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. Fri, 06 Mar 2015 07:24:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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 Toyota Axing Venza Crossover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/toyota-axing-venza-crossover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/toyota-axing-venza-crossover/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 22:43:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1011162 Toyota is reportedly ending production of the Venza crossover. The Venza, which sold less than 30,000 units last year, has long struggled to find a foothold in the marketplace. While production will continue until 2017 for export markets, the end of the Venza means that further capacity will be freed up at Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky […]

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2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Toyota is reportedly ending production of the Venza crossover.

The Venza, which sold less than 30,000 units last year, has long struggled to find a foothold in the marketplace. While production will continue until 2017 for export markets, the end of the Venza means that further capacity will be freed up at Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant, allowing Toyota to produce more Camrys.

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GM Retreats From Indonesia In Major Blow To Emerging Markets Strategy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/gm-retreats-indonesia-major-blow-emerging-markets-strategy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/gm-retreats-indonesia-major-blow-emerging-markets-strategy/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:29:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008714 Indonesia has long been touted as one of the next major emerging markets, and only four years ago, GM was set to make a major push in the Southeast Asian nation. But in a major about face, GM is essentially giving up on Indonesia, ending an 80 year manufacturing presence and transitioning solely to a sales […]

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Indonesia has long been touted as one of the next major emerging markets, and only four years ago, GM was set to make a major push in the Southeast Asian nation. But in a major about face, GM is essentially giving up on Indonesia, ending an 80 year manufacturing presence and transitioning solely to a sales and marketing arm.

According to Reuters, GM will shutter its Bekasi factory which was producing the Chevrolet Spin minivan, a product that GM intended to go up against market leader Toyota and its Avanza minivan. Toyota dominates 90 percent of the Indonesia market and the Avanza is Indonesia’s most popular car. Of the top ten selling vehicles in Indonesia, the Spin ranked in 8th place last year, with brands like Toyota, Honda and Daihatsu (another Toyota brand) dominating the market.

Indonesia is a particularly enticing market for many auto makers. It is the most populous nation in Southeast Asia and the largest economy in the region as well. It also has one of the lowest rates of car ownership, with 32 vehicles per 1,000 people, compared to 132 per 1,000 people in Thailand and 300 per 1,000 people in Malaysia. The locally built Spin was supposed to give GM a leg up in Indonesia, but as another Reuters piece notes, GM only advanced seven tenths of a percent in market share during their 80 year run in Indonesia.

Reuters claims that GM will pivot to a more SUV and truck focused brand, along with establishing a foothold for its Chinese affiliate brands like SAIC’s Wuling. But the minivan is Indonesia’s most popular vehicle, since it allows for carrying multiple passengers in comfort while the high ground clearance is suited for the frequent floods and rough terrain of the island nation. While Wuling offers some low cost vans, offerings like Chevrolet’s Trailblazer and Captiva will likely be more expensive while offering qualitative disadvantages.

GM’s Stefan Jacoby told the news service

“We could not ramp up Spin production to boost the volume as we had expected … although the product was really good. The logistics chain of the Spin was too complex; we had low volume so we could not localize the car accordingly, and from the cost point of view we were just not competitive.”

While the Spin is popular in Brazil and other markets, it was unable to dethrone the Avanza, which uses crude but cost-effective body on frame construction which means it can be manufactured in a relatively easy, inexpensive fashion. Jacoby claims that the end goal is to turn Indonesia “into a sustainable business model.” If the last 80 years are any indication, it’s not looking good.

 

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Review: Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-toyota-4runner-trd-pro/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-toyota-4runner-trd-pro/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:12:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008322 Ladies and gentlemen, there are road tests, and then there are off-road tests. In a typical road test, writers use the car on their daily commute, playing with all the features and determine which bother them and which don’t. There may be some family activities thrown in, like going on a weekend trip or driving […]

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Ladies and gentlemen, there are road tests, and then there are off-road tests. In a typical road test, writers use the car on their daily commute, playing with all the features and determine which bother them and which don’t. There may be some family activities thrown in, like going on a weekend trip or driving around the soccer team carpool. Sometimes, they might attempt to verify the manufacturer-reported performance numbers and use their smartphone to record 0-60 acceleration times and lateral g-forces in the corners. Other times they might go to the hardware store and fill the trunk with bricks to cargo volume and payload capacity. But most of the time, writers just utilize the car for day-to-day activities, evaluating a product in the most mundane of circumstances.

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In an off-road test, the writer has to set aside a day or two of his or her time and plan an excursion that doesn’t involve driving on paved roads. Their smartphone probably won’t work unless they’ve scaled the top of a hill with their vehicle. The only features worth using are the radio (if it can pick up any stations), and the transfer case to shift into low range so you can climb up the nearest mountain for the ultimate photo of your off-road test car. There won’t be any other people, let alone cars, for miles, meaning you can avoid loud stereos and your carpooling buddies’ conversations about how they now have to watch Birdman since it won a lot of Oscars. You won’t have people staring at you in the Home Depot parking lot with a stack of bricks that can collapse on you at any time. Nothing around you during the test is ordinary.

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Such was the case I was presented with when I found out I’d be getting the 4Runner TRD Pro for a week. Beyond driving on the road, I had to discover how the truck performed off the concrete, since that’s what most buyers would buy a 4Runner TRD Pro for. It was perfect since a) I don’t like going to Home Depot, and b) testing the 4Runner off-road was a great reason to spend the day away from civilization.

First, let’s start focus on the looks of the 4Runner TRD Pro. With the black wheels and 31.5-inch Nitto Terra Grappler tires, the “TOYOTA” lettering on the grille rather than the emblem, and the TRD suspension kit, the TRD Pro looks the business. The exterior colors offered are a solid black, a solid white, and a solid red-orange color called “Inferno,” color choices that are oddly very similar to what the BMW 1-Series M was offered with. All the interiors have black SofTex (think a very nice-feeling vinyl material that most people will mistake for leather) seats and black interior trim with red stitching. Again, very similar to the 1-Series M. You can’t get any other interior color choices from the factory.

Toyota didn’t focus too much on on-road performance of the 4Runner TRD Pro. They stuck with what they knew in the 4.0-liter V-6 and 5-speed automatic combination that’s found in all new 4Runners. Sure, you might want more power, but I wouldn’t be comfortable dealing with a faulty turbocharger or supercharger in the middle of any desert in the world. I will admit it doesn’t accelerate to 60 miles per hour very quickly. As for handling, even with those immense Nitto tires and the TRD Bilstein shocks, the TRD Pro still drove well. It isn’t available with the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System like the Trail model, so the handling isn’t as sharp. However, don’t expect U-turns to go perfectly. Three-point turns will become the norm if you suddenly decide to go in the other direction. I learned that the hard way.

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Regarding comfort and ergonomics, considering the off-road modifications, the 4Runner remained a refined vehicle, especially compared to some Jeeps and modified Nissan Xterras that the 4Runner was hanging with. The heated front seats were power-adjustable with two-way lumbar support, while the back seats provided plenty of legroom. On the highway the 4Runner rode like any normal car. After five hours round-trip of highway driving and off-roading, there were no complaints of discomfort or soreness from any of the passengers. Unlike the Limited, the TRD Pro only seats five people, so it is not for large families. Cargo room is plentiful, and I was able to fit two bikes with two-thirds of the rear seat folded down.

The TRD Pro comes standard with the Entune premium audio system and navigation. The audio system was fairly good for a base unit and I can only imagine what the JBL unit in the Limited sounds like. As for operating the navigation system, the same Toyota quirks apply. There’s limited use of the system while driving, so I found myself shifting into Park at some stoplights; however, using voice control on the go (which understood what I said surprisingly well) eliminates a good deal of the problem. You can install apps on the Entune system as well, while the screen doubles up as a back-up camera display.

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This thing was absolutely exceptional off-road. And all things considered, I wasn’t easy on it. Since driving into the creeks around my house to test the 4Runners off-road capabilities would likely earn me a visit from local law enforcement and looks of scorn from my neighborhood, I took it to the Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area. Think of it as a skate park, but for people with off-road vehicles rather than wearing skates. There are trails and obstacle courses to take your 4WD vehicle on. When you’re there, the views are secondary to the driving.

The key off-road features in the 4Runner were the Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control. Those controls were located on the overhead console, and were very simple to use in tandem with the driver information screen in the gauge cluster. Multi-Terrain Select came in handy plenty of times when going in the mud, traversing the rocks, and doing the mogul obstacles. All I had to do was make sure the 4Runner was shifted into low range with the correct mode selected, and the Multi-Terrain Select managed to find grip on such surfaces, even with a wheel in the air.

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Crawl Control could be thought of as an off-road cruise control system. It worked by engaging low range, pressing the on/off button on the overhead console, selecting a speed (Low, Medium, High), and then the car would work both the throttle and the brakes while I steered the 4Runner. Steering input from the driver is a must, but your feet can be off the pedals when the Crawl Control is on. Putting a foot on the throttle or brakes disengages Crawl Control. The system worked exceptionally well when ascending and descending steep and rocky dirt roads, and working without fault when doing the adventure course at Hollister Hills.

When it came to Hollister Hills SVRA’s 4×4 Obstacle Course, where the avid four-wheelers bring their rock crawlers and production vehicles with plenty of off-road upgrades, the 4Runner held its own very well for a truck that was entirely stock. Some obstacles which Jeeps couldn’t climb, the 4Runner managed to do, while on muddy roads, the 4Runner managed to keep going without requiring me to select low range. On one particularly steep obstacle, the locking rear differential helped tremendously, as otherwise, the vehicle would have had a more difficult time climbing up. Overall, I enjoyed the 4Runner TRD Pro off-road and the vehicle (without any modifications whatsoever) was very, very capable.

On the trails, the 4Runner was delightful. It was able to climb up the rockiest of trails in order to get to a nice overlook to have the lunch I brought. When descending or ascending some of the trails, all I had to do was engage Crawl Control, point the 4Runner in the correct direction, and the onboard systems did the rest of the work. The size of the truck wasn’t an issue; there were no dents on the bodywork of the car and few moments where I preferred the size of a Jeep Wrangler. I left Multi-Terrain Select on most of the time as an added line of defense, which was extremely helpful when ascending some steep trails at Hollister Hills.

As for downsides with the TRD Pro, there are a few. One is the fuel economy, where I got 17 mpg during my time with the 4Runner both on- and off-road in 2WD, 4WD, and low range enabled. On the bright side, the fuel tank is 23 gallons, meaning the range is quite good. On the other hand, get used to long fill-ups (both a Yaris and a Cavalier filled up at the same pump during the time it took me to refuel the 4Runner) and $60+ gas bills. Another downside is that there are only going to be 3,400 units of the 4Runner TRD Pro for 2015. As such, the only available options on this model are only the dealer-installed accessories. A sunroof, leather seats, and a factory-installed high-end sound system aren’t available.

However, Toyota knows the 4Runner TRD Pro isn’t for everyone if they’re offering only 3,400 of them. If you need a third seat and/or leather seats, you should choose the Limited (or spend $30,000 more for a Land Cruiser). If you have to have a sunroof and want the option of more adaptive and dynamic suspension (KDSS), you can go with the Trail. If you don’t want to spend more than $40,000, and I don’t think dealers will lower the price much on the TRD Pro, get the SR5. If fuel economy is your thing, get a Highlander. And if you want more power, consider a Tundra TRD Pro with the 5.7-liter V-8 or getting the Land Cruiser, as it too has Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select.

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As for pricing, the 4Runner TRD Pro I tested stickered at $43,134, with some accessories installed. Oddly, the base price on my test car was $200 lower than the base price on the Toyota website, which is $41,310 before the $885 destination charge. Additionally, be aware that many TRD Pros will come equipped with the sliding rear cargo deck for an extra $350, so factor that into the final price. Despite the price increases, with an MSRP of around $43,000, I think the 4Runner TRD Pro is a steal. Normal 4Runners are generally listed towards the top of Kelley Blue Book reports of projected resale value, and the 4WD TRD Pro is certain to depreciate less due to its low production numbers.

Now, be aware that procuring a 4Runner TRD Pro is actually pretty tough at the moment. After going on the forums, many people have to order their TRD Pros and wait a few months. Some have even had to pay over sticker due to where they live. When I tried searching for a 4Runner TRD Pro in the San Francisco Bay Area, I had an extremely tough time finding one. After my search and contacting local dealers, it looked like I would have to order the car (and even pay over sticker in some cases) to get my hands on a new TRD Pro. If anything, I think the depreciation will be a lot less than any of us ever would think.

In the end, I am enamored with the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro, especially its off-road and even on-road capabilities. If you’re considering a Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, Xterra PRO-4X, Land Rover LR4, or a Grand Cherokee with the off-road package, take a good look at the 4Runner TRD Pro. It’s rare that I write this of any car, but if you can manage to get your hands on one at MSRP, you should seriously think it over. Considering that it’s being made in limited quantities, is reliable, managed to do some very tough trails that some highly modified off-road vehicles can’t do, looks really good, and is still your normal, closed, comfortable 4Runner at the end of day, the TRD Pro is phenomenal.

Toyota provided the vehicle, a full tank of gas for this review, and insurance. That last one was important since I returned it with a couple gashes on the underbody.

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Lexus Takes Gold In 2015 JD Power Dependability Study http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lexus-takes-gold-2015-jd-power-dependability-study/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lexus-takes-gold-2015-jd-power-dependability-study/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008050 For the fourth consecutive year, Lexus is tops among the brands ranked in JD Power’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study. The research group says owners of the premium brand’s offerings reported 89 problems per 100 vehicles. However, its parent company was bumped down to third place on the podium this year by Buick, the latter making […]

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For the fourth consecutive year, Lexus is tops among the brands ranked in JD Power’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study.

The research group says owners of the premium brand’s offerings reported 89 problems per 100 vehicles. However, its parent company was bumped down to third place on the podium this year by Buick, the latter making a huge leap from fifth place in 2014 to take silver with 110 problems per 100 vehicles reported. Toyota had one more problem compared to Buick.

Among the rest, Cadillac took home fourth, while Honda and Porsche tied for fifth. Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Scion and Chevrolet round out the top 10 for 2015, while Land Rover and Fiat landed at the bottom of the list with 258 and 273 problems per 100 vehicles, respectively.

As for the problems themselves, most took issue with their vehicle’s Bluetooth and voice-recognition systems, followed by problems with the vehicle’s engine or transmission, the latter mostly focused on “automatic transmission hesitation and rough shifting.”

This year’s study surveyed over 34,000 original owners of 2012 models after three years of ownership, with the survey taking place between November and December of 2014.

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Junkyard Find: Manny, Moe, and Jack Edition 1991 Toyota Tercel Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-manny-moe-jack-edition-1991-toyota-tercel-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-manny-moe-jack-edition-1991-toyota-tercel-coupe/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1005962 A couple of years have passed since the last Manny, Moe, and Jack Edition Junkyard Find, so we’re due for another car that was customized with every manner of stick-on hood scoop, property-value-lowering vinyl decal, and brightly-colored interior-trim piece that can be had at your local auto-parts chain store. Here’s a fourth-gen Toyota Tercel done […]

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01 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA couple of years have passed since the last Manny, Moe, and Jack Edition Junkyard Find, so we’re due for another car that was customized with every manner of stick-on hood scoop, property-value-lowering vinyl decal, and brightly-colored interior-trim piece that can be had at your local auto-parts chain store. Here’s a fourth-gen Toyota Tercel done up as a shoestring-budget Fast-n-Furious-type machine.
15 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinEven though this car has the 94-horsepower 3E-E engine and automatic transmission, its last owner wanted it to look a bit faster than stock.
08 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI hate to criticize this sort of thing too hard, because a garishly modified Tercel is still better than the dreadful tedium of a stock Tercel.
21 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThat’s because the Tercel was the car for drivers who thought the Corolla was too much of a high-performance luxury car.
09 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNot even 100,000 miles. I suspect a broken odometer here.
11 - 1991 Toyota Tercel Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSome of the details make this car more of a 100-footer than a 50-footer.

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iM Pretty Sure This Is The Next Scion http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/im-pretty-sure-next-scion/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/im-pretty-sure-next-scion/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 15:35:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1006554 This is the facelifted Toyota Auris, set to debut at the Geneva Auto Show next month. It’s also our best look at the upcoming Scion iM. For those of you looking to replace that Toyota Matrix, here you are. Check out Ronnie’s review of the Auris here.

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This is the facelifted Toyota Auris, set to debut at the Geneva Auto Show next month. It’s also our best look at the upcoming Scion iM. For those of you looking to replace that Toyota Matrix, here you are. Check out Ronnie’s review of the Auris here.

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Sweers: Diesel Power Not Coming To Toyota Tacoma http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/sweers-diesel-power-not-coming-toyota-tacoma/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/sweers-diesel-power-not-coming-toyota-tacoma/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 13:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1004034 Hoping for diesel power in the new Toyota Tacoma? You can breathe now. According to AutoGuide, Tacoma/Tundra engineering chief Mike Sweers said that diesel power won’t be coming to the Tacoma — despite the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon receiving theirs — due to the Environmental Protection Agency’s upcoming Tier 3 regulations, set to go […]

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Hoping for diesel power in the new Toyota Tacoma? You can breathe now.

According to AutoGuide, Tacoma/Tundra engineering chief Mike Sweers said that diesel power won’t be coming to the Tacoma — despite the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon receiving theirs — due to the Environmental Protection Agency’s upcoming Tier 3 regulations, set to go into effect in 2017. The regs would greatly tighten emissions on diesel-powered light vehicles, making such vehicles more costly to build for automakers, if not consider in the first place:

Diesel, from a fuel economy standpoint, is about a 30 percent improvement right out of the box. The downside to diesel is the emissions has to be certified at the same level as a gas engine. So the way to do that is you have to put on an after-treatment system. So if we consider that cost, versus the fuel economy improvement, and the fact that diesel is $1 more per gallon more than gasoline, is there a return on the investment?

Even if the ROI from each after-treatment system installed — said to add $3,000 to the cost of a vehicle — was worth it now, Sweers warns it wouldn’t be by 2019, when even-tighter diesel-emissions regs would come into force. He says some diesels would be shelved as a result, automakers deciding those engines aren’t worth the headache.

Thus, the Tacoma will be avoiding the green pump handle, opting for either a gasoline-fueled 2.7-liter I4 or 3.5-liter V6 to provide power.

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Chicago 2015: 2016 Toyota Avalon Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-2016-toyota-avalon-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-2016-toyota-avalon-unveiled/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 21:34:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=998690 Turning up with a refreshed look, the 2016 Toyota Avalon took the stage at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. Up front, the Avalon receives reshaped headlamps with LED bulbs, revised turn signals, and a lower, wider grill. Power still comes from either a 3.5-liter V6 producing 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque, or a […]

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Turning up with a refreshed look, the 2016 Toyota Avalon took the stage at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show.

Up front, the Avalon receives reshaped headlamps with LED bulbs, revised turn signals, and a lower, wider grill. Power still comes from either a 3.5-liter V6 producing 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque, or a 200-horsepower hybrid system led by a 2.5-liter four.

XLE and XLE Plus trims receive 17-inch alloys, woodgrain dash and tire-pressure monitoring, while the Touring level turns up the aggressive looks and gains 18-inch alloys and daytime LEDs. The top-of-the-line Limited retains the 18-inch wheels for gasoline-powered versions — 17 inches for the hybrid — and adds adaptive cruise control, pre-collision, and auto-adjusting high beams.

No pricing was announced at the show, but Toyota says the revised 2016 Avalon will hit showrooms later this fall.

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Revised Toyota 86 Gains Some Style In New Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/revised-toyota-86-gains-style-new-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/revised-toyota-86-gains-style-new-edition/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 21:30:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=997114 Shopping for a new Toyota 86? The newly revised JDM model is gaining an injection of style for one variant, in the form of the style Cb. AutoGuide says the 86 style Cb — or Cool beauty — is meant to inject fashion sense into the low-cost sports car, featuring a face that wouldn’t look […]

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Shopping for a new Toyota 86? The newly revised JDM model is gaining an injection of style for one variant, in the form of the style Cb.

AutoGuide says the 86 style Cb — or Cool beauty — is meant to inject fashion sense into the low-cost sports car, featuring a face that wouldn’t look too out of place next to its older siblings like the 2000GT. Other features include two-tone paint, leather steering wheel and woodgrain instrument cluster.

The overall 86 range gains revised power steering, improved ride comfort, and a more rigid frame, all features it will share with its Subaru BRZ twin. The BRZ, however, will have more unique interior features, such as satin silver bezels for the steering wheel and shift panel. Powertrain upgrades were not mentioned at this time.

Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 01 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 02 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 03 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 04 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 05 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 07 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 08 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 09 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 06

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U.S. Sales: The Lexus NX Isn’t Hampering The Lexus RX http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/u-s-sales-lexus-nx-isnt-hampering-lexus-rx/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/u-s-sales-lexus-nx-isnt-hampering-lexus-rx/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 18:29:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994962 Up to this point, the arrival of a potential familial rival has not hindered the success of the Lexus RX, America’s favourite premium brand utility vehicle. The RX, still a relatively affordable two-row Lexus crossover, has been sold alongside the more affordable but somewhat less spacious NX since the very end of November. 5717 copies […]

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2015 Lexus NX200tUp to this point, the arrival of a potential familial rival has not hindered the success of the Lexus RX, America’s favourite premium brand utility vehicle.

The RX, still a relatively affordable two-row Lexus crossover, has been sold alongside the more affordable but somewhat less spacious NX since the very end of November. 5717 copies of the NX were sold in December and January combined. Year-over-year, U.S. sales of the RX rose 8% to 20,194 over the same period.


• RX sales reached an eight-year high in 2014

• 2905 NXs sold in December; 2812 in January


Admittedly, the RX’s rate of growth doesn’t compare well with that of the overall SUV/crossover market. RX sales increased just 3% in the 2014 calendar year and 3% in December specifically. January’s 17% jump translated to 962 extra sales in a SUV/crossover market which rose 19%. U.S. SUV/crossover sales were up 12% in December and in 2014 as a whole.

But late in its lifecycle, with production levels that can only go so high, and with new external rivals popping up all over the place? In that case, the ability of the RX – once a game changer itself – to post any improvement at all is impressive. That it could do so when the $34,480 (base NX200T) arrives in healthy numbers is more monumental.

2013 Lexus RX350The NX, of course, is no shrinking violet. But as the Jeep Cherokee proved before it, avant-garde styling isn’t a first-class ticket out of town in the SUV world. The NX outsold a most small luxury crossovers in January, only trailing the Audi Q5 by 115 units and the Acura RDX by 705. The NX, with 2812 January sales, begins the year 1210 units ahead of the Lincoln MKC, having also handily outsold entry-level players like the Audi Q3, BMW X1, and Mercedes-Benz GLA in addition to slightly upsized rivals like the BMW X3, Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GLK, and Volvo XC60.

But no premium brand crossover sells in anything like the kinds of numbers put up by the RX, and the RX made that all the more clear in January. At this time last year, the second-ranked premium brand utility was the Cadillac SRX, 1161 sales back of the RX. In January 2015, the next-best-selling premium brand utility vehicle was the Acura MDX, 2188 sales abaft.

Lexus sales chartSRX sales slid 22% to 3485 units in January 2015, the SRX’s seventh consecutive monthly decline. MDX sales were up 3% to 4381, equal to 37% of all Acura sales.

Meanwhile, in addition to the 2812 NXs sold by Lexus, its semi-related donor vehicle, the Toyota RAV4, set a January sales record with 19,824 U.S. sales. The RAV4 ranked third overall, 3487 units out of top spot; 230 sales back of the Ford Escape.

Lease deals and financing offers that continue to make the RX look like a good deal when the newer, flashier, less costly NX sits nearby can clearly play a role in keeping the brand’s best seller atop the leaderboard.

Yet by the same token, improved RX offers late in its tenure aren’t holding back the NX from entering the small luxury crossover fray with instantaneous success, either. Product positioning isn’t an easy task, but it’s certainly clear that Lexus has it figured out. At least through two months.

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’s FY 2014 Profits Rise As Yen Weakens http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/toyotas-fy-2014-profits-rise-yen-weakens/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/toyotas-fy-2014-profits-rise-yen-weakens/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 12:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994818 Aside from holding onto its global sales crown for another year, Toyota is also doing well at the bank thanks to a weaker yen. The New York Times reports in Q3 2014, the automaker earned a net profit of ¥1.73 trillion ($14.7 billion USD), besting its earnings in Q3 2013 by 13.2 percent. In turn, […]

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2015 Toyota Camry XSE

Aside from holding onto its global sales crown for another year, Toyota is also doing well at the bank thanks to a weaker yen.

The New York Times reports in Q3 2014, the automaker earned a net profit of ¥1.73 trillion ($14.7 billion USD), besting its earnings in Q3 2013 by 13.2 percent. In turn, the final net profit for FY 2014 has been raised from a projected ¥2 trillion ($16.8 billion) to ¥2.13 trillion ($17.9 billion).

Part of the cause for celebration is due to a weaker yen, the result of Japan’s central bank doing all it can to fight deflation and stimulate the economy to stave off another lost decade. Toyota’s global profits — especially in the United States, where the yen is the cheapest it’s ever been since the 1970s — outpace those in the local market once the other currencies are converted into yen.

However, the celebration won’t last forever. Toyota’s home market is shrinking, and it’s not doing so well in China compared to other automakers like Volkswagen, who will likely take the production crown from the automaker down the road. It also is among those affected by Takata’s airbag recall crisis, though not as greatly as others due to having less of the supplier’s products in its vehicles and larger size.

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Toyota Ordered To Pay $11M In Minnesota Unintended Acceleration Suit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/toyota-ordered-pay-11m-minnesota-unintended-acceleration-suit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/toyota-ordered-pay-11m-minnesota-unintended-acceleration-suit/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 11:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=993954 Nine years after a 1996 Camry with an accelerator defect led to a fatal accident in Minnesota, Toyota was found at fault and ordered to pay $11 million. Reuters reports jurors debated the points of three-week-long trial before finding the automaker 60 percent responsible for the deaths of Javis Trice-Adams Sr. and two children when […]

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1996 Toyota Camry LE

Nine years after a 1996 Camry with an accelerator defect led to a fatal accident in Minnesota, Toyota was found at fault and ordered to pay $11 million.

Reuters reports jurors debated the points of three-week-long trial before finding the automaker 60 percent responsible for the deaths of Javis Trice-Adams Sr. and two children when Koua Fong Lee’s Camry lost its brakes while its accelerator became stuck, striking Trice-Adams Sr.’s Oldsmobile Ciera. Two other passengers were injured in the accident, and Lee spent three years in prison for vehicular manslaughter before being released in 2010 after reports of unintended acceleration involving Toyota products took the spotlight.

Toyota still claims Lee was 100 percent at-fault for the fatal accident, and is considering legal options to pursue. The car itself also wasn’t under the 2009-11 recall of 10 million vehicles made between 2005 and 2010.

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Editorial: Who Needs Quality? Or, the Myth of Brand Loyalty http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/editorial-needs-quality-myth-brand-loyalty/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/editorial-needs-quality-myth-brand-loyalty/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 00:24:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989858    Quick question: what was the number one factor in your most recent new vehicle purchase? Was it styling? Performance? Features? Financing? Price? Comfort? Practicality? Or that old stalwart, quality? If you answered in the affirmative to that last suggestion, you’re part of a shrinking bloc. There were a lot of winners in the 2014 […]

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Quick question: what was the number one factor in your most recent new vehicle purchase? Was it styling? Performance? Features? Financing? Price? Comfort? Practicality? Or that old stalwart, quality? If you answered in the affirmative to that last suggestion, you’re part of a shrinking bloc. There were a lot of winners in the 2014 auto sales race, but quality wasn’t one of them.

Consider the top 5 market share-gaining brands in the 2014 calendar year. They were Maserati (up 171%), Jeep (up 41.2%), Ram (up 27.5%), Mitsubishi (up 24.8%), and Subaru (up 21.0%). If we leave out the ultra-luxe niche brands and those purchased exclusively by the brain-eating undead, we have Jeep, Ram, Subaru, Lincoln (up 15.6%), and Audi (up 15.2%). If we re-organize once more and focus on groups with a wide variety of offerings, it’s Subaru at the head of the line, followed by Fiat-Chrysler (up 16.1%), Nissan Motor Group (up 11.1%), Kia (up 8.4%) and Mazda (up 7.7%).  Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at the results of J.D. Power’s 2014 Initial Quality Study.

jdp-iqs-survey-1

                Hmm, that’s interesting. Of the non-luxury brands that gained the most market share, only Kia beat the industry average for defects per 100 vehicles. Ram tied the average, Nissan slipped below it, and Subaru, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Jeep are all slumming it near the bottom. How about J.D. Power’s 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study, which looks at the number of problems experienced by owners of 3 year old vehicles in the previous 12 months?

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                Things are looking a little better for Subaru and Mazda now, who both beat the industry average by a statistically meaningless margin. Nissan and Kia slipped below it, and Ram, Mitsubishi and Jeep are again in the basement. So there you have it: 2014’s biggest market share gainers were solidly mediocre to poor in J.D. Power’s quality studies. Of course, there is bound to be an outcry here that J.D. Power can’t possibly represent everyone’s lived experience, and that’s fair. But perusing the likes of TrueDelta and Consumer Reports won’t poke any big holes in J.D. Power’s reports; they’re all more or less the same, with a few minor variances. More importantly, perennial quality mavens Honda and Toyota posted year-over-year sales gains of 1.0% and 5.8%, respectively. For Toyota, it was a solid if uninspiring year buoyed by strong performance at Lexus. For Honda, it was the kind of year that makes upper management start to look around for parachutes. What gives?

In the press release for the Initial Quality Study, there’s this interesting nugget about how vehicle defects impact brand loyalty:

Combined data from previous years’ IQS results and the Power Information Network® (PIN) from J.D. Power show that 57 percent of owners who reported no problems stayed with the same brand when they purchased their next new vehicle. Brand loyalty slips to 53 percent among owners who reported just a single problem and to only 48 percent among owners who reported two or more problems.

So according to J.D. Power, there’s only a 57% chance that owning a car with zero defects will lead to trading in your vehicle for the same make the next time around. If you have two or more problems with it (and keep in mind, we’re not talking about weighting these stats to reflect severity in any way), it slips to 48%. Those two numbers both have something in common: they’re F grades. The popular meme says that those who own ultra-reliable cars will return to dealerships like migrating geese, but the data says otherwise. Billions and billions of dollars spent on quality control, and the customer loyalty reward is little better than a coin flip. The Power data is the most compelling evidence yet that the “there are no bad cars anymore” chestnut has really penetrated the mainstream. If even the owners of the best-made cars are largely up for grabs, then what does that say about the conventional wisdom that quality conquers all?

Even if you don’t believe it, assume for the sake of argument that it’s true that it’s not that difficult to build a reliable car anymore. Even the most problem-plagued models are likely to have faults more of the annoying variety, with serious mechanical failures few and far between. Most consumers will have their expectations of reliability met, unless they get a statistically rare lemon. If’s that’s the case, then how long can quality endure as a selling point? This is analogous to the problem Volvo is facing right now in regards to safety. Safety has been a key selling point for Volvo for decades. But who makes unsafe cars anymore? Safety standards are stringent, and even cheap cars have an increasing number of whiz-bang safety technologies. Take away safety, and suddenly Volvo loses what little distinctiveness it had left. Volvo’s only hope now is to become the Chinese answer to Audi in the United States. Good luck with that.

There is at least one man in the auto industry who firmly understands that quality isn’t the make-or-break proposition it once was: Carlos Ghosn. As the other manufacturers choked on their passenger cars in 2014, Nissan grew sedan sales 15%. Of full-line brands including trucks, only FCA had a better year. All of this came on the back of a brand which, quite frankly, has shrugged its shoulders at quality for most of the last decade and a half. Nissan’s quality record in the United States is mixed, but looking back through the last couple of years of J.D. Power studies tends to support the conclusion that the company has been solidly below average since around the turn of the millennium. Clearly, there is something besides quality that is pulling people into Nissan dealers. Maybe it’s styling. Maybe it’s value for the money. Maybe it’s performance, or fuel efficiency. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter; all that it demonstrates is that it’s possible to build sales success on the back of supposedly subpar quality. FCA’s sales data says much the same thing. Inversely, the recent success of the brands with iffy quality means that Volkswagen’s sales disaster can’t be traced to reliability woes alone. Weak or missing product, poor marketing, and an infamous dealership experience are all more salient factors. Perhaps it’s time to question the value of endlessly harping on quality as the sole determinant of success. Or at least, devise better statistical tools to understand reliability. That last point is especially important, given how automobile technology has changed so much since the introduction of these surveys.

Like safety, quality is rapidly disappearing as an independently marketable category. The days where squishy, bland cars could be counted on to generate sales by virtue of quality alone are numbered. Toyota has certainly realized this, which explains the direction of much of their new product. The racy new Camry and the pseudo-premium flavor the Corolla both speak to a changed mentality. The FR-S is an attempt to bring some pizzazz back to showrooms, and even the “We ain’t got no room for boring” Highlander commercials are an attempt to push back against the brand’s staid image. Then there’s the un-blanding of Lexus, as that brand heads in a more Germanic direction. At Toyota, quality is still a priority, but in the marketing department it’s already taken a back seat to other virtues. And if Toyota won’t rest on quality alone to sell its vehicles, then who will?

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Toyota Unveils Silicon Carbide Semiconductor Trial http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-unveils-silicon-carbide-semiconductor-trial/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-unveils-silicon-carbide-semiconductor-trial/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991218 Toyota unveiled its plans Wednesday to trial a new hybrid system using silicon carbide power semiconductors that could find its way into hybrids and EVs. The trial will compare the new silicon carbide semiconductors with silicon units currently found in many a hybrid’s, FCV’s and EV’s power control unit, which are linked to a 20 […]

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Toyota SiC Power Control Unit 01

Toyota unveiled its plans Wednesday to trial a new hybrid system using silicon carbide power semiconductors that could find its way into hybrids and EVs.

The trial will compare the new silicon carbide semiconductors with silicon units currently found in many a hybrid’s, FCV’s and EV’s power control unit, which are linked to a 20 percent loss in overall electric power. The aim is to increase powertrain efficiency by mitigating said losses through the new semiconductors.

The test subjects will be a Camry hybrid prototype and a fuel-cell bus. The bus trial began in early January, when Toyota started data collection on a setup featuring SiC diodes in the FCV’s voltage step-up converter. Meanwhile, the Camry — whose SiC components are in both the hybrid’s voltage step-up and inverter — will hit the road for a year beginning early next month. Both tests are being carried out in Toyota City, Japan.

Toyota hopes to have the SiC technology — developed in a partnership with Denso Corporation and Toyota Central R&D Labs, Inc. — ready for practical use as soon as possible.

Toyota Camry SiC Prototype Toyota SiC FCV Bus Toyota SiC Power Control Unit 01 Toyota SiC Power Control Unit 02 Toyota SiC Power Control Unit In Camry

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Toyota Marketing Mirai With $8K Hydrogen Credit Despite Expiration http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-marketing-mirai-8k-hydrogen-credit-despite-expiration/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-marketing-mirai-8k-hydrogen-credit-despite-expiration/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989970 Despite the recent expiration of the $8,000 federal credit for hydrogen vehicles, Toyota is still marketing its Mirai as if it never happened. Autoblog reports that Toyota is well-aware of the expiration, and is calling upon both houses of Congress to reinstate the credit. Were that to occur, the $57,500 MSRP on the Mirai would […]

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2016-toyota-mirai-6-1

Despite the recent expiration of the $8,000 federal credit for hydrogen vehicles, Toyota is still marketing its Mirai as if it never happened.

Autoblog reports that Toyota is well-aware of the expiration, and is calling upon both houses of Congress to reinstate the credit. Were that to occur, the $57,500 MSRP on the Mirai would fall to $49,500. Other state and local credits would drop the price further, as well; California customers would pay just $44,500 for their FCVs, for example.

The problem, per the automaker’s energy and regulatory affairs director Robert Wimmer, is predicting where the tax process would go:

The two challenges we have now are that both houses of Congress are Republican and also that there has been talk for a while about comprehensive tax reform. If that moves forward, then extenders would probably be put on the back burner as comprehensive tax reform is discussed.

Even if the credit was reinstated, it may only last as long as year or two instead of the three years Toyota wants for the first-gen Mirai. The automaker has been lobbying Congress to act, though Wimmer could not say to what extent.

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Carter To Musk: Hydrogen Just One Basket For Toyota’s Eggs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/carter-musk-hydrogen-just-one-basket-toyotas-eggs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/carter-musk-hydrogen-just-one-basket-toyotas-eggs/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989546 Remember when Tesla CEO Elon Musk declared that Toyota was a fool to invest in hydrogen? Twice? Toyota had a few words to say in return last week. Ecomento reports Toyota Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations Bob Carter took Musk to task regarding comments made during the latter’s annual Tesla shareholders meeting last June, […]

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2016 Toyota Mirai

Remember when Tesla CEO Elon Musk declared that Toyota was a fool to invest in hydrogen? Twice? Toyota had a few words to say in return last week.

Ecomento reports Toyota Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations Bob Carter took Musk to task regarding comments made during the latter’s annual Tesla shareholders meeting last June, as well as those made earlier this month at the Automotive News World Congress, when Musk suggested methane or propane as a better energy storage mechanism while declaring hydrogen “an incredibly dumb one to pick”:

I’m a little disappointed in Mr. Musk’s comments in Detroit last week. But I understand. If I was in a position that I had all of my eggs in one basket I would perhaps be making those same comments. When you take a look at the future, [FCVs are] not a 24- to 36-month play. When you start looking in the 2020s, anybody that would deny [the potential of] moving from an oil-based economy to a hydrogen-based economy [isn’t] looking at the future correctly.

Carter’s response, made last week during the J.D. Power Automotive Summit in San Francisco, come on the heels of Toyota’s unexpected response to its Mirai FCV. Though not due in U.S. showrooms until later this year, the automaker received over 16,000 requests for information on the car. Meanwhile, the FCV has 1,500 confirmed pre-orders in its home market of Japan, with Toyota likely to boost production as interest in the Mirai grows.

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Toyota, BMW Working On Entry-Level MINI Minor Model http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-bmw-working-entry-level-mini-minor-model/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-bmw-working-entry-level-mini-minor-model/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 12:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988994 Been waiting for a MINI that actually lives up to its name? Toyota and BMW are working on such a thing, called the Minor. Automobile Magazine reports the Minor is in the earliest phases of development, and would likely pull its looks from the 2012 Rocketman concept and the current Paceman crossover. Pricing would range […]

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MINI-Rocketman-Concept-2012-widescreen-01

Been waiting for a MINI that actually lives up to its name? Toyota and BMW are working on such a thing, called the Minor.

Automobile Magazine reports the Minor is in the earliest phases of development, and would likely pull its looks from the 2012 Rocketman concept and the current Paceman crossover. Pricing would range between $14,500 and $16,000.

As far as platforms go, the two automakers are going all in on a “bargain basement effort” for the Minor — including a reduction in size and content — instead of using a similarly sized platform like that of the Toyota Aygo, BMW preferring the Minor to not be a badge-engineered product developed and assembled elsewhere.

The new MINI would be one of five new models coming into the portfolio between now and 2018, including an all-new 2016 Countryman and a Superleggera roadster for 2018.

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Toyota No. 1 Global Automaker In 2014, Volkswagen Close Behind http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-no-1-global-automaker-2014-volkswagen-close-behind/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-no-1-global-automaker-2014-volkswagen-close-behind/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987066 Once again, Toyota is the No. 1 largest automaker in the world, but Volkswagen is waiting close behind for the chance to take the crown. Automotive News reports Toyota sold 10.23 million units in 2014 with help from its Daihatsu and Hino partners, the first time the automaker sold over 10 million units in a […]

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WEC 6 Hours of Fuji

Once again, Toyota is the No. 1 largest automaker in the world, but Volkswagen is waiting close behind for the chance to take the crown.

Automotive News reports Toyota sold 10.23 million units in 2014 with help from its Daihatsu and Hino partners, the first time the automaker sold over 10 million units in a single year. Volkswagen took second on the podium with 10.14 million, and General Motors took third with 9.92 million.

2014 marks the second consecutive year Toyota has held the top spot, having regained it from GM in 2012 after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami greatly hindered production for the majority of that year. The automaker originally took the top spot from GM in 2008, the latter having dominated the podium for 80 years prior; Toyota also held the title in 2009 and 2010.

As for 2015, Toyota is forecasting deliveries of 10.15 million due to decreased demand at home and in emerging markets, as well as from falling oil prices and Japan’s increased national consumption tax. Volkswagen, meanwhile, is ahead of schedule as far as taking the crown goes, CEO Martin Winterkorn stating such a thing would occur by 2018 at the earliest before 2014’s results showed otherwise.

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Toyota Breaks Ground On $350M Texas Headquarters http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-breaks-ground-350m-texas-headquarters/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-breaks-ground-350m-texas-headquarters/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 14:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=986714 With a little help from a 2015 TRD Pro Series Tundra and its plow, Toyota broke ground on its new $350 million headquarters in Plano, Texas. Aside from the truck-assisted groundbreaking, the automaker also revealed a 10-foot-tall, 64-foot-wide “TOYOTA” installation during the ceremonies. Each letter held a Texan Yaupon Holly “wish tree,” all of which […]

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Toyota North America Groundbreaking Ceremony

With a little help from a 2015 TRD Pro Series Tundra and its plow, Toyota broke ground on its new $350 million headquarters in Plano, Texas.

Aside from the truck-assisted groundbreaking, the automaker also revealed a 10-foot-tall, 64-foot-wide “TOYOTA” installation during the ceremonies. Each letter held a Texan Yaupon Holly “wish tree,” all of which will be permanently planted once construction is completed. Local high school students were invited to tie handwritten wishes to the trees, as well; the notes will be placed in a time capsule to be buried on-site later on.

The new headquarters will be completed by early 2017 at the latest, and is located at the intersection of Headquarters Drive and Palomino Crossing. The groundbreaking marks the next phase in Toyota’s move to Texas from California, which began with the automaker’s announcement last year. Around 4,000 employees — half from California — are expected to call Texas home in the next couple of years.

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Toyota Increasing Crossover, SUV Production To Meet US Demand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-increasing-crossover-suv-production-meet-us-demand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-increasing-crossover-suv-production-meet-us-demand/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=985474 With U.S. demand for its crossovers and SUVs expected to increase in 2015, Toyota is responding in kind by increasing production at home and in Canada. Bloomberg reports the production increase will prove challenging to president Akio Toyoda’s strategy of squeezing more vehicles — such as the RAV4, RX and NX — from the plants […]

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2014 Toyota RAV4 Exterior, Picture Courtesy pf Alex L Dykes

With U.S. demand for its crossovers and SUVs expected to increase in 2015, Toyota is responding in kind by increasing production at home and in Canada.

Bloomberg reports the production increase will prove challenging to president Akio Toyoda’s strategy of squeezing more vehicles — such as the RAV4, RX and NX — from the plants already in place before considering new construction after March 2016.

Further, Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz says the automaker plans to add smaller crossovers and SUVs to help it gain more overall market share in the U.S. against competitors like Volkswagen, maintaining its position on the top of the global sales podium in so doing.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Toyota Camry XSE http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-toyota-camry-xse/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-toyota-camry-xse/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 14:47:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=984793 The Camry connoisseur, if there is such a thing, would spot the difference. Unlike some well-known TTAC authors who don’t hide their Camry admiration, I wasn’t on board the Camry love boat. The last SE I drove disappointed me with unimpressive efficiency figures, an interior in need of polish, and an overall sensation of obsolescence. […]

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2015 Toyota Camry XSE blue crush metallicThe Camry connoisseur, if there is such a thing, would spot the difference.

Unlike some well-known TTAC authors who don’t hide their Camry admiration, I wasn’t on board the Camry love boat. The last SE I drove disappointed me with unimpressive efficiency figures, an interior in need of polish, and an overall sensation of obsolescence. And it was in fact obsolete, as Toyota Canada delivered a Camry Hybrid SE to my driveway in October 2014 when the refreshed 2015 car was already a thing.


• USD Base Price: $27,725

• Horsepower: 268 @ 6200 rpm

• Torque: 248 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm

• Observed Fuel Economy: 19.3 mpg


Nevertheless, I’ll readily admit I appreciate that Toyota finally located the Camry’s sense of style. When this particular car pulled up in front of our house, I noticed right off the bat that it was an XSE, a trim level Toyota introduced for 2015 to combine XLE luxury with the SE’s sporting intentions. The Blue Crush Metallic also represents top-notch taste.

While it’s my job and I do my best and I take a measure of pride in these things, I didn’t notice key signifiers: twin tailpipes. Granted, Blue Crush arrived on Monday, January 5, the busiest work day of the year for a sales-oriented auto writer like myself. I backed the car into our driveway, refusing to take time out of my busy schedule for an unnecessary late night Volkswagen GTI-like drive to the grocery store. “It’s not like it has a V6,” I muttered.

Yet there may be no V6 more captivating than a surprise V6 in an increasingly competent midsize sedan. You see, 24 hours after my muttering, I was heading into town to collect dog food. After a few miles of routine driving behind slow-moving traffic, I hit the highway under heavy throttle to see if Toyota further isolated the 178-horsepower, 2.5L four-cylinder’s inherent vibration. Except I couldn’t answer that question, because I was approaching my exit with more than enough pace to mutter, “This feels like an engine Lotus would squeeze into an Evora.”

Yes, Camry fanbois (if there are such a thing) would have understood the meaning behind Blue Crush’s dual exhaust outlets. But even in XSE trim, Toyota completely bypasses the V6 badging process. It’s debadged. Or at least unbadged.

Toyota is therefore cool, like the guy who ordered his Porsche 911 without all the extra taxonomical addenda. Or at least sort of like that guy.

2015 Toyota Camry XSEToyota says the 3.5L generates 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft. It’s such a rev-hungry, buttery engine, however, that it feels like there are 300-plus of each. 0-60 mph times below six seconds bring believability to such feelings. The 6-speed automatic lacks all manner of aggression and rewards paddle shift inputs not at all, but it’s a sufficiently cooperative partner for the V6, never flubbing a shift or causing the driver to worry over fragility.

Blue Crush was much more than just an engine. Indeed, the XSE can be had for thousands less without the V6 powerplant. As a whole, the Camry is a stronger package now than it was last year. With “unique shock absorbers, firmer bushings, higher-rate coil springs, specially-tuned steering,” the XSE bears that out more clearly. The structure is stiffer, enabling Toyota to more finely tune the suspension for a very pleasing real-world balance. The ride is only just on the firm side of average, yet the Camry XSE handles ham-fisted, mid-corner adjustments easily and without fuss. The steering is still too slow and light for the XSE to be a genuine sports sedan; brake feel (said to be improved) and brake performance are not confidence-inspiring. But if this suspension configuration represented the conventional Camry’s layout, I believe enthusiasts would grow very fond of the midsize Toyota, and they would wonder just how good TRD’s engineering team could make it if given free rein.

The Mazda 6 is a sharper corner carver, but it rides more stiffly and is noisier inside. Dynamically, the Ford Fusion is very nicely balanced, but not every buyer will put up with Ford’s current infotainment unit when the Camry’s system is so straightforward and intuitive. Hyundai and Kia, with the Sonata and Optima, aren’t yet able to mate serene ride quality to their more aggressive suspension tunes. For a moment, it seemed as though Nissan built the better Camry with their fifth-gen Altima, but the 2015 Camry refresh is a significant one.

Not surprisingly then, the Blue Crush’s prime competition comes in the form of America’s second-best-selling car, the Honda Accord. It’s a game of personal preference at that point.

2015 Toyota Camry XSE interiorPersonally, I’m pleased to discover a Camry that appeals on a large number of different levels. It’s still not the most handsome sedan, its interior is completely devoid of expression, it will quickly become terribly commonplace, it drank at a sub-20-mpg rate during its stay with me. But the Camry XSE is the place where solidity, reliability, and space marry moderate degrees of fun, modestly increased levels of vehicular passion, and mature amounts of back road frolicking.

And it’s relatively affordable. In the United States, Camry XSEs start at $27,725. That’s $2310 more than the SE and the same price as the XLE.

Adding the V6 to a 2015 Toyota Camry XSE costs another $5220, but the V6 XSE includes a raft of equipment that’s optional on the four-cylinder model. It’s worth it. If you’re going to buy America’s best-selling car in large part because the sampling size which helped establish its image of dependability is so large, you owe it to yourself to get the best version of America’s best-selling car.

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 Receives Over 1,500 Orders For Mirai FCV In Home Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-receives-1500-orders-mirai-fcv-home-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-receives-1500-orders-mirai-fcv-home-market/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=984281 One month after Toyota began sales of its Mirai FCV in Japan, around 1,500 have been ordered thus far, well over the 400 the automaker thought it would sell for the entirety of 2015. Carscoops reports the 1,500 orders are split 60/40 in favor of government and corporate fleets. The overall majority of the orders […]

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One month after Toyota began sales of its Mirai FCV in Japan, around 1,500 have been ordered thus far, well over the 400 the automaker thought it would sell for the entirety of 2015.

Carscoops reports the 1,500 orders are split 60/40 in favor of government and corporate fleets. The overall majority of the orders come from four locations in the country: Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture, Aichi Prefecture and Fukuoka Prefecture. Due to its popularity, however, Toyota said it may take a while to fulfill those orders.

The Mirai is expected in the United States beginning later this year, and will sell for $57,500 before federal and state tax credits. A 36-month lease will also be available, with $3,649 due at signing, and $499 per month thereafter.

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NAIAS 2015: 2016 Toyota Tacoma Going Pro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-toyota-tacoma-going-pro/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-toyota-tacoma-going-pro/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 20:15:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=982025 Turns out Toyota had one more trick up its sleeve for the 2016 Tacoma, planning to add a TRD Pro model alongside the rest of the family. According to AutoGuide, Toyota Motor Sales VP of Marketing Jack Hollis confirmed the plans with our sister publication during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. The current Tacoma TRD […]

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Turns out Toyota had one more trick up its sleeve for the 2016 Tacoma, planning to add a TRD Pro model alongside the rest of the family.

According to AutoGuide, Toyota Motor Sales VP of Marketing Jack Hollis confirmed the plans with our sister publication during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. The current Tacoma TRD Pro uses Bilstein shocks, Eibach springs, TRD exhaust, and an assortment of cosmetic upgrades to make its presence in Baja Valley felt by all. Whether the 2016 Tacoma TRD Pro will be more hardy remains a mystery for now.

That said, the new TRD Pro model won’t be available just yet. Hollis says to expect it in 2016 at the earliest.

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NAIAS 2015: 2016 Toyota Tacoma Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-toyota-tacoma-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-toyota-tacoma-debuts/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 19:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=978657 Following both Nissan and Ford, it’s now Toyota’s turn to show off its latest truck offering at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, the 2016 Tacoma [Live photos now available – CA]. Power for the redesigned pickup comes from either a 2.7-liter four-pot or a 3.5-liter Atkinson cycle V6 with the automaker’s D-4S tech, which has […]

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Following both Nissan and Ford, it’s now Toyota’s turn to show off its latest truck offering at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, the 2016 Tacoma [Live photos now available – CA].

Power for the redesigned pickup comes from either a 2.7-liter four-pot or a 3.5-liter Atkinson cycle V6 with the automaker’s D-4S tech, which has both direct and port fuel injection. Both engines come with a standard six-speed automatic, but you’ll need to go for the V6 for the optional six-speed manual.

Five trim levels are available for the Tacoma: SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road and Limited. The TRD Off-Road trim, in particular, comes with an array of features, including: hill start assist; automatic limited slip and locking rear differential; clutch start cancel for manual transmissions; active traction control; and crawl control. All trims can be had in 4×2 and 4×4 configurations, and all have Toyota’s Star Safety System standard.

Other features available include a high-strength steel frame for better rigidity and strength; ultra-high strength steel body shell; power moonroof; smart key and push-button start; extensive NVH reduction; locking tailgate; standard GoPro camera mount; and wheel options ranging from 16 to 18 inches in size.

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Editorial: Someone Is Making Money In Mid-Size Trucks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/editorial-someone-making-money-mid-size-trucks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/editorial-someone-making-money-mid-size-trucks/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 22:27:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=974034 Hats off to Toyota. With the release of the revised 2016 Tacoma, they sit ready to be both the reigning king of the mid-size truck market, and the auto maker that is best positioned to profit off this niche segment. Serious observers of the industry agree that mid-size trucks don’t matter. Once a popular segment, […]

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Hats off to Toyota. With the release of the revised 2016 Tacoma, they sit ready to be both the reigning king of the mid-size truck market, and the auto maker that is best positioned to profit off this niche segment.

Serious observers of the industry agree that mid-size trucks don’t matter. Once a popular segment, they have been on an inexorable decline in recent years.

Just over a decade ago, the Ford Ranger accounted for 226,000 units alone. Today, the entire mid-size truck market is worth roughly 225,000 units, in a truck market worth about 1.7 million units, and an overall market of over 17 million units. The Toyota Tacoma sold 155,000 units, making up 6 percent of the truck market, down 2.8 percent from 2013. The second place Nissan Frontier sold just 74,000 units.

A new look and some incremental improvements in fuel economy may be all that’s needed – especially with gas at record lows. The GM mid-sizers might be better trucks in an objective sense, but much of the Taco’s appeal in key markets like California likes in the fact that it’s not a domestic truck. In the same way that California surf bros wouldn’t be caught dead driving an American truck, the heartland truck consumer won’t entertain the idea of a mid-size import truck – and in the most important pickup markets, that will forever doom them to irrelevancy, since a domestic full-size truck represents a better value and a better badge.

Reaction to the new Tacoma was muted on this site and elsewhere, with many wondering if it was just a refresh of the current model. But why would Toyota do anything else? The Taco has been the top dog in the mid-size truck market for over a decade. Toyota is even planning to up capacity at a second plant to build even more Tacomas (partially to help free up capacity for the Tundra at its Texas plant, partially to lower labor costs by building them in Mexico).

The end goal, of course, is profit. Mid-size trucks are a fairly tough segment to make it in. But Toyota already owns the niche, and the combination of already amortized development costs and a commanding sales lead only strengthens their position. GM may well offer the better truck – but they won’t have the better balance sheet.

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