Back before the imports had made it to America, Toyota had begun making cars in the Japan market and was doing quite well. The Toyota vehicles were small, fuel efficient and inherently popular which made them affordable for consumers. The company has come a long way in the past sixty years alone, by doing everything from innovating the hybrid vehicle to creating one of the most iconic sports cars ever made, which was the Supra. The company is also responsible for creating some of the most luxurious and well-known brands in the world, one of which we know as Lexus.
So, how does a company that has pretty much etched a perfect path mess up? Well, unfortunately, Toyota has made more than a few blunders in their storied past. The past two decades have not always been sunshine and roses for Toyota, but the brand still offers a great product and has a loyal consumer base who rave about their vehicles. It's no secret that Toyota makes some of the most reliable cars on the road, and this is why consumers have flocked to their showrooms for decades. Still, we are going to be taking a look at some of the most serious blunders that have affected the automaker and where the company will go from here on out in terms of quality and new ideas.
25 Toyota MR2 Final Generation
Another car that became lost in a confusing Toyota lineup was the final MR2, which also dealt with a lack of advertising. The little insect looking sports car finally quietly ended its life as a convertible, and there was a lot that the model could have done that it didn't.
We wonder why Toyota didn’t put more effort into the little Sportster, as it could have been more of a mainstream success model for the automaker in many ways because of its mid-engine design and attractive pricing point.
24 Scion IQ
Right before Toyota decided to ax the Scion line of cars they introduced the IQ, which was a rather unique choice for a super compact car that really resembled a Smart ForTwo more than anything.
We like what the IQ represented, but it was a far cry from the Scion lineup which had become confused and irrelevant in today's car market. Thus, Toyota decided to ax the Scion brand completely and the IQ will be a car that no one really remembers for much of anything.
23 The 1999 Toyota Echo
Do you remember the Echo? Neither do we, these little egg-shaped cars were never a great selling point for Toyota. The Echo was filling the void of the discontinued Tercel, which was at one point Toyota's tiny car model.
The Echo wasn’t a bad idea, but when compared to other Toyota models at the time it just felt cheap and half-baked which left a bad taste in the mouths of loyal Toyota drivers who were used to the quality cars that they had come to love.
22 Toyota Paseo
What was essentially a two-door Tercel, the Paseo never really found a niche in the market. Consumers were not impressed by the lackluster two-door offering that didn’t give anything in the way of sportiness or innovation. Instead, the Paseo was a forgettable example of what a Toyota could be if it was designed right, and this is a sad state because the Paseo could have been so much more in every sense of the word.
It's interesting to note that the Paseo carried on until the 1997 model year, and we were quite astonished.
21 The 2007 Rav4
There is no doubt that the 2007 model year was one of the most innovative for the RAV4 as it introduced something that no one had ever seen on a compact SUV, and that is the available third-row seat. Although this was a great idea at the time, it would seem that the 2007 model year suffered from other quality issues.
A quick look at Carcomplaints.com will show that more than a few owners have all complained about transmission failure, plus the third row was generally tiny.
20 The Toyota Sera
When it comes to an innovative little sports coupe, the Toyota Sera is a relatively unknown entity that was designed as a unique gullwing compact coupe, and although the design was definitely ahead of its time, we have to wonder just what Toyota was thinking by slapping some Lamborghini style doors on a Toyota Paseo.
The Toyota Sera was definitely a forgettable car, to say the least, and one that really could have jeopardized the company's entire reputation.
19 The 2007 Camry
Ahead of the pack in terms of design and refinement, 2007 was a step ahead of anything that the company had done with a sedan before, but there were problems that followed which Toyota had not encountered from before with their Camry line.
The first was the fact that this generation of Camry was notorious for transmission issues, which could be because Toyota had introduced the new CVT transmission series, and this created headaches for consumers.
18 The Toyota Master Ace
The van of the future, or so it was called. The Toyota Master Ace, or just the “Van” as it was called in the US market, was a great attempt to create a mass-marketed minivan that consumers would actually love to drive.
But, the finished product was a far cry from what you would expect and with an engine that was placed right under the driver, maintenance on this van was a pain for most do-it-yourself mechanics who didn’t have the correct tools to get the job done.
17 The Toyota Prius
The original egg-shaped Prius was released around the same time as the Echo was, and although the car revolutionized the world with the first mass-marketed hybrid sedan, the finished product was cheap and very compact sized. This meant that for the average family the original Prius was just not a reasonable choice, and this is why the sales of the original car were lackluster at best.
Obviously, Toyota hit their stride with the next Prius generation, which was an all-around better car.
16 The Toyota Yaris
Another blunder was the Toyota Yaris, another compact car which the company aimed at college students and just about anyone who wanted an affordable entry-level Toyota model. Unfortunately, the Yaris was just as bad and as cheap as the previous models that came before it, and this still managed to leave a bad taste in the mouths of the consumers who were scooping this car up left and right.
The Yaris had a good idea and principle behind it, but the finished product was a far cry from anything that we would drive.
15 The Toyota Venza
Remember the Toyota Venza? Well, we don’t either, simply because it was the short-lived crossover that the company didn’t know whether to release as a sedan or to release as an SUV.
This mixed symbol of what the car actually was confused salesmen as well, and in the long term the Venza was not a good selling product. It's no wonder that the interesting looking car remains as one of the distant memories for the Toyota brand.
14 The Toyota FJ Cruiser
When it comes to interesting sports utility models, the Toyota FJ Cruiser was ahead of its time in terms of design, offering one of the most unique Toyota models to hit the roads in decades. But, the FJ had a lot of downfalls on top of being a niche product, which meant that the sales quickly fell off.
We liked that the FJ Cruiser was an innovative design, but with considerable drawbacks such as the blind spots and the poor gas mileage, it missed the mark for Toyota.
13 The Toyota Mega Cruiser
If you have ever seen the Toyota Mega Cruiser, then you might mistake the hulking SUV for a Hummer, but the Mega Cruiser was actually a bad choice for the automaker because it was larger than most roads in Japan and the SUV was extremely hard for consumers to try to park. This made the huge model an extremely poor seller for Toyota, and the Mega Cruiser will go down in history as a failed attempt for Toyota.
12 Lexus ES250
The very first compact Lexus model that was sold in the U.S. market was the Camry based ES250, and while the rest of the Lexus lineup was extensively tested, the ES250, on the other hand, was a sheer shadow of the other models.
The ES250 was a car that probably shouldn’t have been released, and many consumers realized that this was nothing more than a dressed up Camry model (and they were not pleased with all with it). Still, this was a time when Lexus was still brand new in The United States.
11 Lexus GX460
Lexus has always offered a few different SUV models in their lineup, but one of the most notable entries was the large GX460. The original model was a high top offering that was unique, to say the least, but it didn’t really offer anything unique in the sense of a luxury SUV.
Although it was powered by a V8 engine, there was a lot that was left to be desired and the GX460 was passed up by other offerings in the luxury SUV field that was better suited.
10 Toyota Previa
So when it comes to the Toyota Previa, what you have right here is a van that was designed with a good idea in mind, but the finished product lacked a lot of the innovation that the Chrysler vans had.
The Previa was odd-shaped and it was very difficult to perform maintenance on which deterred the van from owners who might prefer to do the work themselves. Another problem with the Previa was the awkward seating position which made the van a bit weird to drive, especially when driving long distances.
9 Scion XA
Toyota had been trying to target a younger demographic for quite some time, and when the Scion brand was introduced it brought the market two compact cars which were fully customizable with just about every option and color that you could want.
This was a great idea at a time when this generation was very much into customization, but the finished product of the XA was an unimaginative compact car that really didn’t offer anything unique at a time when compact cars were already boring.
8 Toyota T100
So, what happens when you take a compact Toyota truck and halfway create a full-size offering? Well, you get the T100, a truck that never really quite could have been what Toyota enthusiasts had hoped it would be.
The US marketplace demands a full-size truck, and these buyers generally want V8 power and enough torque to make the truck mean business. But, the T100 was none of this and the truck is generally considered a flop for Toyota.
7 Toyota Tercel Hatchback
Do you remember the Tercel Hatchback? Neither do we, and that is because the car was a forgettable choice for a compact car.
This was not at all Toyota's best work in the compact car world, and that's why many people don’t even realize that there was a hatchback version of the Tercel. This was at a time when Toyota's entire product line was quite large, and there were a plethora of different models to choose from, creating a large network of confusion with customers.
6 Toyota Tundra T3
Toyota wanted to get the word out that their new Tundra truck was bigger, worse, and V8 powered. So, the company decided to partner with the new Terminator 3 movie and make a truck package that was based on the movie as well.
Unfortunately, this was a failed attempt to win market share away from the Big 3, and if the company had focused more on their truck and less on advertising, then we would have no need for a Terminator inspired truck that was really nothing more than a black paint job and a grill.
5 Toyota Camry Hybrid
Once the economy began to tank, Toyota decided to jump into action and introduce a few new Hybrid models. With their Prius finally starting to sell like hot cakes, Toyota decided to add a Hybrid option to the Camry as well.
This hybrid model was not well received and there were many reasons for this, with the first of which is the fact that the car was incredibly complex to repair, which is a far cry from what the Camry is known for and this deterred loyal Camry buyers.
4 Toyota Celica Final Generation
The final generation of the Toyota Celica was a car that sat on dealership lots with no real purpose, and no real advertising to tell you that the car even existed.
The Celica didn’t really offer anything unique, not in performance or in looks, so what was the point of the car you might ask? Well, Toyota had hoped to attract a younger buying demographic into their showrooms, so naturally the Celica was their secret weapon but as we all know, it failed miserably.
3 Lexus ES300
The bigger ES300 was a car that became lost during the 2000s as well, failing to stay in tune with its original unique formula that made the car a hot seller.
The ES300 instead became a bland Toyota Camry with a lot of Lexus chrome and wood to help dress it up, but the buying public didn’t fall for it. The ES300 did not live up to the hype because no one really knew what to think of the bland and sometimes unimaginative model, leaving a lot to be desired.
2 Toyota Tercel 4WD
So, if slapping a hatchback onto the Tercel didn’t work in bolstering the sales, we wonder why Toyota thought that a 4WD suspension would do anything else, but they tried it anyway. What we have right here is another forgettable car that the company obviously didn’t take the time to design or put thought into.
At this point in time, the Toyota lineup was becoming quite scattered so we can only imagine what was going on in the minds of the executives at this time.
1 90s Toyota Tercel 2-Door
And then aside from the lackluster Paseo, there was an actual Tercel two-door that was sold during the nineties as well. All of these options were confusing to consumers, and none of them offered anything that was remotely innovative or unique.
The Tercel 2-door is beyond lackluster with bland performance and styling that looks like a Corolla that was placed into a can crusher. We are not remotely impressed with the 2-door Tercel, and this car is better left forgotten.
Sources: Edmunds, Motor Trend, Car And Driver, What Car?