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. Fri, 30 Jan 2015 16:13:50 +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/ 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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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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Toyota Grants Royalty-Free Use Of Over 5K Hydrogen Patents http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-grants-royalty-free-use-5k-hydrogen-patents/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-grants-royalty-free-use-5k-hydrogen-patents/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 11:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=972018 Last year, Tesla granted every one of its competitors full access to its myriad of patents, in the hope they would, in turn, build more EVs. This year? Toyota is doing the same with its hydrogen fuel-cell patents to help spur on further FCV development. The automaker made the announcement Monday during the 2015 Consumer […]

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Last year, Tesla granted every one of its competitors full access to its myriad of patents, in the hope they would, in turn, build more EVs.

This year? Toyota is doing the same with its hydrogen fuel-cell patents to help spur on further FCV development.

The automaker made the announcement Monday during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where those interested in building their own Mirai can do so with information gathered from the 5,600-plus patents linked to the FCV. Said patents include “approximately 1,970 patents related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated with high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3,350 related to fuel cell system software control and 70 patents related to hydrogen production and supply.”

There is a catch for this access, of course: Royalty-free use of Toyota’s patents related to FCVs will last until the end of “the initial market introduction period,” set to end in 2020. Those who are more interested in building the infrastructure for those FCVs, however, will have unlimited access indefinitely. Toyota also asks that any patents developed from those by the former be shared with the automaker, but does not require any party do so.

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Toyota Planning Lexus FCEV For 2017 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-planning-lexus-fcev-2017/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-planning-lexus-fcev-2017/#comments Fri, 26 Dec 2014 12:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=968066 Love the idea of hydrogen, but can’t fathom paying nearly $60,000 for a Toyota? What if it were a Lexus? Motoring.com.au reports Toyota is planning on a Lexus LS FCEV for 2017, positioned above the LS 600h L hybrid. Unlike the Mirai, which was intentionally built to be an FCEV, the LS will be retrofitted […]

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Toyota Mirai in White

Love the idea of hydrogen, but can’t fathom paying nearly $60,000 for a Toyota? What if it were a Lexus?

Motoring.com.au reports Toyota is planning on a Lexus LS FCEV for 2017, positioned above the LS 600h L hybrid. Unlike the Mirai, which was intentionally built to be an FCEV, the LS will be retrofitted with the former’s Toyota Fuel Cell System.

Per a source close to the matter, redesigned, larger air intakes will grace the LS’ face for ventilation of the electric components, while the fuel cell unit and a pair of hydrogen tanks will be placed under the front seat, rear seat and rear parcel shelf, respectively.

For power, a 150 kW fuel-cell stack will be combined with a 220 kW electric motor to help move the 2100 kg (4,630 lbs) sedan forward over a range of 298 miles. Refueling is expected to take around five minutes.

As for price, the LS 600h L goes for $120,000 USD; figure on the LS FCEV to be just as much before the usual subsidies.

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113th US Congress Leaves $8K Hydrogen Credit On The Table http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/113th-us-congress-leaves-8k-hydrogen-credit-table/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/113th-us-congress-leaves-8k-hydrogen-credit-table/#comments Tue, 23 Dec 2014 11:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=964370 For the few who will be purchasing a Toyota Mirai in 2015, you may be out of luck as far as tax savings are concerned. For now, anyway. Autoblog reports the 113th U.S. Congress has called it a day without renewing an $8,000 tax credit for hydrogen vehicles entered into service after December 31, 2005, […]

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For the few who will be purchasing a Toyota Mirai in 2015, you may be out of luck as far as tax savings are concerned. For now, anyway.

Autoblog reports the 113th U.S. Congress has called it a day without renewing an $8,000 tax credit for hydrogen vehicles entered into service after December 31, 2005, and purchased before the same date in 2014. The credit is among other credits that didn’t get the once-over from Congress, who were busy looking over — and renewing a few of — credits from 2013.

That said, Honda wants the credit brought back in time for its FCV’s U.S. showroom arrival in 2016, the next concept version of which is set to bow at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show January. Robert Beinefeld, assistant vice president of the automaker’s Environment and Energy Policy, says his employer is working with “many partners on the legislative front to address this situation,” in the belief that legisators don’t intentionally pick “winners and losers by providing tax credits to some technologies and not others.”

As for Hyundai, whose Tucson Fuel Cell entered Californian showrooms earlier this summer, a representative didn’t give any further comment on the hydrogen credit as of this writing.

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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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2015NAIAS_Toyota_Tacoma_Teaser2

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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