QotW: What should Toyota do with the Celica name?

Last week we learned that Toyota has filed for a trademark for the Celica name. As readers have pointed out, the most likely reason is that they just want to hang onto the name to prevent others from using it. Sorry for the second Toyota QotW in a row, but what if you called the shots at ToMoCo? Would you build an all-new sports coupe? Use the name on an existing car? Turn it into an SUV? Let’s say you have free reign to alter the entire lineup. Bonus points for reality.

What should Toyota do with the Celica name?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What should Toyota do with the Land Cruiser?

We were pleasantly surprised by the answers we received last week. This site tends to lean towards sportier cars and not off-roaders, so the number of thoughtful responses were much appreciated.

Jim Daniels said what we were all thinking, that the Land Cruiser should return to its true elemental and utilitarian form. BlitzPig suggested it should come down in price to become a Jeep Wrangler competitor and admonished Toyota for being the Japanese GM. dankan had a similar thought about entering the Jeep or new Bronco class, except adding electric power. cesariojpn went in the complete opposite direction, saying the Land Cruiser should live in to its reputation as an overly luxurious and expensive dictator chariot and become akin to a Century SUV. Chet Manley came up with an out-of-the-box idea to spin off the Land Cruiser to its own marque.  Toyotageek said just let it die. F31 Roger‘s proposal of a heritage program was simply brilliant.

In the end, the winner was Last Iconoclast, who came up with a pretty good outline for Toyota to follow without asking too much. It’s simplicity and obviousness is a perfect match for the original Land Cruiser itself.

“It almost defies logic, and while it can be argued that the current LC is too luxurious and expensive, four-wheeling and overlanding — and now COVID-inspired getaways — are among the hottest automotive trends right now.”

I was thinking the same thing just yesterday while reading an article in Automotive News about Nissan dealers hankering for a revival of the Nissan Xterra. What we’ve seen with the Land Cruiser is the same thing that’s happened to Isuzu (we bought a new Trooper back in ’94) and Mitsubishi Montero. Why are their SUVs disappearing as that market segment keeps growing?

The only conclusion one can draw is that they did indeed become too luxurious and overpriced. They lost sight of their customer base. That’s reflected by the dwindling numbers sold towards the end of their life. It’s the same phenomenon that killed off all of the Japanese sports cars after the ’90s. They became too complicated and expensive.

Toyota needs to go back to its roots with the Land Cruiser, making it more utilitarian and affordable so that it appeals to true off-road fans. Create a successor model that generates excitement among true off-road enthusiasts, some of whom can become social media influencers, and create a reason for the masses to want to mimic that lifestyle by buying a revitalized Land Cruiser, even if most never leave the pavement.

Look at what Jeep has done with the Wrangler and its offsprings. While they’ve added some comfort and convenience features, the Wrangler has never strayed too far from its utilitarian origins. Remarkably, Jeep sales in Japan grew 1.2% last year, setting record sales for the seventh straight year. They have plans to expand the dealer network there.

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17 Responses to QotW: What should Toyota do with the Celica name?

  1. Banpei said:

    Nissan and Mitsubishi set a good examples in the past by using the Skyline and Eclipse names on their crossovers. Toyota should use the Celica name on a white labeled Mitsuoka Buddy (RAV4 crossover based). That should definitely drum up sales in the US! Okay…I’m only trolling here! 😉

    More seriously: Toyota should actually do the reverse on what they did with the Celica in the past. In the past they added a six cylinder engine to the Celica and called it the Celica XX/Celica Supra. Later on the six cylinder Celica variants split off to become the Supra lineup with the A70 and A80 generations. They should revert this by taking all current B48 (four cylinder) powered Supras, shortening it’s nose and rebrand it as the Celica. That would be a glorious comeback!

    • Mark F Newton-John said:

      Nope. Never happen. Toyota is not going to dilute the Supra by calling an essentially identical looking car by a different name. Hyundai doesn’t call it’s four cylinder Genesis Coupe something else, Ford doesn’t call it’s 310hp turbo four Mustang something else, so Toyota is not going to call it’s four cylinder turbo Supra anything else.

  2. CycoPablo said:

    I was thinking along similar lines…

    Reverse (sorta) the evolution from FR – FF and AWD to FF like the Mk7, for packaging reasons, but with two EV motors at rear. Have it switchable between FF, AWD in hybrid and rear-drive in EV mode. Torque-vectoring in the latter two.
    Call the modes Mk7, GT-Four and Classic.

    They could have the whole range in one car, and could tune the weight distribution with creative battery placement.

  3. Steve said:

    Toyota should either (1) buy outright Subaru’s BRZ/86 production facilities and produce the platform under the Celica name with a proper Toyota engine/trans or (2) have identical tooling made up and produce the 86 platform under the Celica game at their own facilities with a proper Toyota engine/trans or (3) end the agreement with Subaru and make a whole new RWD, I4, M/T, 2-door, four seater, coupe. I’d buy one; even a first-year one.

    They have the platform and they have the name. What could be more simple?

  4. Lee L said:

    There is a distinct lack of sporty FF Toyota Coupes right now. Even if we did get the new Yaris in the US there still wouldn’t be anything like the 4th-7th gen Celica in Toyota’s lineup.

    2-door, FF, manual transmission, sporty-looking
    Base Model – 2ZR
    GT/GTS – M20A-FKS or a Turbo 2ZR. I would think the M20A would be more likely.

    The main reason I think this won’t happen is because it would be too similar to the 86.

  5. Dillon said:

    Give us an all new bodied All-Trac Celica with the GR Yaris drive train.

    Then I will no longer be upset about not getting the GR Yaris.

    • WESLEY MACDOUGALL said:

      I really like this idea! AWD should be a no brainer for the current GT86 chassis.

      And there are plans to make an AWD version of every model in the Toyota lineup. we still have a couple cars to go!

  6. Alan said:

    Put it on a car designed and built by Toyota. I know, radical.

  7. They should slap the nameplate on a small crossover because everything sucks and nothing matters anymore.

  8. WESLEY MACDOUGALL said:

    I worked at a Toyota dealership right when they canceled the Scion program. At the time we all thought the GT86 was going to be rebranded as the new Celica. Many disagree with this but i still think of it as a Celica in more ways than the Corolla of which it is supposed to pay homage. Its design is that of a sports coupe and envelopes many traits of classic Toyota Sports cars. The AE86 Corolla was the opposite in where it was based on a sedan economy car. We now think of the AE86 in completely different ways but back then that was its design purpose.

    Give the car a whole new facelift, slap a Celica badge on it and call it good…

    Taking the Supra four cylinder turbo and saying its a Celica is like taking the Mustang Ecotech turbo and calling it a Maverick. Thats not what it is, regardless of whats under the hood.

  9. cesariojpn said:

    Since they spent all that money on the Lexus LC, why not use that tooling (with major design changes) and the TNGA-L (GA-L) platform and make a new Celica? Or hell, use the TNGA-L (GA-L) platform to make a new coupe……unless they want to remake the Toyota Camry Solara and badge that as the Celica……

  10. james said:

    I might get some flak for this, but this is what I feel Toyota should do with the Celica name. They should attach the name to a new line of sporting coupes/liftbacks or even a sedan (anyone remember the Corona EXIV?) and offer them with a multitude of engines,powertrains(from FF to 4WD) and transmissions(especially) why hell, even one model could utilise hybrid technology. The cars should be designed and built in house or they could collaborate with Mazda, who knows a thing or two about building enjoyable cars.

  11. Sammy B said:

    It may get confusing, but I really think cleanest would be to rename the GT86 to Celica. Market it as “the legend reborn” or whatever when the next gen comes out.

    If they want to have some continuity, I guess they could have a “regular” Celica and then a Celica GT or Celica GT86 for the faster version. But that assumes there will be more than 1 flavor.

    More out there: slap Celica name on some type of electrified version of GT86 or Supra. But I really feel it needs to be a coupe of some sort. None of this Mitsu Eclipse Cross nonsense.

  12. Damian said:

    The Celica name should be slapped onto the 86. That would make more sense.

  13. dankan said:

    Sticking the label on the second-generation Toyobaru makes the most sense, since the first generation car didn’t have wide enough recognition for too many people to get upset about it. But if they’re not going to do that, then I would suggest that when the GR Yaris drivetrain does make it over here, rather than just slapping it in a Corolla hatchback and calling it a day (they can do that too if they want), they should build a coupe version of that Corolla with a dramatically cut down roofline (like they did with the GR Yaris) and call it the Celica GR-Four. Nods to past history, the same link they’ve already played up in Europe, and an all-Toyota halo car for the people that really matters for (us).

  14. Mark F Newton-John said:

    Seems that everyone is living in the 1990s past. Toyota is actually trying to cut down the huge amount of models they sell around the world, so making a sports coupe is a dead proposition because it’s such a declining market. Toyota discontinued the tC as it didn’t do well, the only reason the 86 is still around is that it still sells, underpowered as it is.

  15. Rod Panhard said:

    The Celica will be an electric 2-door coupe.

    As the former owner of a 1974 Celica GT, from 1976 to 1987, I think it would be a fitting reprise. Compared to most of the stuff on the road, when the TA22 came out, it was relatively advanced when compared to it’s competition. Toyota can do this again.

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