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. Sat, 20 Dec 2014 13:00:34 +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/ Detroit 2015: Toyota Teases New Tacoma Again http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-toyota-teases-new-tacoma/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-toyota-teases-new-tacoma/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962290 You saw part of its backside. Now, behold the façade that is the 2016 Toyota Tacoma. Just like before, Toyota didn’t say anything about the third-gen pickup, other than when it would turn up at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show: January 12, 12:50 p.m. Eastern. As previously stated, the Tacoma is the king of the […]

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You saw part of its backside. Now, behold the façade that is the 2016 Toyota Tacoma.

Just like before, Toyota didn’t say anything about the third-gen pickup, other than when it would turn up at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show: January 12, 12:50 p.m. Eastern.

As previously stated, the Tacoma is the king of the mid-size hill, but its third incarnation will be facing two new upstarts in addition to the aging Nissan Frontier: the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.

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Toyota Increasing Mirai Production To Meet Strengthening Demand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-increasing-mirai-production-meet-strengthening-demand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-increasing-mirai-production-meet-strengthening-demand/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957394 Its looks leave the B&B cold, and is powered by a fuel whose infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired. So, how popular could the Toyota Mirai possibly be? Better than you’d expect. Nikkei Asian Review reports Toyota will be investing ¥20 billion ($165 million USD) to triple local production in order to meet corporate […]

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Toyota Mirai in Red

Its looks leave the B&B cold, and is powered by a fuel whose infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired. So, how popular could the Toyota Mirai possibly be? Better than you’d expect.

Nikkei Asian Review reports Toyota will be investing ¥20 billion ($165 million USD) to triple local production in order to meet corporate and public-sector demand, which is likely to exceed the 700 units currently planned for assembly by the FCV’s showroom debut December 15.

The investment will allow for increased fuel stack and hydrogen tank production at its main factory in Toyota City, with upgrades planned at a nearby facility where final assembly of the Mirai is conducted. In turn, the move could spur on related investments in infrastructure and other products by interested companies.

Toyota expects to sell 400 Mirais in its home market by the end of 2015, with 3,000-plus moved in the United States by the same period in 2017, and around 50 to 100 in Europe in 2016. Exports to the U.S. and Europe are set to begin next summer.

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Shimizu: Takata Hasn’t Found The Cause Of Airbag Failures http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/shimizu-takata-hasnt-found-cause-airbag-failures/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/shimizu-takata-hasnt-found-cause-airbag-failures/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 15:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955722 Takata has yet to find the root cause of the defect affecting its airbags; Autoliv will supply replacements to Honda; and Toyota, Mazda and Chrysler are expanding their recalls. Reuters reports Takata hasn’t found the cause behind the catastrophic failures in its airbags, per testimony given by safety executive Hiroshi Shimizu before Congress Wednesday. That […]

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Shimizu, Takata's Senior Vice President for global quality assurance, testifies before a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing in Washington

Takata has yet to find the root cause of the defect affecting its airbags; Autoliv will supply replacements to Honda; and Toyota, Mazda and Chrysler are expanding their recalls.

Reuters reports Takata hasn’t found the cause behind the catastrophic failures in its airbags, per testimony given by safety executive Hiroshi Shimizu before Congress Wednesday. That said, Shimizu said his company was of “the strong opinion that (there) is a factor contributing to this defect: which is high humidity, temperature and the life of the product.” He also claimed the ammonium nitrate used in the airbags was safe and stable, though he admitted replacements weren’t coming fast enough.

Meanwhile, competitor Autoliv announced it would supply replacements to Honda for vehicles in the United States. The automaker had mentioned before Congress it was in talks with the supplier and another, Daicel, regarding expanded production to replace modules in a nationwide recall. Autoliv will add capacity in its existing plants, with deliveries to come after six months.

Among the other affected automakers, Chrysler, Toyota and Mazda have stepped up their individual recall efforts. AutoGuide says the subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has called back 149,150 Dodge Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 models from the 2003 model year, covering Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan and the Virgin Islands. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated the move wasn’t enough, and is looking at what action to take next.

Over in Japan, Bloomberg reports Toyota is recalling 190,000 affected vehicles in its local market and in China. The recall comes on the news of a catastrophic detonation at a junkyard of a Takata airbag inside a 2003 WiLL Cypha; the detonation was part of the procedures outlined by Japan’s Automobile Recycling Law, which also requires dismantlers to report any problem to the automaker to determine if a recall is necessary.

Finally, The Detroit News says Mazda is recalling 40,000 more vehicles — including the 2003-2007 Mazda6, 2004-2008 RX-8, 2006-2007 Mazdaspeed6, 2004-2005 MPV and 2004 B-Series — in Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas and Alabama. The automaker previously recalled 44,000 units in the U.S. and 2,600 in Puerto Rico.

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Detroit 2015: Toyota Debuting Next-Gen Tacoma In January http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-toyota-debuting-next-gen-tacoma-january/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-toyota-debuting-next-gen-tacoma-january/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 11:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955626 The next-generation Toyota Tacoma will roll down the ramp this January at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Autoblog reports the announcement came from Toyota senior vice president of operations, Bob Carter, who didn’t offer much else. The new truck is expected to be a significant upgrade than the current model, last refreshed in 2012, and […]

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The next-generation Toyota Tacoma will roll down the ramp this January at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

Autoblog reports the announcement came from Toyota senior vice president of operations, Bob Carter, who didn’t offer much else. The new truck is expected to be a significant upgrade than the current model, last refreshed in 2012, and will be coming into a market that now includes the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins, both of whom have done well for themselves since debuting in showrooms this autumn.

Carter also announced that Lexus would unveil two performance vehicles, but again, proclaimed nothing more than the promise that all in attendance would enjoy seeing them.

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Takata Refuses NHTSA Call For Nationwide Airbag Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/takata-refuses-nhtsa-call-nationwide-airbag-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/takata-refuses-nhtsa-call-nationwide-airbag-recall/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 14:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955057 Takata won’t be conducting a nationwide recall of its defective airbags anytime soon, but did hire three former U.S. Transportation Secretaries to help the supplier manage the crisis. Meanwhile, an airbag in an non-recalled model explodes in a Japanese junkyard; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration won’t push for a nationwide passenger airbag recall; and […]

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Toyota WiLL Cypha

Takata won’t be conducting a nationwide recall of its defective airbags anytime soon, but did hire three former U.S. Transportation Secretaries to help the supplier manage the crisis. Meanwhile, an airbag in an non-recalled model explodes in a Japanese junkyard; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration won’t push for a nationwide passenger airbag recall; and Toyota and Honda both call for an industry review of Takata’s wares.

The Detroit News reports the supplier informed the NHTSA Wednesday morning that it will not conduct a nationwide recall of vehicles in the United States equipped with driver-side airbags, as requested by the agency in a special order made last week, and whose deadline was December 2. Deputy administrator David Friedman expressed the agency’s disappointment in a statement, lamenting Takata is failing to live up to its responsibility toward keeping drivers safe. Chair and CEO Shigehisa Takada proclaimed in his own statement that his company “remains committed to cooperating closely with our customers and NHTSA to address the potential for inflator rupturing.” An initial decision and public hearing demanding the supplier to recall is the next step for the NHTSA.

Detroit Free Press says Takata called upon former Transportation Secretaries Sam Skinner (George H.W. Bush), Rodney Slater (Bill Clinton) and Norman Mineta (Clinton, George W. Bush) to help guide it through the crisis. Skinner is slated to lead a quality assurance panel to help the supplier better design its airbags, while Slater and Mineta will provide counsel to help it “regain the public’s trust.”

Though the NHTSA is pushing for Takata to recall every driver-side airbag possibly affected by the quality issues at the center of the current regional recall, Automotive News says the agency isn’t in a hurry to do the same for passenger-side airbags. Friedman informed the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade in a written statement that such a recall “is not supported by the data as we now understand it. At this point, a national recall of all Takata air bags would divert replacement air bags from areas where they are clearly needed, putting lives at risk.” That said, if the supplier’s test data proves otherwise, the agency may demand a recall for those airbags, as well.

Over in Japan, a Takata airbag exploded in a 2003 Toyota WiLL Cypha at the Chikamatsu Shokai Co. scrapyard in the Gifu prefecture. Manager Akihiro Wakayama was caught off-guard by the explosion, as the car in question was not among the models already under recall:

I was surprised once again because the unusual explosion occurred in a vehicle that we were told to be safe. That made me think we really don’t know what we can trust to do our work safely.

The WiLL Cypha’s airbag detonation marks the seventh occurrence of junkyard detonations in Japan since June 2012, with the first six occurring among four Honda Fit and two Toyota Corolla models in July of that year. The incidences prior to the Cypha’s — all occurring during detonation procedures as prescribed by the nation’s Automotive Recycling Law prior to scrapping — led to an additional 3 million units being recalled globally.

Speaking of Toyota and Honda, The Detroit News says the two Japanese automakers are calling for a coordinated effort among the entire industry to independently test Takata’s airbags for defects. Both companies issued separate statements to Takata and eight other manufacturers — including Ford, Chrysler and General Motors — asking them to commit to the effort. Ford said it would heed Toyota’s call, with Chrysler Group proclaiming it would “remain committed to identifying the root cause” of the malfunctions, and GM taking the call “under NHTSA guidance.”

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Toyota: Don’t Drink The (Mirai’s) Water http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-dont-drink-mirais-water/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-dont-drink-mirais-water/#comments Mon, 01 Dec 2014 12:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954449 Want to literally taste the future? Toyota would like for you to reconsider that notion. Automotive News reports the 2016 Toyota Mirai’s exhaust — consisting of water vapor and heat — may have “much fewer organic impurities” than milk, per the FCV’s fuel stack power generator designer, Seiji Mizuno, but what impurities the byproduct does […]

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2016 Toyota Mirai

Want to literally taste the future? Toyota would like for you to reconsider that notion.

Automotive News reports the 2016 Toyota Mirai’s exhaust — consisting of water vapor and heat — may have “much fewer organic impurities” than milk, per the FCV’s fuel stack power generator designer, Seiji Mizuno, but what impurities the byproduct does have depend on what passed through the stack in the first place:

Depending on the place you are driving, some parts of the world might have certain issues, such as organisms like E. coli, which could be hazardous to your health. You never know what the quality of the air intake is.

That said, if you are interested/desperate enough to wonder if the Mirai produces Evian, you’ll be happy to know that the water is said to be “slightly acidic,” with a pH of 5 to 6, just below the levels found in acid rain and beer.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Toyota Yaris http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-toyota-yaris/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-toyota-yaris/#comments Fri, 28 Nov 2014 15:04:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=952633 2015 promises to be a big year for Toyota. The US market is increasingly important for Japan, Inc., and that market is growing. 16.4 million new light-vehicles are expected to be sold in the US in 2014, and 2015 estimates are as high as 17 million. The updated Camry will help capture a large slice […]

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2015 promises to be a big year for Toyota. The US market is increasingly important for Japan, Inc., and that market is growing. 16.4 million new light-vehicles are expected to be sold in the US in 2014, and 2015 estimates are as high as 17 million. The updated Camry will help capture a large slice of that growth, but you need competent product across the board when every basis point counts.

Yaris sales have never led the subcompact segment, but they’ve become particularly soft lately with over 50% going to fleet buyers. The new “European flavor” of the refreshed 2015 Yaris is arriving without a moment to spare then.

Will the refresh be enough to return the Yaris to relevance, or can we still only say that “it’s a car”?

The Yaris’ changes do not represent a full redesign, but this isn’t just an aesthetic nip and tuck at the hands of the French design team either. Interior, exterior and suspension tweaks are all welcome changes to the three- and five-door hatchback configurations. The sedan layout, dead since 2012, stays buried.

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On the outside, buyers will immediately notice the new corporate fascia. A lower windshield angle, reshaped side mirrors and underbody shields aid aerodynamics. 15-in. wheels are steel on the base L trim and alloy on the LE. The SE meanwhile, receives distinctive 16-in. wheels, LED daytime running lights and piano black trim. It isn’t a dramatically more aggressive look than before, but I think the additions are cohesive in a way previous iterations of the Corolla S never managed. Amusingly, the enormous single-blade windshield wiper also returns.

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The interior is both more conventional and more functional than before. Ergonomics are better, which is to say that the cupholders are no long in front of the air vents. HVAC performance is also improved, but some popular features like heated seats aren’t available. I was genuinely impressed by the steering wheel though – the stitching was good, the leather was of decent quality considering the price point and the indents in the shape fit my hands exceptionally well.

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Perhaps the brightest aspect of the outgoing Yaris was its steering in SE configuration (Car & Driver was particularly outspoken in their praise). That steering tune is now standard across all trim levels. Chassis stiffness increases thanks to 36 additional spot welds, enabling Toyota to reduce spring rates compared to 2014. Shoppers will notice the welcome increase in compliance. The short 98.8-in. wheelbase still causes some back-and-forth pitching over expansion joints though, and large bumps upset the whole car as a unit.

On the upside, stability at speed is better than expected. Wider tires are more effective in resisting tramlining than before. The front sway bar, now solid across all trims, and stiffer torsion bar in the rear both do their part to increase the sense of precision. Overall capability won’t threaten true hot hatches like the Fiesta ST, but the package is certainly well-sorted and fun.

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Toyota says road and wind noise are both reduced thanks to 25% more sound deadening than before. I won’t dispute that. However, being that they planned on keeping the same 1.5 liter four cylinder, they should have added more. Allow me to offer a roundabout explanation:

The Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris both entered the US market in model year 2007. The Honda utilized a 1.5L inline four making 109 horsepower, while the Yaris’ 1.5 made 106. Fast-forward to 2015. Both models have been multiple times updated. The Honda now wrings 130 horses from 1.5 liters. The Toyota? Still 106.

Make sure to close the barn doors at night because you need every last horse on the road too. The engine note is pervasive at nearly all speeds, and it isn’t always pleasant. Keeping up with traffic isn’t Mission: Impossible on relatively flat terrain, but 2,500 RPM shifts won’t keep up pace during rush hour either. Whereas the Fit maximizes its engine output with a new CVT transmission, the Yaris soldiers on with the same 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual. If you kvetched about this gearbox back in Jack’s 2013 review, you may as well copy-paste your comments here – they’re still fully relevant.

Fun fact: With yesteryear’s automatic, the EPA rates the Yaris just 1 mpg better on the highway than the four-cylinder Camry. Midsizers have certainly made greater efficiency gains than subcompacts over the last few years, but this is still a dubious distinction for the Yaris. The EPA calls for 30/32/36 with the autobox and 30/33/37 with the 5-speed manual.

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For a few buyers though, that sort of powertrain continuity could be a selling point if construed as an indicator of reliability. In that case, you’ll likely also be pleased with the ease of servicing it. Lay a newspaper on the ground under the engine bay, open the hood and stare straight down – there’s enough space around the block to read entire stories. Compared to the plastic-shrouded aggravation DIY-types frequently have to endure these days, it’s a welcome surprise.

Every change Toyota made to the Yaris was for the better, the proven powertrain will probably start every time you twist the ignition for the next 20 years and pricing increases are modest versus 2014 models. The changes barely keep pace with the segment though. This refresh is almost certainly a stopgap measure, a placeholder for the fully redesigned version being developed with Mazda. In the meantime, the 2015 Yaris is an improved vehicle whose buyers still can’t say much beyond the fact that “It’s a car”.

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Toyota provided airfare, accommodations and the tested vehicles for this review.

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Toyota’s LFA Works Now Home To Mirai FCV Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/toyotas-lfa-works-now-home-mirai-fcv-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/toyotas-lfa-works-now-home-mirai-fcv-production/#comments Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=952529 Remember when Herr Schmitt took us for a TTAC exclusive into the workshop that made the Lexus LFA? It’s now the home of the Toyota Mirai. Automotive News reports Toyota gave its FCV to the LFA Works — located behind the Motomachi plant in Toyota City, Japan — because the facility’s attention to detail and […]

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Remember when Herr Schmitt took us for a TTAC exclusive into the workshop that made the Lexus LFA? It’s now the home of the Toyota Mirai.

Automotive News reports Toyota gave its FCV to the LFA Works — located behind the Motomachi plant in Toyota City, Japan — because the facility’s attention to detail and better tools (i.e., hands) than any of the more “ultra-efficient,” machine-powered factories under the automaker’s watch.

Because of the Mirai’s hand-built nature — the powertrain and other components are assembled in Toyota’s Honsha plant, then brought over to the LFA Works for final assembly — executive vice president for domestic sales Masamoto Maekawa warns supplies will be limited, with only 700 planned for the first year, 200 of which are already on-order:

Each unit is carefully built with utmost care. So therefore, the production volume might be limited. During the initial stages, delivery time might be delayed. The 200 orders are mostly from government and corporate fleets.

Prior to the Mirai, the small workshop made limited-edition models, including a $10,000, 100-unit run of carbon fiber bicycles marketed to well-off Lexus owners, a carbon-fiber roof for special performance variant of the Toyota Mark X, and of course, the 500 LFAs assembled between 2010 and 2012.

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Toyota Recalls 57K Over Takata Airbags http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/toyota-recalls-57k-takata-airbags/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/toyota-recalls-57k-takata-airbags/#comments Fri, 28 Nov 2014 12:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=952505 Toyota issued Thursday a global recall of 57,000 vehicles affected by the Takata airbag crisis. Reuters reports the majority of the vehicles — 40,000 — were sold in the automaker’s home market of Japan, while 6,000 are in Europe and the rest scattered around the world excluding the North American market. The models affected are […]

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2003 Toyota RAV4

Toyota issued Thursday a global recall of 57,000 vehicles affected by the Takata airbag crisis.

Reuters reports the majority of the vehicles — 40,000 — were sold in the automaker’s home market of Japan, while 6,000 are in Europe and the rest scattered around the world excluding the North American market. The models affected are the Vitz/Yaris and the RAV4, and were assembled between December 2002 and March 2004.

Additionally, Toyota subsidiary Daihatsu recalled 27,571 Miras assembled for sale in Japan between December 2002 and May 2003 for the same issue, marking the brand’s first Takata-related recall.

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Accuracy Issues Real Reason For Free Hydrogen For FCV Owners http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/accuracy-issues-real-reason-free-hydrogen-fcv-owners/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/accuracy-issues-real-reason-free-hydrogen-fcv-owners/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949129 Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell owners will be able to refuel their new FCVs for free for three years, but only because it’s hard to put a price on hydrogen. According to Autoblog, a seminar held at the Mirai launch regarding hydrogen revealed the fueling stations currently in place in the United States […]

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Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell owners will be able to refuel their new FCVs for free for three years, but only because it’s hard to put a price on hydrogen.

According to Autoblog, a seminar held at the Mirai launch regarding hydrogen revealed the fueling stations currently in place in the United States aren’t able to accurately measure how much hydrogen is pumped into a given vehicle. Without that accuracy, no FCV owner can be charged for the fuel, a problem the California Air Resources Board is working to fix. Deputy Executive Officer Alberto Ayala explains:

If you think about it, it’s a real simple yet real practical challenge. If you’re going to pay for X amount of hydrogen, you’re actually getting that amount of hydrogen… We are at a point where we are solving multiple remaining questions [with hydrogen infrastructure], and that just happens to be one of them.

National Fuel Cell Research Center director Scott Samuelsen adds that this was once the issue with gasoline, with agencies like California’s Department of Food and Agriculture and Department of Weights and Measures setting standards for fuel pumps, then routinely inspecting said pumps to ensure they remained accurate. Once “the right meter” to measure hydrogen is in place, the new consumer fuel source would fall in line.

A solution to this problem is expected to arrive within a year’s time at the latest.

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Los Angeles 2014: Toyota Prius C, V Revised http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-toyota-prius-c-v-revised/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-toyota-prius-c-v-revised/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 00:30:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948233 For 2015, the Toyota Prius c and V models both receive slight revisements to their respective styles and beyond. The larger V has three new color options available for the curious: Attitude Black Metallic (not related to Catherine Wheel’s reggae smash hit with a similar name), Absolutely Red and Toasted Walnut Pearl. New LED and […]

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For 2015, the Toyota Prius c and V models both receive slight revisements to their respective styles and beyond.

The larger V has three new color options available for the curious: Attitude Black Metallic (not related to Catherine Wheel’s reggae smash hit with a similar name), Absolutely Red and Toasted Walnut Pearl. New LED and fog lighting illuminate the road ahead, while the eight-way adjustable power seating keeps the driver comfortable, and the V’s advanced tech system — including adaptive cruise control and pre-collision — keep all safe.

The c, meanwhile, receives its own trio of shades — Electric Lime Metallic, Tangerine Splash Pearl and Sparkling Sea Metallic — piano black and chrome accents inside and out, height-adjustable driver’s seat, and 60/40 fold-down rear seating.

Price of admission for the V falls $75 to $27,500 on the ground floor, while the upper end climbs $540 to $31,760. No price was available for the c as of this writing.

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Toyota’s Texas Move Could Reduce US White-Collar Workforce 70 Percent http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/toyotas-texas-move-reduce-us-white-collar-workforce-70-percent/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/toyotas-texas-move-reduce-us-white-collar-workforce-70-percent/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946602 As Toyota prepares to consolidate the majority of its U.S. operations into its new headquarters in Plano, Texas, it may end up retaining as little as 30 percent of its engineering, sales, finance and corporate workforce after the move as uncertainty takes hold. Automotive News reports the automaker is doing all it can to hold […]

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Toyota Texas

As Toyota prepares to consolidate the majority of its U.S. operations into its new headquarters in Plano, Texas, it may end up retaining as little as 30 percent of its engineering, sales, finance and corporate workforce after the move as uncertainty takes hold.

Automotive News reports the automaker is doing all it can to hold onto as many of its employees as possible with the move to Texas drawing closer with every passing day, going as far as to offer a generous package to help employees remain with the company:

  • Lump-sum payment based on job level to those who follow Toyota into Plano, then remain on-board for two years after
  • Rentention bonuses based on salary/tenure for those who stay until their departments move to Plano
  • Full reimbursement of relocation costs for those in supervisory or management roles and above
  • Real estate assistance for those selling their homes to buy one in Texas

Though it has budgeted its package for 50 percent of its U.S. workforce — the figure proposed to help make for a smooth transition while avoiding the continuity issues Nissan faced in a similar move in 2006 — a source inside Toyota stated the company would be lucky to retain 30 percent:

They would be happy to have 50 percent. It’s hard to tell [how many people will go] because nobody has been offered their jobs yet.

Toyota plans to offer new job classifications beginning in January, with the goal of realigning most of its employees under one set of guidelines. The classifications will also affect benefits and bonuses, along with how a given job is conducted and administered. Since the announcement of those changes this past summer, however, morale and productivity have fallen amid the long wait, per another inside source.

Around 4,050 employees from California, New York and Kentucky are expected to make the move to Plano by 2017.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Toyota Camry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-toyota-camry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-toyota-camry/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 13:30:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940041 In 1992, the Toyota Camry was perhaps the most respected sedan in the midsize segment. Not all consumers could afford one, but most would have preferred one. The 1997 model represented Toyota’s changed focus. Rather than adding features and content, they started adding profitability “affordability”. Steve Lang and Ed Niedermeyer discussed this in detail, but […]

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1_front (1)

In 1992, the Toyota Camry was perhaps the most respected sedan in the midsize segment. Not all consumers could afford one, but most would have preferred one. The 1997 model represented Toyota’s changed focus. Rather than adding features and content, they started adding profitability “affordability”. Steve Lang and Ed Niedermeyer discussed this in detail, but here’s the short version: With every successive redesign, Toyota promised that its cost-controls would be transparent to consumers. With every successive redesign, consumers noticed a few more cut corners but kept buying.  Sales first grew organically but then became increasingly dependent on incentives.

This takes us to 2015. The Camry is America’s best-selling passenger car 12 years running and sold 408,000 units in 2013. The lead is tenuous though as competitors are gaining marketshare through fashionable sheetmetal, tech-laden interiors and superior dynamics.

Sounds like it’s time for a midcycle refresh then.

Notice that I said “refresh”, not “clean-sheet redesign”. All powertrain options are carryover from the previous year, but Toyota’s updates were still substantial enough to generate 2,000 new parts. Torsional rigidity is up via 22 additional spot welds, enabling a suspension retune. Every exterior surface aside from the roof is new, and the interior is significantly revised.

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The Camry is considerably improved by this refresh, yet pricing for the volume trims (LE and SE) is roughly flat with 2014. Yesteryear’s L trim was dropped, but the LE ($22,970 before destination) features keyless entry, an 8-way power driver seat, backup camera and all the power options buyers now expect as standard. Steel wheels might be the only reason for pause among consumers. Those looking for more will consider the XLE ($26,150) and its standard heated leather seating, 4-way power passenger seat, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, stitched dash and other niceties.

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Drivers interested in a feistier dynamic proposition will recall the SE trim ($23,840) that Jack loves so dearly. TTAC’s resident lovable rogue wasn’t alone in his preference for this configuration either – SE sales represent about 40% of Camry volume. The formula remains similar in 2015 with a sharper suspension, weightier steering and several interior improvements. It’s all easily identified via a unique grill and 17-inch alloys. The performance ladder goes one rung higher this year however thanks to the new XSE trim ($26,150). In addition to similar luxury trappings as the XLE, XSE springs receive another round of stiffening over the SE units, wheels are upsized to 18 inches, steering receives a unique tune and the conventional shocks and struts are swapped for digressive units that feature internal rebound springs.

4_DriverIP

Entune, Toyota’s infotainment system, is standard on all trims and continues to improve. Those who approach technology with – ahem – suspicion may now find it more intuitive than MyFord Touch. The base and optional JBL stereos are unchanged, but both sound clearer thanks to 30% more sound insulation than before.  XLE and XSE buyers can also opt for tech offerings you formerly needed to purchase a Lexus to get – LED high and low headlights, a wireless charging tray for Qi-equipped cell phones, adaptive cruise control and a crash-prevention suite including an automatic braking feature. The crash-prevention suite enables an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ score.

As already mentioned, engines and transmissions are unchanged. Toyota’s ubiquitous 2.5 liter inline four (178 hp, 170 lb-ft) is available with all trims, while the 3.5 liter V6 (268 hp, 248 lb-ft) is available on the XLE and XSE. A 6-speed automatic pairs with either engine. Meanwhile, the 2.5 liter Atkinson-cycle hybrid is offered on the LE, XLE and now SE trims.  Toyota reported that 10% of buyers chose the hybrid last year and 6% elected for the big bore V6.

Fuel efficiency improves versus 2014 but is just average in the segment. Direct injection fueling and a few other tricks commonly used by competitors are conspicuously absent in the conventional engines. A coefficient of drag of just 0.28 and slight curb weights ranging from 3,240 lbs (4-cylinder LE) to 3,480 lbs (V6 XSE) certainly help though. The EPA is calling for 25/35/28 city/highway/combined MPG for the 2.5, 21/31/25 for the V6 and 43/39/41 for the hybrid. My test loops were generally short, but the numbers seem realistic.

5_profile

Toyota is quick to call this the boldest Camry ever. The looks are certainly more pronounced than before, but don’t expect anything as controversial as Lexus’ spindle grill. I’ll make my comments brief as Sajeev has already ground this grain – he’s right to criticize the DLO-woe Toyota has unleashed, but I also think Toyota deserves some credit for making mirrors, lower trim, door guards, etc. body color on all trim levels. It’s a good move for a brand increasingly accused of pinching the wrong pennies.

The interior upgrades are less divisive. Material selection and textures are generally improved, and more surfaces are soft-touch than before. The faux stitching of 2014 is largely removed, and actual stitching is available (dashboard, gearshift, steering wheel, and door inserts) depending on trim. The upper buttons on the center stack are still remind me of a large-print keyboard, but the 2015 design is much more modern. With one obvious exception, panel gaps are improved too… once I saw the maw around the glovebox lock, I couldn’t unsee it:

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On the road, all trim levels represent a dynamic improvement over their predecessors. Body roll is particularly reduced in the LE and XLE. They still aren’t sporting propositions though – steering effort is lighter than average and tire grip is modest.  In previous years, there was a large gap in dynamic traits between the LE and SE. I still prefer the SE tune overall, but the difference isn’t as pronounced anymore. (That’s a reflection of greater improvement in the LE, not a regression of the SE).

New two-stage brake boosters are offered on all trims and improve feel considerably. Pedal modulation is more precise than before but also generally softer than most competing midsizers. Brakes aside, the SE alleviates the above complaints about LE’s steering weight and body roll without inducing harshness. The suspension loads up nicely when pushed, and you can easily develop enough rapport with the car to independently feel what the front and rear tires are doing without resorting to extralegal speeds.

Mild driving won’t indicate much of a difference between the SE and XSE, but pressing the car hard reveals a genuinely greater performance envelope. Transition behavior is much crisper, and the steering stays truer when applying throttle to exit a corner. Toyota staffers indicated that CEO Akio himself had a say in the suspension tune. If you enjoy the SE, you’ll likely prefer the XSE.

7_hybrid

No version of the Camry is dangerously slow (the hybrid is actually a bit quicker to 60 than the inline four), but the gas-only powertrain options, particularly the 2.5, are starting to show their age. Low-end performance of the 2.5 is softer than several competitors’ entry-level engines but is still less thrashy than the 2.5 Ford offers. Subjectively, I found the V6 much more competitive versus other upper-shelf segment offerings and continue to prefer it to most competing 2.0 turbos.

When considered as a whole, the 2015 Camry does not dominate in objective and subjective measures the way its 1992 forebear did. There is no “1992 Camry” in the marketplace today though – no competitor represents that kind of runaway engineering effort. In a segment noted for parity, the 2015 Toyota Camry represents an improved, still-safe choice that doesn’t quite reach for greatness.

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2._side 3_xse 4_DriverIP 5_profile 6_glovebox 7_hybrid 8_tail center IMG_0534 IMG_0544 IMG_0546 IMG_0547 IMG_0549 IMG_0549 IMG_0554 IMG_0557 IMG_0575 IMG_0578

Toyota provided airfare, accommodations and the tested vehicles for this review.

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Spotlight Shines Brighter On Takata Airbag Failures http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/spotlight-shines-brighter-takata-airbag-failures/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/spotlight-shines-brighter-takata-airbag-failures/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938913 Investigators unearth more reports of deaths and injuries linked to catastrophic detonations of Takata’s airbags; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets a deadline for the supplier to submit related documents; and attorneys urge a U.S. district judge to act quickly on a class action against Takata and four of its client automakers. Automotive News […]

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takata sign holder

Investigators unearth more reports of deaths and injuries linked to catastrophic detonations of Takata’s airbags; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets a deadline for the supplier to submit related documents; and attorneys urge a U.S. district judge to act quickly on a class action against Takata and four of its client automakers.

Automotive News reports a number of cases linked to Takata airbags are coming to the surface as investigators begin their probes into the supplier. A common thread through the cases — such as an incident in Atlanta that left a woman with a speech disorder, as well as caused a number of strokes and one seizure, as a result of a piece of shrapnel from the unit slicing through her carotid artery — is settlement. Most of the cases are being settled out-of-court, just before prosecutors can gather the evidence needed to go after Takata, and just before such cases enter the public eye.

Over in the Beltway, Reuters says the NHTSA has set a deadline of December 1 for Takata to submit documents and answers to questions under oath as part of the agency’s probe into the defects. The order also cites an October 17 report by the news organization about manufacturing issues at the supplier’s Mexico facility, particularly a reference to an email written in March of 2011 that proclaimed “a part that is not welded = one life less,” as well as the discovery of chewing gum in a unit. The agency also wants a list of every death and injury caused by the airbags.

Finally, attorneys representing their clients in a class action suit against the supplier have asked Miami-based U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King to move their case quickly forward. One of the attorneys, Peter Prieto, stated the urging was necessary due to the danger the airbags create among the public. Eighteen plaintiffs in 10 states are involved in the suit, which also names Toyota, Ford, BMW and Honda as defendants. The next hearing will be on December 8.

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Consumer Reports: Infotainment System Woes Mark 2014 Reliability Survey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936826 Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems. According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a […]

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Infiniti InTouch - Infiniti Q50

Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems.

According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a crowbar to the whole thing. The brand itself took a beating, dropping 14 points to 20th out of 28 as a result of the Q50’s issues, as well as the overall reliability issues in the QX60. Other infotainment systems ironing out the bugs included Ford’s MyTouch, Honda’s HondaLink and Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s UConnect.

Concerning overall reliability, Lexus once again took the top of the podium, while Toyota and Mazda respectively brought home silver and bronze, and Honda finished in fourth. Buick, meanwhile, was the only brand among the Detroit Three to place in the top 10, jumping from 16th to sixth on the strength of its entire portfolio.

As for why the other Detroit brands failed to reach the top 10, Consumer Reports says domestic small and compact cars, along with full-size trucks, are holding everyone back. Tesla also didn’t make the list, but that was due to criteria than low quality: the publication only rates brands with a minimum of two models, a situation that will be remedied when the Model X rolls out next year.

Finally, Audi took fifth behind the Japanese makes, while Porsche took ninth ahead of Kia. BMW and Volvo remained within the top 20. Only Mercedes-Benz took a hit among the Europeans this year, falling 11 spots to 24th thanks to the new CLA and S classes.

The Consumer Reports 2014 reliability survey obtained its information from 1.1 million vehicles, the largest survey of its kind in the publication’s history.

consumer-reports-reliability-list-1

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Toyota Sells Some Of Its Stake In Tesla http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/toyota-sells-stake-tesla/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/toyota-sells-stake-tesla/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 11:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935994 Daimler wasn’t the only to sell its Tesla shares last week, as Toyota has done the same with some of its shares in the company. Bloomberg reports the automaker sold part of its 2.4 percent stake in the company Friday, though no details were given as to how much of the $690 million ROI was […]

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2013 Toyota RAV4 EV, Exterior, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Daimler wasn’t the only to sell its Tesla shares last week, as Toyota has done the same with some of its shares in the company.

Bloomberg reports the automaker sold part of its 2.4 percent stake in the company Friday, though no details were given as to how much of the $690 million ROI was brought back into its coffers. The sale follows Daimler’s full divestment from the company, where it turned over its 4 percent stake for $780 million.

Toyota and Tesla are also winding down their RAV4 EV program before going their separate ways, where the latter supplied battery packs for the former’s 2,600 electrified crossovers over the past three years.

Though the two differ on what future they see — Toyota prefers hydrogen, Tesla opts for more electricity — Toyota representative Kayo Doi says her employer has “a good relationship” with Tesla, “and will evaluate the feasibility of working together on future projects.”

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Chrysler Group Outsold Toyota USA In September 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chrysler-group-outsold-toyota-usa-september-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chrysler-group-outsold-toyota-usa-september-2014/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:59:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934538 In September 2014, for the first time since September 2011, the Chrysler Group sold more new vehicles in the United States than Toyota USA. But while the results from three years ago involved post-tsunami struggles for many Japanese automakers and 27,000 extra Chrysler Group sales, September 2014’s numbers point more exclusively to the gains made […]

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The Chrysler Toledo Assembly Complex used to produce Jeep Cherokee in ToledoIn September 2014, for the first time since September 2011, the Chrysler Group sold more new vehicles in the United States than Toyota USA.

But while the results from three years ago involved post-tsunami struggles for many Japanese automakers and 27,000 extra Chrysler Group sales, September 2014’s numbers point more exclusively to the gains made at Chrysler’s five brands.

Once again, Chrysler Group sales increased by around 27,000 units, year-over-year. Toyota sales, including Lexus and Scion, also increased, rising less than 2% last month. In September 2011, total Toyota USA sales tumbled 17%.

In fact, the Chrysler Group outsold Toyota USA on four occasions in 2011: May, June, August, and September. (The earthquake-induced tsunami occurred in March.)

On an annual basis, the Chrysler Group hasn’t outsold Toyota USA since calendar year 2005, when 2.3 million Chrysler products and 2.26 million Toyota products were sold.

Fast forward two years from that point and we arrive at Toyota USA’s best-ever year. 2007 sales rose 3% to 2.62 million sales, 544,000 more than Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep managed that year. 2007 also marked the beginning of a three-year streak in which Toyota USA outsold the Ford Motor Company. On an annual basis, Ford hasn’t allowed that to happen since 2009.

Toyota Chrysler car sales chart September 2014Lest we assume September marks a return to the days of the Big Three being the quasi-Detroit Three, remember that Toyota, Lexus, and Scion have outsold Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, and Ram by nearly 239,000 units over the course of 2014’s first nine months.

Indeed, the gap in September equalled just 2611 units. Excluding commercial vans, the gap shrinks to 725 units. Excluding commercial vans and pickup trucks, the gap reverses in Toyota’s favour to 15,158 units.

The Chrysler Group is also a prominent builder of SUVs and crossovers, with 67,025 September sales from five Jeeps and two Dodges. Toyota and Lexus combined for 52,459 utility vehicle sales from the Lexus GX, LX, and RX and Toyota’s 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Highlander, Land Cruiser, RAV4, Sequoia, and Venza.

Toyota Chrysler Light Truck Sales Chart September 2014Do the math and you’ll end up with 85,499 Toyota car sales and 40,063 car sales at the Chrysler Group, Fiat 500L included.

The fact that Chrysler outsold Toyota was little more than an interesting tidbit of September 2014 auto sales news given that, up to this point, it’s only happened once in 36 months. Of far greater interest would be Chrysler Group sales results if the company’s passenger car volume came remotely close to matching industry leaders.

Even without cars, the Chrysler Group sold more trucks, minivans, SUVs, crossovers, and commercial vans in September 2014 than their total vehicle sales in September 2011. More “light trucks” were sold by the Chrysler Group than the complete new vehicle sales totals achieved in September 2014 by American Honda, Nissan/Infiniti, and Hyundai-Kia.

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Toyota 4Runner Booms: Off-Roaders Aren’t Dead Yet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/toyota-4runner-booms-roaders-arent-dead-yet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/toyota-4runner-booms-roaders-arent-dead-yet/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 12:37:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931802 The off-roader is not yet dead, and with recent successes from a couple of well-known rough-and-tumble four-by-fours, the niche category has lives yet to live. We’re not talking about pickup trucks with Z71 badges or the ever-growing stable of vehicles perceived to be capable of mud-running because of their when-the-wheels-slip all-wheel-drive systems. No, truck-based SUV […]

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2014 Toyota 4Runner dirt pathThe off-roader is not yet dead, and with recent successes from a couple of well-known rough-and-tumble four-by-fours, the niche category has lives yet to live.

We’re not talking about pickup trucks with Z71 badges or the ever-growing stable of vehicles perceived to be capable of mud-running because of their when-the-wheels-slip all-wheel-drive systems.

No, truck-based SUV platforms with selectable four-wheel-drive are another breed. We’re well acquainted with the Jeep Wrangler’s steady rise up the utility vehicle sales leaderboard, and 2014 is almost assured of ending with record Wrangler sales.

The Unlimited has expanded that Wrangler’s appeal to corners of the market near and far. Wrangler sales in the United States have increased in four consecutive years and are likely to top 170,000 units in 2014.

Yet a far less likely candidate for success in this age is the Toyota 4Runner, sales of which have already risen to a seven-year high in 2014, with three months remaining on the calendar.

(Mr. Kreindler touched on the success of a 4Runner compatriot, the Lexus GX, back in July. GX sales will shoot above 20,000 units in 2014 for the first time since 2007. The GX’s nine-month U.S. sales total is already marks a four-year high.)

It’s not as though the 4Runner is alone on the loosely-defined SUV side of Toyota showrooms. From the RAV4 and Venza to the Highlander, FJ Cruiser, Sequoia, and Land Cruiser, Toyota sales consultants are swimming in utility vehicles up to their ears.

Moreover, the Highlander is an increasingly popular vehicle, with sales rising 12% to 105,526 units in 2014. The FJ Cruiser still matters, too, as Toyota’s clear-out of the cancelled off-roader has resulted in a 30% increase to 12,653 sales through nine months. In fact, 2014 should end as the best FJ Cruiser sales year since 2010, if not 2008.

But while the 4Runner has maintained its boxy shape and rugged underpinnings (and its not exactly track-honed on-road manners) Toyota did update the 4Runner for 2014. Granted, it’s still using a five-speed automatic and it won’t tow any more than a Highlander, but the 4Runner’s equipment levels were upgraded and the exterior was updated, like it or not.

On a monthly basis, 4Runner sales have now increased in eight consecutive months. Third-quarter volume jumped 69% to 19,978 units, 36% of the 4Runner’s 55,271-unit total through nine months.

These aren’t SUV-leading numbers, of course: Honda sells nearly 27,000 CR-Vs per month and America’s top-selling three-row vehicle, the Ford Explorer, should top 170,000 units by October’s end. But the 4Runner has regained volume status, and after forming just 1.3% of Toyota brand sales in 2009, 3.1% in 2010, 3.2% in 2011, 2.8% in 2012, and 2.7% in 2013, the 4Runner is now responsible 3.6% of all Toyota sales.

Indeed, it’s a more popular Toyota than the Avalon, Prius C, Prius V, Venza, FJ, Yaris, Sequoia, and Land Cruiser. In the broader scheme of things, it’s selling more often than the Acura MDX, Dodge Durango, Buick Enclave, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Suburban, Nissan Murano, and BMW X5.

55,271 sales in nine months is an impressive result for a vehicle which averaged 43,130 annual sales over the previous six years. It’s also a figure which tells us something about the market’s swing to car-like crossovers. In four consecutive years ending in 2006, Toyota sold more than 100,000 4Runners. Those days may be gone, but the 4Runner is not.

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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Interbrand: Toyota Most Valuable Global Automotive Brand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/interbrand-toyota-valuable-global-automotive-brand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/interbrand-toyota-valuable-global-automotive-brand/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 13:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928554 Aside from giving away FCVs at environmental media award celebrations, Toyota is Interbrand’s most valuable automotive brand on its Best Global Brands list, moving from No. 10 to No. 8 overall in 2014. Despite the $1.2 billion fine levied by the U.S. Justice Department for concealing defects linked to unintended acceleration, followed by a recall […]

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Toyota-badge

Aside from giving away FCVs at environmental media award celebrations, Toyota is Interbrand’s most valuable automotive brand on its Best Global Brands list, moving from No. 10 to No. 8 overall in 2014.

Despite the $1.2 billion fine levied by the U.S. Justice Department for concealing defects linked to unintended acceleration, followed by a recall of 6.4 million units over airbag and seat issues weeks later, the New York-based brand consultancy group says its higher ranking is a result of the following:

  • Brand perception: Though considered as a solid brand known for quality over spirit, Toyota’s campaigns as of late are helping to build a more lively image.
  • Technological advancement: Vehicles like the Mirai and Prius are just two examples of the automaker’s environmental stewardship — Interbrand ranked Toyota No. 2 in this year’s Best Global Green Brands list — while collaborations with Microsoft and BMW help to drive further developments in engineering and mobility.
  • Resource allocation and diversity: Toyota aims to increase the number of women in managerial positions to 320 by 2020, 570 by 2030. The recent relocation of its U.S. headquarters from California to Texas will mean more efficient productivity and greater collaboration between its sales, marketing and manufacturing teams.

Among the rest of the global auto players among the overall list of 100 global brands, Mercedes-Benz represents Europe at No. 10, Ford comes in for the United States at No. 39, and Hyundai raises the flag for South Korea at No. 40.

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Toyota Raffling First US-Bound Mirai FCV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/toyota-raffling-first-us-bound-mirai-fcv/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/toyota-raffling-first-us-bound-mirai-fcv/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 12:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928490 If you’d like to be one of the first in the United States to hop aboard the silver future of FCVs, but would also like to keep as much money in your wallet as possible, then Toyota has a Mirai for you. The automaker is planning to give away one of its new FCVs during […]

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Toyota Mirai

If you’d like to be one of the first in the United States to hop aboard the silver future of FCVs, but would also like to keep as much money in your wallet as possible, then Toyota has a Mirai for you.

The automaker is planning to give away one of its new FCVs during the 24th Annual Environmental Media Awards October 18 at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif. The caveats are as follows:

  • You must be a California resident (due to infrastructure limitations)
  • You must buy a raffle ticket at Bidding For Good; $100 for a single ticket, $500 for six

The money raised from the raffle will go on to benefit EMA-related programs, while the new owner will be paying taxes on their new hydrogen car, assuming tax credits don’t knock off everything first. Otherwise, you can buy your own when the Mirai party pulls into the Port of Long Beach late next year.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/capsule-review-2014-toyota-camry-hybrid-se/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/capsule-review-2014-toyota-camry-hybrid-se/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 12:54:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=926553 At any one moment, it is both easy and difficult to see why the Toyota Camry is perennially America’s best-selling car. Taking up residence in a 2014 Camry Hybrid SE for a whole week, I was saddened, but I could see how a Camry owner would feel emboldened when contemplating the future. This is not […]

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2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE white profileAt any one moment, it is both easy and difficult to see why the Toyota Camry is perennially America’s best-selling car.

Taking up residence in a 2014 Camry Hybrid SE for a whole week, I was saddened, but I could see how a Camry owner would feel emboldened when contemplating the future. This is not a happy place, you see, not from a design standpoint; not for a car reviewer who wants material quality to impress and edges to be softened and seat cushions to be lengthy under thigh.

And yet, just as an example, I suspect that the ghastly steering wheel buttons will operate effectively for the Camry’s fifth owner, a college sophomore who buys the car in 2024 after it lived a trouble-free, maintained-at-the-dealer, 150,000-mile commuter existence.

I don’t say this because of Toyota’s reputation for quality, as this car lacks the sense of overarching solidity with which you acquainted yourself in a 1997 Lexus ES when you were a college sophomore. Rather, one falls under the spell of perceived durability because, for instance, the interior is ruggedly refined. It’s like my son’s yellow dump trucks. They’re not as cool as his silver Gullwing model, not as nicely painted or equipped with doors as beautifully hinged, but they will outlast whatever his childhood can throw at them. Born less than a year ago, he’s not allowed to touch the Benz yet.

2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE corneringThe smoothness of the drivetrain can rarely, if ever, be questioned, from the stop-start system to the delivery of passing power on a two-lane road. It’s not fast, the Camry Hybrid, but it’s not ponderous, either. We were party to very little EV operation, but the Camry is rather quiet regardless. Wind noise is kept to a minimum, though the hum of the Michelin Primacy MXV4s was conspicuous. Rear-seat occupants are blessed with an impressive amount of legroom, but the trunk is 15% smaller than in a conventionally powered Camry.

This is a car we all know well, however. We know it’s lacking personality. (My mother-in-law, always interested to see what’s in our driveway, didn’t notice the previous week’s Legacy had been switched out for the Camry, and she’s a loyal Camry owner.) We know it’s spacious and affordable and provides what may be the planet’s best reputation for durability, ISIS-driven Toyota pickups aside. But in advance of the refreshed 2015 car’s arrival, Toyota began marketing a slightly different Camry. For the first time, they applied the TTAC-favoured SE alterations to the hybrid model.

Camry Hybrid SE interiorThat’s a bit confusing when first pondered. The SE is the Camry that can be driven swiftly through corners, but the Camry Hybrid is the Camry that ought not be driven swiftly if fuel economy numbers are going to live up to the official EPA ratings.

This Camry can, in fact, be driven quickly on a fun road. The steering is more than decent and would become even better if only the car would turn in with more immediacy. Body roll is toned down. For the most part, ride quality remains comfortable, although interactions between the rear suspension and especially rough pavement send a shudder through the whole car. Pushed hard, the SE never feels less than sorted.

A moaning CVT (even if it’s calibrated nicely with the powerplants) and 156 horsepower aren’t the kinds of attributes one looks for in a car you plan to hustle often. The Camry Hybrid SE, priced from $28,655 with destination for MY2014, therefore becomes of interest to buyers who want their Camry to appear more youthful, the buyers who want more bolstering in the front seats and an added dose of agility. Driven quickly too often – not because it was fun but because I wanted to challenge the car – we averaged just 31.4 miles per gallon over the course of the week. That’s far worse than the official figures: 40 mpg overall.

Last winter, we averaged similar mileage in a diesel-powered Passat in an attempt to see whether diesels were hampered by intentionally aggressive acceleration. The Passat TDI exceeded its city rating in spite of the driving style and, in truth, was more pleasant to drive and sit in than the Camry Hybrid SE.

Toyota has already updated this car, however, with an improved interior and, to my eyes, improved exterior design. And if we’re going to discuss vehicles with sterling reliability reputations, perhaps we should be comparing the Camry Hybrid’s real-world efficiency to the fuel economy achieved by the pickups in Mosul. Who wishes to make the necessary inquiries?

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Paris 2014: Toyota C-HR Concept Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-toyota-c-hr-concept-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-toyota-c-hr-concept-revealed/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 15:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=923505 A harbinger of things to come as far as design and style go, Toyota revealed the C-HR Concept at the 2014 Paris Auto Show. According to the automaker, the C-HR Concept is what happens when it genetically engineers a crossover from a late-1990s RAV4, a Prius and a GT86. The result is what it calls […]

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A harbinger of things to come as far as design and style go, Toyota revealed the C-HR Concept at the 2014 Paris Auto Show.

According to the automaker, the C-HR Concept is what happens when it genetically engineers a crossover from a late-1990s RAV4, a Prius and a GT86. The result is what it calls “diamond architecture styling,” which will likely begin to influence vehicle styling and design sometime down the road.

Under the hood is a new hybrid system that Toyota proclaims will “reset the standards for consumption and emissions.” What the automaker means by this is left to one’s imagination for now.

Regarding dimensions, the C-HR Concept is larger than the Nissan Juke, coming in at 171.3 inches long and 72.8 inches wide. However, it is 3 inches shorter at 59 inches, providing the crossover with a lower center of gravity.

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Toyota Recalls 690K Tacomas Over Rear Suspension Issues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyota-recalls-690k-tacomas-rear-suspension-issues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyota-recalls-690k-tacomas-rear-suspension-issues/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921641 Own a 2005 through 2011 Toyota Tacoma? It may be under recall due to rear suspension issues. Toyota informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of its plans to recall 690,000 2005-2011 Tacoma 4×4 and Pre-Runner trucks to fix the leaf springs in the rear suspension. The possibility is there for a leaf to fracture […]

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Own a 2005 through 2011 Toyota Tacoma? It may be under recall due to rear suspension issues.

Toyota informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of its plans to recall 690,000 2005-2011 Tacoma 4×4 and Pre-Runner trucks to fix the leaf springs in the rear suspension. The possibility is there for a leaf to fracture “due to stress and corrosion,” then make contact with other components once moved out of place.

Should said component be the fuel tank, a puncture could occur, leading to fuel leaks with the potential for fire to occur if an ignition source is nearby.

Toyota will notify owners by mail, and the fix will be provided free of charge.

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Toyota Camry To Have Aluminum Hoods By 2018 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyota-camry-aluminum-hoods-2018/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyota-camry-aluminum-hoods-2018/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 12:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916882 As Ford prepares to stake its future on an aluminum F-150, Toyota is looking to do the same for at least a single part on its best-selling vehicle. Automotive News reports the automaker will begin stamping aluminum hoods for the Camry in 2018, introducing the metal to its customers in North America with the hood […]

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As Ford prepares to stake its future on an aluminum F-150, Toyota is looking to do the same for at least a single part on its best-selling vehicle.

Automotive News reports the automaker will begin stamping aluminum hoods for the Camry in 2018, introducing the metal to its customers in North America with the hood and liftgate of the Lexus RX 350 in 2015. The move is part of an overall plan “to use aluminum on future vehicles for hood, closures and parts for lightweighting,” according to representative Jana Hartline, who adds the automaker will “increase usage of mix metals and resin materials to enhance lightweighting efforts.”

The plan will be enacted through a joint venture between its trading company, Toyota Tsusho Corp., and Kobe Steel, with Toyota being one of the JV’s first clients. The venture aims to produce 100,000 tons of aluminum sheet annually, and plans to build its operation near producer Wise Alloys of Muscle Shoals, Ala. to help tackle constraints resulting from the increased popularity — a result of tightening CAFE regulations — of the metal.

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Paris 2014: Toyota C-HR Concept Unveiled Before Paris Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-toyota-c-hr-concept-unveiled-paris-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-toyota-c-hr-concept-unveiled-paris-debut/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 11:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916010 Want to know where Toyota might go in the near future for the crossover segment? The C-HR Concept as seen above might be a clue. According to CarScoops, the three-door concept combines “a bold new design language with an agile, engaging driving experience and a Hybrid powertrain,” though not much else is known beyond the […]

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Want to know where Toyota might go in the near future for the crossover segment? The C-HR Concept as seen above might be a clue.

According to CarScoops, the three-door concept combines “a bold new design language with an agile, engaging driving experience and a Hybrid powertrain,” though not much else is known beyond the production version having 3- and 5-door variants, and being positioned beneath the RAV4.

The publication noted that an Auris-based test mule similar in shape and size to the C-HR Concept had undergone testing somewhere in Europe this July.

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