I would normally start a car review with an item of trivia or history about the vehicle under review, or about the segment in general. This time I’m going to start by talking about the elephant in the room: the 2014 4Runner SR5/Trail front end. Yikes! I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but when the attractive new 2014 Tundra pulled away revealing the 2014 4Runner, I was reminded of a woman I worked with in 1998. Drawn in by the promise of eternal good looks, she had her eyebrows surgically removed and lines tattooed on her face. The only problem was the tattoo artist (accidentally?) gave her a permanently surprised “eyebrows”. Oops. Perhaps the 4Runner also regrets going under the knife and that’s why the fog lamp slits make it look like it’s crying. What say the best and brightest? Click through the jump and sound off in the comment section.
We don’t just love pickup trucks in America, we practically worship them. The half ton pickup truck is an American icon embedded into our music, our entertainment and almost the core of our culture. If you haven’t owned or wanted to own a pickup truck, you’re probably a communist infiltrating American society and should be stopped. Despite inroads from the Japanese competition, the full-size truck market is a solidly American segment that isn’t just led by the big three, it’s dominated by them. In August, RAM took third place with 33,009 pickups sold in the US of A, more than three times the number four player: this week’s Toyota Tundra. Why is this gap so large when Toyota crushes the big three in so many other segments? Let’s explore that while we look at Toyota’s refreshed 2014 Tundra.
Toyota held an event in Ypsilanti, Michigan this week called the Toyota Hybrid World Tour, similar to the recent Nissan 360 event where the company displayed its foreign market forbidden fruit. I didn’t realize what a Big Deal the THWT was until I arrived at the hotel & conference center. I had thought that it was just some kind of ride & drive event but in fact it was a major corporate level promotion by Toyota. For the first time in history the company gathered in one place every one of its hybrid vehicles sold around the world, along with a few alternative energy prototypes and some history, including an example of the first Prius sold in the Japanese domestic market. Toyota also gathered high ranking executives like North American chief Bob Carter from California and Toyota Managing Officer Satoshi Ogiso from Toyota City. Ogiso is in charge of global product development and chassis engineering for the entire company as well as being the Chief Engineer for the Prius program. Regular readers of TTAC will know just how important chief engineers are in the Toyota hierarchy and Ogiso is more or less the chief engineer for all of Toyota in addition to the Prius. He was a member of Toyota’s G21 team, out of which developed the first Prius. Though new Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada didn’t attend, he did record remarks prepared for the journalists in attendance. Read More >
I grew up as a city kid, but my parents made sure I had every opportunity to experience the great outdoors. Most of the time I elected to skip those opportunities. Although I enjoyed attending a rustic summer camp where we slept in tents and warded off raccoon and skunks each night, I did not take well to camping, coming back with over 300 mosquito bites. Fishing was too slow of an activity to capture my attention, but sport shooting was the opposite. After that, I never once picked up an Xbox controller, finding Halo and Call of Duty to be unsatisfying facsimiles for sending rounds downrange. A pity that it took me nearly 25 years to actually go off-roading; I may have never bothered with sports cars in the first place.
There are several vans that will not be among the finalists to replace the Kreutzer family’s ailing Ford Freestar and among them are the size and utility queens of the Japanese Domestic Market, the Toyota HI-Ace and the Mitsubishi Delica. Of course you already know that neither of these vans are sold here in the Land of the Free, so my attempt at including them in an article about my current search may seem a bit facetious but, the truth is, I know these vans well and they come up enough in the comments that I thought they might be worth discussing in more detail. Since I have become the resident “van guy” for the time being, let’s avail ourselves of the opportunity, shall we? Read More >
As America’s favorite pastime grapples with a cheating scandal involving its biggest stars, I can’t help but imagine motorsports devotees are looking on with jaded amusement. Cheating, along with exorbitant costs and tobacco sponsorships, is part and parcel of the fabric of motorsports, no matter the geographic location or formula. But few have cheated like Toyota. Who else has been accused of, or caught red-handed, at cheating in NASCAR, CART, Formula 1, and WRC? In each instance, Toyota’s machinations were always subtle and ingenious, nothing like Smokey Yunick’s 7/8th scale Chevelle or any of the famous “bending the rules” yarns. Take for example, the car you see above.
Group A cars were required to be fitted with a specific turbo restrictor that served to limit engine output. Toyota was able to engineer a special bypass valve that could not only defeat the restrictor without creating any evidence of tampering, but was designed to conceal itself when FIA technicians dismantled the turbocharger for inspection. Max Mosley himself called it “…the most sophisticated and ingenious device either I or the FIA’s technical experts have seen for a long-time.” By bypassing the restrictor, Toyota could get as much as 25 percent more airflow into the turbocharger, allowing the GT-Four to put down as much as 350 horsepower in a field where cars were limited to 300 horsepower. According to Toyota’s own specs, my friend Rob’s GT-Four puts down about 255 horsepower, but it sure feels like there might be a bypass valve in there somewhere.
Atlanta can be somewhat of a rental car wasteland. Less than two years ago, the lots were still primarily populated by a sea of dingy Mercury Grand Marquises. (Yeah, yeah, Panther Love, whatever.) Nowadays, the unhappy renter-to-be is usually confronted by seemingly endless rows of 2.5S Altimas and Jeep Compasses. Shudder. So it was with this expectation that I entered the ATL garage again, and I was not disappointed — zero-option Altimas as far as the eye could see, with a Silverado pickup mixed in here and there. A fellow business traveler walked up to the rental car company rep as I was surveying the landscape and moaned, “Is this really all you have?”
While he was complaining, I was hunting. Obscured by the hulking mass of a Silvy was a brand-spanking new, moderately-redesigned-for-2013, black Toyota Avalon — in XLE spec, no less! I damn near RAN over to it, opened the door, and jumped inside before Mr. Complainer knew what hit him.
Seven hundred and twenty bucks. Not much money by today’s standards. Won’t buy you an American-made Fender Strat or a Hickey-Freeman suit. Won’t quite buy you a 32GB iPad with a cellular connection. Maybe ten days’ worth of rent in one of those new Manhattan micro-units. In the America of 2013, $720 is chump change.
But if you’re in the market for a new family sedan, and you can come up with $720, you’ll be glad you did. Because that’s the difference in the price between the Camry SE, which is one of my favorite cars at the moment, and the Camry LE, which isn’t, not quite.
The Camry controversy continues! Famed Nurburgring racing instructor and TTAC contributor Mike Solowiow says the Camry SE sucks. Unfamed Ohio circle track racer and occasional Grand-Am pay-driver/equipment-destroyer Jack Baruth says it’s GRRRRRRRREAT!
Clearly this can only be settled with more racetrack testing of Camrys. Which leads to the completely inexcusable actions above.
Car guys may mock the Toyota Corolla for its outdated powertrains and total lack of driving thrills, but no car dominates the landscape of Afghanistan in quite the same way.
Australian media is reporting that Toyota is next in line for some government cash, following Holden’s deal with the government to keep production of the Commodore and other models in Australia.
When TTAC’s Mike Solowiow tested the Camry SE V-6, he didn’t spare the rod or spoil the child:
“…in situations where steering feel warns of problems (hydroplaning, ice, collision avoidance) the Camry SE gives lifeless to the point of useless. Beating at the steering column with a wiffle bat and screaming like Yvette Fielding in ‘Most Haunted’ are more entertaining than trying to make the Camry hustle. It doesn’t move, flow, or have chassis alacrity all its rivals exhibit.”
If the V-6 is that bad, the 178-horsepower four-cylinder must be terrible, right? I mean, if I took it to a racetrack and tooled it around in the advanced-driver groups with a bunch of people in it, we’d be miserable right? We’d never pass anybody, right? We’d never toss that bee-otch out of the Carousel with hands off the wheel and let it snake-oscillate up the hill running past the curbs in the dirt and putting that big-bird chrome grill right up the tailpipe of a Spec Miata, right?
Almost exactly one month after TTAC first broached news of a possible compact rear-drive Chevrolet, TTAC commenter and GM North America vice-president Mark Reuss is still dropping hints about such a product.
Hello TTAC! For those who wondered where I went, I’m back from my global tour with the USAF. I am back in my native West Texas, attending Texas Tech University in pursuit of a Mechanical Engineering degree. As a break from finals, I test drove the best selling car in the US, with a decidedly continental Captain Solo slant. Thus far, I have consumed two overpriced lattes and wandered around Lubbock for 45 minutes in an attempt to organize my thoughts and come towards an unbiased conclusion about the baffling Toyota Camry.
Our beloved Ed Niedermeyer is back in the Wall Street Journal with another op-ed, entitled “Welcome To General Tso’s Motors”. I’m sure you can all figure out the gist of it. Check it out here. Anti-GM-bias police, grab your defibrillators.