-gen model doesn’t stray too far from the path thoroughly beaten by its predecessor in terms of design. The new honeycomb grille is there, but that’s where the discrepancies end. Abandoning the Scion’s monospec strategy, however, means the new Yaris sedan incorporates a traditional trim level approach. The base L, mid-range LE, and top XLE trims should offer everything from a 7-inch touchscreen display, over fog lights, to faux-leather seats.
There’s only one engine available with the new Toyota Yaris sedan – regardless of chosen trim – which is a strategy rarely used in other Toyota cars. A 106-horsepower 1.5L 4-cylinder carried over since the Scion days will remain tied either to a standard 6-speed manual or an optional 6-speed automatic. Fuel economy and pricing should remain intact as well which means the base models should start from around $16,000, while the new Yaris sedan should return up to 34 mpg combined with the manual and 35 mpg combined with the auto.
02. 2019 TRD Pro
Toyota Racing Development has been converting almost appliance-like Toyotas into intimidating racing machines for almost four decades now. The latest addition to the TRD family is especially designed for the U.S. market. The 2019 lineup of TRD Pro Toyota Tacoma, Tundra, and 4Runner builds upon the reputation established by the first TRD Pro series from 2014. Presented at the 2018 Chicago auto show, the new TRD Pro trio sports new 2.5-inch Fox Racing internal-bypass shock absorbers, new front skid plates, and new tires – Goodyear rubber for the Tacoma, Michelin tires for the Tundra, and a Nitto set for the 4Runner. All three will also get a factory-installed snorkel, whereas the Tacoma and Tundra will also benefit from the special TRD exhaust system.
The 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro draws power from a 278-horsepower 3.5L V6 engine, while the 4Runner utilizes a larger yet underpowered 270-horsepower 4.0L V6. The TRD Pro Tundra’s specs still haven’t been disclosed, but it’s expected for the full-size pickup to continue where its 2017 antecedent had left off with a 381-horsepower 5.7L V8. The former duo are available for $41,520 and $42,875 respectively, while the Tundra traditionally warrants a slightly higher sticker which should land someplace in the region of $48,000. In addition to their advanced underpinnings, the trio of new Toyota vehicles justifies their price tags by offering a new JBL audio system, LED headlights, and leather-trimmed seats among other things.
01. 2019 Prius V
Despite being one of the most revolutionary cars in history, the Toyota Prius still doesn’t get the love from most car aficionados out there. Its appliance-like shape, plasticky interior, and driving mechanics of a lawnmower choke all the fun this econobox could have potentially had. Despite being shunned by the gearhead society, however, the Prius sold well and it’s still going strong. So strong in fact, that it produced a couple of spin-offs along the way. The supermini Prius C and MPV Prius V both failed to achieve the commercial success of their role model, but were valiant and memorable attempts, nonetheless. The latter was actually discontinued after MY 2017, but that was only a short-term move by the Japanese, it would seem. The fully redesigned Prius V is making a comeback for MY 2019 and joining the rest of Toyota models as a crossover this time around. The Japanese are obviously looking to cash in on the SUV craze whenever that’s possible and the Prius crossover actually seems like a good move.
Apart from a radical change in design, the 2019 Prius V is also switching to company’s new TNGA platform, which should help reduce weight and noise levels in the cabin among other things. Most importantly, it should also improve the new Prius V’s handling by making it sportier than its predecessor. As before, the Prius V will most likely share its conventional sibling’s powertrain, which means it’ll be motivated by a 95-hp 1.8L 4-cylinder internal combustion engine and a duo of electric motors for a net 134 horsepower. Even a more powerful Camry powertrain shouldn’t be excluded, as such a setup would greatly boost the Prius V’s sales which, in no small part, suffered precisely because of the outgoing model’s anemic setup.
What’s Not In the New 2019 Toyota Lineup
03. 2019 CH-R
Introduced for MY 2017, the subcompact CH-R was supposed to capture a healthy amount of buyers by playing on the crossover craze card, but ended up with a modest (for its class) figure of 25,755 units. With no major change on the horizon, the CH-R will hardly manage to attract a new batch of customers, and it’s safe to assume the Japanese won’t change a thing about it for the foreseeable future. This puts the quirky but oddball subcompact crossover in a tight spot future-wise. Especially considering how most of its competitors on the market tend to offer a better all-around package. The smartphone integration feature which the CH-R lacked during its inaugural year should be addressed, but considering how the 2018 CH-R also lacks the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, we shouldn’t really rely on that. Not to mention an interior that relies on plastic more than it probably should. Although one of the more affordable Toyota cars starting from $22,500, one would still expect a little bit more dedication from a sticker in the low twenties.
One of the CH-R’s biggest downsides is its wheezy acceleration. A 2.0L 4-cylinder engine worthy of 144 hp and 139 lb-ft of torque needs 11 seconds in order to propel the 3,300-pounder to 60 mph from standstill. There’s also the issue of a droning CVT transmission that’s sub-par even for early 2010’s standards. At least it gets a manual-shifting mode via the classic shift lever, although paddle shifters would probably be more welcome. One would assume the CH-R would offer a class-leading fuel economy to offset the powertrain drawbacks but with 29 mpg combined, it trails the similarly-fitted Honda HR-V by 2 points overall.
02. 2019 Mirai
The highly advanced yet still obscure Toyota Mirai isn’t the first fuel cell hydrogen car available to the masses, but it’s still one of the precious few such offerings on the market. Introduced in 2015, the zero-emission car is definitely one for the future, as the hydrogen station infrastructure is still way beyond being satisfactory. As such, the Mirai is the most niche-oriented of all Toyota models currently available, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, one shouldn’t expect too many styling and technology-related revisions from it, as a car that’s owned by just over 3,000 people in the U.S. still isn’t turning any profit for the company. Needless to say, the fuel-cell technology is still being perfected, which can be attested to by the fact that all of Mirai’s were affected by a recall due to their output voltage issues during 2017.
Whether the hydrogen cars are the future of automotive industry or not, they’re certainly an intriguing prospect. Although more widespread all-electric units like the ones from Tesla are more efficient overall, they still have one fatal flaw that plagues them – their comparably long charging times. Whereas the Tesla Supercharger, for instance, requires more than 30 minutes to fully charge a vehicle, a hydrogen fuel-cell car can be filled almost as quick as a conventional fossil fuel-powered unit. The Mirai takes only around 5 minutes to gather its 300 miles of range. The luxury fuel-cell sedan develops 152 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque via a synchronous AC motor that turns hydrogen into electricity, which in turn powers the car itself. It accelerates to 60 mph in about 9.5 seconds, returns more than 65 miles to the gallon, and costs a hefty $58,000. Finally, if you’re not living in an emission-free dedicated state like California, the Mirai probably isn’t the one for you.
01. 2019 Toyota 86
Along with the resurrected Supra, the Japanese are also bringing a redesigned Toyota 86, but not for MY 2019. Instead, the sports car coupe will most likely make its debut in time for MY 2020. Being built on the same 2012 underpinnings, the Toyota 86 (née Scion FR-S) is slowly but steadily beginning to show its age. It’s still a sublime-looking car, but excluding the full-size boxy SUVs and trucks, it’s actually one of the most outdated Toyota vehicles around. And it’s not getting any younger.
Before the next-gen brings along more power than the 86 currently delivers, the fastback coupe will, for one last time, roll with either 205 horsepower or 200 horsepower depending on transmission choice. The higher output is tied to a traditional 6-speed manual option, while the slightly lower rating comes with a 6-speed auto with paddle shifters. A price difference of only $720 means that both entry-level versions can be acquired for a price tag in the $26,000 region. This traditional Japanese sports car’s affordability will remain a cornerstone strategy when it comes to the Toyota 86 for the foreseeable future since the upcoming Supra is planning on taking the higher price echelon for itself. When it comes to buying a new Toyota or staying away from one, the next-gen 86 is probably worth the wait, making the Toyota 86 for MY 2019 somewhat redundant.