Mitsuoka, one of Japan’s most eclectic tuners, can’t resist the market’s shift to crossovers and SUVs. He turned the Toyota RAV4 into a retro family car that takes styling cues from 1980s Chevrolet trucks.
The Americanized RAV4, called Buddy, is the latest in a long line of intriguing creations that put a retro twist on a modern car. Chevrolet’s signature Bowtie emblem is nowhere to be found on the crossover, but the glossy grille and two-piece rectangular headlights are very reminiscent of the third-generation C / K pickup, especially the face-lift model introduced for the 1981 model year. Mitsuoka has also redesigned the hood, made the front boxer and added a thick strip of chrome look that reminds us of the C / K’s metal front bumper.
Stylists did not stop there. In the back, they added vertical lights (which, admittedly, are closer to recent Cadillac units than what Chevrolet fitted on its trucks in the 1980s), a new hatch shaped like the tailgate of a pickup truck, and another chrome-like insert that the RAV4 a more truck-like appearance. Buyers can even order the Buddy with dog dish hubcaps and vintage-looking wheels. Mitsuoka takes tuning seriously; while some companies are content to add stickers and decals, the effort went through to design and manufacture new sheet metal.
Don’t expect a 454-cubic-inch V8 between the fenders, or a three-on-the-boom in the cab. Mitsuoka has not made any powertrain modifications, meaning buyers can choose between a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 171 horsepower, or a 178-horsepower petrol-electric hybrid powertrain built around a 2.5-liter four-cylinder.
We haven’t seen the interior of the Buddy yet, so there may be more truck-themed surprises to discover inside. Pricing information also remains hidden. Mitsuoka will fully unveil the crossover on November 16, 2020.