More stories related to 2005 NAIAS DETROIT – For the past half-dozen years, Toyota Motor Corp. has been highly focused on appealing to younger buyers, going as far as creating a whole new division – Scion – aimed exclusively at attracting Generation Y consumers, the youngest car-buying demographic.

But on Monday, the company made it clear it isn’t going to forget about the demographic that made it the global powerhouse it is today: Baby Boomers.

“For all of our emphasis on youth, we cannot ignore the size and influence of the mature-boomer consumer group. It is an ever-evolving and dynamic consumer base that is constantly looking for products that are new and different. Not only do they have money – they are willing to spend it,” says Don Esmond, senior vice president and general manager-Toyota Div.

New Avalon is roomier and more stylish than the model it replaces.


Toyota FT-SX concept.

Esmond made his comments while introducing the restyled Toyota Avalon sedan and a new cross/utility vehicle concept named the FT-SX, both specifically targeted at aging boomers.

The median age of the Avalon buyer is just under 60, an age that used to signal that a consumer group – and the brand they were buying – had one foot in the grave.

That’s all changed now, says Esmond. “While the goal of most auto manufacturers these days is to lower the median age of their buyers as much as possible, we are quite content with the mature age profile of the Avalon buyer. To be honest, I don’t think I would have been comfortable with that number, when we launched Avalon, 10 years ago.

“But with the launch of Scion, the all-new Toyota Tacoma and the Corolla XRS, we are bringing new and younger buyers into the Toyota family at an impressive rate,” Esmond says.

The ’05 Avalon is touted as the most American vehicle Toyota has ever produced. It was designed at the auto maker’s Calty studio in California and built in Georgetown, KY, with all phases of engineering development, including drivetrain and powertrain, headed by the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, MI.

A bland, “sensible” car that offered Toyota buyers a larger alternative to the Camry, the new Avalon is roomier, more powerful and has a more luxurious presence inside and out, with distinctive character lines and a sculpted rear end, somewhat similar to the new BMW 5-Series.

The engine is a 280-hp 3.5L V-6, the most powerful V-6 ever offered by Toyota in the U.S. Even so, Toyota brags that when the car hits showrooms in February, it will have a base price of $26,350, just $205 more than the car it replaces.

The Toyota FT-SX concept CUV is a sleekly designed people mover that looks more like a highly styled station wagon than an SUV. It is aimed at active empty nesters who are interested in something more functional than a sexy coupe or roadster.

dwinter@primediabusiness.com