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Auto blogTue, 26 Feb 2013 07:58:00 EST
The 2013 Toyota Camry is officially the car of the year in Korea. The country's motoring press graced the Japanese sedan with the honor for the first time, officially marking a shift in prevailing Korean attitudes toward Japan and its products. According to industry analysts, buyers in the country are no longer simply choosing their purchases based on whether or not they're made in South Korea, but rather based on quality and personal choice. That's a big jump from a few years ago, when buyers viewed their purchases through a patriotic lens.
The Camry managed to edge out a total of 44 other cars, including hardware from both Hyundai and Kia, to become the first foreign vehicle to take home the Korea Automobile Journalist Association's Car of the Year award. As The Detroit News points out, just 10 years ago, domestic manufacturers held some 99 percent of the Korean car market. But a change in trade regulations has opened up the country considerably, and buyers now have access to a wide range of products from around the globe. As a result, Hyundai and Kia have countered by cutting prices in an attempt to keep their grip on the market.
There's a new season of motor racing upon us, and while that doesn't always mean a new crop of cars in every series, in the case of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship, that's exactly what it means. Porsche recently revealed its new 919 Hybrid and Audi its revised R18 E-Tron Quattro. Now it's Toyota's turn.
Revealed today at the Paul Ricard test track in the South of France, the new TS040 Hybrid is based on the TS030 Hybrid it replaces, redesigned to meet the latest regulations established by the FIA and ACO for the World Endurance Championship and its flagship race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In accordance with said regulations, the TS040 is two inches narrower than the TS030 and also incorporates a new hybrid powertrain.
The previous 3.4-liter V8 has been replaced by a 3.7-liter V8 developing 513 horsepower, and the new engine is coupled to an Aisin AW electric motor at the front, a Denso electric motor at the rear and a Nisshinbo super-capacitor that combine to kick out an extra 473 hp, giving the system a combined output of nearly 1,000 horsepower while consuming 25 percent less fuel than last year's car. It also gives the TS040 all-wheel drive to help channel all that power to the road.
According to Consumer Reports, the automotive brands that stand out in the minds of car buyers are, in order: Toyota, Ford, Honda and Chevrolet. This news comes after the magazine polled its readers, asking them to take into account vehicle quality, safety, performance, value, fuel economy, design/style, and technology/innovation - which are the factors that car shoppers are most influenced by.
It's important to note that this award is only about perception. In other words, it's perceived quality, not actual quality. "Often, perception can be a trailing indicator, reflecting years of good or bad performance in a category, and it can also be influenced by headlines in the media," said Jeff Bartlett, Consumer Reports deputy automotive editor.
The brand that made the biggest jump in perception amongst Consumer Reports readers is Tesla, which posted an impressive 47-point gain to finish in fifth place. Subaru is also notable for finishing in the top 10, despite being one of the smaller manufacturers doing business in the US. Scroll down below for all the details from Consumer Reports, if you're so inclined.