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: Sedan , Toyota , First Drives Every car has its definitive year. Whether it be the Chevrolet Corvette , the Ford Mustang , or yes, even the ubiquitous Toyota Camry , 10.2 million of which have been sold since 1983, every car has its year. For the Camry, that year was 1992. With son-of- Lexus styling, a clear sense of purpose and a parent company that had hit its stride as the purveyor of faultlessly reliable family transportation devices, the Camry got its legs in 1992. It’s a car that even your mom is likely to remember, even if she never owned one herself. The Camry you see here represents the closest Toyota has come to emulating the magic formula that made the 1992 model the stuff of legends. Compared to the 2014 model, some 2000 of the car’s 6,000 parts are new, most of them involving things you can see or touch (on the outside, for example, only the roof carries over from 2014). It’s not a full redesign, but nevertheless it’s a stunning development considering the predecessor upon which it’s based only survived two model years. That’s a testament to both the hyper-competitive nature of the family sedan segment and the lukewarm critical response that the outgoing car garnered. But that’s in the past now – after driving this 2015 model, we suspect the new car’s changes will be thorough enough to continue pulling in new customers by the hundreds of thousands each year for the foreseeable future.
Filed under: Hybrid , Crossover , Toyota , First Drives Midsize crossovers like the Toyota Highlander tend to play a thankless role in the life of today’s modern family. That’s really too bad. With the ability to hold several hyperactive kids and tons of cargo while keeping everyone safe and comfortable in all kinds of climate conditions day in and day out, they’re true heroes in the lives of hundreds of thousands of families across the country. Yet their car-apathetic owners often immediately forget about them as soon as their work is done. And nearly all midsize crossovers are thoroughly ignored by enthusiasts whose eyes begin to glaze over at first mention of the phrase “third row.” Toyota is looking to soften the blow somewhat by giving its midsize crossover, the Highlander, a big redesign for the 2014 model year. With a bold new look, updated suspension and a refreshed interior focused on comfort and convenience, Toyota aims to make the Highlander sportier to drive and more striking in appearance, because, as the marketing team explains, “families are going places and they want to get there in style.” So has the Highlander finally ditched the dull and become something truly desirable to own without sacrificing its heroic nature? I headed to Carmel, CA for some seat time along the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway to find out. Continue reading 2014 Toyota Highlander 2014 Toyota Highlander originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 17 Dec 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Budget , Sedan , Toyota , First Drives Reprising The Recipe For A Perfect Slice Of Toast My toaster broke the other week. Halfway through the process of cooking my gourmet Pop-Tart breakfast, the thing crapped out with a small bang, leaving my delicious morning treats trapped inside. To rectify the situation, I ventured out to a big box store, located the toaster aisle, and ran a couple of questions through my mind. Do I need two slots or four? Do I need to spend more than 20 bucks on this thing? Should I just buy a toaster oven to give me a wider range of bachelor-pad cooking functionality? After no more than two minutes of contemplation, I grabbed the cheapest one on the shelf, paid and left the store. The new toaster works just fine. This sort of unemotional shopping experience is how I suspect people decide to purchase the Toyota Corolla . It’s a perfectly fine appliance, and to a good number of people in the world, the bond between a car and a driver is no more important than the connection I feel to my toaster.
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: Crossover , Toyota , First Drives Obsessively Maintaining the Status Quo Genchi Genbutsu and Waku-Doki . These are Japanese terms we heard quoted by Toyota representatives when describing its 2013 RAV4 . Apparently the first one means “go and see for yourself” and the second means “heart pumping, adrenaline racing.” Nice expressions, but not exactly the ones we’d choose. So we’ll introduce one of our own: “Same same but different.” The latest version of Toyota’s compact crossover follows the same basic outline of models past. As ever, its on-road ride and handling are competent but not sporty, the powertrain is smooth and efficient and the price is reasonable. It’s a tried-and-true formula, but over the last few years, new competitors like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape have stolen the thunder of Toyota’s original cute ute, leading the automaker to refine the mix of ingredients that go into the RAV4 in an effort to take back the compact crossover crown. Read on to see what’s new. Continue reading 2013 Toyota RAV4 [w/video] 2013 Toyota RAV4 [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 18 Dec 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: Sedan , Toyota , First Drives Patron-Saint Of Mid-Sizers Gets Massaged Toyota has manufactured and sold 15 million Camry models across 100 countries since it debuted way back in 1983. It’s a number that’s nearly unfathomable. If all of those polite four-doors were still roaming the earth, there’d be one for every man, woman and child in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. combined, and you’d still have a almost a million vehicles left over. Even more eye-widening is Toyota’s claim that of the Camry models built and sold over the last 15 years, 90 percent are still happily enduring a daily commute on nearly every corner of the planet. By sheer volume and longevity, the Camry is nothing short of an engineering and manufacturing wonder. Almost by default, the Camry has grown to become the vehicle by which all other mid-sized creations must measure themselves, and over the past two years, Ford , Hyundai , Kia and Volkswagen have unveiled products designed specifically to lure buyers from the Toyota model’s swollen ranks. In response, Toyota City has turned out the seventh-generation Camry – a model that’s been altered with blink-and-you’ll-miss-it delicacy. But as millions of current Camry owners will tell you, that may not be a bad thing. CLICK HERE to read AutoblogGreen’s First Drive review of the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid.
Filed under: Hybrid , Wagon , Technology , Crossover , Toyota , First Drive Toyota Masters The Art Of The Conjunctive 2012 Toyota Prius V – Click above for high-res image gallery The hybrid lexicon is a language built on a foundation of disjunction. Buyers may have phenomenal fuel economy or space for kids and cargo. You can embarrass your neighbors at the fuel pump or have a satisfying driving experience. In fact, opting for a battery pack is so fraught with compromise that it’s almost as if hybrid manufacturers have completely deleted the conjunctive ‘and’ from their diction. Even so, that fact hasn’t stopped buyers from seeking out electrified vehicles in increasing numbers. Toyota has sold over one million Prius models in the United States since the vehicle first debuted a decade ago. That number blossoms to two million if global sales are accounted for, and the model’s popularity has helped usher in a bloom of hybrid products from over 16 manufacturers. The technology may not be the perfect solution to our fuel economy concerns, but the Prius has taken off in ways that would have been difficult to imagine when the first gangly example whirred off the line. Now Toyota is set to grow its Prius lineup with three new models. In fact, Bob Carter , Toyota division group vice president and general manager, says that the Japanese automaker fully expects the Prius family to become its best-selling product line in the near future – beating out internal combustion titans like the Camry and Corolla in the process.