Filed under: Budget , Hatchback , Toyota , First Drives Advertising firms have done an admirable job convincing consumers that the easiest way to find a best-in-segment car or truck is by looking at a few key metrics. In the most elementary terms, the vehicle with the highest horsepower, most gears in its transmission housing, lowest acceleration times and best fuel economy most certainly must be the class benchmark. Yet as the commercials and billboards continue to drive that deceitful message, Toyota is betting shoppers in the subcompact segment are a bit more discerning. The Japanese automaker has just launched its updated 2015 Yaris , a three- and five-door offering that bucks the innovation and performance trends by offering what Toyota feels that entry-level buyers actually desire – reliability, practicality and a low sticker price. It’s sweltering in the tropical Hawaiian sun as I check out the deeply refreshed 2015 Yaris SE. This five-door hatchback, a range-topping version of the company’s subcompact “sporty hatch” (Toyota’s words, not mine), builds on the new-in-2012 generation by wearing new front and rear fascias, redesigned headlights and some attractive new wheels for the upcoming model year. Overall, I like what I see. The front clip, with new LED daytime running lights, projector-beam headlight lenses and an oversized piano-black grille adds some character and aggression to a formerly nondescript vehicle. The wheel designs are big improvement, too, as their twisted spokes suggest motion even when standing still. The rear treatment, basically a new urethane bumper cap and redesigned taillamps, isn’t as exciting as the front, almost appearing less sporty overall with the deletion of the chrome exhaust outlet, but it ties the package together.
Filed under: Truck , Toyota , First Drives Raising A White Flag To The Competition We all benefit from highly competitive battles. In the automotive sector, few campaigns are so closely fought as the decades-long struggle for supremacy in the fullsize half-ton pickup truck segment. The Ford F-150 has dominated for ages, but Chevrolet , Ram and GMC have been closing the gap with freshly redesigned trucks that are rocking the industry. Today’s half-ton trucks are better than they’ve ever been, and we have fierce competition to thank for that. But where does the segment leave a truck from an automaker that has chosen to no longer fight and deliver its best product? What kind of vehicle comes from a company that has relinquished any desire to strive for the top of the class – one who is now content offering nothing more than minor updates and mediocrity in an aim to placate brand loyalists? Such a calculated underachiever would look a lot like the 2014 Toyota Tundra . Continue reading 2014 Toyota Tundra 2014 Toyota Tundra originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 30 Jul 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Sedan , Toyota , First Drives , Luxury A Case Study In Judging A Book By Its Cover Toyota has turned over something of a new leaf with its 2013 Avalon . For the last few decades, Japan’s largest automaker has shown a face that could best be described as practical, reliable and a bit dull – the same side of the leaf that’s been staring consumers in the face with products like the 2013 Camry and Corolla . Popular nameplates, no doubt, but since Toyota’s history is filled with such stylish, sporty and iconic models as the 2000GT, MR2 , rear-wheel-drive AE86 Corolla and, of course, the late, great Supra that we last saw in 2002, ardent followers of the brand have had little to feel excited about. With such a checkered past, it’s no surprise that company CEO Akio Toyoda has called upon his employees to once again design and build cars with a sense of passion. The 2013 Avalon and Avalon Hybrid – Toyota’s flagship models in the ultra-important United States market – are the first new vehicles, Toyota says, to come from that rekindled bucket of excitement. We should note that this notion has raised an eyebrow or three, considering how much excitement surrounds the Toyota GT86 ( Scion FR-S in the States). If nothing else, we can say with certainty that the car’s appearance is a dramatic departure from the dour Avalon sedans of days passed. It really is a strikingly attractive car inside and out, but, as has been said time and time again, you can’t judge a book by its cover. And so it was with legitimate interest that we fired up the completely redesigned Avalon and Avalon Hybrid for a day-long spin through California’s lovely Napa Valley region. Continue reading 2013 Toyota Avalon [w/video] 2013 Toyota Avalon [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 30 Oct 2012 11:57:00 EST.
Filed under: Crossover , Toyota , First Drives , Tesla , Electric Tesla-Hearted Toyota Offers Real Sport And Utility The 2012 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: 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: Budget , Hatchback , Toyota , First Drives Satisfactory Subway Substitution Our enthusiast’s Spidey Sense started tingling when we heard about the newest bit of technology employed on the enhanced 2012 Toyota Yaris . It was not a more advanced variable valve timing system; the Yaris’ 1.5-liter engine is carried over and already has an intake cam with adjustable phasing. It was not more cogs gracing a more advanced transmission; the Yaris makes do with a four-speed automatic and a five-speed manual. The suspension is also traditional with struts up front and torsion beam in the rear. So what was the next great thing? A mono-arm windshield wiper with washer jets aimed to either side of the big blade. Ah, our Spidie Sense was trying to warn us of an exceptionally dull car. In this world where small, inexpensive cars are becoming more fun – Mazda2 and Fiat 500 anyone – the new Yaris is a yawner. For normal consumers, however, the 2012 Yaris – available as the L, LE and SE – is a much improved, affordable and economical transportation appliance. It’s the kind of car you’d feel comfortable recommending to a friend’s sister or anyone who thinks of cars as nothing more than subway substitutes.