Toyota Investing $500 Million Into Uber for Driverless Partnership

Toyota Motor Corp. is set to drop about $500 million into Uber Technologies Inc. under an agreement that will see both companies work jointly on self-driving vehicles. The ultimate goal is for Toyota to bring to market its own autonomous vehicles using some of Uber’s hardware, with direct access to its ride-sharing network.

According to the automaker, the initial push will use the Sienna minivan as a platform for the “Autono-MaaS” (autonomous-mobility as a service) fleet. This makes the arrangement sound very similar to Waymo’s deal with FCA, which allows Alphabet’s autonomous arm to use the Chrysler Pacifica as a test platform for its self-driving hardware in exchange to having improved access to autonomous technology. However, Toyota said the partnership’s primary goal is improving safety and lowering transportation costs for the public.

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Adventures in Advertising: I Love What You Do for Me, Chuck - Let's Go Places

If it wasn’t for celebrity ad appearances, I wouldn’t know that [s]Jim Rockford[/s] James Garner thinks the Mazda 626 is a great buy, or that Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling chooses the Ford LTD over all other domestic two-door hardtops, simply for the cabin noise level. Meanwhile, red-blooded males across America still can’t shake those recurring thoughts of the Mercury Milan AWD V6.

We owe a great debt to Hollywood.

And Toyota now owes a big, fat check to Chuck Norris, a 78-year-old man famous for driving a Dodge Ram pickup in a show where violent men routinely and inexplicably dropped their guns in order to engage each other with fists. The automaker gets playful in its latest spot for a truck it can’t help but sell boatloads of.

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Two Scoops of Brawn: 2019 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Packs a Premium

With half-ton pickup facades now verging on grotesque, we’ll miss the Toyota Tundra’s appealing, chrome-heavy grille when the model inevitably gives way to a fresh generation. Speaking of fresh, the Tundra ain’t it. Bowing for the 2007 model year, the second-generation Tundra soldiers into 2019 relatively unchanged, though there’s improvements at the top of the range.

No, Toyota hasn’t put the model on a weight loss regimen or finessed its powertrain, but it has added off-road capability. And for this newfound ruggedness, you’d better be prepared to cough up more cash.

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From the 'Not Surprising' Files: There's Finally Cash on the Hood of New Toyota Camrys

Toyota resisted the urge for some time. However, the reality of falling sales numbers meant the automaker had to finally pull out its wallet and start incentivising the country’s best-selling midsize sedan.

We told you earlier this month that Camry sales aren’t enjoying the same buoyancy seen after the release of the new-for 2018 model in the latter part of last year. Possibly as a result, Toyota’s discounts, initially available only to Camry lessees, now migrate to buyers.

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2019 Toyota Sienna: Bringing All-wheel Drive to More of the Masses

As the Ford Aerostar and Toyota Previa fade from our collective memory, one could be forgiven for thinking minivans were always a front-drive proposition. As for winter-beating all-wheel drive, a laundry list of crossovers and SUV fill that buying space, poaching sales from the once-hot minivan segment.

Still, one model continues offering four-wheel traction for buyers who aren’t scared of being seen in a traditionally uncool minivan. That model, the Toyota Sienna, enters 2019 with more AWD availability. As an underdog in the segment, it seems Toyota wants to sell its offering as the more family-friendly SUV alternative.

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Upwards, Downwards: The Prices of Two Very Different Toyotas Head in Opposite Directions for 2019

It’ll be a sad day when Toyota parts ways with the 4Runner SUV, but at the present moment there’s no plan to strike the long-running, body-on-frame model from the lineup. You will, however, pay more to get behind the wheel of the 2019 4Runner’s ballsiest variant.

At the extreme opposite end of the size scale, Toyota wants to make it cheaper to bring home a Toyota that’s actually a Mazda.

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Toyota and Honda Have Good Reason Not to Abandon Sedans

Ford’s already brought the axe down on all but one of its car models, and General Motors looks ready to do the same. Other automakers, however, know that ditching sedans would mean abandoning key groups of customers.

For Toyota and Honda, models like the Camry and Civic resonate far more among some demographics, and leaving that segment risks losing those buyers to other brands. Not everyone wants a crossover. Among Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans, four Japanese nameplates keep popping up at the top of the most-bought list, but one domestic model poses a growing threat.

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Toyota Mulling a Different Kind of Small Hybrid - the Fun Kind

We’re a long way from any kind of confirmation, but Toyota’s upcoming Corolla Hatch could become something you’d want to toss around — assuming top brass listen to the brand’s chief engineer.

With the Corolla iM hatch giving way later this summer to a vastly improved five-door that ditches the Scion-era “iM” designation, the automaker has an opportunity on its hands. If Yasushi Ueda has his way, Toyota’s head engineer would turn the model into a hybrid. God, what boredom, you say — I remember borrowing that Prius C from Vrtucar. And cousin Wendy has that Prius she keeps rubbing in our face, like that makes her saviour of the world or something –

Stop! This one wouldn’t be a narcolepsy inducer. Such a vehicle would put down two types of power through all four wheels, giving Toyota a shot of that youthful image it so desperately craves.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Japanese Sports Cars From 1995

Today we decide which of three legendary and sporty Japanese coupe gets the flamethrower. Will it be the Toyota, the Mazda, or the Nissan? All of these vehicles are the last in their line, so this one might be a bit difficult.

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July 2018 Midsize Sedan Sales: Toyota Camry Finally Slips Into the Red

Last year’s release of the radically revamped 2018 Toyota Camry lent buoyancy to a model seen as the troubled midsize sedan segment’s most resilient nameplate. It has history, name recognition, and a stigma for no-nonsense comfort and reliability. Could you ask for anything more?

And so, as other sedans, including the equally fresh Honda Accord, started falling away, the Camry retained its sales volume, finishing the first half of 2018 with a slight year-to-date increase. July brought bad news, however. While the Toyota brand performed worse than the industry average last month — sales fell 6 percent, year over year — it was passenger cars that earned the brand its volume loss.

And even the Camry’s partly to blame.

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A Foul Wind Blows… From the Toyota Camry's Dash Vents, Lawsuit Claims

Toyota might have another stinky legal problem on its hands. A proposed class-action lawsuit filed in the US. District Court for the Southern District of Florida claims the automaker committed fraud by failing to properly address an HVAC problem that leaves Camry cabins in an unpleasantly scented state.

Condensation is the culprit in this issue, though the plaintiffs accuse Toyota of covering up the fact that it doesn’t have a solution.

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Not Giving Up: Toyota Wants Mass-produced Mirai FCVs, Longer Range

Despite it being the most abundant element in the world — but one of the hardest fuels to source — automakers aren’t giving up on hydrogen. That group includes Toyota, which launched the world’s best-selling hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the Mirai, in 2015.

Early this year, the 3,000th U.S. Mirai found its way to the driveway of a California customer. Cali remains the only American jurisdiction where FCV vehicles, and refueling infrastructure, are offered (though a hydrogen shortage last week saw SoCal stations dry up).

In the hopes of boosting the fuel’s prevalence and stimulating demand, Toyota plans to enter mass production with its second-generation Mirai, expected early in the coming decade.

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2019 Lexus ES: Luxo-Avalon Reveals Its Pricing

Long regarded as the pinnacle of worry-free premium transport, the Lexus ES throws off its dowdy clothes for 2019 in favor of a new, sportier look. It’s a makeover shared with its platform-mate, the Toyota Avalon, and the two large sedans both call dibs on the same V6 engine, four-cylinder hybrid powertrain, and eight-speed and continuously variable automatics.

The mission of this ES is not just to compel existing owners to return to the dealer for another go-around. It wants fresh blood — hence the new sheetmetal and addition of an F Sport model. To help keep both sets of buyers in its good books, Lexus hasn’t gone wild with the pricing. One version actually sees a price decrease for 2019.

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Future Collectable: 2019 Toyota 86 TRD Special Edition

It was rumored that Toyota would eventually bring some hardware from its Gazoo Racing sub-brand into the U.S. through Toyota Racing Development. Well, the automaker appears to have finally done so, showcasing some of those parts in the 2019 Toyota 86 TRD Special Edition.

Before you ask, Toyota has not added any power with the TRD edition. Much like the limited-production Subaru BRZ tS, the recipe involves prepping the vehicle for the track with upgraded suspension components, brakes, and tires. There are also visual enhancements that give off a slight boy-racer vibe, though Toyota managed its makeover with more subtlety than Subaru, what with the BRZ tS’s large rear wing.

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2018 Toyota Tundra 4×4 SR5 TRD Sport Review - For the Long Haul

I’d like to think of myself as a reasonably enlightened being. Despite living my entire life in the cultural wasteland known to coastal elites as “flyover country,” I’ve somehow avoided marrying kin and sought to broaden my views on any number of subjects.

However, some of my neighbors are doing their best to keep the stereotypes alive, at least in the automotive realm.

As any self-respecting automotive journalist does when handed the keys to a truck, I headed to the home center to haul things I didn’t want to subject my usual ride to. In this case, bags of mulch. When I handed my receipt for 20 bags of mulch to the young man tasked with loading, he genuinely seemed concerned that the 2018 Toyota Tundra would need at least 10 trips to handle the load, and that even two bags would cause the bumper to drag. Xenophobic jokes like this are getting old.

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2018 Toyota C-HR Review - Swing and a Miss

See that headline up there? I really wanted to write “swing and a foul ball,” but it just doesn’t “pop” as well. Because Toyota’s attempt at a quirky subcompact crossover isn’t fully a miss, but it’s not quite fully baked, either.

The C-HR is styled, um, controversially, and it’s positioned below the RAV4 in terms of size and price. It’s meant to duke it out in the growing subcompact crossover segment with the likes of the outgoing Nissan Juke, the incoming Nissan Kicks, the Ford EcoSport, the Hyundai Kona, the Jeep Renegade, and others.

I’d been derisive of the C-HR since first laying eyes on one, simply due to its looks. But that’s unfair – beauty is more than skin deep, and there are plenty of ugly cars that are fun to drive or have otherwise redeeming qualities.

The C-HR isn’t one, but it comes closer to being in that category than I would’ve expected at first glance.

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2018 Toyota Tacoma 4×4 TRD Sport Review - Man About Town

Spend a little time in the gentrified corners of your fair city, and in between all the Audi Q5s and Subaru Outbacks jockeying for spots outside the artisan cupcake shoppe, you’ll spy a right-sized pickup that doesn’t conjure up images of dreaded rural riff-raff. It’s the model that can’t help but post sales increases with each passing month, and it doesn’t come in an opulent western/ranch-themed trim.

Now, aside from a low-range uphill excursion in an old college buddy’s extended cab 4×4 in Nova Scotia, my impression of the Toyota Tacoma was — perhaps unfairly — that it, like the protagonist in the Glenn Frey song, was something that belonged to the city. It’s hard not to notice its popularity with the type of urbanite who probably jogs, but only on weekends. And only with a female companion.

With these shallow stereotypes in mind, I accepted the keys to what seemed to be the most urban-friendly Tacoma in existence: the 4×4 Double Cab V6 TRD Sport model. What would I become after a week behind the wheel?

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2018 Toyota RAV4 SE Hybrid Review - A Fine Urban Runabout

I may be an avowed sedan stan, but I do get the appeal of crossovers. Especially small ones. Credit/blame me for being an urbanite, I guess, but I understand the appeal of a hatchback vehicle that can swallow cargo, be street-parked with ease, and has good visibility due to a tall ride height.

Sure, crossovers may not be my cup of tea. But I get why so many of my neighbors drive one.

Which is to say, I liked the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid more than I expected I would.

That’s in part because the RAV4 seems to stand for “generic yet reliable and popular crossover.” Odd, angular styling hasn’t helped it stand out much from the crowd.

Crossovers are meant to convey people and cargo about town with ease, and that’s the RAV4’s specialty. Looks aside, it blends because it’s supposed to.

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Toyota Drove the New Supra Around Goodwood, Did We Learn Anything?

While the returning Toyota Supra should be big news, the endless parade of teasers without any real information has left everyone feeling burned out. We previously announced that the vehicle would debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this week. But Toyota later clarified that the car we would see wouldn’t be the production version and remain camouflaged, resulting in rage-induced nose bleeds at automotive-media outlets across the globe.

Our expectations couldn’t be lower but we still had to check and see if any new information could be gleaned from the event. We definitely got a better look at it but technical specifications remained elusive. We did learn a thing or two, though.

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Toyota's Supra Strip Tease Is Starting to Get Really Frustrating

It’s understandable that an automaker would want to prolong the unveiling of a hotly anticipated model. After all, building suspense is essential when marketing a vehicle that’s exciting but lacks broad appeal. This is why Dodge was so fastidious in its debut of the Hellcat and Demon, parsing out just enough information to keep us fed without ever letting us get full.

By contrast, Toyota’s preliminary marketing of the Supra started with as few details as possible and has continued starving us of all meaningful information. That’s partly because the vehicle is a sister car to the new BMW Z4 — and sharing details of one model means giving away the goods on the other. Despite this, Magna Steyr (tasked with manufacturing both vehicles) isn’t building two identical models with different badges. The Supra’s chief engineer, Tetsuya Tada, describes the Supra as a pure sports car where practicality and comfort are almost not considered.

That sounds very exciting, so it was a relief when we learned the car will finally see daylight at the Goodwood Festival of Speed later this week. Unfortunately, Toyota clarified on Monday that the vehicle we’ll see wouldn’t be a production vehicle and will remain wrapped in red camouflage.

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Toyota's Supra Joins NASCAR; Reveal Date Announced for Production Model

Toyota made it clear it wants the returning Supra to have presence in motorsport when it unveiled the GR Racing Concept in March of this year. However, based on its looks, we assumed the model was destined for the grand touring circuits.

While that still may be the case, Toyota recently announced that the Supra will make its way to NASCAR in 2019. If you’re worried about the Camry, don’t be. The sedan will continue running in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series while the Supra handles the Xfinity Series.

Even though the NASCAR Supra is representative of the production model, the two won’t share many parts. All stock cars are required to run naturally aspirated, pushrod V8 engines — which the production model certainly won’t have. But it shows Toyota is serious about the returning Supra making a splash in the U.S.

The automaker no doubt hopes the vintage maxim “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” still rings true.

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2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Review - So Funky, Sorta Fun, Slightly Flawed

Imagine if automotive history were flipped a bit, and that crossovers were the default compact family vehicle for decades, rather than sedans. We’d be reliving the “longer, lower, wider” craze of the late ‘50s in the modern era, but with revolutionary things called “hatchbacks.”

Really, that’s all a subcompact crossover is — a hatchback with a bit of ground clearance, and sometimes a higher roof. It’s a repackaging of an older concept to market to new customers.

Toyota was the trailblazer in the car-based SUV business with the original RAV4, subsequently building up a solid lineup of crossovers large and small. Now, with the polarizing styling and compact dimensions of the 2018 Toyota C-HR, Big T takes aim at the entry level. Will the funky styling bring buyers, or will they shield their eyes?

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Love Tariffs? Prepare to Cough up an Extra $1,800 for a Camry, Toyota Warns

Toyota’s not going silently into a potential future where tariffs are as prevalent as man buns and tattoos in a brewpub. In its submission to the U.S. Commerce Department, Toyota wants the government to know it’s a standout business, and that a tariff on imported automobiles and auto parts would backfire.

Even for vehicles built in the U.S., American buyers would face a steep price hike, Toyota claims. Care to fork over an additional $1,800 for a Kentucky-built Camry? Meanwhile, a Canadian supplier association representative warns of “carmageddon” if the tariffs come to pass.

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America's Favorite Sedan to Take a Boat Trip

The Toyota Camry holds the remarkable distinction of being a midsize sedan with U.S. sales that actually increased over the first five months of 2018. Impossible, you say. It can’t be. You’d trade your kids for a crossover, but wouldn’t stoop to pick up a “free sedan” voucher if you passed one on the sidewalk.

Well, it’s true. Year to date, Camry sales are up 2.1 percent in the United States. Last year’s introduction of an eight-generation midsizer seemed to halt the sedan’s sales decline, though we’d be fools to think it’s anything other than a temporary lift. Camry volume sunk 7.9 percent in May. June could send the model into the negative.

Toyota seems aware of this, too. Maybe that’s behind the decision to send the Camry somewhere it hasn’t been in years.

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2018 Toyota Camry XLE V6 Review - The Default Choice for a Reason

It happened again. A neighbor, a casual acquaintance at best, messaged me on Facebook, asking for a used car recommendation. As usual, I suspect they were trying to get me to literally point them to a specific car for sale, but I’ve been roped into enough third-party late-night Craigslist-and-Cars.com binges to bite this time.

“Just buy the best Camry you can afford,” was my reply. I’ve given the same advice before to plenty of other non-enthusiasts, those for whom a car is merely an appliance. While I can easily rattle dozens of interesting choices to someone properly invested in driving enjoyment, I’d rather avoid the repercussions of recommending a 10-year-old M3 to a suburban mom who wants nothing more than a hassle-free commute.

Toyota pulled the cover off of the newest Camry in Detroit last year, and the rakish new styling has been flooding the streets ever since. Tim tested the four-cylinder model a few weeks back, but he wished for a bit more power. Fortunately, the gods of horsepower and displacement smiled upon me, and delivered upon my driveway this 2018 Toyota Camry XLE with the big V6.

Does the redesign tick the default box for enthusiasts, too?

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Buy/Drive/Burn: 2018 Midsize Four-door Trucks

Today’s Buy/Drive/Burn trio was generated by an interesting conversation last week over in TTAC’s Slack room. The recent resurgence in midsize truck offerings has presented buyers with much more choice than just a handful of years ago. Should buyers pursue surety in resale value, comfort, and the newest design? Is it possible not to buy too much truck?

Maybe burning some trucks to the ground will help us answer these questions.

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Seismic Activity Hampering Japanese Auto Production

A strong earthquake shook western Japan on Monday morning. The 6.1-magnitude quake destroyed property, left tens of thousands without power, stranded commuters, and disrupted Osaka’s industrial sector. Honda, Mitsubishi Motors, and Toyota’s Daihatsu unit all have production facilities in the area and were forced to shut down temporarily.

While Daihatsu remained confident its facilities could be reopened later in the day, Honda’s Suzuka factory in the Mie prefecture is one of the oldest plants on its roster. Despite being modernized over the years, it might not have been able to withstand the vibrations as well as newer facilities. The company said it would remain shuttered as employees perform safety and spot checks.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Affordable Convertibles From 2005

This edition of Buy/Drive/Burn was inspired by the comments some of you left on the recent QOTD Crapwagon Garage post on coupes. Though roadsters and convertibles were off limits there, the conversation turned to them wistfully. Don’t worry, convertible week is coming.

In the meantime, we’ve got a ragtop from 2005 to burn. Which one will it be?

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Grabbing the Future: Toyota Drops a Billion Into Ride-hailing Company

Not wanting to be left out of the alternative revenue streams party, Toyota Motor Corporation has invested $1 billion into a Singapore-based ride-hailing and ride sharing company you’ve probably never heard of.

Grab Holdings Inc., known to consumers simply as Grab, offers numerous car-based transportation options and services in Southeast Asia. Don’t have a car? Borrow one from Grab. Hail one operated by Grab.

In the future, it seems likely that car will be a Toyota.

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2018 Toyota Prius C Review - An Unappetizing Value Choice

Toyota likes to brag about its Prius “family.” Well, if the various Prii are grouped as such, the C may just be the black sheep.

Not the rebellious black sheep, but rather the underachieving kind. The kid with promise that went unfulfilled. Nice enough, at least makes an effort – but doesn’t quite have what it takes, nor has the ability to figure it out.

Take the 2018 version. Affording it a mild style update and new standard safety features isn’t enough to make up for the car’s shortcomings.

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Freeing Up Factories: Toyota to Consolidate Electronics Operations Within Denso

Toyota Motor Corp. says it had reached an agreement to consolidate all of its core electronics component operations within Denso. The move should allow Toyota to free up resources to compete more effectively in the new vehicle technology field.

Japan’s largest automaker noted it still has to discuss the logistics of transferring production of parts produced at its Hirose plant, near Toyota’s global headquarters, before the end of next year. But Denso, the company’s largest supplier, has already agreed to the core concept of the deal. By 2022, Denso will have taken over the mass production of all electronics components used in Toyota’s vehicles.

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2017 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD Review - Well-Aged Swagger

Yes, you read the headline correctly — this is indeed a review, running in June 2018, of a 2017 model year vehicle. Chalk it up to other priorities (after all, writing isn’t my full-time gig) but honestly, it doesn’t really matter in this case.

Toyota hasn’t really made significant changes its minivan since the early years of the Obama administration. Sure, minor details are always tweaked year over year, but the essence of the 2017 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD isn’t significantly different from that of the 2011 model. And that’s not a bad thing — no matter the age, minivan owners keep flocking back to the Swagger Wagon.

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2018 Toyota 4Runner Limited Review - Old Isn't Always Bad

Age can be a strength or weakness, and in the case of Toyota’s 4Runner, it’s almost certainly the former.

Indeed, I expect that when it comes time for the company to fully update the model, there will be plenty of hand-wringing among 4Runner fans as they worry that Toyota will screw it up. Considering that Jeep just successfully modernized the Wrangler without diluting what made it great, and considering the current 4Runner is already more civilized than the last Jeep, I think the next 4Runner will be just fine. But I understand the concern.

The current 4Runner is an old-school SUV – big, blocky, and tough-feeling. It even has old-school body-on-frame construction and boxy looks with a big ‘ole mean-looking grille and front end. Furthermore, the current generation stretches back nearly a decade.

Changes for 2018 are, fittingly, minimal. The changes consist of two new available options packages and two new trim levels. That’s it.

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2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Pricing Announced; Big MPG Gains Await Those Who Hate Shifting

With a new body, platform, wheelbase, engine, and continuously variable transmission, the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback (formerly the Corolla iM) is a very different beast than its predecessor. This was made abundantly clear during our recent test drive. Gone is the weird seating position, the spartan interior, and the so-so ride.

Just as important, the iM’s lackluster power figures give way to decent specs for a car of its class. It seems Toyota actually listened to owner complaints, boosting the vehicle’s output by 31 horsepower and 25 lb-ft while adding a physical launch gear to the new CVT, all in the hopes of wringing a little fun out of the compact liftback.

Here’s what getting into a Corolla Hatch costs:

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War Footing: Toyota CEO Unleashes 'Seven Samurai' in Bid for Survival

You need cash if you’re going to make it in this industry, and Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda wants more of it. The automaker’s top executive, who characterizes the dangers facing his company in the same manner of a military general defending the Japanese mainland, has launched an all-out assault on what he fears is Toyota’s biggest threat: unnecessary expense.

“With our rivals and the rules of competition also changing, a life-or-death battle has begun in a world of unknowns,” Toyoda said during a fiscal update last week. “Cost reduction is crucial. It is a fight to restore our original strength.”

To shore up his business’s finances in preparation for new investments, Toyoda has seven warriors ready to slash costs wherever savings can be found.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Sporty Liftbacks Hailing From 1994

Today’s edition of Buy/Drive/Burn was inspired by our previous Question of the Day on hatchback crapwagons.

In the North American vehicle timeline, the fading days of the Personal Luxury Coupe (PLC) saw the rise of a different kind of two-door for the masses. Gone was the upright formal vinyl roof, opera lamps, and trunk. En vogue was a sporty fastback profile and a strut-supported liftgate. Attainable and economic sporty driving is the name of the game, and our front-drive trio was right in the heat of things in 1994.

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Toyota Wouldn't Dream of Ditching Passenger Cars, Has Fingers Crossed It Can Woo Ford Buyers

While fewer competing models in a given segment stands to benefit any automaker left in that realm, Toyota isn’t sure just how loyal Ford car owners are to the Blue Oval brand.

Behind the scenes, there’s surely much licking of chops, but Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz wasn’t forthcoming with conquest predictions when he talked with Automotive News TV this week. One thing was clear, however. Toyota will remain a full-line brand for the foreseeable future, and the automaker stands to field a more car-heavy product mix for some time to come. And it’s just fine with that.

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Trimming the Range: Toyota Adding Base LE Trim to C-HR

Like ‘em or not, compact crossovers are here to stay — and are in fact set to become the sole opening dish at the Blue Oval. Toyota has its own stable of mini-utes, including the alarmingly styled C-HR, a machine that currently sets an opening bid of $22,500 as its base sticker price.

Seeing potential opportunity to plumb a bit further into the market, it appears that Toyota is adding a cheaper model for 2019, one which explores the $20,000 price bracket.

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2018 Toyota Camry XLE - Jack of All Trades

Complete the last part of the phrase in the headline up there. Yeah, it’s “master of none.” Thing is, that doesn’t apply to the 2018 Toyota Camry – it really is a jack of all trades, and it even masters at least some.

Fight it we might, but most automotive journalists, or at least most of us who grew up as enthusiasts, have biases. One of mine has been to rag on the Camry, dismissing it like so many others as a boring and beige (figuratively, not literally) commuter sleigh.

Toyota was listening, and every generation got a bit better, even if the driving dynamics part of the equation was still lacking compared to some of the competition.

Well, now that part is finally on par.

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Time to Retool: Toyota to Dump a Billion Loonies Into Ontario's RAV4 Plants

Toyota Motor Corp. is upgrading plants in Ontario to ready them for the next generation of the RAV4. The investment goes toward the retooling of two separate assembly lines at an estimated cost of one billion Canadian dollars (or roughly $780 million USD). While Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Woodstock will continue building the standard version of the crossover, TMMC Cambridge will handle the hybridized variant.

As a result, assembly of the Toyota Corolla will be moved out of Ontario and into Alabama, where the automaker is building a new facility via it’s recent partnership with Mazda. A portion of the funds going toward the project will also be reserved for research and development within the province.

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Cross-border Agreement: Midsize Truck Buyers on Both Sides of the 49th Parallel Seem Equally Enamored With One Model

One country waves the stars and stripes; the other, a big, red maple leaf. One calls those rain catchment thingies gutters, the other (or at least parts of it) insists on calling them eavestroughs. The differences are vast.

Despite their cultural and regulatory peculiarities, both Americans and Canadians seem to agree that the Toyota Tacoma‘s sales should only ever go in an upward direction. So far this year, buyers on both sides of the border provided nearly identical sales growth for the midsize pickup.

It’s a good thing Toyota worked out its production constraints.

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2016 Toyota 4Runner SR5 Reader Review - Purpose Built for the Boonies

The old mining track descends from the shattered and tilted tablelands toward an imposing palisade of Wingate sandstone running to the horizon in each direction. This is one of the more dramatic and violent geologic upheavals on the Colorado Plateau and the road across it isn’t kind.

Sunbaked boom-time miners once hacked out jeep tracks across this wilderness, scouring for uranium to feed America’s nuclear frenzy. Only a few made it big, but if there ever was a more intriguing landscape in which to lose your mind seeking fortune, I’d like to see it. We’re here for lighter reasons, though, blithely rolling over rocks and ruts that would have halted most CUVs miles before, dropping into steep wash crossings that would stub the long front overhang of an Outback, and confidently inching up a stepped bedrock shelf that would trouble the long wheelbase of a full-size pickup.

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Two Large Front-drive Cars Buck the Sales Trend

April wasn’t a hot month for auto sales, what with two less selling days than the same period last year. Overall, the industry was down nearly 5 percent last month, with — in many cases — only the hottest-selling models, many of them recently revamped SUVs, posting a net gain.

April held some surprises, though, and one had to do with a pair of vehicles that should be on their way to the funeral home. That is, if all automakers acted on what they saw in the tea leaves. Certain automakers, Toyota and Kia among them, aren’t quite as eager to hop onto the all-crossovers-and-trucks bandwagon. Because of this, there’s still choice for someone looking for a large, front-wheel-drive sedan with plenty of content, but not luxury vehicle levels of it.

These people actually exist, albeit in ever smaller numbers. And these people apparently like what they see in two particular models.

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2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback First Drive - Doing It Right the Second Time

Toyota’s Corolla iM was an orphan almost from birth. Conceived by Scion, the compact hatchback joined the Toyota clan after its youth-focused parent brand took an eternal dirt nap.

Despite styling that bordered on edgy, the iM failed to elevate drivers’ enthusiasm to a point where its sales numbers played much of a role in the Corolla nameplate’s popularity. Testing revealed a five-door hatch that, while versatile, severely lacked in both power and comfort.

Simply put, it wasn’t very special. At all.

That all changes for 2019, as Toyota’s making amends for its weak earlier effort. With its new Corolla hatch (the iM name disappears, erasing the last trace of Scion from the automotive landscape), the automaker hoped to create a car owners might actually want to toss around — and one they can drive without going nuts finding a proper driving position.

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Rare Rides: The Toyota Origin - Vintage Luxury and Suicide Doors From 2001

Sometimes an automaker goes out on a limb and gives consumers what they say they want. Toyota attempted to appease Internet Car Enthusiasts with the GT86, though it didn’t really work. A few years before that sporty coupe debuted, the company tried to woo the traditional sedan consumer with a very special, limited-production model for the Japanese domestic market.

Presenting Origin, by Toyota.

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Toyota Spending Money in the U.S. On a Conventional Passenger Car

Those fools — don’t they know the Corolla sold *just* 329,196 examples in the United States last year?

Alright, not everything has to be about Ford. But as the Blue Oval plans a retreat from the affordable passenger car market, other automakers stand to gain the company’s lost customers. Some of them, anyway. And Toyota seems to have no qualms about continuing to sell small, affordable cars that bring buyers into the showroom — so much so, that it’s spending $170 million to bring more jobs (and a new Corolla) to Mississippi.

In the context of this week’s news, the Corolla’s factory retooling and platform swap makes one marvel at what name recognition and a simple bodystyle can do for a model.

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2019 Toyota Avalon First Drive - One Step Forward and Back

Years fade into the past, but the public’s thirst for high-riding, do-everything vehicles never seems to ebb. In light of this seismic shift, the Toyota Avalon’s continued presence at the top of the brand’s model line increasingly comes across as mysterious. Perhaps it shouldn’t be.

Introduced for the 1995 model year, the front-drive full-sizer always stayed true to itself — dressed in conservative clothing, it boasted a comfy, roomy cabin, ample V6 power, old-school Toyota dependability, and little chance of drama. If flashiness or cargo volume wasn’t your thing, who could ask for more?

In its recent study of America’s longest lasting vehicles, iSeeCars.com discovered the Avalon was the passenger car most likely to see 200,000 miles. Treat it right, and it’ll outlast multiple owners.

There’s a problem, though, in the fact that fewer and fewer buyers visit Toyota showrooms in search of a large sedan. Avalon sales declined each year following the model’s 2013 post-recession sales peak. Clearly, a change is in order. In crafting its next-generation Avalon, Toyota sought to create a model capable of wooing loyal, returning customers and — for the first time, it seems — younger buyers.

The trouble is, by messing with a formula that worked well for two decades, you risk alienating both groups.

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QOTD: Are We Going to Get a New Lexus SC300?

Yesterday, Matt Posky penned an article about the upcoming Toyota Supra, which will resurrect the sporty and historical nameplate from the slumber its had since all the way back in 1996.

I think we should spend some time today speculating on what other plans Toyota might have for their new, German-influenced sports coupe.

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2017 Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum Review – The Family Truckster, Updated

It’s as if John Hughes and George Barris envisioned the coming swarm of SUVs and crossovers in the early Eighties. Why else would they name the metal-and-DiNoc star of National Lampoon’s Vacation a “Truckster,” when quite clearly the Country Squire-based behemoth in no way resembled a truck? Fast forward thirty-five years, and the default family-unit transport device is indeed something that is truck-like. Just from the top three brands, nearly three-quarters of a million three-row crossovers rolled off dealer lots last year alone. Beneath those butch facades lies a plush, roomy station wagon on stilts.

No stranger to high-volume family cars, Toyota has consistently placed near the top of the sales charts in the three-row crossover segment. The 2017 Toyota Highlander Limited is an incredibly popular choice for those who need plenty of space for cargo, human or otherwise, and for those who have embraced the crossover lifestyle.

Try as I might, I’ve not been able to use Toyota’s online configurator to option the Highlander with faux wood paneling.

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So Long, Pikachu? Toyota Prius' Adventurous Styling Due for a Toning Down

I’ll never forget gazing at the latest iteration of the Toyota Prius for the first time. Much hand waving ensued, along with words to the effect of, “No, this is all wrong.”

Styling is subjective, but as hybrid and electric vehicles enter the mainstream, designers haven’t exactly copied the space-age looks of the fourth-generation Prius. In fact, in a bid to avoid scaring off customers, automakers have charted a course for the safe and non-threatening.

That leaves the Prius as the odd man out — a model enamored with triangular shapes that eyes the Hyundai Ioniq, new Nissan Leaf, and upcoming Honda Insight with worry.

It’s makeover time!

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Toyota and Subaru Might Actually Be Working on a New 86/BRZ Sports Coupe

It was only a few weeks ago that we told everyone a turbocharged Toyobaru would never happen. Chief engineer Tetsuya Tada said Toyota had built the car it wanted and any manner of forced induction would spoil the recipe, necessitating an entirely new platform. Meanwhile, fans of the 86 have been clamoring for more power like they all suddenly transformed into Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor. Well, they’re all about to utter a resounding uuuuaaagh?!, as the two companies may be starting work on new generation — this one with the brawny might they crave.

Rumored for production at Subaru’s assembly plant in Japan’s Gunma Prefecture, the next 86/BRZ is expected to get an uptick in displacement. So what will supposedly replace the naturally aspirated 2.0-liter?

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Toyota Wants More Dudes Buying the RAV4, Along With Everyone Else

The RAV4 has quickly become Toyota’s most important vehicle. While the Corolla still trumps it in overall global volume, the small crossover has made a ridiculous amount of headway over the past decade. Prior to the recession, domestic sales of the RAV4 just barely surpassed 70,000 units per year. Then, after the introduction of the model’s third generation in 2006, volume suddenly doubled — progressing to 2017’s all-time high of 407,594 deliveries.

Still, Toyota thinks it can further broaden the model’s appeal. It wants to see more men behind the wheel of the redesigned 2019 model that debuted at the New York International Auto Show last week. The recipe involves a more butch design, added power, an upgraded all-wheel drive system, and new trim levels giving a nod to sporting aspirations. Meanwhile, an updated interior provides more space for manspreading and big rubbery knobs some gentleman find totally irresistible.

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Rare Rides: A Toyota Pickup From 1983, Extra Clean and Rust Free

The Rare Rides series has had a couple of bouts with ancient, excellent condition Toyotas in the Tercel Wagon and 4Runner. Today, we have a look at a little orange truck which pre-dates either of those.

It’s a Pickup, from way back in 1983.

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Toyota Discovers Bigger Pistons Aren't Better, Issues Camry Recall

It’s 11:40 a.m. Do you know how large your Camry’s pistons are?

Odds are you don’t, and Toyota isn’t sure it knows, either. That’s why the automaker has issued a small but relatively unusual recall for 1,730 Camrys from the 2018 model year. The issue lies with the installation of pistons built to an incorrect specification.

Essentially, they’re too big for their britches.

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2019 Toyota RAV4: From Cute Ute to This

While the fourth generation of Toyota’s RAV4 contained a touch of menace, the model has always been an easygoing compact utility vehicle. When it hit North America in 1995, it didn’t have a lot of competition. General Motors’ collaboration with Suzuki resulted in a bevy of micro SUVs that weren’t spacious or comfortable enough to compete with Toyota’s compact crossover. Likewise, a lot of consumers found it made more sense to purchase something that was more capable on pavement than off-road, and the Corolla-based ute definitely fit the bill.

Two decades later and the RAV4 now has more than its fair share of competition, yet remains totally relevant. In fact, it spent most of 2017 beating the snot out of the Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue to retake its place as America’s best-selling small SUV — a miraculous feat considering the current generation has been around since 2012.

While Toyota could probably keep selling them unchanged at ludicrously high volumes for another two years, the time has come for a redesign. The automaker absolutely has to hit a home run; the RAV4 is Camry levels of important at this point. It may not have the sedan’s history, but it has the numbers — and with the crossover craze stronger than ever, it absolutely has to be a unmitigated success.

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2019 Toyota Yaris Sedan: So Long, Scion, Part 2

With Monday’s announcement of a refreshed 2019 Yaris sedan comes the last shovelful of dirt heaped on Scion’s grave. Toyota has an updated version of the subcompact four-door ready for an official unveiling at this week’s New York International Auto Show, but don’t go looking for that tell-tale “iA” model nameplate. It’s gone.

The complicated history of Toyota’s smallest sedan begins with the automaker’s defunct youth brand, Scion. As the brand grew more confused (and mainstream), Toyota borrowed the recently introduced second-generation Mazda 2 sedan, slapped a Scion badge on it, and rolled out the iA. Mazda had second thoughts about offering the car in this market, making the iA and the CX-3 the only domestic adopters of the car’s platform.

For Scion, grafting a large, unusual grille onto the wee car proved sufficient in de-KODO-ifying the model. During the inaugural 2016 model year, however, Toyota grimly loaded a single round into its shotgun, took the Scion brand behind the barn, and did what it had to do. The two newest Scion models — iA and iM — kept their model names and took up residence in the Yaris and Corolla lineups for 2017, adopting their sibling’s name as a prefix (despite not sharing the same architecture).

Now, both models enter 2019 free of vestigial Scion badging.

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Dealers Expect Toyota to Come Through With New Crossover Models

While Toyota already boasts a well fleshed out utility lineup, it seems everyone agrees there’s more money to be made in the middle. By that, we mean the juicy sweet spot spanning roughly the compact to midsize segments, where sales potential is the greatest.

Toyota has already suggested there’s another model to come, but we now hear that dealers — the best gauge of buyers’ desires — fully expect the automaker to follow through. And not just with a single model.

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2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback: So Long, Scion

We can put any speculation that Toyota wants to cull its five-door Corolla iM to rest right now. The automaker has revealed an all-new 2019 model ahead of its official debut at next week’s New York International Auto Show, but with a new body and platform comes a slight name change.

The last vestiges of the defunct Scion brand, under which the iM was born in 2015, is now gone. Thus, the Corolla iM becomes simply the Corolla Hatchback. With this model, based on the European-market Auris, Toyota attempts to correct a couple of its predecessor’s glaring flaws.

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2018 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid - Acknowledge Your True Nature

“When the mind houses two personalities, there’s always a conflict. A battle.”

So says the psychiatrist in the third-last scene of Psycho in an attempt to explain the curious behaviour of an odd motel proprietor. It’s an age-old internal conflict depicted time and again in novels and film — Norman and Mother, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Golyadkin Sr. and Golyadkin Jr. in Dostoevsky’s The Double, that Black Swan girl — and it’s perfectly embodied by the sportier of the “green” Toyota Camrys.

In SE Hybrid guise, America’s best-selling midsize sedan tries to be two things. At its core, it’s a competent, mature sedan, endowed with all the attributes needed to make it a first pick among car buyers. But it’s also conflicted, pressured to be something it’s not.

If these past stories tell us anything, it’s that the dominant personality always wins.

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Rare Rides: The 1979 Nissan President, an Executive Luxury Brougham

This week has unintentionally been all about brougham here on the Rare Rides pages. Kicking things off was the Mercury Grand Monarch Ghia, followed by a Nissan Gloria in Brougham VIP guise. Broughams from America and Japan, displaying that brougham effect across the globe and across decades.

So let’s try another configuration: a 1970s top-tier brougham from Japan — the Nissan President.

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  • Norman Stansfield Why are leaf springs still a thing on this truck?
  • Syke The expected opening comments. Have had mine for two years now, the car has done exactly what I want out of it, and a little better. I'm quite happy with the car, haven't had to adjust my driving style or needs in the slightest, and . . . . oh, did a mention that I don't give a damn what today's price at the pump is?Probably going to go for a second one in the coming year, the wife's happy enough with mine that she's ready and willing to trade in the Nissan Kicks. Eventually, the not often used van will end up getting traded on a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, basically ensuring that we don't use gas for anything except the occasional long trip.And the motorcycles.
  • Bobbysirhan I've never found the Allegro appealing before, but a few years of EV rollouts make it seem downright desirable.
  • Scoutdude I know that dealership. Way back when my friend's grandfather was that Turner that owned the Chrysler Plymouth International dealer, in MacPherson. Of course the International was dropped when they didn't deem the Scout reason enough to keep the franchise. I moved from there in late 1978 so it is possible I saw this running around town way back when.
  • Lou_BC "Overpriced" is a misnomer. Arguably, if they are selling they are not overpriced. "Dealer mark-up above MSRP" is a mouthful but more accurate. Simple, don 't buy anything marked up. A computer will help you search the country. It's a PITA but doable.