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, 04 Sep 2015 19:38:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 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 » Toyota http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Crapwagon Outtake: 1987 Toyota 4×4 Truck http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/crapwagon-outtake-1987-toyota-4x4-truck/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/crapwagon-outtake-1987-toyota-4x4-truck/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 16:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1158226 Go to any small town cruise-in, and you’re likely to find one: a tribute to the owner’s favorite “movie car.” A “Bullitt“ Mustang, or for the younger guys who like fixing stress cracks in cheap fiberglass, a “Gone in Sixty Seconds” Mustang. A “Smokey and The Bandit” Trans Am, complete with screaming chicken. A racist […]

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Go to any small town cruise-in, and you’re likely to find one: a tribute to the owner’s favorite “movie car.” A “Bullitt Mustang, or for the younger guys who like fixing stress cracks in cheap fiberglass, a “Gone in Sixty Seconds” Mustang. A “Smokey and The Bandit” Trans Am, complete with screaming chicken. A racist General Lee. If the show is at a private golf club rather than the back lot of a Sonic Drive-In, perhaps a “Goldfinger” DB5.

DeLoreans figure heavily into this mix, too. Faux flux capacitors abound. But for me, my absolute favorite movie car is Marty’s Toyota HiLux from “Back to The Future.” Gleaming in black, with polished rims, a phalanx of lights atop a useless roll bar, the truck of Marty’s dreams was also that of mine when I was seven. I recall building a plastic scale version as a poor substitute.

There are folks out there who will dress up used trucks to recall the legendary movie vehicle, like this one on eBay. I can’t imagine restoration parts are easy to come by, with a vast majority of these tough trucks being used as troop transport somewhere in less-developed lands. A recently rebuilt engine helps ease the shock of the odometer figure.

The seller wants $3,500, which might be a bit crazy for a faded, rusty, 271,000-mile, old pickup. But squint a little, ignore the independent front suspension that wasn’t available in ’85, and you can imagine yourself with a Jennifer next to you, and a Flea in the next lane over.

Seven-year-old Chris wants to turn on some Huey Lewis, and place a bid. Thirty-something Chris is listening to Dave Brubeck, however, in an effort to tune out the child within.

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2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro – Mix to Match http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/2015-toyota-tacoma-trd-pro-mix-match/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/2015-toyota-tacoma-trd-pro-mix-match/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 15:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1158394 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4-liter, DOHC V-6 with variable-valve timing (236 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm; 266 pound-feet @ 4,000 rpm) 5-speed ECT-i automatic 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway (EPA Rating, MPG) 17 mpg combined (observed, 40 percent highway/20 percent city/40 percent off road/100 percent totally bruh!) Tested Options: TRD Performance Air Filter $90; Bed Mat […]

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2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

4-liter, DOHC V-6 with variable-valve timing (236 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm; 266 pound-feet @ 4,000 rpm)

5-speed ECT-i automatic

16 mpg city/21 mpg highway (EPA Rating, MPG)

17 mpg combined (observed, 40 percent highway/20 percent city/40 percent off road/100 percent totally bruh!)

Tested Options: TRD Performance Air Filter $90; Bed Mat $120; Paint Protection Film $395; Security System $469; Front Skid Plate $205.

Base Price:
$38,300*
As Tested Price:
$39,579*

* Prices include $885 destination and handling fee.

Forgive me for getting all emotional here.

The 2015 Toyota Tacoma represents to me the end of the road for the truck I knew so well, complete with a growl more familiar to me than my own father’s voice. Like many mountain-state millennials, the Tacoma seemed for me to be just the right size for a party in the mountains, a last-minute move (or eviction, perhaps), a camping trip or hauling an over-welded pig smoker and cherry picker to a friend’s backyard.

I expected the 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro to be a greatest hits album, replaying the most successful tunes from my young adulthood through its chunky tires and searing orange paint package.

It turned out to be more of a remix.

When I had the chance to drive the all-new 2016 Toyota Tacoma and the 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro back-to-back, I presumed that I’d get misty-eyed and nostalgic for one; geezerly and cynical for another.

In a way, I am. The TRD Pro feels like a rough-and-tumble truck, the kind of burnt orange brick to throttle through your neighbor’s window if they call the cops too many times for loud music. The 2016 Tacoma has a 3.5-liter engine like a Camry for chrissakes.

I just didn’t count on the fact that I grew up.

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Exterior
If you ask me now, I’d take the burnt orange (or Inferno, as Toyota calls it) Tacoma or 4Runner. Ask me in five years and I may have a different opinion, but for now: yup, I’d take one.

The Macho Taco is really just a hyper-sexed version of the Tacoma we already know. The basic truck has gotten larger in the decades since we’ve had the Tacoma/Toyota pickup, but the proportions are still the same. The 5-foot box and double cab configuration has a barrel-chested silhouette, and the truck’s overall length — which is still about 2 feet shorter than a short-bed F-150 — belies its interior space.

2015_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_Pro_(4_of_8)Around front, our tester sported the automotive equivalent of a manicured soul patch: a very visible, very silver front skid plate (which, surprisingly, was optional). The skid plate didn’t bother me as much as the blacked-out grille and TRD Pro badges up front, but don’t ask me why.

In all, the styling on the truck makes it look like a bit of a special edition can of Mountain Dew, and that’s what owners are presumably signing up for. Have you seen the nostrils on the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon?

Shod with chunky 16-inch A/T BFGs, the Tacoma looks the part. Its Eibach springs, which are TRD tuned and 2 inches taller, and Bilsteins confirm what the tires promise: it’s at home in the dirty stuff.

Interior
I won’t surprise anyone at Toyota for saying that the Tacoma shows its age more on the inside than anywhere else. I can look past the black badges, the hair-on-fire orange or even the silver skid plate, but goodness, that instrument cluster.

Toyota Tacoma GaugesIn reality, the Macho Taco is a very old runner in compression leggings and cross-trainers — it only fools everyone for so long. The chunky climate controls and Spartan interior aren’t exactly what you’d expect from a truck that costs nearly $40,000 and its seating position isn’t much to write home to the folks about either.

But I’m the forgiving type, and I’d rather highlight the Tacoma TRD Pro’s infotainment system, which is actually better than the new generation’s touchscreen. The tactile buttons are better and that’s because I’m an old man, but also because windows down and dust and dirt in, the thing actually works without wiping it off too much.

As found in higher trims of the Tacoma, the 6-speaker audio system is remarkably good for an unbranded unit. (A few years ago, I drove a Tacoma with a flux capacitor-looking subwoofer in the back and that was just the best. I wish we could still get subs like those.)

In back, the double cab’s rear seats sport 32.3 inches of legroom, according to the automaker. It’s enough room for my 6-foot-2-inch lanky frame to fit without changing the driving position much, according to me.

As you would expect from a truck of its age, the Tacoma sports interior materials that you’d likely find on a 1992 Corolla. Its straightforward graphite fabric and plain, hard plastics are less exciting than hold music on the phone with the IRS, but think about the patina of dirt you could grind into those bad boys! See? Every atomic cloud has a silver lining.

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Powertrain
It’s not hyperbole: Firing up the 4-liter V-6 sounds like home to me. The Toyota’s roar and (hollow) growl is easy to deride; its 236 horsepower isn’t exactly pushing the limit. Its real power is in its twist, which it finds higher in the range that you’d expect in a truck, until you realize that very few buyers actually tow with their Tacomas. The replacement engine for 2016 has no material improvement in torque (266 vs. 265) and actually comes on higher in its range (4,000 rpm vs. 4,600 rpm). I suspect our truck’s might was boosted slightly by its performance air filter and TRD exhaust, but only just.

In reality, the base mill is just fine. Sifted through a five-speed automatic with one overdrive gear, the Tacoma could be accused of being eager — but probably not meaty. At altitude (around 10,000 feet), the truck wheezed and huffed, but who needs air conditioning anyway? Takes me back to the old days.

One of the benefits of buying a TRD Pro, of course, is the truck’s electronically locking rear differential, which may get an equal number of “What’s that do?” questions as the “ECT Power” button. The Taco Supreme’s rear locker may be two fewer than a G-Wagon and one less than a Rubicon, but it’s probably one more than most people need.

The TRD Pro’s limited run of 1,500 examples means all the six-speed manuals are long gone, slowly depreciating in Washington garages where the owners will inevitably sell them in five years for whatever they paid for them today. It’s a shame; the manual would have been more fun and should have been more accessible.

The Tacoma’s low-range is easy to find and shift into; a rotary knob near the key is all that stands between you and conquering that rock like a boss.

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Drive
There’s no reason, whatsoever, for the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro to ever find dry pavement. The reasons are two-fold.

First, the Taco Supreme is sublime off road. The faster you run down dirt roads, the better the truck’s mission comes into view. I won’t evoke baja trucks and Toyota off-road racing heritage (supposedly the 2016 truck does that for you), but rather I can say that it works and work very well.

Second, if you do happen to find pavement, keep the chiro on speed dial. The Tacoma TRD Pro’s stiffened spring rate and stiff sidewalls keep the truck harder than a $10 mattress.

2015_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_Pro_(6_of_8)Ditto for the brakes, which stop harder than swearing at the dinner table on Thanksgiving. The pedal is unforgiving and so are my kidneys, which are moving around in my back like a paint shaker.

I have ridden in stiffer trucks before (Ram Power Wagon), but any fantasies of living with a TRD Pro in day-to-day commutes should end right now: it’s not that type of truck.

And that type of unforgiving truck is something I’m OK with. I appreciate automakers holding fast to their concepts, and staying true to their missions. The TRD Pro feels like a Tacoma that won’t give an inch to take an off-road mile.

It’s not the ultimate expression of what an old Tacoma should be, rather it’s the last in a line of Tacomas that are left to appreciate.

In that way it felt like the Jay-Z/Beatles “Grey Album.” That record wasn’t necessarily good (although I liked it) but rather it was good for what it was.

(Interior instrument shot courtesy of Toyota because I can’t shoot interiors apparently.)

2015_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_Pro_(1_of_8) 2015_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_Pro_(2_of_8) 2015_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_Pro_(3_of_8) 2015_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_Pro_(4_of_8) 2015_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_Pro_(5_of_8) 2015_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_Pro_(6_of_8) 2015_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_Pro_(7_of_8) 2015_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_Pro_(8_of_8)

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Winterkorn Continuing At VW, But Maybe Not How He Wanted http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/winterkorn-continuing-vw-maybe-not-wanted/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/winterkorn-continuing-vw-maybe-not-wanted/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 14:43:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1158650 Volkswagen will extend its contract with CEO Martin Winterkorn through 2018, Automotive News is reporting, but that two-year deal may make him too old to succeed the man he ousted, Ferdinand Piech, who left the company last year after clashing with Winterkorn. At the end of Winterkorn’s contract, the man who led Volkswagen’s recent revolution in […]

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Martin Winterkorn in Shanghai - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

Volkswagen will extend its contract with CEO Martin Winterkorn through 2018, Automotive News is reporting, but that two-year deal may make him too old to succeed the man he ousted, Ferdinand Piech, who left the company last year after clashing with Winterkorn.

At the end of Winterkorn’s contract, the man who led Volkswagen’s recent revolution in America will be 71, making him too old for the top slot held by interim chairman Berthold Huber. Winterkorn was seen as the likely replacement for Piech, according to Reuters, but that job may go to an outsider now.

“This increases the chances for an external chairman, which is good news in our view,” Arndt Ellinghorst, an analyst with Evercore ISI’s global research head, said in a statement to Automotive News.

The distance between Winterkorn and Piech seemed to grow over their different strategies for VW in the Americas.

Volkswagen is competing with Toyota to be the world’s largest automaker. Through six months, VW had a narrow lead delivering 5.04 million cars worldwide, compared to Toyota’s 5.02 million.

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Attention Californians: Here’s Your 2016 Toyota Prius http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/attention-californians-heres-your-2016-toyota-prius/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/attention-californians-heres-your-2016-toyota-prius/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 15:21:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1156298 The next-generation Toyota Prius, set to be revealed on September 8 in Las Vegas, has been caught without camouflage as it sits in what looks to be an aircraft hold. The undisputed hybrid sales leader picks up numerous design cues from the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, including its swept-back headlights and triangular fog light […]

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The next-generation Toyota Prius, set to be revealed on September 8 in Las Vegas, has been caught without camouflage as it sits in what looks to be an aircraft hold.

The undisputed hybrid sales leader picks up numerous design cues from the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, including its swept-back headlights and triangular fog light pods.

Details on the new Prius are unknown at this point, but expect a more-refined interior, increased battery capacity for up to 35 miles of all-electric driving, and increased efficiency from the drivetrain. Inductive charging remains a possibility. The Prius will also be built atop the Toyota New Global Architecture (TGNA).

Last updated in 2011 with a mild refresh, sales of the Toyota Prius have fallen since 2007 and 2008 amidst lower gas prices.

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[Source: Prius Club Malaysia]

 

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Toyota Wants $500 From Canadian Owners To Fix Odometers (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-wants-500-canadian-owners-fix-odometers-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-wants-500-canadian-owners-fix-odometers-video/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 20:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1155522 Owners of some Toyota cars in Canada say that the Japanese automaker is asking them to foot the bill for replacement odometers due to a glitch that won’t allow the gauges to roll over after 299,999 kilometers, CTV is reporting (via AutoFocus). The glitchy odometers are found in 2003-2008 Toyota Matrix and Corolla models, and […]

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Toyota Odometer Stuck

Owners of some Toyota cars in Canada say that the Japanese automaker is asking them to foot the bill for replacement odometers due to a glitch that won’t allow the gauges to roll over after 299,999 kilometers, CTV is reporting (via AutoFocus).

The glitchy odometers are found in 2003-2008 Toyota Matrix and Corolla models, and some 2004 and 2005 Toyota Prius models.

There are a few videos on YouTube of people expecting to hit 300,000, but they never do.

We reached out to a Toyota spokesman in the U.S. but haven’t heard back. According to the CTV report, Toyota is replacing the odometer but asking owners to pay for the replacement (for now).

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Ford May Bring Ranger Back To US in 2018 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/ford-may-bring-ranger-back-us-2018/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/ford-may-bring-ranger-back-us-2018/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 15:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152977 Ford is reportedly discussing bringing back the mid-size Ford Ranger pickup to America and Canada in its bargaining negotiations with the United Auto Workers, the Detroit News is reporting. Ford may be assembling the truck, which could be brought back as early as 2018, at its Wayne, Michigan plant. The truck would replace the outgoing C-Max and Focus […]

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Ford is reportedly discussing bringing back the mid-size Ford Ranger pickup to America and Canada in its bargaining negotiations with the United Auto Workers, the Detroit News is reporting.

Ford may be assembling the truck, which could be brought back as early as 2018, at its Wayne, Michigan plant. The truck would replace the outgoing C-Max and Focus at the plant. Ford announced production of those two products would move to Mexico in 2018.

The last U.S.-spec Ranger was most recently produced at Ford’s St. Paul, Minnesota plant, which shuttered in 2011.

According to sources, the formal decision would need to be ratified by Ford executives and the union’s board.

According to the report, Ford was enticed by the small, but growing, mid-size pickup segment. Although the segment only accounted for 227,000 sales in 2013, it is expected to grow in coming years. Toyota’s Tacoma dominates the segment, accounting for more than half of the segment’s sales, but General Motors’ Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon could slowly gain a higher market share.

Ford produces the Ranger in Thailand, South Africa and Argentina for 180 global markets including Mexico. Recently, Ford announced it would produce the Ranger in Nigeria.

It’s unlikely that Ford would would bring the global Ranger to America without significant modifications for safety and fuel economy. The Ranger’s size and classification places it firmly in the CAFE “dead zone,” which could make it difficult for Ford to find a suitable (read: efficient) powertrain.

The Ranger was last redesigned in 2011 and facelifted in 2015. A redesign for the Ranger would align with the 2018 production start date in Wayne. The C-Max and Focus are scheduled to leave that plant in 2018 as well.

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Toyota Asking Dealers To Stop Advertising Below Invoice, World Not Over Yet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-asking-dealers-stop-advertising-invoice-world-not-yet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-asking-dealers-stop-advertising-invoice-world-not-yet/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 19:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1151489 At an upcoming dealer meeting in Las Vegas next month, Toyota will ask its dealers to stop advertising cars below invoice in an attempt to help keep residual values higher and keep dealers from competing in a “race to the bottom,” Automotive News is reporting. If accepted, Toyota would join Honda in penalizing dealers who […]

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"Both certified Toyota dealerships -- and those pending certification -- were built as part of the company's Eco-Image USA II initiative that puts an emphasis on environmental sensitivity when building new facilities or updating current facilities. For instance, under the program, panels used on the building's exterior are made up of 90 percent recycled aluminum and Toyota assists dealers with cutting edge green options, including different power sources such as solar, wind and geothermal."

At an upcoming dealer meeting in Las Vegas next month, Toyota will ask its dealers to stop advertising cars below invoice in an attempt to help keep residual values higher and keep dealers from competing in a “race to the bottom,” Automotive News is reporting.

If accepted, Toyota would join Honda in penalizing dealers who advertise cars below invoice. According to the report, after three reported violations in one year, Honda could withhold marketing money from a dealer — which could be $400 per vehicle. It’s unclear how Toyota may penalize its dealers who don’t comply with the proposed new rule.

A less-than-happy dealer said he would consider suing Toyota for price fixing if the ad mandate were enforced.

“This is not in the best interest of the consumer, and I’m not going to keep my mouth shut,” said Earl Stewart, who runs a dealership in Florida.

A Boston-area Toyota dealer said keeping other dealers from advertising below invoice could keep unscrupulous dealers from bait-and-switch tactics to lure buyers to a showroom with one price, and sell them on another.

“It would be wonderful if this move could put some sanity into pricing,” said Mike Hills, general manager of Bristol Toyota-Scion.

Stewart said that he sells three out of four cars below invoice and that his dealership is a no-haggle dealership, something Lexus will reportedly adopt soon. He said that if he can’t advertise below invoice, he would lose business.

(It’s worth mentioning that dealer holdback allows some dealers to sell below invoice, but still make a profit on the car.)

At its Scion stores, Toyota is reportedly streamlining its online shopping process to encourage buyers to shop and pay for a car online before having it delivered*.

*Only in states where that sort of thing is legal, of course.

No word on whether balloons on cars would still be allowed.

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Chevrolet Nova Sedan, Wisconsin Rust Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/junkyard-find-1986-chevrolet-nova-sedan-wisconsin-rust-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/junkyard-find-1986-chevrolet-nova-sedan-wisconsin-rust-edition/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 12:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1151025 Every summer, I go to Wisconsin to stay in a cabin on Lake Michigan owned by my wife’s family. Mostly I’m rendered too immobile by excessive cheese curd and cured-meat consumption to do much junkyard exploring, but this trip I managed to hit Green Bay to check out a self-service yard full of very rusty […]

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00 - 1986 Chevy Nova Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin

Every summer, I go to Wisconsin to stay in a cabin on Lake Michigan owned by my wife’s family. Mostly I’m rendered too immobile by excessive cheese curd and cured-meat consumption to do much junkyard exploring, but this trip I managed to hit Green Bay to check out a self-service yard full of very rusty and/or late-model Detroit inventory. Among all the 9-year-old Malibus and endless stretches of Buicks in the GM section, I spotted this NUMMI-built Nova.
09 - 1986 Chevy Nova Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin

I grew up in the East Bay where NUMMI was (and Teslas are built today), and I visited the plant numerous times when it was producing Novas and Corollas, so I always get a little nostalgic moment when I see this sticker under a junkyard car’s hood.

04 - 1986 Chevy Nova Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin

This one doesn’t have many miles, by Corolla standards (the 1985-88 Nova was an AE82 Toyota Corolla/Sprinter behind its Chevy badges), but it has the kind of rust you expect on old Japanese cars in the rusty Upper Midwest.

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I think I would not feel comfortable trusting the integrity of the suspension mounting points in this car.

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The good old 4A engine, one of the all-time Toyota legends.

06 - 1986 Chevy Nova Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin

In this series so far, we’ve seen a fair number of NUMMI-built cars, including this ’87 Nova hatchback, this ’87 Nova sedan, this ’92 Prizm, this ’87 Corolla FX16, and this ’88 Nova sedan (not to mention this hyper-rare ’90 Prizm GSi), which reminds me that it’s about time I started shooting some junked NUMMI-made Pontiac Vibes now that those cars are getting so easy to find in the self-service yards.

Reading the list of standard features on a new Chevy Nova can get pretty boring.

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Toyota Keeping China Production Plant Closed Longer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-keeping-china-production-plant-closed-longer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-keeping-china-production-plant-closed-longer/#comments Sun, 23 Aug 2015 15:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1150961 Toyota will keep a plant in China closed until at least Aug. 26 as it waits for conditions to improve after an explosion there killed more than 120 people, the Detroit News is reporting. The Aug. 12 explosion in Tianjin, China injured 67 Toyota employees nearby and damaged 4,700 Toyota and Lexus vehicles. The plant in Tianjin, […]

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Toyota will keep a plant in China closed until at least Aug. 26 as it waits for conditions to improve after an explosion there killed more than 120 people, the Detroit News is reporting.

The Aug. 12 explosion in Tianjin, China injured 67 Toyota employees nearby and damaged 4,700 Toyota and Lexus vehicles. The plant in Tianjin, which produces Crown, Reiz, Corolla and Vios cars, is responsible for roughly half of Toyota’s annual production in China.

“We will only restart operations when we have been able to confirm the safety of our facilities and their surroundings, and when our employees feel that they can once again go to work in a safe environment,” the company said in an email, according to Reuters.

According to reports, fires are still breaking out near the site of the explosion. On Aug. 12, a chemicals warehouse exploded in the port city, which killed 121 people and injured hundreds.

Analysts say the disruption to Toyota’s supply chain would be felt across the automaker’s lineup.

Automakers such as Volkswagen and Jaguar Land Rover said thousands of their cars were damaged in the explosion as well.

(Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

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QOTD: How Is The Toyota 4Runner So Damn Popular? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/qotd-how-is-the-toyota-4runner-so-damn-popular/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/qotd-how-is-the-toyota-4runner-so-damn-popular/#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 11:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1149489 A few days ago, we all woke up to the sad news that the Nissan Xterra is going to be cancelled. This is especially depressing for people who post Instagram photos of themselves lifting weights. Personally, I could take or leave the Xterra. It’s outdated, it’s trucky, it’s too tall, it’s a bit expensive, and […]

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2014 Toyota 4Runner dirt path

A few days ago, we all woke up to the sad news that the Nissan Xterra is going to be cancelled. This is especially depressing for people who post Instagram photos of themselves lifting weights.

Personally, I could take or leave the Xterra. It’s outdated, it’s trucky, it’s too tall, it’s a bit expensive, and it lacks a wide variety of modern technology. By this I am not referring to forward collision warning, or lane keep assist, or blind spot detection. I mean the base model doesn’t have a height-adjustable driver’s seat.

So the Xterra’s fifteen-year run is coming to an end, and we must all marvel at the fact that yet another off-roady vehicle won’t be available to us anymore. In the land of reasonably priced off-road vehicles, they all seem to vanish: the Toyota FJ Cruiser. The Suzuki Vitara, and Sidekick, and Samurai. The Ford Bronco. The K5 Blazer. All gone, replaced by something more mainstream, or not replaced at all, leaving the Jeep Wrangler to soldier on as today’s sole off-road vehicle choice.

Well, not quite today’s sole off-road vehicle choice. There’s also the Toyota 4Runner.

That’s right ladies and gentlemen: the 4Runner is still on sale, flying in the face of the trend that has seen virtually every automaker either cancel their body-on-frame SUV, change it into a crossover (Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder), or move it upscale, like the Toyota Land Cruiser and the Range Rover. Indeed, the 4Runner still soldiers on, using the same old and trucky design it always has.

Who the hell is buying it?

You might think my question is unfounded, so allow me to explain myself. For one thing, the 4Runner starts at $34,500 with shipping. This isn’t tremendously expensive until you discover two things. Number one: the 4Runner comes standard with only basic items, like cloth seats, manual dimming mirrors, two-wheel drive, and a manual passenger seat. And number two: the Toyota Highlander starts at $30,500 with shipping, or roughly four grand less than the 4Runner.

Although I don’t consider the Highlander to be a true competitor to the 4Runner, I bring it into this discussion for an obvious reason: If you’re a family and you’re looking for a new family car, do you pick the smooth, car-based, easy-to-drive, well-equipped Highlander? Or do you spend four grand more and get the loud, truck-based, off-roader, overstyled 4Runner? You or I may choose option number two, but the vast majority of buyers would rather save the four grand and go for the more family-friendly vehicle.

So it must be off-roaders buying the 4Runner, then. And yet, the 4Runner seems like an expensive proposition if you’re taking it on the trails. A 4-door Jeep Wrangler starts at just $27,700 — around seven grand less than a base-level 4Runner. The average asking price for a new 4Runner on Autotrader is $39,905. And there are some models that cost more than fifty grand.

So the 4Runner isn’t comfortable enough to be a family crossover, and it’s too expensive to be an off-roader. So maybe the 4Runner competes with other trying-to-be-bold midsize SUVs, like the Nissan Murano and the Jeep Grand Cherokee?

The problem here is the 4Runner’s lack of technology. While those cars offer forward collision warning this and blind spot that and automatic this and touchscreen that, the 4Runner’s greatest safety advancement is a backup camera. And its best high-tech gadget is a push-button starter. A push-button starter that you can only get on the 4Runner Limited, which starts at $44,900 with shipping.

Now, is there a coalition of car buyers out there interested in an expensive, off-road-ready but sized-like-a-midsize-SUV, low-tech vehicle? Apparently the answer is yes, there is. I’m just curious exactly who it is.

I say this because Toyota’s SUV lineup now includes an almost amazing five vehicles — the RAV4, the Highlander, the 4Runner, the Sequoia, and the Land Cruiser. And this is without a subcompact Honda HR-V-sized vehicle, which we can only assume Toyota is poised to make in the next few years. So with all those models and all those choices, how are they still finding buyers for the 4Runner?

To me, it’s impressive: despite the segment crashing down around it; despite newer technology everywhere else; despite cheaper rivals better suited for daily duties; despite its high pricing, the 4Runner has braved it all. How does it do it? Has its 4Runner name achieved cult status, like the Jeep Wrangler? Who’s still buying the Toyota 4Runner?

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New Prius Will Be Shown Next Month in Las Vegas http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/new-prius-will-shown-next-month-las-vegas/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/new-prius-will-shown-next-month-las-vegas/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 17:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1145889 Toyota’s next-generation Prius, which will be the first use of the automaker’s new global platform, will be shown to media in Las Vegas next month, Bloomberg is reporting (via Autoblog). The report doesn’t specify when the automaker would build the next-gen Prius, or why it chose southern Nevada in the summertime for its reveal (Tesla speculation […]

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2016 Toyota Prius Getting Gas At Vons

Toyota’s next-generation Prius, which will be the first use of the automaker’s new global platform, will be shown to media in Las Vegas next month, Bloomberg is reporting (via Autoblog).

The report doesn’t specify when the automaker would build the next-gen Prius, or why it chose southern Nevada in the summertime for its reveal (Tesla speculation starts now).

Sales of the Prius have declined since 2007 and 2008 when average gas prices in the U.S. hovered around $4 per gallon. Toyota hasn’t fully updated the Prius since 2009, with a mild refresh gracing the hybrid in 2011.

Bloomberg notes that the eco-friendly Prius may have lost sales to all-electric cars — Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, and others — in the time it’s taken Toyota to update it.

The automaker began taking reservations in California last month for its hydrogen-powered Mirai.

According to our own Bark Maruth, we should expect glowing coverage of the Prius from reporters from carsaregoodandfun.net sometime next month.

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Toyota Confirms New Land Cruiser for US http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-confirms-new-land-cruiser-us/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-confirms-new-land-cruiser-us/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 16:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1144993 Toyota’s facelifted Land Cruiser will reach American shores, the automaker confirmed Tuesday. Toyota lifted the cover off the SUV yesterday in Japan and we reported that Toyota would tell us the same today. (Oi. We should have stretched before patting ourselves on the back like that.) The updated Land Cruiser will still sport a 5.7-liter V-8 […]

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Toyota’s facelifted Land Cruiser will reach American shores, the automaker confirmed Tuesday. Toyota lifted the cover off the SUV yesterday in Japan and we reported that Toyota would tell us the same today.

(Oi. We should have stretched before patting ourselves on the back like that.)

The updated Land Cruiser will still sport a 5.7-liter V-8 that produces 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. The engine will now be married to Toyota’s eight-speed automatic (the first Toyota-branded vehicle on our shores to use the gearbox) but oddly, mileage doesn’t improve beyond 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway/15 mpg combined, which were the numbers for this year’s six-speed box.

Toyota’s announcement also includes one of the best lines in press release history:

“Once again, the Toyota Land Cruiser comes in one version: fully equipped and with seating for eight. There are no factory options, and really, none are needed.”

In addition to the facelift and new transmission, the Land Cruiser will sport Toyota’s suite of safety systems including blind-spot monitoring, pedestrian safety systems, front collision mitigation and  cross-path alert.

Toyota didn’t specify when the 2016 Land Cruiser would go on sale.

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Japan Gets a New Toyota Land Cruiser, Ours May Come Soon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/japan-gets-new-toyota-land-cruiser-can-trade/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/japan-gets-new-toyota-land-cruiser-can-trade/#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2015 21:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1144225 Toyota announced its updated Land Cruiser in Japan today, with a starting price of $38,000 (!?) for the off-roading legend. The seven-seater over there serves as the base for our Lexus LX over here, which was unveiled over the weekend in California alongside the turbo’d Lexus GS, and our version has all the grille. Based […]

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Toyota Land Cruiser

Toyota announced its updated Land Cruiser in Japan today, with a starting price of $38,000 (!?) for the off-roading legend.

The seven-seater over there serves as the base for our Lexus LX over here, which was unveiled over the weekend in California alongside the turbo’d Lexus GS, and our version has all the grille.

Based on initial reception of the LX, when will we get the new Land Cruiser?

According to a Toyota spokesman, the automaker has “something” to tell us about the Land Cruiser tomorrow.

According to Toyota in Japan, the Land Cruiser 200 received a mild upgrade over the last generation. Although their prices are much lower than our $80,000 truck, the Land Cruiser in Japan is fitted with a smaller 4.6-liter V-8, instead of the 5.7-liter V8 found here in the States, which partially accounts for the price difference.

Both SUVs are extremely small volume cars for Toyota so changes are usually made globally.

So those of you (all 200 a month) who want to spend actual money for an actual Land Cruiser instead of a LX, your saving grace could be just around the corner.

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2016 Toyota Tacoma Review – Full-size Silent Assassin http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2016-toyota-tacoma-review-full-size-silent-assassin/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2016-toyota-tacoma-review-full-size-silent-assassin/#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2015 16:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1143473 2016 Toyota Tacoma 4×4 Engines 3.5-liter D4S (direct and port injection) Atkinson cycle V-6 with variable valve intake and exhaust (278 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 265 pounds-feet @ 4,600 rpm). 2.7-liter DOHC I-4 with variable valve intake (159 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm; 180 pounds-feet @ 3,800 rpm) Transmissions Standard 5-speed manual (2.7-liter); optional 6-speed automatic […]

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2016 Toyota Tacoma 4×4

Engines
3.5-liter D4S (direct and port injection) Atkinson cycle V-6 with variable valve intake and exhaust (278 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 265 pounds-feet @ 4,600 rpm).
2.7-liter DOHC I-4 with variable valve intake (159 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm; 180 pounds-feet @ 3,800 rpm)

Transmissions
Standard 5-speed manual (2.7-liter); optional 6-speed automatic with ECT (2.7-liter)
Standard 6-speed manual (3.5-liter); optional 6-speed automatic with ECT (3.5-liter)

Fuel Economy Ratings
19 mpg city/ 21 mpg highway/ 20 mpg combined (2.7-liter 5-speed manual 4×4)
19/23/21 (2.7-liter 6-speed automatic 4×2)
19/22/20 (2.7-liter 6-speed automatic 4×4)
19/24/21 (3.5-liter 6-speed automatic 4×2)
17/21/19 (3.5-liter 6-speed manual 4×4)
18/23/20 (3.5-liter 6-speed automatic 4×4)

MSRP
Prices start at $24,185 *and go up to $38,705*.
*Price includes $885 destination

Let’s get this out of the way first: there is no groan long enough or loud enough for how I feel about the 2016 Toyota Tacoma’s ballyhooed interior GoPro mount. The 30 cents of branded plastic to film your “eXtreme!” adventures feels more contrived and commercially unnecessary than a TedX talk at your nearest community college. It’s there, it’s usable and I want to talk about the tens of thousands of other parts around that windshield mount.

For the most part, the world of mid-sized pickups has stayed the same since the Clinton administration. (I mean Bill’s years for anyone reading this in 2017.)

Updated slightly in 2005, but mostly unchanged since the 1990s, the Toyota Tacoma has stayed firmly ahead of its time despite playing catch up to the full-size galoots. What I mean is, the Tacoma has a habit of selling far more at the end of its lifecycle than it does at the beginning. Go fig.

For example, take the last year for the Tacoma. Despite being a truck that hasn’t changed much for 10 years, the Tacoma managed to sell more than 17,000 trucks in July, its best sales month ever, en route to 180,000 sales this year, which would be its best sales year, ever. By volume, the Tacoma is the fifth best-selling truck in America, just behind the GMC Sierra, and well behind the three domestic full-size big boys. (The, um, new Tundra was sixth, by the way.)

Plummeting gas prices has helped moved metal, and so has cheap money, but the Tacoma is a very, very solid pickup and the growing chasm between reality and the price of a full-size truck leaves something to be desired for $25,000-$30,000 out the door.

So why fix something that isn’t broken? Toyota said it had nothing to do with Chevrolet and GMC hopping into the mid-size market with the Colorado and Canyon respectively. It doesn’t even have anything to do with the new Nissan Frontier coming to market soon too.

Nope, Toyota says it updated the Tacoma to step on the necks of the others and bring forward the Tacoma into the 21st century. This is as close as Toyota will get to going for the jugular.

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Exterior
The Tacoma falls into the corporate lockstep by following closely the Tundra’s front-end design. Its chunkier face, with a more open trapezoidal grille, is bookended by two LED headlights with daytime running lamps and a more angular hood. The Tacoma’s lower jaw gets a little bit of an underbite this year with its black cladded front air dam, and the fog lamps are now visually connected with black plastic all the way across its front.2016_Toyota_Tacoma_(5_of_21)

From the side, the Tacoma looks virtually unchanged from last year, and the rear end would be the same story if it weren’t for the stamped tailgate with the words “TACOMA” to tell the world what you’re driving. The rear bumper is in three pieces, which is handy for something that probably will see a lot of action in its lifetime, but the front bumper is still one piece, which seemed weird.

The Tacoma’s handsome proportions stay the same. The hood looks like it takes up more than one-third of the overall 127.4-inch wheelbase (140.6 with a long bed) and the rear end takes more than a third as well. The Tacoma’s two cab configurations — Access and Double Cab — gets sandwiched in the middle, which gives the Tacoma a muscular, compact look.

According to Toyota, more than 80 percent of the Tacomas on the road will be Double Cabs, 85 percent will be V-6, and 97 percent will be with an automatic transmission. Consequently, it wears the four doors most naturally, with the shorter Access Cab models looking somewhat incomplete. All of the models we had a chance to drive were four-door, V-6, automatic and 4×4, so we can’t really report on any variation outside of that.

(P.S. Reps from Toyota said the only people who actually buy four-cylinder Tacomas are Northeasterners who are likely to be upset that the “low boy” 4×2 is gone for this generation, and that they only account for 1 out of every 10 sales.)

All of the 2016 Tacomas will be built on the same tall chassis, regardless of whether they have a transfer case. Whether by design or by accident, the deeply black wheel wells hide the Tacoma’s wheels and tires, and it was hard for us to tell the difference between the available 16-, 17- and 18-inch wheel sizes. (The latter is standard on Limited trim only.)

Toyota Tacoma Limited 34

Interior
The interior of the 2016 Tacoma received more extensive improvements than the exterior did. Inside, most Tacomas will wear either a 6.1- or 7-inch touchscreen display with Entune apps, six speakers, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, and Siri Eyes Free. For the most part, the system is easy to use and straightforward, except the integrated navigation system commits the cardinal sin of not being usable when the car is in motion. Like other writers here, I sincerely wish automakers would use the passenger-side airbag sensor to determine whether someone else were riding along and unlock commands when a passenger is present. It would be helpful to use that touchscreen sometimes.Toyota Tacoma Limited 35

A useful 4-inch multifunction display in the instrument cluster relays vital information (and looks like a Camry, by the way) including tire pressure, temps and fuel range. Thankfully, the Tacoma’s outdated tachometer and speedometer have been replaced with smaller, plainer dials that ditch the white halo and just give me the straight dope.

The interior, including door inserts, dash and seats, are a stitched together combination of medium-grade fabrics, passable vinyl and touchable, textured hard plastics. In all, I’m thankful that the Tacoma is so readily rough and tumble — especially in lower trims — but I don’t feel the same way about its touchscreen infotainment system. I’ve coated one of those things in dust before and it’s a mess to clean. It also doesn’t feel like it’d be particularly useful with gloves on.

Thankfully, every trim above the SR model (which goes SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road and Limited) gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel that’s firm and comfortable to grip, albeit with limited telescoping ability.

Last generation’s Neolithic climate control knobs have been replaced with a more modern, compact LCD system (dual-climate controls are standard in Limited, available in TRD Off Road and Sport packages) that’s easy to read and isn’t lifted from any other Toyota that I recognize. I like that.

Gated shifter? Check. Hand operated parking brake? Check. Better transmission boot around the shifter? I can’t fault any of these things.

I would, however, like for Toyota to revisit the ergonomics of its steering wheel-mounted controls. Anyone who can naturally find the volume control without looking gets a cookie. It’s impossible.

(Interior images provided by the manufacturer)

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Powertrain
The biggest news this year is the outgoing 4-liter V-6, which is giving way to a smaller, more potent 3.5-liter Atkinson cycle V-6 with direct and port injection.

And the latter mill makes the most of available technology from Toyota. The Tacoma is the first Toyota-branded vehicle to use direct and port injection (direct is used to make lower speeds more efficient, port is used at higher rpms to boost available output) and the first truck application for that system. Paired with a smaller displacement and an Atkinson cycle, the new Tacoma powertrain manages 15 percent to 20 percent better fuel economy, all while gaining 42 horsepower. The only sacrifice: the Tacoma loses its distinctive roar.

2016_Toyota_Tacoma_(8_of_21)The 4-liter’s noise is gone and has been replaced by the quiet hum of the 3.5-liter V6. Although Toyota never wants to use the word Tacoma and Camry in the same breath, their relationship is undeniable. The new Tacoma drives like a Camry, and that’s not altogether bad.

Toyota didn’t make available its I-4, nor did they want to talk about it all that much. Including that engine in the newest generation of Tacoma didn’t wholly make a lot of sense to me, and I wouldn’t be completely surprised if a version of their turbo four (beefed up for truck duty) made its way into the lineup sometime soon.

Power is handed off to the Tacoma’s 6-speed automatic (for both I-4 and V-6), 5-speed manual (I-4 only) or 6-speed manual (V-6). The smooth-shifting automatic had an easy time keeping the revs low on the street, but required more guidance off road. Without using ECT (gear holding) or engaging the Tacoma’s low-range, the truck searched for gears on dirt roads and felt a little too eager to shift up. That could be inevitable to achieve higher fuel economy ratings, but it’s noticeable.

In TRD Off Road packages the Tacoma gains a crawl control feature that famously unsticks it from sand, or traverses down a mountain. You could make a case that serious off roaders who are interested in banging their Tacomas around the mountain probably don’t need automated throttle controls or advanced hill descent features, but I don’t know many people who could manage to unbury all four wheels. Bring on the robots.

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Drive
It takes an enormous amount of confidence to update a truck that’s selling so well now, and Toyota is smarter than to stifle its own success.

In reality, Toyota didn’t do much to its Tacoma that couldn’t have been done before. A different head unit, some better interior materials and better packaging isn’t revolutionary — they’re evolutionary.

The 3.5-liter V-6 does its best to replace an engine that wasn’t great to begin with, and it’s a solid start. The Tacoma is a comfortable drive and a capable off roader.

The Tacoma doesn’t go for the throats of the other mid-size truck makers, and it certainly doesn’t exhibit any killer instinct. In reality, the Tacoma is just a killer pickup, and that’s it.

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Chart Of The Day: Toyota Tacoma U.S. Sales Growth Is A Thing To Behold http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/chart-day-toyota-tacoma-u-s-sales-growth-thing-behold/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/chart-day-toyota-tacoma-u-s-sales-growth-thing-behold/#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2015 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1137258 In each of the last 28 months, the Toyota Tacoma has been America’s fifth-best-selling pickup truck nameplate. One might imagine, however, that its ability to succeed in its own sub-category of small/midsize trucks would have weakened over the last ten months. With the introduction of new midsize pickup trucks from General Motors, the best-selling manufacturer […]

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TTAC COTD Tacoma since Colorado:Canyon

In each of the last 28 months, the Toyota Tacoma has been America’s fifth-best-selling pickup truck nameplate.

One might imagine, however, that its ability to succeed in its own sub-category of small/midsize trucks would have weakened over the last ten months. With the introduction of new midsize pickup trucks from General Motors, the best-selling manufacturer of pickup trucks in America, the number of Tacoma competitors increased from one, the Nissan Frontier, to three. 

Yet since the Colorado and Canyon arrived on the market, Tacoma sales have steadily increased on a year-over-year basis. Indeed, the rate of improvement has actually increased of late, as well.

Over the last three months, Tacoma sales jumped 29 percent compared with the same period one year ago. Toyota USA has twice sold more than 17,000 Tacomas in the last three months.

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True, the overall pickup truck market is booming and Toyota is benefiting from added attention because of a refresh for the 2016 model year.

Meanwhile, Toyota may also be benefiting from increased attention in the category as a whole. The arrival of the Canyon and Colorado last autumn struck a chord with many potential truck buyers. Even as the two GM nameplates combine for approximately 9,400 U.S. sales per month, which didn’t exist for GM in the recent past, Toyota has added an additional 2,500 Tacoma sales per month through the first seven months of 2015.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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QOTD: Why Hasn’t Anyone Out-Gas Mileaged The Prius? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/qotd-why-hasnt-anyone-out-gas-mileaged-the-prius/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/qotd-why-hasnt-anyone-out-gas-mileaged-the-prius/#comments Fri, 14 Aug 2015 12:28:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1141713 Fifty-one miles per gallon city. Forty-eight miles per gallon highway. Still the best numbers in the industry for nearly a decade now. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m referring to the Toyota Prius, which is a 5-door hatchback that looks a bit like an egg mated with a shopping cart. It’s been a decade since the […]

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2014 Toyota Prius

Fifty-one miles per gallon city. Forty-eight miles per gallon highway. Still the best numbers in the industry for nearly a decade now.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m referring to the Toyota Prius, which is a 5-door hatchback that looks a bit like an egg mated with a shopping cart. It’s been a decade since the Prius came out in hatchback form, and a decade since it achieved those impressive fuel economy figures: 51 miles per gallon city. 48 miles per gallon highway. And still, no one has unseated the Prius.

It hasn’t been without trying. After the original Honda Insight failed, Honda came out with a Prius-looking second-generation Insight trying to dethrone the king. But it didn’t even come close, with fuel economy figures reaching just 41 miles per gallon city and 44 mpg on the highway. Even the Civic Hybrid, in its current form, can manage only 44 mpg city and 47 mpg highway.

And then there are the other challengers. The Ford C-MAX, also a hybrid-only 5-door hatchback, originally seemed like it might be close to the Prius’s EPA ratings — until people started complaining that they couldn’t come anywhere near Ford’s published figures. Down the C-MAX’s numbers went to their current resting place of 42 mpg city and 37 mpg on the highway.

The Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid gets close at 42 mpg city and 48 mpg highway. So does the Honda Accord Hybrid, at 50 mpg city and 45 mpg highway. And the Ford Fusion Hybrid, at 44 mpg city and 44 mpg highway. But none of them can unseat the reigning king and champion, the Toyota Prius.

Interestingly, even Toyota doesn’t seem to be able to top the Prius. Proof of that came a few years back, when they debuted the even smaller Prius c, a subcompact hatchback version of the Prius designed to provide a low-cost alternative to the iconic car. Despite a smaller engine, a smaller size, and less weight, its fuel economy ratings are 53 mpg city and 46 mpg highway — no better combined than the Prius’s 51 mpg city and 48 mpg highway.

So how does the Prius do it? It isn’t by cheating. The people on Fuelly all seem to report somewhere between 47 and 49 miles per gallon, which is right there on par with the EPA’s estimate. By comparison, second-generation Honda Insight people all seem to be somewhere between 43 and 45 miles per gallon.

We must assume that the Prius gets its amazing miles per gallon by honest-to-goodness engineering: a streamlined body, a tremendously efficient engine, and a wide range of other modifications that gives this car a leg up on all of its wannabe-Prius competitors. Which brings me to ask: why hasn’t anyone topped the Prius?

If it’s just engineering, someone can certainly do it. After all, this isn’t rocket science. Tear down the Prius. See what they did. Replicate it. This is how Volkswagen created its current-generation Passat, although unfortunately the car they used as the benchmark was a 1995 Camry CE.

So maybe people don’t want to replicate the Prius. What I’m thinking is, other automakers have decided the Prius is old news, and they want to focus instead on plug-in hybrids and electric cars which are all the rage these days. But here’s the problem with that: last year, Toyota sold 207,000 units of the Prius family, compared to roughly 19,000 Chevy Volts, and 30,000 Nissan Leafs. In other words: although electric cars might be all the rage, the “highly efficient hybrid” segment is still exponentially larger than the plug-in EV class.

And so I ask: in today’s world of people trying to conserve energy, save the planet, and lower their carbon footprint, how is it still possible that nobody has managed to equal the Toyota Prius in terms of fuel economy? How is it possible that nobody has beaten it? How has nobody entered this wildly profitable, popular segment and given the Prius a (slow, quiet) run for its money? Because the way it stands now, it doesn’t seem like General Motors should’ve devoted all that energy to making the Chevy Volt. Instead, they should’ve made a Chevy Prius.

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Hammer Time: Is Scion The New Geo? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/hammer-time-scion-new-geo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/hammer-time-scion-new-geo/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 12:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1138522 Imagine if you will. The world’s largest and most consistently successful automaker is in deep trouble. Not because of profits, but because of products. They build a small car… and a small army of overseas competitors blow it away. They build a bigger vehicle, and another, and yet another. They build so many models with […]

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Imagine if you will.

The world’s largest and most consistently successful automaker is in deep trouble. Not because of profits, but because of products.

Chevrolet-Cavalier-1982They build a small car… and a small army of overseas competitors blow it away.

They build a bigger vehicle, and another, and yet another. They build so many models with so many names and variations that they wind up cannibalizing their own products. Every time this happens, they lose sales and more alarmingly, their youngest customers no longer see their products as fashionable.

Every year it gets worse. Then the corporate mothership, which has cost cut their way into the rear view mirror of most of their future customers, comes up with a brilliant marketing idea.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em — at least for right now.

That was the General Motors of the 1980s. After a mind numbing streak of marketplace losers (Chevette, Sprint, Citation, Omega, T1000, Skyhawk, Cimmaron, Sunbird), GM, under the ever watchful accounting driven gazes of its CEO, Roger Smith, decided that it was time to let imports fight imports. This fight would take place inside Chevy dealerships which were foolishly asked to market a new sub-brand that would compete with higher margin products which already represented the ‘real’ GM metal.

The new brand — Geo — was launched with a mandatory display area (usually in some God forsaken corner of the showroom) for those dealerships that wanted to carry a brand which was all about “Getting to know you.”

First they offered the Geo Prizm. This had been a Toyota in drag which had been marketed as a Chevy Nova during its pre-Geo run. Besides the annual humiliation of having GM’s highest quality plant and product be driven by Toyota know-how, the Nova had also been a sales flop despite the world-class Toyota underpinnings.

Prices were high, dealer margins were minimal, and the commercials? Like an aspiring Yuppie on speed.

The Prizm was followed by the Geo Tracker, which was a Suzuki Sidekick emblazoned with a new Geo logo that, strangely enough, had a bow-tie on the steering wheel — just in case the customers were wondering if it was a real American car, which it wasn’t.

The Geo Metro was next. Although this would turn out to be among the most popular models for gas sippers, tree huggers, rental car companies, and unrepentatnt cheapskates frugal zealots, it didn’t have as strong of a retail presence as many of today’s auto enthusiasts would imagine. The car was flimsy with a new car price to boot, and the acceleration with an automatic was just plain atrocious.

GM needed something, really anything, that would stand out. So what did they do?

They created a joint venture on a sporty coupe — with a company that had zero success in selling sporty coupes.

Sound familiar? It should for those who have followed the recent Scion FR-S. In GM’s case, the Isuzu Impulse, which even came with a Lotus tuned suspension to emphasize handling, was re-homologated into a Geo Storm.

It lasted one generation. The Prizm would last two generations as a Geo, and then would get pulverized into a fine red mist once GM pulled the plug and tried to make it a Chevy. The same with the Metro and the Tracker.

Come to think of it, nobody is quite sure what happened to the Tracker. But rumor has it that the model got eaten by a horde of obese cannibals disguised as Chevy Blazers.

This brings us to the Geo of 2015: Scion.

Like Geo, Scion was initially marketed to the young and youthful in a way that would make middle-aged and older people feel good about their ‘youthful’ purchase. Too bad the advertising was a cacophony of fake special effects and hip-hop fashionistas who apparently were told to display themselves instead of the car.

You think I’m kidding? Well this time, I’m being brutally blunt. On a press launch for the Lexus CT200h back in 2009, the marketing head for that project had also been in charge of launching the Scion brand in the United States. When I asked him why the CT200h didn’t launch as a Scion I was told, “Scion was never marketed as a brand for young people. It was intended to attract people at a specific price range.”

I immediately thought, “Well, okay. I never knew buyers in the $15,000 to $18,000 price hung around college campuses and went to death metal concerts.”

And that to me is the core part of Scion’s failure as a brand — it’s a cannibal. All cannibal sub-brands die in the car business because the core brand is too important to be seriously challenged. As sure as old four-door Geo Metros got recycled into Chinese washing machines, Scion became a poor excuse for Toyota not better supporting their Y2K-era Corolla against the compacts, and last generation Celicas against the sports coupes.

After 10 years of Toyota customers getting to know a slew of Scions, one thing is clear.

Scion only got launched because Toyota decontented their products and ignored the fact that a brand only becomes ‘boring’ when their products no longer cater to the emerging niches and interests within the industry.

Those new cars and new technologies need the Toyota brand. Scion is a mistake.

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2016 Toyota Tacoma Still Has Rear Drum Brakes and Here’s Why (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2016-toyota-tacoma-still-rear-drum-brakes-heres-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2016-toyota-tacoma-still-rear-drum-brakes-heres-video/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 22:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1138770 That screeching noise you’re hearing around the 20-second mark in the video below? That’s the 2016 Toyota Tacoma’s front brakes screaming through sand as the Tacoma digs itself out of a self-inflicted pit using its clever crawl control. We asked Tacoma Chief Engineer Mike Sweers last week why the new Tacoma didn’t have discs in […]

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That screeching noise you’re hearing around the 20-second mark in the video below? That’s the 2016 Toyota Tacoma’s front brakes screaming through sand as the Tacoma digs itself out of a self-inflicted pit using its clever crawl control.

We asked Tacoma Chief Engineer Mike Sweers last week why the new Tacoma didn’t have discs in the back (unlike the new Tundra) and he pointed specifically to that piercing wail — and that most owners don’t need them anyhow.

“Towing is No. 22 on the reasons why Tacoma buyers are looking for a new truck. Discs are great when it comes to ventilating heat from heavy towing, but we’re not hearing that need from Tacoma owners,” Sweers said.

Fair enough.

Sweers pointed further to heat retention, cost and that gawd-awful sound as reasons why engineers kept the drum brakes on the rear of the Tacoma.

We’ll have a full review of the Tacoma’s stopping power — and going power — next week.

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You Can Buy a 2016 Acura Honda Accord for $22,925 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/can-buy-new-acura-accord-22925/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/can-buy-new-acura-accord-22925/#comments Mon, 10 Aug 2015 21:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1137746 The refreshed, mid-size Acura Honda Accord will start at $22,925 and run all the way up to $35,400, according to Car and Driver. That represents a mild increase from $150 to $950, depending on trim, and a continued price war with its lifelong, bitter and everlasting rival, the Toyota Camry. Apples-to-apples on the high end: The […]

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2016 Honda Accord

The refreshed, mid-size Acura Honda Accord will start at $22,925 and run all the way up to $35,400, according to Car and Driver.

That represents a mild increase from $150 to $950, depending on trim, and a continued price war with its lifelong, bitter and everlasting rival, the Toyota Camry.

Apples-to-apples on the high end: The Accord will cost $635 more than a comparably equipped Camry (2016 Camry XLE V-6 with Technology and Navigation vs. 2016 Accord Touring V-6). Apples-to-apples on the low end: The Camry is $170 more (2016 Camry LE Automatic vs. 2016 Accord LX w/CVT).

Shedding two doors will add anywhere from $1,670 to $545 to the bottom line. The coupe will run from $24,595 for the base LX with a manual to $35,945 for the V-6 Touring model.

The redesigned Accord was unveiled last month in California and boasts integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as a slew of other small changes for its mid-cycle refresh.

The Accord also comes available with a suite of safety features, dubbed Honda Sense, that can be added at any trim level and will be standard on Touring models. The same safety suite is only available on the XLE trim of the Camry, which is the top trim.

Both the Accord and Camry are expected to replace their V-6 engines with turbo fours, albeit in different applications. Toyota will use the turbo four to replace the top-end engine option, whereas Honda will use a smaller turbo four to replace its standard engine.

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Will America Get The Funky Toyota C-HR Hybrid? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/will-america-get-funky-toyota-c-hr-hybrid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/will-america-get-funky-toyota-c-hr-hybrid/#comments Mon, 10 Aug 2015 17:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1137354 Toyota’s interpretation of the VehiCROSS new generation of compact crossovers will go on sale early next year after its reveal in Geneva in March, according to Autocar. The Toyota C-HR (or perhaps Auris Cross) will be built on Toyota’s new global architecture, from which half of its cars will be based by 2020. It’s unclear if the […]

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Toyota’s interpretation of the VehiCROSS new generation of compact crossovers will go on sale early next year after its reveal in Geneva in March, according to Autocar.

The Toyota C-HR (or perhaps Auris Cross) will be built on Toyota’s new global architecture, from which half of its cars will be based by 2020. It’s unclear if the car would be released in the States as a Toyota or as a Scion. The Auris recently went on sale in North America as the Scion iM.

The car hasn’t been confirmed for North American shores yet, but considering our penchant for anything crossover, the subcompact C-HR would scratch an itch Toyota has in its lineup now.

The new model could also be shared between Toyota and Mazda under a newly minted agreement between the automakers. We wrote in June that the car could be powered by one of Mazda’s 1.5-liter diesel engines overseas, perhaps even paired with a battery as a hybrid.

The new global architecture narrows the window for Toyota in development, and can produce cars “one-by-one” in a production method that could allow for some aggressively styled cars to roll off of Toyota production lines for short times.

The next-generation Prius should be the first car to be built on the shared architecture with more cars to follow. The platforms range from full-size to crossover.

Either way, it’s possible that we’ll see the C-HR on the streets sooner rather than later.

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Kia Prepping New Sports Car by 2020; Hyundai Isn’t http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/kia-prepping-new-sports-car-2020-hyundai-isnt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/kia-prepping-new-sports-car-2020-hyundai-isnt/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 17:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1135418 Kia’s chief in the U.K. says the automaker will have a new sports car by the end of the decade, Autocar is reporting. Hyundai probably won’t. The two reports roughly detail a global business case the Korean is making for a small, lightweight sportscar that would be sold worldwide and further positioning for the brands. According to […]

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GT4 Stinger

Kia’s chief in the U.K. says the automaker will have a new sports car by the end of the decade, Autocar is reporting. Hyundai probably won’t.

The two reports roughly detail a global business case the Korean is making for a small, lightweight sportscar that would be sold worldwide and further positioning for the brands.

According to Kia’s chief in the UK Paul Philpott, the car would be based on knowledge gleaned from the Stinger GT4 concept car.

According to the Autocar report, the architecture for Kia’s car would be all new and not based on any current Kia model.

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In April, Kia America’s head of product planning Orth Hedrick told Drive that the automaker would be bringing a car similar to its GT concept into production soon. It could be based on the Genesis Coupe and sport a V-6 under the hood. If that’s true, the new sports car due by the end of the decade would likely be a smaller, two-door version similar to the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT-86.

At the other side of the building, Hyundai UK chief Tony Whitehorn admitted to Autocar that another sports car wouldn’t likely be in that brand’s future: “Not many people make money out of sports cars. The sports car market is shrinking dramatically, and even firms with heritage and a great product are struggling. Aside from the Audi TT and Mazda MX-5, it is a tough place to be.”

So it sounds like Hyundai will be firmly planted in its sub-brand N, which will launch around 2017, for the next few years.

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Toyota Has Limited Tacoma for the First Time and It’s Significant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-limited-tacoma-first-time-significant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-limited-tacoma-first-time-significant/#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2015 19:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1133945 For the first time in the nameplate’s history, Toyota will offer a Limited version of its mid-size Tacoma — which was the fifth-best selling truck of all trucks last month — and that’s probably a big deal. The automaker outlined for us the lineup for the new Tacoma, which will hit dealers in September, and […]

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For the first time in the nameplate’s history, Toyota will offer a Limited version of its mid-size Tacoma — which was the fifth-best selling truck of all trucks last month — and that’s probably a big deal.

The automaker outlined for us the lineup for the new Tacoma, which will hit dealers in September, and the walk up to the Limited trim — which is at the top trim, for now — sounded light at the bottom and heavy at the top. We’re not allowed to discuss pricing yet, so that’ll have to wait.

However, a top-end Limited trim means that Tacoma isn’t immune to the immutable First Law of Pickup Trucks: You can charge whatever you want for these things. And product planners probably have more in store for the Tacoma.

According to Toyota spokespeople, the Limited models will only account for 8 to 10 percent of the Tacoma’s overall volume, but at that clip it’ll drive profits just fine.

Last month, Toyota sold more than 17,000 Tacomas, making it the best month for the truck ever, and the fifth best-selling truck in the United States. With roughly one out of every two Tacomas being some sort of off-road or highly equipped trim — opposed to a work truck — the Tacoma has room to grow, profit-wise.

Basically what we’re saying is that instead of a belt-buckle, country-edition full-size, Toyota should make a Green Day-inspired, daddy-punk-rock version of the Tacoma for $50,000 — because that’ll sell like crazy, apparently.

Update: According to Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager Toyota in the U.S., the Limited grade is new for the Tacoma for 2016. Limited has been offered as a package before. For 2016, Toyota is moving to a grade-based, parent-child relationship in the Tacoma.

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2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium Review (with Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-subaru-legacy-2-5i-premium-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-subaru-legacy-2-5i-premium-video/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 12:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=767697 Subaru’s Legacy is unique in the midsize sedan segment, not just because it is the only entry with standard all-wheel drive, but also because it also comes with a standard continuously variable transmission and the $21,745 price tag is just $405 higher than the least expensive entry, the Passat. The value of that standard CVT and AWD system […]

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Subaru’s Legacy is unique in the midsize sedan segment, not just because it is the only entry with standard all-wheel drive, but also because it also comes with a standard continuously variable transmission and the $21,745 price tag is just $405 higher than the least expensive entry, the Passat. The value of that standard CVT and AWD system is around $2,600-$3,000 effectively making the Subaru a much better value than the base Volkswagen that is front-wheel drive with a manual. This value proposition is the key to understanding Subaru in general and the Legacy in particular.



By making AWD a core Subaru value, and therefore standard on almost every model, certain costs are unavoidable. How then (or why?) does Subaru give you $3,000 more drivetrain for almost the same base price? Excellent question. The reason is simple: the average shopper has troubles with the concept of value. To be competitive Subaru has to keep their pricing in line with the FWD competition. It’s easier to say “my car has AWD for the same price” than “I know it’s $3,000 more, but we give you AWD and they don’t.”

To keep the MSRP competitive on billboards and pop-up ads, Subaru makes up the difference elsewhere. Building any car in the mainstream segment involves what I jokingly refer to as “cutting corners.” Cash can be saved by strategically placed hard plastics, by skipping a little trim in the trunk, making features optional or streamlining common parts. The trick in this segment is knowing what “corners to cut” and those to leave alone. This is a game that Subaru has been quickly learning. Standard AWD and pricing aside, there’s more about the Legacy that marches to a different drummer.

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Drivetrain
For the uninitiated, almost every modern engine is either an in-line design where the cylinders are lined up in a row, or a “V” engine design where two banks of cylinders interact with a crankshaft at an angle that is either 60 or 90 degrees. Except Porsche and Subaru. Mainly as a nod to nostalgia and uniqueness, these two brands have a dedication to the horizontally opposed, boxer engine. In a boxer design, cylinders are 180 degrees apart in two banks. Four-cylinder boxers are approximately half as long as an inline-four, but considerably wider. Although the boxer design is better balanced than an I-4, the prime benefit to this design has more to do with  the short overall length. The base 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer is good for 175 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque while the optional 3.6-liter 6-cylinder boxer bumps that to 256 horsepower and 247 lb-ft. The 2.5-liter engine is right in line with the competition but the 3.6-liter lags behind most of the V6 and turbo-four options from the competition. For 2015, both engines are mated to a CVT, although the 2.5 and 3.6 use slightly different transmission internals.

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Subaru’s AWD system has more in common with Audi’s traditional Quattro system than the optional AWD systems you find in the Ford Fusion and Chrysler 200. That’s because the Legacy is the only car in this segment with a longitudinally mounted engine, a mounting choice normally associated with rear-wheel drive vehicles. Like Quattro, Subaru integrates the AWD system and the front differential into the same case as the transmission meaning that the engine and torque converter are entirely in front of the front axle. So, although this layout resembles a RWD layout in a BMW, the weight balance hovers around 60/40 front-to-rear. Subaru likes to advertize the Legacy’s low center of gravity when it comes to handling, but in my opinion the front-heavy weight distribution has more of an impact on the handling than anything else. On the flip side, the overall dimensions of the drivetrain allow the front wheels more room to turn enabling a tighter turning circle than most midsized sedans.

Previous Legacy generations used different AWD systems depending on the transmission and engine choice but 2015 standardizes on Subaru’s latest multi-plate clutch design. Like other systems in the segment the system can lock the clutch pack to send power 50/50 front/rear with no slip and it can direct up to 90 percent of the power to the rear if slip occurs up front. What’s different is the “beefiness” of the clutch pack, this system is designed to send 40 percent of the power to the rear most of the time, while Chrysler’s 200 disconnects the rear axle as often as possible to save fuel and the Ford system defaults to a near 100/0 power split unless slip occurs.

Oil Consumption
Subaru’s new 2.5-liter engine has been the focus of conspiracy theories about oil consumption. Over my nearly 800 miles of driving, the oil level on the dipstick didn’t budge, but I don’t doubt consumption can be higher than some engine designs. First off, the new 2.5-liter engine uses low friction rings and very low viscosity (0W-20) oil. These two design choices invariably lead to higher efficiency and — you guessed it — higher oil consumption. All things being equal, if you add thinner oil and lower friction rings to any engine design, higher oil consumption is a likely byproduct. In addition, the very nature of a horizontally opposed engine may be a causal factor as well. However you feel about the Legacy’s appetite for dinosaur juice, the resulting fuel economy is undeniably high at a combined 30 mpg in the EPA cycle and a very respectable 28.8 mpg in our actual driving sample. Despite being four-wheel-driven, the Legacy is just 1-2 mpg lower than the thriftiest entries in this segment.

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Exterior
Form ultimately must follow function. Even though the Legacy uses longitudinally mounted engines and transmissions, the exterior still sports a long front overhang (like Audis) because of the engine’s location. Thanks to the “squatter” engine design, the hood slopes gently toward the front improving forward visibility. If you notice something un-Subaru in the side profile, you’re probably noticing that this Legacy ditches the frameless window design long associated with Subaru for a more traditional design. The change has a positive impact on wind noise in the cabin.

Borrowing a page from the Fusion’s design book, Subaru decided to give this Legacy a sportier profile with a roofline that starts plunging just after the B-pillar and extends behind the rear wheel. Like the Fusion and 200, which use similar design cues, this style has a direct impact on rear seat headroom. Overall this generation Legacy is far more mainstream than my neighbor’s Legacy GT with the hood scoop and rear wing.

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The rear bumper is a perfect place to see one of the trade-offs for the standard drivetrain. Many vehicles that have single and dual exhaust options use two different bumper moldings but Subaru saves some cash by just using one and inserting a blank in the four-cylinder model. In my mind this is the kind of trade-off that’s worth making for two reasons. The blank is well done (as you can see above) and should you for some reason want to have an exhaust shop upgrade you to a dual exhaust tip look, it’s easier than a bumper swap. In addition Subaru saves a little cash by giving base models steel wheels instead of the alloys found on most base midsize sedans.

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Interior
The same kind of trade-offs can be seen inside the Legacy’s cabin. Base and Premium models lack rear seat air vents, automatic climate control and you’ll find a hair more hard plastic in the cabin than in some of the newer competitors. That said, this Legacy is a definite improvement in terms of interior refinement compared to the last model.

I found front seat comfort to be slightly below average in the base model with the 6-way manual seat, and above average in the 10-way power seat found in Premium and Limited trims. You will find more comfortable seats in the Accord and Altima, but these seats are on par with the Fusion. Another area where costs were recouped is the front passenger seat which is 4-way adjustable only and notably less comfortable than the right seat in top-end trims as a result.

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Because of the roofline’s plunge toward the trunk, headroom is just about as limited as the Ford Fusion and Chrysler 200. (In other words, if you want AWD, be prepared for a height-restricted back seat.) At 6-feet tall, I had to slouch slightly in the rear to keep my head from touching the ceiling. This profile seems to be a trend in this segment and fewer and fewer midsized sedans have the headroom for six-foot-plus folks in the rear, the Accord and Passat are notable exceptions.

At 15 cubic feet the Legacy’s trunk is a hair smaller than the Camry, Passat, Accord, 200 and Fusion. However, Subaru uses a hinge design that doesn’t consume any trunk space meaning the slightly smaller hold is actually more practical. The Altima still takes top honors in this segment for swallowing multiple 24-inch carry-on sized roller bags in the vertical position.

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Infotainment
The Legacy debuts Subaru’s all-new StarLink infotainment software running on either a 6.1-inch or 7-inch LCD depending on the trim level. The new software brings expanded voice commands, finger gestures, climate control integration, improved USB/iDevice integration and optional navigation. The entire interface is snappier and more refined than Subaru’s previous software, although it still lacks direct voice control over your connected media library a la Ford’s SYNC or Toyota’s Entune. The optional StarLink app for your Android or iOS phone enables streaming audio and unlike some of the competitive apps, it doesn’t make you register and create an account in order to work.

One of the more interesting features of StarLink is unfortunately not supported in the United States: MirrorLink. you can think of MirrorLink as the more open alternative and precursor to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Sadly MirrorLink looks to be something consigned to the dustbin, but hopefully this means Subaru will support the other two standards at some point soon. (Note: Although Subaru does not support it in the USA, Subaru owners tell me it does work with a limited number of Android devices.)

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Drive
The Subaru AWD system has a distinct impact on the Legacy’s road manners. Because the system sends 40 percent of the power to the rear without wheel slip, the Legacy is easily the most surefooted and confident on slippery surfaces. [Edit: Shoppers should know that when the temperature drops below approximately 40 degrees fahrenheit winter tires are recommended for optimum traction. AWD does not improve braking or neutral handling but appropriate winter tires will. A FWD car with winter tires will our brake, out handle and likely out accelerate a comparable AWD car with all-season tires in the snow.]

The boxer engine may drop the center of gravity, but it also makes the Legacy just as front-heavy as a V-6 Accord. Like that Accord and every other V-6 front wheel drive sedan, the Legacy feels heavy and reluctant to turn in neutral handling (power-off) situations. Apply power in the corner, and the Legacy feels more neutral and predictable as the car shuttles power to the rear wheels, but the Subaru AWD system does not torque vector in the rear so it’s never going to rotate like a RWD car or an Acura with SH-AWD. The previous generation Legacy 3.6R used a mechanical center differential to give it a slight rear bias, but that has been removed for 2015 in the name of fuel economy.

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Speaking of fuel economy, the Leagcy’s numbers are unexpectedly high. Over the course of a week, I averaged 28.8 mpg in mixed driving with plenty of hill climbing as my commute involves a 2,200-ft mountain pass. Looking back on the recent sedans I’ve tested, the Legacy beat the four-cylinder Camry, tied with the 1.5-liter Fusion, was 1-2 mpg lower than the Passat 1.8T, Altima 2.5 and 4 mpg lower than the Accord with a CVT.

The high fuel economy comes at a slight cost. Subaru’s CVT has a ratio spread of 5.8 (that represents the spread of ratios from low to high, the higher the number the bigger the difference between high and low) which is narrower than most of the other transmissions in this segment. This means that when picking a final drive ratio Subaru had to chose between low end acceleration and fuel economy and they chose the latter. The resulting 14:1 starting ratio is notably higher than the 17.6:1 ratio we find in the four-cylinder Chrysler 200 and explains the Legacy 2.5’s leisurly 8.3 second 0-60 time. Some folks have incorrectly assumed the 2.5-liter boxer is “guttless” at low RPMs, but it really has more to do with this ratio and the torque converter design, as evidenced by the 3.5 second 0-30 time (longer than a Prius). Opting for the 3.6-liter engine certainly adds some scoot, but the big boxer is notably less powerful than the V-6 engines in the competition. Couple that with a tweaked CVT and an even higher starting ratio of 12.8:1 and 3.6R Limited is decidedly sluggish compared to the Fusion’s 2-liter turbo and especially the Chrysler 3.6-liter V-6.

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Subaru’s revised suspension in this generation of Legacy has improved the road manners. While not as soft as the Altima, the Legacy proved to be a smooth highway companion and never seemed upset over broken pavement. This year’s cabin is notably quieter than before in both wind and road noise. This softer side of Subaru translates to plenty of body roll and tip and dive when you’re out on your favorite mountain road, but the Legacy is still firmer than the Altima. The steering rack isn’t as responsive or direct as the Mazda6, Fusion or Accord Sport, opting instead for a middle-of-the-road feel. Subaru has tweaked the suspension further for 2016, but I did not get a chance to sample the change. Although the Mazda6 is not one of the faster options in this segment, it is still the most fun out on a winding road.

In terms of AWD competition, for the 2.5-liter model there simply isn’t any. Ford’s requires you to select the SE or above trims and the 2-liter turbo engine in order to add four-wheel motivation to the Fusion. As a result, the least expensive model is $27,810. Not only is that $6,000 more than a base Subie, the EPA says it’ll cost you $300 a year more to run. Chrysler only bundles AWD with their 3.6-liter V-6, which drops fuel economy to 22 mpg in combined driving and bumps the price tag to $29,562, which is $8,000 more than the base Subaru. On the filp side, the 200 AWD will hit 60 in under 6 seconds, more than a full second faster than the Legacy 3.6R.

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Thanks to high fuel economy and a well chosen feature set, the Legacy 2.5 is a solid alternative to the FWD competition with only few caveats. The 3.6R is another matter. The top end Legacy will set you back 30-large and adding push-button start and navigation bumps this up to around $34,000. For that price, the Chrysler adds real wood trim, ventilated seats, better handling, better performance, heated steering wheel, more comfortable seats, auto high-beams, autonomous parking and a partial LCD instrument cluster.

Taken out of context, the Legacy could seem less than competitive. If you’re looking for the best rear seat accommodations, the highest fuel economy, the best performance or the most luxury features, your future lies elsewhere. But it’ll cost you more and it won’t have AWD. The interesting twist is that even if AWD isn’t terribly important to you, there is little penalty at the pump and almost no price premium at purchase. That means that whether you’re above the snow-belt or not, if you’re looking for one of the best buys in the CamCord segment, drop by your Subaru dealer. If you want the “best AWD family hauler” however, that’s at the 200C AWD from Detroit.

Subaru provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.5

0-60: 8.3

1/4 Mile: 16.2 Seconds @ 87 MPH

Average Economy: 28.8 MPG

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Canada, Ontario Governments Kick in Millions for Toyota Plant Upgrades http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/canada-kicks-millions-toyota-plant-upgrades/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/canada-kicks-millions-toyota-plant-upgrades/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 19:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1130465 Federal and provincial governments in Canada have offered more than $100 million (USD $77 million) for improvements to the Cambridge and Woodstock plants, CTV news is reporting. The incentives are part of a $421 million (USD $323 million) investment that will be used for light metal stamping in Woodstock, which makes the RAV4, and plant improvements […]

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2013 Toyota RAV4

Federal and provincial governments in Canada have offered more than $100 million (USD $77 million) for improvements to the Cambridge and Woodstock plants, CTV news is reporting.

The incentives are part of a $421 million (USD $323 million) investment that will be used for light metal stamping in Woodstock, which makes the RAV4, and plant improvements in Cambridge, which produces the soon-to-be-gone Toyota Corolla and Lexus RX vehicles. Toyota has said it will move the Corolla to Mexico, but hasn’t announced what would replace it at the Cambridge plant.

The Canadian government tipped in $34 million in 2013 for improvements to the Cambridge plant to produce the RX 450h.

Toyota’s announcement may be welcome news for Ontario’s car-building complex. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne recently told media in Toronto that building cars in Canada is becoming more expensive, and former Oshawa mayor John Gray calling for a GM boycott if the automaker doesn’t replace the Camaro when production ends in November.

Both Volvo and Land Rover have opted to build plants in Southern U.S. states that could potentially offer more in incentives than Canada’s most populous province, which is heaping more public debt on itself through public infrastructure projects.

The announcement could also signal a better working relationship between the governments and automakers. FCA may be looking for incentives as it prepares to make a $1 billion decision on its Brampton plant, which produces the Dodge Challenger, Charger and Chrysler 300.

Marchionne asked federal and provincial governments in 2014 for incentives to retool the company’s Windsor plant that produces minivans. After a contentious public debate over the size of the financial package requested, FCA decided to go it alone. The future of the Brampton plant, which will also require funding to finance retooling for the next-generation rear-wheel drive sedans, is uncertain.

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Lexus Will Plant 2-liter Turbo Four Into RC Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/lexus-will-plant-turbo-four-rc-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/lexus-will-plant-turbo-four-rc-coupe/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 17:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1130145 Lexus will take the turbocharged four cylinder from the NX 200t and plant it in its RC coupe, the automaker announced today. The RC 200t, which will make 245 metric horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, has only been announced officially for sale in Europe — for now. It joins the RX 200t, NX 200t and IS […]

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Lexus RC 200t

Lexus will take the turbocharged four cylinder from the NX 200t and plant it in its RC coupe, the automaker announced today.

The RC 200t, which will make 245 metric horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, has only been announced officially for sale in Europe — for now. It joins the RX 200t, NX 200t and IS 200t in the Lexus lineup as the fourth model to sport the engine on the Old Continent.

Parent-company Toyota has quickly adopted the turbo four as its preferred replacement for its aging V-6 in other cars, including the Camry.

The turbocharged RC may arrive in the United States at some point, but Lexus is tight-lipped about that possibility.

In Europe, the turbocharged, direct-injected engine will only drive the rear wheels and will be exclusively paired to its 8-speed automatic transmission. According to the automaker, it’ll propel the coupe up to 62 mph in 7.5 seconds, while managing roughly 33 mpg in average fuel consumption.

The model will join the recently announced hybrid RC 300h, which isn’t offered in the States either.

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