Toyota logoEnlarge Photo
Toyota is the largest Japanese automaker and, as of 2013, the world's largest automaker. With broad bases of manufacturing in its home country, in North America, Europe, in continental Asia, and with sales arms in every major global market, the company ranks alongside the Volkswagen Group and General Motors as the most "global" of automakers.
With headquarters in its namesake Toyota City, Japan, Toyota has sold some of the most successful vehicles around the world, including the Corolla, the Camry, and the Prius. Its current brands sold in North America include Toyota, Lexus, and Scion; globally, it has major alliances with Subaru and Daihatsu, as well as a stake in Tesla Motors.
Toyota was founded officially as an automobile manufacturer in 1937, but the company name reaches back into the 19th century and to the Toyoda family's roots as makers of of automatic looms and small engines. Automobile prototypes were built and production was launched in the 1930s, but the outbreak of World War II halted most automotive operations until after Japan's defeat.
In 1950, Toyota re-established its automotive operations, and soon after, it began to develop some of its corporate hallmarks--continuous improvement and its just-in-time production process. The latter would become a crucial part of Toyota's formula for success in the U.S., where it went from a very small presence through the 1960s to a feared competitor by the mid-1970s. Just-in-time proved to be a new industry standard: Where parts and systems for cars had been warehoused and stored at great cost, Toyota pioneered the new system, in which those pieces were built and delivered only as needed.
In tandem with a core product that gained a reputation for durability--the Corolla--Toyota rapidly grew around the globe, and began producing vehicles in the U.S. As it added models to its family of vehicles, it drew buyers from domestic brands with products like the Camry family sedan. But it was Toyota's bold move into luxury cars that signaled its arrival on the global automotive scene, when, in 1989, it launched the Lexus brand--a new competitor for German luxury marques like BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The Lexus brand was a hit where rival Nissan's Infiniti brand staggered, but Toyota's efforts at marketing a full-size truck flagged in the face of stalwart domestic pickups.
While it expanded more deeply into Europe and other emerging markets, Toyota encountered a declining market for car sales in Japan. However, Japanese tastes for small cars and for high economy still drove the company's engineering corps. The result, in 1997, was the Prius, the gas-electric hybrid that would eventually become a brand within a brand, and would outshine the youth nameplate started specifically for American fans of Japanese-market cars--Scion. The Prius hybrid wasn't an hit, initially, but by its second generation, interest in fuel economy was rising around the world. The Prius family would grow to include wagon and city-car models, the Prius V and Prius C.
Most recently, Toyota weathered a string of recalls that involved the Prius and several of its best-selling model lines. Charges of unintended acceleration dogged the company, and Toyota issued several recalls to correct problems with sticking accelerator pedals and floor mats. Then, in March of 2011, a severe earthquake in Japan left parts of the country in ruins--parts that contained vital Toyota production bases.
Today, Toyota operates assembly plants around the globe, including several in North America--among them, plants in Alabama, Kentucky, Texas, Indiana, and Mississippi. Its American headquarters are in California, while it operates engineering facilities in Michigan and other locations.
The following is a list of new Toyota models for which we have information. Price and specifications may not be available for all years. We also have used Toyota reviews, photos, specs and pricing.
TCC's experts rate each car on a 10 point scale. Learn more about our TCC Ratings