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. Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:00:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 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 Honda Accord, Toyota Camry Will Get Turbo Fours Soon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/honda-accord-toyota-camry-will-get-turbo-fours-soon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/honda-accord-toyota-camry-will-get-turbo-fours-soon/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 19:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1128169 The best-selling mid-size sedans in the United States will catch up to their competition by offering boosted fours under their hoods soon, Automotive News is reporting (via Car & Driver). The long-running Camry will replace its six-cylinder engine with the turbo four, though the Accord is likely to use a new, smaller, boosted four pot to replace its base […]

The post Honda Accord, Toyota Camry Will Get Turbo Fours Soon appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2016 Honda Accord

The best-selling mid-size sedans in the United States will catch up to their competition by offering boosted fours under their hoods soon, Automotive News is reporting (via Car & Driver).

The long-running Camry will replace its six-cylinder engine with the turbo four, though the Accord is likely to use a new, smaller, boosted four pot to replace its base four-cylinder engine.

The Camry’s turbo four comes from the newly announced Lexus IS200t and NX200t, which will produce around 235 horsepower (or 241 in the IS200t) and 258 pound-feet of torque. The turbo four would likely replace the 3.5-liter V-6 option at the top of the range for Toyota, which makes 268 horsepower.

Honda’s solution is on the other end of the spectrum. Their 1.5-liter turbo four, borrowed from the new Civic, will likely replace the 2.4-liter naturally aspirated base engine that cranks 184 horsepower. The smaller engine would likely improve upon the 27 mpg city/36 mpg highway rating that the base model has now.

The force-fed Camry and Accord models would join the ranks of mid-size sedans already including smaller displacement, turbocharged engines such as the Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu and Volkswagen Passat.

The post Honda Accord, Toyota Camry Will Get Turbo Fours Soon appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/honda-accord-toyota-camry-will-get-turbo-fours-soon/feed/ 204
Chart Of The Day: Post-Recession Automaker Market Share In America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-post-recession-automaker-market-share-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-post-recession-automaker-market-share-america/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1123689 Since 2010 — when America’s auto industry was in tatters but also in recovery — General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Toyota USA, and American Honda have lost 5.5 percentage points of market share. Through the first half of 2015, those four automobile manufacturers produced 56.1 percent of all new vehicle sales in the United States, […]

The post Chart Of The Day: Post-Recession Automaker Market Share In America appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Post-recession-market-share-TTAC-auto-sales-chart-2015

Since 2010 — when America’s auto industry was in tatters but also in recovery — General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Toyota USA, and American Honda have lost 5.5 percentage points of market share.

Through the first half of 2015, those four automobile manufacturers produced 56.1 percent of all new vehicle sales in the United States, down from 61.6 percent in calendar year 2010. 

Fortunately, over the span of five years, the market has boomed back to 2005-like heights. As a result, GM in 2015 may sell more than 3 million vehicles for the first time since 2007. Total Ford/Lincoln sales will be around 33-percent higher than the Ford MoCo total from 2010; Toyota’s 40-percent higher in comparison; Honda’s 22-percent greater.

2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited

But where did their market share go? The Chrysler Group, now known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is now the country’s fourth-best-selling automaker; having taken over from American Honda in 2011; having not yet looked back. Together with Nissan/Infiniti, Germany’s four premium brands, and Subaru, the market share lost by GM, Ford, Toyota, and Honda is fully accounted for.

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.

The post Chart Of The Day: Post-Recession Automaker Market Share In America appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-post-recession-automaker-market-share-america/feed/ 18
Volkswagen Surpasses Toyota in Global Auto Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-surpasses-toyota-global-auto-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-surpasses-toyota-global-auto-sales/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 18:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1126585 Despite slowdowns in China, Russia and Asia, Volkswagen surpassed Toyota in global auto sales by delivery in the first half of 2015, Automotive News Europe is reporting. Volkswagen sold 5.04 million cars in the first six months of 2015, compared to 5.02 million for Toyota, according to the report. Sales were down 1.5 percent and […]

The post Volkswagen Surpasses Toyota in Global Auto Sales appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Volkswagen Wolfsburg

Despite slowdowns in China, Russia and Asia, Volkswagen surpassed Toyota in global auto sales by delivery in the first half of 2015, Automotive News Europe is reporting.

Volkswagen sold 5.04 million cars in the first six months of 2015, compared to 5.02 million for Toyota, according to the report. Sales were down 1.5 percent and 0.5 percent for Toyota and VW respectively.

GM was the third-largest automaker with 4.86 million vehicles.

Volkswagen capitalized on a growing European market to help offset softening Chinese sales. Passenger-vehicle sales fell for the first time in two years in China as that country’s economy responds to market volatility.

Sales slumped in South America, some Southeast Asia markets and sales in Russia have dramatically declined, the story points out.

Deliveries in North America increased by only 4.4 percent, the smallest margin since the economic recovery began in 2009.

The report is the latest in the saga of “Who Wants To Be The World’s Largest Automaker?” with VW on pace to take the crown three years before their executives forecasted. In May, it looked as if VW would take silver thanks to its ongoing leadership shuffle, but a resurgent European market may help. Meanwhile, Toyota may make up ground after a 10-percent gain in China in the first half, according to the report.

The post Volkswagen Surpasses Toyota in Global Auto Sales appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-surpasses-toyota-global-auto-sales/feed/ 21
Ford C-Max Sales Have Perpetually Declined In America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ford-c-max-sales-perpetually-declined-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ford-c-max-sales-perpetually-declined-america/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 12:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1113177 Following Ford’s announcement that production of the Focus and C-Max would leave Wayne, Michigan in the next few years, sales personnel at Ford dealers across America were heard asking their managers, “We still sell the C-Max?” No, that’s not entirely true. Ford is moving Focus and C-Max production out of Wayne by 2018, but we weren’t privy […]

The post Ford C-Max Sales Have Perpetually Declined In America appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Ford C-Max sales chart TTAC

Following Ford’s announcement that production of the Focus and C-Max would leave Wayne, Michigan in the next few years, sales personnel at Ford dealers across America were heard asking their managers, “We still sell the C-Max?”

No, that’s not entirely true. Ford is moving Focus and C-Max production out of Wayne by 2018, but we weren’t privy to the conversations inside Ford showrooms. That question may or may not have been asked.

Through the first-half of this year, Ford’s U.S. dealers only sold an average of four C-Max Hybrids and C-Max Energis per dealer per month. 

The C-Max did get to off to a hot start back at the end of 2012. There was plenty of talk about the C-Max’s ability to outsell the Toyota Prius. No, not the Prius you know best, but rather the Prius V, which isn’t nearly as popular as the regular Prius.

During the final quarter of the year, Ford sold 12,340 copies of the C-Max in the United States; twice topping the 4K mark. (Ford hasn’t topped 3800 since, didn’t top 3,501 in 2014, and hasn’t managed 2,700 monthly sales in 2015’s first six months.)

2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid, Picture Coutesy of Ford Motor CompanyBut by the end of its first year, the C-Max was already struggling to find more than 3,000 buyers per month. Other than the September 2013 improvement, when the year-over-year comparison took into account the C-Max’s launch month of September 2012, and two other occasions last summer, C-Max sales have always declined on a year-over-year basis.

Thus, while never truly popular, the C-Max has become increasingly unpopular in America. The reasons? It’s difficult to challenge a segment owner like the Prius. The second-generation Honda Insight can attest to that fact. Ford also flubbed the fuel efficiency marketing hype and later paid the price. Even before its efficiency downgrade, the C-Max wasn’t alleged to be quite as economical as its Toyota rivals.

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.

The post Ford C-Max Sales Have Perpetually Declined In America appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ford-c-max-sales-perpetually-declined-america/feed/ 48
Subaru of America COO: BRZ Needs ‘More Performance’ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/subaru-america-coo-brz-needs-performance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/subaru-america-coo-brz-needs-performance/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 22:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1115433 It seems enthusiasts aren’t the only folks looking for a little more performance from the rear-wheel drive Subaru BRZ. Subaru of America COO Tom Doll would also like a little more performance — in terms of sales — from the sports car co-developed with Toyota. Thankfully, he sees the best way to increase interest in […]

The post Subaru of America COO: BRZ Needs ‘More Performance’ appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Subaru BRZ STI Performance Concept

It seems enthusiasts aren’t the only folks looking for a little more performance from the rear-wheel drive Subaru BRZ. Subaru of America COO Tom Doll would also like a little more performance — in terms of sales — from the sports car co-developed with Toyota.

Thankfully, he sees the best way to increase interest in the BRZ is to give us what we want.

Maybe.

Speaking on Autoline Detroit (via AutoGuide), Doll said: “We may have to do some things to (the BRZ) to enhance the driving performance a little more; take it up a little bit. Because I think that’s one of the learnings we’ve seen out of that vehicle, if it had a little bit more performance to it, it could really take up the sales level even more.”

Earlier this year, officials at Subaru confirmed a STI-branded BRZ would go on sale in the United States, but didn’t reveal specs or additions beyond the current car.

In addition to admitting the BRZ needs more performance — whether that means bumping up the power or giving the car some other tweaks — Doll also mentioned a second generation of the BRZ is still up in the air and wholly dependent on the intentions of executives in Japan.

A second-generation BRZ may also depend on Toyota. It’s been rumored the larger Japanese manufacturer is envious of the new Mazda MX-5 Miata — so much so that they’d be willing to use the architecture for the next Toyota GT86 and Scion FR-S. If that’s the case, don’t expect Subaru to follow suit.

The post Subaru of America COO: BRZ Needs ‘More Performance’ appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/subaru-america-coo-brz-needs-performance/feed/ 85
Toyota Taking Reservations for Mirais in California Next Week http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/toyota-taking-reservations-mirai-california-next-week/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/toyota-taking-reservations-mirai-california-next-week/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 20:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1114809 Californians itching to claim one of the first of Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Mirai can raise their hands starting next week, the automaker announced. Toyota announced today it would begin accepting reservations for the Mirai starting July 20. The sedan will cost $57,500, according to the manufacturer, and will be available only at eight California dealerships. Only […]

The post Toyota Taking Reservations for Mirais in California Next Week appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2016_Toyota_Fuel_Cell_Vehicle_028

Californians itching to claim one of the first of Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Mirai can raise their hands starting next week, the automaker announced.

Toyota announced today it would begin accepting reservations for the Mirai starting July 20. The sedan will cost $57,500, according to the manufacturer, and will be available only at eight California dealerships. Only California residents can buy the car.

The purchase price includes an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty on “key fuel cell vehicle components” and three years — or $15,000, whichever comes first — of fuel.

Toyota says “Power On-Demand” Mirais won’t appear until late 2016, in which the car acts like a mobile, hydrogen-powered electric generator. According to the automaker, the Mirai may be able to power electrical devices — or a home — for “a limited time.”

The Mirai is eligible for a $5,000 rebate in California.

The post Toyota Taking Reservations for Mirais in California Next Week appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/toyota-taking-reservations-mirai-california-next-week/feed/ 35
Former NHTSA Boss Blocked From Testifying in Toyota Case http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/former-nhtsa-boss-blocked-testifying-toyota-case/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/former-nhtsa-boss-blocked-testifying-toyota-case/#comments Sun, 12 Jul 2015 15:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1113617 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is blocking former chief David Strickland from testifying in a California civil lawsuit for Toyota on issues regarding its push-button start systems in some of its cars. According to the Detroit News, NHTSA officials told lawyers in a letter that Strickland would be barred from testifying in the case as an […]

The post Former NHTSA Boss Blocked From Testifying in Toyota Case appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
All you need is love. Strickland. Picture courtesy detnews.comThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is blocking former chief David Strickland from testifying in a California civil lawsuit for Toyota on issues regarding its push-button start systems in some of its cars.

According to the Detroit News, NHTSA officials told lawyers in a letter that Strickland would be barred from testifying in the case as an expert witness.

“The agency has been roundly criticized for its relationship with Toyota in terms of recent enforcement actions, particularly regarding unintended acceleration,” NHTSA’s lawyer wrote in the letter. “Given this history, Mr. Strickland’s testimony as a former NHTSA administrator describing Toyota’s actions or conduct in this matter with approval, will likely diminish the agency’s ability to pursue a vigorous enforcement review of Toyota moving forward.”

Congress has said NHTSA wasn’t tough enough on Toyota when it looked into issues that its push-button start system could leave cars running without the keys present.

Toyota said it asked Strickland to testify on general matters in the lawsuit, but the agency barring the former administrator to testify is being praised as a harder line for what people say is a too-familiar relationship between former safety officials and automakers.

“For too long there has been a revolving door at NHTSA which allowed former NHTSA employees to seek lucrative employment with the same auto manufacturers they had at one time been charged with regulating,” Christine Spagnoli, a lawyer for the owners suing Toyota, told the Detroit News. “Hopefully, the denial of Mr. Strickland’s request to testify on behalf of Toyota is a sign that the new administrator recognizes that these historically cozy relationships between agency employees and the companies they are charged with regulating often results in undermining public trust.”

After leaving NHTSA in 2014, Strickland joined a Washington D.C.-based law firm that has also represented Fiat Chrysler. Former NHTSA officials are not allowed to directly lobby for automakers for two years after leaving the safety administration.

The post Former NHTSA Boss Blocked From Testifying in Toyota Case appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/former-nhtsa-boss-blocked-testifying-toyota-case/feed/ 33
No Fixed Abode: A Vestigial Tale http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/no-fixed-abode-vestigial-tale/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/no-fixed-abode-vestigial-tale/#comments Fri, 10 Jul 2015 12:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1060538 I woke up yesterday to see that my friend W. Christian “Mental” Ward had taken advantage of me while I was drunk. My first thought was to make a porn movie in which I played myself, kind of like that nice young lady who recently graduated from Columbia did. (They call her “Mattress Girl”, by […]

The post No Fixed Abode: A Vestigial Tale appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
evolution

I woke up yesterday to see that my friend W. Christian “Mental” Ward had taken advantage of me while I was drunk.

My first thought was to make a porn movie in which I played myself, kind of like that nice young lady who recently graduated from Columbia did. (They call her “Mattress Girl”, by the way.) But then I realized that Mental’s violations had been limited to using the column title “No Fixed Abode” for his own opinions. So I calmed down. But then I wondered: what if I just let people use the title for columns of which I particularly approved, either drunk or sober? Eventually I wouldn’t even need to approve them myself. I could use an algorithm, or a Millennial. Perhaps, after fifty or seventy-five years of this, the phrase “no fixed abode” would become brandless, like “kleenex” or “band-aid.”

I can imagine some kid in the year 2210 waxing nostalgic about his steam-powered Kamakiri biosphere-mobile (the first person to get the reference wins the Internet) and saying to his friends, “Man, I’m going to hook up the ‘trodes and bang out a nofixedabode about the time I saw my Daddy mowing the lawn and I was like, ‘Come on Daddy, get in, let’s go!'” At that point, the original reason for the column title, to say nothing of its decidedly nonfamous originator, would be long lost to history.

Which brings us, of course, to the Prius.

echoint

But not yet.

Speaking of Mattress Girl and her ilk, maybe the above photo should have a trigger warning preceding it. Only the most traumatized of you will recognize the interior for what it is: the first-generation Toyota “Echo”, known as “Yaris” overseas. I would expect that all of you will recognize that is has a center-dash layout in which the instrument panel is mounted in the middle of the vehicle. Some of you will do better than that and recognize that the two sides of the instrument panel are essentially interchangeable. You could use the same pieces to make a left-hand-drive car or a right-hand-drive car. It’s just a matter of swapping the modules out.

This is a brilliant way to make a cheap car for a truly global market. It simplifies parts inventories, allows you to get some volume-based savings that you wouldn’t have if you had to make two different kinds of dashboards, and it probably makes assembly easier as well. I don’t know just how much money this layout saves, but I’d say that it’s nontrivial. In any event, it’s worth making the driver look over at the center instrument panel. Most of the people who are driving these things barely look at the dashboard anyway, and very few of them are driving quickly enough to need to have the instrument panel right in front of them.

echo2

No surprise, then, that the next-generation Yaris that replaced the Echo/Yaris had the same modular layout. You see how it’s still possible to make the same car two different ways here, relatively easily?

yaris1

And here’s the current car. Better materials, classier design, and (let’s face it) a more flattering photo, but the same concept remains in place. Interchangeable dashes. You can easily see how both sides are identical, right down to the way the glovebox and knee bolster have pretty much the same dimensions on both sides of the console. Toyota’s far from the only company to do this, although most of its competitors don’t do an actual center display but prefer instead to have an instrument panel unit that can live on either side of a symmetrical dashboard.

You get the idea. Let’s look at the first-generation Prius.

prius1

The bones of the first Prius probably had a lot to do with the original Echo/Yaris. They were developed around the same time, they shared some dimensions. No wonder that the Prius has the same kind of symmetrical swap-out dashboard. It saves money and it’s part of the Toyota cheap-car DNA at the time. It would have been notable had Toyota not chosen to do this, frankly. Keep in mind that nobody knew how successful the Prius would eventually become. Saving money in design, materials, and production was a nontrivial goal, no matter how much THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT CHIPPED IN ON IT.

I just capitalized the last half of the sentence to give my predecessor at TTAC, Herr Schmitt, heart palpitations. Were he still around, he would no doubt explain to you that Toyota did not need the Japanese government to make the Prius and that he knows more about it than Jim Press does.

Where were we? Oh yes. Cheap car, cheap to make, modular dash. Next photo, please.

priius2

And here’s the second Prius we had in this country, the one that made the car famous to people besides Larry David and your local comparative-literature professor. This dashboard is proudly symmetrical and interchangeable. It continues to have a center dash display. Nothing too surprising. Alright, let’s see the last slide in the carousel.

prius3

Well, I will be Gosh-damned. This is in no way a cheapo Toyota mirror-image dash, is it? It’s from the current Prius, which is going to replaced in the near future, and which I used to run a few laps around New Jersey Motorsports Park a couple of months back. Looks like the Prius has finally come correct, all the better to match its hugely upscale consumer base and public image. The Tupperware simplicity is gone, replaced by something that looks kind of like what you get in an Avalon.

Except for that center dash display.

This is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night, by the by. Why does the Prius retain a center display when the reason for it — interchangeability between RHD and LHD variants — is gone? After all, you don’t get a center dash in a Camry, or an Avalon, or an LS600hl. Only cheapo Toyotas get a center dash. The Prius is no longer particularly cheap, and Toyota finally cottoned to the fact that many of its buyers don’t give a fig for its purchase or operating costs, so it has a proper interior. But it still has the center dash?

It took me a while to figure out the answer, but here it is: The consumer cannot sense intent. What I mean by that is this: You, the manufacturer, might have all sorts of reasons for doing something, but unless you state those reasons on the front page of the Huffington Post, Fox News, and Reddit’s “Gone Wild” section every day for a year, as well as paying for “in-game placement” in World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, nobody will know what those reasons are. Instead, the consumers will guess at your reasons, and their guesses will be wrong far more often than they are right.

There are more examples of this in the world than there are atoms with which to electronically transmit their descriptions. The Chevy “Pro-Tec” plastic optional pickup box that vastly outperformed steel in all but the coldest conditions? Customers thought it was there to save money and rip them off. The three-piece necks on Gibson guitars of the Seventies? The factory did it to prevent warping and reduce warranty claims. Musicians thought the purpose was to save money and ruin their sound. The unbuttoned lower button on the Duke of Windsor’s suit coat? It was because he had a potbelly. Fashionable men around the world with flat stomachs dutifully unbuttoned the moment they saw a picture of their aristocratic better doing it.

It stands to reason, therefore, that the reason the Prius has a center dash is because people think that is part of the “Prius brand DNA”. What makes that funny is that it reinforces the fact that Prius buyers never shopped any other cheap Toyotas, or any cheap cars, period. If they did, they’d quickly realize that center display means “cheap”. But since they only saw the center dash in the Prius, it says “hybrid” to them. Therefore, the Prius must continue to have a center dash forever and ever, Amen, because any other arrangement would be un-Prius-like.

You are now free to imagine a scene in which natives of a desert island worship a Coke bottle. Or something like that. It’s the same idea. Viewed without context, the Prius dash layout takes on a whole new meaning and therefore it must be retained.

And if you think only stupid-ass Prius buyers feel that way, ask yourself why the Corvette had quad round taillights until last year, just like a ’62 Biscayne. Or why the BMW i8 has twin chrome ovals surrounding black glossy plastic. Or, perhaps, why your automatic-transmission car has a console shift.

What’s the moral of the story? Only this: that despite the best efforts of everybody from Joan Claybrook (look it up, kids) to “Mad Men”, people continue to have a genuine and unashamed emotional investment in their vehicles. It’s 2015, and we were supposed to have flying cars by now, but we’re more than happy to settle for what we’ve got. We all want our cars to reinforce our self-images, confirm our prejudices, reassure our pathetic senses of aesthetic sensibility. Even the buyers of the most rational car money can buy want to know that they’re sitting in a real-deal Prius.

So let’s all agree to keep the existence of the Toyota Echo a secret from them, just to be nice. To do anything else would be like buying someone shots of Tito’s all night and asking them if they mind if you write a nofixedabode.

The post No Fixed Abode: A Vestigial Tale appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/no-fixed-abode-vestigial-tale/feed/ 81
Tommi Mäkinen Leading Toyota’s 2017 WRC Team http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/tommi-makinen-leading-toyotas-2017-wrc-team/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/tommi-makinen-leading-toyotas-2017-wrc-team/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 21:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1109433 Rally legend Tommi Mäkinen will lead Toyota Gazoo Racing’s World Rally Championship team when it begins competition in 2017, the automaker announced today. Mäkinen was announced as team principal, which will race a Yaris-based car, for the WRC team. Toyota boss Akio Toyoda, who will be the team’s chairman, said the 51-year-old Mäkinen was an ideal fit for […]

The post Tommi Mäkinen Leading Toyota’s 2017 WRC Team appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Tommi Makinen will lead Toyota's new WRC team

Rally legend Tommi Mäkinen will lead Toyota Gazoo Racing’s World Rally Championship team when it begins competition in 2017, the automaker announced today. Mäkinen was announced as team principal, which will race a Yaris-based car, for the WRC team.

Toyota boss Akio Toyoda, who will be the team’s chairman, said the 51-year-old Mäkinen was an ideal fit for the team.

“Tommi has abundant experience and fresh ideas for vehicle development, both of which will be valuable assets to us. With Tommi behind us, Toyota will forge ahead with our return to the WRC and also our efforts to make ever better cars,” Toyoda said in a statement.

Mäkinen is widely known for his success piloting a Mitsubishi Evolution to four consecutive world championships in the 1990s. Mäkinen moved to Subaru in 2002 and retired from the sport in 2003.

His four world titles is second on the all-time championship list behind Sebastian Loeb and tied with Juha Kankkunen — who won one of his world championships driving a Toyota in 1993. Mäkinen’s 18-year rally career also includes 24 wins.

Toyota has not raced in WRC competition since 1999.

5088_Yaris-2015_003_896x504

 

The post Tommi Mäkinen Leading Toyota’s 2017 WRC Team appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/tommi-makinen-leading-toyotas-2017-wrc-team/feed/ 6
Police Releasing Former Toyota Executive Jailed for Pain Pills http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/police-releasing-former-toyota-executive-jailed-pain-pills/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/police-releasing-former-toyota-executive-jailed-pain-pills/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 18:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1109025 Former Toyota communications chief Julie Hamp will be released from jail Wednesday, according to Bloomberg News (via Kyodo News). Hamp was jailed June 18 for allegedly mailing herself 57 Oxycodone pills, which are illegal in Japan. She resigned her position with Toyota on June 30 as one of the global automaker’s highest-ranking female executives. The reason for […]

The post Police Releasing Former Toyota Executive Jailed for Pain Pills appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Julie HampFormer Toyota communications chief Julie Hamp will be released from jail Wednesday, according to Bloomberg News (via Kyodo News).

Hamp was jailed June 18 for allegedly mailing herself 57 Oxycodone pills, which are illegal in Japan. She resigned her position with Toyota on June 30 as one of the global automaker’s highest-ranking female executives.

The reason for Hamp’s release is unclear. Bloomberg reported that prosecutors in Japan didn’t have enough evidence to indict Hamp on the charges. Kyodo News (via translator) reported prosecutors determined Hamp’s actions weren’t malicious and her resignation may have been enough punishment.

According to Kyodo News, police can’t hold Hamp longer than Wednesday without pressing charges.

On the day of her arrest, Hamp was named to PR Week’s “Power List” as a top communications executive. Before working at Toyota, Hamp worked at General Motors and Pepsi. She was promoted to her position on March 4.

According to a Bloomberg report, Hamp may be questioned up to 6 hours every day during her detention. Police in Japan can detain suspects for up to 23 days without formally charging them with any crime. If Hamp were charged and convicted, she could have faced 2 1/2 years in prison with two years suspended.

Japan is famously strict on prescription medications. The U.S. Embassy in Japan warns visitors to leave over-the-counter medication, such as allergy medicine and even asthma inhalers, at home. Common U.S. drugs such as Prozac or Viagra are sold on the black market in Japan and can carry jail sentences if purchased illegally, the embassy warns.

The post Police Releasing Former Toyota Executive Jailed for Pain Pills appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/police-releasing-former-toyota-executive-jailed-pain-pills/feed/ 32
2016 Scion iA Review With Video – Mono-Priced Zoom-Zoom http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2016-scion-ia-review-video-mono-priced-zoom-zoom/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2016-scion-ia-review-video-mono-priced-zoom-zoom/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1105937 When is a Scion not a Scion? Since Scion is division of Toyota, this is both a trick question and a serious one. Scions can be anything from tweaked Toyotas and foreign market Toyotas to cars built by other manufacturers for Scion. The first such product was the collaboratively developed Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ / Toyota 86. […]

The post 2016 Scion iA Review With Video – Mono-Priced Zoom-Zoom appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2016 Scion iA Exterior-004

When is a Scion not a Scion? Since Scion is division of Toyota, this is both a trick question and a serious one.

Scions can be anything from tweaked Toyotas and foreign market Toyotas to cars built by other manufacturers for Scion. The first such product was the collaboratively developed Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ / Toyota 86. The second is this Mazda-designed and Mazda-built Scion iA.

Exterior
Mazda and Toyota entered into a partnership of sorts a while back, and the iA is the first fruit. If you didn’t know by now, the tasty looking 2016 Mazda2 hatch is not coming to the USA, despite Mazda’s plan to sell it in Canada and Puerto Rico. To satisfy shopper’s love for sub-compact Zoom-Zoom, Scion had Mazda turn the 2 into the Scion iA sedan for the U.S. and Toyota Yaris sedan for Canada. As happens with the Ford Fiesta, the hatch-to-sedan conversion adds around a foot of length overall. To help differentiate the iA from any future Mazda2 sales in the USA, the front end gets an enormous trapezoidal front grille and some “Angry Birds” headlamps. Out back, the Scion’s rear is less disguised with a strong Mazda influence in the tail lamps blended with a hint of Camry.

I know I’m going to take heat for this, but I actually like the looks of the iA in person. I think the side profile and rear are better balanced than the Ford Fiesta sedan, although the Fiesta’s grille is better looking. The overall design comes across as more intentional and — dare I say — emotional than the Nissan Versa or Chevy Sonic.

2016 Scion iA Interior-006

Interior
Hop inside the iA and it’s pure Mazda, which is a good thing. In terms of style and parts quality, Mazda basically made Scion a 90% scale Mazda3 interior with a few tweaks. We get the same chunky steering wheel loaded with buttons, same single-dial instrument cluster and 7-inch infotainment screen. Also cribbed from the Mazda parts bin is the standard keyless-go system, a single-zone manual climate control and standard cruise control.

For a car as small as the iA, the front seats proved surprisingly roomy. Scion claims 41.9 inches of legroom up front, which is more than you get in the Corolla or Focus, and a still respectable 34.4 inches in the back. Although taller drivers will probably bash their elbows on the B-pillar, they will fit. Cargo room comes in at a generous 13.5 cubic feet beating the bigger Corolla by a hair.

2016 Scion iA Interior

Infotainment
Mazda calls the infotainment software MazdaConnect. Scion hasn’t named it specifically but the system is exactly the same. What sets the iA apart isn’t so much the class-leading infotainment software and interface but that the system is standard. Looking like someone grafted an iPad to the dashboard [I think it looks more like a cheap Walmart Android tablet than an iPad, but to each their own. -Mark], the 7-inch color touchscreen LCD is the heart of the system. In the center console we have an iDrive/MMI-like controller knob and button array. Similar to Infiniti’s systems, you can navigate with either the controller, or the touchscreen, or both depending on what is easier at the moment. As long as you’re parked. Above 5 MPH the touchscreen functionality is locked out allowing only voice and control knob inputs.

Smartphone app integration for streaming media is standard and shoppers can add navigation software to the display for an undisclosed price after you buy the car. The high-resolution graphics, an intuitive interface and complete voice commands of your media library create a system that rivals uConnect and iDrive for best in the industry. The only danger with making this system standard in the iA is that it makes other Scions look decidedly behind the times.

2016 Scion iA Engine Mazda SkyActiv-001

Drivetrain
Logically, there’s a Mazda 1.5L four-cylinder engine beating under the iA’s hood. Good for 106 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque, the engine uses all Mazda’s fuel sipping tech, including direct injection, a high 12:1 compression ratio and a Mazda 6-speed automatic with a tall final gear and aggressive torque converter lockup program. For the purists in the crowd, you can get your iA with a short-throw manual transmission, but you’ll get 2 MPG better (37 MPG combined, 42 on the highway) with the 6-speed automatic.

2016 Scion iA Exterior-003

Drive
In an unexpected twist, all iA models will come with a standard low-speed collision warning and mitigation system. The system is similar in design to Volvo’s first-generation City Safety system and uses a laser scanner mounted in front of the rear view mirror to monitor traffic. At speeds between approximately 5 and 18 MPH, the system will first warn the driver of an impending collision, pre-charge the brakes, then as a last resort reduce engine power and apply the brakes autonomously to either avoid or mitigate the collision. The Scion reps said the system is not programmed to detect pedestrians or cyclists like Volvo’s latest system, but it “may respond” to that type of obstacle depending on the situation.

Since my time was limited with the iA, I wasn’t able to put it through my usual battery of tests. You should expect acceleration times to be leisurely, likely in the 10 second slot occupied by the Prius C. The best acceleration times will be with the 6-speed automatic but the 6-speed manual will make those seconds tick by faster because it’s simply more fun. I spent most of my day in a 6-speed manual version and, although I did long for more power, the short throws and excellent clutch pedal distracted me for the most part.

2016 Scion iA Exterior-006

For a Scion, the steering is sheer perfection. For a Mazda, I’m still sad the iA has electric power steering. Turn in is crisp as can be expected from a car riding on 185/60R16 tires and the steering ratio is just about perfect. The Scion folks had Mazda tune the iA towards the softer side of the segment which causes more body roll than I had expected, but aside from that it didn’t reduce the fun too much on the winding mountain roads of our test drive. Overall grip is lower than I had expected with plenty of commotion coming from the tires if you enter a corner a little too hot. I blame both the tire size and the rubber compound for this but the tires can be easily swapped. Even though we have a torsion beam suspension in the rear, the iA was remarkably well-behaved in corners with broken pavement.

The most compelling thing about the iA is the combination of Mazda engineering and Scion pricing. For 2015, the MSRP starts at $15,700 with the 6-speed manual and ends at $16,800 for the iA with the 6-speed automatic. Because of the way Scion’s pricing scheme works, the manual transmission model has a high level of content that frequently precludes a manual transmission in the competition like the 7-inch LCD infotainment system, the pre-collision braking system, keyless-go and the backup camera. Scion also tosses in a 2-year/25,000 mile scheduled maintenance plan. When comparing the iA to the rest of the segment, the high level of standard equipment manages to make the iA the best sub-compact deal around. When pitted against Nissan Versa, the value leader in the segment, the Scion manages to be $1,500 less when comparably equipped.

2016 Scion iA Exterior Front Grille

The iA isn’t the Scion I was expecting, and it isn’t the Mazda I was hoping for either. The iA seems like Mazda’s interpretation of what a Scion should be, and marriage has created a surprisingly good little car. Shoppers will find a well-controlled ride, excellent road manners and impeccable fuel economy all wrapped inside Scion’s warranty and scheduled maintenance, and sold at a Toyota dealer. The combination makes for the most appealing sedan in this segment by a hair. (If Ford mates an automatic transmission to their 3-cylinder turbo Fiesta, it’s game on.) The combination should also be a lesson for Mazda, because Scion’s mono-spec philosophy and pricing give pragmatists a reason to buy the best driving sedan in this segment.

Scion provided the vehicle, insurance, gas and a snazzy lunch for this review.

2016 Scion iA Engine Mazda SkyActiv 2016 Scion iA Engine Mazda SkyActiv-001 2016 Scion iA Exterior Front Grille 2016 Scion iA Exterior-001 2016 Scion iA Exterior-002 Wheel 2016 Scion iA Exterior-003 2016 Scion iA Exterior-004 2016 Scion iA Exterior-005 2016 Scion iA Exterior-006 2016 Scion iA Exterior-007 2016 Scion iA Exterior-008 2016 Scion iA Interior 2016 Scion iA Interior-001 2016 Scion iA Interior-002 2016 Scion iA Interior-003 2016 Scion iA Interior-004 2016 Scion iA Interior-005 2016 Scion iA Interior-006 2016 Scion iA Interior-007 2016 Scion iA Interior-008 2016 Scion iA Trunk

The post 2016 Scion iA Review With Video – Mono-Priced Zoom-Zoom appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2016-scion-ia-review-video-mono-priced-zoom-zoom/feed/ 102
Julie Hamp No. 10 in PR Week’s “Power List”, No. 1 in Badly Timed Awards http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ex-top-toyota-pr-rep-no-10-pr-list-no-1-badly-timed-awards/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ex-top-toyota-pr-rep-no-10-pr-list-no-1-badly-timed-awards/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 15:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1107009 Resigned Toyota PR chief Julie Hamp was named to PR Week’s “Power List” two weeks after being busted for allegedly importing illegal prescription painkillers into Japan last month. Hamp allegedly received 57 pills of Oxycodone in a box labeled “necklaces” at Narita Airport in Tokyo. The list, which ranks her No. 10, was released the same day Hamp resigned her position […]

The post Julie Hamp No. 10 in PR Week’s “Power List”, No. 1 in Badly Timed Awards appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Julie Hamp Not In BlackResigned Toyota PR chief Julie Hamp was named to PR Week’s “Power List” two weeks after being busted for allegedly importing illegal prescription painkillers into Japan last month. Hamp allegedly received 57 pills of Oxycodone in a box labeled “necklaces” at Narita Airport in Tokyo.

The list, which ranks her No. 10, was released the same day Hamp resigned her position and included an editor’s note at the top explaining the awkward timing.

The author of Hamp’s listing, Senior Vice President of Global Communications for General Motors Tony Cervone, noted Hamp’s ascendance as a woman in a field typically dominated by men:

“Julie understands the need for consistency, but allows it to be expressed naturally and authentically, with special sensitivity to cultural nuances. She understands discipline, but doesn’t drive bureaucracy. In short, Julie provides a great balance. And she fully deserves to be “the first” in so many ways.”

Hamp is reportedly in jail awaiting charges in Japan. According to the Wall Street Journal, her trial in Japan could last anywhere from six months to a year, if it even goes that far.

The post Julie Hamp No. 10 in PR Week’s “Power List”, No. 1 in Badly Timed Awards appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ex-top-toyota-pr-rep-no-10-pr-list-no-1-badly-timed-awards/feed/ 23
Nissan, Toyota, Honda Team to Build Fuel-Cell Infrastructure in Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-toyota-honda-team-build-fuel-cell-infrastructure-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-toyota-honda-team-build-fuel-cell-infrastructure-japan/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 17:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106169 According to Toyota, three Japanese automakers — Honda, Toyota and Nissan — are working together to build hydrogen fuel stations around for future fuel-cell cars. The program, which will subsidize fueling stations up to 11 million yen ($89,500) per year for each station, is meant to boost the nation’s infrastructure for hydrogen-powered cars. The agreement […]

The post Nissan, Toyota, Honda Team to Build Fuel-Cell Infrastructure in Japan appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
20150701_02_03

According to Toyota, three Japanese automakers — Honda, Toyota and Nissan — are working together to build hydrogen fuel stations around for future fuel-cell cars.

The program, which will subsidize fueling stations up to 11 million yen ($89,500) per year for each station, is meant to boost the nation’s infrastructure for hydrogen-powered cars.

The agreement was formed in February between the large automakers, but began accepting applications July 1.

The program also boosts “awareness” of the FCVs by offering incentives for stations to stay open longer and offer more services.

A similar alliance between automakers in the U.S. could boost FCV participation rates, but maybe we can’t have nice things.

The post Nissan, Toyota, Honda Team to Build Fuel-Cell Infrastructure in Japan appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-toyota-honda-team-build-fuel-cell-infrastructure-japan/feed/ 7
2016 Scion iM Review – Toyota’s Tweener Takes a Turn http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2016-scion-im-review-toyotas-tweener-takes-turn/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2016-scion-im-review-toyotas-tweener-takes-turn/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 15:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1105113 To wonder aloud: How long can cool be, you know, cool? For Scion, “cool” has a half-life of around 12 years and the youth-oriented brand from Toyota has a significant turn to right the ship back toward sales from the its first year in America. Last month, Scion posted a 20-percent dip in sales, discontinued two models — iQ […]

The post 2016 Scion iM Review – Toyota’s Tweener Takes a Turn appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2016 Scion iM (9 of 21)

To wonder aloud: How long can cool be, you know, cool?

For Scion, “cool” has a half-life of around 12 years and the youth-oriented brand from Toyota has a significant turn to right the ship back toward sales from the its first year in America. Last month, Scion posted a 20-percent dip in sales, discontinued two models — iQ and xD — and spelled out an end for its xB — the only Scion to post anything resembling sales growth.

Is it better to be dead or cool? Didn’t Kurt Cobain write a song about this?

The Scion iM is 50 percent of the answer for what’s next from Scion. The new hatchback based on the overseas Toyota Auris/Corolla will hit dealers alongside the iA on September 1. The five-door hatch goes head-to-head with competitors like the Ford Focus, Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf in a segment that analysts predict will sell more than 500,000 cars this year.

Built in Japan, the iM is a distant cousin to the U.S. market Toyota Corolla in all its splendor, and the iA will be part of Scion’s likely “pragmatic, not necessarily hip” offensive in the coming months.

I can’t wait.


The Tester

2016 Scion iM

Engine: 1.8-liter, direct injection I-4 (137 horsepower @ 6,100 rpm; 126 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm)
Transmission: 6-speed manual (as tested); CVT automatic

EPA Rating: 27 city mpg/36 highway mpg/31 combined mpg (Manual); 28/37/32 mpg (CVT).

Price: $18,460 + $795 destination (manual); $19,200 + $795 destination (CVT)


To be fair, I’ve never driven the Auris overseas, which is jam-packed with a variety of engines ranging from Scion’s preferred here 1.8-liter gasoline-powered mill to a 1.4-liter diesel — even a 1.8-liter turbo-hybrid combo for Japan. For the states we only get one pick, and that’s OK because I’m a bit slow.

2016 Scion iM (21 of 21)

So is the iM. While 0-60 mph happens in around 10 seconds in the iM (which, relatively speaking, is average for a hatchback) the engine never really felt rushed to go anywhere. There’s no huge pickup in power anywhere in its band — not at 4,000 rpm at full twist, not at the 6,100-rpm redline. Thus, it’s fair to say: Don’t worry about the manual; it doesn’t have guts over the CVT anyway.

That’s probably due to the iM’s considerable heft. The five-door hatchback weighs 2,943 pounds with a manual transmission, 3,031 pounds with an automatic, and that’s not including what I had for lunch. Downhill, you’re just fine on power. Uphill, you may want to reconsider that pass, young man.

2016 Scion iM (16 of 21)Instead, the iM’s sport feeling comes from two places: its chassis and brakes. MacPherson’s up front and double wishbones in the back keep the iM planted around corners and relatively flat. The iM’s body kit hides its height — it’s 55 inches tall with 5.5 inches of ground clearance — but the car maintains a relatively firm handle on the road. Multiple times through the twisty drive around San Mateo, the iM held its own and kept tidy around corners. The iM won’t be confused with a sports car, but it does eagerly jump into corners — even if it can’t dart.

The iM’s suspension is firmer than I expected, and way more so than I’d ever expect from a Toyota. It’s not too firm for every day driving, but it is dangerously close.

On the other side, the iM’s brakes are supremely confident and quick to arrest the heavy hatch’s momentum. Even through the car’s standard 17-inch wheels, you can see the big 11-inch rotors waiting and that feeling comes through the progressive, but not lazy, pedal. The brakes could stand another 50 to 500 more horsepower from the engine, I think.

2016 Scion iM (8 of 21)Inside, the iM is surprisingly well considered for a car that costs $19,000. The interior dash accent is well-placed and soft surface materials help keep attention away from the doors, which are powerfully dull. Same goes for the seats, which boast contrast stitching to help visually separate the black-on-black motif, but it does fall a little flat. The good news: You can fit five people in the hatch comfortably to cover up all the interior materials.

There’s plenty of room for gear with 60/40-split folding rear seats and 20.8 cubic feet of space in the cargo area with the seats up.

In keeping with Scion’s strategy of “mono spec” pricing, there’s really only two things to consider with the iM — color and transmission. The same Pioneer audio system comes in all models (with or without navigation as a dealer-installed option, for which there is no dedicated button and confused the hell out of a monkey like me), Bluetooth streaming and steering wheel-mounted controls. Can you hear the stereo? Because you should turn it up. Up a little more. The iM lets in a little more road noise than it should.

2016 Scion iM (17 of 21)

Other standard features include standard 17-inch wheels, backup camera and that body kit that definitely makes the Scion iM definitely not a Toyota Auris. Definitely not.

And the Scion iM’s biggest asset may be its biggest problem as well. It’s helpful for Scion to have a big parent company like Toyota to draw from its international fleet and help flagging sales in the states. But a big parent company like Toyota has all the markings of an automotive behemoth, specifically a massive dealer network that still runs things decidedly old school.

The iM is a decent hatch in itself, but it probably won’t save Scion. The exciting, cool new automaker doesn’t have a lot of cool ideas when it comes to streamlining the buying experience — which they say can be done in less than an hour, so long as you find a participating dealer with a participating price in a participating market.

Cool can’t last forever, even if Toyotas can.

Photography provided by Alex L. Dykes.

2016 Scion iM (21 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (20 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (19 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (18 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (17 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (16 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (15 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (14 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (13 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (12 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (11 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (10 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (9 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (8 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (7 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (6 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (5 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (4 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (3 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (2 of 21) 2016 Scion iM (1 of 21)

The post 2016 Scion iM Review – Toyota’s Tweener Takes a Turn appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2016-scion-im-review-toyotas-tweener-takes-turn/feed/ 100
2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax Platinum 4X4 Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2014-toyota-tundra-crewmax-platinum-4x4-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2014-toyota-tundra-crewmax-platinum-4x4-review/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862057 It’s been said that with the last Crown Victoria produced, the death of Ford’s Panther platform represented the extinction of the species, American sedanus body-on-framus, the last of the dinosaurs. Keeping in a biological frame of mind, it seems to me that the BOF American sedan didn’t go extinct, but transformed. Its trunk developed into an […]

The post 2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax Platinum 4X4 Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
IMG_0257

It’s been said that with the last Crown Victoria produced, the death of Ford’s Panther platform represented the extinction of the species, American sedanus body-on-framus, the last of the dinosaurs. Keeping in a biological frame of mind, it seems to me that the BOF American sedan didn’t go extinct, but transformed. Its trunk developed into an open cargo bed and those varieties with high ground clearance seem to have been particularly adaptive.

That’s the closest analogy I can come up with to describe how the 2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax Plantinum drives – it reminds me of the big American cars that were on the road when I got my driver’s license back in the early 1970s, and it should. It has body-on-frame construction, double A arm suspension up front, a live axle on leaf springs in the back, seats as flat as a sofa, and a powerful V8 engine up front, just like those old land yachts of yore. Oh, and it’s big.

IMG_0250

Actually, that comparison somewhat disrespects the Tundra that I drove for a week. Even with the ground clearance of a pickup and the added height of a 4X4 spec’d vehicle, the Tundra handles better than any large American sedan did back in the day. I’m not saying that you should take it autocrossing, just that it goes where you point it in traffic.

Since I was driving a 4X4 pickup essentially unloaded, the fact that the ride wasn’t as smooth as my dad’s 1974 Mercury Marquis Brougham should be expected. Unloaded pickups can tend to have a bit of the bouncy bouncies. Still, it was comfortable and all that suspension travel came in handy driving on Michigan’s terrible roads. You know that you’re going over a bump, but there’s so much there to absorb it that, while you’re aware of the craters, all the crashing is happening so far away and it’s so well dampened to not even be an annoyance.

IMG_0333

The V8 up front is a 5.7 liter engine derived from the UR family quad cam V8 first introduced in the 2006 Lexus LS460. Contrary to some urban legends, no, Toyota didn’t buy up the tooling for the old small block Chevy. The 381 horsepower motor is smooth and powerful, never lacking enough gumption to move into a spot in traffic as long as that spot was large enough.

IMG_0209

To be honest, it took me a day or so of driving the Tundra to get used to its bulk. Because of the vagaries of press fleet scheduling, I went from one of the smallest passenger vehicles sold in North America, a Fiat Abarth, to one of the largest. How large is it? It’s barely able to fit in either a standard shopping center or urban metered parking space; I had about 6 inches to spare at each end in each case. One reason for that is it’s a true four door truck. The back seat is as spacious as anything you’d find in the biggest Lincolns or Cadillacs of the 1960s. There is enough space for three adults with ample leg room, perhaps even more room than in a long wheelbase flagship sedan like a Jaguar XJL or comparable Chinese market Audi A8. Just as one could say the American sedan has grown a trunk and ground clearance, one could say that American pickups have grown back seats. Look around you in traffic. You won’t see many simple two door pickups. Everything is either a club cab or a crew cab.

Speaking of crews, the idea that this Tundra is going to be any kind of actual work truck is dispelled by a glance at the sticker. This is a $50,000 truck and the only way that I can see it showing up on a construction site is if it’s the daily driver of the guy or gal who owns the construction or drilling company, and they ain’t gonna haul around some greasy roughnecks on the nicely quilted leather upholstery.

IMG_0240

Concerning hauling, Toyota has heavily promoted the Tundra’s 10,000 lb. towing capacity. I believe that the owners of such blinged out Tundras will be hauling cargo, but it won’t be burly workers, room for them though there may be. No, a truck like this will use its 401 lb-ft of torque and five tons worth of towing capacity to haul things more valuable than a $50,000 pickup. One horse, let alone an entire horse trailer full of them, can exceed the Tundra’s value, as can a boat. The rest of the time the Tundra CrewMax Platinum will be used as a sedan, and that’s pretty much how I tested it. I had nothing to tow and, at 14.7 mpg over the week, I wasn’t going to drive it almost 200 miles round trip to The Mounds off-road park and back just to try out the 4X4 system.

IMG_0229

Actually, I did get to try that out while trying to avoid a small town parade. Cutting through a parking lot I noticed what I thought was an unfinished apartment building with a driveway leading away from where the traffic was barred, so I put it in four wheel drive and took it over a curb and some vegetation, only to find out that it was an abandoned construction site and that the driveway was fenced in. Still, I got a chance to try out the 4X4, which worked fine. As it’s indeed a 4×4, not an AWD system, it’s for low speed use (and it does have a low range, too) so on pavement you’ll feel the scrubbing.

IMG_0179

On their way to the lake, or the equestrian center, the people who buy a Plantinum trimmed Tundra will have a very comfortable experience. As you’d expect from the price, the truck had all of the latest tech toys except, oddly, no smart key, so there was no keyless entry or push-button starting. The steering wheel does swing up out of the way, the seat goes back when you’re ready to exit and, when you do leave the truck, you’ll be happy for the quite functional running boards. It’s a long way up there. That explains why the front and rear passengers have pillar mounted handles to grab for easier entry. Interestingly, Toyota must figure the driver will use the steering wheel to hoist themselves up to the commanding steering position because there’s no grab handle on that side of the cabin.

IMG_0329

Even though you are sitting very high up, with outstanding visibility, it’s a good thing the Tundra has a parking assist system. While it won’t park the truck for you (and fie on anyone who thinks they deserve a driver’s license if they can’t parallel park), it will warn you when you’re getting close to things as ephemeral as vegetation. That particularly comes in handy because you don’t have a prayer of seeing where the offside front fender really ends. One of those camera-based, bird’s-eye views that Audi gives you would have been nice to have.

IMG_0325

The large touch screen based infotainment system worked as well as Chrysler’s highly praised U-Connect system. My Samsung Android phone worked seamlessly and reliably in both phone and audio modes with the Toyota solution. Navigation was easy to use and never screwed up, and there are enough actual knobs for the things you want to change right now. The climate control system worked flawlessly in summer heat. I particularly like the way the “eyeball” vents on the dash can be aimed wherever you want.

IMG_0303

I like taking 3D photos of historical sites around Detroit but one of my rules (along with avoiding taking photos of ’69 Camaros, ’57 Chevys, and perfectly restored Isetta microcars at car shows) has been to refuse to take any photos of the decrepit Packard plant on the city’s east side. I don’t do ruin porn and if I did, I’d be more creative than shooting that abandoned factory or the empty Michigan Central train station, another favorite of lazy photographers and editors. However, while I had the Tundra, it happened to be the anniversary of the end of Packard production in 1956. Some see the Packard plant as emblematic of the decline of the domestic auto industry and few vehicles represent the strength of Japanese automakers – Japan Inc. taking on Detroit Corp., if you will – than the Toyota Tundra. That’s why I decided to use the well-known overpass where unfinished Packards traveled from one section of the plant to another as a backdrop to my photos for this review.

IMG_0300

The historical reality, of course, is that Japanese and other foreign automakers had nothing to do with Packard’s demise.

Toyota’s first dealership in the U.S. opened up in October of 1957, more than a year after the last true Packards were made in the summer of 1956. To be more precise, while the last true Packards were made in 1956, the brand name and some hideous sheetmetal were slapped on some already funny looking Studebakers following the merger of those two companies.

Toyota and other Japanese brands didn’t really get a foothold in the American market until the late 1960s. Making mostly small cars that got good gas mileage, the Japanese car companies in the U.S. market benefited from the oil crises attending the 1973 Yom Kippur war and the 1979 seizure of American diplomats in Iran. It didn’t hurt that they used some smart engineering, packaging and marketing as with the first generation Honda Accord. As the U.S. automakers seemed to go from making the standards of the automotive world to making unreliable crap in the 1980s, Toyota, Honda and Nissan became preferred brands. Then Toyota dominated everyone with their “fat engineering” Corollas and Camrys in the early 1990s.

IMG_0308

Buoyed by the success of the Camry and Corolla with consumers in the 1990s and flush with cash, by the start of the 21st century, Toyota decided to go after the last remaining bastion of market segment dominance for the domestic car companies: full size pickup trucks.

IMG_0323

Sure, the original Tundra was sort of a 7/8ths scale American pickup, but in 2003, when Toyota announced at the Chicago Auto Show that it was going racing in NASCAR’s truck series, it was clear that Toyota was serious about selling trucks to Americans. Then, in 2006, also at Chicago, Toyota finally introduced a genuinely full sized Tundra that competed on equal footing with GM, Ford and Dodge/Ram. To do so, the Japanese automaker made as American a truck as they could. The Tundra was engineered at Toyota’s billion dollar plus R&D center in Ann Arbor, just west of Detroit, with styling input from Toyota’s Calty facility in California. While the engine was designed in Japan, the block and heads are cast in the U.S. and, like the rest of the truck, it’s assembled here as well. The Tundra is put together at a facility in Texas built with an even larger investment than the design center in A Squared. Not coincidentally, Texas is America’s biggest pickup truck market.

IMG_0310

When they introduced the truly fullsize Tundra about a decade ago, Toyota executives were under no illusions that they were going to get “Ford guys” or “Chevy guys” out of their trucks. Brand loyalty is about as strong as it gets with pickup truck buyers. However, at the time, Toyota made a point of how about 6% of the pickup market does shift from model year to model year based on whoever most recently introduced a redesigned truck. Those buyers tend to be businesses making dollars and cents decisions on fleets and they aren’t swayed by brand loyalty. Toyota was aiming for those buyers, hoping to expand from there. That expansion may be on the horizon. A quick check at goodcarbadcar.net shows that the Tundra’s market share for 2014 was at 5.7%, within hailing distance of that 6% baseline.

Photos by the author. You can see the full gallery here.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

The post 2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax Platinum 4X4 Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2014-toyota-tundra-crewmax-platinum-4x4-review/feed/ 106
Hamp Vacates Toyota CCO Role as Drug Investigation Continues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/hamp-vacates-toyota-cco-role-as-drug-investigation-continues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/hamp-vacates-toyota-cco-role-as-drug-investigation-continues/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 12:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1104641 The first female senior executive to ever hold a managing officer role with Toyota has resigned. The uncharged Julie Hamp remains in custody in Japan after being accused of attempting to import Oxycodone from the United States. Japanese prosecutors have 20 days to charge Hamp. That window expires on July 8. Toyota issued a statement today: […]

The post Hamp Vacates Toyota CCO Role as Drug Investigation Continues appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Julie HampThe first female senior executive to ever hold a managing officer role with Toyota has resigned.

The uncharged Julie Hamp remains in custody in Japan after being accused of attempting to import Oxycodone from the United States. Japanese prosecutors have 20 days to charge Hamp. That window expires on July 8.

Toyota issued a statement today:

On June 30, 2015, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) received notification from Ms. Julie Hamp of her intent to resign her position of Managing Officer. TMC has accepted her resignation after considering the concerns and inconvenience that recent events have caused our stakeholders.

Senior Managing Officer Shigeru Hayakawa will act as Hamp’s interim replacement.

The post Hamp Vacates Toyota CCO Role as Drug Investigation Continues appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/hamp-vacates-toyota-cco-role-as-drug-investigation-continues/feed/ 67
Chart Of The Day: NX Boosting Lexus In The Time Of The RX’s Need http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/chart-day-nx-boosting-lexus-time-rxs-need/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/chart-day-nx-boosting-lexus-time-rxs-need/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1095825 Conventionally pretty, it is not. But the Lexus NX is a hit. The NX200t and NX300h combined to generate 4,014 U.S. sales in May 2015, the best month yet for the six-month-old NX line. Year-to-date, 16,546 copies of the NX have been sold in America. Since the end of November, 19,473 NXs have found their […]

The post Chart Of The Day: NX Boosting Lexus In The Time Of The RX’s Need appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
USA Lexus sales chart May 2015 YTD

Conventionally pretty, it is not. But the Lexus NX is a hit.

The NX200t and NX300h combined to generate 4,014 U.S. sales in May 2015, the best month yet for the six-month-old NX line. Year-to-date, 16,546 copies of the NX have been sold in America. Since the end of November, 19,473 NXs have found their way into driveways across America.

Lexus, of course, has a tradition of building wildly popular premium crossovers. The RX is perennially America’s top-selling premium utility vehicle.

As Lexus prepares to replace the current RX with an all-new, already revealed model for 2016, sales of the current RX have fallen 5% this year. It’s still far more popular than any other premium brand utility vehicle in America.

In the meantime, with the NX added to the fleet, SUVs and crossovers accounted for 49% of all Lexus volume in the U.S. over the first five months of 2015, up from 43% in the same period one year ago, before the NX. Rather inconsequentially, sales of the high-end LX are faltering, but the GX460 is up 13% year-to-date, a gain of 1108 units.

As for the NX’s standing in its own category, only the Acura RDX and Audi Q5 are currently selling more often. The fourth-ranked Mercedes-Benz GLK, down 24% this year, is 5,260 sales back of the Lexus. BMW’s X3, down 44% this year, is 5,564 sales abaft. The Volvo XC60, Lincoln MKC lead the peloton but are well back of the better-selling contestants.

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.

The post Chart Of The Day: NX Boosting Lexus In The Time Of The RX’s Need appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/chart-day-nx-boosting-lexus-time-rxs-need/feed/ 32
Don’t Expect Subaru To Follow Toyota To Mazda For BRZ RWD Platform http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/dont-expect-subaru-to-follow-toyota-to-mazda-for-brz-rwd-platform/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/dont-expect-subaru-to-follow-toyota-to-mazda-for-brz-rwd-platform/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 18:32:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1101193 According to Car & Driver, the folks in Toyota City are smitten with the new Mazda MX-5 Miata. So much so they’re considering using the platform for the next Toyota GT86, sold as the Scion FR-S in North America. The rumor states what goes for Toyota goes for Subaru’s sports car – the BRZ – as […]

The post Don’t Expect Subaru To Follow Toyota To Mazda For BRZ RWD Platform appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2016 Mazda MX-5

According to Car & Driver, the folks in Toyota City are smitten with the new Mazda MX-5 Miata. So much so they’re considering using the platform for the next Toyota GT86, sold as the Scion FR-S in North America.

The rumor states what goes for Toyota goes for Subaru’s sports car – the BRZ – as well. I’m not so sure about that.

“If Toyota were to employ the MX-5’s chassis, it would be on the next-generation FT86,” Car & Driver was told by a source.

The source says nothing specifically about the BRZ, though the magazine infers the Miata platform will also be used on the next sporty Subaru. However, Subaru may be smart to forego a second generation BRZ altogether.

Currently, the Toyobaru triplets are produced by Subaru in Ōta, Japan. The company is currently capacity constrained. Subaru will stop producing Camrys for Toyota at their Indiana facility in 2016 in order to claw back some of its own capacity to build the Legacy and Outback, the most popular model at Subaru. This shift to the Mazda platform could be a way for Subaru to get out of the RWD platform business and focus more on core models or variations thereof.

Mazda is building the MX-5 at their own facility in Japan and will build the forthcoming Fiat 124 Spider upon its debut. Considering Mazda and Toyota have been getting cozier as of late with a new facility in Mexico building the new Mazda2 along with the Scion iA/Toyota Yaris Sedan, Toyota could also move RWD sports car production to Mazda’s facility in Japan alongside the new Miata.

This would free up capacity for Subaru at their Ōta plant to build other models currently in demand.

So, if Toyota does see the MX-5 Miata platform as a solution for the next generation GT86 and Scion FR-S, don’t expect Subaru to follow suit.

[Photo credit: AutoGuide/Adam Wood]

 

The post Don’t Expect Subaru To Follow Toyota To Mazda For BRZ RWD Platform appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/dont-expect-subaru-to-follow-toyota-to-mazda-for-brz-rwd-platform/feed/ 45
Bark’s Bites: The (Imaginary) National Automakers Association Draft, Part One http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/barks-bites-imaginary-national-automakers-association-draft-part-one/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/barks-bites-imaginary-national-automakers-association-draft-part-one/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 12:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1100193 Warning: What you are about to read is NOT REAL. It is the product of the warped mind of your friendly neighborhood editorialist, Bark M., who wonders: What if automakers had to “draft” new products, just like the NBA does?  Talking Head #1: Greetings, and welcome to Detroit, the host city for the 2015 National Automakers […]

The post Bark’s Bites: The (Imaginary) National Automakers Association Draft, Part One appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Obama+Announces+New+Automobile+Fuel+Efficiency+h36L8Fl4eLpx

Warning: What you are about to read is NOT REAL. It is the product of the warped mind of your friendly neighborhood editorialist, Bark M., who wonders: What if automakers had to “draft” new products, just like the NBA does? 

Talking Head #1: Greetings, and welcome to Detroit, the host city for the 2015 National Automakers Association Draft! Tonight, we’ll see the future of automakers unfold, as they get the chance to select a new model for their existing lineup.

Talking Head #2: That’s right, and the excitement has been building ever since the end of last model year. Some big questions will be answered this evening: What will Subaru do with their pick? Will Ford finally have a full-sized sedan worth talking about? And will FCA’s Sergio Marchionne finally find a trade partner for their spot in the draft?

TH1: Word has it that Sergio has been burning up the phone lines trying to find somebody to help him move out of the first round, but my sources say that he hasn’t had any takers so far. As you know, though, there’s invariably a surprise or two on NAA Draft Night!

TH2: That there is! As always, the automakers will be drafting in reverse order of current U.S. market share. That means that first up on the clock is a fan favorite, Mazda.

TH1: Well, Mazda has a good, quality lineup, full of young star players, but for some reason they’ve had a hard time breaking through in America. Will this be the pick that finally gets them over the hump and positions them as a real player in the U.S. market?

TH2: We’re about to find out, as it looks like we are getting this 2015 NAA Draft underway! Here comes the commissioner to the podium with the card. Let’s listen.

Commissioner: With the first pick in the 2015 NAA draft, Mazda selects… a New CX-9, from Hiroshima, Japan!

TH1: Well, we can’t be too surprised with this one, can we?

TH2: No, not at all. The CX-9 has been getting long in the tooth and Mazda needed something new and fresh to be competitive in this segment. The Mazda fans have got to be happy with this selection.

TH1: Indeed, they are. While some fans here were hoping for a new Mazda 2 to be brought to the U.S., it’s hard to ignore that Mazda is missing out on a key segment with the current CX-9. Great pick.

TH2: All right, that was a solid, if not necessary climactic beginning to our evening. Next up is one of the more glamorous names in our industry: Mercedes-Benz. What have you been hearing about Mercedes?

TH1: It’s hard to know exactly which direction Mercedes might go in here. Their fans are still a little confused about the recent shakeup of their lineup – there are a lot of familiar faces with new names. Plus, they’ve had a few recent refreshes of their biggest sellers – the C Class is selling better than ever, and they’ve already signed a new E-Class for 2016.

TH2: We’ll know soon enough – here’s the commish!

Commissioner: With the second pick in the 2015 NAA draft, Mercedes-Benz selects…the W246 B Class, from Stuttgart, Germany!

TH1: I think it’s safe to say that we’ve had our first surprise of the evening!

TH2: No question. The B Class has been a solid performer in both the EU and in Japan since it launched back in 2011, but I’ve gotta say, I’m surprised that they’re trying it in America. However, with the growth that MINI is seeing in America this year, perhaps Mercedes thinks there’s an opportunity for a luxury entry into the subcompact market.

TH1: It’s all part of the excitement that we’ve come to expect from the NAA Draft! Next on the clock with the third pick is another German automaker, BMW.

TH2: BMW has sort of lost their…

TH1: Whoa, whoa, whoa, I have to blow the whistle on you there, partner. I’m sure you weren’t about to say that they’ve “lost their way,” like every other talking head hack, were you?

TH1: Um, no. Not at all. I was about to say that they’ve lost their…okay, fine. You got me.

TH2: Considering that BMW is up about 7 percent in sales year over year, I think they’re doing just fine. But there is one segment where they’ve lost some market share, and that’s the small luxury SUV segment.

TH1: Let’s see if they address that tonight. Over to you, Commissioner!

Commissioner: With the third pick in the 2015 NAA draft, BMW selects…a new X3, from Spartanburg, South Carolina!

TH1: That’s the obvious choice here, isn’t it?

TH2: Certainly is. The X4…well, I mean, what the heck is the X4, anyway? It’s not selling in any great numbers, and the X3 has been down big time as of late. A new model seems to be just what Herr Doctor ordered.

TH1: Subaru is next up on the clock, partner. There’s been a lot of discussion lately about Subaru’s recent success in the American market, but how will that impact their draft pick tonight?

TH2: That’s a great question. They’re missing a lot of the key segments for American market success in their lineup – mid-sized SUV, subcompact – and the Impreza is sold in numbers that don’t impress anybody. But can they take on more capacity right now?

TH1: Let’s see what they decide to do. Here’s the commissioner with the pick.

Commissioner: Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a trade. Subaru has traded their pick to Toyota, along with all remaining BRZs on dealer lots, for cash considerations and a car to be named later. With the fourth pick in the 2015 NAA draft, Toyota selects…an Avalon replacement, from Georgetown, Kentucky!

TH2: Not a huge surprise here, is it?

TH1: No, not particularly. I think Subaru did the right thing – they’re already at maximum capacity at most of their plants, and adding more models would just make it even worse. Also, killing the BRZ makes a ton of sense. They barely sell, and they are occupying floorplan space that could be used for other, more profitable models.

TH2: And Toyota needed a new full-sized sedan. The whole segment is dying quickly, yes, but maybe Toyota sees that as an opportunity to seize some market share from their aging competitors. Perhaps they can use the platform to update the Lexus ES, too.

TH1: This evening is moving along quickly, as we move to the fifth pick, which belongs to Volkswagen Auto Group. VW and Audi have a few holes to fill in their American lineup, to say the least.

TH2: Truer words were never spoken, my friend. The Jetta, the Passat, the A4…all of them are aging and relatively unpopular in their segments. The lights are flickering a bit at VW stores. Can tonight’s pick help keep them on?

TH1: The pick is in, so let’s turn things over to the commissioner.

Commissioner: With the fifth pick in the NAA draft, Volkswagen Auto Group selects…a Jetta with actual content, from Wolfsburg, Germany!

TH2: I think they didn’t really have much of a choice here. The Jetta is losing market share faster than any other compact car – they had to get competitive.

TH1: I don’t know…the Passat isn’t doing any better, and that’s a bigger segment, overall.

TH2: Yes, but the Jetta name still means something in America. The Jetta is the top-selling VW model of all time. I think VW knows that they’re climbing an uphill battle in the mid-sized segment with the Passat – maybe they figure it’s better to fight a battle that they actually have a shot at winning. And they’ve proven that they can make an excellent small car with the Golf and its performance derivatives.

TH1: Good point. VW fans have to be pleased with this pick.

TH2: Well, we’ve got Hyundai/Kia up next. Is there a faster rising team in the league than these guys?

TH1: I don’t think so, my friend. While the current Sonata hasn’t been everything that they hoped it would be, they’ve got some real hits on their hands with their crossover lineup. And the new Sedona is doing quite well, too. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t trouble spots.

TH2: You’re absolutely right. The Rio is falling well behind the competition in the Subcompact category, and even the Soul isn’t selling like it once was. What inside scoop do you have about H&K’s next move?

TH1: I don’t think there’s any question that they’d like to have a real, legitimate sporting car in their lineup. But can they justify it?

TH2: Well, the pick is in, so let’s go to the commissioner.

Commissioner: With the sixth pick in the NAA draft, Hyundai/Kia selects…an all-new, 5.0 liter Hyundai Genesis Coupe, from Seoul, South Korea!

TH1&2 (simultaneously): WHOOOOOOA!

TH1: That’s a big swing.

TH2: Is it ever! The Genesis Coupe has been tired for a while. Not only are they revamping it, they’re shoving in the big V8 from the sedan. Do you like it?

TH1: I love it! They’ve already got, in my opinion, the best RWD sedan for the money on the market. Now, they’re taking aim at the Mustang and Camaro. It’s bold, it’s brash – great pick!

TH2: Don’t go anywhere, folks! When we come back from commercial (tomorrow –Bark), we’ll find out what the big boys from Nissan, Honda, Toyota, FCA, Ford, and GM have in store for us.

All right, have at it, B&B – what would you have “drafted” for these manufacturers?

The post Bark’s Bites: The (Imaginary) National Automakers Association Draft, Part One appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/barks-bites-imaginary-national-automakers-association-draft-part-one/feed/ 15
2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4×4 Reader Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-toyota-tacoma-trd-sport-4x4-reader-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-toyota-tacoma-trd-sport-4x4-reader-review/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 18:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1098737 Maybe it’s the horrific condition of most New England roads. Maybe it was because we just had snowiest winter in Boston since anyone’s been counting. Or maybe, just maybe, I have finally fully succumbed to my Napoleon Complex. “The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one’s designs to one’s means.” ―Napoleon Bonaparte  What […]

The post 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4×4 Reader Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with Rebecca Turrell

Maybe it’s the horrific condition of most New England roads. Maybe it was because we just had snowiest winter in Boston since anyone’s been counting. Or maybe, just maybe, I have finally fully succumbed to my Napoleon Complex.

“The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one’s designs to one’s means.”
―Napoleon Bonaparte 

What started off with me buying my first liter bike has blossomed (*tear*) into the purchase of my first pickup truck: 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4×4 double cab short bed with a…..dun dada dun….6-speed manual gear box. I know the Tacoma has remained relatively unchanged since 2004 – actually, it’s pretty much the same truck I’ve been lusting over since 2007. I know that it doesn’t have great fuel economy. I know that there are trucks with better technology in them. But hear me out!

Like every vehicle I’ve ever owned (with the exception of one moment of weakness that lasted for a month…don’t judge me), a manual transmission is a requirement. So when I started my quest for a pickup truck, the list quickly narrowed:

  • Colorado/Canyon twins manual only in RWD base models. I also can’t deal with this giant plastic lip. On what planet does that look good?
    colorado
  • Nissan Frontier: Is there an explanation needed? It’s a big plastic baby rattle
  • Anything full sized No manual option unless I’m a parts runner (which I’m not…)

Other requirements included:

  • Double cab
  • V6 or greater
  • 4×4
  • Tow Package
  • Audio controls on the steering wheel (a taller order than I had anticipated)

Anticipated uses include pulling my trailer, hauling motorcycles in the back for work and play, home improvement projects, and, God willing, some off-roading. While I’ve driven many trucks, I’ve only ever owned compact sports cars (Z4, GS-R, SI, 328i, 330ci, etc), so the joy of the driving experience is important to me.

While I ran through the options – both foreign and domestic – I kept coming back to my long time crush: Toyota Tacoma. 70 percent residual after 36 months, tons of aftermarket parts and accessories available, it checked all of my boxes, and it’s cute! (Is that a turn off? Ah well.) I had to order the truck because, as my boyfriend points out, “there are 15,000 Tacomas on the ground at dealerships and none of them are what you want!” After a couple of months, and some parts shopping, she was finally home!

2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4

Yes, that is the TRD exhaust and TRD Trail Team wheels in the back of the truck that I ordered before we ever even met.

40 miles and less than 24 hours later she looked like this:

2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4

In the 500 miles that I’ve had her, I’ve picked up sod, pulled a trailer and transported three motorcycles. The truck came with four D-rings, four cleats and a trailer hitch, making all of this a breeze.

How does she compare to other trucks? I’ve clocked a decent amount of miles on a variety of trucks (with and without trailers), which should qualify me to make these comparisons: Nissan Frontier, Dodge Ram 1500, F-150 extended cab V6 non-Ecoboost, V6 Silverado regular cab, Z71 Silverado, F-350 stake body, and that one time I was allowed to drive a manual transmission Sterling box truck.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room, the transmission. Why a manual? Maybe I’m a control freak, but I rarely drive an automatic without saying at some point “why did we shift there?” Especially in the snow, a manual gives you more control (ex: downshifting rather than braking). I also find that it keeps me more alert and, finally, it’s way more fun. Where the transmission becomes especially significant is in my experience with other V6 trucks. I’m just going to call them gear hunters, because that is all they do. Without a trailer, uphill, downhill, cruise on or off, they never seem to find the right gear. I cursed the F-150’s gear indicator for letting me know it was in fourth the majority of the time rather than sixth. It’s like the transmissions and engines are mismatched. Maybe they are. On the same stretch of highway, I was able to take the Tacoma and two bikes up and downhill for an hour in sixth gear. I was always in the power, and never once had to downshift to accelerate or maintain speed.

2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with motorcycle

The Tacoma is very smooth, especially compared to a Frontier. It handles well and is much easier to maneuver in parking lot situations than a full-sized truck. The steering wheel doesn’t require heavy inputs, but also doesn’t feel like it’s going to fly away from you. It is also fairly thick, making it quite comfortable. The 2014 F-150 drives like absolute butter, but has this annoying residual vibration every time you close the door or hit a bump. Rams tend to ride like a boat and fling me around the cabin going over bumps. The Z71 Silverado I had the pleasure of taking home a few nights this winter was a dream: tons of power, smooth, comfortable, and looked great. Biggest complaint was lack of audio controls on the steering wheel.

2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 interiorI had to have a double cab for getting stuff in and out of the backseat. I hate having to open one door in order to open another. There is also plenty of storage under and behind the seats of the Tacoma. I’ve been keeping all of my towing and tie down accessories in there and out of the way. The Tacoma also came with a cargo bed power outlet, which I look forward to trying out eventually. The manual option gives you a third cup holder, which has been fairly useless so far because the throws on the shifter are sooooo long and will knock over any bottle in it. I have the Toyota short throw “quick shifter” for it and I’m hopeful it will both improve the driving experience and create enough space for that third cup holder. The e-brake is a “pull and twist” style which has grown on me and seems to be pretty secure on inclines. Fold down headrests in the back are a lifesaver for reversing since I don’t quite trust the backup camera yet.

My final note about this truck is there’s a wealth of information available, as well as aftermarket parts and accessories. You can get analysis paralysis reading through all of the modifications and upgrades. I have already emotionally spent thousands more on a lift kit, bed extender, sliders, skids, and a hidden winch mount (because everyone needs a hidden winch, right?). I already have a tailgate reinforcement on order, as well as some other motorcycle hauling accessories. 31-inch tires should have definitely come on this truck from the factory. Same with the TRD exhaust; quiet at idle, but has a clean and deep note under acceleration. Everyone keeps telling me I need the TRD supercharger (you know who you are), but I find the truck to have more than enough power for my needs.

From a girl who has only owned “sporty” cars, this is the most excited I have been about a vehicle since my BMW days.

This reader review was written by Rebecca Turrell.

2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with motorcycles 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 interior 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with Rebecca Turrell 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with motorcycles 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with motorcycle 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4

The post 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4×4 Reader Review appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-toyota-tacoma-trd-sport-4x4-reader-review/feed/ 46
Julie Hamp Could Face Criminal Intent Charges Over Controlled Drug Importation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/julie-hamp-could-face-criminal-intent-charges-over-controlled-drug-importation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/julie-hamp-could-face-criminal-intent-charges-over-controlled-drug-importation/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 16:15:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1100065 Toyota PR exec Julie Hamp isn’t having the best time in Japan right now, and the situation could worsen thanks to the nation’s strict drug importation laws. As explained by Jalopnik‘s Kat Callahan, Japan requires users of any controlled substance brought into the nation to walk in a limited amount of the prescribed meds before […]

The post Julie Hamp Could Face Criminal Intent Charges Over Controlled Drug Importation appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Julie Hamp Not In BlackToyota PR exec Julie Hamp isn’t having the best time in Japan right now, and the situation could worsen thanks to the nation’s strict drug importation laws.

As explained by Jalopnik‘s Kat Callahan, Japan requires users of any controlled substance brought into the nation to walk in a limited amount of the prescribed meds before customs, declare the drugs, and present a doctor’s note translated into Japanese before they can be allowed into one’s medicine cabinet. Otherwise, narcotics like the Oxycodone brought in by Hamp are verboten, and cannot even be sold by or found in a pharmacy in Japan; they can’t also be mailed.

Non-controlled drugs, meanwhile, don’t need a translated note, but must now be walked in and declared, and only a one-month supply is allowed to enter the country.

While Hamp could attempt to plead ignorance on the laws of the land, her case would need to depend on her not hiding the Oxycodone in a box marked “Necklaces” among a ton of toy necklaces, and thus, avoiding customs declarations in so doing. Unfortunately, this is the scenario which played out, giving prosecutors the ability to declare criminal intent on the part of Hamp; it’s also why Toyota’s HQ was raided by police a few days ago.

Should the criminal intent charge stick, Hamp would be in prison for a long time before finally given the boot out of the country for the rest of her life.

The post Julie Hamp Could Face Criminal Intent Charges Over Controlled Drug Importation appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/julie-hamp-could-face-criminal-intent-charges-over-controlled-drug-importation/feed/ 71
Toyota’s Akio Toyoda Banked $2.84M In 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/toyotas-akio-toyoda-banked-2-84m-in-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/toyotas-akio-toyoda-banked-2-84m-in-2014/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 18:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1099217 In a regulatory filing made Wednesday, Toyota President Akio Toyoda made ¥352 million ($2.84 million USD) in total 2014 compensation. Toyoda’s 2014 payout is split between his standard ¥103 million ($830,000) salary and a bonus of ¥249 million ($2 million), Reuters reports. The 2014 bonus is nearly double the ¥127 million ($1.02 million) paid in […]

The post Toyota’s Akio Toyoda Banked $2.84M In 2014 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2013_Toyota_NDM_Akio_Toyoda_002

In a regulatory filing made Wednesday, Toyota President Akio Toyoda made ¥352 million ($2.84 million USD) in total 2014 compensation.

Toyoda’s 2014 payout is split between his standard ¥103 million ($830,000) salary and a bonus of ¥249 million ($2 million), Reuters reports. The 2014 bonus is nearly double the ¥127 million ($1.02 million) paid in 2013.

Though Toyoda’s compensation still bests Honda’s Takanobu Ito’s ¥150 million ($1.21 million) thus far, Renault-Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn dominates the Tohosan Zaibatsu on the Nissan side alone, having banked ¥1.035 billion ($8.39 million) in 2014; Renault added €7.2 million ($8.17 million) for his part of the Tricolore Français.

Toyota’s fortunes rose in 2014, as well. The automaker reported a 19 percent boost in net profit for the year ending this March, pulling in a total of ¥2.17 trillion ($17.5 billion), a new record for the third consecutive year.

(Photo credit: Toyota)

The post Toyota’s Akio Toyoda Banked $2.84M In 2014 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/toyotas-akio-toyoda-banked-2-84m-in-2014/feed/ 26
Renault-Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn Banks $16M In 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/renault-nissans-carlos-ghosn-banks-16m-in-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/renault-nissans-carlos-ghosn-banks-16m-in-2014/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1097801 Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn did well for himself in 2014, banking around $16 million in compensation compared to the salaries of other automotive CEOs. Breaking down the numbers, Nissan paid Ghosn ¥1.035 billion ($8.39 million USD) during 2014, Reuters says, up 4 percent from what he made in 2013. On the Renault side, Ghosn took […]

The post Renault-Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn Banks $16M In 2014 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Carlos Ghosn

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn did well for himself in 2014, banking around $16 million in compensation compared to the salaries of other automotive CEOs.

Breaking down the numbers, Nissan paid Ghosn ¥1.035 billion ($8.39 million USD) during 2014, Reuters says, up 4 percent from what he made in 2013. On the Renault side, Ghosn took home €7.2 million ($8.17 million), bringing total compensation to $16.56 million.

Ghosn’s combined paycheck is in line with compensation paid to two of the Detroit Three’s CEOs, where both Ford CEO Mark Fields and General Motors CEO Mary Barra made $16.8 million and $16.2 million respectively at the end of their first year helming their companies. Meanwhile, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne’s compensation paints a complex portrait, with figures ranging between $8 million and $72 million depending on the source.

Among the rest of the ToHoSan Zaibatsu, Toyota’s Akio Toyoda made ¥229 million ($1.84 million) in 2014, while Honda’s Takanobu Ito brought home ¥150 million ($1.21 million).

In Germany, the Teutonic Trinity’s CEOs took home €6.57 million ($7.35 million – Audi’s Rupert Stadler), €7.25 million ($8.11 million – BMW’s Norbert Reithofer) and €9.35 ($10.5 million – Mercedes’ Dieter Zetsche).

Finally, under the remaining stripes of the Tricolore Français, PSA Peugeot Citroën CEO Carlos Tavares received €2.75 million ($3.07 million).

(Photo credit: Nissan)

The post Renault-Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn Banks $16M In 2014 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/renault-nissans-carlos-ghosn-banks-16m-in-2014/feed/ 3
BREAKING: Toyota Offices Raided In Tokyo In Connection With Hamp Arrest http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/breaking-toyota-offices-raided-in-tokyo-in-connection-with-hamp-arrest/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/breaking-toyota-offices-raided-in-tokyo-in-connection-with-hamp-arrest/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 15:36:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1097897 Reuters is reporting police have raided Toyota’s office in Tokyo in connection with the arrest of communications chief Julie Hamp over alleged drug importation offences. When asked, a Toyota spokesman declined to comment on the nature of the police presence, but said the company is cooperating with police. Hamp, the first female senior executive at Toyota, […]

The post BREAKING: Toyota Offices Raided In Tokyo In Connection With Hamp Arrest appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Julie HampReuters is reporting police have raided Toyota’s office in Tokyo in connection with the arrest of communications chief Julie Hamp over alleged drug importation offences.

When asked, a Toyota spokesman declined to comment on the nature of the police presence, but said the company is cooperating with police.

Hamp, the first female senior executive at Toyota, has a long road ahead of her if there’s enough evidence to bring her to trial, as we covered last week.

[Source: Reuters]

The post BREAKING: Toyota Offices Raided In Tokyo In Connection With Hamp Arrest appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/breaking-toyota-offices-raided-in-tokyo-in-connection-with-hamp-arrest/feed/ 36
Toyota Prius SUV Reportedly Under Development http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/toyota-prius-suv-reportedly-under-development/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/toyota-prius-suv-reportedly-under-development/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 19:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1097417 The Toyota Prius can be had in compact, wagon and original recipe, but there may soon be another addition to the family: an SUV. The Prius SUV would be developed via its partnership with Mazda, and would likely be a production-ready version of the C-HR Concept from last year’s Paris Auto Show, AutoGuide writes. The […]

The post Toyota Prius SUV Reportedly Under Development appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Toyota-C-HR-Concept-3

The Toyota Prius can be had in compact, wagon and original recipe, but there may soon be another addition to the family: an SUV.

The Prius SUV would be developed via its partnership with Mazda, and would likely be a production-ready version of the C-HR Concept from last year’s Paris Auto Show, AutoGuide writes.

The partnership between the two automakers allows for powertrain technologies to be exchanged regarding new models. Thus, one idea for the SUV would be Mazda’s 1.5-liter SkyActiv diesel for a hybrid-diesel variant, as well as one without electric motors for European markets. Mazda, meanwhile, would use Toyota’s technology to bring its first EV to market, set to meet the ZEV standards set for 2018 by California’s government.

(Photo credit: Mike Schlee/AutoGuide)

The post Toyota Prius SUV Reportedly Under Development appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/toyota-prius-suv-reportedly-under-development/feed/ 31