Wed, 05 Nov 2014
Toyota marks the 35th anniversary of its Toyota Racing Development performance arm this year, and the division is celebrating at this year's SEMA Show with a quartet of tuned off-roaders based on on the 4Runner, Tacoma and Tundra that look more than ready to go just about anywhere.
Wed, 05 Nov 2014
All four of them will take part in this year's Baja 1000 race, but only the Tundra (far left in the above photo) is actually competing. The other three will be there to act as support vehicles.
Inspired by the production TRD Pro Series trucks, the 4Runner, Tacoma and Tundra are prepared by off-road fabricator N-Fab with a mix of TRD and the company's own parts to be able to take whatever the grueling, 1,000-mile can throw at them. The trio is fettled with extra communications equipment, GPS, additional lights and all sorts of body and suspension modifications to help them survive the ordeal.
Sometimes, looks can be deceiving. This is certainly one of those times, as Toyota successfully trolled the entirety of the media corps at the 2014 SEMA Show by rolling an innocent-looking Camry onto the floor... only to lift literally the entirety of its body to reveal an 850-horsepower, tube-framed dragster. Well, we have been asking for a more driver-oriented Toyota.
Mon, 03 Nov 2014
While it's designed to go fast in a straight line, the origin of the Camry Dragster's parts might be surprising. The 5.7-liter V8 engine, transmission, rear axle and electronics were plucked from the Toyota Tundra pickup. Toyota Racing Development donated a supercharger, while a wet-nitrous-injection system was also tacked on for that little extra something. Those goodies will help propel this anonymous looking monster through the quarter mile in just 9.8 seconds.
"This is the most extreme build we've ever unveiled at SEMA," said Toyota's motorsports chief Steve Appelbaum said in a statement. "The transformation from seemingly stock Camry to full-blown racecar just shocks the senses. Chuck Wade and the team at Motorsports Technical Center did a truly spectacular job executing the vision of this project."
It's been two decades since Toyota dominated the World Rally Championship with its Celica Turbo 4WD. But this past weekend, Toyota hit the rally stage in a very different vehicle.
Wed, 29 Oct 2014
That, as you can see, is the Japanese automaker's Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV), which is still in its prototype phase. We're still at least half a year away from seeing the FCV in production trim, but the model has already been pressed into duty as the "zero car" at the Shinshiro Rally, the last round of the Japanese Rally Championship.
The zero car, for those unfamiliar, is to rally what a pace or safety car is to circuit racing, driving the rally stage to check for signs of trouble before the competitors put their feet to the floor, so it's not as if the FCV needed extensive modifications. From the looks of things, it just needed some jazzy stripes, mud flaps, probably different rolling stock and an interior with racing buckets and harnesses, roll cage, radio equipment and maybe a bit more ground clearance.
A few months back we reported on a dealership owner in Japan who was petitioning Toyota to make a luxury van. The problem, he reasoned, was that he couldn't take as many friends, colleagues and clients around with him in his Lexus LS, and his Toyota Alphard van wasn't luxurious enough. Well, it seems like he wasn't alone, and Toyota has listened.
Tue, 28 Oct 2014
The Japanese auto giant has just revealed the Esquire, a new luxury van designed with just such customers in mind. It's significantly smaller than the Sienna we get in America, smaller than the aforementioned Alphard and about the same size as (this writer's favorite) the JDM Noah van (on which we gather it's based). But what sets the Esquire apart is its upscale appearance.
The boxy van is distinguished by its dominant T-shaped chrome grille with a unique emblem that encompasses a shield, sword, "the collar of a gentleman's suit" and the letters Esq. The flank is characterized by a strong beltline with chrome lower window frame and an expansive greenhouse with tinted rear glass. Inside the flexible cabin you'll find accommodation for seven or eight passengers (depending on specification), synthetic leather upholstery and wood and metallic trim. There are even wheelchair-enabled models on offer as well.
When the doors open at the LA Auto Show in a few weeks, Scion will be on hand to showcase its new iM Concept. But considering what little Toyota's youthful brand has revealed about the concept so far, it's led to rampant speculation. And the prevailing wisdom seems to point towards a production iM arriving as a Scion-badged version of the Toyota Auris.
Tue, 28 Oct 2014
For those unfamiliar, the Auris is to European (and other) markets essentially what the Matrix is (was?) to ours: a hatchback version of the Corolla. The model line was first introduced in 2006, looking in its first iteration like an overgrown version of the contemporary second-gen Yaris, and was replaced with the current model in 2012. It's available as a five-door hatch or wagon, with a range of gasoline, diesel and hybrid powertrains available.
If the rumors - spurred by the similarity of the iM concept's nose depicted in the teasers - prove accurate, and public reception to the idea ends up spurring Toyota to put it into action, it wouldn't be the first overseas Toyota brought over as a Scion. The Scion iQ was sold as the Toyota iQ overseas years before it arrived here.
Toyota has released the first images of its brigade of concepts for the 2014 SEMA Show, introducing a trio of TRD-fettled off-roaders, a pair of DUB-inspired models, a race-ready pickup and a Sienna minivan with 48 inches worth of subwoofers.
Mon, 27 Oct 2014
Four of the vehicles being shown by Toyota will take part in the grueling Baja 1000 off-road race. The star of that effort will be a race-prepared Tundra, which will actually be competing from November 12 to 16 in the 47th running of the desert race. It'll be supported by a trio of vehicles, which mimics Toyota's TRD Pro Series production vehicles, with the 4Runner, Tacoma and Tundra all acting as support vehicles.
Each of these vehicles has been fabricated by the off-road specialists at N-Fab and comes loaded down with communications and guidance equipment, additional lights and off-road body modifications.
The Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Survey (right) is out, and the top two spots look much the same as last year's list with Lexus and Toyota in first and second place, respectively. However, there are some major shakeups for 2014, with Acura plunging eight spots from third in 2013 to 11th this year, and Mazda replaces it on the lowest step of the podium. Honda and Audi round out the top five. This year's list includes six Japanese brands in the top 10, two Europeans, one America and one Korean.
Mon, 27 Oct 2014
Acura isn't the only one taking a tumble, though. Infiniti is the biggest loser this year by dropping 14 spots to 20th place. Other big losses come from Mercedes-Benz with an 11-place fall to 24th, and GMC, which declines 10 positions to 19th.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's not traditional mechanical bugs hauling down these automaker's reliability scores. Instead, pesky problems with infotainment systems are taking a series toll on the rankings. According to Consumer Reports, complaints about "in-car electronics" were the most grumbled about element in new cars. Problem areas included things like unresponsive touchscreens, issues pairing phones and multi-use controllers that refused to work right.
The Toyota Avalon may not have the sportiest image on the market. Heck, it doesn't even have the sportiest image in the Toyota lineup. But the Japanese automaker is out to fix that perception, at least a little bit, with the launch of the new Touring Sport Edition.
Fri, 24 Oct 2014
Announced together with some minor updates to the entire Avalon line - consisting primarily of enhanced safety and infotainment systems - the Avalon XLE Touring Sport Edition celebrates the 20th anniversary of Toyota's large sedan line. Setting this special edition apart are a black paintjob, HID headlights, LED daytime running lights, 18-inch alloys (similar in design to those on the Scion FR-S) and an interior decked out with perforated leather with dark blue trim... plus, of course, the requisite special badges inside and out.
Only 2,500 units will be offered with a $37,170 sticker price that puts it near (if not quite at) the top of the Avalon range that's capped by the $41,700 Avalon Hybrid Limited. Pricing has increased on most models by around two percent, and you can scope out all the details of the updates to the full range in the press releases below.
The incredible rise of Tesla's stock price has done little to now stop two major shareholders from ditching their stake in the American EV manufacturer. First, Daimler, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, ditched its four-percent stake, and less than a week later, Toyota is doing the same thing, selling off an undisclosed bit of its Tesla investment.
Fri, 24 Oct 2014
The move comes as Toyota winds down sales of the RAV4 EV, which gets its batteries and electric motor from Tesla at the company's Fremont, CA factory.
"We have a good relationship with Tesla, and will evaluate the feasibility of working together on future projects," Toyota spokesperson Kayo Doi told Bloomberg via email.
"As Prius represents by far the biggest chunk of the hybrid marketplace, where Prius goes, the segment goes," - Ed Kim, Autopacific
Fuel prices in the US have been tumbling for the last several weeks, with the average price of a gallon of gas at $3.120 as of October 20, according to the US Energy Information Administration. That price reflects a serious recent drop from $3.299 on October 6. Reports have even suggested that those low numbers might not change for a little while, perhaps as long as years. While drivers certainly love paying less at the pump, the change may be hurting the market for more fuel-efficient models, including the Toyota Prius.