2021 Mitsuoka Buddy Hybrid Preview – Toyota RAV4 Reimagined with Classic Chevy Truck Style

By Steve & Tamami Laser

Mitsuoka Motor, Japan’s boutique automaker, continues to expand its lineup of uniquely remanufactured vehicles with the introduction of the new Buddy SUV for 2021.

Buddy starts life as a current Japan-market Toyota RAV4, gaining retro-inspired front styling that brings to mind Chevrolet’s Blazer and pickups from decades past. Buddy follows last year’s intro of the Mitsuoka Rock Star, a Mazda Roadster transformed into a mini-retro C2 Corvette.

While the front, with its stacked quad headlights, horizontal chrome grille and chrome bumper, presents a Chevy look, the rear shifts gears with its Cadillac-inspired vertical taillights, a wide Mitsuoka trim panel across the liftgate, and a custom Buddy emblem.

Mitsuoka’s previous models, including the Viewt and Ryugi, applied classic Jaguar styling cues to ordinary Nissan sedans and wagons. Buddy and Rock Star are aimed at younger, trendy buyers looking for something different.

The Buddy lineup includes 20LX, DX and ST models powered by a Toyota 2.0-liter DOHC 4-cylinder gas engine, direct-shift CVT, and choice of 2WD or 4WD. Hybrid DX and ST models feature the Toyota Hybrid system that combines a 2.5-liter gas engine with e-CVT, an electric motor (2WD), or two electric motors (with E-Four), and self-charging hybrid battery.

Buddy’s sporty interior is similar to the Japan-market RAV4, with some unique touches. Upholstery choices include fabric or synthetic leather-trimmed seats, while special seat cover designs and stitching are optional.

The 60/40-split rear seat offers matching upholstery treatments, while an available panoramic moonroof brings extra light into the cabin. A wide array of options are available, including two-tone exterior paint, various comfort and convenience features, and infotainment and navigation systems.

Buddy is equipped with advanced safety features including Forward Collision-Avoidance Support with Pedestrian Detection, Millimeter Wave Radar, Lane Tracing Assist, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Automatic High Beam, Road Sign Assist, Traffic Movement Notification, and Intelligent Clearance Sonar.

Mitsuoka was founded in 1968 by Susumu Mitsuoka. Its current lineup includes the Rock Star Roadster (based on the Mazda Roadster), neo-classic Viewt (based on the Nissan March), Ryugi Sedan (aka Toyota Corolla Axio), Ryugi Wagon (Toyota Fielder), Galue (Nissan Teana), and Himiko (Mazda Roadster).

The company makes (or remanufacturers) about 500 built-to-order vehicles per year, largely by hand, on the donor platforms, at its plant in Toyama City. Mitsuoka has showrooms located throughout Japan including Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, and Fukuoka, while its separate “Bubu” dealer network imports and sells a variety of American and European brand vehicles.

Note: Models, features, specifications, and prices apply to future Japanese market vehicles and are subject to change without notice. Prices include consumption tax, but do not include destination, recycling fees, other taxes or cost of vehicle registration and insurance in Japan.

News source and photos courtesy of Mitsuoka Motor Co., Ltd. (Photos are © Mitsuoka Motor and reproduced here for editorial use)

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