2024 Toyota Small SUV Before You’re Supposed To See It

If you remember the Toyota Small SU EV concept last year, this is what looks to be the production version of that. This is from a design patent submission to the Australian Intellectual Property department by Toyota and is for a small crossover that may or may not be a substitute for the current C-HR SUV. The current C-HR has been around since 2017, so it is due for a makeover. 

Will this Toyota small SUV be the C-HR EV?

Toyota SUV
2024 Toyota small SUV | Toyota

While we would expect this to be an EV, the patent depictions show a grille. Whether it is decorative or functional we don’t know at this point. Taken literally, it looks like they’re not functional, indicating an EV powertrain. But these are only patent submissions so who knows?

Toyota is going all-in on these large black graphic body breakups as seen here. But this was shown with the SU EV concept, which the patent illustrations look extremely close to, so no surprise here. In fact, there is almost no deviation, even the wheels are the same as the concept. But we’re disappointed that the signature arrow-like body creases almost exactly match those of several Hyundai models.

Is this Toyota small SUV a plug-in hybrid C-HR?

Toyota SU EV
Toyota SU EV concept 2021 | Toyota

Though very hard to see, there is an access door on each side of the rear quarter panel. This is an indication that this might be a plug-in hybrid, with one side for the plug, and the other for gasoline. The current C-HR is a conventional hybrid only. 

And the current version has available either the 1.8-liter or 2.0-liter gas engine. Combined with the CVT transmission, the small SUV makes more buzzing sounds than actual power. That could be a reason why it is not selling well in the U.S.

But it does much better in Australia. Could that be the reason the patent, first discovered by Drive Australia, was filed there? And could this also indicate that Toyota may be abandoning the small crossover segment in the U.S? Or does it feel that this new version will kick up sales in North America? 

Does the Toyota C-HR sell well in the U.S?

Toyota SUV
2024 Toyota small SUV | Toyota

Sales of the C-HR have been dwindling since its initial high of 49,642 in 2018. Last year sales dropped to 35,707. Through August this year, it has barely squeaked to 10,000, putting it on pace to sell fewer than 20,000 units for 2022. Factoring in the rush for anything new both last year and this year, those numbers represent a lack of interest by U.S. consumers. 

There could also be issues with the C-HR beyond its stomach pump powertrain. Toyota makes a dizzying amount of SUVs. You could say it has oversaturated itself with SUVs. Most recently, it debuted the bz4x, an equally dizzying alphabet soup name for its EV SUV. 

Does Toyota make too many types of SUVs?

2024 Toyota SUV
2024 Toyota small SUV | Toyota

But there is everything from the tiny Corolla Cross to juggernaut RAV4 and large Highlander. Plus a few others sprinkled into the mix. So, does the C-HR even serve any purpose? It obviously does in Australia.

Below the Highlander, the bz4x is the most expensive SUV Toyota makes. But it is expected to only make 7,000 in 2022, so its effect on SUV sales will be almost nothing. On the other side, in the past five years, its RAV4 has sold over 400,000 units each year. By 2020, it sold over 10 million of them globally. So Toyota knows what it is doing in the SUV department, but right now, it is the only one that knows all of the details of this filing.

RELATED: 71% of People Wouldn’t Buy the 2022 Toyota C-HR Again, Says Consumer Reports