Fri, 10 Oct 2014 15:43:00 EST
Toyota has unveiled a mid-cycle refresh of its seven-passenger, UK-market Prius +, known here in the US as the five-passenger Prius V. The revised hybrid MPV now boasts looks inspired by Toyota's more aggressive compact stylings as seen on its new Yaris and Aygo - particularly in the redone front fascia.
Thu, 02 Oct 2014 07:00:00 EST
The new LED headlights are the most obvious change, sporting a sharper style, while the vertical slats that bookend front fascia are much larger and deeper, and are now home to LED running lights. The lower grille is also newly enlarged and trimmed in black plastic. Changes out back are far less noticeable, with the biggest tweak being a new diffuser that's been integrated into the rear bumper.
The interior gets a light freshening, too, with fresh trimmings around the switchgear, as well as a new 4.2-inch TFT display in the center mounted instrument cluster. The latter includes a new "Eco Judge" function designed to help owners drive more efficiently through a point-based reward system.
Despite having the tendency to offer decidedly bland production cars, Toyota occasionally surprises us with interesting concept cars. Such is the case with the C-HR concept making its debut at the Paris Motor Show this week. It's a concept showing forward-thinking design that hints at "a type of crossover vehicle Toyota would like to bring to market," according to the automaker's release, and it rides on an all-new platform and uses a hybrid powertrain.
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 15:43:00 EST
About that powertrain: Toyota isn't revealing anything, just saying that it will - brace yourselves - "deliver significantly improved fuel efficiency" (over what, exactly?) The car also uses a brand-new architecture, though it hasn't really revealed any major details about that aspect, either.
It's a high-riding, muscular thing, with a rakish hatchback shape. Should it reach production, Toyota says it would take the shape of a C-segment crossover. It'd be cool to see something like this hit the road someday, but for now, we won't hold our breath.
Toyota has announced that it will be issuing a recall of 690,000 Tacoma pickups from model years 2005 through 2011. The affected vehicles include both the four-wheel-drive model and the two-wheel-drive PreRunner (but not the standard 4x2 pickups), which may have a rather serious problem with their rear suspensions.
Sat, 27 Sep 2014 09:01:00 EST
In some cases, corrosion and stress could cause one of the three or four leaves in the rear suspension's leaf springs to fracture. While the trucks can still be driven with a broken leaf, Toyota is concerned that it could move out of position and impact other components in the rear of the truck, with a particular focus on the fuel tank. Needless to say, but a piece of metal continuously impacting anything, let alone the fuel tank, is cause for concern.
As of this writing, there have been no reports of crashes, injuries, fires or deaths due to this problem, although that won't stop Toyota from informing all affected customers of the issue. Those 690,000 owners will need to report in to dealers for inspections and, if necessary, repairs.
Americans certainly have a fondness for pickup trucks with the Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado frequently being among the top sellers each month, and that attachment is famously strong in the Lone Star State. We already saw Chevrolet unveil its Colorado Sport concept at the State Fair of Texas. Not to be outdone, Toyota debuted its new the 2015 Tundra Bass Pro Shops Off-Road Edition there, as well.
Thu, 25 Sep 2014 20:01:00 EST
All of the Tundras use a 4x4 CrewMax SR5 configuration with the Tow Package, and they all come with Toyota's 5.7-liter V8 with 381 horsepower and a six-speed automatic gearbox. What actually sets these vehicles off as the Bass Pro Shops special edition is the 20-inch matte black wheels, tubular side steps, a spray-on bedliner, stainless steel exhaust tips and fender flares. To promote the connection with the store, there are Bass Pro Shops-branded floor mats and company decals on the bed. Of course, pickups are meant to get used, and to make sure of that, buyers also receive a package containing fishing, hunting, camping or marine gear worth about $1,000.
The special edition trucks will only be available in the Gulf States of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas beginning this October, and they'll carry a price of $43,975.
People tend to get very set in their ways when it comes to the pronunciation of words. Just look at the endless debates over whether or not to say the final 'e' in Porsche (which you should in terms of correct German enunciation). Or the argument about whether to follow the British convention and give the 'u' in Jaguar a special delivery or to say the 'ua' diphthong as more of a 'w' sound, as usually happens in the US.
Thu, 25 Sep 2014 14:58:00 EST
This short video doesn't answer either of those automotive questions, but it does allow a native Japanese speaker to demonstrate the accepted pronunciations for several, major automakers from the country. One benefit is that it clears up the occasional debate over whether Nissan should be said with a long or short 'i' sound. Also, listen closely to how the female host says Mazda as Matsuda, the way it's actually said in the language. Even if this doesn't change the way you enunciate these brands, at least now you know the accurate way in Japanese.
It's hard to love a minivan, but it's very, very easy to use one. More than any other kind of vehicle - save a panel van, perhaps - the minivan is the most appliance-like of four-wheeled transportation devices. And most minivan buyers don't need to love their purchases; they just need to use them. So when it comes to a minivan's driving dynamics, who cares?
Thu, 25 Sep 2014 11:57:00 EST
Well, we do. So we perked right up when Toyota talked about refinements it made to the 2015 Sienna, starting with some 142 added spot welds made to the body structure. Normally not stop-the-presses stuff, but Toyota says the added reinforcements prompted Sienna engineers to recalibrate the springs and shocks for improved handling, and our very limited wheel time along the (admittedly benign) roads on the Big Island of Hawaii revealed the 2015 Sienna SE model's handling to be tidier and more engaging than you'd expect for a porky, 4,560-pound, eight-passenger box on wheels.
Advertising firms have done an admirable job convincing consumers that the easiest way to find a best-in-segment car or truck is by looking at a few key metrics. In the most elementary terms, the vehicle with the highest horsepower, most gears in its transmission housing, lowest acceleration times and best fuel economy most certainly must be the class benchmark.
Wed, 24 Sep 2014 14:31:00 EST
Yet as the commercials and billboards continue to drive that deceitful message, Toyota is betting shoppers in the subcompact segment are a bit more discerning. The Japanese automaker has just launched its updated 2015 Yaris, a three- and five-door offering that bucks the innovation and performance trends by offering what Toyota feels that entry-level buyers actually desire - reliability, practicality and a low sticker price.
It's sweltering in the tropical Hawaiian sun as I check out the deeply refreshed 2015 Yaris SE. This five-door hatchback, a range-topping version of the company's subcompact "sporty hatch" (Toyota's words, not mine), builds on the new-in-2012 generation by wearing new front and rear fascias, redesigned headlights and some attractive new wheels for the upcoming model year.
While it's arguably been around the longest, the dominance of the four-door sedan has been under threat for many years. As a further sign of the hurtin' that SUVs and crossovers have put on today's four-doors, a new report from Automotive News points to the increasing use of incentives by brands reliant on cars and light on CUVs and pickups.
Tue, 23 Sep 2014 18:00:00 EST
Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen and Kia have all been stung by double-digit increases in their incentives-to-transaction price ratio, according to AN, which cites data from TrueCar. Honda's ratio is up 14 percent, while Toyota, VW and Kia are up 18, 15 and 19 percent, respectively.
"Most of the incentive growth we have seen is in product segments with low demand - midsized or large sedans," TrueCar CEO John Krafcik told AN. "As this trend goes on, the brands with three-sedan strategies are going to be in worse shape on incentive spending than the crossover brands."
Ah, aluminum. The lightweight, strong material has long held a following within the premium ranks, but as Ford prepares to launch an aluminum F-150, the material is gaining acceptance among more mainstream automakers. Toyota is one such brand, with a new report indicating that the Japanese giant will add aluminum bits and bobs to some of its upcoming vehicles.
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 14:58:00 EST
These won't be full, aluminum-intensive treatments like the F-150, however. Automotive News reports that an aluminum hood and liftgate will be coming to the 2016 Lexus RX, and following that, the Camry will get a bonnet built from Element 13 for model year 2018.
As AN points out, Toyota is no stranger to aluminum, using it in Japanese-built models like the Prius and Scion FR-S. The RX and Camry, though, will mark the first time the company's North American factories will use the material, and they'll do so on a significantly larger scale, owing to the higher volumes that the Camry and RX represent.
Toyota offers many flavors of its refreshed 2015 Camry, but those who choose to lower their operating cost-per-mile, squeeze 500-plus miles out of each tank of fuel or run a very efficient and reliable sedan in their taxi fleets will only be interested in one: the Camry Hybrid.
The exterior of the 2015 Camry Hybrid is nearly indistinguishable from its gasoline-only counterparts, with the same all-new sheetmetal and bumpers. The Hybrid is offered in LE, SE and XLE trims, meaning customers are offered base, sport or luxury configurations, respectively.
While Toyota expended quite a bit of effort resculpting and improving the 2015 Camry Hybrid, one area it didn't touch was the powertrain - it is virtually identical to last year's model (just like the gas version). Under the hood is a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine (156 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque) and an electric tractive motor (141 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque). Combined, and running through Toyota's unique Hybrid Synergy Drive electronic continuously variable transmission, the two produce 200 horsepower (Toyota does not list a combined torque figure, and we've asked for clarification). A 1.6 kilowatt-hour nickel-metal-hydride battery, packaged behind the rear seats, provides energy storage.