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Toyota plans plenty of new product

A new Corolla sneaks into showrooms next week to be followed by a blitz of new cars in the new year

Toyota logo12 Nov 1999

TOYOTA Australia will add a new Tarago, new RAV4 three and five door off-roaders, new engines for HiLux, a turbo-diesel Prado, new mid-engined MR2 and a facelifted Camry next year.

But the most crucial new Toyota next year will be the Australian-made Avalon upper-medium sedan poised to take on Falcon and Commodore.

In addition, there could be a minor facelift for the Land Cruiser, adding a revised grille and several new plastic panels.

Toyota hinted strongly as to the shape of the new Tarago at the Tokyo motor show last month with a hybrid four-wheel drive van called HV-MA. The production Tarago will look broadly similar though the wild show-car looks will be calmed down. The engine moves to the front of the vehicle but it is said to retain rear- wheel drive.

The new RAV4 gains an all-new body and could add variable valve timing to give the 2.0-litre engine more low down performance. The sleeker RAV4 body, according to some spy pictures, is a lot less muscular and aggressive, Toyota scaling back the mud- plugging stance for a more urbane image.

The RAV4 will follow the Tarago into showrooms around the time of the Melbourne motor show in March.

Following that will come the turbo-diesel Land Cruiser Prado, available in two of the most popular trim grades, RV and GXL. The oil-burner is expected to find plenty of favour with rural buyers deprived of a turbo-diesel LandCruiser model in the current 100 Series generation.

The reason for this is because Toyota marketing decided it would gain more advantage from a LandCruiser with a V8 engine (priced at $90,800), rather than cater to the more rugged rural market with a turbo-diesel 'Cruiser.

Toyota in Japan limits Toyota Australia to just a pair of engine choices for the 'Cruiser.

Also mid-year Toyota is believed to be adding a new range of engines for the popular Hi-Lux LCV range.

Then comes the V6-powered Avalon, a stretch Camry with its own distinctive styling that will be built alongside the Camry/Vienta range in Victoria. Toyota hopes to sell about 20,000 a year once full-scale production starts.

Toyota will hold the Avalon's introduction back until after the introduction of GST - and not only to debut with a lower purchase price. Toyota knows fleet sales will be poor until July as fleets wait to buy after the start of GST so they can claim a percentage of the cost of the vehicle as an input credit.

For fun-seekers, Toyota has the new mid-engined MR2 to introduce late in the year, about October. The 1.8-litre powered four- cylinder car seats two, has Porsche Boxster-style bodywork and a sporty cabin. It will offer variable valve timing to boost engine performance as well as a Tiptronic-style sequential gearbox.

About the same time, Toyota will introduce a facelifted Camry which gains a new grille, new headlights and bumper as well as revised tail-lights. The interior stays pretty much the same and is not expected to switch to a slightly more stylish effort as offered in some similar Camrys built in America.

Considering Toyota has just introduced the new Echo to replace the entry level Starlet and revised the Corolla range to include the imported Corolla sedan, the entire Toyota passenger line-up with the exception of the Spacia people-mover will have been updated by this time next year.

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