Filed under: Crossover , Toyota , First Drives , Tesla , Electric Tesla-Hearted Toyota Offers Real Sport And Utility The 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV is the most advanced Alpha prototype electric vehicle we’ve ever driven. Or maybe it’s a poster child for the 21st Century automotive industry where all sorts of new things are being tried, like when old-school automakers and ambitious start-ups find common purpose in rushing an all-electric crossover to market in two years. Or maybe it’s the end result of a decade-long process of getting the Japanese automaker to bring back its popular – by EV standards, anyway – first-gen RAV4 EV for the new era of electric cars? It is, of course, all of these things, and that’s what makes the RAV4 EV such an interesting vehicle: It not only offers surprisingly good performance on the road, it can also tell you some compelling stories as you jump from 0-60 in seven seconds. In a CUV. With an easy-to-achieve 100-mile range. Most compelling, perhaps, is that the RAV4 EV is a real electric crossover with a real on-sale date. Namely, $49,800 (before any tax credits) and late summer 2012. Of course, the problem, aside from the hefty price, is that this CUV will only be available – initially, anyway – in four major California markets: Sacramento, San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego and Los Angeles/Orange County. Since the RAV4 EV will go on sale in The OC ( don’t call it that ), it made sense that Toyota brought journalists to Newport Beach for some time behind the wheel.
Filed under: Budget , Performance , Hatchback , Toyota , New Car Reviews Plenty Improved But Facing Stiffer Competition Than Ever Toyota lost much of its credibility with enthusiasts after killing off what few performance cars it offered years ago, and yet the average car buyer still seems drawn to most anything wearing one of its badges. Even so, there has been one vehicle in the Toyota lineup that enthusiasts and cars-as-appliance shoppers have seemingly agreed upon for all the wrong reasons: the Yaris . The subcompact Yaris has never taken hold here in the U.S. like its larger Corolla and Camry stablemates – its awkward shape and unmemorable driving characteristics combined to keep this little Toyota from the top of the sales charts. The Yaris has always remained far behind the monthly sales talliess of the more engaging Honda Fit and practical Nissan Versa . Toyota has gone back to the drawing board for the 2012 model year, combating the dullness of the old Yaris with a combination of more expressive styling and the promise of improved driving dynamics. It has even tuned the Yaris SE with a stiffer suspension and bigger tires as an olive branch of sorts to budget-minded enthusiasts, so we couldn’t resist taking the reins of a five-door SE for a week-long test to see if Toyota’s new, greener branch is worth taking. Continue reading 2012 Toyota Yaris SE 2012 Toyota Yaris SE originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 12 Apr 2012 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Hybrid , Hatchback , Toyota , First Drives Baby Of The Family Will Play A Big Role Toyota’s new 2012 Prius C doesn’t look like a math problem, but that’s what it is. Hidden behind its attractive hatchback body and Toyota Synergy Drive hybrid powertrain, the Prius C is just a bunch of numbers. Numbers like the car’s miles per gallon rating, its MSRP, how many can be produced and how many Toyota hopes to sell. Toyota ran these numbers through its “Do we build it?” formula, which is what caused the Prius C to come into being, but the good news is that this smallest of Prii adds up to more than what was put into it, and even introduces a bit of fun to the appliance-like Prius driving experience. Not much, mind you, but enough that its target audience – young people who want to buy the most efficient gas-powered vehicle on the market today – should take notice. Here are some of the calculations that Toyota is making for its new Prius family. Instead of selling 136,463 “normal” Prius Liftbacks as it did last year (down from 140,928 in 2010), the Japanese automaker believes that three new models – the bigger V , the smaller C and the Plug-In version – will push cumulative Prius sales up to 220,000 in 2012 and then go up from there. Last year, Toyota’s group vice president for U.S. sales, Bob Carter, said he expects the Prius to be the automaker’s number one nameplate by 2020. Sure, the Prius continues to sell well in green car circles and has been the best selling car in Japan for a year and a half, but for Carter’s statement to come true, the Prius family would have to outsell the almighty Camry .
Filed under: Hybrid , Technology , Hatchback , Toyota , First Drives You Say You Want An Evolution? Here’s a game that the first people who buy the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid should play with their other Prius-driving friends: Let them slide behind the wheel and see if they can even tell that it isn’t a standard, third-generation Prius . Very few will be able to tell. That’s how subtle the changes are between the two vehicles, at least, to someone who isn’t looking too closely. After driving the corded Prius in California recently, we can confidently say that from both the outside and behind the wheel, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid looks, drives and feels pretty much like any other example of the world’s most popular hybrid. Of course, this Prius does receive some important advances – ones that hardcore fans will notice them right away – but it’s more than obvious that Toyota’s strategy with its new model is evolution, not revolution. The changes start with the plug-in’s new lithium-ion battery pack. Much smaller than the packs used in the two most popular plug-in vehicles on the market, the Prius Plug-in’s 176-pound, 4.4-kWh battery pack offers just enough juice, Toyota says, for an “electric-only driving range of up to 15 miles at a maximum speed of 62 mile-per-hour” (More on how this isn’t exactly true after the jump). Continue reading 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 28 Sep 2011 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds .
Filed under: Crossover , Toyota , Electric , Quick Spin A Solid Electric CUV, For A Prototype Toyota RAV4 EV – Click above for high-res image gallery Ahh, the joys of driving a prototype vehicle. During the annual Toyota Sustainable Mobility Seminar in San Diego, California this week, Toyota brought in a handful of all-electric RAV4 EVs for us to tool around in, but there were some caveats: The route was decidedly highway-free; when it rained one afternoon, we were told it would be better to wait to drive the cars; and one journalist had a problem with his vehicle that made it sluggish. The biggest asterisk in the whole program, though, was that the RAV4 EVs we were testing are only a pale shadow of what the real RAV4 EVs will be like when Toyota releases them in the first quarter of 2012. Why’s that? Because the current fleet of new RAV4 EVs was an intentional rush job by Toyota’s partner Tesla Motors to get vehicles into auto shows and on the road. A completely separate batch is being built to really get this model ready for production, and it will operate differently than the ones we got to drive this week. Still, we learned a lot about what’s coming by checking out what’s here today. Continue reading Quick Spin: Toyota RAV4 EV … Gallery: Toyota RAV4 EV: Quick Spin Photos copyright (C)2011 Sebastian Blanco / AOL Quick Spin: Toyota RAV4 EV originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 11 Apr 2011 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds .