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, 19 Dec 2014 15:54:40 +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 Detroit 2015: Toyota Teases New Tacoma Again http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-toyota-teases-new-tacoma/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-toyota-teases-new-tacoma/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962290 You saw part of its backside. Now, behold the façade that is the 2016 Toyota Tacoma. Just like before, Toyota didn’t say anything about the third-gen pickup, other than when it would turn up at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show: January 12, 12:50 p.m. Eastern. As previously stated, the Tacoma is the king of the […]

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2015NAIAS_Toyota_Tacoma_Teaser2

You saw part of its backside. Now, behold the façade that is the 2016 Toyota Tacoma.

Just like before, Toyota didn’t say anything about the third-gen pickup, other than when it would turn up at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show: January 12, 12:50 p.m. Eastern.

As previously stated, the Tacoma is the king of the mid-size hill, but its third incarnation will be facing two new upstarts in addition to the aging Nissan Frontier: the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.

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Toyota Will Introduce Redesigned Tacoma At Detroit Auto Show http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-will-introduce-redesigned-tacoma-detroit-auto-show/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-will-introduce-redesigned-tacoma-detroit-auto-show/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 16:09:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=960201 After over a decade without any substantial changes, Toyota is finally redesigning the mid-size Tacoma pickup for 2016. Set to debut at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, the Tacoma’s updates are conveniently aligned with the introduction of the all-new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. While the GM trucks have a head start, the Taco is […]

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toyota-tacoma-teaser

After over a decade without any substantial changes, Toyota is finally redesigning the mid-size Tacoma pickup for 2016.

Set to debut at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, the Tacoma’s updates are conveniently aligned with the introduction of the all-new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. While the GM trucks have a head start, the Taco is far and away the leader in the mid-size truck segment. And with the Nissan Frontier languishing on the market for a few more years, it’s likely that Toyota’s lead will only be extended.

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Toyota Increasing Mirai Production To Meet Strengthening Demand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-increasing-mirai-production-meet-strengthening-demand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-increasing-mirai-production-meet-strengthening-demand/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957394 Its looks leave the B&B cold, and is powered by a fuel whose infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired. So, how popular could the Toyota Mirai possibly be? Better than you’d expect. Nikkei Asian Review reports Toyota will be investing ¥20 billion ($165 million USD) to triple local production in order to meet corporate […]

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Toyota Mirai in Red

Its looks leave the B&B cold, and is powered by a fuel whose infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired. So, how popular could the Toyota Mirai possibly be? Better than you’d expect.

Nikkei Asian Review reports Toyota will be investing ¥20 billion ($165 million USD) to triple local production in order to meet corporate and public-sector demand, which is likely to exceed the 700 units currently planned for assembly by the FCV’s showroom debut December 15.

The investment will allow for increased fuel stack and hydrogen tank production at its main factory in Toyota City, with upgrades planned at a nearby facility where final assembly of the Mirai is conducted. In turn, the move could spur on related investments in infrastructure and other products by interested companies.

Toyota expects to sell 400 Mirais in its home market by the end of 2015, with 3,000-plus moved in the United States by the same period in 2017, and around 50 to 100 in Europe in 2016. Exports to the U.S. and Europe are set to begin next summer.

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Shimizu: Takata Hasn’t Found The Cause Of Airbag Failures http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/shimizu-takata-hasnt-found-cause-airbag-failures/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/shimizu-takata-hasnt-found-cause-airbag-failures/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 15:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955722 Takata has yet to find the root cause of the defect affecting its airbags; Autoliv will supply replacements to Honda; and Toyota, Mazda and Chrysler are expanding their recalls. Reuters reports Takata hasn’t found the cause behind the catastrophic failures in its airbags, per testimony given by safety executive Hiroshi Shimizu before Congress Wednesday. That […]

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Shimizu, Takata's Senior Vice President for global quality assurance, testifies before a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing in Washington

Takata has yet to find the root cause of the defect affecting its airbags; Autoliv will supply replacements to Honda; and Toyota, Mazda and Chrysler are expanding their recalls.

Reuters reports Takata hasn’t found the cause behind the catastrophic failures in its airbags, per testimony given by safety executive Hiroshi Shimizu before Congress Wednesday. That said, Shimizu said his company was of “the strong opinion that (there) is a factor contributing to this defect: which is high humidity, temperature and the life of the product.” He also claimed the ammonium nitrate used in the airbags was safe and stable, though he admitted replacements weren’t coming fast enough.

Meanwhile, competitor Autoliv announced it would supply replacements to Honda for vehicles in the United States. The automaker had mentioned before Congress it was in talks with the supplier and another, Daicel, regarding expanded production to replace modules in a nationwide recall. Autoliv will add capacity in its existing plants, with deliveries to come after six months.

Among the other affected automakers, Chrysler, Toyota and Mazda have stepped up their individual recall efforts. AutoGuide says the subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has called back 149,150 Dodge Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 models from the 2003 model year, covering Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan and the Virgin Islands. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated the move wasn’t enough, and is looking at what action to take next.

Over in Japan, Bloomberg reports Toyota is recalling 190,000 affected vehicles in its local market and in China. The recall comes on the news of a catastrophic detonation at a junkyard of a Takata airbag inside a 2003 WiLL Cypha; the detonation was part of the procedures outlined by Japan’s Automobile Recycling Law, which also requires dismantlers to report any problem to the automaker to determine if a recall is necessary.

Finally, The Detroit News says Mazda is recalling 40,000 more vehicles — including the 2003-2007 Mazda6, 2004-2008 RX-8, 2006-2007 Mazdaspeed6, 2004-2005 MPV and 2004 B-Series — in Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas and Alabama. The automaker previously recalled 44,000 units in the U.S. and 2,600 in Puerto Rico.

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Detroit 2015: Toyota Debuting Next-Gen Tacoma In January http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-toyota-debuting-next-gen-tacoma-january/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-toyota-debuting-next-gen-tacoma-january/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 11:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955626 The next-generation Toyota Tacoma will roll down the ramp this January at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Autoblog reports the announcement came from Toyota senior vice president of operations, Bob Carter, who didn’t offer much else. The new truck is expected to be a significant upgrade than the current model, last refreshed in 2012, and […]

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The next-generation Toyota Tacoma will roll down the ramp this January at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

Autoblog reports the announcement came from Toyota senior vice president of operations, Bob Carter, who didn’t offer much else. The new truck is expected to be a significant upgrade than the current model, last refreshed in 2012, and will be coming into a market that now includes the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins, both of whom have done well for themselves since debuting in showrooms this autumn.

Carter also announced that Lexus would unveil two performance vehicles, but again, proclaimed nothing more than the promise that all in attendance would enjoy seeing them.

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November 2014 Scion Sales Hit 34-Month Low, 18 Consecutive Months Of Decline http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/november-2014-scion-sales-hit-34-month-low-18-months-decline/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/november-2014-scion-sales-hit-34-month-low-18-months-decline/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 14:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955137 For the 18th consecutive month, the Scion brand’s U.S. volume declined in November 2014. The streak has reached a special low point, however, with the worst percentage decline since June and the lowest sales total since January 2012, when the iQ had only just arrived and the FR-S wasn’t yet on sale. We’re long past […]

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Scion brand sales chart 2014For the 18th consecutive month, the Scion brand’s U.S. volume declined in November 2014. The streak has reached a special low point, however, with the worst percentage decline since June and the lowest sales total since January 2012, when the iQ had only just arrived and the FR-S wasn’t yet on sale.

We’re long past expecting Scion to be capable of selling 14,400 cars a month as they did when the brand peaked in 2006. In 2012, Scion sold an average 6125 cars per month, an average which climbed to nearly 6700 monthly sales in the final seven months of that year.

But with just 3907 November 2014 sales, a 21.4% drop compared with November 2013 and a 30.3% decline compared with November 2012, the brand’s 18-month streak has tumbled to new lows.

Only in June of this year, when Scion sales slid 27.3%, or 1728 units, has the monthly decline been more drastic. As in June, the Scion brand’s November decline was sharper than any other automaker’s. But for a number of November’s declining brands, recent history suggests that last month’s results aren’t in keeping with the overall trend.

Land Rover, for instance, was down 20.6%, yet Land Rover sales are up 3.3% this year. Smart volume plunged 15%, but Smart sales are actually up 12.7% this year. Infiniti volume was down 13.3%, but Infiniti volume is up 2% in 2014. Volvo was down 14.4%, but they’re hoping, somewhat reasonably, that the second-generation XC90 is the brand’s saviour in North America.

2014 Scion iM conceptThe XC90’s pedigree and potential are unquestionable: it’s a vehicle that in 2004 sold nearly 40,000 copies for a brand which currently needs nine months to achieve that total across all nameplates. At Scion, are we to believe that the iM is the car that will restore the brand’s fortunes?

Scion initially rocketed to impressive heights with very small, very space-efficient vehicles like the first xB, a 28-mpg car that was bizarrely replaced by the 24-mpg second-gen xB. They sold 61,306 of those first-gen xBs in 2006. Scion’s whole product range – FR-S, tC, iQ, and slowly dying xB and xD – won’t top the 60K mark in 2014.

To put that figure into perspective, consider some of the brands which currently outsell Scion in the United States – Infiniti, Lincoln, Mitsubishi – all of which were roundly outsold by Scion in 2006, when Scion’s lineup featured only three nameplates.

Aging products are a problem. Post-hype, sports cars like the FR-S rarely prove capable of maintaining the early sales levels, nor are they expected to. But setting aside the core attributes that first made the automaker a success is perhaps Scion’s most egregious sin.

There is new product on its way, but a significant Scion rebound still seems unlikely. Fans can hope that new products will lift Scion out of its current situation, a situation which hardly seems tenable in the long-term.

Scion was America’s 28th-best-selling auto brand in November 2014, behind Mini and Porsche. Scion was responsible for just 2.1% of all Toyota MoCo sales last month, making less of an impact than 13 of the company’s nameplates, from the Camry, Corolla, and RAV4 to the Lexus ES, Avalon, and Lexus IS.

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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Takata Refuses NHTSA Call For Nationwide Airbag Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/takata-refuses-nhtsa-call-nationwide-airbag-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/takata-refuses-nhtsa-call-nationwide-airbag-recall/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 14:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955057 Takata won’t be conducting a nationwide recall of its defective airbags anytime soon, but did hire three former U.S. Transportation Secretaries to help the supplier manage the crisis. Meanwhile, an airbag in an non-recalled model explodes in a Japanese junkyard; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration won’t push for a nationwide passenger airbag recall; and […]

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Toyota WiLL Cypha

Takata won’t be conducting a nationwide recall of its defective airbags anytime soon, but did hire three former U.S. Transportation Secretaries to help the supplier manage the crisis. Meanwhile, an airbag in an non-recalled model explodes in a Japanese junkyard; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration won’t push for a nationwide passenger airbag recall; and Toyota and Honda both call for an industry review of Takata’s wares.

The Detroit News reports the supplier informed the NHTSA Wednesday morning that it will not conduct a nationwide recall of vehicles in the United States equipped with driver-side airbags, as requested by the agency in a special order made last week, and whose deadline was December 2. Deputy administrator David Friedman expressed the agency’s disappointment in a statement, lamenting Takata is failing to live up to its responsibility toward keeping drivers safe. Chair and CEO Shigehisa Takada proclaimed in his own statement that his company “remains committed to cooperating closely with our customers and NHTSA to address the potential for inflator rupturing.” An initial decision and public hearing demanding the supplier to recall is the next step for the NHTSA.

Detroit Free Press says Takata called upon former Transportation Secretaries Sam Skinner (George H.W. Bush), Rodney Slater (Bill Clinton) and Norman Mineta (Clinton, George W. Bush) to help guide it through the crisis. Skinner is slated to lead a quality assurance panel to help the supplier better design its airbags, while Slater and Mineta will provide counsel to help it “regain the public’s trust.”

Though the NHTSA is pushing for Takata to recall every driver-side airbag possibly affected by the quality issues at the center of the current regional recall, Automotive News says the agency isn’t in a hurry to do the same for passenger-side airbags. Friedman informed the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade in a written statement that such a recall “is not supported by the data as we now understand it. At this point, a national recall of all Takata air bags would divert replacement air bags from areas where they are clearly needed, putting lives at risk.” That said, if the supplier’s test data proves otherwise, the agency may demand a recall for those airbags, as well.

Over in Japan, a Takata airbag exploded in a 2003 Toyota WiLL Cypha at the Chikamatsu Shokai Co. scrapyard in the Gifu prefecture. Manager Akihiro Wakayama was caught off-guard by the explosion, as the car in question was not among the models already under recall:

I was surprised once again because the unusual explosion occurred in a vehicle that we were told to be safe. That made me think we really don’t know what we can trust to do our work safely.

The WiLL Cypha’s airbag detonation marks the seventh occurrence of junkyard detonations in Japan since June 2012, with the first six occurring among four Honda Fit and two Toyota Corolla models in July of that year. The incidences prior to the Cypha’s — all occurring during detonation procedures as prescribed by the nation’s Automotive Recycling Law prior to scrapping — led to an additional 3 million units being recalled globally.

Speaking of Toyota and Honda, The Detroit News says the two Japanese automakers are calling for a coordinated effort among the entire industry to independently test Takata’s airbags for defects. Both companies issued separate statements to Takata and eight other manufacturers — including Ford, Chrysler and General Motors — asking them to commit to the effort. Ford said it would heed Toyota’s call, with Chrysler Group proclaiming it would “remain committed to identifying the root cause” of the malfunctions, and GM taking the call “under NHTSA guidance.”

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Piston Slap: Byzantine Transmissions in Frozen Highlands http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/piston-slap-byzantine-transmissions-frozen-highlands/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/piston-slap-byzantine-transmissions-frozen-highlands/#comments Mon, 01 Dec 2014 13:12:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=953745   Mehran writes: Greetings to you Sajeev and your evil twin Sanjeev, (yeah he’s dead to me – SM) First of all thank you very much for answering my other question, just to give you an update on that, I ended up not buying the extended warranty. Now we recently bought a 2012 Toyota Highlander […]

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Dat Complexity. (photo courtesy: byzantineempire1.weebly.com)

Mehran writes:

Greetings to you Sajeev and your evil twin Sanjeev, (yeah he’s dead to me – SM)

First of all thank you very much for answering my other question, just to give you an update on that, I ended up not buying the extended warranty. Now we recently bought a 2012 Toyota Highlander Limited to replace my wife’s old car(V6, 5 Speed automatic with the towing package which adds the trans cooler) it has 34K miles and this one has the extended warranty (100K or 2019). The issue that we have with the car is as follow, after a cold start (in the morning) if I put it in any gear (D or R) something funny happens, the transmission acts funny, it goes in and out of the gear couple of times. For example if I want to back-out of the garage when I put in R and give it a little gas it starts going but for a quick second it seems like that the transmission dis-engages and then re-engages and the tachometer jumps from 1K to 3K. If I wait about 10 sec after I start the car and then put in gear everything is OK.

The other day something strange happened, 3 min after cold start, I wanted to merge onto the highway so I mashed the gas all the way to the floor but it stayed in the same gear and did not kick down, now this has only happened once.

I did take it to the dealer and they gave me the “Could not replicate the issue” answer. I looked at the Highlander forums but did not find anything.

Any idea what might be the issue? I looked at the trans fluid, it seems OK and there is no evidence that the previous owner has done any towing with the car and it has always been serviced at the dealer.

Regards,
Mehran

Sajeev answers:

Automatic transmissions (and transaxles) are smart cookies, what with all their fancy electronic controls controlling a byzantine system of fluid pipes, valves, clutches, fans etc. There’s a reason why internal transmission problems are normally handled by repair techs with a particular set of skills. Like this guy:

Click here to view the embedded video.

If there are no check engine lights, the electronics are probably spot on.  That leaves the fluid or that byzantine system to blame. Since your ride is under warranty, I’d leave it with them overnight to see if they can recreate the problem first thing in the morning. Pick an especially cold week for this, and insist it’s kept outside (if they don’t already).  Odds are the dealer is right, it’s operating within specifications. It’s just that the fluid is maple syrup-ish when cold.

There’s a good chance that switching to fresh fluid (maybe even synthetic, if this is true) will help the byzantine system work better when cold, mostly because newer fluid could be more viscous when cold. That is, cold fluid can be thicker, harder to move in the system and resulting in everything moving much sloooooower.  Be respectful of that and the transmission will respect your time and money.

If you want to keep the Highlander past the warranty, consider a preemptive fluid change at 75,000-ish miles.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Toyota: Don’t Drink The (Mirai’s) Water http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-dont-drink-mirais-water/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-dont-drink-mirais-water/#comments Mon, 01 Dec 2014 12:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954449 Want to literally taste the future? Toyota would like for you to reconsider that notion. Automotive News reports the 2016 Toyota Mirai’s exhaust — consisting of water vapor and heat — may have “much fewer organic impurities” than milk, per the FCV’s fuel stack power generator designer, Seiji Mizuno, but what impurities the byproduct does […]

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2016 Toyota Mirai

Want to literally taste the future? Toyota would like for you to reconsider that notion.

Automotive News reports the 2016 Toyota Mirai’s exhaust — consisting of water vapor and heat — may have “much fewer organic impurities” than milk, per the FCV’s fuel stack power generator designer, Seiji Mizuno, but what impurities the byproduct does have depend on what passed through the stack in the first place:

Depending on the place you are driving, some parts of the world might have certain issues, such as organisms like E. coli, which could be hazardous to your health. You never know what the quality of the air intake is.

That said, if you are interested/desperate enough to wonder if the Mirai produces Evian, you’ll be happy to know that the water is said to be “slightly acidic,” with a pH of 5 to 6, just below the levels found in acid rain and beer.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Toyota Yaris http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-toyota-yaris/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-toyota-yaris/#comments Fri, 28 Nov 2014 15:04:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=952633 2015 promises to be a big year for Toyota. The US market is increasingly important for Japan, Inc., and that market is growing. 16.4 million new light-vehicles are expected to be sold in the US in 2014, and 2015 estimates are as high as 17 million. The updated Camry will help capture a large slice […]

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2015 promises to be a big year for Toyota. The US market is increasingly important for Japan, Inc., and that market is growing. 16.4 million new light-vehicles are expected to be sold in the US in 2014, and 2015 estimates are as high as 17 million. The updated Camry will help capture a large slice of that growth, but you need competent product across the board when every basis point counts.

Yaris sales have never led the subcompact segment, but they’ve become particularly soft lately with over 50% going to fleet buyers. The new “European flavor” of the refreshed 2015 Yaris is arriving without a moment to spare then.

Will the refresh be enough to return the Yaris to relevance, or can we still only say that “it’s a car”?

The Yaris’ changes do not represent a full redesign, but this isn’t just an aesthetic nip and tuck at the hands of the French design team either. Interior, exterior and suspension tweaks are all welcome changes to the three- and five-door hatchback configurations. The sedan layout, dead since 2012, stays buried.

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On the outside, buyers will immediately notice the new corporate fascia. A lower windshield angle, reshaped side mirrors and underbody shields aid aerodynamics. 15-in. wheels are steel on the base L trim and alloy on the LE. The SE meanwhile, receives distinctive 16-in. wheels, LED daytime running lights and piano black trim. It isn’t a dramatically more aggressive look than before, but I think the additions are cohesive in a way previous iterations of the Corolla S never managed. Amusingly, the enormous single-blade windshield wiper also returns.

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The interior is both more conventional and more functional than before. Ergonomics are better, which is to say that the cupholders are no long in front of the air vents. HVAC performance is also improved, but some popular features like heated seats aren’t available. I was genuinely impressed by the steering wheel though – the stitching was good, the leather was of decent quality considering the price point and the indents in the shape fit my hands exceptionally well.

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Perhaps the brightest aspect of the outgoing Yaris was its steering in SE configuration (Car & Driver was particularly outspoken in their praise). That steering tune is now standard across all trim levels. Chassis stiffness increases thanks to 36 additional spot welds, enabling Toyota to reduce spring rates compared to 2014. Shoppers will notice the welcome increase in compliance. The short 98.8-in. wheelbase still causes some back-and-forth pitching over expansion joints though, and large bumps upset the whole car as a unit.

On the upside, stability at speed is better than expected. Wider tires are more effective in resisting tramlining than before. The front sway bar, now solid across all trims, and stiffer torsion bar in the rear both do their part to increase the sense of precision. Overall capability won’t threaten true hot hatches like the Fiesta ST, but the package is certainly well-sorted and fun.

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Toyota says road and wind noise are both reduced thanks to 25% more sound deadening than before. I won’t dispute that. However, being that they planned on keeping the same 1.5 liter four cylinder, they should have added more. Allow me to offer a roundabout explanation:

The Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris both entered the US market in model year 2007. The Honda utilized a 1.5L inline four making 109 horsepower, while the Yaris’ 1.5 made 106. Fast-forward to 2015. Both models have been multiple times updated. The Honda now wrings 130 horses from 1.5 liters. The Toyota? Still 106.

Make sure to close the barn doors at night because you need every last horse on the road too. The engine note is pervasive at nearly all speeds, and it isn’t always pleasant. Keeping up with traffic isn’t Mission: Impossible on relatively flat terrain, but 2,500 RPM shifts won’t keep up pace during rush hour either. Whereas the Fit maximizes its engine output with a new CVT transmission, the Yaris soldiers on with the same 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual. If you kvetched about this gearbox back in Jack’s 2013 review, you may as well copy-paste your comments here – they’re still fully relevant.

Fun fact: With yesteryear’s automatic, the EPA rates the Yaris just 1 mpg better on the highway than the four-cylinder Camry. Midsizers have certainly made greater efficiency gains than subcompacts over the last few years, but this is still a dubious distinction for the Yaris. The EPA calls for 30/32/36 with the autobox and 30/33/37 with the 5-speed manual.

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For a few buyers though, that sort of powertrain continuity could be a selling point if construed as an indicator of reliability. In that case, you’ll likely also be pleased with the ease of servicing it. Lay a newspaper on the ground under the engine bay, open the hood and stare straight down – there’s enough space around the block to read entire stories. Compared to the plastic-shrouded aggravation DIY-types frequently have to endure these days, it’s a welcome surprise.

Every change Toyota made to the Yaris was for the better, the proven powertrain will probably start every time you twist the ignition for the next 20 years and pricing increases are modest versus 2014 models. The changes barely keep pace with the segment though. This refresh is almost certainly a stopgap measure, a placeholder for the fully redesigned version being developed with Mazda. In the meantime, the 2015 Yaris is an improved vehicle whose buyers still can’t say much beyond the fact that “It’s a car”.

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Toyota provided airfare, accommodations and the tested vehicles for this review.

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Toyota’s LFA Works Now Home To Mirai FCV Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/toyotas-lfa-works-now-home-mirai-fcv-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/toyotas-lfa-works-now-home-mirai-fcv-production/#comments Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=952529 Remember when Herr Schmitt took us for a TTAC exclusive into the workshop that made the Lexus LFA? It’s now the home of the Toyota Mirai. Automotive News reports Toyota gave its FCV to the LFA Works — located behind the Motomachi plant in Toyota City, Japan — because the facility’s attention to detail and […]

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Remember when Herr Schmitt took us for a TTAC exclusive into the workshop that made the Lexus LFA? It’s now the home of the Toyota Mirai.

Automotive News reports Toyota gave its FCV to the LFA Works — located behind the Motomachi plant in Toyota City, Japan — because the facility’s attention to detail and better tools (i.e., hands) than any of the more “ultra-efficient,” machine-powered factories under the automaker’s watch.

Because of the Mirai’s hand-built nature — the powertrain and other components are assembled in Toyota’s Honsha plant, then brought over to the LFA Works for final assembly — executive vice president for domestic sales Masamoto Maekawa warns supplies will be limited, with only 700 planned for the first year, 200 of which are already on-order:

Each unit is carefully built with utmost care. So therefore, the production volume might be limited. During the initial stages, delivery time might be delayed. The 200 orders are mostly from government and corporate fleets.

Prior to the Mirai, the small workshop made limited-edition models, including a $10,000, 100-unit run of carbon fiber bicycles marketed to well-off Lexus owners, a carbon-fiber roof for special performance variant of the Toyota Mark X, and of course, the 500 LFAs assembled between 2010 and 2012.

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Toyota Recalls 57K Over Takata Airbags http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/toyota-recalls-57k-takata-airbags/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/toyota-recalls-57k-takata-airbags/#comments Fri, 28 Nov 2014 12:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=952505 Toyota issued Thursday a global recall of 57,000 vehicles affected by the Takata airbag crisis. Reuters reports the majority of the vehicles — 40,000 — were sold in the automaker’s home market of Japan, while 6,000 are in Europe and the rest scattered around the world excluding the North American market. The models affected are […]

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2003 Toyota RAV4

Toyota issued Thursday a global recall of 57,000 vehicles affected by the Takata airbag crisis.

Reuters reports the majority of the vehicles — 40,000 — were sold in the automaker’s home market of Japan, while 6,000 are in Europe and the rest scattered around the world excluding the North American market. The models affected are the Vitz/Yaris and the RAV4, and were assembled between December 2002 and March 2004.

Additionally, Toyota subsidiary Daihatsu recalled 27,571 Miras assembled for sale in Japan between December 2002 and May 2003 for the same issue, marking the brand’s first Takata-related recall.

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Surprise, Surprise, The Scion iM Looks Just Like An Auris http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/surprise-surprise-scion-im-looks-just-like-auris/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/surprise-surprise-scion-im-looks-just-like-auris/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 15:31:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=952137 When the Scion iM makes its way over to our shores in 2015, it will ditch the aggro-blue paint job and the import tuner bodykit. How do we know this? Logic dictates that a mainstream car would look, well, mainstream. Oh, and spy photos. Our friends at AutoGuide got their hands on spy photos of […]

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When the Scion iM makes its way over to our shores in 2015, it will ditch the aggro-blue paint job and the import tuner bodykit. How do we know this? Logic dictates that a mainstream car would look, well, mainstream. Oh, and spy photos.

Our friends at AutoGuide got their hands on spy photos of the Scion iM, which shows the car looking identical to an Auris. Personally, I don’t think it’s such a bad thing, but I’m past my tuner years. Fans of the Toyota Matrix will probably concur.

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NHTSA, USDOT Demand National Recall Action From Takata, Automakers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-usdot-demand-national-recall-action-takata-automakers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-usdot-demand-national-recall-action-takata-automakers/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949217 While we were looking over the latest and greatest from the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Takata band played on. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both calling for a national recall of all vehicles with Takata’s airbags, citing a catastrophic failure of a module outside the high-humidity […]

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While we were looking over the latest and greatest from the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Takata band played on.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both calling for a national recall of all vehicles with Takata’s airbags, citing a catastrophic failure of a module outside the high-humidity zone previously established in an earlier recall.

The NHTSA also issued a General Order to the airbag supplier and 10 automakers — BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota — requiring all to submit documents regarding “completed, ongoing or planned testing” of the supplier’s inflators outside of the current recall zone, with the goal of having all involved come correct with the agency and the American public about what they all plan to do about the airbags. Takata alone received a Special Order, regarding the propellent used in its airbags.

Responses to both orders are due by December 5.

Three of the 10 automakers involved with the General Order — Ford, GM and Honda — may likely have the hardest time replacing Takata completely. Per Bloomberg, the trio worked closely with the supplier to develop special features for their vehicles — Ford’s Adaptive Steering system, GM’s front center airbags — features that would take a while to work out with a new supplier if a deeper relationship were to take hold.

Meanwhile, only 6 percent of the 8 million vehicles equipped with Takata’s airbags have been repaired thus far, a rate critics of the supplier and its client base find appalling. The pace isn’t likely to quicken, however; Toyota says it would take a year at minimum to test and replace its units with those from other suppliers, while Nissan said doing the same for itself wasn’t feasible.

Returning to the Beltway, Reuters reports Takata had presented documents to the NHTSA linked to a 2009 accident involving its airbags, only for the agency to decline, as it had closed its investigation on the supplier and Honda, whose vehicle was involved in said accident. The NHTSA informed the news agency that the documents “would not have added to the agency’s understanding of the issues involved in that particular investigation.”

Speaking of Honda, senior executive Rick Schostek admitted before Congress that his company failed to notify the NHTSA or its customer base about the issues with Takata’s airbags, promising to offer consumers a loaner if their affected vehicles are repaired quickly due to supply shortages. As for Takata’s Hiroshi Shimizu, Automotive News says he went on the defensive, going so far as to claim that it was “hard” for him to “answer yes or no” to several questions asked by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, much to the dismay and bemusement of the committee members.

Prior to the call for a nationwide recall, the regional-specific actions, as well as the NHTSA’s order to consumers to have their airbags replaced immediately, contributed to public anxiety over whether or not the airbag before them would disfigure or kill in an accident. According to Bloomberg, Takata itself believes a national recall would only further exacerbate those fears, potentially diverting resources “from where they’re needed, putting lives at risk.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reports the Monclova, Mexico facility where the defective units were assembled had issues from the moment it opened its doors in 2000. Aside from the units made in 2001, 2002 and 2012, an explosion in 2006 — one some workers claim was fueled by the same ammonium nitrate used in Takata’s airbags as a propellent — jump-started a production run where quality slipped against hourly quotas. Whether the top brass knew of the problems, however, is a different story, as it never sent permanent staff to Mexico from its headquarters in Japan.

Over in Germany, BMW is working with the supplier to have its airbags made closer to home in Freiberg, transferring production from Mexico. The move only applies to BMW, who expects additional production to come online by mid-December. Alternative arrangements would take two years and “divert attention from current recall efforts,” per the automaker.

Finally, U.S. Air Force First Lieutenant Stephanie Erdman gave her testimony before Congress, detailing what had happened to her when a vehicle turned in front of her 2002 Honda Civic in September 2013. According to The Detroit News, the resulting injuries and ongoing surgeries led to a lawsuit against Honda, whose certified dealership in Destin, Fla. failed to notify Erdman of the February 2010 driver’s side airbag recall or what would happen if the airbag deployed in the wrong conditions, nor did the dealership replace the unit in question. She also feared that once the spotlight subsides on Takata et al, the problems would still be there, and urged Congress to continue to hold all accountable for their actions.

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Los Angeles 2014: Scion iMatrix http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-scion-imatrix/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-scion-imatrix/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 15:58:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948617 If you needed another reason why Toyota decided to kill off the Matrix, here it is. The Scion iM, based on the European Toyota Auris, is basically the same thing as the Matrix, but developed by Toyota’s European arm. Hatchback buyers now have yet another choice in the segment, and according to Ronnie Schreiber, we […]

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If you needed another reason why Toyota decided to kill off the Matrix, here it is.

The Scion iM, based on the European Toyota Auris, is basically the same thing as the Matrix, but developed by Toyota’s European arm. Hatchback buyers now have yet another choice in the segment, and according to Ronnie Schreiber, we all stand to benefit.

 

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Los Angeles 2014: Toyota Prius C, V Revised http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-toyota-prius-c-v-revised/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-toyota-prius-c-v-revised/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 00:30:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948233 For 2015, the Toyota Prius c and V models both receive slight revisements to their respective styles and beyond. The larger V has three new color options available for the curious: Attitude Black Metallic (not related to Catherine Wheel’s reggae smash hit with a similar name), Absolutely Red and Toasted Walnut Pearl. New LED and […]

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For 2015, the Toyota Prius c and V models both receive slight revisements to their respective styles and beyond.

The larger V has three new color options available for the curious: Attitude Black Metallic (not related to Catherine Wheel’s reggae smash hit with a similar name), Absolutely Red and Toasted Walnut Pearl. New LED and fog lighting illuminate the road ahead, while the eight-way adjustable power seating keeps the driver comfortable, and the V’s advanced tech system — including adaptive cruise control and pre-collision — keep all safe.

The c, meanwhile, receives its own trio of shades — Electric Lime Metallic, Tangerine Splash Pearl and Sparkling Sea Metallic — piano black and chrome accents inside and out, height-adjustable driver’s seat, and 60/40 fold-down rear seating.

Price of admission for the V falls $75 to $27,500 on the ground floor, while the upper end climbs $540 to $31,760. No price was available for the c as of this writing.

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Toyota’s Texas Move Could Reduce US White-Collar Workforce 70 Percent http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/toyotas-texas-move-reduce-us-white-collar-workforce-70-percent/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/toyotas-texas-move-reduce-us-white-collar-workforce-70-percent/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946602 As Toyota prepares to consolidate the majority of its U.S. operations into its new headquarters in Plano, Texas, it may end up retaining as little as 30 percent of its engineering, sales, finance and corporate workforce after the move as uncertainty takes hold. Automotive News reports the automaker is doing all it can to hold […]

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Toyota Texas

As Toyota prepares to consolidate the majority of its U.S. operations into its new headquarters in Plano, Texas, it may end up retaining as little as 30 percent of its engineering, sales, finance and corporate workforce after the move as uncertainty takes hold.

Automotive News reports the automaker is doing all it can to hold onto as many of its employees as possible with the move to Texas drawing closer with every passing day, going as far as to offer a generous package to help employees remain with the company:

  • Lump-sum payment based on job level to those who follow Toyota into Plano, then remain on-board for two years after
  • Rentention bonuses based on salary/tenure for those who stay until their departments move to Plano
  • Full reimbursement of relocation costs for those in supervisory or management roles and above
  • Real estate assistance for those selling their homes to buy one in Texas

Though it has budgeted its package for 50 percent of its U.S. workforce — the figure proposed to help make for a smooth transition while avoiding the continuity issues Nissan faced in a similar move in 2006 — a source inside Toyota stated the company would be lucky to retain 30 percent:

They would be happy to have 50 percent. It’s hard to tell [how many people will go] because nobody has been offered their jobs yet.

Toyota plans to offer new job classifications beginning in January, with the goal of realigning most of its employees under one set of guidelines. The classifications will also affect benefits and bonuses, along with how a given job is conducted and administered. Since the announcement of those changes this past summer, however, morale and productivity have fallen amid the long wait, per another inside source.

Around 4,050 employees from California, New York and Kentucky are expected to make the move to Plano by 2017.

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Honda’s Next FCX Vs. The Toyota Mirai: Your Fuel Cell Face-Off http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/hondas-next-fcx-vs-toyota-mirai-fuel-cell-face/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/hondas-next-fcx-vs-toyota-mirai-fuel-cell-face/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 18:07:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946402 On the same day that Toyota announced plans for a hydrogen fueling infastructure on the Northeast, Honda showed off their next-generation fuel cell vehicle, re-affirming that Japan is “all-in” on hydrogen vehicles. Japan’s biggest auto maker officially announced the moniker “Mirai” for its fuel-cell vehicle, as well as vague plans for an American introduction stating […]

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Honda FCV Concept

On the same day that Toyota announced plans for a hydrogen fueling infastructure on the Northeast, Honda showed off their next-generation fuel cell vehicle, re-affirming that Japan is “all-in” on hydrogen vehicles.

Japan’s biggest auto maker officially announced the moniker “Mirai” for its fuel-cell vehicle, as well as vague plans for an American introduction stating

“Toyota is collaborating with Air Liquide to develop and supply a phased network of 12 state-of-the-art hydrogen stations targeted for New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The states and locations have been strategically selected in the greater New York and Boston areas to provide the backbone of a hydrogen highway for the Northeast corridor. Specific details of the collaboration will be revealed in the coming months.”

Honda also announced a concept of their next-generation FCX, which has a range of 300 miles and an expected re-fueling time of 3-5 minutes. While power has increased by 60 percent and the size of the fuel cell stack has shrunk by 30 percent, the big news is that the technology now allows for 5 passenger seating, whereas the previous FCX had Chevrolet Volt-like seating for four bisected by a large center tunnel.

While Nissan remains committed to EV technology, Honda and Toyota have firmly planted themselves in the hydrogen camp. Backed by massive subsidies and infrastructure projects from the Japanese government, the two auto makers have pivoted away from EVs and towards hydrogen fuel cells as the alternative powertrain of the future. The two big auto makers are likely betting on the generous government investment, the ability to scale hydrogen fuel cells to different bodystyles and the advances in hydrogen production (backed by cheap natural gas) to help spur adoption of FCVs. Of course, the market will decide the victor in the end.

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Detroit Three Contribute $26M To Detroit Grand Bargain Fundraiser http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/detroit-three-contribute-26m-detroit-grand-bargain-fundraiser/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/detroit-three-contribute-26m-detroit-grand-bargain-fundraiser/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 13:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944713 As part of the overall strategy of lifting Detroit out of bankruptcy, the Detroit Three have signed on to provide the Detroit Institute of Arts with a $26 million contribution to be distributed over the next 20 years. Detroit Free Press reports Ford and General Motors each contributed $10 million, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles threw […]

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As part of the overall strategy of lifting Detroit out of bankruptcy, the Detroit Three have signed on to provide the Detroit Institute of Arts with a $26 million contribution to be distributed over the next 20 years.

Detroit Free Press reports Ford and General Motors each contributed $10 million, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles threw in $6 million to the pot. Toyota added $1 million, and a group of suppliers gave the museum $2.2 million.

The total contributions made up part of the $100 million DIA had sought for its part of a grand bargain fundraising effort at the center of Detroit’s restructuring plan, an effort totalling $816 million that would go to reduce employee pension cuts and save the museum’s collection from the auction block.

The Detroit Three’s contribution took some time to work out, as their respective charitable foundations normally commit to one-time and short-term donations. Thus, the trio came together to meet with other foundations to understand how best to go about throwing down for the cause, as well as with Judge Gerald Rosen, the judge who helped put the grand bargain together. By April, Ford committed its $10 million, with GM and its foundation splitting their contribution, and FCA directly adding its $6 million.

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Scion iM Concept Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/scion-im-concept-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/scion-im-concept-revealed/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 17:12:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944601 Well, we called it. Scion will be bringing its own version of the Toyota Auris over here as their next new model launch. Rather than the truly wagon-like Auris Touring Sports, the iM appears to be a traditional hatchback. While no powertrain details have been revealed, the examples driven by our own Ronnie Schreiber were evidently […]

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Well, we called it. Scion will be bringing its own version of the Toyota Auris over here as their next new model launch.

Rather than the truly wagon-like Auris Touring Sports, the iM appears to be a traditional hatchback. While no powertrain details have been revealed, the examples driven by our own Ronnie Schreiber were evidently not up to snuff for North American tastes.

 

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We Can’t Rent This Camry, But Maybe We Can Track It http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/cant-rent-camry-maybe-can-track/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/cant-rent-camry-maybe-can-track/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 20:48:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940617 TTAC’s authorial corps have been the lone contrarian element in their praise for the Toyota Camry – but not even Jack Baruth could have imagined a Camry XSE like the one that debuted at the SEMA show. The “Camry” seen here is little more than a tube-framed dragster with the V8 engine and driveline out […]

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TTAC’s authorial corps have been the lone contrarian element in their praise for the Toyota Camry – but not even Jack Baruth could have imagined a Camry XSE like the one that debuted at the SEMA show.

The “Camry” seen here is little more than a tube-framed dragster with the V8 engine and driveline out of a Toyota Tundra, along with a nitrous oxide system. The 850 hp dragster is said to be good for a sub-10 second quarter-mile. If it weren’t a one-off concept that is in no way street legal, it could almost be Toyota’s Hellcat.

 

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Capsule Review: 2015 Toyota Camry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-toyota-camry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-toyota-camry/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 13:30:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940041 In 1992, the Toyota Camry was perhaps the most respected sedan in the midsize segment. Not all consumers could afford one, but most would have preferred one. The 1997 model represented Toyota’s changed focus. Rather than adding features and content, they started adding profitability “affordability”. Steve Lang and Ed Niedermeyer discussed this in detail, but […]

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In 1992, the Toyota Camry was perhaps the most respected sedan in the midsize segment. Not all consumers could afford one, but most would have preferred one. The 1997 model represented Toyota’s changed focus. Rather than adding features and content, they started adding profitability “affordability”. Steve Lang and Ed Niedermeyer discussed this in detail, but here’s the short version: With every successive redesign, Toyota promised that its cost-controls would be transparent to consumers. With every successive redesign, consumers noticed a few more cut corners but kept buying.  Sales first grew organically but then became increasingly dependent on incentives.

This takes us to 2015. The Camry is America’s best-selling passenger car 12 years running and sold 408,000 units in 2013. The lead is tenuous though as competitors are gaining marketshare through fashionable sheetmetal, tech-laden interiors and superior dynamics.

Sounds like it’s time for a midcycle refresh then.

Notice that I said “refresh”, not “clean-sheet redesign”. All powertrain options are carryover from the previous year, but Toyota’s updates were still substantial enough to generate 2,000 new parts. Torsional rigidity is up via 22 additional spot welds, enabling a suspension retune. Every exterior surface aside from the roof is new, and the interior is significantly revised.

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The Camry is considerably improved by this refresh, yet pricing for the volume trims (LE and SE) is roughly flat with 2014. Yesteryear’s L trim was dropped, but the LE ($22,970 before destination) features keyless entry, an 8-way power driver seat, backup camera and all the power options buyers now expect as standard. Steel wheels might be the only reason for pause among consumers. Those looking for more will consider the XLE ($26,150) and its standard heated leather seating, 4-way power passenger seat, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, stitched dash and other niceties.

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Drivers interested in a feistier dynamic proposition will recall the SE trim ($23,840) that Jack loves so dearly. TTAC’s resident lovable rogue wasn’t alone in his preference for this configuration either – SE sales represent about 40% of Camry volume. The formula remains similar in 2015 with a sharper suspension, weightier steering and several interior improvements. It’s all easily identified via a unique grill and 17-inch alloys. The performance ladder goes one rung higher this year however thanks to the new XSE trim ($26,150). In addition to similar luxury trappings as the XLE, XSE springs receive another round of stiffening over the SE units, wheels are upsized to 18 inches, steering receives a unique tune and the conventional shocks and struts are swapped for digressive units that feature internal rebound springs.

4_DriverIP

Entune, Toyota’s infotainment system, is standard on all trims and continues to improve. Those who approach technology with – ahem – suspicion may now find it more intuitive than MyFord Touch. The base and optional JBL stereos are unchanged, but both sound clearer thanks to 30% more sound insulation than before.  XLE and XSE buyers can also opt for tech offerings you formerly needed to purchase a Lexus to get – LED high and low headlights, a wireless charging tray for Qi-equipped cell phones, adaptive cruise control and a crash-prevention suite including an automatic braking feature. The crash-prevention suite enables an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ score.

As already mentioned, engines and transmissions are unchanged. Toyota’s ubiquitous 2.5 liter inline four (178 hp, 170 lb-ft) is available with all trims, while the 3.5 liter V6 (268 hp, 248 lb-ft) is available on the XLE and XSE. A 6-speed automatic pairs with either engine. Meanwhile, the 2.5 liter Atkinson-cycle hybrid is offered on the LE, XLE and now SE trims.  Toyota reported that 10% of buyers chose the hybrid last year and 6% elected for the big bore V6.

Fuel efficiency improves versus 2014 but is just average in the segment. Direct injection fueling and a few other tricks commonly used by competitors are conspicuously absent in the conventional engines. A coefficient of drag of just 0.28 and slight curb weights ranging from 3,240 lbs (4-cylinder LE) to 3,480 lbs (V6 XSE) certainly help though. The EPA is calling for 25/35/28 city/highway/combined MPG for the 2.5, 21/31/25 for the V6 and 43/39/41 for the hybrid. My test loops were generally short, but the numbers seem realistic.

5_profile

Toyota is quick to call this the boldest Camry ever. The looks are certainly more pronounced than before, but don’t expect anything as controversial as Lexus’ spindle grill. I’ll make my comments brief as Sajeev has already ground this grain – he’s right to criticize the DLO-woe Toyota has unleashed, but I also think Toyota deserves some credit for making mirrors, lower trim, door guards, etc. body color on all trim levels. It’s a good move for a brand increasingly accused of pinching the wrong pennies.

The interior upgrades are less divisive. Material selection and textures are generally improved, and more surfaces are soft-touch than before. The faux stitching of 2014 is largely removed, and actual stitching is available (dashboard, gearshift, steering wheel, and door inserts) depending on trim. The upper buttons on the center stack are still remind me of a large-print keyboard, but the 2015 design is much more modern. With one obvious exception, panel gaps are improved too… once I saw the maw around the glovebox lock, I couldn’t unsee it:

6_glovebox

On the road, all trim levels represent a dynamic improvement over their predecessors. Body roll is particularly reduced in the LE and XLE. They still aren’t sporting propositions though – steering effort is lighter than average and tire grip is modest.  In previous years, there was a large gap in dynamic traits between the LE and SE. I still prefer the SE tune overall, but the difference isn’t as pronounced anymore. (That’s a reflection of greater improvement in the LE, not a regression of the SE).

New two-stage brake boosters are offered on all trims and improve feel considerably. Pedal modulation is more precise than before but also generally softer than most competing midsizers. Brakes aside, the SE alleviates the above complaints about LE’s steering weight and body roll without inducing harshness. The suspension loads up nicely when pushed, and you can easily develop enough rapport with the car to independently feel what the front and rear tires are doing without resorting to extralegal speeds.

Mild driving won’t indicate much of a difference between the SE and XSE, but pressing the car hard reveals a genuinely greater performance envelope. Transition behavior is much crisper, and the steering stays truer when applying throttle to exit a corner. Toyota staffers indicated that CEO Akio himself had a say in the suspension tune. If you enjoy the SE, you’ll likely prefer the XSE.

7_hybrid

No version of the Camry is dangerously slow (the hybrid is actually a bit quicker to 60 than the inline four), but the gas-only powertrain options, particularly the 2.5, are starting to show their age. Low-end performance of the 2.5 is softer than several competitors’ entry-level engines but is still less thrashy than the 2.5 Ford offers. Subjectively, I found the V6 much more competitive versus other upper-shelf segment offerings and continue to prefer it to most competing 2.0 turbos.

When considered as a whole, the 2015 Camry does not dominate in objective and subjective measures the way its 1992 forebear did. There is no “1992 Camry” in the marketplace today though – no competitor represents that kind of runaway engineering effort. In a segment noted for parity, the 2015 Toyota Camry represents an improved, still-safe choice that doesn’t quite reach for greatness.

8_tail

2._side 3_xse 4_DriverIP 5_profile 6_glovebox 7_hybrid 8_tail center IMG_0534 IMG_0544 IMG_0546 IMG_0547 IMG_0549 IMG_0549 IMG_0554 IMG_0557 IMG_0575 IMG_0578

Toyota provided airfare, accommodations and the tested vehicles for this review.

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Piston Slap: A Scion’s Ideal All Season Tire? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/piston-slap-8/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/piston-slap-8/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 12:10:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935850 TTAC Commentator Sam Hell Jr. writes: Hi, Sanjeev! The first car I bought for myself was a 2011 Scion tC. Compared with some other decisions I made three years ago (cough, cough, career in human resources, cough), this one’s turned out okay — to date, I’ve put 40k on the odo with no repair costs […]

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TTAC Commentator Sam Hell Jr. writes:

Hi, Sanjeev!

The first car I bought for myself was a 2011 Scion tC. Compared with some other decisions I made three years ago (cough, cough, career in human resources, cough), this one’s turned out okay — to date, I’ve put 40k on the odo with no repair costs but regular maintenance, and the hatchback utility and decent fuel economy have both matched up well with my needs. I’ll probably have the tC paid off this year, and I’m looking forward to debt-free living, so the car and I are stuck with each other for some time to come.

My biggest complaint is with the car’s interstate manners. I take a handful of significant road trips every year, and at freeway speeds on anything but pristine pavement (of the kind one does not often traverse on I-80), the ride gets jittery, and the tire noise is, well, tiresome.

I’m still running the stock 225/45R18 high-performance Toyos; based on the treadwear, I’ll be shopping for tires sometime in the next 12 months. I’m willing to trade some responsiveness for a little more comfort and quiet.

Would moving over to a grand touring tire like a Michelin Primacy be a reasonable option for me? Or would I just turn my noisy econohatch into a noisy econohatch with less-capable handling? (All-seasons are my only option — I live in northwest Ohio, and I don’t have anywhere to store a second set of tires.)

Follow-up question — are there some other reasonable steps I’m overlooking which might make this car a little less Celica and a little more Solara?

Thanks so much for your time — I’m a big fan of your columns!

Sajeev writes:

You don’t like being in command of people’s careers as An Almighty HR Professional?  I enjoy blackmailing certain super-cheaty racers as a judge in The 24 Hours of LeMons. You can do that too!

Just get the dirt on key executives, or middle managers hot-to-trot up the corporate ladder. Think about it: you could be bribing your way to a 2-car garage with ultra-plush Mercury Grand Marquis levels of comfort in a matter of months. After a year, LSX-FTW swap on both vehicles! Problem solved!

Sanjeev writes:

Oh that’s just lovely advice, you are such a wise man.  No wonder everyone wants ME to answer their letters, even with YOUR mindless rantings in tow. My friends: listen to Sanjeev.  Sanjeev knows Toyotas.

Sanjeev knows that your tires are old enough to need replacement, no matter their tread life.  Their noise level is tiresome, quite common for worn-out high performance rubber.  You can probably downsize to a Scion/Corolla 16 or 17″ wheel for maximum effect, maybe you’ll regret the lack of coolness in your cool Scion-branded Toyota. Why is Sanjeev right about this?  Because he did a mere tire change after Sajeev failed in his choice for his mother’s Lexus GS430.

Sajeev put a “high performance” all season tire, they drove everyone nuts after 3 years.  So Sanjeev wisely installed a less aggressive “touring” all season tire. Now everyone is happy. Because now it’s a proper V8-powered Lexus, with tires that will last longer, ride better (probably) and stay quieter. So, with Sanjeev’s blessings, switch to a more conservative all season tire!

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Toyota Sells Some Of Its Stake In Tesla http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/toyota-sells-stake-tesla/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/toyota-sells-stake-tesla/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 11:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935994 Daimler wasn’t the only to sell its Tesla shares last week, as Toyota has done the same with some of its shares in the company. Bloomberg reports the automaker sold part of its 2.4 percent stake in the company Friday, though no details were given as to how much of the $690 million ROI was […]

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2013 Toyota RAV4 EV, Exterior, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Daimler wasn’t the only to sell its Tesla shares last week, as Toyota has done the same with some of its shares in the company.

Bloomberg reports the automaker sold part of its 2.4 percent stake in the company Friday, though no details were given as to how much of the $690 million ROI was brought back into its coffers. The sale follows Daimler’s full divestment from the company, where it turned over its 4 percent stake for $780 million.

Toyota and Tesla are also winding down their RAV4 EV program before going their separate ways, where the latter supplied battery packs for the former’s 2,600 electrified crossovers over the past three years.

Though the two differ on what future they see — Toyota prefers hydrogen, Tesla opts for more electricity — Toyota representative Kayo Doi says her employer has “a good relationship” with Tesla, “and will evaluate the feasibility of working together on future projects.”

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Nissan, Honda Recall More Takata-Equipped Vehicles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nissan-honda-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nissan-honda-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935674 The Takata airbag recall continues to grow, with Nissan adding 260,000 2008 through 2012 models worldwide to the list. Automotive News reports the recall total for Nissan linked to the airbags since 2013 totalled nearly 700,000 prior to the additional vehicles called back. The recall affects vehicles outside of the United States, including the Cube […]

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2014 Nissan Versa Note Exterior

The Takata airbag recall continues to grow, with Nissan adding 260,000 2008 through 2012 models worldwide to the list.

Automotive News reports the recall total for Nissan linked to the airbags since 2013 totalled nearly 700,000 prior to the additional vehicles called back. The recall affects vehicles outside of the United States, including the Cube and Micra/March, with the majority of the models located in the automaker’s home market of Japan.

Meanwhile, Honda is replacing the defective units in 3.5 million vehicles in 11 states in the U.S. where high humidity could lead to an airbag exploding with metal shrapnel taking dead aim at all inside. The company also recalled 425,825 units, adding onto the 6 million that have been recalled over the issue since 2008.

Finally, General Motors and Toyota are issuing warnings to their customers not have anyone sit in the front passenger seat until the airbag unit is replaced.

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