Toyota's Cars Look Boring, And It Wants To Do Something About That

By Blake Z. Rong | May 21, 2012
Toyota wants to introduce better car design into its future products. The company already has the reliability part of building cars down pretty well. But it's design has been milquetoast,  its cars frequently characterized as "appliances," and the company wants to turn that around, said Kevin Hunter, the president of Toyota’s CALTY Design Studio. “We’re going to act more instinctively,” he said. “We’ll continue listening to the customer, but we can’t do creative design only listening to the consumer. They don’t know what they want five years from now. We’re going to make some predictions.” We saw it first with the Scion FR-S, which is a sleek, slinky little sports car that's both aggressive and handsome at the same time. But sports cars are hard to goof up. It's stuff like the Camry and Sienna, the company's bread and butter, that Hunter wants to look more expressive and appealing. In fact, it's about time that design stopped taking a backseat to engineering and logic, when the engineering department would tell the design staff to “make this pretty,” and as Hunter notes, this led to dull, compromised, badly proportioned vehicles.
"We’re going back to the precepts Toyota was founded on.” It also helps that Akio Toyoda, the company's newly-minted president, is a car enthusiast who's genuinely interested in vehicle design. Hunter says it's a genuine change for Toyota: "we haven’t had that as long as I’ve been with the company." And while speaking bluntly, Hunter claimed that Toyotas look "cute or surprised." (Just look at the last MR2, a car that Hunter nonetheless cited as a great Toyota design.) But new Toyotas will "express the confidence and optimism," as evident on the new Avalon and the NS4 concept, shown above. Lexus is already undergoing this design "renaissance" with the GS and it's "spindle" front grilles. And of course, while this might sound like typical car designer posturing, styling from the sexy LF-LC concept—designed by Hunter and his team at CALTY - will make its way into future Lexus and Toyota (and even Scion) models. “In the past, let’s face it, we had boring design,” Hunter said. “We’re moving to more unexpected designs; that’s our big message." Source: Ward's Auto