Toyota Didn't Get Much Love From a Respected Critic This Year
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Toyota sells a lot of cars. The Japanese automaker leads globally, having sold 9.5 million units in 2020. In the U.S., they trail behind homegrown Ford and General Motors, but still manage to stay within the top three automakers in the country.
Yet despite the consumer enthusiasm, critics were less receptive to Toyota’s lineup. Car and Driver only highlighted the compact RAV4 and the sporty Supra among its Editors’ Choice awards. Other popular models like Tundra and the 4Runner scored less than five out of ten points in the magazine’s reviews.
So why the gap between critical response and buyer behavior? Answering that question requires a closer look at what Car and Driver liked and didn’t like about Toyota’s 2021 lineup as well as a glance at the company’s philosophy.
Toyota is one of the most popular car brands in the world.
Pros and cons of 2021 Toyota models
Car and Driver had high praise for two of Toyota’s models: the RAV4 and the Supra.
The RAV4 and its hybrid version both received separate “Editors’ Choice” emblems and 8.5/10 ratings. The magazine highlighted their shared, tough-looking exterior, their standard driver-assistance features, and the extra pep found in the hybrid powertrain.
Car and Driver also loved how Toyota offered impressive performance and a “near-luxury” cabin for such a competitive price with the revived Supra sportscar.
Cabins in other Toyotas, on the other hand, were found wanting. From the Prius to the 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra, interiors were described as “tiny,” “subpar,” and “disappointing.”
Including common features like power-adjustable seats and push-button starts required the forking over of what the magazine saw as unreasonable amounts of cash.
The company’s goals help explain differing views of critics and consumers
In 2008, The Harvard Business Review published a report detailing the unique ways that Toyota conducts business. The article highlighted the company’s production system, its corporate culture, and its penchant for structured experimentation as keys to its success.
The article also pointed out Toyota’s global strategy to “meet every customer need and provide a full line in every market” as an example of the types of seemingly impossible goals the company sets for itself. While most car companies pick and choose what types of vehicles they offer in different countries, Toyota strives to do it all.
This lofty goal reveals Toyota’s true intentions. Companies like Volvo and Mazda might deck their models to the nines to impress the critics, but Toyota has its sights set on consumers.
From its cars to its supply chains and marketing strategies, the company customizes everything to local markets. That’s why, despite what Car and Driver thinks, people around the world choose Toyotas more than any other car brand.
Is it cheap to own a Toyota?
Toyota’s lineup is extremely diverse, so it’s difficult to generalize the cost of owning one. That said, Car Edge claims that amongst popular brands, Toyota’s average depreciation rate is the one to beat.
Car insurance for Toyotas also tends to be more affordable than for other brands, though rates change dramatically from model to model and driver to driver.
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