Your eyes are not deceiving you. You’re looking at the new Mitsuoka Buddy, a compact crossover based on the current Toyota RAV4. But unlike the RAV4, the Buddy has design features lifted from old Chevy pickups and SUVs from the late 70s to the 1980s, particularly the K5 Chevy Blazer.
Japanese automaker and custom coachbuilder Mitsuoka is known for building retro-flavored vehicles based on new and existing platforms. A majority of Mitsuoka’s lineup draws inspiration from popular Japanese vehicles like the Mazda MX-5 – of which the company based its Himiko Roadster unveiled in the UK back in 2008. And now, Mitsuoka has turned to Toyota’s RAV4 in conceptualizing its latest Buddy crossover vehicle.
For the Buddy, Mitsuoka retained the RAV4’s powertrain and interior. It has a standard 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated four-banger producing 169 horsepower and 153 pound-feet of torque, sending power to the front wheels. The option of a plug-in hybrid Buddy based on the RAV4 Prime is strangely absent, but you can have a Buddy Hybrid with either front-wheel-drive (up to 215 horsepower) or Toyota’s E-4WD system with up to 219 horsepower courtesy of a 2.5-liter engine and hybrid-assist system.
And that’s where the similarities end. You’ll be hard-pressed to differentiate the Buddy from a standard RAV4, and it all boils down to its retro-delicious styling cues. Gone are the RAV4’s rugged front and rear end. Instead, Mitsuoka gave the vehicle a squared-off hood and a bespoke chromed egg crate-style front grille with stacked headlights. It also gets a chrome front bumper and some LED DRL’s to mix the old with the new.
In the rear, the Mitsuoka Buddy has vertical taillights (no less inspired by the Cadillac Brougham) and a two-tone rear hatch. It also has a chrome rear bumper to complete the vintage vibe. The images you see here are only renderings of the production Buddy, but Mitsuoka will unveil the real deal on November 26, 2020.
At this point, the biggest question is ‘how much?’ and ‘is it coming to America?’ While there’s little possibility of the Buddy making it to U.S. shores, we reckon a coach-built RAV4 will cost a bit more than the standard model’s $27,000 base price.