Willingboro, New Jersey, United States
We know the feeling: you've got what seems like your whole bloodline to transport, and maybe not quite two of every living kind, but a household pet or two. So you're going to need something big to fit them all. Something like a Toyota Sienna ought to do the trick. But if you live on an Asian island that, we're sorry to say, has been known to flood in what can only be referred to as an Act of God but whose vehicles fall short of such biblical proportions, at least you can get one with a suitably biblical name. (And an awesome one at that, if this writer may say so.)
That would be Noah, the name Toyota gives to its JDM minivan. It's also known as the Voxy, and Toyota has just revealed new versions of both. Previewed in concept form at the recent Tokyo Motor Show, the production Noah and Voxy have been completely redesigned. The boxy form allows for as many as eight seats and a low, flat-folding cargo floor to accommodate your whole clan and all the stuff you could buy from Uniqlo and Muji with the roomiest interior in its class.
Toyota is offering both with a variety of gasoline and hybrid powertrain configurations driving the front wheels or all four through a continuously variable transmission in a range of trim levels starting from 2.18 million yen (equivalent to $20,952 at today's rates) to 3.4 million yen ($32,694). The Voxy is sold through Toyota's network of Netz dealerships across Japan, and the Noah through its parallel Corolla dealers. Along with the pair of video clips and the high-res image galleries top and bottom, there are plenty of details in the press release below, where you can read more about the flexible seating arrangements and all the latest tech. Just don't expect to be reading dimensions measured in cubits and construction from gopher wood.
Giving Vanilla A Good Name
"Vanilla." Taken in modern context, that's not a compliment, but it should be. Vanilla actually has exotic origins, and as spices go, only saffron is more costly. Despite the realities, calling something "vanilla" is not whistling in admiration. The Toyota Camry has been called "vanilla" countless times since its debut, but both the car and the bean have something up their sleeves.
Scoff all you want, but vanilla is the most popular ice cream flavor, and there is no mainstream sedan that outsells the Camry. Apparently, vanilla has an underlying tinge of filthy lucre. We didn't feel rich, exactly, wheeling around in the Camry Hybrid, but we came away impressed, nonetheless.
When last we checked in on our topless would-be hero, the Toyota FT-86 convertible had been reportedly placed on "indefinite hold." That was back in early October, not long after Toyota had trotted out the rear-wheel-drive canvasback to Scion dealers as a possible future product carrot if they decided not to turn in their franchises. And yet, we're here at the Tokyo Motor Show, where Toyota has taken the time to at least repaint the FT-86 Open Concept in "Flash Red," if not build a whole other car (the original Geneva showcar was white). It's enough to make our heads spin like a teenager on the verge of a breakup. Will they? Won't they?
At this point, we still don't know any more than you do - the last word we heard out of Toyota was not encouraging, although the story was that the program could still be fast-tracked if management had a change of heart. As the car has never been seen before in Japan, perhaps Toyota is merely extending its domestic audience a courtesy view before it lines this showcar in mothballs, or maybe they're still trying to make a decision on its fate and gauging public reaction on the homefront.
Interestingly, in a new story published today, Automotive News quotes Subaru brand boss Yasuyuki Yoshinaga downplaying the likelihood of a production model, saying flatly "We make the car, so if we don't make it, it can't happen." The executive went on to note, "Our engineering department told me that losing the entire roof requires a complete redesign of the structure. It would need a big change." Given that such a car would probably trade in rather small volumes, that sounds like a significant hurtle.