Toyota looking to fill a model gap

If there’s one manufacturer that everyone is always looking at setting a trend in Asia Pacific, it’s Toyota.

The Aichi-based automaker is consistently number one in the Philippines as well as many other countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Vietnam, and of course Japan. Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world where Toyota is being beaten by a fellow Japanese automaker; the number one there for the non-national brands is Honda.

One of the core strengths of Toyota comes from a very wide product offering, especially when it comes to SUVs and crossovers. From frame-based SUVs like Land Cruiser to Prado to Fortuner to crossovers like RAV4 to Corolla Cross to Rush (which is sort of a frame/monocoque mix) to Veloz and even Raize, Toyota has it all covered across many different price ranges for many different customers.

Despite that, we may see more from Toyota; a new addition to that lineup.

HOLD Toyota new model image

Our insiders in the region have relayed to us that Toyota is working on developing a new SUV. And get this: the production is planned to start with Toyota Thailand sometime between the fourth quarter of 2024 and the first quarter of 2025. In car development and production terms, that may as well be next week.

There is no name for the new SUV model yet, but it is being referred to by an internal code: 500D. And yes, it will be exported to Southeast Asia according to our sources.

HOLD Toyota new model image

We were told that it will share components with the Fortuner, particularly the GD turbodiesel and TR gasoline engines. It also means that this could possibly be a body-on-frame SUV like the Fortuner as those engines and matching transmissions are rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.

The question, however, is where the model will be positioned on the already vast Toyota SUV and crossover lineup. Our source tells us that it could be positioned as a smaller option to the Fortuner but larger than the Corolla Cross.

It’s also possible that Toyota might go slightly larger than Fortuner, though we don’t expect that to be the case as a fairly big size and price gap does exist between Fortuner and Corolla Cross. Given the trend in the region of filling gaps in the model range, that might prove to be a profitable move for Toyota to exploit.

We had wanted to reach out to representatives of Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) to get confirmation from this leaked information from the region. But we knew that because of the professionalism and dedication of our TMP contacts, they would never let any information slip without approval from higher management. In other words: No comment. 

We’ll be keeping an ear out for any further developments for this, but if Toyota does build a Fortuner Jr., it will be a popular prospect in markets where roads aren’t great and floods are a way of life. Just like ours