Tag: Toyota

By on September 1, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry SE and 2016 Toyota Camry SE - Images: ToyotaThe 2018 Toyota Camry is the first truly, completely, all-new Toyota Camry since 2002. Built on Toyota’s New Global Architecture, it’s stiffer, safer, and by all accounts, substantially better to drive than the 2017.

Fuel efficiency took a leap forward. Horsepower did, too. The feature count, including the safety department, was elevated. The 2018 Toyota Camry even has a sense of style, whether you like its sense or prefer less offensive past examples.

With an all-new architecture for an in-demand car — yes, even as sedans slow, the Camry is still the 15-time best-selling car in America — comes a lack of willingness on the part of Toyota to deal. That’s made all the more true by the current cost of importing Camrys. While production will eventually be in full swing at the Camry’s Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant, early copies of the 2018 Camry hail from Japan.

Rare will be the buyer who heads into a U.S. Toyota store this Labor Day weekend with a strong preference for the old Camry, still available in abundance on dealer lots. Even with concerns (albeit modest concerns; this is a Camry) regarding first-model-year reliability, the MY2018 Camry is the bright and shiny object.

The 2018 Toyota Camry is better than the 2017 Toyota Camry: objectively, subjectively, on paper, on the road. But is it 41-percent better? (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2017

Minivan collage - Sienna Odyssey Pacifiica - Images: FCA/Honda/ToyotaIt was quicker, quieter, more fuel efficient, and less expensive, but the all-new 2018 Honda Odyssey failed to win its first Car and Driver minivan comparison test.

The fifth-gen Odyssey is also the newest minivan redesign. The Toyota Sienna was updated for 2017 with a new powertrain but remains in large part the same minivan that arrived for the 2011 model year. The first Chrysler Pacifica minivan — aka the second Chrysler Pacifica — has been on sale for nearly a year and a half. The Kia Sedona, having lost its previous Car and Driver comparison test, was not deemed eligible for the test. Likewise, the Dodge Grand Caravan, while currently America’s top-selling minivan, was rendered ineligible by past performance.

With only three minivans in the test, all upper-crust examples of their specific nameplates, each contender finished on the platform. But lofty expectations for the all-new Odyssey failed to come to fruition, and the segment progenitor’s party trick produced a solid victory.

Stow’N’Go isn’t the only differentiator, however. (Read More…)

By on August 29, 2017

2017 Toyota 86 sunset - Image: Toyota

On Sunday, Matt brought you the story of Toyota’s latest plan to ditch its longstanding reputation for building boring yet reliable cars — a problem some quality deficient automakers would kill for.

The brand has recently bolstered its efforts to draw its design direction away from the realm of “safe” and into the neighborhood of edgy, funky, and just maybe, controversial. (How about that new Camry’s face, eh? Hmmm…) Still, design doesn’t equal driving thrills. Visual excitement doesn’t quicken the pulse after you’ve slipped behind the wheel.

To this end, Toyota appears ready to launch a performance line similar to Lexus’ F sub-brand. The automaker known for (very successfully) playing it safe may let its hair down. And not a moment too soon, some might say. While the upcoming 2018 Camry gains significant standard power from Toyota’s four-cylinder engineering prowess, vehicles like the C-HR crossover, Corolla, Corolla iM, and other models aren’t exactly causing heart palpitations on test drives (or any other drives, for that matter).

Let’s pick up that syringe filled with muscle enhancer, shall we? (Read More…)

By on August 28, 2017

1977 Toyota Corolla in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The third-generation Toyota Corolla, still on a rear-wheel-drive chassis, was a tremendous sales success in California. The cheapest model was the two-door post sedan, and these reliable commuters were seen everywhere in the Golden State well into the 1990s.

Nearly all are gone, but this ’77 stayed on its own four tires until age 40, finally wrapping up its long career in this San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on August 27, 2017

Toyota Yaris GRMN

Despite having a rich history in motorsports, Toyota is one of the last automakers that springs to mind when you think about present-day performance. But Toyota has been rebranding itself with edgier designs and additional attitude lately. It says it’s ready to bring forth a fully-fledged performance lineup for later this year — perhaps something akin to Lexus’ F cars.

The automaker already offers a performance lineup under its Toyota Racing Development label in North America and Gazoo Racing in Europe and Japan. However TRD has focused largely on off-roading, while Gazoo has trickled in from legitimate racing to develop small G-badged road cars with more moxie and a few extremely limited edition Gazoo Racing Meister of Nurburgring (GRMN) units with engines to match the aggressive visuals. (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2017

2018_toyota_tundra_trd_sport_01_8ee19ebe1c41ad354b59edf3a42fdf0bac4ded48

Back in the days of sky-high tailfins and wraparound windshields, A-pillars weren’t of sufficient thickness to hide little Timmy riding his bike, or maybe that Ford Fairlane approaching from behind that shrub to your left. No, front seat vision was grand — trying to stop your Detroit barge with unassisted drums brakes was the real challenge.

These days, the high-strength steel and airbags needed for rollover and side-impact protection have turned those slim pillars into Corinthian columns capable of hiding a small crowd. A-Pillars are bulky, and that’s a safety problem in itself.

What to do? In Toyota’s case, simply develop a way of seeing through them. (Read More…)

By on August 19, 2017

toyota safe and sound teen, Image: Toyota

Teen drivers have the highest crash rate of any demographic. Younger drivers are most likely to use their phones while driving or speed in high-traffic areas, and roughly half of all accidents associated with younger drivers were single-vehicle crashes. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among individuals under 20.

Keeping younger drivers safe is a major concern for institutions like the National Safety Council, but some automakers have their own initiatives. Toyota, for example, had TeenDrive365, which provided a series of online videos aimed at encouraging safer driving habits. While the automaker abandoned that program after 2014, resulting in all of its content mysteriously vanishing, Toyota still seems keen on keeping young motorists on the road and out of the morgue.

However, what’s the best way to encourage responsible driving? Teens don’t like being placated, and they probably know the laws better than older drivers (as they’ve passed their written test far more recently). With this in mind, Toyota thinks humiliation may be the key. The automaker has made mortifying easily embarrassed teens the central theme of its new safety app.  (Read More…)

By on August 18, 2017

Toyota Factory Kentucky

The funny thing about job creators is that they don’t always, you know, create any jobs. So, when a business lets slip that it might have 4,000 positions on offer in the near future, every state with an unemployment rate higher than zero takes notice.

Mazda and Toyota’s joint factory — codenamed Project Mitt — is one such example, and now over a dozen U.S. states are simultaneously competing for the opportunity to host the $1.6-billion factory and the thousands of direct and indirect jobs it will yield.

When the Japanese automakers publicly revealed their cooperative venture a couple of weeks ago, they made it clear they had not yet picked a site — sending economic development offices into a frenzy. But what locale will emerge victorious has a lot to do with what the region can offer the manufacturer, including potential tax incentives, tempting job training programs, and investments into infrastructure.

An affordable and abundant workforce is also desirable — an element that distinguishes many states from one another. But no single area has everything on offer, leaving the final decision of where to build up in the air.  (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2017

2016 Toyota Avalon - Image: ToyotaU.S. sales of full-size, volume-brand sedans fell 17 percent in the first seven months of 2017, a sharp drop following noteworthy declines in each of the last three years. Despite the growth the market has seen since the auto industry’s collapse in 2009, big sedans have lost 37 percent of their U.S. sales volume over the last four years.

Compared with 2013, that’s 18,000 fewer sales for the segment every month. Even compared with 2016, that’s 6,500 fewer sales every month.

In what was historically a fleet-dependent corner of the passenger-car market, many automakers’ reduced emphasis on sales to daily rental companies plays a major role. Numerous players in the segment also attempted to move upmarket, further away from the midsize cars that now offer the requisite interior volume. It hasn’t turned out so well for some. Remember the Mitsubishi Diamante and Mercury Montego? We’ll soon forget the discontinued Hyundai Azera. The Ford Taurus is likely not long for this market, either.

Yet in a market that’s lost 17 percent of its sales this year, the Toyota Avalon has shed 28 percent of its year-to-date volume, a loss of 7,475 sales. With an all-new 2018 Camry set to generate more than its fair share of Toyota sedan sales, does the Avalon even deserve a place in Toyota’s 2018 lineup?

Indeed it does, as Toyota will launch the fifth-generation, TNGA-based Avalon in 2018. “We’re committed to Avalon,” says Toyota North America’s executive vice president for sales, Bob Carter. (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2017

Image: 1998 MSV, image via seller

Look at the large creature before you. A fiberglass cacophony of components from various manufacturer parts bins, known as the MSV. Initially, I thought the short acronym could only mean My Special Van, but those letters actually represent the company behind this beast: Mauck Specialty Vehicles.

Hop in the back, and we’ll embark on a voyage to… recreation.

(Read More…)

By on August 11, 2017

2006 Toyota Camry XLE - Image: Toyota“This was the harshest move in consumer preference the industry has ever seen.”
– Bob Carter, Executive Vice President, Toyota North America

37 percent of the new vehicles sold in the United States in the first seven months of 2017 were passenger cars. That’s correct. 63 percent of the new vehicles now sold in America are pickup trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and vans.

But how did we get to this 37-percent basement? When did we get here? How long did it take to get here? And is it really the basement? (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2017

2016 Toyota Prius Four - Image: ToyotaIf current marketplace trends hold, the Toyota Prius will not be America’s best-selling hybrid by next year.

The steep rate of decline experienced by the Prius in 2017 is no surprise. For one thing, it’s a continuation of the decline we saw earlier in the fourth-gen Prius’ tenure. For another, there are new Prius competitors, such as the Hyundai Ioniq and Toyota’s highly efficient 2018 Camry Hybrid. But the Prius’s rapid slide — sales are down by a third so far this year — is also what Toyota predicted at the turn of the calendar.

Yet even if the rate of Prius decline suddenly and unexpectedly slows, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which the Toyota Prius, long the dominant hybrid in America, holds onto its crown as the top seller for long.

The victor in 2018 will, however, almost certainly be a Toyota. (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2017

2015 Nissan Juke, Image: Nissan

Today’s Question of the Day is the inverse of one I posited back in March of this year. At that time, we took your suggestions for current vehicle designs which you thought would stand the test of time.

It’s now time to cover the other side of the ugly coin; the vehicles on sale today which will become dated-looking quicker than all others.

(Read More…)

By on August 8, 2017

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro lineup - Image: ToyotaThere are a number of major consequences springboarding off the early August 2017 announcement that Toyota and Mazda would come together to build an assembly plant in Somewhere, United States.

First, Mazda production returns to the United States for the first time since the Mazda 6 left Flat Rock, Michigan, in 2012.

Second, the Toyota Corolla — produced now in Cambridge, Ontario, and Blue Springs, Mississippi — will be assembled in a second U.S. assembly plant.

Third, Toyota will acquire a 5-percent stake in Mazda, while Mazda returns the favor by claiming a 0.25-percent portion of Toyota.

And to the increasingly pickup-truck-conscious U.S. consumer, the most significant consequence of the Toyota-Mazda partnership will be more Toyota Tacomas. That’s right: more pickup trucks for America. (Read More…)

By on August 6, 2017

Müller-Ötvös and Rolls-Royce Phantom

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited is on track to become the highest volume automaker in the world someday. Management is keeping it under wraps but volume has been exploding over the last few years. For 2014, the brand delivered a record 4,063 cars, up 12 percent on its volume for 2013 — closing the gap with Toyota’s 10.23 million global sales.

Unfortunately, Rolls’ five year volume streak didn’t last but it is creeping back up after some minor setbacks. For 2016, the brand announced its second highest ever annual sales result in the marquee’s 113-year history, up 6 percent on its 2015 results, for a total of 4,011 global sales. While it looks like the premium automaker has — once again — placed Toyota’s volume back in its sights, Rolls-Royce doesn’t want to get too cocky and has implemented a strategy that should keep the customers pouring in.  (Read More…)

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