Despite the coronavirus pandemic, UMW Toyota Motor has had a busy 2020. After two low-profile mid-year launches, the RAV4 and 2021 GR Supra, the company truly got the ball rolling in October with the facelifted Hilux’s debut. But it saved the best for last, swinging for the fences earlier this month with the facelifted Vios and Yaris, the world premiere of the Vios GR Sport and the hotly-anticipated GR Yaris.

The GR Yaris, in particular, was a triumph for the company. We’re one of only two Southeast Asian countries to have received the rally-inspired hot hatch, and while Thailand got it first, our car is way cheaper, slotting just under the RM300,000 mark. We also received a far higher allocation, with no less than 127 units for you to get your hands on.

But our attention now turns to next year, which promises to be another big one for Toyota – it finally looks to be mounting a proper challenge to the Honda HR-V‘s hegemony with the Corolla Cross. The new Harrier and facelifted Camry, Innova and Fortuner are also expected to arrive in 2021.

Toyota Corolla Cross

Despite the name, the Corolla Cross isn’t quite a C-segment competitor – it’s bigger than a C-HR, sure, but it’s cheaper to build and has a torsion beam rear suspension instead of the latter’s more expensive double wishbones. In particular, the lower cost ensures the car will be well poised to take on the HR-V in a way that the pricier and less practical C-HR hasn’t been able to do convincingly in ASEAN.

The Corolla Cross’ positioning in the SUV market will make it Toyota’s most important model in 2021; it’s no coincidence that it has discontinued the C-HR in Malaysia. The car has already proved to be more than a match for the HR-V, outselling the perennial bestseller in Thailand. The question is, can it do so here?

As it is with everything in Malaysia, it all boils down to price. To have any chance of being competitive, UMW Toyota will have to assemble the car locally. If it does, the Corolla Cross will be the first CKD car sold here to be based on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), as past models – the C-HR, Camry, Corolla, RAV4 and GR Yaris – have all been fully imported from either Thailand or Japan.

Assembling the car here would also increase the likelihood of a hybrid model, which would benefit from import and excise duty exemptions. In Thailand, the Corolla Cross Hybrid is powered by a 98 PS/142 Nm 1.8 litre Atkinson-cycle engine and a 72 PS/163 Nm electric motor, delivering a total system output of 122 PS.

Toyota Harrier

From the bottom of Toyota’s SUV range, we now move to the very top. The new fourth-generation Harrier was launched in Japan in June, so it should arrive on Malaysian shores next year. It will almost certainly be fully imported from its home country, and given that the RAV4 already retails around the RM200,000 mark, expect the larger and more luxurious Harrier to be significantly pricier than the outgoing model.

One cause of possible consternation is that the new Harrier loses the old car’s 2.0 litre turbocharged engine, utilising the RAV4’s naturally-aspirated Dynamic Force mill and CVT instead. This unit won’t have the forced induction shove that premium car buyers are used to, and the more powerful 2.5 litre hybrid powertrain will likely be much too expensive to be offered here.

Toyota Camry facelift

Another one of Toyota’s pricier models, the Camry should soon get the facelift introduced in the United States in July. The changes are fairly minor and are limited to an even more expressive front bumper, a top-mounted floating infotainment touchscreen, new trim and upholstery options and an upgraded Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+. The suite of driver assistance systems adds new cyclist and oncoming vehicle detection functions, emergency steering assist, improved adaptive cruise control and a rear seat reminder.

Beyond the facelift, however, we’re expecting the Camry to finally receive the latest 209 PS/250 Nm 2.5 litre Dynamic Force engine and eight-speed automatic transmission. We were told that the current car’s outdated powertrain – which has been used since 2015 – resulted from a supply bottleneck for the new mill. This issue should be fixed, paving the way for the new car to get the engine it had always been designed for.

If the Corolla Cross does get assembled here, the Camry could be the next in line, lowering the current circa-RM190,000 price. This would likely see the reintroduction of new variants, including a cheaper 2.0 litre model and maybe even a hybrid. However, the law of diminishing returns means that Toyota might save local assembly for cheaper models with greater volume.

Toyota Innova facelift

With the facelifted Hilux now on sale, the pick-up’s other IMV siblings are next. The Innova MPV received a nip and tuck in October, sporting a new chrome-trimmed grille, a more aggressive front bumper and a hexagonal rear number plate garnish, plus redesigned wheel options.

Toyota has been fairly aggressive in proliferating the Toyota Safety Sense suite across the Malaysian lineup, so expect the Innova to come with the assists introduced on the new Hilux, including autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist. As for the engine, the car should soldier on with the same 163 PS/183 Nm 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated mill as before.

Toyota Fortuner facelift

Last but not least is the facelifted Fortuner, revealed in August with a redesigned front bumper, a larger grille, revised bi-LED headlights and three-dimensional LED taillights. There’s also a sportier Legender model in Thailand that amps up the visual aggression a few notches, although we’re not sure if it’s coming here.

New features include an Optitron instrument cluster with a 4.2-inch multi-info display, steering wheel paddle shifters and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. The Fortuner also gets the aforementioned Toyota Safety Sense systems, plus an upgraded 204 PS/500 Nm 2.8 litre turbodiesel that’s more powerful and refined. Fuel consumption has also been reduced across the board.

GALLERY: Toyota Corolla Cross


GALLERY: Toyota Harrier
GALLERY: Toyota Camry facelift
GALLERY: Toyota Innova facelift
GALLERY: Toyota Fortuner facelift