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Auto blogSun, 30 Dec 2012
The deaths of the Ford Crown Victoria and the Lincoln Town Car have meant overhauls of three high-profile American fleets: police, taxi and livery car. Just as police fleets are more open to considering other options and a Nissan van is the new face of the NYC taxi, livery car companies are looking at replacements for the Town Car beyond The Blue Oval. Ford, via Lincoln, has made an MKT Town Car (pictured), but an article in the Detroit News claims "it has failed to win over most of the big limousine companies." The upstarts trying to move in include livery and limo editions of the Cadillac XTS, and livery specifications of the Toyota Avalon and Chrysler 300.
Each of those challengers, however, faces challenges. The Town Car was a workhorse, American, rear-wheel-drive sedan with plenty of rear legroom. Cadillac has been in the livery space before but with decontented models that were about selling the brand, not its luxury. It is taking the opposite approach with the XTS, pointing out that its livery edition is "contented in the upper half of the XTS range." Still, the CEO of Michigan's largest livery company says "it's quite a bit smaller than what we're used to," and he also prefers rear-wheel drive.
The Chrysler 300 is rear-wheel drive, and American, which matters to some companies, but Chrysler hasn't yet revealed the livery package for it. The livery Avalon marks Toyota's first time getting into that business in the US, a natural step after having done so well with taxi clients and with the Town Car out of the way. Still, the livery client is a different to taxi buyers, so the Avalon could face other soft-touch hurdles.
We'd seen leaked images of the the refreshed 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, now Toyota has deemed it officially ready for the European masses it is aimed at. We can only hope the masses are ready for that grille, probably the most intense of the many changes made to the volcano-eating truck. The new face and its "powerfully projecting vertical bars" were designed to "accentuate the new Toyota's rugged appearance," as if the legendarily capable SUV wasn't rugged enough. Other changes include redesigned headlight clusters, stronger character lines along the sides, new taillights and license plate "garnish" in back, and a slew of new wheel choices. Both the three- and five-door are 20 millimeters longer, all of that in the front overhang, but the approach angle apparently hasn't changed.
The new organization of trims runs from Entry to Legend, Prestige and Executive. The interior has been reorganized with better seats in the second and third rows, a new upper center console, a redesigned panel for controlling on- and off-road driving functions, reworked Optitron meters with a 4.2-inch LCD screen, and new switchgear, fabrics and color schemes. Infotainment has been upgraded with Toyota Touch 2 and Toyota Touch 2 with Go. They mirror your smartphone if said phone happens to be either a Samsung Galaxy S3 or Galaxy Note 2.
On-road driving dynamics have been improve with suspension changes, and a Rear Cross Traffic Alert added to the suite of safety features for maneuvering the beast. When it comes to the Land Cruiser's real reason for being, the five Multi-terrain Select choices and five-step Crawl Control are more easily used with a Multi-terrain Monitor reworked for more clarity.
Toyota has released a 35-second teaser video for its upcoming Super Bowl spot staring Kaley Cuoco, the actress best known for her role as object-of-nerd-affection Penny on The Big Bang Theory. The real star of the ad, however, is its soundtrack, the 1995 hit "I Wish" by rapper Skee-Lo that will have your mind cashing nostalgia checks the moment it hits your ears.
We still don't know much about the content, plot or story of this Super Bowl commercial, though we can say that its object of promotion is likely the new RAV4 we see Ms. Cuoco driving in this teaser. The rest of the time she's walking the street in a purple getup granting wishes like Robin Williams on a Disney sound stage. And then the Easter Bunny and a chihuahua enter the picture and we get lost. Clint Eastwood under a bridge this is not.
But hey, Super Bowl ads cost millions and millions of dollars to produce and air, so we trust that Toyota spent its money wisely and will have us ROFLing on game day. Until then, scroll down and witness for yourself the debut of Kaley Cuoco as a Toyota spokeswoman.