New York Auto Show 2017: Toyota updates Sienna, Yaris

Toyota has announced two key product reveals scheduled for the New York Auto Show ahead of the event, raising the technology levels of the Sienna and Yaris in the later stages of their lifecycles.

IHS Markit Perspective:

  • Significance: At the New York Auto Show in April, Toyota will introduce minor updates for the 2018-model-year Sienna minivan and Yaris B-segment hatchback.
  • Implications: Toyota is giving these two vehicles slight upgrades; the next all-new Sienna is expected in 2019 and the next all-new Yaris in 2020.
  • Outlook: Updates improve infotainment, technology, and connectivity, which are areas of particular interest for today's buyers. Implementing these updates ahead of a full model change can enable the vehicles to maintain relevance as they age. As the minivan segment heats up with the arrival of the all-new Chrysler Pacifica and upcoming Honda Odyssey, enhancing the technology package should help Sienna hold some ground. The expansion and update of Entune services and features for the Yaris underscore consumers' expectations to find these kinds of technology in vehicles in any price class.

Toyota has announced that its New York Auto Show introductions will include updates for the Toyota Sienna minivan and Yaris subcompact hatchback. With the Sienna, Toyota's TSS-P (Toyota Safety Sense-Plus) becomes standard and the infotainment systems receive improvements. The safety suite bundles pre-collision with pedestrian detection, full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane-departure alert with steering assist, and automatic high beams.

Through moving to Entune 3.0, the Sienna will get navigation and app connect at all trim levels. Navigation is provided through Scout GPS Link with Moving Maps, which requires cellular or wireless data. Certain grades will get Entune Audio Plus, which adds wifi connectivity for up to five devices using 4G LTE. The top system is Entune 3.0 Premium JBL Audio, which adds dynamic navigation and destination assist as well as an upgraded sound system. The Sienna also offers USB ports at all three rows, with a total of five, an updated rear-seat entertainment system (which includes streaming capability for Android devices), and a bird's-eye view monitor. On the outside, the Sienna takes a redesigned front fascia and NVH improvements for SE and Limited grades, in the form of laminated glass.

The Yaris takes a new front fascia as well, including new grille and chrome accents for the L and LE grades and a sportier look for the SE grade. In the rear, there is a new bumper and horizontal taillamps. The Yaris also now takes Entune Audio as standard and offers Entune Audio Plus as an option. The SE grade gets standard Entune Audio Plus with Connected Navigation, the same Scout GPS system as the Sienna, providing access to a navigation system at a lower cost, although it does require data. But the Yaris gains neither a wifi connection nor the lengthy list of safety equipment of the Sienna. The 2018-model-year update prioritises technology. In the 2017 model year, Toyota gave the car a deeper suite of standard driver-assist systems (pre-collision, lane-departure alert, automatic high beams), which are expected to carry over unchanged for 2018 model year. The next Yaris full model change, at which point it will shift to Toyota's new GA-B platform, is not expected to arrive in the United States until 2020, according to IHS Markit data.

Sienna sales will begin in the third quarter of 2017, while the Yaris will be available mid-year.

Outlook and implications

Updates for both vehicles improve the level of infotainment, technology, and connectivity, areas of particular interest for today's buyers. Toyota has also updated these areas ahead of a full model change, enabling the vehicles to stay relevant as they age. As competition rises in the minivan segment with the all-new Chrysler Pacifica and upcoming Honda Odyssey, brightening the Sienna's outlook by goosing its technology package should help the model hold some ground against newer and higher-tech offerings. The addition of the Entune suite of services and features to the Yaris underscores consumers' expectations to find these kinds of technology in vehicles in any price class.

The Sienna sold nearly 128,000 units in 2016, providing only 6% of the brand's US sales but taking 23% of the US mid-size MPV market. The model is important to support Toyota's role as a full-line manufacturer, able to satisfy the needs of families at nearly any life stage. The Yaris hatchback, despite low volumes, is also relevant to Toyota's position as a full-line manufacturer, offering an entry product that the brand hopes also turns some owners into lifelong Toyota buyers. The small hatchback has always been a low-volume proposition in the United States. The B-segment car is imported from France. Yaris sales in 2016 reached only 10,800 units. The Yaris iA sedan - essentially a Mazda2 built under contract by Mazda for Toyota - is starting off as a much stronger performer, with sales more than double those of the Yaris hatchback for the first two months of 2017. Aside from sharing part of a name, the Yaris hatchback and Yaris iA are unrelated. These two entry products combined, however, are less than 1% of Toyota-brand US sales. Giving the Yaris a higher level of technology is necessary to compete, but is not expected to help achieve any significant volume jump.

The Sienna updates will help the minivan compete against an all-new Honda Odyssey, due on sale later in 2017, and the recently updated Pacifica. The Sienna took an engine update for the 2017 model year, but is not due to move to a new platform until the fourth quarter 2019. The updates address connectivity and technology issues, bringing the minivan closer in content terms to its competitors. But the Pacifica offers a hybrid and the Odyssey is expected to get one, so both will offer higher fuel economy options than Toyota, which essentially started the hybrid move.

In 2019, the Sienna will move to the GA-K platform, as will most Toyota products currently on MC-M. Production is expected to continue at the same Kentucky plant as today.

Toyota boasts that the Sienna was the best-selling minivan in the United States in 2016, although it was ahead of the Dodge Caravan by fewer than 1,000 units. But IHS Markit data forecast that the Pacifica will lead for the next several years. Although Odyssey sales will dip in 2017 on the model changeover, Honda and Toyota are predicted to post similar sales volumes from 2018 to 2020.

About this article

The above article is from IHS Automotive Same-Day Analysis of automotive news, events and trends, and is a deliverable of the World Markets Automotive Service. The service averages thirty stories per day and also provides competitor and country intelligence. Get a free trial.


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