With the RAV4 all grown up, Toyota could launch a new entry-level crossover

Toyota C-HR concept
In a bid to increase its share of the European car market, Toyota is in the process of designing a small crossover that will slot below the RAV4 in its lineup. Tentatively called Auris Cross, the soft-roader will allegedly sit out the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show and instead bow at next year’s edition of the Geneva Motor Show.

The Auris Cross will ride on a modular platform that will be inaugurated by the oft-delayed new Prius. However, it will eschew the Prius’ gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain and gain downsized gasoline- and diesel-burning four-cylinder engines, including a 1.5-liter turbodiesel unit borrowed from industrial partner Mazda. Front-wheel drive will come standard, and all-wheel drive might be offered at an extra cost.

Stylistically, the Auris Cross will be an evolution of the C-HR concept (pictured) that was presented last year at the Paris Motor Show. However, the wild, futuristic design will be markedly toned down and the production model will get an extra set of doors.

“The C-HR is obviously exaggerated, it’s a concept car. Stretched, bigger wheels, whatever — but something like that, we’re going to do. We’re serious about it, yes,” revealed Karl Schlicht, Toyota Europe’s sales chief, in an interview with Australian website CarAdvice.

The Auris Cross is primarily being designed for Europe, where the small crossover market has experienced boundless growth in the past few years. When it hits the market, it will be aimed at hot-selling models like the Nissan Qashqai and the Ford Kuga, which is essentially a Europeanized version of the Escape that’s sold here.

Right now, it’s too early to tell if the Auris Cross is destined for a more global career. It could be sold exclusively in Europe due to its rather small size, or Toyota could choose to sell it on our shores in order to take on popular compact crossovers like the Honda HR-V and the Jeep Renegade. Whether the U.S.-spec model would launch as a Toyota or as a Scion is anyone’s guess at this point.

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