Cars are "about mobility, freedom and how you feel when you’re surrounded by this cool machine," says Kevin Hunter, president of Toyota's Calty Design Research studios. Options shown.
We continue behind the scenes of the Avalon by chatting with Kevin Hunter, president of Toyota’s Calty Design Research studios. Hunter grew up in Detroit and fell in love with cars at an early age, doodling coupes and four-doors in grade school. “There’s a romance around cars,” says Hunter. “They’re active products. They’re about mobility, freedom and how you feel when you’re surrounded by this cool machine. To bring personality to that is amazing.”
As the head of Calty, Hunter is tasked with delivering cars customers want. “The sedan environment is changing,” says Hunter. “Customers are looking for more dynamic sedans—in style and in handling with more driver engagement.”
At the same time, just how Toyota creates that kind of car is changing. “We’re really working with engineers at an early stage now,” says Hunter. “In the past, engineers would develop the chassis—we call it the package—and go, ‘Here you go, designers, now make it beautiful.’”
But beauty depends on the proportions: the stance, the overhangs, the overall architecture. “If you don’t get that right, it’s really hard to design a beautiful car,” notes Hunter. “Now we’re part of the package-development process.” And with the new Avalon, “the whole proportion of the car has changed. Now it’s a tighter, more tailored design, but we still have good trunk volume and functionality.”
“We want to design cars that are more energetic, more expressive, more emotional,” says Hunter. “That’s the track that we’re on right now.”