By Gary S. Vasilash
Let’s face it: As much as people would like to think that the pandemic is something that is talked about in the past tense, the direction of those arrows showing cases and hospitalizations and deaths related to Covid are going in the wrong direction.
This means that OEMs have to consider the ways and means that they announce product to the press, and in turn, the public, because this ain’t 2019 anymore.
Toyota has announced a tranche of products and developments that would usually be metered out drip by drip.
Instead, it has essentially said, “Get ready, here we come!”
- 2023 Corolla Hybrid with optional AWD–What makes this different is that there is a separate electric motor mounted on the rear axle to switch from what is ordinarily a FWD vehicle to AWD.
- Corolla Cross Hybrid—The SUV-ish vehicle now (1) is available as an AWD vehicle and (2) uses Toyotas Fifth Generation Hybrid system. Oddly, Toyota touts that the vehicle has a 0 to 60 time of 8 seconds. No one—probably not even a rogue valet—is going to pin the accelerator on a Corolla Cross, hybrid or otherwise.
- GR Corolla MORIZO Edition—“GR” stands for “Gazoo Racing.” It was established as something of a skunkworks for running at the 2007 Nürburgring—but as it was established by Akio Toyoda. . . . Anyway, GR is both a racing team as well as an operation that provides performance to production vehicles. This vehicle, limited to 200 cars, is designed for the track (but is street-legal), as the engineers worked at taking out weight (they removed some 100 pounds from the GR Corolla Circuit Edition), added a close-ratio manual transmission, and increased overall rigidity. Here’s something you don’t necessarily associate with a turbocharged three-cylinder engine: 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
- 2023 GR86 Special Edition—Last year Toyota introduced the GR86 sports car, and the vehicle has been doing well. In Q1 ’22 there were 3,257 GR86s sold, which may not seem like a big number, but is an increase over Q1 2021 of 326.3%. The Special Edition will be limited to 860 vehicles. The vehicle features a cat-back performance exhaust to make the 228-hp 2.4-liter engine sound, well, more bad-ass. There are forged matte black 18-inch alloys. And there are various trim mods inside and out.
Meanwhile, over at Lexus:
- 2023 RX—The fifth generation of the vehicle that, arguably, made Lexus. Were it not for the luxury crossover, a segment that the RX pioneered, odds are that Lexus might have been like those other two brands that launched around the same time that are now pretty much footnotes. The new RX is on a new platform (GA-K), which is important because it allows a weight reduction (always good for performance) and increased rigidity (ditto). The RX has been available as a hybrid since 2005 (!). That continues with the new model. But there is a second hybrid, the RX 450h+ that will be coming, which is a plug-in hybrid.
And there’s this:
- Cabin Awareness concept—This is a development from Toyota Connected North America, an operation that focuses on things of a digital nature. This concept is based on a 4D imaging radar sensor—and it has absolutely nothing to do with autonomous driving. Rather, the sensor, mounted in the headliner of a vehicle, determines whether there are life forms in the vehicle (adults, kids, infants, pets). This is useful to make sure that no one is left inside a vehicle. And because this will be important in the autonomous world (e.g., say someone books a ride for himself and pet and upon arrival at the destination, gets out but leaves the pet behind), Toyota is working with autonomous vehicle company May Mobility on testing it out in autonomous Toyota Siennas (back to that parenthetical scenario: the Cabin Awareness sensor finds the pet is still there and a signal is sent to the vehicle system such that it won’t move on until the situation is resolved).
Yes, lots of things from Toyota in a compact amount of time.