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2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:57:00 EST

Despite the earnest efforts of Japanese automakers like Toyota and Nissan, the American pickup truck scene remains wholly dominated by the likes of Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. This is not news. Part of the reason is because of the sheer number of variants offered by US automakers - everything from work-spec base trucks to house-leveling heavy duty models can be had, with a seemingly endless combination of engines, cab sizes, bed lengths and trim levels. It's a hugely profitable business, and though the Japanese automakers still offer competitive fullsize trucks, in terms of sheer volume, they simply don't compete.
But American pickups aren't just about work; there's a huge play aspect involved, too. Look at the desert-storming Ford F-150 SVT Raptor or the Ram Power Wagon - these butch trucks are built with superb off-road prowess in mind, and Detroit's Japanese rivals have once again largely been silent in this segment. Until now.
Introduced at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, Toyota now offers the TRD Pro series of models that, in addition to the crazy-orange Tundra seen here, includes the smaller Tacoma pickup and 4Runner SUV. And this isn't just some pretty appearance package, either - there's honest-to-goodness capability baked into all of the TRD Pro models. Intriguing, for sure, so I recently spent a weekend with the big boy Tundra to see what's what.

NHTSA releases updated Takata airbag recalled cars list, but it still has errors

Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:31:00 EST



Unfortunately, the government's list still contains errors.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued an updated list of vehicle models that it's urging owners to repair under the mushrooming Takata airbag inflator recall. The latest version adds vehicles from new automakers like Subaru and Ford that are missing from the original announcement, and it also removes erroneous entries from General Motors, leaving only the 2005 Saab 9-2X (a reskinned Subaru WRX), and the 2003-2005 Pontiac Vibe, a joint project with Toyota.

Toyota explains what names like Camry and Yaris mean

Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:30:00 EST

Ever wonder where automakers get the names for their cars? You're not alone. The sitcom Seinfeld opened Episode 94 - the one where George Costanza buys a Chrysler LeBaron instead of a Volvo - with a bit about nameplates like Integra, Supra and Impreza. Toyota, clearly, is not exempt from choosing evocative but enigmatic names for its models, and now the Japanese automaker is taking us through the etymology of some of its nameplates.
Names like Supra may require no clarification, but what about Camry? That comes from the Japanese word kanmuri for Crown (which is, incidentally, the name of another Toyota sedan).
Yaris? According to the company, it's "an amalgamation of words from Greek mythology and German. In Greek mythology, 'Charis' was a symbol of beauty and elegance. Toyota swapped the 'Ch' with 'Ya' - German for 'yes' - to symbolize the perceived reaction of European markets to the car's styling."

NHTSA urges owners of recalled Takata airbag vehicles to take immediate action

Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:30:00 EST

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation are taking the unusual step of issuing a followup press release urging owners of certain recalled vehicles "to act immediately" to fix their cars and trucks. The problem in question concerns the repair campaigns for rupturing Takata airbag inflators issued in June and covers a long list of models from Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Acura, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Infiniti, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Oldsmobile and Pontiac.
While NHSTA doesn't specifically say why the recall is vital in the new release, Toyota's own explanation in its newly announced renotification campaign earlier today sheds some new light on the topic. According to the Japanese automaker, in testing, Takata found a possible link between the rupturing airbag inflators and high humidity. NHTSA is advocating that all owners pursue repairs immediately if they haven't already done so already. This is especially crucial for those drivers especially in Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii because of the humid conditions there.
We don't need to tell you how dangerous an inadvertent airbag deployment could be - even in a stationary vehicle - but adding to the Takata issue is fears that the deployment could lead to shrapnel being sprayed into the cabin.

Toyota, Lexus expanding Takata airbag recall, re-notifying customers

Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:57:00 EST

Toyota is re-notifying owners and expanding its Takata airbag inflator recall for some regions. The renewed campaign covers 247,000 examples of the Toyota Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia, Tundra and Lexus SC430 that are located in southern Florida, along the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa. All of the models come from the 2001-2004 model years and have potentially faulty Takata-made inflators on the front passenger side. According to the company, testing shows the problem warrants "immediate action," and its press release says, "this action intensifies Toyota's efforts to reach customers and remedy previously recalled vehicles, and a small number of newly included vehicles."
According to Toyota, it submitted some recalled inflators to Takata for testing, and it found a high probability of rupturing in high humidity areas. The automaker said it had no reports yet of injuries or fatalities related to the problem.
This is Toyota's third inflator recall this year. In June, it called in for repair the same vehicles from the 2003-2005 model years in high-humidity areas, and it conducted a separate campaign nationwide for the parts in additional models. In April 2013, it also announced a fix campaign for 1.73-million vehicles worldwide for the same issue.

MotorWeek remembers retro icons, Supra and NSX

Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:58:00 EST

It's easy to poke a joke here and there about John Davis, the long-time host of MotorWeek. His voice is so monotonous that, from time to time, if you closed your eyes, you may think it's generated via a computer. But you have to give him and the rest of the show a lot of credit. The program has been on the air for decades, giving people direct, straight-down-the middle automotive reviews.
MotorWeek's massive back catalog of reviews are slowly making their way onto YouTube, and they provide a fascinating chance to look back on how performance cars rank against their contemporaries from back in the day. Two recent additions include the show's old looks at the 1986 Toyota Supra, the dawn of the third-generation model, and the now-iconic 1991 Acura NSX.
Both reviews are interesting in their own way. These days you hear nary a negative word about the original NSX, but MotorWeek isn't afraid to point out a few flaws. And the Supra really shows the progress of suspension tuning in the intervening decades because it has some serious body roll in the corners. Scroll down to check out both videos and get a blast from the automotive past.

Toyota recalling 1.67 million vehicles worldwide in 3 campaigns

Wed, 15 Oct 2014 08:58:00 EST

Toyota is issuing three separate recalls covering 1.67 million vehicles worldwide with most of those models in Japan. It looks like the campaigns' impact on the US may be smaller, though. According to Reuters, Toyota isn't aware of any accidents, injuries or fatalities affecting the models. Some yet-unnamed Lexus models might also be affected.
The largest of the campaigns does not currently affect any US-market vehicles. About 802,000 units of the Toyota Crown Majesta, Crown, Noah and Voxy in Japan are being repaired to replace a seal that could leak in the brake master cylinder. Those already leaking get a new brake booster, as well, according to Reuters.
The only recall currently believed to affect the US is due to a problem covering approximately 759,000 vehicles with 423,000 of them here. The repair is to fix a faulty fuel delivery pipe that could cause a fire if the fuel leaks out. Unfortunately, we don't know which models it covers. Autoblog spoke to Toyota spokesperson Mona Richard and was told the information was still "under embargo." When exactly that embargo will lift isn't yet known, but we're on the case.

2015 Toyota Camry set to circle NASCAR track near you

Mon, 13 Oct 2014 08:44:00 EST

Toyota recently introduced the all-new 2015 Camry for the street, so it follows that it should want to promote its new bread-and-butter sedan by putting it out on the racetrack as well. And that's just what it's done here with the release of the new Toyota Camry for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
The new Camry represents the first reskin of the standard stock car chassis since the Gen-6 model was introduced in 2012. Toyota's Calty Design studio worked closely with series organizers to determine which parts could be redesigned to more closely resemble the new production model, and what you see here is the result. Since it is based on the same control chassis as all the others, the Camry's skin is applied over a steel tube frame and powered by an old-school 5.86-liter pushrod V8 mated to a four-speed manual gearbox.
Although the idea of a Japanese automaker in American stock car racing didn't initially get the warmest reception from some of the good ol' boys when it first entered the series back in 2007, it has by now become a staple of the NASCAR circuit. After all, it's hard for even the most patriotic of racing fans to argue with the US-built Camry's ranking as one of the most American cars by content on the market.

Toyota casts off in Ponam-31 motor yacht [w/video]

Sun, 12 Oct 2014 09:02:00 EST

Some Japanese automakers focus purely on cars, while others dabble in all sorts of motorized transportation. Honda, for example, makes everything from motorbikes to jet aircraft. But while Toyota may be known principally for automobiles, it also makes a line of boats. And this is the latest.
The new Toyota Ponam-31 motor yacht is built around an aluminum hull with a flybridge and cockpit rear deck layout, similar to the Carver 32 on which this writer spent his childhood summers. It measures 31 feet overall and is powered by a pair of 3.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder engines derived from the Land Cruiser Prado (known in these parts as the Lexus GX 460) but marinized for nautical application. Toyota has even equipped its new Sports Utility Cruiser with such features as Drive Assist and a Virtual Anchor System.
Toyota expects to sell around 15 units of the Ponam-31 through its network of 49 dealers across Japan, with prices starting at 29,700,000 yen (about $27,500 at today's conversion rates). Scroll down below for a video, along with a press release, meant to show potential customers what's waiting for them.

Toyota GT86 14R-60 shows how to do lightweight at a steep price

Sat, 11 Oct 2014 12:55:00 EST

Toyota is finally making good on its Griffon concept from last year with this limited-edition 14R-60 that basically hops through the Toyota Racing Development catalog to imagine the ultimate lightweight GT86 (the continental relative to the Scion FR-S/Subaru BR-Z). Unfortunately, it's not coming stateside, and even if this modded Toyobaru were coming here, you might not want to pay the rather steep price.
Like the concept, the 2.0-liter boxer engine still makes the same 197 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. However, the drivetrain isn't entirely untouched thanks to a new air filter, engine oil cooler, a reinforced clutch, lightweight flywheel, and mechanical limited-slip differential from TRD. The six-speed transmission is also tweaked, with different gearing in first and second and an altered final drive ratio.
To keep things planted the suspension gets a new coilovers, a V-shaped tower brace in the front and another in the rear. Improved deceleration comes thanks to upgraded brakes. There also are even more goodies on the outside, including a complete body kit that includes a carbon-fiber roof and massive rear spoiler. The stock wheels are replaced with 18-inch forged magnesium units, as well.