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. Tue, 25 Nov 2014 20:00:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 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/ 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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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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.

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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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Toyota-Concept-1

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.

Toyota-Concept-1 Toyota-Concept-2 Toyota-Concept-3

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The Lexus IS Is Competing Again http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/lexus-competes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/lexus-competes/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:24:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=912810 In the United States, Lexus has sold in excess of 5000 copies of the IS twice in the last nine months, having not done so even once since August 2008. Five times in the last nine months, Lexus has sold more than 4000 copies, having only sold more than 4000 ISs once in the previous […]

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2014 Lexus ISIn the United States, Lexus has sold in excess of 5000 copies of the IS twice in the last nine months, having not done so even once since August 2008.

Five times in the last nine months, Lexus has sold more than 4000 copies, having only sold more than 4000 ISs once in the previous 44 months.

U.S. Lexus IS volume has increased on a year-over-year basis in each of the last 14 months, although six of those year-over-year comparisons include prior-year results from the IS’s worst sales year (2012) since 2005.

In its segment, the IS trails only the premium-brand-leading BMW 3-Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Granted, the Audi A4, though relatively appealing even now, is as old as the hills. Also, while Infiniti’s Q50 trails the IS by 10,305 units, the Q50/G sedan combo is narrowly ahead of the Lexus.

Cadillac ATS volume has plunged 20% so far this year as total Cadillac passenger car volume has tumbled 15%. Volvo S60 sales are down 15% to 14,684 units, 18,743 sales back of the IS. The S60 trailed the IS by just 1672 units at this point one year ago.

The tide has clearly turned. In both 2011 and 2012, even Acura’s TSX was a more popular choice than the IS. Year-to-date IS sales in America are up 77%. The rapid growth rate has slowed as year-over-year comparisons now include results from both years, both 2014 and 2013, of the current, third-generation IS. August sales jumped 20% to 5312, more than the figure managed by the traditional second-ranked C-Class.

That C-Class, however, is now being replaced by a much more competitive, wildly more modern C. Will that car put the brakes on the IS’s ascent? It’s possible. One could argue that the brash IS with its massive spindle grille and controversial interior targets a different buyer. But we don’t determine which vehicles consumers will decide to cross-shop.

TTAC_3-Series-sales-chart-August-2014-YTDThe IS has nevertheless regained the status of a major player in the category. Lexus is on pace for the IS’s first year since 2007 with more than 50,000 sales. Not surprisingly, the IS has once again become important to traditionally RX-dependant Lexus. Through the first eight months of 2013, the IS accounted for just 11% of Lexus’s U.S. volume; the RX and ES 66%.

The RX/ES portion has fallen to 58% in 2014, however, as the IS now generates 17% of Lexus volume. You’re not surprised to learn, therefore, that Lexus outsold BMW and Mercedes-Benz in both July and August.

One thing is certain, the IS is not close to challenging the top-selling BMW in terms of U.S. sales. No entry-level premium sports sedan is, nor are any about to. The 3-Series range is massive, from the 320i sedan which undercuts the base IS by a few thousand dollars, to hatchback versions of both the 3-Series and 4-Series (which BMW USA still includes in the 3er’s total), countless powertrain options, and even a wagon. Not that BMW necessarily needs such broad appeal for the 3-Series to top the sales charts. The margins of victory are typically fairly large.

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Toyota Tundra Goes Pro, Loses V6 Entirely For 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyota-tundra-goes-pro-loses-v6-entirely-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyota-tundra-goes-pro-loses-v6-entirely-2015/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 13:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=913218 After its makeover for the 2014 model year, the 2015 Toyota Tundra has gained a few more tricks up its sleeve, beginning by going all in on V8 firepower and losing the V6 due to the latter’s take rate of less than 5 percent. Under the bonnet awaits two potential powerplants for Tundra owners: the […]

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After its makeover for the 2014 model year, the 2015 Toyota Tundra has gained a few more tricks up its sleeve, beginning by going all in on V8 firepower and losing the V6 due to the latter’s take rate of less than 5 percent.

Under the bonnet awaits two potential powerplants for Tundra owners: the 4.6-liter i-Force V8 delivering 310 horsepower and 327 lb-ft of torque, and the 5.7-liter i-Force V8 offering 381 horses and 401 lb-ft of torque; the latter can be had as either gasoline-only or in Flex Fuel configuration. The power is delivered through a six-speed electronic automatic to either rear or all four wheels.

Towing capacity is 10,500 pounds in 4×2 regular-cab configuration, and is compliant with SAE J2807. Additionally, trailer control is made easier through the Tundra’s Trailer Sway Control, part of the truck’s overall vehicle stability system.

Those wanting to live out their Ivan “Ironman” Stewart fantasies can do so through the new-for-2015 TRD Pro package, which brings the 5.7-liter V8 together with 18-inch black alloys wearing exclusive Michelin off-road rubber, dual exhaust, skid plate and upgraded suspension components.

Other features available for 2015 include: spray-in bed liner, rear under-seat tray storage in double cab models, standard backup camera with blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring systems, and the Entune infotainment system.

Pricing for the 2015 Tundra starts at $29,020 MSRP for the base SR 4×2 regular cab model, while no word has been said thus far regarding the TRD Pro model. That said, PickupTrucks.com has published a price list for the majority of the models on sale for the 2015 model year.

2015 Toyota Tundra MSRP Price Sheet

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Volkswagen: Hydrogen Will Struggle Outside of Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/volkswagen-hydrogen-will-struggle-outside-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/volkswagen-hydrogen-will-struggle-outside-japan/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 13:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909146 While Toyota and the administration of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are going all in on hydrogen, Volkswagen Group Japan President Shigeru Shoji proclaims FCVs will struggle to make headway elsewhere. According to Bloomberg, Shoji says the government subsidies meant to push Toyota’s Mirai and other FCVs into the marketplace are likely too high for […]

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While Toyota and the administration of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are going all in on hydrogen, Volkswagen Group Japan President Shigeru Shoji proclaims FCVs will struggle to make headway elsewhere.

According to Bloomberg, Shoji says the government subsidies meant to push Toyota’s Mirai and other FCVs into the marketplace are likely too high for other governments to match. He adds that issues surrounding refueling infrastructure and the handling of hydrogen itself will add to the roadblocks awaiting the technology outside of Japan.

Those comments — echoing sentiments by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and other hydrogen skeptics — aren’t lost on either Toyota or the Abe administration. Company representative Dion Corbett says the subsidies are needed to help get hydrogen off the ground, citing the high cost of developing fuel-cell technology. That said, Dion believes demand will not only be the highest in Japan — where Abe envisions a “hydrogen society” of fuel-cells for homes and businesses as well as cars — but in Germany, California and the U.S. East Coast.

Though Volkswagen has its doubts, VW Japan representative Yasuo Maruta says the company is keeping its eye on Toyota’s efforts, planning to be no more than three years’ behind R&D work in relation to Toyota.

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Tesla, Toyota May Develop New Project Within Three Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/tesla-toyota-may-develop-new-project-within-three-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/tesla-toyota-may-develop-new-project-within-three-years/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 12:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909122 Though Toyota and Tesla have, to paraphrase Fleetwood Mac, gone their own way while their RAV4 EV project draws to a close, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he sees his company working with Toyota in two to three years’ time. Automotive News says Musk made the proclamation during a ceremony for the first Model S […]

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Though Toyota and Tesla have, to paraphrase Fleetwood Mac, gone their own way while their RAV4 EV project draws to a close, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he sees his company working with Toyota in two to three years’ time.

Automotive News says Musk made the proclamation during a ceremony for the first Model S sedans delivered in Japan Monday, stating the project “would probably be something significant, maybe on a much higher volume level.” He added that Tesla loved working with Toyota, and held great respect for the automaker.

When the gesture was brought up with Toyota, however, representative Dion Corbett said the automaker had “nothing to say.” This is likely in part due to recent comments between the two companies over their respective paths toward a greener future; Toyota sees EVs as impractical, Tesla believes FCVs are for fools.

The RAV4 EV joint venture is expected to end once the last of the 2,500 crossovers are sold by the end of the year; Toyota has sold 2,130 RAV4 EVs through August 2014.

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Record Sales Position Toyota’s RAV4 Atop All SUVs In August http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/record-sales-position-toyotas-rav4-atop-suvs-august/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/record-sales-position-toyotas-rav4-atop-suvs-august/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 12:21:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=908713 During a month in which the Toyota Camry took a rare break from leading America’s passenger car sales results, the Toyota RAV4 soared to the top of the SUV/crossover leaderboard. RAV4 sales hit record levels in July 2014, when 26,779 were sold, enough to make the RAV4 America’s second-ranked utility vehicle. That record was smashed […]

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2013-Toyota-RAV4. Photo courtesy ToyotaDuring a month in which the Toyota Camry took a rare break from leading America’s passenger car sales results, the Toyota RAV4 soared to the top of the SUV/crossover leaderboard.

RAV4 sales hit record levels in July 2014, when 26,779 were sold, enough to make the RAV4 America’s second-ranked utility vehicle.

That record was smashed one month later, however, as Toyota reported 35,614 RAV4 sales in August 2014, enough to finish the month 1535 sales ahead of the Honda CR-V, which declined 2%, and 6618 sales ahead of the Ford Escape.

Through the first eight months of 2014, the RAV4 trails the CR-V by nearly 38,000 units; the Escape by more than 29,000. The fourth-ranked Chevrolet Equinox (which ranked fifth in August, as sales fell 15%) is 11,806 sales back of the RAV4, having led the RAV4 by more than 25,000 units at this stage a year ago.

Toyota’s 35,614-unit RAV4 sales performance in August equals a 52% improvement, year-over-year. This follows gains in May, June, and July, as well as improvements in January, February, and March, and in the final nine months of 2013.

Annually, RAV4 sales have increased in each of the last two years, rising to a record-high 218,249 units in 2013, the same year Chevrolet Equinox volume climbed to record levels, the same year Ford reported record-high sales of the Escape, and the same year the best-selling CR-V reached its highest U.S. yearly sales total ever, as well. The CR-V, Escape, and RAV4 are also all on pace for record-setting sales results in calendar year 2014.

August 2014 YTD U.S. SUV sales chartThe RAV4, of course, isn’t the only representative of Toyota’s utility vehicle strength. Toyota sold 57,623 SUVs and crossovers in August 2014 (plus 2793 Venzas) and 14,316 Lexus LX570s, GX460s, and RXs. The RX is consistently America’s top-selling premium brand utility vehicle. Over the last eight months the RX has sold 58% more often than the Acura MDX, 81% more often than the Cadillac SRX, and 140% more often than the Mercedes-Benz M-Class.

The still-fresh Toyota Highlander, sales of which fell 12% in August but are up 11% so far this year, is America’s second-best-selling three-row utility vehicle, and third-best-selling three-row vehicle overall, behind the Ford Explorer and Chrysler Town & Country. (Nissan has sold more Rogues, but the Rogue does not come equipped as standard with three-row seating. In fact, it’s only available on two of the Rogue’s three trim levels.)

The Toyota 4Runner is also returning to old form with sales rising 46% in 2014. Toyota USA has sold more 4Runners in the last eight months than in the full calendar years between 2008 and 2012, and before September is half way over, they’ll have sold more than in all of 2013, too.

But August was the RAV4’s month to shine, particularly as Camry sales, not unexpectedly, slid ever-so-slightly and as the Honda Accord stole the passenger car limelight.

The last time a Toyota was America’s best-selling utility vehicle was March 2010, when sales of the RAV4 surged 117% to 25,781, 6599 units clear of the second-ranked Ford Escape.

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 Focused More On Safety Over Vehicle Autonomy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyota-focused-safety-vehicle-autonomy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/toyota-focused-safety-vehicle-autonomy/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=906993 Though Google was more than happy to turn a few Prii into autonomous test beds, Toyota doesn’t see much of a future for autonomous vehicles from the tech giant or Toyota’s competitors. Autoblog reports “Toyota’s main objective is safety,” not developing autonomous vehicles of its own, according to the automaker’s deputy chief safety technology officer, […]

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Google Toyota Prius Autonomous Vehicle

Though Google was more than happy to turn a few Prii into autonomous test beds, Toyota doesn’t see much of a future for autonomous vehicles from the tech giant or Toyota’s competitors.

Autoblog reports “Toyota’s main objective is safety,” not developing autonomous vehicles of its own, according to the automaker’s deputy chief safety technology officer, Seigo Kuzumaki. He adds that he and Toyota’s top brass don’t believe such vehicles will have much marketability outside of the technocratic state of Silcon Valley, nor are they certain the technology is ready for primetime.

At the present, Toyota is working on 34 projects with 17 partners, including those involving V2V and V2I communication systems. That said, it believes the human behind the wheel is just as important as the computers running most of the show. Thus, the driver will not become a passenger in the near-term.

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GM Mid-Size Twins Best Similarly Equipped Full-Size Pickups In Fuel Economy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/gm-mid-size-twins-best-similarly-equipped-full-size-pickups-fuel-economy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/gm-mid-size-twins-best-similarly-equipped-full-size-pickups-fuel-economy/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 12:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=906401 As full-size pickups do their best to eke out as much fuel economy as possible, the upcoming Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are set to deliver a combined 21 mpg once they leave the lot for the road. Autoblog reports the GM twin mid-sizers will net owners 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg […]

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2015 Chevrolet Colorado + GMC Canyon

As full-size pickups do their best to eke out as much fuel economy as possible, the upcoming Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are set to deliver a combined 21 mpg once they leave the lot for the road.

Autoblog reports the GM twin mid-sizers will net owners 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway in two-wheel drive models equipped with a six-speed auto mated to the 305-horsepower 3.6-liter direct-injection V6. For comparison, a Ram 1500 4×2 with the Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 sending power to the back through an eight-speed auto offers a rating of 17/20/25; the outgoing Ford F-150 4×2 with its 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and six-speed auto delivers 16/18/22 mpg; and the Chevrolet Silverado C15 4×2 brings 18/20/24 mpg through its larger 4.3-liter V6 and six-speed auto.

Those wanting all four wheels to do the climbing up that hill will find the Colorado’s and Canyon’s ratings falling to 17/20/24 mpg, though they still best the Silverado K15 4×4 (17/20/22), Ford F-150 4×4 (15/17/21) and Ram 1500 4×4 (16/19/23).

As for trucks closer in size to the duo, Jalopnik subsidiary Truck Yeah says the two-wheel drive models are more than able to throw down against the Nissan Frontier 4×2 (16/18/22 mpg) and Toyota Tacoma 4×2 (17/19/21 mpg).

GM adds that a 2.8-liter Duramax is in the offing for 2016, with figures ready for perusing closer to launch time.

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Toyota Re-Pops The Series 70 Land Cruiser! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/toyota-re-pops-series-70-land-cruiser/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/toyota-re-pops-series-70-land-cruiser/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=901945 It’s been a while since TTAC crackled and buzzed with the latest Toyota news all the time — but this morning, we’re changing that! Toyota is producing the 1990s-era Series 70 Land Cruiser in two body styles as a year-long, Japanese-market love letter to its most ardent fans. The pricing is bargain basement — about […]

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It’s been a while since TTAC crackled and buzzed with the latest Toyota news all the time — but this morning, we’re changing that!

Toyota is producing the 1990s-era Series 70 Land Cruiser in two body styles as a year-long, Japanese-market love letter to its most ardent fans. The pricing is bargain basement — about thirty-four grand for either style — and the drivetrain pairs a 228-horse four-liter V6 with a five-speed manual transmission and part-time 4WD. Locking diffs are optional, as is a winch.

What a lovely, desirable, heirloom-quality vehicle. Can’t get it here, though — “here” being “anywhere but Japan”, to misquote Mona Simpson. And the original Series 70 Cruisers can still be found in the United States, although condition may vary (you can buy them as commercial vehicles in Australia as well). This rebuilding thing is brilliant, though. Now if only they’d do the final Cressida, the first LS400, the ’94 Supra Twin Turbo, the 2000GT…

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Lexus Topped Premium Brands In The U.S. In July, And How http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/lexus-topped-premium-brands-u-s-july/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/lexus-topped-premium-brands-u-s-july/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 12:20:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=899386 In July 2014, for the first time in twelve months, Lexus outsold all other premium brands in the United States. Back in August 2013, Lexus sold 29,792 vehicles, 5269 more new vehicle sales than BMW managed; 5031 more than Mercedes-Benz, excluding Sprinter vans. Last month, Lexus’ margin of victory over the two brands which now […]

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2013 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. DykesIn July 2014, for the first time in twelve months, Lexus outsold all other premium brands in the United States. Back in August 2013, Lexus sold 29,792 vehicles, 5269 more new vehicle sales than BMW managed; 5031 more than Mercedes-Benz, excluding Sprinter vans.

Last month, Lexus’ margin of victory over the two brands which now routinely outsell the Toyota premium division was much smaller. Mercedes-Benz reported the sale of 27,192 new vehicles; Lexus another 141 units.

The annual U.S. race to be tops among premium brands was last won by Lexus in calendar year 2010. Yet as Mercedes-Benz and BMW blossomed with expanding utility vehicle lineups, Lexus’s 3-Series-fighting IS aged and the brand continued to rely very heavily on the RX.

July’s key difference relative to the recent past? Although the small NX isn’t here yet and Lexus fell back on the RX for more than one-third of the brand’s volume, the IS is now a moderately high-volume sports sedan. IS volume has increased on a year-over-year basis in each of the last 13 months and July’s 4542-unit performance marked the third occasion this year in which IS sales have topped 4000 units. IS volume increased by 901 units in July, by 5420 units over the last three months, and by 13,688 units through the first seven months of 2014.

Yet the IS, which accounted for 17% of the brand’s volume in July, was only Lexus’s third-best-selling model. The ES, sales of which rose 4% (and are only slightly less than level year-to-date), generated 6326 July sales, more than four out of every ten Lexus passenger car sales last month. The ES – with its entry-luxury price tag, front-wheel-drive orientation, and spacious interior – has no genuinely direct rival at Mercedes-Benz or BMW.

Lexus July 2014 sales articlesThe GS, on the other hand, does stand up as an E-Class or 5-Series challenger, though not on U.S. sales volume terms. 2001 GS sedans were sold in July, a 16% year-over-year increase. With larger lineups (the E-Class is available in four different bodystyles, for example), Mercedes-Benz sold 6648 Es in July, a 19% jump, and BMW sold 5676 copies of the 5-Series, up 17%.

While BMW sold 6187 versions of their five X models in July and Mercedes-Benz’s G, GL, GLK, and M-Class combined for 9038 sales, Lexus sold 9658 RX hybrids and RX350s. (Lexus also sold 1955 GX SUVs, representing a 122% increase. LX sales fell 15% to 248 units.)

Among premium brand utility vehicles, the RX is an astonishingly and consistently popular nameplate. RX sales jumped 14% in July and are up 5% year-to-date.

It’s on the basis of the RX’s success that Toyota feels it can sell 2200 NXs per month. Challenging styling aside, it’s hard to doubt the company’s expectations. To the NX’s extra volume, Lexus will also add a few sales with the RC.

If those figures cause you to think Lexus could return to the top of the heap more consistently and for the long-term, you wouldn’t be crazy. But you may also be forgetting that Mercedes-Benz will soon be selling a sub-GLK GLA. The race among upmarket brands to generate increased sales, and thus decreased exclusivity, requires many a move down-market.

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