Toyota For 1999
By Carey Russ
Changes abound at Toyota for 1999. Some familiar faces are gone, replaced by new ones. The Tercel subcompact, Supra sports car, and T100 full-sized pickup have disappeared. In their place, the new, Camry-based Solara sports coupe is now available. An all-new full- sized pickup called the Tundra will go on sale in Spring 1999 as a 2000 model. Unlike the T100, the Tundra will be available with a V8 engine. A new version of the Land Cruiser sport-utility made its debut in mid-1998 and continues for 1999.
If anyone wondered why there was no Camry coupe offered when the current Camry made its debut in 1997, the answer is found in the new Solara. Unlike the previous-generation Camry coupe, which was basically a two-door Camry sedan in style, the new Solara shares no external body panels with the Camry sedan. Nor does it have any Camry badging on it. But underneath its Lexus SC400-inspired skin, the platform is Camry. Although it has a slightly shorter wheelbase and more sports-oriented suspension tuning, the basic chassis stampings and suspension design are shared with the Camry. And the 135 horsepower 2.2-liter four-cylinder and 200 horsepower 3.0-liter V6 are the same as those found in the Camry, although minor differences give them slightly more power. The interior was inspired by the Lexus ES300.
One trim level of four-cylinder Solara is offered, and two for the V6. Both are well-equipped, and plenty of available option packages are available for extra comfort, convenience, and performance.
The 1998 Toyota Land Cruiser was introduced in the middle of the 1998 calendar year, so the 1999 edition is little changed. It does now have an optional independent rear climate control system.
Extensively redesigned inside and out, the new Land Cruiser is the first Toyota vehicle to be powered by a V8 engine. With 230 horsepower and 320 lb.-ft. of torque, the 4.7-liter powerplant, based on the engine used in the Lexus LS400 and GS400, is considerably more powerful than the old inline six. It is also more economical in operation and cleaner in exhaust emissions.
The Land Cruiser's chassis was also redesigned. The frame is much more rigid, and the new independent front suspension improves ride and handling both on and off the road. Full-time, dual-range four- wheel drive is standard, and the new antilock braking system operates even in low range.
Despite the brawny underpinnings and more aggressive exterior, the inside of the new Land Cruiser is built for comfort and convenience. There is more room, and larger door openings for easier access.
Toyota's popular compact truck had a freshened interior and exterior last year, and continues mostly unchanged for 1999. The PreRunner, which combines four-wheel-drive looks and ground clearance with two-wheel-drive economy, was a mid-year introduction in extended-cab form. A regular-cab model will also be available this year. Both can be had with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.4-liter V6. Other Tacoma models are offered in both regular and Xtracab styles. Two-wheel-drive models have a standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, while 4WD models have a standard 2.7-liter four. The V6 is available on both 4WD and 2WD models.
The third-generation 4Runner enters its fourth year with the most standard and optional equipment ever offered and exterior improvements including new auto-off multi-reflector headlamps and a new grille and front bumper fascia. There are other interior and exterior upgrades on all three trim levels as well. The top-of-the-line Limited model has a new multimode four-wheel drive system; base and SR5 models are available with two-wheel drive or shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive.
The Camry made it to the top of the sales charts last year. To help keep it there, it gets a number of safety and convenience upgrades for 1999. Automatic on/off daytime running lights are standard on uplevel LE and XLE models and available with the antilock brake option on CE models.
The "Camry of Minivans" made its debut last year and gets a new five-door base-grade CE model and an optional power-operated passenger-side sliding door that also may be remotely operated from a button on the remote transmitter. Integrated child restraint seats are also available.
The 1999 RAV4 mini sport-utility is offered in two-door Soft Top and four-door form. Two-wheel drive is standard, with a light- duty four-wheel drive system optional. New this year is a "L" model special luxury edition of the four-door RAV4 and new color choices.
Toyota's flagship sedan had significant structural and safety upgrades last year. It now has daytime running lights for additional safety, and minor exterior trim enhancements.
The current Corolla was introduced last year, and is relatively unchanged for 1999.
The Celica has been the mainstay of Toyota's sporty car lineup for over a quarter of a century, and has a simplified lineup for 1999.The Celica GT Coupe has been discontinued, leaving the GT Liftback and GT Convertible as the only choices.