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Best Cars of the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show



Bring in 'da funk


When it comes to international auto shows in foreign countries, Japan's often feels like the most "foreign." The Tokyo Motor Show never fails to astound us with its fun and funky off-beat concepts and production cars. The Japanese often conceive of vehicular needs and use cases that just don't seem to occur to folks in other countries, and that's why we love covering this show. Here are our picks for the best of the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show.


Toyota Mirai


Up close, it's as gorgeous as it appears in the photos. With unmistakable rear-drive proportions more appropriate for Lexus' flagship LS, restrained line work, and sharp lighting elements, the Mirai looks crisp and modern and has real presence. Inside, it feels like a quality piece, in a familiar Toyota Avalon kind of way. Its solid, handsome execution is not overstyled and doesn't push any boundaries, except in terms of its hydrogen fuel cell powertrain. Toyota reps claim that the final package is pretty close to this concept, including the 20-inch wheels. If the production Mirai comes to market looking 70-80 percent as good as this concept, it will be the greatest leap in design, between a single generation, in automotive history. Yeah, the original Mirai was that bizarre. —Ed Loh


Mitsubishi Mi-Tech


I can't decide if I love it or hate it, but I am intrigued by this two-seater Mitsubishi concept with no roof or doors, big slabby sides, giant wheel arches, and a massive rear with fans in the top. That is because the plug-in hybrid foregoes a conventional piston engine as its generator, instead using a turbine engine to charge the batteries and power the four motors, one for each wheel. And the turbine drinks alcohol. —Alisa Priddle


Honda Fit


To provide an expansive view of the road, Fit's windshield is supported by oddly thin pillars, with a sliver of side glass connected to a much beefier A-pillar that makes up the front door aperture. Once you see it, it's hard to see anything else. It may also be hard to see the new Fit in the U.S., as truck and SUV sales continue to spike, and small car sales plummet. But if we do, you can bet it will be at least a couple of the five flavors of Fit that debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show. Names like Basic, Home, Ness (Fit Ness—get it?), Crosstar and Luxe are surely too Japanese cutesy to make it to the U.S., but given the shift to sporty and adventurous vehicles, it would be no surprise to see the adventurous Crosstar (with its roof rack and water resistant interior) get ported over under some kind of sport trim level, while Luxe could be lined up as a Fit EX (with leather). —Ed Loh


Toyota E-Racer


There's just no beating the proportion, stance, and lines of Toyota's low-slung e-Racer tandem two-seater concept car. This almost open-wheel, open-cockpit electric racer for the road pushes all my aesthetic buttons like few if any realistic road cars can. The notion of donning virtual reality glasses that can overlay my actual view ahead with virtual pretend grand-prix race cars, swimming fishes, and other virtual reality fantasies is an equally fun notion to contemplate. —Frank Markus


Nissan Ariya


Nissan's Ariya concept is a family-sized SUV and rides on the new electric vehicle platform that will underpin a raft of future vehicles. The Ariya has nice sleek lines but also some heft; it's modern without being too futuristic. The lit logo on the geometric "shield" that replaces a grille is fitting given that it has twin electric motors, and the thin LED headlights fit the minimalist Japanese design theme. And best of all, it is very close to being production so we expect to see it on the road soon. —Alisa Priddle


Suzuki Waku Spo


This cool two-seater microcar concept is retro and customizable. The little A-segment car is a plug-in hybrid and a family vehicle that can be customized with the flip of a switch that changes its body shape, face, and what is displayed on the dash. The version shown in Tokyo is a two-tone coupe with cameras for side mirrors. This would look so good cruising Woodward during Detroit's Dream Cruise. Sadly, it likely will never travel that far. —Alisa Priddle


Daihatsu Wai Wai


This Japanese take on the VW Microbus, or perhaps more directly the original Fiat 500 Multipla microvan, just can't help but make you smile. From its totally open twin-canvas roof panels to its whitewall tires and its mid-century-modern looking seats that fold remarkably flat to enable an impossibly huge cargo area, this little six-seater exudes cool. Another cool feature on the concept is the lack of a B-pillar between the conventional front and sliding side doors—a popular feature among tiny kei-car box/wagons. Even the robin's egg blue and white interior and exterior look happy. —Frank Markus


Daihatsu Waku Waku


"Waku waku" supposedly means "happy/excited," and looking at this fun-sized SUV concept with the bright orange trim and cargo area does indeed make us happy. The rear door windows are filled in with jerry-can style panels that make us wonder how happy riders in the back seat must feel (the seats were displayed folded down with the orange load floor extender folded forward to nearly meet the front seats). There's also a fold-down tailgate, a side-hinged upper gate, and a large roof stowage box that's hinged up by the B-pillar. —Frank Markus


Suzuki Jimny


It's not new, but seeing it in the metal really got us excited for what the Ford Bronco coulda, woulda, shoulda. Little chance Bronco will come to market with Jimny's body-on-frame layout, front and rear live axles, standard five-speed manual transmission, and on-demand four-wheel drive, but we can dream, right? By Jimny we can. Particularly cool is the wider and longer Jimny Sierra, which is the global export version equipped with an inline four-cylinder engine that makes about 100 horsepower (roughly 35 more than the base model turbo three-cylinder). In Japan, the Jimny starts under $20,000, which only makes us want it more. —Ed Loh

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