Toyota For 1998
By Carey Russ
Toyota is not a company to rest on its laurels. The major revision of the popular Camry family sedan started a trend, and there are major changes in the company's lineup for 1998. The Sienna, a brand-new, Camry-based minivan, and significantly improved Corolla and Avalon sedans can now be found in Toyota showrooms.
The Toyota Camry is a benchmark in the midsized sedan class, and Toyota's desire is for the all-new 1998 Sienna minivan to be the "Camry of Minivans." That shouldn't be difficult, as the Sienna is not only built on a stretched Camry platform, it is built on the same assembly line in Georgetown, Kentucky as the Camry.
The front-wheel drive Sienna is engineered specifically for the American market. It is much more mainstream vehicle than the now- discontinued Previa, with improved accommodations and easier access.
Three trim levels of Sienna are available, all powered by the 3.0-liter, 194 horsepower V6 engine used in V6 Camry models. All feature modular seating for functional flexibility. Dual front and rear climate controls are standard on uplevel models and optional on the base model. Not only is a driver's-side sliding passenger door an option on the upscale models, a power-operated passenger-side sliding door will be offered later in the model year.
Larger, lighter, faster, more powerful, and more economical than last year's version, the 1998 Toyota Corolla is designed to give small car buyers everything they need and want, and more than expected.
A new 4-cylinder, 1.8-liter engine makes 120 horsepower, 15 more than the engine of the previous Corolla. All trim levels come with a standard 5-speed manual transmission, with a 3-speed automatic optional on base models and a 4-speed electronically-controlled automatic available on higher-level cars. A new, more rigid chassis structure improves handling and ride comfort, and helps reduce noise levels. The newly-styled body features flush glass for reduced wind noise. Interior space is increased.
The 1998 Corolla has the full complement of safety equipment, including depowered front airbags and, a most unusual feature for its price class, optional side-impact airbags.
Toyota's American-built flagship sedan has received a minor facelift outside and significant structural, safety, and interior enhancements.
A new grille and headlights, a tasteful amount of chrome trim, and a new, wider trunk lid highlight exterior changes. The Avalon's unibody chassis has been stiffened this year, for improved handling and crashworthiness, and lower noise and vibration levels. All 1998 Avalon models have front seat side-impact air bags.
Toyota's smallest sport-utility has a freshened look for 1998. Both the 2-door and 4-door models have a new grille, front bumper fascia, headlights, taillights, and wheels for a more aggressive image. The interior has also received some trim changes. Enhancements to the 2.0-liter engine mean more power and less noise. RAV4s are available in both front-wheel drive and full-time 4-wheel drive trim.
The 4th-generation Camry was the highlight of the Toyota line last year. It continues into 1998 with minor detail revisions. More importantly, side-impact airbags will be available on all models, and both the 4-cylinder and V6 engines now meet California Low Emissions (LEV) Vehicle standards.
Toyota's midsized SUV has been selling in record numbers for the past few years. It has minor interior changes for 1998.
The full-sized T100 pickup has new sound system choices and paint colors for 1998.
The Fremont, CA-built Tacoma compact pickup is available with a regular or extended cab, 2- or 4-wheel drive, 4-cylinder or V6 engines, and 3 trim levels. Standard and optional equipment packages have been modified this year, and 4-wheel drive models have new front end styling.
Toyota's high-performance sports car is still offered in normally-aspirated and turbocharged versions for 1998. The non-turbo model has a new engine with continuously-variable valve timing for greater performance and lower emissions. Both versions are only available with 4-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmissions for 1998.