WASHINGTON — Toyota Motor Corp said Wednesday it will build a new sport utility vehicle at its $1.6 billion joint venture assembly plant in Alabama rather than produce Corolla cars. The largest Japanese automaker announced in January 2018 it would build the factory in Alabama in a joint venture with Mazda. Toyota said the shift is due to "a growing consumer appetite for light trucks and SUVs." Mazda announced in February 2019 that it would build a new SUV at the plant. Toyota said it still expects the plan to start production in 2021. Construction remains on schedule, and hiring has begun. The plant could create up to 4,000 new jobs and build 300,000 vehicles annually. Corolla production will remain at Toyota's plant in Blue Springs, Miss.
Lexus has updated its GX 460 SUV for 2020. The GX 460 is one of the longer-running SUV models on the market, as it was originally unveiled around a decade ago and it's still based on the sturdy Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, which is a touch more compact than the U.S. market Land Cruiser.
The refresh gives the model some new touches to keep it in line with other current Lexus products, including a more contemporary spindle grille and new headlights, but it's restyled along the same moderate lines as the previous updates the GX 460 has received during its tenure. There are color and trim adjustments, including the addition of very red leather, but the powertrain remains the same: the 301-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 with 329 lb-ft or torque.
A report in Autocar says Mitsubishi wants more literal space between its three core SUVs. The outlet quotes "a senior source" saying, "Today we aren't in an ideal position, with our SUVs close in size, but in the next 18 months you will start to see a strategy that separates them out." Redesigns for the next generation of the Outlander, Eclipse Cross, and Outlander Sport will put about 200 millimeters' (7.9 inches) difference in length between each.
Right now, the Outlander stands 184.8 inches long, the Eclipse Cross 173.4 inches long, and the Outlander Sport is scarcely smaller at 171.9 inches long. Autocar says the revamp would see the Outlander grow, while the Outlander Sport gets smaller. Based on the comments, if the Outlander gets longer, then we wouldn't be surprised at seeing the Eclipse Cross putting on a few inches, too.