The Truth About Cars » Toyota http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 05 Mar 2015 22:36:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Toyota http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/toyota/ Review: Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-toyota-4runner-trd-pro/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-toyota-4runner-trd-pro/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:12:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008322 Ladies and gentlemen, there are road tests, and then there are off-road tests. In a typical road test, writers use the car on their daily commute, playing with all the features and determine which bother them and which don’t. There may be some family activities thrown in, like going on a weekend trip or driving […]

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Ladies and gentlemen, there are road tests, and then there are off-road tests. In a typical road test, writers use the car on their daily commute, playing with all the features and determine which bother them and which don’t. There may be some family activities thrown in, like going on a weekend trip or driving around the soccer team carpool. Sometimes, they might attempt to verify the manufacturer-reported performance numbers and use their smartphone to record 0-60 acceleration times and lateral g-forces in the corners. Other times they might go to the hardware store and fill the trunk with bricks to cargo volume and payload capacity. But most of the time, writers just utilize the car for day-to-day activities, evaluating a product in the most mundane of circumstances.

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In an off-road test, the writer has to set aside a day or two of his or her time and plan an excursion that doesn’t involve driving on paved roads. Their smartphone probably won’t work unless they’ve scaled the top of a hill with their vehicle. The only features worth using are the radio (if it can pick up any stations), and the transfer case to shift into low range so you can climb up the nearest mountain for the ultimate photo of your off-road test car. There won’t be any other people, let alone cars, for miles, meaning you can avoid loud stereos and your carpooling buddies’ conversations about how they now have to watch Birdman since it won a lot of Oscars. You won’t have people staring at you in the Home Depot parking lot with a stack of bricks that can collapse on you at any time. Nothing around you during the test is ordinary.

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Such was the case I was presented with when I found out I’d be getting the 4Runner TRD Pro for a week. Beyond driving on the road, I had to discover how the truck performed off the concrete, since that’s what most buyers would buy a 4Runner TRD Pro for. It was perfect since a) I don’t like going to Home Depot, and b) testing the 4Runner off-road was a great reason to spend the day away from civilization.

First, let’s start focus on the looks of the 4Runner TRD Pro. With the black wheels and 31.5-inch Nitto Terra Grappler tires, the “TOYOTA” lettering on the grille rather than the emblem, and the TRD suspension kit, the TRD Pro looks the business. The exterior colors offered are a solid black, a solid white, and a solid red-orange color called “Inferno,” color choices that are oddly very similar to what the BMW 1-Series M was offered with. All the interiors have black SofTex (think a very nice-feeling vinyl material that most people will mistake for leather) seats and black interior trim with red stitching. Again, very similar to the 1-Series M. You can’t get any other interior color choices from the factory.

Toyota didn’t focus too much on on-road performance of the 4Runner TRD Pro. They stuck with what they knew in the 4.0-liter V-6 and 5-speed automatic combination that’s found in all new 4Runners. Sure, you might want more power, but I wouldn’t be comfortable dealing with a faulty turbocharger or supercharger in the middle of any desert in the world. I will admit it doesn’t accelerate to 60 miles per hour very quickly. As for handling, even with those immense Nitto tires and the TRD Bilstein shocks, the TRD Pro still drove well. It isn’t available with the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System like the Trail model, so the handling isn’t as sharp. However, don’t expect U-turns to go perfectly. Three-point turns will become the norm if you suddenly decide to go in the other direction. I learned that the hard way.

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Regarding comfort and ergonomics, considering the off-road modifications, the 4Runner remained a refined vehicle, especially compared to some Jeeps and modified Nissan Xterras that the 4Runner was hanging with. The heated front seats were power-adjustable with two-way lumbar support, while the back seats provided plenty of legroom. On the highway the 4Runner rode like any normal car. After five hours round-trip of highway driving and off-roading, there were no complaints of discomfort or soreness from any of the passengers. Unlike the Limited, the TRD Pro only seats five people, so it is not for large families. Cargo room is plentiful, and I was able to fit two bikes with two-thirds of the rear seat folded down.

The TRD Pro comes standard with the Entune premium audio system and navigation. The audio system was fairly good for a base unit and I can only imagine what the JBL unit in the Limited sounds like. As for operating the navigation system, the same Toyota quirks apply. There’s limited use of the system while driving, so I found myself shifting into Park at some stoplights; however, using voice control on the go (which understood what I said surprisingly well) eliminates a good deal of the problem. You can install apps on the Entune system as well, while the screen doubles up as a back-up camera display.

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This thing was absolutely exceptional off-road. And all things considered, I wasn’t easy on it. Since driving into the creeks around my house to test the 4Runners off-road capabilities would likely earn me a visit from local law enforcement and looks of scorn from my neighborhood, I took it to the Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area. Think of it as a skate park, but for people with off-road vehicles rather than wearing skates. There are trails and obstacle courses to take your 4WD vehicle on. When you’re there, the views are secondary to the driving.

The key off-road features in the 4Runner were the Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control. Those controls were located on the overhead console, and were very simple to use in tandem with the driver information screen in the gauge cluster. Multi-Terrain Select came in handy plenty of times when going in the mud, traversing the rocks, and doing the mogul obstacles. All I had to do was make sure the 4Runner was shifted into low range with the correct mode selected, and the Multi-Terrain Select managed to find grip on such surfaces, even with a wheel in the air.

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Crawl Control could be thought of as an off-road cruise control system. It worked by engaging low range, pressing the on/off button on the overhead console, selecting a speed (Low, Medium, High), and then the car would work both the throttle and the brakes while I steered the 4Runner. Steering input from the driver is a must, but your feet can be off the pedals when the Crawl Control is on. Putting a foot on the throttle or brakes disengages Crawl Control. The system worked exceptionally well when ascending and descending steep and rocky dirt roads, and working without fault when doing the adventure course at Hollister Hills.

When it came to Hollister Hills SVRA’s 4×4 Obstacle Course, where the avid four-wheelers bring their rock crawlers and production vehicles with plenty of off-road upgrades, the 4Runner held its own very well for a truck that was entirely stock. Some obstacles which Jeeps couldn’t climb, the 4Runner managed to do, while on muddy roads, the 4Runner managed to keep going without requiring me to select low range. On one particularly steep obstacle, the locking rear differential helped tremendously, as otherwise, the vehicle would have had a more difficult time climbing up. Overall, I enjoyed the 4Runner TRD Pro off-road and the vehicle (without any modifications whatsoever) was very, very capable.

On the trails, the 4Runner was delightful. It was able to climb up the rockiest of trails in order to get to a nice overlook to have the lunch I brought. When descending or ascending some of the trails, all I had to do was engage Crawl Control, point the 4Runner in the correct direction, and the onboard systems did the rest of the work. The size of the truck wasn’t an issue; there were no dents on the bodywork of the car and few moments where I preferred the size of a Jeep Wrangler. I left Multi-Terrain Select on most of the time as an added line of defense, which was extremely helpful when ascending some steep trails at Hollister Hills.

As for downsides with the TRD Pro, there are a few. One is the fuel economy, where I got 17 mpg during my time with the 4Runner both on- and off-road in 2WD, 4WD, and low range enabled. On the bright side, the fuel tank is 23 gallons, meaning the range is quite good. On the other hand, get used to long fill-ups (both a Yaris and a Cavalier filled up at the same pump during the time it took me to refuel the 4Runner) and $60+ gas bills. Another downside is that there are only going to be 3,400 units of the 4Runner TRD Pro for 2015. As such, the only available options on this model are only the dealer-installed accessories. A sunroof, leather seats, and a factory-installed high-end sound system aren’t available.

However, Toyota knows the 4Runner TRD Pro isn’t for everyone if they’re offering only 3,400 of them. If you need a third seat and/or leather seats, you should choose the Limited (or spend $30,000 more for a Land Cruiser). If you have to have a sunroof and want the option of more adaptive and dynamic suspension (KDSS), you can go with the Trail. If you don’t want to spend more than $40,000, and I don’t think dealers will lower the price much on the TRD Pro, get the SR5. If fuel economy is your thing, get a Highlander. And if you want more power, consider a Tundra TRD Pro with the 5.7-liter V-8 or getting the Land Cruiser, as it too has Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select.

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As for pricing, the 4Runner TRD Pro I tested stickered at $43,134, with some accessories installed. Oddly, the base price on my test car was $200 lower than the base price on the Toyota website, which is $41,310 before the $885 destination charge. Additionally, be aware that many TRD Pros will come equipped with the sliding rear cargo deck for an extra $350, so factor that into the final price. Despite the price increases, with an MSRP of around $43,000, I think the 4Runner TRD Pro is a steal. Normal 4Runners are generally listed towards the top of Kelley Blue Book reports of projected resale value, and the 4WD TRD Pro is certain to depreciate less due to its low production numbers.

Now, be aware that procuring a 4Runner TRD Pro is actually pretty tough at the moment. After going on the forums, many people have to order their TRD Pros and wait a few months. Some have even had to pay over sticker due to where they live. When I tried searching for a 4Runner TRD Pro in the San Francisco Bay Area, I had an extremely tough time finding one. After my search and contacting local dealers, it looked like I would have to order the car (and even pay over sticker in some cases) to get my hands on a new TRD Pro. If anything, I think the depreciation will be a lot less than any of us ever would think.

In the end, I am enamored with the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro, especially its off-road and even on-road capabilities. If you’re considering a Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, Xterra PRO-4X, Land Rover LR4, or a Grand Cherokee with the off-road package, take a good look at the 4Runner TRD Pro. It’s rare that I write this of any car, but if you can manage to get your hands on one at MSRP, you should seriously think it over. Considering that it’s being made in limited quantities, is reliable, managed to do some very tough trails that some highly modified off-road vehicles can’t do, looks really good, and is still your normal, closed, comfortable 4Runner at the end of day, the TRD Pro is phenomenal.

Toyota provided the vehicle, a full tank of gas for this review, and insurance. That last one was important since I returned it with a couple gashes on the underbody.

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Lexus Takes Gold In 2015 JD Power Dependability Study http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lexus-takes-gold-2015-jd-power-dependability-study/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lexus-takes-gold-2015-jd-power-dependability-study/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008050 For the fourth consecutive year, Lexus is tops among the brands ranked in JD Power’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study. The research group says owners of the premium brand’s offerings reported 89 problems per 100 vehicles. However, its parent company was bumped down to third place on the podium this year by Buick, the latter making […]

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For the fourth consecutive year, Lexus is tops among the brands ranked in JD Power’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study.

The research group says owners of the premium brand’s offerings reported 89 problems per 100 vehicles. However, its parent company was bumped down to third place on the podium this year by Buick, the latter making a huge leap from fifth place in 2014 to take silver with 110 problems per 100 vehicles reported. Toyota had one more problem compared to Buick.

Among the rest, Cadillac took home fourth, while Honda and Porsche tied for fifth. Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Scion and Chevrolet round out the top 10 for 2015, while Land Rover and Fiat landed at the bottom of the list with 258 and 273 problems per 100 vehicles, respectively.

As for the problems themselves, most took issue with their vehicle’s Bluetooth and voice-recognition systems, followed by problems with the vehicle’s engine or transmission, the latter mostly focused on “automatic transmission hesitation and rough shifting.”

This year’s study surveyed over 34,000 original owners of 2012 models after three years of ownership, with the survey taking place between November and December of 2014.

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Sweers: Diesel Power Not Coming To Toyota Tacoma http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/sweers-diesel-power-not-coming-toyota-tacoma/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/sweers-diesel-power-not-coming-toyota-tacoma/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 13:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1004034 Hoping for diesel power in the new Toyota Tacoma? You can breathe now. According to AutoGuide, Tacoma/Tundra engineering chief Mike Sweers said that diesel power won’t be coming to the Tacoma — despite the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon receiving theirs — due to the Environmental Protection Agency’s upcoming Tier 3 regulations, set to go […]

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Hoping for diesel power in the new Toyota Tacoma? You can breathe now.

According to AutoGuide, Tacoma/Tundra engineering chief Mike Sweers said that diesel power won’t be coming to the Tacoma — despite the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon receiving theirs — due to the Environmental Protection Agency’s upcoming Tier 3 regulations, set to go into effect in 2017. The regs would greatly tighten emissions on diesel-powered light vehicles, making such vehicles more costly to build for automakers, if not consider in the first place:

Diesel, from a fuel economy standpoint, is about a 30 percent improvement right out of the box. The downside to diesel is the emissions has to be certified at the same level as a gas engine. So the way to do that is you have to put on an after-treatment system. So if we consider that cost, versus the fuel economy improvement, and the fact that diesel is $1 more per gallon more than gasoline, is there a return on the investment?

Even if the ROI from each after-treatment system installed — said to add $3,000 to the cost of a vehicle — was worth it now, Sweers warns it wouldn’t be by 2019, when even-tighter diesel-emissions regs would come into force. He says some diesels would be shelved as a result, automakers deciding those engines aren’t worth the headache.

Thus, the Tacoma will be avoiding the green pump handle, opting for either a gasoline-fueled 2.7-liter I4 or 3.5-liter V6 to provide power.

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The Evora 400 Has Plenty Of Esprit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/evora-400-plenty-esprit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/evora-400-plenty-esprit/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 14:18:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1003818 The Lotus Evora is one of my favorite cars ever. The new Evora 400 makes history by eclipsing the twin-turbo Esprit V8 as the most powerful production Lotus road car to date. With 400 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque, courtesy of a revised supercharger and a water-to-air intercooler, the Evora should easily hit its […]

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The Lotus Evora is one of my favorite cars ever. The new Evora 400 makes history by eclipsing the twin-turbo Esprit V8 as the most powerful production Lotus road car to date.

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With 400 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque, courtesy of a revised supercharger and a water-to-air intercooler, the Evora should easily hit its claimed top speed of 186mph. (Insider tidbit: the sum total of internal changes made to the Camry V6 to prepare it for supercharged duty is… none.) The car’s also dropped 49 pounds thanks to some material changes. It’s scheduled for US distribution in 2016. Let’s cross our fingers.

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Oh, one more thing: I’d be shirking my duty as a lifelong Lotus Esprit fan (a friend of mine owns three S1 Esprits, one of which I’ve towed a few times behind my Land Rovers over the years) if I didn’t note that the Esprit V8 could have easily made more than its rated 350hp. The problem was the transmission, which dated back to the four-cylinder Esprits and couldn’t handle any more juice.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Toyota Sienna AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-toyota-sienna-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-toyota-sienna-awd/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 13:43:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1002178 America’s minivan segment generated only 3.4% of the U.S. auto industry’s new vehicle volume in 2014, down from 5.2% in 2007. Why do automakers bother? Consider Toyota as an example. Sienna sales in 2014 rose to their highest level since 2007, but instead of accounting for slightly less than 17% of all U.S. minivan sales, […]

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2015 Toyota Sienna AWD winterAmerica’s minivan segment generated only 3.4% of the U.S. auto industry’s new vehicle volume in 2014, down from 5.2% in 2007.

Why do automakers bother? Consider Toyota as an example. Sienna sales in 2014 rose to their highest level since 2007, but instead of accounting for slightly less than 17% of all U.S. minivan sales, the Sienna’s market share climbed to 22.4%, and to 25% over the last three months.


• USD As-Tested Price: $47,495

• Horsepower: 266 @ 6200 rpm

• Torque: 245 @ 4700 rpm

• EPA City/Hwy Fuel Economy: 16/23 mpg


The party doesn’t have as many attendees as it did a decade ago, but the music is still playing. And because so many of the B-list guests gave up, it’s much easier for the remaining characters to be big, big stars.

Standing out from the pack still requires a measure of nonconformity, however. The Chrysler twins have their Stow’N’Go seating and value-oriented pricing. Kia has most recently plumbed the depths of their bag of styling tricks to release an eye-catching Sedona with its own noteworthy interior configuration. Honda’s Odyssey sets a high bar for car-like dynamics and efficiency. Nissan, well, the Quest has basically been rejected by North American consumers. The truly mini minivan from Mazda, the 5, is soon to depart. And the Sienna?

2015 Toyota Sienna AWD frontAside from an aggressive SE model and an eighth seat which in some models can be stowed in the cargo area, the availability of all-wheel-drive serves to differentiate the Toyota.

Refreshed for the 2015 model year and loaned to us for a week by Toyota Canada, the Toyota Sienna offers its consummate experience in XLE AWD form with the Limited package at CAD $50,523.

In the U.S., this van is known as Sienna Limited Premium AWD, and it’s priced at $47,495 including fees. For those willing to forego a lengthy list of features (HID headlights, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear park assist sonar, power liftgate, dual sunroofs, rain-sensing wipers, navigation, driver easy speak, dual-view rear-seat entertainment, leather seating, proximity access, heated steering wheel), the Sienna LE can be had with all-wheel-drive for less than USD $35,000.

LE or XLE or Limited, adding an extra pair of driven wheels to the Sienna does force a couple of key sacrifices compared with the front-wheel-drive versions. There’s no eighth seat, no ottomans in the second row, run-flat tires only, and official fuel economy ratings drop to 16 mpg city and 23 highway from 18 and 25, respectively. We saw only 14.3 miles per gallon, but asterisks abound. Roads were snow-covered for much of the Sienna’s visit, temperatures were well below freezing, there was plenty of city driving and very little time on the highway, and the van was fresh from the factory, flagrantly broken in by the right foot of yours truly. Conditions were not at all conducive to forming accurate predictions of long-term real-world fuel economy.

2015 Toyota Sienna profileBut if an automaker ever wanted to impress a car reviewer with the one remaining all-wheel-drive minivan, a week during which consistent dumps of snow caused a city to buckle at the knees was absolutely the right time.

“Oh,” say you, “front-wheel-drive and winter tires are fine.” And yes, that’s true. I drove a couple of front-wheel-drive cars with winter tires during the same span of time, as well as an all-wheel-drive Ford Escape on all-season tires. The difference: the other vehicles, Escape included, needed our driveway at least partially cleared in order to vacate the premises. In a city like Halifax, full of steep hills and slathered in ice, there was a level of dexterity required for the other vehicles to get underway. The Sienna was unencumbered by such limitations.

Does a new Sienna buyer need all-wheel-drive? No, but on the shores of the north Atlantic in a winter that suddenly turned awfully wintry, the AWD upgrade was conspicuous in its effectiveness, not least because the system so instantly and imperceptibly shuffled power to the proper Bridgestone Blizzak-shod wheels.

On other counts, the Sienna is better than it used to be. Parents in school parking lots will continue to appreciate the feather-light steering, but the Sienna is noticeably less barge-like in routine driving. Gone is much of the float that beset the 2011-2014 Sienna, but while the updated van (thanks to a stiffer unibody with 142 extra spot welds, according to Toyota) is a superior handler, it still doesn’t have the finesse of the Odyssey. Nor is its ride as firm, thankfully, as the Sienna is as unflustered on rough roads as one can reasonably expect from any vehicle of any kind. Victory is mine, saith the 119-inch wheelbase.

Suspension noise too easily makes its way into the cabin, as does the growl of the 3.5L, 266-horsepower V6 when under heavy throttle. (Teamed with a smooth 6-speed automatic, it’s a decently punchy engine, if that matters to the typical minivan buyer.) Yet overall, the Sienna is memorably quiet, aided by Driver Easy Speak, which amplifies the driver’s voice for rearward occupants through the speakers, not so you can shout at your children more easily, but so normal conversation volume can be maintained. It didn’t work as well here as in the Highlander, however, nor was the JBL audio system all that impressive. Blame minivan acoustics. There’s an awful lot of vacant space to fill with high quality sound.

Space? Uh, yeah. There’s some of that. Cargo volume rings in at 39.1 cubic feet. The third row is fine. The first two are as capacious as anticipated.

The second row is legendary.

No, the middle seats don’t fold into the floor, and for some that’s the worst omission in the history of minivan features. But they’re not that heavy, and their forward/backward range of motion is a stunning thing to behold. Bring child to you. Send child away.

2015 Toyota Sienna interiorOwners of former third-gen Siennas will quickly spot the interior changes in the front of the 2015 Sienna. Improved material quality is appreciated, but the rearranging of climate controls, buttons, knobs, and screens are what really propel the Sienna forward from laughingstock to class-competitive status. The Entune system is straightforward. Better yet, in a season where the HVAC system gets a constant workout, the temperature and mode settings are finally sensible.

We’ll be reviewing the all-new Kia Sedona before winter ends. While it’s easy to criticize what we perceive to be a faulty Grand Caravan-cancelling FCA strategy, it will be interesting to see what comes out of the Windsor, Ontario plant next. That leaves the two top-selling Japanese brand alternatives, and the means by which you establish the class leader depends on priorities. Available all-wheel-drive and a gargantuan second row may thrust the Sienna into the winner’s circle for some, particularly those who fight wintry battles for three to five months. The fan of driving whose altered lifestyle no longer agrees with S2000 ownership will favour the on-road behaviour of the Odyssey.

Regardless, there can be little argument that these versatile, capable, expansive minivans (or should we say maxivans?) offer more vehicle per dollar than any other type of modern automobile. You may choose to avoid the $50K adaptations, but don’t let that be a pox on the overall Sienna house.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Chicago 2015: 2016 Toyota Avalon Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-2016-toyota-avalon-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-2016-toyota-avalon-unveiled/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 21:34:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=998690 Turning up with a refreshed look, the 2016 Toyota Avalon took the stage at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. Up front, the Avalon receives reshaped headlamps with LED bulbs, revised turn signals, and a lower, wider grill. Power still comes from either a 3.5-liter V6 producing 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque, or a […]

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Turning up with a refreshed look, the 2016 Toyota Avalon took the stage at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show.

Up front, the Avalon receives reshaped headlamps with LED bulbs, revised turn signals, and a lower, wider grill. Power still comes from either a 3.5-liter V6 producing 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque, or a 200-horsepower hybrid system led by a 2.5-liter four.

XLE and XLE Plus trims receive 17-inch alloys, woodgrain dash and tire-pressure monitoring, while the Touring level turns up the aggressive looks and gains 18-inch alloys and daytime LEDs. The top-of-the-line Limited retains the 18-inch wheels for gasoline-powered versions — 17 inches for the hybrid — and adds adaptive cruise control, pre-collision, and auto-adjusting high beams.

No pricing was announced at the show, but Toyota says the revised 2016 Avalon will hit showrooms later this fall.

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Revised Toyota 86 Gains Some Style In New Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/revised-toyota-86-gains-style-new-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/revised-toyota-86-gains-style-new-edition/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 21:30:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=997114 Shopping for a new Toyota 86? The newly revised JDM model is gaining an injection of style for one variant, in the form of the style Cb. AutoGuide says the 86 style Cb — or Cool beauty — is meant to inject fashion sense into the low-cost sports car, featuring a face that wouldn’t look […]

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Shopping for a new Toyota 86? The newly revised JDM model is gaining an injection of style for one variant, in the form of the style Cb.

AutoGuide says the 86 style Cb — or Cool beauty — is meant to inject fashion sense into the low-cost sports car, featuring a face that wouldn’t look too out of place next to its older siblings like the 2000GT. Other features include two-tone paint, leather steering wheel and woodgrain instrument cluster.

The overall 86 range gains revised power steering, improved ride comfort, and a more rigid frame, all features it will share with its Subaru BRZ twin. The BRZ, however, will have more unique interior features, such as satin silver bezels for the steering wheel and shift panel. Powertrain upgrades were not mentioned at this time.

Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 01 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 02 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 03 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 04 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 05 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 07 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 08 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 09 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 06

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U.S. Sales: The Lexus NX Isn’t Hampering The Lexus RX http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/u-s-sales-lexus-nx-isnt-hampering-lexus-rx/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/u-s-sales-lexus-nx-isnt-hampering-lexus-rx/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 18:29:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994962 Up to this point, the arrival of a potential familial rival has not hindered the success of the Lexus RX, America’s favourite premium brand utility vehicle. The RX, still a relatively affordable two-row Lexus crossover, has been sold alongside the more affordable but somewhat less spacious NX since the very end of November. 5717 copies […]

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2015 Lexus NX200tUp to this point, the arrival of a potential familial rival has not hindered the success of the Lexus RX, America’s favourite premium brand utility vehicle.

The RX, still a relatively affordable two-row Lexus crossover, has been sold alongside the more affordable but somewhat less spacious NX since the very end of November. 5717 copies of the NX were sold in December and January combined. Year-over-year, U.S. sales of the RX rose 8% to 20,194 over the same period.


• RX sales reached an eight-year high in 2014

• 2905 NXs sold in December; 2812 in January


Admittedly, the RX’s rate of growth doesn’t compare well with that of the overall SUV/crossover market. RX sales increased just 3% in the 2014 calendar year and 3% in December specifically. January’s 17% jump translated to 962 extra sales in a SUV/crossover market which rose 19%. U.S. SUV/crossover sales were up 12% in December and in 2014 as a whole.

But late in its lifecycle, with production levels that can only go so high, and with new external rivals popping up all over the place? In that case, the ability of the RX – once a game changer itself – to post any improvement at all is impressive. That it could do so when the $34,480 (base NX200T) arrives in healthy numbers is more monumental.

2013 Lexus RX350The NX, of course, is no shrinking violet. But as the Jeep Cherokee proved before it, avant-garde styling isn’t a first-class ticket out of town in the SUV world. The NX outsold a most small luxury crossovers in January, only trailing the Audi Q5 by 115 units and the Acura RDX by 705. The NX, with 2812 January sales, begins the year 1210 units ahead of the Lincoln MKC, having also handily outsold entry-level players like the Audi Q3, BMW X1, and Mercedes-Benz GLA in addition to slightly upsized rivals like the BMW X3, Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GLK, and Volvo XC60.

But no premium brand crossover sells in anything like the kinds of numbers put up by the RX, and the RX made that all the more clear in January. At this time last year, the second-ranked premium brand utility was the Cadillac SRX, 1161 sales back of the RX. In January 2015, the next-best-selling premium brand utility vehicle was the Acura MDX, 2188 sales abaft.

Lexus sales chartSRX sales slid 22% to 3485 units in January 2015, the SRX’s seventh consecutive monthly decline. MDX sales were up 3% to 4381, equal to 37% of all Acura sales.

Meanwhile, in addition to the 2812 NXs sold by Lexus, its semi-related donor vehicle, the Toyota RAV4, set a January sales record with 19,824 U.S. sales. The RAV4 ranked third overall, 3487 units out of top spot; 230 sales back of the Ford Escape.

Lease deals and financing offers that continue to make the RX look like a good deal when the newer, flashier, less costly NX sits nearby can clearly play a role in keeping the brand’s best seller atop the leaderboard.

Yet by the same token, improved RX offers late in its tenure aren’t holding back the NX from entering the small luxury crossover fray with instantaneous success, either. Product positioning isn’t an easy task, but it’s certainly clear that Lexus has it figured out. At least through two months.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Toyota’s FY 2014 Profits Rise As Yen Weakens http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/toyotas-fy-2014-profits-rise-yen-weakens/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/toyotas-fy-2014-profits-rise-yen-weakens/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 12:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994818 Aside from holding onto its global sales crown for another year, Toyota is also doing well at the bank thanks to a weaker yen. The New York Times reports in Q3 2014, the automaker earned a net profit of ¥1.73 trillion ($14.7 billion USD), besting its earnings in Q3 2013 by 13.2 percent. In turn, […]

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2015 Toyota Camry XSE

Aside from holding onto its global sales crown for another year, Toyota is also doing well at the bank thanks to a weaker yen.

The New York Times reports in Q3 2014, the automaker earned a net profit of ¥1.73 trillion ($14.7 billion USD), besting its earnings in Q3 2013 by 13.2 percent. In turn, the final net profit for FY 2014 has been raised from a projected ¥2 trillion ($16.8 billion) to ¥2.13 trillion ($17.9 billion).

Part of the cause for celebration is due to a weaker yen, the result of Japan’s central bank doing all it can to fight deflation and stimulate the economy to stave off another lost decade. Toyota’s global profits — especially in the United States, where the yen is the cheapest it’s ever been since the 1970s — outpace those in the local market once the other currencies are converted into yen.

However, the celebration won’t last forever. Toyota’s home market is shrinking, and it’s not doing so well in China compared to other automakers like Volkswagen, who will likely take the production crown from the automaker down the road. It also is among those affected by Takata’s airbag recall crisis, though not as greatly as others due to having less of the supplier’s products in its vehicles and larger size.

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Toyota Ordered To Pay $11M In Minnesota Unintended Acceleration Suit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/toyota-ordered-pay-11m-minnesota-unintended-acceleration-suit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/toyota-ordered-pay-11m-minnesota-unintended-acceleration-suit/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 11:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=993954 Nine years after a 1996 Camry with an accelerator defect led to a fatal accident in Minnesota, Toyota was found at fault and ordered to pay $11 million. Reuters reports jurors debated the points of three-week-long trial before finding the automaker 60 percent responsible for the deaths of Javis Trice-Adams Sr. and two children when […]

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1996 Toyota Camry LE

Nine years after a 1996 Camry with an accelerator defect led to a fatal accident in Minnesota, Toyota was found at fault and ordered to pay $11 million.

Reuters reports jurors debated the points of three-week-long trial before finding the automaker 60 percent responsible for the deaths of Javis Trice-Adams Sr. and two children when Koua Fong Lee’s Camry lost its brakes while its accelerator became stuck, striking Trice-Adams Sr.’s Oldsmobile Ciera. Two other passengers were injured in the accident, and Lee spent three years in prison for vehicular manslaughter before being released in 2010 after reports of unintended acceleration involving Toyota products took the spotlight.

Toyota still claims Lee was 100 percent at-fault for the fatal accident, and is considering legal options to pursue. The car itself also wasn’t under the 2009-11 recall of 10 million vehicles made between 2005 and 2010.

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Toyota Unveils Silicon Carbide Semiconductor Trial http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-unveils-silicon-carbide-semiconductor-trial/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-unveils-silicon-carbide-semiconductor-trial/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991218 Toyota unveiled its plans Wednesday to trial a new hybrid system using silicon carbide power semiconductors that could find its way into hybrids and EVs. The trial will compare the new silicon carbide semiconductors with silicon units currently found in many a hybrid’s, FCV’s and EV’s power control unit, which are linked to a 20 […]

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Toyota SiC Power Control Unit 01

Toyota unveiled its plans Wednesday to trial a new hybrid system using silicon carbide power semiconductors that could find its way into hybrids and EVs.

The trial will compare the new silicon carbide semiconductors with silicon units currently found in many a hybrid’s, FCV’s and EV’s power control unit, which are linked to a 20 percent loss in overall electric power. The aim is to increase powertrain efficiency by mitigating said losses through the new semiconductors.

The test subjects will be a Camry hybrid prototype and a fuel-cell bus. The bus trial began in early January, when Toyota started data collection on a setup featuring SiC diodes in the FCV’s voltage step-up converter. Meanwhile, the Camry — whose SiC components are in both the hybrid’s voltage step-up and inverter — will hit the road for a year beginning early next month. Both tests are being carried out in Toyota City, Japan.

Toyota hopes to have the SiC technology — developed in a partnership with Denso Corporation and Toyota Central R&D Labs, Inc. — ready for practical use as soon as possible.

Toyota Camry SiC Prototype Toyota SiC FCV Bus Toyota SiC Power Control Unit 01 Toyota SiC Power Control Unit 02 Toyota SiC Power Control Unit In Camry

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Toyota Marketing Mirai With $8K Hydrogen Credit Despite Expiration http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-marketing-mirai-8k-hydrogen-credit-despite-expiration/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-marketing-mirai-8k-hydrogen-credit-despite-expiration/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989970 Despite the recent expiration of the $8,000 federal credit for hydrogen vehicles, Toyota is still marketing its Mirai as if it never happened. Autoblog reports that Toyota is well-aware of the expiration, and is calling upon both houses of Congress to reinstate the credit. Were that to occur, the $57,500 MSRP on the Mirai would […]

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2016-toyota-mirai-6-1

Despite the recent expiration of the $8,000 federal credit for hydrogen vehicles, Toyota is still marketing its Mirai as if it never happened.

Autoblog reports that Toyota is well-aware of the expiration, and is calling upon both houses of Congress to reinstate the credit. Were that to occur, the $57,500 MSRP on the Mirai would fall to $49,500. Other state and local credits would drop the price further, as well; California customers would pay just $44,500 for their FCVs, for example.

The problem, per the automaker’s energy and regulatory affairs director Robert Wimmer, is predicting where the tax process would go:

The two challenges we have now are that both houses of Congress are Republican and also that there has been talk for a while about comprehensive tax reform. If that moves forward, then extenders would probably be put on the back burner as comprehensive tax reform is discussed.

Even if the credit was reinstated, it may only last as long as year or two instead of the three years Toyota wants for the first-gen Mirai. The automaker has been lobbying Congress to act, though Wimmer could not say to what extent.

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Carter To Musk: Hydrogen Just One Basket For Toyota’s Eggs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/carter-musk-hydrogen-just-one-basket-toyotas-eggs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/carter-musk-hydrogen-just-one-basket-toyotas-eggs/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989546 Remember when Tesla CEO Elon Musk declared that Toyota was a fool to invest in hydrogen? Twice? Toyota had a few words to say in return last week. Ecomento reports Toyota Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations Bob Carter took Musk to task regarding comments made during the latter’s annual Tesla shareholders meeting last June, […]

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2016 Toyota Mirai

Remember when Tesla CEO Elon Musk declared that Toyota was a fool to invest in hydrogen? Twice? Toyota had a few words to say in return last week.

Ecomento reports Toyota Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations Bob Carter took Musk to task regarding comments made during the latter’s annual Tesla shareholders meeting last June, as well as those made earlier this month at the Automotive News World Congress, when Musk suggested methane or propane as a better energy storage mechanism while declaring hydrogen “an incredibly dumb one to pick”:

I’m a little disappointed in Mr. Musk’s comments in Detroit last week. But I understand. If I was in a position that I had all of my eggs in one basket I would perhaps be making those same comments. When you take a look at the future, [FCVs are] not a 24- to 36-month play. When you start looking in the 2020s, anybody that would deny [the potential of] moving from an oil-based economy to a hydrogen-based economy [isn’t] looking at the future correctly.

Carter’s response, made last week during the J.D. Power Automotive Summit in San Francisco, come on the heels of Toyota’s unexpected response to its Mirai FCV. Though not due in U.S. showrooms until later this year, the automaker received over 16,000 requests for information on the car. Meanwhile, the FCV has 1,500 confirmed pre-orders in its home market of Japan, with Toyota likely to boost production as interest in the Mirai grows.

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Toyota, BMW Working On Entry-Level MINI Minor Model http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-bmw-working-entry-level-mini-minor-model/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-bmw-working-entry-level-mini-minor-model/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 12:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988994 Been waiting for a MINI that actually lives up to its name? Toyota and BMW are working on such a thing, called the Minor. Automobile Magazine reports the Minor is in the earliest phases of development, and would likely pull its looks from the 2012 Rocketman concept and the current Paceman crossover. Pricing would range […]

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MINI-Rocketman-Concept-2012-widescreen-01

Been waiting for a MINI that actually lives up to its name? Toyota and BMW are working on such a thing, called the Minor.

Automobile Magazine reports the Minor is in the earliest phases of development, and would likely pull its looks from the 2012 Rocketman concept and the current Paceman crossover. Pricing would range between $14,500 and $16,000.

As far as platforms go, the two automakers are going all in on a “bargain basement effort” for the Minor — including a reduction in size and content — instead of using a similarly sized platform like that of the Toyota Aygo, BMW preferring the Minor to not be a badge-engineered product developed and assembled elsewhere.

The new MINI would be one of five new models coming into the portfolio between now and 2018, including an all-new 2016 Countryman and a Superleggera roadster for 2018.

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A Last Look: 2014 Camry SE http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/last-look-2014-camry-se/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/last-look-2014-camry-se/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 13:17:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988538 Any veteran of the Detroit Auto Show knows that you can find some pretty impressive metal in the hotels and parking lots surrounding the auto show. While a significant percentage of the media is flown to the show courtesy of GM, Ford, and a few other manufacturers, another nontrivial number of journos arrive in loaners […]

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MemphisCamry 006 (Medium)

Any veteran of the Detroit Auto Show knows that you can find some pretty impressive metal in the hotels and parking lots surrounding the auto show. While a significant percentage of the media is flown to the show courtesy of GM, Ford, and a few other manufacturers, another nontrivial number of journos arrive in loaners ranging from AWD 911 Targas to BMW X-somethings. Truth be told, however, I couldn’t even stir myself to be jealous of those freeloaders. After all, I’d won the rental car lottery and gotten something I prefer to even the most chrome-laden of winter press whips.

My fondness for Toyota’s semi-sporty take on the family car is well documented. After reading Tim Cain’s experience with a new-gen V6 XSE I’m very eager to get one of those on the racetrack and see if it can match up to my Accord V6. Of course, I’ve been a committed Accord-ian for a year now, enough that I was also eager to take one final spin in the old car to see if it matched up to my memory.

MemphisCamry 007 (Medium)

This 2014 model benefited from a revised infotainment system, with more #PixelsAndStuff than the last SE I drove. Other than that, it was the same car it’s been for a few years now. As with my previous car, the powertrain is the 2.5L I-4 putting 178 horsepower through a six-speed automatic. I was curious to see how the Camry would start and run in the well-below-freezing weather surrounding the show; the first night I had the car it was four degrees about zero and when I spilled a bit of soda on the Camry’s doorsill it froze solid before I could wipe it off. I needn’t have worried. Only a few rough shifts in the first few minutes betrayed the temperature, and the heater was actually working within four minutes of starting. I suppose that’s what happens when you have a bored-out block with extremely tight water jackets.

The 2013 revisions to the Accord put the Camry a bit behind in the surprise-and-delight segment. Honda’s LaneWatch in particular is simply brilliant and I prefer it to the warning light you get with anything else (including Acura’s TLX). With that said, the Toyota isn’t without its charms. I prefer the Camry’s steering wheel to anything Honda offers nowadays. The seats, too, are demonstrably more supportive and less fragile than what you get in an Accord Sport. On the other hand, Honda offers proper climate control at the same price that gets you two vague knobs in the Camry, and the price you pay for two center-stack displays in the Toyota gets you three in the Accord.

Not that you’re reading this review for an Asperger’s-approved price-corrected feature comparison. You can get that other places, or so I’m continually told by the Internet. What you want to know is how the Camry compares to the four-cylinder Accord dynamically, so you know which one to rent for your next flyaway trackday. Well, my friend, go ahead and ring that bell, because it’s Camry by a knockout in the middle of the first round.

Or the first corner of your third lap, anyway, which is about all it takes for you to realize that Honda has no idea how much thermal capacity a modern sedan needs to slow down repeatedly from speed. The Accord is horribly underbraked and that’s true no matter what variant you get because if you don’t plump for the V-6 you get even smaller brakes than the Flintstones-spec garbage on my coupe. On top of that, the Camry is more tossable, gives you more feedback through the wheel, and has an automatic transmission of proven non-breakable-ness for people who won’t shift their own sedans, which is pretty much everybody.

Had Toyota been kind enough to offer a six-speed in a V-6-powered Camry sedan, I’d have taken that in a heartbeat over the Accord even though 2014 was obviously this Camry’s swan song. Because they didn’t, the Accord pulled two effective units ahead in the retail sales race and now you are going to be subjected to my one-year Accord review in the next few weeks. It’s a damn shame because I’m not sure Toyota doesn’t have the better V-6. I’m almost certain they have a slightly better four.

MemphisCamry 010 (Medium)

During a 470-mile trip through Michigan’s frozen wasteland that included a fair amount of time spent at a pawnshop in addition to the usual dinners and parties, my Camry returned 31.3mpg. I did not spare any of the 178 horses. I fed it winter-blend 87 octane. More than once I let it idle outside my hotel for ten minutes or longer because I was lazy and I thought I’d combine the loading-up process with the warming-up process. Once, in a fit of age-and-injury-induced weakness, I started it up and immediately revved it to five grand for a whole minute so the heat would work.

You get the idea. I was pretty hard on this Camry, harder than perhaps I was entitled to be for thirty-seven dollars a day or whatever the rate was. Yet the fact remains that I’ve never rented a Camry that seemed terribly fazed by the abuse that I and others heaped upon it. No, it’s not the Lexus-in-all-but-name that the ’92 Camry was, but it’s also cheaper in real dollars and it doesn’t appear to be significantly less reliable. All the Camry has to be is be as good as the competition in empirical terms and close to them on the intangibles and it can win because it’s a proven quantity.

Yet the Camry hasn’t been winning lately, at least not with retail customers. Maybe it’s the new-car smell of the revised and upscale-looking Accord, maybe it’s the knowledge that there’s a new Camry on the way, maybe it’s the fact that Honda offers a stick-shift and a coupe and sometimes both together. Regardless, this is a worthwhile choice, both new and used.

Against the rest of the segment, the old Camry’s superiority is more clear-cut. Having recently rented a CVT Altima for some time on a Texas racetrack, I can attest that the Camry whips it six ways to Sunday: in power, handling, and brake effectiveness. The Malibu? Be serious. The Fusion? That’s a more expensive car for a different kind of buyer. The Mazda6? You can get it with a stick but it’s actually not as good on a racetrack as a Camry. (Unfortunately, I drove the Mazda for another outlet so I can’t give you all the details here, but suffice it to say that I’d take the Camry.) The Sonata and Optima? Not everybody’s ready to make the 100,000-mile bet on them even if the warranty runs that long.

With any luck, I’ll be able to check out the 2015 in the near future. I promise to get one on the track as soon as possible and take some scalps with it. In the meantime, the current car is more than good enough at the price, as a rental proposition, and an ownership one.

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The Scion iQ Is Dead: Here’s Why http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/scion-iq-dead-heres/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/scion-iq-dead-heres/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 13:30:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987898 Reports last week that the Scion iQ is not long for this world came just weeks after Toyota USA issued a sales release showing that iQ volume was chopped in half in 2014. One year earlier, Toyota’s sales report showed iQ sales falling 54% from 2012 levels. • iQ sales decline every month • Scion […]

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2014 Scion iQReports last week that the Scion iQ is not long for this world came just weeks after Toyota USA issued a sales release showing that iQ volume was chopped in half in 2014.

One year earlier, Toyota’s sales report showed iQ sales falling 54% from 2012 levels.


• iQ sales decline every month

• Scion sales down 66% from 2006 high


More specifically, U.S. sales of the iQ tumbled in each of the last 24 months. Only once, in December 2012, the iQ’s first opportunity at posting a year-over-year improvement, did it do so, surging 32% compared with its first month on the market.

But the iQ was slow from the start and didn’t possess the kind of initial appeal we often see even from cars which eventually become wildly unpopular. For example, Mercedes-Benz’s Smart Fortwo generated 24,622 in its first year on the market before posting three rapid sales declines, but the iQ’s first full year in America resulted in only 8879 sales.

After the iQ’s best month – March 2012, when 1285 were sold – sales progressively decreased in each of the five following months. As the theory goes, those who really wanted one already had one. And rather unfortunately, there weren’t many who wanted one.

By the fourth-quarter of 2014, the worst ever quarter for the iQ, only 288 copies left Scion showrooms, a 58% year-over-year decline and an 86% drop compared with the fourth-quarter of 2012. In mid-January, Cars.com’s inventory listings show only 186 iQs available.

TTAC Toyota Lexus Scion sales chart 2014The main issues which had a negative impact on the iQ included its size, its more spacious competition, its more spacious and more affordable competition, and perhaps even the logo above its front grille. “Physics are physics,” Scion’s Doug Murtha said, “and they’re nervous about driving a vehicle that size.”

Undoubtedly, yet other tiny cars prove capable of finding greater success. The Fiat 500 was on sale nine months before the iQ, for instance, and generated more sales activity in its first ten months than the iQ has done all-time.

The Chevrolet Spark arrived eight months after the iQ. GM sold 85,674 Sparks in the nameplate’s first 30 months, nearly nine times more than the number of iQs sold in the same period.

Toyota’s own Yaris steadily became more unpopular over the last six years, but it sold nearly six times more often than the iQ over the last two years.

Yes, those cars are larger, but this isn’t Europe. The fact that the iQ is small was not to its credit in the United States. Brilliant packaging doesn’t invariably equate with sufficient space, after all.

All four of the potentially competitive cars mentioned so far are either equally affordable or distinctly less expensive. There were other knocks against the iQ. Its continuously variable transmission is poorly calibrated, rear drum brakes seem particularly antiquated when a car is charging a dimensional deficiency premium, the rear seats exist but aren’t genuinely usable, there’s very little interior storage, and fuel economy simply isn’t that impressive. At an EPA highway-rated 37 mpg, the iQ trails many compact cars.

Worst of all, the iQ was brought to America as a Scion, a brand that’s suffering as interest in their all of their products is drying up rapidly. That’s an odd trait in the current American automotive scene. U.S. consumers registered more new vehicles in 2014 than at any time since 2006. Scion sales in 2014 fell to the third-lowest full-year total in the brand’s history, down 15% year-over-year; down 66% compared with 2006.

Would the iQ have been a hit if it was a Toyota? No. But would it have flopped this hard if they’d made it a Toyota instead? No.

The iQ was an experiment, but it certainly wasn’t a brand-saving day in the laboratory.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Toyota No. 1 Global Automaker In 2014, Volkswagen Close Behind http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-no-1-global-automaker-2014-volkswagen-close-behind/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-no-1-global-automaker-2014-volkswagen-close-behind/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987066 Once again, Toyota is the No. 1 largest automaker in the world, but Volkswagen is waiting close behind for the chance to take the crown. Automotive News reports Toyota sold 10.23 million units in 2014 with help from its Daihatsu and Hino partners, the first time the automaker sold over 10 million units in a […]

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WEC 6 Hours of Fuji

Once again, Toyota is the No. 1 largest automaker in the world, but Volkswagen is waiting close behind for the chance to take the crown.

Automotive News reports Toyota sold 10.23 million units in 2014 with help from its Daihatsu and Hino partners, the first time the automaker sold over 10 million units in a single year. Volkswagen took second on the podium with 10.14 million, and General Motors took third with 9.92 million.

2014 marks the second consecutive year Toyota has held the top spot, having regained it from GM in 2012 after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami greatly hindered production for the majority of that year. The automaker originally took the top spot from GM in 2008, the latter having dominated the podium for 80 years prior; Toyota also held the title in 2009 and 2010.

As for 2015, Toyota is forecasting deliveries of 10.15 million due to decreased demand at home and in emerging markets, as well as from falling oil prices and Japan’s increased national consumption tax. Volkswagen, meanwhile, is ahead of schedule as far as taking the crown goes, CEO Martin Winterkorn stating such a thing would occur by 2018 at the earliest before 2014’s results showed otherwise.

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Toyota Breaks Ground On $350M Texas Headquarters http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-breaks-ground-350m-texas-headquarters/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-breaks-ground-350m-texas-headquarters/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 14:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=986714 With a little help from a 2015 TRD Pro Series Tundra and its plow, Toyota broke ground on its new $350 million headquarters in Plano, Texas. Aside from the truck-assisted groundbreaking, the automaker also revealed a 10-foot-tall, 64-foot-wide “TOYOTA” installation during the ceremonies. Each letter held a Texan Yaupon Holly “wish tree,” all of which […]

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Toyota North America Groundbreaking Ceremony

With a little help from a 2015 TRD Pro Series Tundra and its plow, Toyota broke ground on its new $350 million headquarters in Plano, Texas.

Aside from the truck-assisted groundbreaking, the automaker also revealed a 10-foot-tall, 64-foot-wide “TOYOTA” installation during the ceremonies. Each letter held a Texan Yaupon Holly “wish tree,” all of which will be permanently planted once construction is completed. Local high school students were invited to tie handwritten wishes to the trees, as well; the notes will be placed in a time capsule to be buried on-site later on.

The new headquarters will be completed by early 2017 at the latest, and is located at the intersection of Headquarters Drive and Palomino Crossing. The groundbreaking marks the next phase in Toyota’s move to Texas from California, which began with the automaker’s announcement last year. Around 4,000 employees — half from California — are expected to call Texas home in the next couple of years.

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Toyota Increasing Crossover, SUV Production To Meet US Demand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-increasing-crossover-suv-production-meet-us-demand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-increasing-crossover-suv-production-meet-us-demand/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=985474 With U.S. demand for its crossovers and SUVs expected to increase in 2015, Toyota is responding in kind by increasing production at home and in Canada. Bloomberg reports the production increase will prove challenging to president Akio Toyoda’s strategy of squeezing more vehicles — such as the RAV4, RX and NX — from the plants […]

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2014 Toyota RAV4 Exterior, Picture Courtesy pf Alex L Dykes

With U.S. demand for its crossovers and SUVs expected to increase in 2015, Toyota is responding in kind by increasing production at home and in Canada.

Bloomberg reports the production increase will prove challenging to president Akio Toyoda’s strategy of squeezing more vehicles — such as the RAV4, RX and NX — from the plants already in place before considering new construction after March 2016.

Further, Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz says the automaker plans to add smaller crossovers and SUVs to help it gain more overall market share in the U.S. against competitors like Volkswagen, maintaining its position on the top of the global sales podium in so doing.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Toyota Camry XSE http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-toyota-camry-xse/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-toyota-camry-xse/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 14:47:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=984793 The Camry connoisseur, if there is such a thing, would spot the difference. Unlike some well-known TTAC authors who don’t hide their Camry admiration, I wasn’t on board the Camry love boat. The last SE I drove disappointed me with unimpressive efficiency figures, an interior in need of polish, and an overall sensation of obsolescence. […]

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2015 Toyota Camry XSE blue crush metallicThe Camry connoisseur, if there is such a thing, would spot the difference.

Unlike some well-known TTAC authors who don’t hide their Camry admiration, I wasn’t on board the Camry love boat. The last SE I drove disappointed me with unimpressive efficiency figures, an interior in need of polish, and an overall sensation of obsolescence. And it was in fact obsolete, as Toyota Canada delivered a Camry Hybrid SE to my driveway in October 2014 when the refreshed 2015 car was already a thing.


• USD Base Price: $27,725

• Horsepower: 268 @ 6200 rpm

• Torque: 248 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm

• Observed Fuel Economy: 19.3 mpg


Nevertheless, I’ll readily admit I appreciate that Toyota finally located the Camry’s sense of style. When this particular car pulled up in front of our house, I noticed right off the bat that it was an XSE, a trim level Toyota introduced for 2015 to combine XLE luxury with the SE’s sporting intentions. The Blue Crush Metallic also represents top-notch taste.

While it’s my job and I do my best and I take a measure of pride in these things, I didn’t notice key signifiers: twin tailpipes. Granted, Blue Crush arrived on Monday, January 5, the busiest work day of the year for a sales-oriented auto writer like myself. I backed the car into our driveway, refusing to take time out of my busy schedule for an unnecessary late night Volkswagen GTI-like drive to the grocery store. “It’s not like it has a V6,” I muttered.

Yet there may be no V6 more captivating than a surprise V6 in an increasingly competent midsize sedan. You see, 24 hours after my muttering, I was heading into town to collect dog food. After a few miles of routine driving behind slow-moving traffic, I hit the highway under heavy throttle to see if Toyota further isolated the 178-horsepower, 2.5L four-cylinder’s inherent vibration. Except I couldn’t answer that question, because I was approaching my exit with more than enough pace to mutter, “This feels like an engine Lotus would squeeze into an Evora.”

Yes, Camry fanbois (if there are such a thing) would have understood the meaning behind Blue Crush’s dual exhaust outlets. But even in XSE trim, Toyota completely bypasses the V6 badging process. It’s debadged. Or at least unbadged.

Toyota is therefore cool, like the guy who ordered his Porsche 911 without all the extra taxonomical addenda. Or at least sort of like that guy.

2015 Toyota Camry XSEToyota says the 3.5L generates 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft. It’s such a rev-hungry, buttery engine, however, that it feels like there are 300-plus of each. 0-60 mph times below six seconds bring believability to such feelings. The 6-speed automatic lacks all manner of aggression and rewards paddle shift inputs not at all, but it’s a sufficiently cooperative partner for the V6, never flubbing a shift or causing the driver to worry over fragility.

Blue Crush was much more than just an engine. Indeed, the XSE can be had for thousands less without the V6 powerplant. As a whole, the Camry is a stronger package now than it was last year. With “unique shock absorbers, firmer bushings, higher-rate coil springs, specially-tuned steering,” the XSE bears that out more clearly. The structure is stiffer, enabling Toyota to more finely tune the suspension for a very pleasing real-world balance. The ride is only just on the firm side of average, yet the Camry XSE handles ham-fisted, mid-corner adjustments easily and without fuss. The steering is still too slow and light for the XSE to be a genuine sports sedan; brake feel (said to be improved) and brake performance are not confidence-inspiring. But if this suspension configuration represented the conventional Camry’s layout, I believe enthusiasts would grow very fond of the midsize Toyota, and they would wonder just how good TRD’s engineering team could make it if given free rein.

The Mazda 6 is a sharper corner carver, but it rides more stiffly and is noisier inside. Dynamically, the Ford Fusion is very nicely balanced, but not every buyer will put up with Ford’s current infotainment unit when the Camry’s system is so straightforward and intuitive. Hyundai and Kia, with the Sonata and Optima, aren’t yet able to mate serene ride quality to their more aggressive suspension tunes. For a moment, it seemed as though Nissan built the better Camry with their fifth-gen Altima, but the 2015 Camry refresh is a significant one.

Not surprisingly then, the Blue Crush’s prime competition comes in the form of America’s second-best-selling car, the Honda Accord. It’s a game of personal preference at that point.

2015 Toyota Camry XSE interiorPersonally, I’m pleased to discover a Camry that appeals on a large number of different levels. It’s still not the most handsome sedan, its interior is completely devoid of expression, it will quickly become terribly commonplace, it drank at a sub-20-mpg rate during its stay with me. But the Camry XSE is the place where solidity, reliability, and space marry moderate degrees of fun, modestly increased levels of vehicular passion, and mature amounts of back road frolicking.

And it’s relatively affordable. In the United States, Camry XSEs start at $27,725. That’s $2310 more than the SE and the same price as the XLE.

Adding the V6 to a 2015 Toyota Camry XSE costs another $5220, but the V6 XSE includes a raft of equipment that’s optional on the four-cylinder model. It’s worth it. If you’re going to buy America’s best-selling car in large part because the sampling size which helped establish its image of dependability is so large, you owe it to yourself to get the best version of America’s best-selling car.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Toyota Receives Over 1,500 Orders For Mirai FCV In Home Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-receives-1500-orders-mirai-fcv-home-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-receives-1500-orders-mirai-fcv-home-market/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=984281 One month after Toyota began sales of its Mirai FCV in Japan, around 1,500 have been ordered thus far, well over the 400 the automaker thought it would sell for the entirety of 2015. Carscoops reports the 1,500 orders are split 60/40 in favor of government and corporate fleets. The overall majority of the orders […]

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2016-toyota-mirai-6-1

One month after Toyota began sales of its Mirai FCV in Japan, around 1,500 have been ordered thus far, well over the 400 the automaker thought it would sell for the entirety of 2015.

Carscoops reports the 1,500 orders are split 60/40 in favor of government and corporate fleets. The overall majority of the orders come from four locations in the country: Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture, Aichi Prefecture and Fukuoka Prefecture. Due to its popularity, however, Toyota said it may take a while to fulfill those orders.

The Mirai is expected in the United States beginning later this year, and will sell for $57,500 before federal and state tax credits. A 36-month lease will also be available, with $3,649 due at signing, and $499 per month thereafter.

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NAIAS 2015: 2016 Toyota Tacoma Going Pro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-toyota-tacoma-going-pro/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-toyota-tacoma-going-pro/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 20:15:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=982025 Turns out Toyota had one more trick up its sleeve for the 2016 Tacoma, planning to add a TRD Pro model alongside the rest of the family. According to AutoGuide, Toyota Motor Sales VP of Marketing Jack Hollis confirmed the plans with our sister publication during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. The current Tacoma TRD […]

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2016_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_OffRoad_014

Turns out Toyota had one more trick up its sleeve for the 2016 Tacoma, planning to add a TRD Pro model alongside the rest of the family.

According to AutoGuide, Toyota Motor Sales VP of Marketing Jack Hollis confirmed the plans with our sister publication during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. The current Tacoma TRD Pro uses Bilstein shocks, Eibach springs, TRD exhaust, and an assortment of cosmetic upgrades to make its presence in Baja Valley felt by all. Whether the 2016 Tacoma TRD Pro will be more hardy remains a mystery for now.

That said, the new TRD Pro model won’t be available just yet. Hollis says to expect it in 2016 at the earliest.

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NAIAS 2015: 2016 Toyota Tacoma Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-toyota-tacoma-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-toyota-tacoma-debuts/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 19:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=978657 Following both Nissan and Ford, it’s now Toyota’s turn to show off its latest truck offering at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, the 2016 Tacoma [Live photos now available – CA]. Power for the redesigned pickup comes from either a 2.7-liter four-pot or a 3.5-liter Atkinson cycle V6 with the automaker’s D-4S tech, which has […]

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2016-Toyota-Tacoma-10

Following both Nissan and Ford, it’s now Toyota’s turn to show off its latest truck offering at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, the 2016 Tacoma [Live photos now available – CA].

Power for the redesigned pickup comes from either a 2.7-liter four-pot or a 3.5-liter Atkinson cycle V6 with the automaker’s D-4S tech, which has both direct and port fuel injection. Both engines come with a standard six-speed automatic, but you’ll need to go for the V6 for the optional six-speed manual.

Five trim levels are available for the Tacoma: SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road and Limited. The TRD Off-Road trim, in particular, comes with an array of features, including: hill start assist; automatic limited slip and locking rear differential; clutch start cancel for manual transmissions; active traction control; and crawl control. All trims can be had in 4×2 and 4×4 configurations, and all have Toyota’s Star Safety System standard.

Other features available include a high-strength steel frame for better rigidity and strength; ultra-high strength steel body shell; power moonroof; smart key and push-button start; extensive NVH reduction; locking tailgate; standard GoPro camera mount; and wheel options ranging from 16 to 18 inches in size.

2016-Toyota-Tacoma-10 2016-Toyota-Tacoma-15 2016-Toyota-Tacoma-Interior-2 2016-Toyota-Tacoma- 2016-Toyota-Tacoma-3 2016-Toyota-Tacoma-Back 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Family 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_OffRoad_014 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_OffRoad_004 NAIAS_2016_Toyota_Tacoma_008 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_019 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_015 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_013 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_012 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_005 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_003 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_007 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_006 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_004 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_032 2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Limited_008

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Cain’s Segments: Small/Midsize Truck Sales In December And 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/cains-segments-smallmidsize-truck-sales-december-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/cains-segments-smallmidsize-truck-sales-december-2014/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 14:20:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=973785 General Motors’ U.S. market share in the small/midsize truck category grew in December 2014 to 21.1% from 13.9% in November. According to inventory statistics from Automotive News, GM dealers had approximately 9400 Chevrolet Colorados and GMC Canyons in stock at the beginning of December. • Tacoma and Frontier rising • GM earning market share • […]

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2015 Chevrolet ColoradoGeneral Motors’ U.S. market share in the small/midsize truck category grew in December 2014 to 21.1% from 13.9% in November. According to inventory statistics from Automotive News, GM dealers had approximately 9400 Chevrolet Colorados and GMC Canyons in stock at the beginning of December.


• Tacoma and Frontier rising

• GM earning market share

• Small/midsize trucks account for 1/10 pickup sales


Yet a booming auto industry and a surging pickup market meant that even with this new level of competition from the GM midsize pickups, widely regarded as the modern members of the class, the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier each posted 12% year-over-year improvements in December.

Naturally, the arrival of competition that didn’t exist a year before brought down their market share, but the Tacoma added 1523 sales; the Frontier another 649.

Although the Colorado and Canyon arrived in numbers at the beginning of the fourth-quarter, we’ve yet to see their full impact. Toyota appears inclined to rest on their laurels – and their profit-building platform – with their refresh of the Tacoma which TTAC displayed last night.

December 2014 U.S. truck market share chartThe current Ridgeline is fading fast. Nissan has gone back and forth on future Frontier plans, but we do know we can expect something new in the not too distant future.

But we’re also approaching the slowest buying season of the year (consumers typically purchase and lease 25% fewer new vehicles in January than they did at the end of the previous year) which could hinder our ability to see how much progress the Colorado and Canyon are making.

Small/Midsize Truck
Dec. 2014
Dec. 2013
%
Change
2014
2013
%
Change
Toyota Tacoma
14,284 12,761 11.9% 155,041 159,485 -2.8%
Nissan Frontier
6,060 5,411 12.0% 74,323 62,837 18.3%
Chevrolet Colorado
4,037 2 201,750% 8,003 3,412 135%
GMC Canyon
1,533 2 76,550% 3,070 929 230%
Honda Ridgeline
481 1,563 -69.2% 13,389 17,723 -24.5%
Suzuki Equator
448 -100%
Total
26,395 19,739 33.7% 253,826 244,834 3.7%

Non-full-size trucks accounted for 11.3% of the overall pickup market in 2013, a figure which fell to 10.9% in calendar year 2014. Results at the end of the year didn’t tell a significantly altered story, as these five pickups combined to generate just 11.1% of the U.S. auto industry’s pickup volume.

The reason? While the small/midsize trucks combined for a 34% year-over-year improvement, sales of three major full-size pickups – Silverado, Ram, Sierra – jumped 34%, as well, driving the full-size market to a 211,000-unit total.

Will 2015 be any different?

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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America’s 10 Best-Selling Cars In 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/americas-10-best-selling-cars-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/americas-10-best-selling-cars-2014/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 13:32:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=972162 The Toyota Camry was America’s most popular car in 2014, the 13th consecutive year in which the Camry has led all passenger cars. The Camry ranked fourth among vehicles overall, trailing only three pickup trucks. • Camry volume represents a six-year high • Accord volume shoots up to seven-year high • Corolla leads all small […]

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2015 Toyota Camry XSEThe Toyota Camry was America’s most popular car in 2014, the 13th consecutive year in which the Camry has led all passenger cars. The Camry ranked fourth among vehicles overall, trailing only three pickup trucks.


• Camry volume represents a six-year high

• Accord volume shoots up to seven-year high

• Corolla leads all small cars


Camry volume rose to a six-year high in 2014. With a 5% increase in the lead-up to a MY2015 refresh, the Camry outsold its nearest rival, the Honda Accord, by 40,232 units. (The Accord trailed the Camry by 41,806 units in 2013.) Accord volume, at 388,374 units, improved to a seven-year high.

Despite reporting record-high U.S. sales, the Nissan Altima fell from third place in 2013 to the fourth spot this year. Altima volume increased in each of the last five years.

Toyota Corolla volume grew at a much faster rate in 2014, however, and with a 12% gain – 37,318 extra sales, year-over-year – the Corolla climbed into the third spot, up from fifth a year ago.

The Honda Civic, America’s second-best-selling car, was the highest-volume car to report fewer sales this year than last. Civic volume dropped by 10,199 in the 2014 calendar year, increasing 5% in the first half and falling 10% in the second half.

Ford reported more than 300,000 sales of the Fusion in 2014, the first Ford car to top the 300K mark since the Taurus in 2005. Sales of Chevrolet compact cars improved for the fifth consecutive year. The Cruze accounts for 25% of GM’s U.S. car volume.

Now one of the older members of the compact fleet, Elantra volume decreased 10% in 2014. Likewise, the Focus declined 6% in 2014 after falling 5% in 2013. Hyundai’s Sonata started slowly in seventh-gen form – only 30,481 were sold in September and October combined – but the Sonata ended the year strongly with an 12% YOY improvement in November and a 24% jump in December.

Rank
Car
2014
2013
%
Change
#1
 Toyota Camry 428,606 408,484 4.9%
#2
 Honda Accord 388,374 366,678 5.9%
#3
 Toyota Corolla * 339,498 302,180 12.4%
#4
 Nissan Altima 335,644 320,723 4.7%
#5
 Honda Civic 325,981 336,180 -3.0%
#6
 Ford Fusion 306,860 295,280 3.9%
#7
 Chevrolet Cruze 273,060 248,224 10.0%
#8
 Hyundai Elantra 222,023 247,912 -10.4%
#9
 Ford Focus 219,634 234,570 -6.4%
#10
 Hyundai Sonata 216,936 203,648 6.5%

* Included by the Corolla in Toyota USA’s sales reports are sales of the now defunct Matrix.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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