The manual gear shifter isn't the only stick that's been disappearing from automobiles. With the market-wide adoption of the electronic parking brake, manual handbrakes have largely become part of history, as well. Toyota recently revived the handbrake, however, in an unexpected custom car built to drift – or, more accurately, slide.
Toyota team member and paralympic track and field athlete Jarryd Wallace wanted to create a surprise experience for his dad Jeff Wallace for Father's Day. Wallace settled on bringing pops to the track and sending him out for a hot lap with drifting specialist Ken Gushi. In an interesting twist, the chosen car was not a rear-wheel drive Supra or 86. Instead, it was a front-wheel drive Avalon TRD.
The bits and bobs we saw revealed on the Toyota Supra TRD Performance Line Concept are ready for primetime. TRD put them on display on Facebook last week, and at least one Japanese dealer showed the handiwork on a show-floor Supra. The good news is that they look just as good as they did on the concept, made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic and given a lustrous coating over a perfect weave pattern. The bad news is that they probably won't be the least bit inexpensive.
A three-piece front splitter leads things off. It increases downforce and reduces lift, but it also lowers the car by 14 millimeters (0.55 inch). The rocker extensions carry shark fins at their leading and trailing edges, said to smooth airflow along the body and around the rear three-quarter. They also lower the ride height by four millimeters (0.16 inch). Above them, a set of CFRP panels on the door close off the side intakes. The coupe's chief engineer said the Supra's standard cooling system is good enough, the vents there in case aftermarket mods need more air.
The current-generation Toyota Tundra debuted back in 2007, with a few updates here and there over the years. The truck itself might be ancient in car years, but the 2019 Tundra TRD Pro gets a heavy update after being dropped from the lineup in the 2018 model year. The design hasn't changed much, but Toyota has put its money where it matters on this truck.
Fox racing shocks now provide damping on all four corners. The rear shocks are paired with reservoirs to hold additional oil volume, supporting higher temperatures in extreme use. Then TRD springs are paired with the Fox shocks to give the truck a two-inch lift — beefier leaf springs are used out back. All-in, this gives the truck 1.5 inches more wheel travel up front and just over 2 inches in back compared to the previous TRD Pro. What do you do with all the extra suspension? Well, hit some rough roads and get dirty.
The 2020 Supra is still young in this world (though it feels 5 years old at this point), but a TRD Performance Line Concept version of the Supra happened to be revealed in Japan this past weekend. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it is the first time TRD has gotten its hands dirty with the MkV Supra. TRD showed us a teaser for this car not too long ago with a big wing, though the actual car was not wearing that in its reveal at the 2019 Osaka Automesse.
All the modifications are aero-focused for this concept. We're sad to say TRD didn't touch the inline-six engine — perhaps a power bump was too much to hope for this early in the game. Regardless, all the enhanced aero parts are made of carbon fiber and were developed in the wind tunnel to produce tangible gains in downforce and stability. Included on the concept is a front spoiler, side skirt, door garnish, trunk spoiler and rear spats.
Toyota’s TRD in-house performance division is on a roll lately pumping out one product after the other. At this week’s Chicago Auto Show alone, they presented four vehicles, but the big news for enthusiasts comes from across the Pacific, as they debuted their first stab on the new GR Supra at Japan’s 2019 Osaka Auto Messe.
Crossovers are king, and, for the past few years, the best-selling non-pickup on the market has been the Toyota Rav4. The Rav4 was completely revised for 2019, replacing an aging model that was one of the oldest vehicles in the class. The new model gets far more aggressive styling inside and out, taking quite a few cues from the midsize Toyota Tacoma pickup (check out the refreshed Taco right here). At the 2019 Chicago Auto Show, Toyota seems to be doubling down on the rugged-crossover theme with the new Rav4 TRD Off-Road.
The Rav4 has never really been an off-road sort of SUV. That's what the Toyota 4Runner and Land Cruiser have been for. Even the early Rav4 models, as spartan as they were, were designed with on-road dynamics first. Still, with a bit of work, Toyota has shown its Rally America entry that the Rav4 has the bones to be fairly capable in the dirt. The Rav4 TRD Off-Road, while not exactly derived from Ryan Millen's rally car, is at least inspired by it.
The Toyota TRD Pro family is growing for 2020 with the addition of the family-hauling seven-seater Sequoia SUV. It joins a freshly updated trio of the 4Runner, the Tacoma, and the Tundra in Toyota's Mount Rushmore of off-roading commanders. The Tundra is also now available in Double Cab or CrewMax orientations.
No Toyota gets to wear the TRD Pro badge without several equipment upgrades, but the Sequoia has a solid base to build on with its body-on-frame chassis, good ground clearance, and V8 heart. Just like every other TRD Pro model, the Sequoia gains aluminum internal bypass Fox shocks. Up front, they're 2.5 inches and have seven compression zones to two rebound zones. The rear uses two-inch piggyback monotube Fox shocks. Further upgrades include a reduced front spring rate and 18-inch BBS forged aluminum wheels.