Toyota Debuts 2 At South Florida International Auto Show
10 October 1999MR2 Spyder and Tacoma StepSide Debut in Miami
MIAMI -- Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., unveiled the all-new MR2 Spyder roadster and Tacoma StepSide sport truck at the South Florida International Auto Show. "The world fell in love with the sports cars of the 50s, because they were light in weight, light on the road and light on the wallet, " said Alan DeCarr, TMS Toyota Division vice president of sales. "The MR2 Spyder is true to these essential elements. A two-seat, mid-engine, soft-top roadster distilled to its most basic nature, it is straightforward and functional and a blast to drive. Most important, it will be surprisingly affordable." The MR2 Spyder is one of three all-new vehicles Toyota is rolling-out during model-year 2000 that were specifically developed to appeal to younger new-car buyers on a budget. The Celica sport coupe and ECHO compact sedan will arrive at dealerships this month. ECHO will carry a base price of $9,995, while Celica prices will start at $16,695. The MR2 Spyder is scheduled to arrive at dealerships in May, with an annual sales target of approximately 5,000 units. Prices will be announced closer to the on-sale date. Weighing in at approximately 2,200 pounds, the MR2 Spyder rides on a wide, low-slung platform, supported by MacPherson struts at all four corners. It has a wheelbase of 96.5 inches and an overall length of 153 inches. An all-aluminum 1.8-liter twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine powers the Spyder. The engine features VVT-i cylinder head technology, a variable-valve timing system similar to the design currently used in Lexus engines. Rated at 138hp at 6,400 rpm and 127 lb-ft of torque at 4,400, the engine also powers the all-new Toyota Celica GT. Power is applied to the rear wheels of the MR2 Spyder through a five-speed manual transmission. The Spyder's steering system is a newly developed electric hydraulic power unit designed to save weight, while providing exceptional responsiveness and road feedback. The MR2 Spyder will be offered in one grade level and will be very well equipped. Standard features will include: -- a four-wheel disc anti-lock brake system -- air conditioning -- three-in-one AM-FM/cassette/CD sound system -- power windows and door locks -- 15-inch alloy wheels -- retractable wind deflector -- and glass rear window with defroster Tacoma StepSide "The introduction of the Toyota Tacoma StepSide here in Miami is significant, because the southeast is the country's top market for stepside pickups," said DeCarr. "The stepside design has proven to be a popular styling option among young truck enthusiasts looking to set themselves apart from the crowd. This StepSide model was conceived to broaden the appeal of Tacoma by attracting a significantly younger, more image-conscious buyer." In 1998, Toyota introduced the Tacoma PreRunner, an innovative extension to the Tacoma lineup that combined 4x4 styling and image with the affordability of a 4X2. The PreRunner was an important first step in broadening Tacoma's appeal. This year, with the launch of the all-new Tundra full-size pickup, the Tacoma compact pickup is more important than ever to Toyota's overall truck strategy. With the launch of the 2000 models this fall, Tacoma's base MSRP dropped by nearly seven percent, or about $1,200. This lowered entry price will enhance its value versus segment competitors and strengthen its position in the booming 4x4 segment. The new StepSide will be available on regular and extended cab 4x2 Tacoma models, powered by either four-cylinder or V6 engines. It will be offered as part of a package that will include air conditioning, power steering, upgraded sound system and color-keyed bumpers and grille. The StepSide features a durable steel cargo box. Like all Tacoma beds, it will be built at Toyota's TABC production facility in Long Beach, Calif. StepSide's sporty image will be enhanced by the use of aggressively styled front fenders, bumper and grille from the Tacoma 4X4. The StepSide's functional bed-length, overall exterior width and cargo box depth is the same as that of the conventional beds on the regular cab and extended cab models. Unlike other stepside models, the cargo floor width between the wheel-well housings also remains the same. StepSide's interior width, wall-to-wall was reduced by 8.7 inches. The curb weight and payload of the StepSide will remain unchanged. The StepSide will be launched nationwide starting in late-January of next year, with an annual production of about 8,000 units. Pricing for the StepSide is not yet finalized. "Tacoma is a key element of our overall truck strategy, because its platform lends itself to exciting new derivatives," said DeCarr. "The Tacoma PreRunner and StepSide are good examples of effective market segment expansion. Look for more in the near future."