Toyota sold 121,055 Highlander CUVs in 2012, according to Automotive News. By comparison, it sold 78,457 examples of four different body-on-frame, truck-based SUVs (4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Sequoia and Land Cruiser). One could argue then, that the traditional SUVs aren't pulling their weight from a sales perspective. Yet that isn't stopping Toyota from reaffirming its commitment to a segment that has seen its former champions – Ford, General Motors and Chrysler – abandon it with alarming speed. Ford and GM still offer body-on frame utilities, but only in the very largest offerings, catering to seven or even eight passengers. Everything outside of the Expedition or Tahoe rides now on a unibody.

Toyota's decision to stick with the technology is good news if you're in the market for smaller SUVs that are still capable of heading well off the beaten path. Outside of the Jeep Wrangler, Grand Cherokee (a unibody) and perhaps Nissan Xterra, there's not much in terms of capable SUVs between $20,000 and $50,000. As the Toyota brand's US head, Bill Fay, says, "Clearly, the trend has shifted, but there is still an owner base that is interested in these vehicles."

We don't doubt Fay on that, but it may also be somewhat telling that Toyota's SUV lineup is aging, and we haven't seen or heard much about replacement models in the pipeline. Admittedly, the 4Runner (pictured) has been facelifted for 2014, but it's mostly cosmetic in nature. Despite Toyota's posturing, we still expect its body-on-frame lineup to thin in the coming years as sales dwindle and escalating fuel-economy standards make business cases even tougher. Here's hoping that Toyota manages to keep at least one rough-and-tumble SUV in its lineup in the coming years.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 79 Comments
      KO
      • 1 Year Ago
      Toyota still has big 3rd-world nation markets that I suspect still demand simple, rugged, body-on-frame truck platforms, and they can't use 80s HiLuxes and LandCruisers forever (well, maybe they can...), so it's probably not a huge stretch for them to continue serving niche markets in 1st-world countries with those products.
        normc32
        • 1 Year Ago
        @KO
        Must be non-US sales as most turbo4 or V6 can tow around 4,000 lbs for short distances with much better fuel economy than a V8 truck.
      thatGuy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Toyota proper 4WD (body on frame) are the default choice in many non-US markets and easily the leader here in Australia. They also enjoy huge popularity in the middle east, central Asia, Africa, etc. I'd say the US market can enjoy these cars for awhile, except the FJ as those things hideous.
      The Wasp
      • 1 Year Ago
      I like the FJ Cruiser but it's a pretty tough sell with the high price and poor fuel economy. It would be nice to see them modernize it a bit but it's pretty hard to imagine that happening without switching to unibody and then what would be the point? I think it will take success from multiple manufacturers to jump-start a 2-door SUV movement (ie Wrangler, Bronco, Blazer) and that seems very unlikely these days.
        JaredN
        • 1 Year Ago
        @The Wasp
        The FJ Cruiser is basically a shortened 4Runner -- the frames are very similar. Unfortunately, the FJ has a number of drawbacks including: - bad visibility of overhead traffic lights. - Huge C-pillar gives it a bad blind spot. - The narrow rear window and the spare tire on the rear door give it horrid visibility to the rear. - The suicide rear doors are a pain to use in a narrow parking space. - Rear barn doors just suck. All in all, the 4Runner works far, far better for me. More room, real doors, a rear hatch, opening rear window and far better visibility all around.
      Matt
      • 1 Year Ago
      I suspect that the 4Runners sales are low because Toyota has taken it decidedly up-market. That said, I went to look at one about a month ago, and the dealer DIDN'T HAVE ANY. They said every one that comes in is generally sold the same day. So, maybe Toyota just isn't making enough of them?
        The Wasp
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Matt
        That sounds like a dealer not interested in selling 4Runners. If you ever try to trade in a used 4Runner there, surely they'll tell you they can't give you much since demand is so low even for new 4Runners.
          DARAYUS R.
          • 6 Months Ago
          @The Wasp

          The rate of interest charged by Toyota on the 4 Runners in todays day and age is 4.99%. That makes the SUV very expensive to own, lease or finance. I wonder why the rate of interest on this specific SUV would be so high in comparison to Tundra where Toyota Finance is charging only 0.09% rate of interest....Bring the rate down and you will see the Revenue going up.

      yellowsilver986
      • 1 Year Ago
      Who is redesigning the Tundra and 4 Runner?They should be canned.Both look goofy!Come on Toyota!
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      Great news.
      crx4u2nv88
      • 1 Year Ago
      My wife has a 1996 Ford Explorer Sportstill running strong with over 210K miles on it. Although the ol Explorer shows her age, that thing is a tank. She will be driving it until the thing dies; but I have had to break the news to her that there are only two or three true SUVs left on the market. She is having a really hard time trying to find a suitable replacement (when that day comes) that is body-on-frame. All these FWD based CUVs with poorly designed AWD systems hardly classify as anything more than a replacement for the minivan.
        The Wasp
        • 1 Year Ago
        @crx4u2nv88
        2010 Ford Explorer
        FuelToTheFire
        • 1 Year Ago
        @crx4u2nv88
        I love the old Explorers too. Tough and rugged, unlike the Explorer of today, which is little more than a minivan with hinged doors. You know what Ford should do? They should make an "Explorer Compact" to replace the wussy Escape, basically a modern re-incarnation of the old Explorers. They should shorten the Expedition's platform until it can accomodate a vehicle about 185 inches in length. They should use the current Ford truck engines. A 4.6 V8 with 220 hp, a 5.4 V8 with 300 hp, and a 3.5 EB with 360 hp.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @FuelToTheFire
          [blocked]
      Houmpheng Phonsavath
      The whole front end look like a piece of ****.
      Harkengator
      • 9 Months Ago
      I am a Toyota 4x4 loyalist or enthusiast . I spent 20 years in Army Special Operations and drove this brand worldwide. From Central America to the Africa through the Middle East to the USA. I personally have owned eight includingToyota's Hi-Lux 4X4, 4runner, Land Cruiser FJ40, to the ones I own now. A 1997 FZJ80 Land Criuser and 2011 Tacoma 4X4. The problem is for the US market is that Toyota does not offer a diesel engine for the US Market. Or a lower end FJ80 series Land Cruiser as they do in most other places to compete with the Wrangler. A diesel in the Tacoma 4X4 would make it really bulletproof. Instead Toyota chose to invest in alternate fuels as hybrid technology which is useless in a 4x4. Either way I am looking at buying an SUV that is a real SUV and this means being built on a truck chassis that is capable of taking it and not on some car frame with front wheel drive. I absolutly love my FZJ80 which is a 1997 the last year of the straight 6 cylinder and solid axle. Since Toyota F*&^ up the Land Cruiser I am looking at the 2015 4 runner trail version. Would it not be nice to have an option to buy a FJ80 series with a diesel????
      Matt
      • 1 Year Ago
      The market is flooded with unibody crossovers, but where are the unibody pickups? Some of us need to occasionally haul stuff, but we don't need to tow 4 tons. A Tacoma-size unibody pickup with a 2l turbodiesel getting 35 MPG would be just the ticket for most americans to haul crap from Home Depot.
        789dm
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Matt
        I tot Honda Ridgeline is considered as an uni body pick up truck? Yes it doesnt have Turbo diesel but its just typical Honda and diesel.
          Matt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @789dm
          The ridgeline gets 17 MPG combined. All the domestic full-size pickups do better than that, because Honda is still using engine/transmission tech from 15 years ago.
      miketim1
      • 1 Year Ago
      Looks nice and mean like a truck should ! I cant wait to see one lifted and on off road tired
      Making11s
      • 1 Year Ago
      Body-on-frame gets a bad rap. They don't have to be so inefficient, but they're almost always equipped with ancient powertrains and bodies with the aerodynamics of a Rubik's Cube. Then they get replaced with FWD car-based things that have brand new engines and transmissions, and people credit the move to unibody and FWD more than the switch to an engine/transmission setup that doesn't date back to the Johnson administration. I mean, do you think the newest Explorer would be THAT much more efficient than a body-on-frame Explorer if the body-on-frame Explorer had the same 2.0 I-4 EcoBoost engine and a new 8 speed automatic? Of course not. People in Explorer forums already hypermile (meaning 30 MPG highway or so in this case) with their antiquated powertrains and a few discrete homemade aero pieces.
        FoxJ30
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Making11s
        On the highway, fuel economy should be similar if aerodynamics and powertrains were the same, but it's city mpg that'll get you. An extra 500 lbs off the line won't help anything there.
          Making11s
          • 1 Year Ago
          @FoxJ30
          The new Explorer didn't lose any weight. In some configurations it's heavier than its older counterpart, and the Pathfinder only lost about 180 lbs, something that could have been done without the big switch.
        FuelToTheFire
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Making11s
        1) I've seen that often, when older engines are given newer technology, like direct injection, they often get the same or better mileage than with newer engines. These new engines are torqueless, powerless, and gutless. The older engines have a wider torque curve with much more power(although this requires a lower hp/liter ratio), so they are able to work a lot less while pulling the same weight as the new engines. 2)The 2.0 Explorer is a joke. It is absolutely gutless. I would be very uncomfortable driving that thing on the highway; I might cause a pileup or get rear-ended. 3)The "number of gears" war is also a joking. A 4 or 5 speed transmission is enough. These new fangled transmissions are problematic and have high maintainance costs. The old ones, though they might not be high tech, worked.
    • Load More Comments