The world's number one automaker pulled out all the stops for the most recent New York International Auto Show. In addition to the new additions to the Scion and Lexus families, Toyota unveiled two other new arrivals for the Canadian market: the RAV4 Hybrid and a new generation Yaris sedan that has been absent from our market for several years. Note that the latter isn't offered in the United States as a Toyota but rather as the Scion iA. As the marketing goals of the two brands are different from one country to the other, Toyota Canada decided to keep the sedan under its own banner for our market. Now that you're totally confused, let's get to our two Toyotas!
A seventh hybrid
Toyota is the champion of hybrid technology in all categories and it was a given that one day they would come out with a RAV4 featuring this technology. Although the price of this version was not divulged during the launch at New York's massive Javits Convention Center, it's reasonable to assume that it will be pricier than the versions with a regular drivetrain. That's surely the reason why the RAV4 Hybrid will only come in two fairly luxurious versions, XLE and Premium. They come factory standard with electric on-demand all-wheel drive, known as AWD-i, and exclusive 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels. The manufacturer hasn't specified how much power this compact SUV will have (thanks to its 2.5-litre four-cylinder and electric motor), but Toyota is promising more power and better fuel economy than the conventional version. Another electric motor at the rear wheels operates the all-wheel drive system.
The versions with internal combustion engines will offer four trim levels: LE, XLE, Limited and a new one, the SE. Toyota also decided to give the whole line-up a makeover. Like the new XLE and Limited hybrids, all versions of the 2016 RAV4 feature a refreshed exterior with a more fluid and dynamic look. The front end has been dramatically revised. The stylists used LEDs to create a more dynamic package. The rear bumper has been redesigned, as have the hatch and LED taillights. The wheel wells are bigger and connected at the bottom by a crease that runs parallel to another character line situated directly under the beltline. The alloy wheels are brand new as well.
By the same token, the passenger compartment has also undergone a few nips and tucks. The quality of the materials is better, the wheel is leather-covered, the cupholders can now hold a container with a handle and there's also a 4.2-inch multifunction screen.
The RAV4 also offers an optional Bird's Eye View System that uses four cameras to give the driver a panoramic view of the surroundings.
At the top of the food chain of RAV4s with conventional engines, the new SE has a sportier suspension and style features that make it stand out.
The Yaris sedan is back
After a several-year hiatus, the Yaris lineup is welcoming once again a sedan that will sit side by side with the hatchback in dealership showrooms. It will be sold in the U.S. as the Scion iA, but in Canada, it will be a Toyota.
You don’t have to go over this car with a fine-tooth comb to know that it is far more elegant than the previous version. Its front grille is particularly nice, which is more evidence that Toyota's stylists now have more freedom to follow their creative impulses. The passenger compartment is equipped with quality materials and its equipment level is above average.
The 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine produces 106 horsepower and comes with a factory-standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic with a Sport mode. Toyota is promising a very rigid platform and a suspension capable of providing a fun ride.
Finally, despite denials from representatives of Toyota's brass (who we met at the New York Auto Show), it's an open secret that this Scion iA/Toyota Yaris sedan is very, very similar to the new Mazda2 built in the same plant in Mexico. Since it's a joint project between the two Japanese manufacturers, this should come as no surprise. This kinship also explains why Toyota is so insistent on praising this Yaris’ sporty ride. But regardless of who’s responsible for this car, its pedigree is obvious.