Tag: Japan

By on December 14, 2015

2016 Mazda MX 5 Miata Exterior Front

If there is one constant in the automotive world, it is that every redesigned vehicle gets bigger, more powerful, heavier and more complex. Bucking that trend is Mazda’s latest MX-5, one of the smallest and lightest cars sold in the United States.

Since the launch of the Miata in 1989, Mazda’s tiny roadster has been a beacon of light to those who prefer a “pure” driving experience. The MX-5’s core mission of being an affordable, lightweight, two-seat convertible has hardly changed. More impressive: The 2016 MX-5 is about the same size as the original Miata, and the new roadster is only 182 pounds heavier despite producing 50-percent more power and being 30-percent more fuel efficient. The price tag has also been kept in check. The 2016 model still costs about the same as a mid-sized sedan.

Making the MX-5 even more special is that it stands alone in America. Sure, Alfa is now selling their sexy and expensive 4C here, BMW still has a Z4 roadster, and Scion and Subaru are selling their two-door coupé — but none of these are like the MX-5 and that’s a good thing for Mazda.

(Read More…)

By on December 7, 2015

2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited Exterior

Toyota’s small trucks have long been associated with bulletproof reliability (and occasionally militant militias). Despite the Tacoma splitting from the legendary Toyota Hilux bloodline in 1995, the Taco (as some fans refer to their trucks) has continued Toyota’s rugged and reliable image. A big factor in the Tacoma’s long-term reliability is the Toyota’s philosophy to change: it should happen slowly and only when necessary.

Although the 2016 Tacoma is dubbed an “all-new third generation,” just like we see in the Camry, large portions of the design are carried over from last year’s model. This is excellent news for some, but may come as a disappointment for others. The changes are enough to keep brand loyalists happy, radical enough to be called a re-design, but sedate enough that folks eyeing a GMC Canyon may not be swayed by the lure of Toyota’s legendary reliability.

In a nutshell, Toyota swapped in a set of tried-and-true transmissions, fitted a Lexus V-6 under the hood, tweaked the frame with stronger steel and covered the truck in new sheetmetal. On the inside, we get a new dashboard, infotainment systems from the Toyota Highlander and a steering wheel from the larger Toyota Tundra. If you’re a Taco man, that’s all you need to know before you run out and buy one. For the rest of us, click past the jump.

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By on November 16, 2015

2016 Honda Accord Exterior

Accord sales are down 11 percent versus last year. Surprised? So was I. Looking at the numbers, the winner is even more surprising: the Chrysler 200.

Tim’s numbers at GoodCarBadCar tell an interesting tale. Overall segment sales are down slightly with most models seeing only modest sales differences. Then we have the Accord and 200. Honda sold 35,000 fewer sedans so far this year than last while Chrysler sold 72,000 more.

While the 200 is far from a sales segment leader, the increase is impressive nonetheless, and begs the question: Are Honda’s traditional buyers opting for an American alternative? It’s not possible to answer that question simply by the sales numbers, but it is an interesting question.

Despite Americans getting bigger in every generation, the family sedan’s focus on the back seat is in decline. This is partly due to the crossover revolution and partly because cars like the Chrysler 200, Ford Fusion, Kia Optima and even the Subaru Legacy are cutting rear headroom in an effort to look sexier from the 3/4 shot.

Fear not, families of four: Honda continues to carry the torch for pragmatic sedan shoppers with the refreshed 2016 Accord.

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By on November 13, 2015

IMG_0269

It’s been another exhausting day and, after wasting precious time trying to write some sort of clever introduction, I’ve realized that there just isn’t any point in beating around the bush.

The windmill I set out to topple is thoroughly defeated and the Town and Country looks smart sitting in front of the house tonight wearing its new set of permanent Japanese plates.

I wish I could say it was a cake walk, that the Town and Country sailed through its Shaken without any difficulty, but, as usual, there were last minute problems.

Want to know more? Hit the jump for another episode of your favorite reality program: “Man Meets Bureaucracy.” (Read More…)

By on November 6, 2015

Kreutzer headlight install

Since the last installment in this series, my attempt to get the family Town & Country officially licensed here in Japan has slogged relentlessly forward.

After a week of such little progress that I saw no need to report upon it (action was limited to the receipt of my official approval from the recycle bureau), I can begin this by saying that over the past week important things are once again happening. Notice that I didn’t write: “Important progress has been made…” (Read More…)

By on November 5, 2015

11-12-07-lexus-ct-200h-in-china

Lexus won’t be building cars in China anytime soon due the automaker’s concerns regarding production quality, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

“There’s too much quality risk in China to produce there,” said Takashi Yamamoto, executive vice president of Lexus International.

Did you hear that mic drop? Hello? Anyone there?

(Read More…)

By on October 27, 2015

2015 Honda Civic Si Sedan Exterior-001

BMW has M, Audi has a whole alphabet and Honda has Si. In truth, just the Civic has Si. Honda’s “Sport injection” trim started back in the 1980s but never expanded beyond its compact offerings in the U.S. Honda’s performance trim also never expanded beyond sharpened responses, a modest dollop of power and some looks-fast trim additions. The first Honda Si model came to our shores in 1985, but the first wasn’t a Civic — it was a Prelude. The Civic Si joined us a year later in 1986. But I digress.

Cars like the Civic Si are popular with journalists like me. The reason is simple, quite like the Civic itself. Unlike some performance packages, the Si treatment still favors sharpened responses and improved feel over simply jamming an over-boosted turbo engine under the hood. While the later is obviously a hoot and a half, the former is ultimately more pleasing to my peculiar tastes.

(Read More…)

By on October 23, 2015

Kreutzer T&C reveal

It’s Friday and once again it’s time for an update from Japan where my efforts to get my Town & Country licensed and street legal continue unabated.

Last week’s baby steps have led to modest results. My visit to the local police station netted me a parking permit on Tuesday and, although I am immensely self-satisfied at the results, I am aware that the permit’s issuance has started a 30 day countdown clock. If I cannot complete the entire registration process within that window, I will have to repeat this step of the process.

Naturally, I would rather avoid that. (Read More…)

By on October 16, 2015

Kreutzer Japan 3

The quest to complete the importation of my 2013 Town & Country continues and, if the important successes I reported on last week were great strides towards the ultimate goal, this week’s progress has been limited to a frustrating series of baby steps.

Still, progress is being made.

As most government offices were closed on Monday as Japan paused to celebrate “Sports Day,” this week’s story begins bright and early Tuesday morning when I took the certified results of the emissions and noise tests, along with my completed application for title, to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Yokohama. (Read More…)

By on October 7, 2015

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The Town & Country is back at home and, frankly — no pun intended — I’m exhausted.

As I had been warned, the necessary tests required an overnight stay for the van at the research facility and the two trips there and back sapped a lot of my energy. I was at the mercy of my iPhone’s navigation app — UConnect’s navigation, of course, doesn’t work in Japan — that led pell-mell all over the damn countryside without any real idea of where I was at any given moment. To make matters worse, when I wasn’t behind the wheel, there was an equally confusing three-hour train ride to deal with.

Once upon a time, I might have considered this a grand adventure. Right now, I’m just tired and in need of a beer. (Read More…)

By on October 7, 2015

IMPREZA_CONCEPT(フロント)

Subaru may have taken away our hot hatch goodness with the WRX and WRX STI, but the down-market Impreza looks to continue with all five doors intact.

In a release on Wednesday, Subaru announced they would show off the next Impreza in hatchback form at the Tokyo International Motor Show.

(Read More…)

By on October 5, 2015

Teatro for Dayz

Nissan announced Monday that it would show in Tokyo a concept car that would be electric, charge devices and make all the kids search for it on TheInternet.web when they get home from school.

The Teatro for Dayz appears to be a Cube-ish subcompact, powered by electrons for some humans that Nissan’s marketing team are calling “share natives.” Nissan didn’t detail the car’s specifications, other than some pie-in-the-sky functions such as web cameras, LED displays on the outside and illuminated displays for something.

Interestingly, the car sports a steering wheel, pedals and won’t be autonomous, which suggests that some of the car could be rooted in reality. The EV boasts a “short range,” according to the automaker, and could actually be something that makes it on to the roads some day — hopefully without that name.

(Read More…)

By on October 5, 2015

Subaru Sambar

Twelve countries, including the United States, reached an agreement Monday on an historic trade agreement that could economically tie together more than 400 million people in Asian Pacific and American countries. The pact would cover trade for wide ranging products, from rice to pharmaceutical drugs to cars.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which negotiators have been working on for eight years, would thaw trade relations among countries included in the regional zone, including Japan and the United States. For automakers in both countries, the tentative deal includes provisions for Japanese automakers to (eventually) bring light-duty trucks to the U.S. For American automakers, part of the proposed agreement included a side deal between America and Japan to allow access for U.S. automakers to traditionally closed Japanese markets.

The agreement faces an uphill battle to get congressional approval; House Republicans and presidential candidates already have roundly dismissed the deal.

(Read More…)

By on October 5, 2015

Kreutzer Japan 1

Back in July, just days before my family boarded a Boeing 777 to wing our way to Japan, a truck arrived at my home to haul away my Chrysler Town & Country. In the ensuing weeks, while we struggled through lost luggage and looked for a place to live, the van was trucked to California, loaded into a container and placed aboard a ship. As the summer wore on, while we worked through the details of an overpriced lease and did our best to get the kids enrolled in their new school, the ship crossed the wide expanse of the Pacific and made port in Yokohama. While we were accepting delivery of our household goods, the ship was being unloaded and its containers sent to a customs warehouse. Finally, just as we were beginning to settle into our new lives, I was contacted by a Japanese customs broker. The Town & Country had finally and irrevocably arrived. (Read More…)

By on October 4, 2015

Toyota Cavalier

A possible partnership deal between North American countries and Pacific countries may include provisions to penalize Asian governments for not opening up their markets enough for U.S. automakers, Bloomberg reported.

According to the report, negotiators are close to concluding talks regarding automobiles, which has been a contentious point during the talks. The CBC reported that talks in Atlanta were at a critical stage over pharmaceutical drugs, and any eventual deal may be delayed by an upcoming G20 meeting in Turkey.

Talks regarding automobiles have been focused on sourcing local content for each car. North American Free Trade Association rules mandate that cars made within the zone have 62.5 percent of its content sourced within the zone. Asian manufacturers have pressed for lower standards for sourced content in a bid for reduced manufacturing costs.

(Read More…)

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