The Avalon has been something of a caricature since it wafted on stage in 1994. The stretched Camry was low on soul, devoid of style and soft of spring. In short, it was the Buick that wouldn’t leave you stranded. Since then Toyota has struggled to divine a mission for their full size sedan, a problem complicated by the re-invigoration of the large sedan market by the American brands. In hopes of resurrecting sales numbers, which have slid to 25% of their 2000 year shipments, Toyota has injected something hitherto unseen in an Avalon: style. Is it enough?
Your humble author’s affection for the Pentastar-powered Chrysler minivans is relatively well-known within these electronic pages. In the interest of examining the so-called “alternatives”, however, I’ve been attempting to rent non-Chrysler minivans during my travels. A 36-hour unscheduled trip to San Francisco gave me a chance to do just that, deliberately walking past the six Corvette droptops in the Hertz #1 Gold Choice spaces and picking up a Toyota Sienna. The things I do for you, dear readers! My appointment was a couple of hours inland, in Lodi, CA; the thought that I was pedaling a minivan away from the ocean when I could be driving a topless ‘Vette along it had me sobbing lightly behind my Prodesigns.
I was eventually able to screw my courage to the sticking-place, as it were, and get on with business. What follows is a 388-mile review of the Toyota Sienna LE, but there’s one little catch: if you want one just like my test vehicle, you’re out of luck.
A couple weeks back, Tetsuya Tada, father of the Scion FR-S, wistfully meditated on his desire to see more variants of the Scion FR-S, including a shooting brake. Rather than dismissive them as fantasy-bait for the enthusiast set, TTAC determined that there is probably a good business case for developing more variants of the Toyobaru platform. After all, you can’t spend billions on an all new platform and only build one low volume niche model off of it, right?
For anyone rooting for this scenario, there’s more encouraging news. Toyota executives are pondering an upward expansion of the Scion brand, and the FR-S could be the focal point of that initiative.
What’s happening here? Is Toyota finally getting some style all of a sudden? The 2014 Highlander, shown here in Sanjeev Brown (my new name for Brown, in honor of all the misspellings of our dear Sajeev’s name that come across TTAC’s inbox) actually looks macho and handsome. The 2.7L 4-cylinder and 3.5L V6 are standard Toyota fare, though a new 6-speed automatic is a welcome update. All the usual active safety features, from lane departure warning to cross traffic alert to a blind spot monitoring system, are standards.
Ahh, the benefits of free PR. Mere minutes after Toyota UK’s official blog posted their “interview” with GT 86 chief engineer Tetsuya Tada, the outlets of the autoblogosphere were alight with Tada’s comments praising shooting brakes.
See, dropping a choice quote about Tada’s desire for a GT86 shooting brake isn’t just a coldly calculated way to ensure that this interview is re-posted ad infintium on every content aggregator and “enthusiast blog” (read: free PR machine for the OEMs) in the world. It also provides a bit of insight into the economics of vehicle development, sales and manufacturing today – not to mention the PR and marketing side.
Our recent looks at the Ford Edge Ecoboost and GMC Terrain prompted an email from a reader asking us to take a look at the 2013 Toyota Venza with these two American entries in mind. If you have a request or suggestion for a vehicle review, just click the contact link at the top of the page, or find us on Facebook and drop us a note.
Oddly enough, the presence of the roomy Prius V and less costly Prius C have done little to harm the popularity of Toyota’s primary hybrid, the Prius. More accurately, since Toyota introduced the V, C, and Plug-In versions, sales of the core model have done nothing but rise.
Toyota chose Chicago to introduce the new 2014 Tundra. Following the lead of the big three, the Tunda is bigger and has a more premium interior. Unlike the big boys, Toyota still won’t have a 3/4 or 1 ton models, but they are touting the Tundra as having the highest North American parts content of any other 1/2 ton truck. Them’s fighting words.
I recently rented a midsize sedan from Hertz. Hoping for a go in the latest Fusion, I was instead placed into a new Camry, though it may have been a 2007 Camry. Differences between the two are only discernible to Toyota engineers, though a new campaign gives dealers the ability to tell them apart using a VIN decoder and a magnifying glass.
The North American International Auto Show press days have come and gone. That means journalists no longer need to get dressed every morning, and can return to clipping their toenails while blogging in their bathrobes. OEM staffers get to return home – unless, of course, home is Detroit. Then they’re counting down the days until New York.
For those who missed the show, never fear: I’ve rounded up everything important and summarized it in one highly useful story. It’s almost like you ate the food yourself. Read More >
New Infiniti-boss and former Audi U.S. chief Johan de Nysschen wants to bring Infiniti home to Japan. He had said this to me last September in his office in Hong Kong, and he reiterated it again in Detroit when talking to the Wall Street Journal’s man in Japan, Chester Dawson. Back home in Yokohama, people are sucking air through their teeth. “Muzukashi desu ne.” This will be difficult. Read More >
Toyota sold 236,659 Prii (all kinds) in the U.S. alone in 2012, all of them imported from high-yen Japan. This is a major drag on the car’s profitability. Long import routes are a hindrance, offshore production also tends to impact the granularity of options and trims. U.S. production of the Prius was expected for last year, it did not happen. Yesterday, Shigeki Terashi, head of Toyota Motor North America Inc. came as close to announcing as possible that Toyota plans to produce the Prius in North America. He didn’t really say it, and you needed to be Japanese to hear it. Read More >
Is the era of beige finally over? This concept is supposedly a preview of the new Corolla, due in 2014 – and it’s far more striking than the JDM version reviewed by our own BS.
New car registrations dropped a painful 16.3 percent in Europe in an acceleration of a long, and initially slow a downward trend. The European carmaker association ACEA calls the decline ”the steepest recorded in a month of December since 2008.” For the year the EU market was down 8.2 percent to 12,053,904 units, which is the “lowest level recorded since 1995,” says the ACEA. Read More >
Sajeev! Thank you for taking the time to read this. My dad is dealing with some bullsh@t, and we could use your advice. His daily driver is a 2006 Taurus with 155k miles. (Bull huh, I get it! Snort! -SM) Read More >