By on March 1, 2016

2012 Toyota Prius c reveal at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit January 10, 2012, Image: Joe Polimeni/Toyota

There must be something about being the world’s most powerful automaker that makes you just, you know, wanna spread some branding around like your showroom is a big slice of bread and your best-loved nameplates are just sweet, sweet chrome jelly. How else can you explain Toyota’s attempt to expand the “Prius” into a three-car lineup, in the same way that General Motors gave us a veritable squadron of Cutlasses in the early ’80s?

The original Prius, now in its fourth and most bizarre-looking iteration yet, is an unmitigated triumph that probably has more millionaire owners than the Bentley Flying Spur, but at the same time is often the car of choice for cost-conscious Midwestern families. The Prius V, on the other hand … well, let’s just say that it isn’t flying off showroom floors. The Prius C has been just as unpopular with buyers while also managing to become the subject of several negative reviews, including a one-out-of-five-star recap from Car and Driver.

“This is the perfect car for the person who doesn’t care about what, exactly, he’s driving,” quoth AutoWeek, but over the past year The Littlest Prius has become quite popular with a section of the American driving population that really cares about what they drive — because it’s how they are making a living.

(Read More…)

By on February 18, 2016

2013 Toyota Matrix, Image: Toyota

Ben writes:

Hey Bark,

I have a brother with a mechanically-healthy 2001 Toyota Camry LE four-cylinder automatic. I’m estimating it has about 180,000 miles now. He uses that car everyday — extensively on the job, and for visits to family members out of state. Mileage is piling up fast. He does have the car regularly maintained — mechanically — through a local independent technician who he trusts. Cosmetically, the car gets occasional self service, pressure-wand-and-foam-brush washes, but that’s it.

Here’s the problem: he’s a hoarder, and his car is suffering for it.

(Read More…)

By on December 9, 2015

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Toyota announced Wednesday it would lower its global sales goal for the 2016 Prius in light of low fuel prices curbing sales of fuel-efficent vehicles.

According to Reuters, Toyota’s new target is to move an annual average of 300,000 to 350,000 Prii out of the lot around the world, compared to the 300,000 to 400,000 annual sales average sought for the outgoing model. A company representative said a decline in global sales of the hybrid since 2013 was one of the reasons behind Toyota’s decision.

(Read More…)

By on December 9, 2015

2016ToyotaPrius_(6_of_10)

Seemingly overnight, the Toyota Prius became a victim of its own success. A frumpy, frugal automotive fringe player was suddenly a Hollywood starlet and a Conservative America villain, all at the same time.

Toyota got the message but ignored all the criticism. It didn’t matter that the seats were quasi-uncomfortable, the dash was the color of unroasted tofurkey (which I love, by the way) or that the Prius looked like a space egg on low-rolling resistance tires. An automotive icon needs less attention than a vehicle, apparently.

The last Prius came in 2009, which was timed worse than a teenage pregnancy. The world was looking at cheap gas and salivating at expensive trucks with equal amounts of cash burning through its pockets. The Prius kept pace with eco, budget buyers, but couldn’t sustain the car’s meteoric rise from the previous generation. The follow-up is the worst part. (Read More…)

By on August 31, 2015

1

“Honey? I just got into an accident!” she said.

My body experienced an instant adrenaline rush as my mind wandered through the worst “what if?” possibility of that moment, something like the image above.

My wife… Hospital… Pain… Medical bills… The other driver…

“Is everyone okay?” I asked in reply.

(Read More…)

By on August 29, 2014

2012 Honda Insight greyMore than two years after American Honda last produced meaningful sales volume with its first Insight, a second Insight arrived to tackle the Toyota Prius head-on.

Only it didn’t, because it couldn’t.

The Insight’s death was reported here at the end of last month. There was no accompanying shock, surprise or horror.

Though it has competed with a much lower base MSRP than the core Prius model, the Insight is a 42 mpg car fighting against the hybrid, a 50 mpg Prius. (Read More…)

By on August 21, 2014

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Our Ford sources have confirmed a Reuters report that claims Ford is readying a new lineup of dedicated hybrids to take on the Toyota Prius.

(Read More…)

By on August 19, 2014

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While the next big product on Hyundai’s horizon is the long-rumored compact CUV that could take on the Nissan Juke, it seems that Hyundai has not one but two potentially significant products in the works.

(Read More…)

By on May 15, 2014

Oh, California, the trend-setting coastal paradise that once sparked a revolution in the American car market. Fully half of cars sold in the Golden State are from Japanese brands, and for a couple of years, the top dog was the Toyota Prius – about as opposite as could be from the rest of the country, where the Ford F-Series reigns supreme. But there’s a new leader in the sales charts, and it’s a bit more mainstream (or “normcore” as the kids are saying these days).

(Read More…)

By on August 29, 2013
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Toyota’s Satoshi Ogiso and Bob Carter address the global media gathered in Ypsilanti for Toyota’s Hybrid World Tour press event

The chief engineer for Toyota’s Prius program, Satoshi Ogiso, who is also managing officer of Toyota Motor Corp, gave some hints about the next generation of Toyota’s highest profile hybrid car at a presentation held as part of Toyota’s Hybrid World Tour, a press event that gathered together all of Toyota’s hybrid cars sold around the world for the first time in one place, in Ypsilanti, Michigan, not far from Toyota’s large R&D center in Ann Arbor.

Ogiso, who oversees product planning and chassis engineering for Toyota, said that while the company continues to work on fuel cell cars and expects to be selling 10,000 or more fuel cell cars a year by the 2020s, Toyota is committed to the concept of hybrid cars that combine electric motors and combustion engines. Due to refinements in Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, the next Prius will get “”significantly better fuel economy in a more compact package that is lighter weight and lower cost, Ogiso said.

(Read More…)

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