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.
Though the United Auto Worker’s fight for organization of the transplants in the Southeastern United States rages on, the union will not be taking as much from its war chest to fund the fight than in previous years.
I feel fortunate enough that the first manual transmission car I ever drove was a 1986 Toyota Corolla GT-S. Yes, that Corolla. Although I am barely in my twenties, I learned how to drive a stickshift at a time when you could still pick up a ratty AE86 for a few hundred bucks.
If you purchase a Scion FR-S with an automatic transmission, I hope you’re deeply ashamed. There might be a legitimate reason. I’d accept a condition that prevents you from working a clutch and shifter. You know, something like losing a tussle with gangrene as a child or an advanced Type-II Diabetes induced foot-ectomy.
Harsh, inconsiderate statements, but why the hell would you want this car with an automatic?
Thanks in part to Toyota’s decision to relocate its U.S. base of operations from California to Texas, Tesla is now the former state’s largest automotive industry employer.
Change is inevitable, but it isn’t always predictable. Such was the case with a recent death in the family. Eighty-five-year-olds typically aren’t long for this world, but her stroke and swift passing was still sudden.
After some hurried preparations and two flights, I found myself standing on a rental lot. To distract myself from weightier matters, I sought out something I hadn’t driven before. The Toyota RAV4 was redesigned for model year 2013, but I hadn’t driven one yet. Hoping for a vehicular cocoon, I blew through the paperwork and headed east for New Jersey.
Currently, there is only one Lexus plant outside of Japan. A Toyota factory in Cambridge, Ontario makes the Lexus RX crossover, while Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant will come online in 2015. Like other Japanese auto makers, Toyota is moving towards a localization of its production facilities, but one thing they won’t be doing is producing Lexus vehicles in China.
Toyota’s champion revealed its new look before the world and those in attendance at the 2014 New York Auto Show. Beneath the new Camry’s updated, more aggressive appearance, Toyota added spot welds throughout the chassis for added stiffness as well as a revised suspension, all of which is aimed at improving handling and ride quality.
Unifor has put their union certification vote on hold for Toyota Canada’s manufacturing plants, amid claims by Toyota that the size of the bargaining unit is much larger than expected – derailing Unifor’s assertion that they have met the required threshold for a vote.
Several Toyota models dominated this year’s Consumer Reports list of used car recommendations, with 11 out of 28 overall belonging to the automaker’s Scion, Lexus and namesake brands.
WardsAuto reports that the next generation 2016 Toyota Tundra pickup will receive the Cummins 5.0L V8 turbodiesel for 2016, the same engine that will be powering the next Nissan Titan pickup, due for 2015. While Toyota had been working on a diesel engine with Hino, Toyota’s heavy-truck division, the economic crash of 2008 shelved the plans. With new found interest in light diesels and the new Ram EcoDiesel leading the way with favorable reviews and excellent fuel economy, Toyota looks to jump quickly into the light diesel truck market.
One day, about a month ago, a vehicle that I had never really given much thought to entered my consciousness quite forcefully. My phone rang, and on the other end was a family member informing me that my sister-in-law had been involved in a serious auto accident. She had been traveling through an intersection when another motorist had run the red light going the opposite direction. It was a hard hit. In fact, the impact was severe enough to flip my sister-in-law’s car was onto its roof. What’s more, her three-year-old son, my nephew, had been in the back seat. They both left the accident totally unharmed.
Her car? A 1st gen Toyota Highlander. So, at least in part, I owe the safety and security of my extended family to the car-based Toyota mid-sized CUV.
The last time we talked about a Camry SE on these [s]less-than[/s] distinguished pages, the resulting article upset one of our contributors (a certain “Nurburgring race instructor”) so much that he quit the site in protest. That certainly wasn’t my intention. But I know that our hearts will go on.
Of all the comments that particular test attracted, both on and off this website, I don’t recall any of them having anything to do with a desire for hybrid power. Presumably, however, there is someone out there who wants the sportier appearance of the Camry SE and the now-legendary economy and durability of the Hybrid Synergy Drive, because now it’s possible to combine the two.
A lot of Toyota dealers are going to find it difficult to grind out their end-of-month goals, thanks to a stop-sale directive from the company that covers eight different models. Approximately 36,000 vehicles in dealer stock and an unknown number of additional vehicles inbound to dealers will have to be held.
The “Future Toyota” numero uno, or FT-1, is supposed to be Toyota’s top RWD sports car. At least in concept form. What we get is a taste of Toyota’s future design language, calling the FT-1 the “spiritual pace car for Toyota Global Design.” It’s almost a caricature of the FRS, with its spin on long hood/short deck styling, but with attention paid to housing some interesting aerodynamic tricks. Strategically placed vents that point at the use of extractors, and rear diffuser work stand out. There’s even some F1 styling cues: obviously in the powerful nose, but also in the rear LED “ rain light.” Powertrain options are held quiet, but out of the hood peeks a longitudinally mounted engine for everyone to place bets on…
For the 12 year in a row, the Toyota Camry is the No. 1 best-selling car in the United States, but how long its reign continues will depend on how well its competitors can do in their attempt to dethrone the king of the showroom.
Yaris: It’s A Car! If you go to the Toyota website to learn about the logical successor to the original, and fabulous, Corolla Tercel, that is the slogan with which you’ll be confronted.
Yaris: It’s A Car!
What you won’t find is any mention of how much power the Yaris makes (106 horsepower) or the specific type of transmission fitted to the vehicle (the venerable Toyota transverse four-speed automatic). Nor will you be tremendously impressed by the listed EPA mileage (37mpg highway). This isn’t an oversight on the part of the Toyota hivemind. It’s a way of qualifying customers. If your expectations for the Yaris are that it will, in fact, be a car, and that it will get about 37 miles per gallon on the highway, then strap yourself down, my friend, because your expectations are about to be met!
With every mountain climbed, every river crossed, and every supermarket parking lot conquered since its showroom debut in 2006, the Toyota FJ Cruiser prepares to retire to the countryside in 2014.
One blah Monday morning, you’re commuting to the anonymous office park some 90 minutes away from the bedroom community you call a home in your equally anonymous Toyota Camry Hybrid, listening to yet another story about Congress kicking cans down roads and/or some wacky antics your favorite DJs had the past weekend while you take another swig of that mermaid-branded caffeinated goodness.
Ah. Muffy’s perfect SUV
Toyota is one of the largest manufacturers of cars in the world. It’s not a surprise, especially if you have travelled out of the US. They are everywhere. I have only owned three Toyotas; a coma-inducing silver Camry DX, and two MKII Supras.
Despite my lack of ownership, I have spent a sizeable portion of my career abusing Toyotas. Maybe it is latent Nissan loyalty surfacing as abuse, Dad was a Datsun salesman before I was born and continued in one form or another until I graduated from High School. To Toyota’s credit, they have taken it all without complaint.
A notable case was an innocent preppy green and gold Land Cruiser. An aircraft electrical malfunction resulted in an unscheduled stop in Boise Idaho and gave us a week to kill. A ladies NCAA tourney had snatched up all the econoboxes, so the unsuspecting agency offered up the keys to a new 2003 Toyota Land Cruiser. I grabbed them, signed the contract and was out of there faster than a Taylor Swift romance.
Diesel and Baby Blue to strike fear into the hearts of our enemies
The durability of the original Toyota HiLux, known in the United States as simply “Truck,” is the stuff of legend, especially if you enjoy Top Gear. It often seems that only rust can kill these simple but durable pickups, which means that in areas where rust does, in fact, sleep, they are effectively immortal. My daily ride in Abu Dhabi is a Fortuner, the HiLux’s Asian cousin.
But this isn’t my first foray into Toyota reliability. My graduate level work in this field came from my time as a UN Unarmed Military Observer (UNMO) on a peacekeeping mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2004. The patrol vehicle dejuir was the Toyota HiLux Surf (aka the 4Runner). But rather than the V-6, the UN standard issue at the time was a 4 cylinder turbo diesel mated to a 5 speed manual.
(Everyone please welcome Speed:Sport:Life alumnus and Cayman owner John Kucek to these pages. Upon hearing that John was going to the famous Burgerkingring, I asked him to get me a review of a car not available here. Strictly speaking, he did what I asked him to do. Frankly speaking, if he comes back next time with a review of a Toyota iQ or any other badge-engineered cars we’re firing him! — JB)
“Get me a couple of forbidden-fruit car reviews”. Jack’s words were still ringing in my ears as I gingerly walked up to a rental counter in Dusseldorf a few weeks later. I knew what this particular outfit had to offer, having been here almost three years earlier to the day on another Nordschleife-bound excursion, and it was good stuff. Imagine numerous E92 M3 Coupes, with the Competition Package even, lining the airport garage tower stalls. There was an Aston V12 Vantage standing on display in the terminal, the circular kiosk next to it touting its availability “from 169 Euros a day”. At least, I think that was the gist. It could have been 169 Euros per hour, but since most of my comprehension of the German language has been cobbled together from watching Inglourious Basterds on repeat, I might have been wrong on that count. Either way, the fact that a run-of-the-mill rental counter in Germany even offers such metal bodes well for my reservation, a “Premium” class upgrade that promised a new BMW 1er, VW GTI, Mercedes-Benz A-Klasse or similar.
Calling the Corolla “Toyota’s most important car” would be an understatement. This single model accounts for 38 percent of all Toyotas ever sold in the USA and they expect to shift 330,000 next year alone. If the sheer quantity wasn’t amazing enough, ponder this reality: 75% of sales will be split between just four different configurations. If you’re in a 2014 Corolla, the odds are about one in five that the Corolla next to you is identical save for paint color. Often derided by the automotive press as a “driving appliance,” is there more to the 2014 Corolla or is it just a toaster with wheels? Let’s find out.
Toyota may have become monumental on the basis of the midsize Camry’s popularity with American drivers over the past two decades, but that monument was built on the foundation of many, many compact Corollas. Before Lexus, before Camry, it was the Corolla that earned Toyota its reputation for reliability and quality construction. Forty million Corolla branded cars have been sold globally since the car’s introduction in 1968. For more than a generation, the conventional answer from both car enthusiasts and regular consumers alike, when asked to name a reliable small car, has been “Toyota Corolla”. Like Alfred Sloan proposed, Toyota knows that if you can capture car buyers when they are just entering the market, you can sell them a lot of cars over the course of their lives. While driving the latest Corolla isn’t on most car enthusiasts’ or automotive journalists’ bucket lists, the introduction of a new Corolla is indeed big news, at least as far as the car industry is concerned. Though the Honda Civic leads the segment in U.S. sales, the Corolla is close behind in second place and Toyota expects to sell about 300,000 Corollas this year. They’re hoping to increase that by 10% by selling cars to other than just traditional Corolla buyers, attracted by more exciting exterior styling and upgraded interior features.
Regular readers of TTAC already saw Justin Wheels Crenshaw and W Christian Mental Ward had a chance to attend the Abu Dhabi Drift School where the RWD Toyota GT-86 is the car of choice.
Subayotas by night
Buckle your seatbelts folks; we’re firing up the wayback machine. Last week I had the privilege of attending the Yas Island Drift School with none other than Justin “Wheels” Crenshaw. I have actually known Justin for a few years now, back when he was juggling press loaners and writing for TTAC, while I had no idea this site existed. He helped me with this story, as well as editing it, so hopefully he saved Baruth some stress and the B&B some frustration with my tenuous language skills.
When the RAV4 landed, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. In a world of unified corporate identity the RAv4 goes off script with a look all to its own. While the old RAV sold on mini-truck looks, the new one is undisguised crossover. The new nose has grown on me slightly since I recorded the video above, but I still find the look a little awkward. Since I was scolded for wearing striped pants with a striped shirt the week I tested the RAV4, feel free take my style opinion with a grain of salt as you click through the jump.
I would normally start a car review with an item of trivia or history about the vehicle under review, or about the segment in general. This time I’m going to start by talking about the elephant in the room: the 2014 4Runner SR5/Trail front end. Yikes! I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but when the attractive new 2014 Tundra pulled away revealing the 2014 4Runner, I was reminded of a woman I worked with in 1998. Drawn in by the promise of eternal good looks, she had her eyebrows surgically removed and lines tattooed on her face. The only problem was the tattoo artist (accidentally?) gave her a permanently surprised “eyebrows”. Oops. Perhaps the 4Runner also regrets going under the knife and that’s why the fog lamp slits make it look like it’s crying. What say the best and brightest? Click through the jump and sound off in the comment section.
We don’t just love pickup trucks in America, we practically worship them. The half ton pickup truck is an American icon embedded into our music, our entertainment and almost the core of our culture. If you haven’t owned or wanted to own a pickup truck, you’re probably a communist infiltrating American society and should be stopped. Despite inroads from the Japanese competition, the full-size truck market is a solidly American segment that isn’t just led by the big three, it’s dominated by them. In August, RAM took third place with 33,009 pickups sold in the US of A, more than three times the number four player: this week’s Toyota Tundra. Why is this gap so large when Toyota crushes the big three in so many other segments? Let’s explore that while we look at Toyota’s refreshed 2014 Tundra.
Toyota held an event in Ypsilanti, Michigan this week called the Toyota Hybrid World Tour, similar to the recent Nissan 360 event where the company displayed its foreign market forbidden fruit. I didn’t realize what a Big Deal the THWT was until I arrived at the hotel & conference center. I had thought that it was just some kind of ride & drive event but in fact it was a major corporate level promotion by Toyota. For the first time in history the company gathered in one place every one of its hybrid vehicles sold around the world, along with a few alternative energy prototypes and some history, including an example of the first Prius sold in the Japanese domestic market. Toyota also gathered high ranking executives like North American chief Bob Carter from California and Toyota Managing Officer Satoshi Ogiso from Toyota City. Ogiso is in charge of global product development and chassis engineering for the entire company as well as being the Chief Engineer for the Prius program. Regular readers of TTAC will know just how important chief engineers are in the Toyota hierarchy and Ogiso is more or less the chief engineer for all of Toyota in addition to the Prius. He was a member of Toyota’s G21 team, out of which developed the first Prius. Though new Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada didn’t attend, he did record remarks prepared for the journalists in attendance.
There are several vans that will not be among the finalists to replace the Kreutzer family’s ailing Ford Freestar and among them are the size and utility queens of the Japanese Domestic Market, the Toyota HI-Ace and the Mitsubishi Delica. Of course you already know that neither of these vans are sold here in the Land of the Free, so my attempt at including them in an article about my current search may seem a bit facetious but, the truth is, I know these vans well and they come up enough in the comments that I thought they might be worth discussing in more detail. Since I have become the resident “van guy” for the time being, let’s avail ourselves of the opportunity, shall we?
As America’s favorite pastime grapples with a cheating scandal involving its biggest stars, I can’t help but imagine motorsports devotees are looking on with jaded amusement. Cheating, along with exorbitant costs and tobacco sponsorships, is part and parcel of the fabric of motorsports, no matter the geographic location or formula. But few have cheated like Toyota. Who else has been accused of, or caught red-handed, at cheating in NASCAR, CART, Formula 1, and WRC? In each instance, Toyota’s machinations were always subtle and ingenious, nothing like Smokey Yunick’s 7/8th scale Chevelle or any of the famous “bending the rules” yarns. Take for example, the car you see above.
Group A cars were required to be fitted with a specific turbo restrictor that served to limit engine output. Toyota was able to engineer a special bypass valve that could not only defeat the restrictor without creating any evidence of tampering, but was designed to conceal itself when FIA technicians dismantled the turbocharger for inspection. Max Mosley himself called it “…the most sophisticated and ingenious device either I or the FIA’s technical experts have seen for a long-time.” By bypassing the restrictor, Toyota could get as much as 25 percent more airflow into the turbocharger, allowing the GT-Four to put down as much as 350 horsepower in a field where cars were limited to 300 horsepower. According to Toyota’s own specs, my friend Rob’s GT-Four puts down about 255 horsepower, but it sure feels like there might be a bypass valve in there somewhere.
I grew up as a city kid, but my parents made sure I had every opportunity to experience the great outdoors. Most of the time I elected to skip those opportunities. Although I enjoyed attending a rustic summer camp where we slept in tents and warded off raccoon and skunks each night, I did not take well to camping, coming back with over 300 mosquito bites. Fishing was too slow of an activity to capture my attention, but sport shooting was the opposite. After that, I never once picked up an Xbox controller, finding Halo and Call of Duty to be unsatisfying facsimiles for sending rounds downrange. A pity that it took me nearly 25 years to actually go off-roading; I may have never bothered with sports cars in the first place.
Atlanta can be somewhat of a rental car wasteland. Less than two years ago, the lots were still primarily populated by a sea of dingy Mercury Grand Marquises. (Yeah, yeah, Panther Love, whatever.) Nowadays, the unhappy renter-to-be is usually confronted by seemingly endless rows of 2.5S Altimas and Jeep Compasses. Shudder. So it was with this expectation that I entered the ATL garage again, and I was not disappointed — zero-option Altimas as far as the eye could see, with a Silverado pickup mixed in here and there. A fellow business traveler walked up to the rental car company rep as I was surveying the landscape and moaned, “Is this really all you have?”
While he was complaining, I was hunting. Obscured by the hulking mass of a Silvy was a brand-spanking new, moderately-redesigned-for-2013, black Toyota Avalon — in XLE spec, no less! I damn near RAN over to it, opened the door, and jumped inside before Mr. Complainer knew what hit him.
Seven hundred and twenty bucks. Not much money by today’s standards. Won’t buy you an American-made Fender Strat or a Hickey-Freeman suit. Won’t quite buy you a 32GB iPad with a cellular connection. Maybe ten days’ worth of rent in one of those new Manhattan micro-units. In the America of 2013, $720 is chump change.
But if you’re in the market for a new family sedan, and you can come up with $720, you’ll be glad you did. Because that’s the difference in the price between the Camry SE, which is one of my favorite cars at the moment, and the Camry LE, which isn’t, not quite.
The Camry controversy continues! Famed Nurburgring racing instructor and TTAC contributor Mike Solowiow says the Camry SE sucks. Unfamed Ohio circle track racer and occasional Grand-Am pay-driver/equipment-destroyer Jack Baruth says it’s GRRRRRRRREAT!
Clearly this can only be settled with more racetrack testing of Camrys. Which leads to the completely inexcusable actions above.
When TTAC’s Mike Solowiow tested the Camry SE V-6, he didn’t spare the rod or spoil the child:
“…in situations where steering feel warns of problems (hydroplaning, ice, collision avoidance) the Camry SE gives lifeless to the point of useless. Beating at the steering column with a wiffle bat and screaming like Yvette Fielding in ‘Most Haunted’ are more entertaining than trying to make the Camry hustle. It doesn’t move, flow, or have chassis alacrity all its rivals exhibit.”
If the V-6 is that bad, the 178-horsepower four-cylinder must be terrible, right? I mean, if I took it to a racetrack and tooled it around in the advanced-driver groups with a bunch of people in it, we’d be miserable right? We’d never pass anybody, right? We’d never toss that bee-otch out of the Carousel with hands off the wheel and let it snake-oscillate up the hill running past the curbs in the dirt and putting that big-bird chrome grill right up the tailpipe of a Spec Miata, right?
Hello TTAC! For those who wondered where I went, I’m back from my global tour with the USAF. I am back in my native West Texas, attending Texas Tech University in pursuit of a Mechanical Engineering degree. As a break from finals, I test drove the best selling car in the US, with a decidedly continental Captain Solo slant. Thus far, I have consumed two overpriced lattes and wandered around Lubbock for 45 minutes in an attempt to organize my thoughts and come towards an unbiased conclusion about the baffling Toyota Camry.
The Avalon has been something of a caricature since it wafted on stage in 1994. The stretched Camry was low on soul, devoid of style and soft of spring. In short, it was the Buick that wouldn’t leave you stranded. Since then Toyota has struggled to divine a mission for their full size sedan, a problem complicated by the re-invigoration of the large sedan market by the American brands. In hopes of resurrecting sales numbers, which have slid to 25% of their 2000 year shipments, Toyota has injected something hitherto unseen in an Avalon: style. Is it enough?
Your humble author’s affection for the Pentastar-powered Chrysler minivans is relatively well-known within these electronic pages. In the interest of examining the so-called “alternatives”, however, I’ve been attempting to rent non-Chrysler minivans during my travels. A 36-hour unscheduled trip to San Francisco gave me a chance to do just that, deliberately walking past the six Corvette droptops in the Hertz #1 Gold Choice spaces and picking up a Toyota Sienna. The things I do for you, dear readers! My appointment was a couple of hours inland, in Lodi, CA; the thought that I was pedaling a minivan away from the ocean when I could be driving a topless ‘Vette along it had me sobbing lightly behind my Prodesigns.
I was eventually able to screw my courage to the sticking-place, as it were, and get on with business. What follows is a 388-mile review of the Toyota Sienna LE, but there’s one little catch: if you want one just like my test vehicle, you’re out of luck.
A couple weeks back, Tetsuya Tada, father of the Scion FR-S, wistfully meditated on his desire to see more variants of the Scion FR-S, including a shooting brake. Rather than dismissive them as fantasy-bait for the enthusiast set, TTAC determined that there is probably a good business case for developing more variants of the Toyobaru platform. After all, you can’t spend billions on an all new platform and only build one low volume niche model off of it, right?
For anyone rooting for this scenario, there’s more encouraging news. Toyota executives are pondering an upward expansion of the Scion brand, and the FR-S could be the focal point of that initiative.
Ahh, the benefits of free PR. Mere minutes after Toyota UK’s official blog posted their “interview” with GT 86 chief engineer Tetsuya Tada, the outlets of the autoblogosphere were alight with Tada’s comments praising shooting brakes.
See, dropping a choice quote about Tada’s desire for a GT86 shooting brake isn’t just a coldly calculated way to ensure that this interview is re-posted ad infintium on every content aggregator and “enthusiast blog” (read: free PR machine for the OEMs) in the world. It also provides a bit of insight into the economics of vehicle development, sales and manufacturing today – not to mention the PR and marketing side.
Our recent looks at the Ford Edge Ecoboost and GMC Terrain prompted an email from a reader asking us to take a look at the 2013 Toyota Venza with these two American entries in mind. If you have a request or suggestion for a vehicle review, just click the contact link at the top of the page, or find us on Facebook and drop us a note.
Oddly enough, the presence of the roomy Prius V and less costly Prius C have done little to harm the popularity of Toyota’s primary hybrid, the Prius. More accurately, since Toyota introduced the V, C, and Plug-In versions, sales of the core model have done nothing but rise.
Toyota chose Chicago to introduce the new 2014 Tundra. Following the lead of the big three, the Tunda is bigger and has a more premium interior. Unlike the big boys, Toyota still won’t have a 3/4 or 1 ton models, but they are touting the Tundra as having the highest North American parts content of any other 1/2 ton truck. Them’s fighting words.