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Auto blogMon, 25 Feb 2013 11:30:00 EST
The Detroit News is reporting that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will investigate some 561,000 Toyota Prius models for potentially defective steering shafts. The affected hybrid models are from the 2004-2009 model years. The story indicates that NHTSA is weighing whether or not to grant a defect petition, which claims that Toyota incorrectly assembled the hatchback's steering linkage.
As of this writing, there is no recall. However, a recall based on the Prius steering shaft would be the third related to steering issues for the model since 2006. Seven years ago, Toyota recalled 170K Prius models for potential cracking of the intermediate shafts, and in November of 2012, the automaker recalled 670K units to replace the steering shaft extension assembly.
We'll be monitoring NHTSA's signals to see if this investigation turns into a full-fledged recall. For now, stay tuned.
Midsize crossovers like the Toyota Highlander tend to play a thankless role in the life of today's modern family.
That's really too bad. With the ability to hold several hyperactive kids and tons of cargo while keeping everyone safe and comfortable in all kinds of climate conditions day in and day out, they're true heroes in the lives of hundreds of thousands of families across the country. Yet their car-apathetic owners often immediately forget about them as soon as their work is done. And nearly all midsize crossovers are thoroughly ignored by enthusiasts whose eyes begin to glaze over at first mention of the phrase "third row."
Toyota is looking to soften the blow somewhat by giving its midsize crossover, the Highlander, a big redesign for the 2014 model year. With a bold new look, updated suspension and a refreshed interior focused on comfort and convenience, Toyota aims to make the Highlander sportier to drive and more striking in appearance, because, as the marketing team explains, "families are going places and they want to get there in style."
Subaru is in the middle of a new product bonanza. It has recent replacements for the Impreza and Forester at dealers, and soon we're getting the WRX, Legacy and if rumors are right the new Outback as well. Now, there are rumblings that there could be two more models from the Japanese brand on the way with styling inspired by the Viziv 2 concept from the Geneva Motor Show.
According to a company insider speaking with Motor Trend, the crossover concept shows the way for the brand's future design language. The shape would be used on a smaller CUV that is still being kept quite secret, and a second, larger one that would replace the recently axed Tribeca. The bigger model is the first priority and is planned as a new technology showcase.
It's rumored to use a turbodiesel, four-cylinder boxer engine that would be boosted with one electric motor on the front axle and two at the rear, with a plug-in hybrid system sourced from Toyota. It should provide a great mix of torque and fuel economy. A smaller flat-six engine would be a second powertrain option. Though the Viziv 2 concept only seats four, the production version would probably offer three rows.