Toyota looks to the past and future with updates of two old-school sedans juxtaposed against two visions for radically different hybrids. The first sedan update is a tech-savvy take on the storied Crown, which dates to 1955. Toyota's top-shelf, full-size sedan in Japan gets redesigned from scratch, starting with the company's new modularized global platform. Track-tested at Germany's Nurburgring circuit, the new close-to-production Crown Concept also gets next-generation connectivity and safety technology.
Also overhauled is the plush Century, a byword for chauffeured luxury in Japan since its debut in 1967. The long-in-the-tooth limousine is still coasting on its last redesign in 1997. The upgrade brings the long car into the 21st century with a 5.0-liter V-8 engine mounted to Toyota's trademark hybrid system. The exterior largely keeps its elegant simplicity but gets some contemporary flare with a more rear-slung cabin.
For its other concepts, Toyota says it will explore a new genre with the Tj Cruiser, a monolithic crossover that merges the roominess of a cargo van with the feel of an SUV. The "T" in the name stands for toolbox, apt given the concept's boxy dimensions. Toyota says the "j" stands for the joy that riders get from venturing to different destinations. Toyota envisions the Tj Cruiser as running on a 2.0-liter-class engine mounted to a hybrid system and available in either two- or four-wheel-drive layouts.
Toyota will also show its sporty side with the GR HV Sports concept. It draws heavily from the 86 sporty coupe — a version of which is sold by Subaru as the BRZ — with a couple twists. For starters, it gets a vertical array of LED headlamps and a targa top, in homage to such venerable convertible forerunners as the Toyota Sports 800 and the Supra. Powering the matte black car is the Toyota Hybrid System-Racing, the electrified drivetrain technology used in the TS050 racer Toyota enters in Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship.
Adding to the fun is the ability to switch back and forth between six-speed manual and automatic transmission modes. The push-button ignition is at the tip of the shifter, like the machine-gun trigger in a James Bond car.
Naoto Okamura contributed to this report.