Filed under: Chicago Auto Show , Truck , Toyota , Design/Style , Off-Road To the general public, Toyota is often thought of as a maker of bland but dependable cars, crossovers and SUVs that get their owners and a whole herd of whatever from Point A to Point B. Generally speaking, they’re fuel efficient, comfortable and affordable. What the general public may not realize, however, is that Toyota enjoys a very strong history of going off road, too. The legendary Land Cruiser arguably established the trend, helping explore remote parts of the globe, while various guerilla warfare outfits and world military branches have unwittingly joined up with the boys from Top Gear to help cement the Hilux pickup’s reputation for invincible performance. Now, though, Toyota is launching a new line of trucks and SUVs in the US that are even more explicitly targeted at hitting the trails. Meet the TRD Pro Series. Featuring the 4Runner , Tacoma and Tundra , each Pro Series vehicle features TRD-tuned springs with Bilstein shocks, a TRD front skid plate, a TRD shifter, black wheels, branded floor mats and a “TOYOTA” grille badge, the latter of which harkens back to classic models. TRD Pro Series vehicles will be offered in the new Inferno paint color shown above, as well as Black and Super White. The Tundra benefits from softer TRD springs that also provide a two-inch lift and a better ride in the rough, while the truck itself rides on 18-inch wheels with Michelin ORP tires. Each truck gains an extra two inches of wheel travel in front and 1.25 inches in back, while a TRD dual exhaust should generate a nicer sound than the trucks’s standard V8 engine.
Filed under: Motorsports , Mitsubishi , Toyota , Specialty , Electric , Racing The third practice day of the 91st Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is done. While the other classes got running time on the middle and top sections of the course, qualifying times were set on the bottom section of the course for the Open, Open Wheel, Electric, Exhibition and Vintage classes. Everyone managed to keep it on the black stuff today, Greg Tracy setting the fastest time ahead of Hiroshi Masuoka, both men driving the Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution II four-wheel-drive prototype. Not even half a second behind Masuoka came Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima in his Monster Sport E-Runner, who has taken about 18 seconds off his time since the first practice day. Rod Millen was the fourth fastest on the day in his Toyota TMG EV POO2. Topping the Open Wheel class was Clint Vahsholtz, followed by Donner Billingsley, Andy Figueroa and Rodney O’Maley. The only driver in that class not to be given a time today was Dan Novembre. Kenshiro Gushi took the Exhibition class today as his Lexus IS F CCS-R made it up the mountain in 4:27.248, followed by Sage Marie in the Honda CR-Z at 5:19.591. Simon Pagenaud and his Honda Odyssey weren’t classified. Layne Schranz nabbed the top time for Pikes Peak Open runners in his 1999 Chevrolet Monte Carlo , Randy Schranz behind him in his Shelby Cobra, Jeff MacPherson right behind in his Porsche 914-8.
Filed under: Safety , Crossover , Toyota There are, as they say, two sides to every story, so after we posted a video on Monday showing what an owner claimed to be a case of unintended acceleration causing her Toyota Highlander to crash into a house twice , Toyota reached out to us revealing some additional information about the incident. Following this crash, which took place back in November, Toyota had this Highlander inspected and pulled data from its Event Data Recorder (EDR), or Black Box as we’ve come to call it. Not only was this the first time we’ve seen a claim of unintended acceleration like this caught on video, but now, also a first, we have actual data showing what the vehicle itself recorded during this frightening ordeal. Brian Lyons, Toyota Communications Manager for Safety and Quality, first gave us some information about the Highlander in question, including the fact that it was a 2012 model. The 2012 Highlander came from the factory with a brake override system, meaning it was not part of the company’s initiative in 2010 to add the system to all 2011 models. Also, after looking at the data from the EDR, he said – as many of you pointed out in the comments for the previous post – that the “brake pedal was never touched.” In the video, you can see that the crossover’s brake lights never come on, and the EDR’s data backs this up. The data pulled from the EDR – posted in the gallery below as two images – shows the two “events,” which were recorded each time the vehicle impacted the house. In the first event , the data provided by Toyota shows that 3.6 seconds before the impact, the vehicle began to slow down before speeding up to almost 15 miles per hour as it slammed into the house. In the second event , which resulted in a more violent collision with the house, the Highlander reached speeds of almost 30 mph with the engine racing at 4,400 rpm. In both images, it shows that the brake switch was in the “OFF” position the entire time, indicating that the driver was not attempting to press the brake.
Filed under: New York Auto Show , Crossover , Toyota , Design/Style While it doesn’t even appear as a bad pixel on most enthusiasts’ radar, the Toyota Venza serves legions of mainstream consumers perfectly well. To keep the unassuming family hauler from lagging behind its advancing competition, the automaker has introduced a refreshed and tweaked 2013 Toyota Venza at the New York Auto Show . Look carefully on the exterior and you may notice the freshened fog lamps or redesigned grille on the front fascia. Out back, there are restyled taillamps. Three new colors join the pallete (Attitude Black, Cypress Pearl and Cosmic Gray Mica). Under the hood, the engines are carried over from last year (2.7-liter four-cylinder or a 3.5-liter V6, depending on trim level, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission). With the exception of the new interior color (black leather or black cloth upholstery) and new buttons on the steering wheel, the cabin appears virtually identical. However, there are more standard features on the LE trim (blind spot mirror, eight-way power-operated driver’s seat, puddle lamps, tilt/telescope steering wheel, and more) and the range-topping Limited receives LED running lights and a premium navigation system with Entune connectivity. Most of the new features are offered across the model range, but at an additional cost. The updated 2013 Toyota Venza goes on sale in late May.
Filed under: Hybrid , Hatchback , Toyota Toyota Prius Plus Performance Package – Click above for high-res image gallery Sure, you want to save the environment (or a few bucks on gas), so you go out and buy a Toyota Prius . Starting that day, you’ll been missing a bit of sport in your life. Toyota wants to help you out. The automaker has announced the release of the Prius Plus Performance Package, and TRD had a hand in the creation of the components. This is a limited-edition Prius, which is being offered with a choice between four exterior colors: Blizzard Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, Black and Winter Gray Metallic. That paint work is also applied to the seven-piece aero kit. The Prius Plus Performance Package bodywork is comprised of front and rear lower spoilers, side skirts and a rear diffuser. It adds a touch of aggressiveness but also helps lower the car’s coefficient of drag. This sportier (don’t laugh) Prius sits lower than the standard car, with a drop of 1.1 inches up front and 1.3 inches in the back. That lowered stance helps set off the 17-inch forged alloys that are snugly wrapped by a set of low-rolling-resistance 215/45R17 tires.