I’m going to say something nice about a Toyota

I don’t often have anything very nice to say about Toyotas, which means, as my mommy taught me, I try not to say much of anything at all (with varying degrees of success). But today, I chanced upon a 2016 or ’17 RAV4 in a color that I found quite striking, so I’m going to take the opportunity to give Toyota a bit of well-earned, if very faint, praise.

My dad’s Saturn looked just like this. (2040-cars.com)

Of course, it didn’t occur to me to extend this olive branch until well after the opportunity to take a picture of this enchanting hue had passed, so a description will have to suffice; at a casual glance, it appeared very nearly black, but the glinting sun revealed a blue undertone to the metal flake in the paint. It called to mind the color of my dad’s ’94 Saturn station wagon, which in its plain-folks Tennessee way that company called “Blue Black,” but with a greater luster and depth befitting the extra 23 years’ worth (how has it already been 23 years?) of development time Toyota’s paint wizards have had.

I combed Toyota’s byzantine online configurator when I got home to try to pinpoint just what color I had seen. It turns out that there are a million different trim levels of pretty much each of Toyota’s gazillions of models (except the orphaned Scions, which retain their simplified spec…for now) and color availability is highly variable based on trim level. Besides which, of course, the computer-generated images online look nothing like what most of these colors look like in real life, under natural light.

I’m pretty sure the color I saw wasn’t Galactic Aqua Mica, which I think I’ve seen before, and which seems too obviously not-black, not to mention much more teal than blue. It’s very hard to be certain, but I think it was Black Sand Pearl.

This looks completely black, but I guess it’s not. (Toyota)

Black Sand Pearl, which sounds like it should have brown or gold undertones, does show up a bit blue-y in some online photos of actual cars, so I’m sticking with that guess. Certainly no other available colors on the RAV4 are plausible answers. It’s only available on the XLE Hybrid and Limited Hybrid trims of the RAV4—it makes sense that here in the guilt-ridden Bay Area even a RAV4 parked on the street would have to be a hybrid; it’s also available on the Yaris, Corolla, Corolla iM, Prius C, and CH-R. So, you know, the real cream of the crap.

But there I go again not being very nice to Toyota. I like the subtlety of the color I saw, even if it veers dangerously close to being yet another non-color in the current sea of whites, greys, and blacks. Toyota even calls it a black, which seems like almost a sneaky way to get its risk-averse buyers to actually get a car in a color while thinking that they’re still part of the monochrome crowd. Well played, Toyota.

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