Toyota Announces New SUV For America, Will Be Built In Alabama

The crossover craze doesn’t show any sign of slowing down and Toyota is responding to the shift in demand by announcing plans to build a new SUV in the United States.

Little is known about the model, but the company has confirmed it will be built at the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Alabama. The plant is currently under construction and production is slated to begin in 2021.

The plant was originally set to build the Toyota Corolla, but the company reversed course in “response to changing market demands and a growing consumer appetite for light trucks and SUVs which are achieving record sales.” Despite the change, the Corolla will continue to be built at the company’s plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi.

While the company was coy on specifics, the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant was slated to build up to 150,000 Corollas annually. However, Corolla sales in the United States fell from 360,483 units in 2016 to 280,886 units last year. As a result, it’s possible that Toyota decided there wasn’t enough demand to justify having two U.S. plants building the Corolla. If that’s the case, it’s not necessarily a bad move as it frees up the joint plant to build the new SUV.

Details about the model will be released at a later day, but Toyota referred to the vehicle as a “new, yet-to-be announced SUV.” That suggests it’s an all-new vehicle which join the company’s existing crossover and SUV lineup that includes the CH-R, RAV4, Highlander, 4Runner, Sequoia and Land Cruiser.

There’s no word on which model will built at the plant, but executives have previously suggested the FT-4X concept could go into production. That model was introduced at 2017 New York Auto Show and featured boxy styling as well as all-wheel drive.

Also Read: Sweet Home Alabama, Toyota And Mazda Pick Huntsville For $1.6 Billion Joint Plant

Regardless of what Toyota builds at the plant, the facility will have an annual capacity of up to 300,000 units. That capacity will be split equally between Toyota and Mazda.

Note: Toyota FT-4X concept pictured

  • NoMan2015

    I’d strongly wager it’s something to slot between the RAV-4 and Highlander. Toyota doesn’t currently have a crossover product to compete directly with the Murano, Edge, Passport, Blazer, new Santa Fe, etc.

    • Bo Hanan

      The RAV-4 just went upmarket with it’s redesign and completes with the SUV’s you mentioned.
      I would think this SUV would fill it’s old position. Sort of a Jeep Renegade fighter.

      • ME

        Mazda will replace the CX-3, so the Toyota should be around that size.

      • Brian Regan

        The RAV4 competes with the Cherokee, Escape, Equinox, CR-V, etc.. not the larger mid-size SUVs the OP listed.

        If the production SUV is anything like the FT-4X concept I imagine it will sit laterally to RAV4 as a offroad/rugged compact SUV similar to how the Highlander/4Runner are the same size class but obviously aimed towards different customers.

      • charlotteharry57

        No it doesn’t. Toyota has nothing to compete directly with the ones mentioned.

    • charlotteharry57

      I agree 100%.

    • PhilMcGraw

      In terms of prioritizing which market to sell to first, the SUVs you mentioned would not be at the top of the list. The most successful model you mentioned is the Edge and it sells about 10,000 units a month. The rest sell less than 4,000 and in the case of the Blazer they are only selling 1,000 units a month.

      Compare that to the hotter small and compact SUV market where you have the Ford Ecosport that sells around 14,000 units, the Crosstrek selling 18,000 units, and even the Toyota CH-R (which isn’t even that competitive) selling 7,000 units. You can see why that market would be more likely where Toyota introduces a product first.

    • no25

      Exactly. Bring back the Venza but make it actually desirable.

      • Emoto

        If the Venza had been spec’d and priced properly, they could have eaten Subaru’s lunch with it.

    • Rocket

      That makes the most sense — especially if Mazda will be building an all new CX7 there as many have speculated. The more Mazda DNA that makes it into Toyota’s offering, the better.

  • Ben

    Could you imagine if that FT-4X sells and Honda claps back with a new Element? I’ll admit, I sneered at the element when it was released, but seeing how useful they are converted me.

    • khc

      I’m repeatedly surprised by how many Elements I still see every day, typically looking to be well taken care of. Honda should have fixed the weaknesses, rather than killing it.

      • Ben

        Japanese always kill the wrong car too early and keep “bleh” models alive too long. Either way, they make one helluva vehicle. An updated Element would be awesome. A utilitarian small box is still a niche footprint that hasn’t been filled all.

  • charlotteharry57

    Keep cranking out more and more CUVs (see the VW Tarek article just before this one). Market is already oversaturated, so this can only mean lower prices, finally.

  • jason wu

    It will be a winner if it offers similar capabilities like Suzuki Jimny. Call it cheaper 4runner if you will.

  • ME

    It will be based on the CX-20 Mazda. Google Mazda EU patents as I can’t post any links here.

  • Bash

    Is this the FJ Cruiser replacement?

    • USOZ

      Let’s hope

      • Thunderbolt

        NOT
        there, I finished the sentence for you.

  • Harry_Wild

    Hopefully Toyota puts a more powerful powertrain in. this one instead of a RAV-4 underpowered junk gasoline 4 banger.

    • khc

      Hopefully, yes, but I’d guess they’re under too much pressure to prioritize fuel economy over power. On the other hand, engines that are designed to be trouble-free for 200k – 300k miles are not usually considered “junk.”

  • Salih Ahzem

    Fortuner is basically a Hilux with a enclosed body and slightly more posh cabin. NA has 4Runner for that, which very similar in terms of size and capability; both of them are body-on-frame too.

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