As I sit down to write this, it's dawning on me that I have owned all three of these vehicles at one point or another. The Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road is the one that currently shades my driveway. You've seen it before. Twice.
But I actually brought my wife and newborn daughter home from the hospital in a 1996 Toyota RAV4, a four-door model with a manual transmission, lockable center differential and a Torsen rear differential. It may have looked like a hiking boot, but it handled like a rally car on my dirt road commute, which was so utterly deserted I could fully exploit the route's numerous corners and float over its perfectly-shaped jump.
The outlet Tire Meets Road spotted a leaked document from Toyota on Reddit, sent to the automaker's dealers and general managers in the Southwest region. According to the memo from Toyota's western comms manager, "The Yaris sedan and Yaris Hatchback will not be available for model year 2021. Model year 2020 will be the last year for Yaris. June 2020 will be the last month of production for the Yaris sedan and Yaris Hatchback for the US." Reddit deleted the document, but when AutoWise reached out to Toyota, the same comms manager confirmed the information to the site. And just for good measure, when CarBuzz reached out to Toyota, the response was, "The Yaris sedan and Yaris Hatchback will not be available for model year 2021. Model year 2020 will be the last year for Yaris in the U.S."
So ends a 15-year run in the U.S. of what has, at times, been one of America's spunkiest hatchbacks. In our review of the 2019 Mazda2-based sedan, we called it slow but "pretty entertaining to drive," one of the "better-looking cars in this diminutive class," and were surprised "at how grown up it feels." Such accolades haven't been enough to convince the buying public; since 2008, when shoppers took home 102,328 Yaris models, the Yaris has posted steep declines in all but three years. A burst of sales in 2017, after Toyota absorbed Scion and turned the Mazda2-based Scion iA into the Yaris iA, fell back into substantial declines in 2018 and 2019. Last year, the Yaris hatch and sedan sold a combined 21,916 units. The Honda Fit did 35,414 sales, the Hyundai Accent 25,628.
Many, many years ago, when cameras were either a compact camera or a DSLR, Olympus came onto the scene and helped to popularize the Micro Four Thirds system. This removed the mirror box from the camera’s design, which led to the mirrorless design, resulting in many of the popular cameras we know and use today.
Now it looks like the company is done with cameras as they have announced that they will be selling off its consumer camera business. This business will be sold to Japan Industrial Partners, who for those unfamiliar, is the same company that bought up Sony’s VAIO computer business back in 2014.
In the motorcycle world, Scramblers are all the rage. Rugged-looking street bikes that also perform well off-road. The Triumph Scrambler kicked off the craze in 2006, with its high pipes and knobby tires. It was a modern take on a model it offered in the 1960s, and now many other manufacturers have followed its lead, including Ducati, Indian and BMW.
In stark contrast to the gaggles of car-based crossovers roaming our streets, the SUV world also has its fair share of Scramblers. Trucks like the new 2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Special Edition: rugged looking, full frame 4x4s that perform well both on- and off-road. And like the bikes, they're all the rage. Jeep Wrangler sales are through the roof. There's a new Ford Bronco on the way. Finally. And last year Toyota sold more than 130,000 4Runners.
Last year was a big one in the world of performance cars, thanks largely to the arrival of the Chevrolet C8 Corvette Stingray and the new Toyota Supra. While the two have vastly different engines and roughly $10,000 separating their MSRPs, they are both huge fun to drive and are also very capable on a circuit.
You've seen this particular Toyota 4Runner before because it was the subject of the first Suspension Deep Dive I wrote for Autoblog. It's still hanging around my driveway and available to make the occasional repeat appearance because, well, it's mine. I chose the TRD Off-Road for a couple of reasons, some of which will come into play on my Flex Index ramp.
First, it's the only model other than the TRD Pro that comes with a push-button locking rear differential, electronic crawl control and multi-terrain select. Second, it can cost as much as $10,000 less than a TRD Pro, particularly if you're content with cloth seating and no sunroof, as I am. I used some of the money I saved to buy the third item: an option called KDSS, the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System. Importantly, this clever option can only be fitted to a TRD Off-Road; it's not even available on the TRD Pro.
Only Acura knows why its flagship RLX sedan is still on sale; every year that we had occasion to remember the RLX — which wasn't every year — seemed like a good year to let the car die peacefully. Automotive News reports the deed is finally done, or rather, will be at the end of 2020, when Acura discontinues the model that started with the RL in 1996. Honda told U.S. dealers yesterday that in other markets like Japan, the four-door will continue to sell as the Honda Legend. Honda's comment to AN included, "With SUVs leading the luxury market, the highly successful RDX and MDX now serve as volume leaders of the Acura brand," and, "We will further strengthen our sports sedans, consistent with the performance-focused direction we have been taking Acura over the past four years."
Speaking of the devil, the RL and RLX — and Acura as a brand — never got out from under the weight of the Legend sedan, that ancestor being the second of Acura's three albatrosses after the original NSX and the Integra. The RL never equaled the Legend's worst year of U.S. sales. The RLX, a combination of arousing performance under anodyne styling costing premium German money, might have performed the same feat viz the RL, but the RL sold less than 5,000 units here for the last five years of its life. The RLX has only exceeded 5,000 sales once, in 2013. Last year, 1,019 units found buyers.