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Auto blogTue, 21 May 2013 08:46:00 EST
No, a Ford Expedition did not drive from Russia to Canada via the North Pole, but that's exactly what a team of intrepid explorers accomplished recently. Using specially-modified buses with massive tires, the group slowly drove 2,485 miles in 70 days over drifting ice, occasionally using a pickaxe to clear a path and staying on guard for chasms that could open up and plunge the team into the frigid arctic waters. Average speeds were about 6 mph, "at the speed of a (farm) tractor." While the big tires technically allowed the buses to float if the need arose, the team preferred to stay out of the water to keep the suspension from getting coated in thick, hard ice. Falling in on foot would mean almost certain death.
According to Phys.org, the buses were powered by Toyota diesel engines, but were built with prototype parts from a previous driving expedition to the North Pole. Right now, the machines are parked in a garage in Canada's Resolute Bay while the the team rests up with family back home. They plan to continue their trek to back across the Bering Straight to Russia. If successful, the team may eventually offer a version of their buses for commercial sale.
Because the Toyota GT86, Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ coupes are now a reality, it's almost hard to imagine the struggle that had to happen within the large, conservative corporate structures at both automakers for the joint project to even get off of the ground.
Speaking to those struggles on Toyota UK's Toyota Blog, GT86 Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada enlightens us with a recap of the sports car's earliest origins. For Tada, the first stages of the project must have seemed almost as dreamlike as the final product is to drive.
Said the Chief, "I had been working in the minivan department engineering new product, but a month after the meeting I was summoned. 'Forget about minivans,' they said, 'you are now working on the sports-car project.'"
Toyota introduced a pair of brand-new engines in Japan today, that it says will eventually spawn 14 different variants by 2015. Where these two engines stand out in today's world, is that neither mill boasts direct injection, and both are naturally aspirated.
The larger of the two is a 1.3-liter, while the smaller engine, a 1.0-liter, was developed in collaboration with Daihatsu. What makes these two unique is that they both use the Atkinson cycle. Now, we aren't going to bore you by explaining just what this is - there's Google for that. Suffice it to say, Atkinson engines are highly efficient, but that efficiency comes by sacrificing power. That's why they're so popular in hybrids, which can offset the power losses.
This focus on fuel efficiency extends throughout the new engines, which also benefit from tweaks like a cooled exhaust gas recirculation system and a trick intake port, while the 1.3 employs Toyota's iE variant of variable valve timing. Both engines can be fitted with stop-start tech. According to Toyota, when fitted with stop-start the 1.3 should provide around a 15-percent bump while the 1.0-liter will increase economy around 30 percent, when they arrive on the road.