Toyota MR2 shows why we still love the 1990s

November 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Classics , Coupe , Performance , Videos , Toyota Was there a better time for Japanese performance than the 1980s and 1990s? It seems like looking back, Japan was on a roll, producing cars that were affordable, economical, reliable, fast and lightweight. And while all the attention is – thanks to a certain film series – focused on cars like Toyota Supra and Mazda RX-7 , there is a lesser-known model that’s establishing its own enduring legacy without the help of Paul Walker and Vin Diesel . The MR2 , affectionately known as the “Mister Two” to fanboys, first arrived in 1984 as a lightweight, mid-engined sports car that proceeded to eat the lunch of the Pontiac Fiero in terms of performance. That car was replaced in 1989 with the more familiar, rounded-out MR2, which is the subject of this latest video from the team at Petrolicious . The video takes a look at a group of MR2 drivers, and attempts to explain what it is about the car that is destined to make it a future classic. Scroll down to see Petrolicious examine the MR2 Connection. Continue reading Toyota MR2 shows why we still love the 1990s Toyota MR2 shows why we still love the 1990s originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 27 Nov 2013 20:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink

Toyota Crown Royal Saloon Hybrid [w/video]

Toyota Crown Royal Saloon Hybrid [w/video]

November 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Hybrid , Toyota , Quick Spins We don’t often come into contact with the Toyota Crown Hybrid , especially in colors other than pink . But when Toyota offered us the keys and a half-hour window to test out the Japanese version of the Lexus GS on US soil not long ago, we had to accept. Driving Notes: We’ll start with the start. The Crown Hybrid makes the friendliest, Japanese-iest sound when you turn it on. It’s like a high-fructose THX movie is starting. Considering this is a premium car, we were surprised the first time we turned it on, but then had to do it again and again. Purely for journalistic video-capturing reasons, of course, so you can watch and hear it below . We wish we had better-than-cellphone microphones to capture it. Compared to the Lexus GS 300h , which we drove immediately afterword along with the exact same route, it is clear the Crown is an executive’s car. The seats and suspension somehow made us feel privileged, not a feeling we’re used to in most hybrid cars.

Honda Civic overtakes Toyota Corolla as America’s best-selling compact

November 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Car Buying , Budget , Sedan , Plants/Manufacturing , Honda , Toyota , Earnings/Financials The battle to claim October’s best-selling compact sedan title has been won by the Honda Civic . The Japanese four-door sold 27,328 units, leaving the Toyota Corolla – September’s title holder – in its wake with 23,637 units sold. In terms of year-to-date sales, the Civic sits at 280,899 units, with the Corolla trailing at 257,184 vehicles. Sitting in third place, separated by a significant gap from the leaders, is the Chevrolet Cruze with 16,087 units sold. The Ford Focus earned fourth, with 15,108 units moved out of showrooms. (It is interesting to note that while the Civic and Corolla have both enjoyed double-digit sales increases year-over-year, the Cruze and Focus have seen significant decreases during the same period.) Sales of the Hyundai Elantra hit 14,876 units, putting it in fifth place, with the Volkswagen Jetta earning sixth place with 11,710 units. Rounding out the ten top sellers were the Nissan Sentra (8,399 units), Mazda3 (7,647 units), Dodge Dart (5,617 units) and Subaru Impreza / WRX (4,923 units). The Kia Forte (4,706 units) and Volkswagen Golf (2,249 units), eleventh and twelfth respectively, have fallen behind. For complete US auto sales coverage, be sure to check out our By the Numbers articles, which we run at the end of every month. Honda Civic overtakes Toyota Corolla as America’s best-selling compact originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 04 Nov 2013 08:43:00 EST.

Toyota reveals Tokyo Motor Show concepts

November 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Concept Cars , Hybrid , Performance , Japan , Tokyo Motor Show , Toyota , Specialty , Design/Style , Electric Toyota is getting ready for the Tokyo Motor Show later this month, and to tease us, the Japanese automaker has released photos and information about the concept vehicles it’ll be bringing to the show. In all, there’ll be five world premieres from Toyota (six if you split the Voxy and Noah minivan concepts), including some vehicles that’ll be released in the near future, and others that need more time to incubate. Let’s get the world premieres out first. Toyota is a pioneer of gasoline-electric hybrids, but it’s also pursuing hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles. The clearest indication of this is the FCV concept , a hydrogen-powered sedan in the same vein as the the FCV-R that will bow at the auto show. (Read more about the FCV, here .) Other world debuts include the FV2 concept (pictured), a unique, one-seat future vehicle that emphasizes the “Fun to Drive” philosophy; the JPN TAXI concept , a next-generation taxi concept designed with Japanese hospitality in mind; and the Voxy and Noah concepts, next-generation minivans that differ most in exterior design cues and are scheduled to launch in the Japanese market in early 2014. The Aqua G Sports concept , based on the Prius C , will debut at the show and is a hybrid sports car that’s scheduled to launch in the Japanese market later this month. The i-Road , an electric trike that’s already been confirmed for production (check out our recent test, here ) will also be on display. We’ve been waiting for this next concept since the Toyota GT-86/Scion FR-S was launched, and we’ve already seen it in person , but Toyota will debut the FT-86 Open Concept again, calling it a “world premiere.” Toyota says it “was created to explore future sports car variations,” and while it hasn’t changed since our last viewing, the car now wears a new paint color: Flash Red. Since the paint was created specifically for the auto show, we can only guess that this is why Toyota considers it a world premiere, unless we find out otherwise.

Toyota officially outsells GM, VW through first three quarters

Toyota officially outsells GM, VW through first three quarters

October 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Toyota , Earnings/Financials When it comes to global vehicle deliveries, the term “Big Three” doesn’t apply to Ford , Chrysler and General Motors , but instead Toyota , GM and Volkswagen – in that order – through the third quarter of 2013. Toyota sold 7.41-million vehicles through the third quarter and is on track to deliver more vehicles this year than GM and VW, which sold 7.25-million and 7.03-million, respectively, through the same period, Bloomberg reports . During the third quarter, from July to September, Toyota’s 2.5-million deliveries helped to push it higher than its closest competitors this year. In that period, GM delivered 2.4-million vehicles while VW posted 2.33-million deliveries. Part of the reason behind Toyota’s and other Japanese automakers resurgence globally is the weakened yen, which can be attributed to policies made by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe since he took office in December 2012. Many refer to those monetary easing policies as ‘Abenomics,’ which has led some, such as Ford , to call Japan a currency manipulator and is a big reason why the US is lobbying to oppose Japan’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Because the yen is weakened, Yuuki Sakurai, president of Fukoku Capital Management Inc., reportedly says, “The selling prices of some Japanese cars in the US have been lowered to make them more competitive.” In the US, at least, GM did out-deliver Toyota in the third quarter. It delivered 697,113 vehicles to Toyota’s 586,016, but that was enough for the Japanese automaker to grow 12 percent in the US and beat Ford for the first time in 15 quarters. Toyota officially outsells GM, VW through first three quarters originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 29 Oct 2013 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds .

Japan dominates Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Rankings, US and Europe gaining [UPDATE]

Japan dominates Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Rankings, US and Europe gaining [UPDATE]

October 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Acura , Audi , BMW , Buick , Chrysler , Dodge , Ford , GMC , Honda , Infiniti , Jeep , Lexus , Lincoln , Mazda , Mercedes-Benz , Mini , Nissan , Scion , Subaru , Toyota , Volvo , Ram Consumer Reports has released its annual Auto Reliability Rankings, and surprise of surprises, Japan is dominant. Among brands in 2014, Lexus , Toyota and Acura make up the top three marques, while Mazda , Infiniti , Honda and Subaru sit fifth, sixth, eighth, and tenth, respectively. For those keeping track at home, Japan’s dominance wasn’t complete, though. Audi’s 2014 models helped the German brand jump from eighth to fourth, while Volvo saw a massive, 13-spot improvement, to seventh overall. Even GMC got in on the action, jumping three places, to ninth. Outside of the top 10, America, Europe and Japan saw more mixed results. Scion took the biggest tumble of any brand, falling ten positions to number 11, while Subaru , though still in the top ten, dropped five spots (coincidentally, CR had nothing good to say about Subaru and Toyota’s joint venture, calling the BRZ and Scion FR-S each brand’s least reliable vehicle). Nissan fell nine places to number 22 overall. BMW and Mercedes-Benz each climbed one place, to fifteenth and thirteenth, respectively. The big earners, though, besides Volvo, included Buick , which jumped nine places to number 12.

Japan dominates Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Rankings, US and Europe gaining

Japan dominates Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Rankings, US and Europe gaining

October 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Acura , Audi , BMW , Buick , Chrysler , Dodge , Ford , GMC , Honda , Infiniti , Jeep , Lexus , Lincoln , Mazda , Mercedes-Benz , Mini , Nissan , Scion , Subaru , Toyota , Volvo , Ram Consumer Reports has released its annual Auto Reliability Rankings, and surprise of surprises, Japan is dominant. Among brands in 2014, Lexus , Toyota and Acura make up the top three marques, while Mazda , Infiniti , Honda and Subaru sit fifth, sixth, eighth, and tenth, respectively. For those keeping track at home, Japan’s dominance wasn’t complete, though. Audi’s 2014 models helped the German brand jump from eighth to fourth, while Volvo saw a massive, 13-spot improvement, to seventh overall. Even GMC got in on the action, jumping three places, to ninth. Outside of the top 10, America, Europe and Japan saw more mixed results. Scion took the biggest tumble of any brand, falling ten positions to number 11, while Subaru , though still in the top ten, dropped five spots (coincidentally, CR had nothing good to say about Subaru and Toyota’s joint venture, calling the BRZ and Scion FR-S each brand’s least reliable vehicle). Nissan fell nine places to number 22 overall. BMW and Mercedes-Benz each climbed one place, to fifteenth and thirteenth, respectively. The big earners, though, besides Volvo, included Buick , which jumped nine places to number 12.

Aston CEO claims Cygnet cancelled because Toyota is dropping iQ in 2014

Aston CEO claims Cygnet cancelled because Toyota is dropping iQ in 2014

October 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Hatchback , Aston Martin , Scion , Toyota While slow sales and a $50,000 price tag may have been contributing factors to the Aston Martin Cygnet being cancelled last month , Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez is pointing the finger at Toyota for the demise of this luxurious little city car. In a discussion with Autocar , Bez is quoted as saying that the ultimate reason the Cygnet was cut is because Toyota plans on dropping the iQ (on which the Cygnet is based) in 2014 – a claim denied by the Japanese automaker. Interestingly, the article also cites another publication reporting that a Toyota importer in the Netherlands heard the same news as Bez, and it has already stopped importing the cars. If the European Toyota iQ is cancelled, that would likely spell the end of the slow-selling Scion iQ in the US, which has sold just 3,365 units through September (a drop of 51 percent year over year). Regardless of why production of the Cygnet ended, Bez also says that a lack of support from Toyota on the project prevented it from being offered in the US or receiving a supercharged engine , which are two factors that likely would have made the car appealing to more buyers. Aston CEO claims Cygnet cancelled because Toyota is dropping iQ in 2014 originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 27 Oct 2013 13:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink

DoJ fines Japanese parts firms $740M in massive automotive price-fixing scandal

DoJ fines Japanese parts firms $740M in massive automotive price-fixing scandal

September 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Government/Legal , Japan , Plants/Manufacturing , Chrysler , Ford , GM , Toyota Nine Japanese suppliers have pleaded guilty in US court over charges of price fixing in the automotive parts industry, resulting in the Department of Justice doling out a total of $740 million of fines, according to a report from Bloomberg . The scandal, which has resulted in General Motors , Ford , Toyota and Chrysler spending up to $5 billion on inflated parts and driving up prices on 25 million vehicles has sent the DoJ hustling into investigations. “The conduct this investigation uncovered involved more than a dozen separate conspiracies aimed at the U.S. economy,” Attorney General Eric Holder (pictured above) said during yesterday’s press conference. As the investigation stands, the DoJ has issued $1.6 billion in fines against 20 companies and 21 individual executives, with 17 of the execs headed to prison. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Scott Hammond said, “The breadth of the conspiracies brought to light today are as egregious as they are pervasive. They involve more than a dozen separate conspiracies operating independently but all sharing in common that they targeted US automotive manufacturers.” Big-name suppliers indicted in the investigation include Mitsubishi Electric, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Hitachi Automotive and Mitsuba Corporation. A list of fines and other corporations named in the investigation is available at Bloomberg . DoJ fines Japanese parts firms $740M in massive automotive price-fixing scandal originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 27 Sep 2013 18:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds .

Toyota readying TMG performance sub-brand?

Toyota readying TMG performance sub-brand?

September 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Performance , Lexus , Scion , Toyota , Luxury It has been said before, but this time we hope we’re joining Toyota in saying it again: the brand should build proper performance cars like it did over a decade ago. Apparently, at least one person at the Japanese automaker agrees. Auto Express recently spoke with Toyota Europe Executive Vice President Karl Schlicht, who said: “We are currently discussing sport lines for Toyota models. There is an appetite for Toyota to do credible performance cars.” And there’s evidence that the Japanese automaker is taking performance seriously. First there’s the excellent Scion FR-S (known as the Toyota GT86 overseas), a joint-development with Subaru . And then there are other less-subtle projects and concepts like the Lexus LS Sports 650 shown above, a 650-horsepower super-sedan developed by Toyota Motorsport GmbH , and the more recent Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R , a 420-hp super capacitor-equipped hybrid hatchback, which also was developed by TMG. All of this leads us to ask two questions: is TMG gearing up to be Toyota’s next official performance brand? Will it have a hand in the development of a successor to the revered but long-dead Supra? We’re not sure, but let’s assume Toyota rules out another established sub-brand to produce performance cars, Toyota Racing Development. TRD has produced performance parts and accessories for awhile, and has even produced sport-oriented vehicles in some markets, but there’s little evidence it will be part of a serious performance initiative at Toyota.

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