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Toyota reveals new versions of FT-1 concept at Pebble Beach [w/video]

Thu, 14 Aug 2014 02:10:00 EST

Toyota certainly caught our attention when it unveiled the FT-1 concept at the Detroit Auto Show last January. Coming from the same people who gave us the Lexus LFA, Scion FR-S and Toyota Supra, the FT-1 concept looked striking in its bright red livery. But the Japanese automaker isn't quite done with it yet.
No, we're afraid we don't have a production announcement to share at the moment, but Toyota has revealed two new versions of the FT-1 concept that cast it in different light. Most notable is the graphite version pictured above. Replacing the bright red paintjob and two-tone red and black interior of the original concept, this second iteration - presented in the metal at McCall's Motorworks Revival in Monterey, California - goes for a more upscale and refined graphite exterior and a tan leather interior with exposed metal elements.
Both versions of the virtually road-going FT-1 concept will be playable in GT6, but at the same time Toyota also revealed (in digital form, at least) a virtual racing version of the concept called the FT-1 Vision Gran Turismo. Looking like the original concept was prepared for Japan's Super GT series, the FT-1 Vision GT is retuned for racing, with wider fenders, more extreme aero, competition-spec alloys on slicks and the like.

Next-gen Toyota Tacoma mule caught towing in the desert

Wed, 13 Aug 2014 13:29:00 EST

With the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon set to arrive in dealers in the near future, it's high time Toyota got to work on a replacement for the Tacoma, a vehicle whose present generation debuted in the middle of the Bush Administration. Now, we have images of that new pickup undergoing testing.
Our spy photographers picked up this heavily modified mule undergoing tow tests in the desert. It rides on a modified version of the current Taco's frame, as evidenced by shots of its undercarriage, although our spies cite the lack of riveted sections as indications that the current truck's footprint should remain unchanged.
Aside from underbody changes, this particular Tacoma featured a six-speed manual transmission, which we're expecting to be joined by a six-speed automatic. The current four- and five-speed autos found on the current truck will almost certainly be killed off. Marching to the grave with those slushboxes will be the two-door Regular Cab body style. Our spies are expecting Toyota to focus its efforts on the larger, more accessible Double Cab.

177k Toyota Camry Hybrids being recalled for brake issue

Mon, 11 Aug 2014 16:03:00 EST

It looks like Consumer Reports might be getting part of what it wants regarding the Toyota Camry Hybrid and its braking system. Toyota is issuing what it calls a limited service campaign, rather than a full recall, covering about 177,500 of the hybrid sedans from the 2007 through 2011 model years because of an issue with the cars' brake fluid reservoirs.
The models have a filter separating two chambers of the brake fluid reservoir, and the part can get clogged over time. If this happens, the fluid level in one of the chambers can get too low and eventually cause the power assist to fail. There are multiple warning lights on the dashboard that illuminate over time if the filter gets obstructed, though. The company is replacing the entire reservoir with an improved unit, and the fix takes about two hours to perform.
Consumer Reports recently began asking for a recall on these models for the potentially clogged filters. The magazine also reported a second issue with the ABS brake actuator that could lead to a difficult to depress brake, but Toyota has increased the warranty on the part to 10 years or 150,000 miles.

What's in a trademark? Sometimes, the next iconic car name

Thu, 07 Aug 2014 17:45:00 EST



The United States Patent and Trademark Office is a treasure trove for auto enthusiasts, especially those who double as conspiracy theorists.
Why has Toyota applied to trademark "Supra," the name of one of its legendary sports cars, even though it hasn't sold one in the United States in 16 years? Why would General Motors continue to register "Chevelle" long after one of the most famous American muscle cars hit the end of the road? And what could Chrysler possibly do with the rights to "313," the area code for Detroit?

New version of Toyota FT-1 Concept gets racy for Gran Turismo 6

Thu, 07 Aug 2014 16:58:00 EST

Gran Turismo 6 has been the preferred marketing springboard for quite a few brands and concept cars since its debut last winter. Specifically the GT Vision concept idea - allowing manufacturers a built-in place to offer up new, original, drivable content - has enticed the likes of Mercedes, Nissan, Volkswagen, Toyota and more to dream big on the digital stage before pulling the sheets back on real concept cars.
In fact, Toyota teamed its live reveal of the FT-1 Concept at the Detroit Auto Show with an in-game launch of the car, just this past January. Looking for a second bite at the GT6 apple, Toyota has just released a teaser video for a new, FT-1 Vision GT version of the same concept.
The company isn't giving us much to go on save for the 30-second video, saying only that the concept was penned by Toyota's Calty Design Research team in California, and that it will "soon be available for download." By the looks of it, the new FT-1 seems to be more of a racecar than the original, without obvious changes to the basic form. No word on whether or not there's a physical concept car in the offing at a yet-to-be-named auto show. Stay tuned.

Toyota Sienna Swagger Wagon rides again with Busta Rhymes

Mon, 04 Aug 2014 19:06:00 EST

Let's face it: there are few things less "gangsta" than a minivan (which goes a long way towards explaining why crossovers have been gradually taking their place as the family-hauler of choice across America, but we digress). The point here is not lost on Toyota, which has embraced the uncool image of the minivan with the Swagger Wagon campaign.
We first saw the suburban-goes-urban campaign pop up with the introduction of the new Sienna back in 2010. And now that the Sienna's been updated for 2015, the campaign is back again, featuring none other than Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr. himself... better known to most as Busta Rhymes. The decidedly white-bread video spot that follows may make you cringe, but you've got to admit that it's well done, even if it doesn't have the charm and freshness of the original.

Toyota prices TRD Pro Tacoma, 4Runner

Fri, 01 Aug 2014 10:16:00 EST

Toyota is finally all set to drop more details about the upcoming off-road ready TRD Pro Series models of the 4Runner, Tacoma and Tundra after first revealing them in February. These trucks and SUV might not get the big engine and other mods that desert-stormers like the Ford F-150 Raptor have, but they are still a nice step up over the stock versions. All of the TRD Pro vehicles come as 4x4 models with Bilstein shocks with remote reservoirs in the rear, TRD front springs, skid plates, black wheels, retro-inspired "TOYOTA" badging and TRD-branded floor mats and shift knobs on the inside. They're available in three colors: Inferno, Attitude Black Metallic and Super White.
The Tacoma hits the market first in early August with prices starting at $35,525, plus $885 for delivery, processing, and handling, for an Access Cab V6 with a six-speed manual. Opting for a five-speed automatic brings things up to $37,390 after the destination fee. A Double Cab with a manual goes for $37,320, or $38,300 for the automatic, after the delivery charges. The 4Runner follows in September with just a single trim priced at $41,110 - $41,995 after the charge - for the V6 and five-speed auto.
Toyota is holding off on revealing more about the Tundra for now. It's coming in the fall, but the company isn't announcing prices yet. We don't have to wait long, though. "Within the next month we'll reveal that," said Toyota spokesperson Sam Butto to Autoblog about the TRD Pro Tundra's price.

Consumer Reports calls on Toyota to recall older Camry Hybrid models

Thu, 31 Jul 2014 10:01:00 EST

Consumer Reports is calling on Toyota to issue an official recall of 178,000 Camry Hybrid sedans from model years 2007 to 2011, claiming that a pair of issues affecting the brakes are so dire they demand a more official action than what the company has undertaken so far.
The first issue, as CR tells it, relates to a clog in the brake-fluid reservoir filter, which if left untreated could lead to a number of dashboard warning lights. The "front brake assist could be temporarily lost," too, according to Toyota's own notice to dealers and owners of affected models. The company has issued a "service campaign" that will fit a new brake-fluid reservoir free of charge to any affected model brought to a dealer by June 30, 2017.
The other issue plaguing the fuel-sipping Camrys is being treated via a warranty extension, and focuses on the ABS brake actuator, a particularly expensive (both in terms of parts, at $1,000, and labor, around $3,000) item that is necessary for the anti-lock braking to function. There's also a related issue with the brake pedal's "stroke sensor," which like the actuator can lead to a very difficult-to-depress brake pedal. The warranty extension increases the coverage of the actuator to 10 years or 150,000 miles (whichever comes first).

Toyota GT86 CS-R3 rally car presages for-sale customer racecar

Thu, 31 Jul 2014 09:30:00 EST

Rallying may enjoy a very strong association with all-wheel drive, but it wasn't so long ago that the World Rally Championship was populated by cars that slipped and slid across gravel and tarmac using rear-wheel drive. One of those was the Toyota Celica. While the little Celica eventually joined the gravel-spewing masses with an all-wheel-drive rally car, Toyota is returning to its rear-drive rally roots with a modified version of the critically acclaimed GT86.
Called the CS-R3, the new model boasts all the necessary changes to turn the diminutive twin of the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ into a car capable of tackling the tough, twisting paths that are so routinely conquered by the world's rally cars. That means, of course, the CS-R3 has gotten a power bump.
Expected output sits between 240 and 250 horsepower, thanks to a new racing exhaust and manifold, as well as other changes. The ECU has been replaced with an item a bit more suited to racing, while the compression ratio has also been adjusted to boost the output.

New drifting world record set in Toyota GT86

Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:58:00 EST

We have entered a drifting arms race. Last year, BMW smashed the Guinness World Record for the longest drift by hanging the tail out for 51.3 miles around a wet skid pad in an M5 at the BMW Performance Driving School in South Carolina. That beat the previous milestone of nearly seven miles. Now, Bimmer's record is up in smoke as well and is in the possession of a Toyota.
German driver Harald Müller pummeled the old record to drift for 89.55 miles around a 0.15-mile (235.5-meter) course in Samsun, Turkey, in a Toyota GT86 (or Scion FR-S as it's known in the US). According to the Guinness World Records website, it took him 612 laps and 2 hours, 25 minutes and 18 seconds to manage the achievement. Sit back to watch a few minutes of the German's two and a half hours behind the wheel with the tail out.