The epic battle known as Honda Accord vs. Toyota Camry won’t end until we’re all sitting in the backseat of a driverless electric Ford shuttle bus, content in knowing we’re doing the right thing for society. Future cities, man.
Until then, there’s cars to sell, and nothing motivates buyers like price. As re-skinned and improved 2018 Honda Accord Hybrids head to dealer lots, the automaker has clearly staked itself out as the value green buy, slashing $4,505 from the previous model’s entry price. That puts the hybrid’s chief rival in an unenviable position. A base Camry hybrid now retails for considerably more, but, if overall sales numbers tell us anything, Toyota probably won’t break into a sweat after reading this news.
Toyota is updating the insanely popular RAV4 for the 2019 model year, which means it may be able to leave the shadow of the much newer Honda CR-V. That’s not a knock against Toyota, as the company offers a serviceable compact crossover that people seem to really love. In fact, the brand sold 407,594 RAV4s in the United States last year while Honda only moved 377,895 CR-Vs.
But the high-volume RAV4 is getting on in years. When Honda introduced the updated CR-V, the Toyota was already five years old and beginning to look a little dated. Fortunately, a fifth-generation model is being readied for the 2018 New York Auto Show. Toyota even issued a shadowy teaser image to whet our appetites.
While the shape doesn’t appear to be radically different from the current crossover, it’s much more SUV-like overall. Toyota is definitely moving the model’s styling in a new direction. Sadly, the backlit image obscures much of the vehicle’s finer features — making a detailed assessment next to impossible. Fortunately, we’ve utilized high-end photo manipulation software to boost the brightness and give you a better look at the upcoming RAV4.
Tetsuya Tada, chief engineer for the Toyota 86 and upcoming Supra, has finally stamped out the possibility of a from-the-factory turbocharged version of the Toyobaru coupe. That’s right, enthusiasts, the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are incapable of being turbocharged.
According to Tada, installing a turbo on the model’s 2.0-liter Boxer engines would require an entirely new platform. That’s odd, considering every reputable aftermarket company offers a turbo kit for it. Equally strange is the automaker’s total unwillingness to seriously entertain the idea of a turbocharged Toyobaru, even though it knew the public was clamoring for one.
“When we launched 86, I got literally millions of questions from around the world of ‘when would you be launching the turbo version?'” Tada said. “I believe that often times I answered that there won’t be a turbo version, and there were some articles in the media that Mr. Tada doesn’t like a turbo.”
The Toyota Corolla iM is a bit of a paradox. The bodywork suggests it could be a fun-loving hot hatch, but the illusion dissipates the second you climb into the driver’s seat. The engine seems sick, unfit for the task it has been given, and the ergonomics leave something to be desired. While it’s not really much worse than the Corolla sedan, and it is a serviceable daily commuter for those wanting something affordably efficient, it doesn’t seem up to par with Toyota’s usual fare.
With Scion dead and buried in North America and the Corolla sedan outselling the iM ten-to-one, we’ve wondered if Toyota would even bother keeping the hatchback around. But it looks like it will. The automaker previewed the new Auris hatchback — a European model nearly identical to the Toyota (formerly Scion) iM — in Geneva this week, offering strong hints that it will make its way westward.
Despite being off the market for 16 years, the Toyota Supra remains relevant as the brand’s most famous performance machine. That’s partially because the automaker never built a worthy successor but, even if it had, the Supra had already cemented its identity as an absolute monster before ending production in 2002.
You’ll find countless hours of footage where the model embarrasses high-end exotics in straight-line speed, usually thanks to heavy modifications. Likewise, its appearances in film and video games saw it coveted by automotive enthusiasts well before they learned how to drive.
That puts a lot of pressure on the automaker to deliver something that can live up to the hype; as a result, Toyota’s been very cagey on the Supra’s progress. However, we now have something resembling a production vehicle. The Toyota GR Supra Racing Concept is a hypothetical track version of the roadgoing fifth-generation model we’ve yet to see.
In the first van edition of Buy/Drive/Burn, we inquired which luxurious minivan from 1994 you’d relegate to each category. Using typical One Simple Trick methodology, I lured everyone in with a picture of the Previa (above). Then, when the Previa was not a choice in the transportation trio, you all doused me in Haterade.
Well, here you go. Import vans — including the Toyota Previa. Douse me in clicks!
The strange saga of the Scion brand ended in 2016, but there’s still two holdouts from Toyota’s foray into the funky youth market: the Corolla iM and the Mazda 2-based iA sedan.
Across the Atlantic, the iM carries the Auris name, and there’s a next-generation model scheduled for a public unveiling at next month’s Geneva Motor Show. If Toyota deems the current iM’s sales sufficient, this third-generation Auris will become your second-generation iM.
When the Picture Time post for the Villager Nautica went up on these pages last year, the idea for this particular edition of Buy/Drive/Burn was already on my mind. In fact, in the big list of trios I keep for this series, this one has always been at the top of the list.
The year is 1994, and you’ve got a luxury minivan to set alight.
The Rare Rides Pristine Vintage Toyota Precedent (RRPVTP) was set a few weeks ago, when we featured a Tercel 4WD Wagon. Then, Matthew Guy happened to present the redesigned 1990 Toyota 4Runner in his Ace of Base segment. This seemed a very timely coincidence, as a few days before we’d received a Rare Rides tip from commenter StephenT: a 4Runner of the first generation, lovingly maintained and for sale in Alabama.
You don’t see them like this very often.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says he expects the company to have its own autonomous cars within a year but, since the company doesn’t build cars, it needs to partner with one that does. Until now, the company has been in bed with Volvo Cars, previously stating its intention to purchase 24,000 self-driving XC90 SUVs from the brand between 2019 to 2021.
However, the relationship between the two firms isn’t exclusive or binding. That means Uber can still play the field, and may have already found a friend with benefits in Japan.
On Thursday, Khosrowshahi posted a photo on Twitter of himself laughing with Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda and Executive VP Shigeki Tomoyama at the automaker’s headquarters. “Having fun with Akio-San and Tomoyama-San @ToyotaMotorCorp HQ,” he wrote. “Great discussions about growing our #autonomous partnership and lessons 4 me in building a great culture. And yep, those are Ichiro [Suzuki’s] bats.”
It seems Toyota could be the side piece Uber is looking for.
If buyers really do plan to line up to buy electric vehicles, even before the government forces them to, automakers had best figure out a way to make them affordable not just to buy, but to build.
We all know battery packs are expensive (with ingredients clouded by child labor and environmental issues), but batteries are only part of the equation. While simple in operation, electric motors are nothing like the aluminum or iron affairs under the hood of your dad’s Buick Enclave. There’s a lot of metals you’ve never heard of in a permanent magnet AC motor.
Toyota, which wants to be an electric car bigshot, just figured out a way to make a cheaper motor.
A guest showed up at the apartment yesterday, ready and prepared for when things got hot. No, stop thinking that, you weirdos — it was my landlord. He was replacing my smoke detectors. God.
Nice guy, I should point out, certainly the best landlord I’ve ever had. Anyway, as tends to happen with this fellow, we got to talking about cars. Also per the norm, he found himself on the fence regarding a purchasing dilemma — one that’s no doubt familiar to many readers.
At the instant noodle end of the Toyota showroom, cars come in three flavors: Good, Better, and Mildly Spicy (L, LE, SE). Within these trims, few options are offered, unlike domestic truck manufacturers who very nearly allow their customers to order their rigs a la carte. Of course, there’s a lot more profit in trucks, so they’re worth the trouble.
The littlest Toyota, which definitely wins an award for Most Entertaining Windshield Wiper, is now packed to the gunwales compared to the cheap seats hawked by the manufacturer in past years.
January was a boffo sales month for Toyota in the United States, with the automaker posting a 16.8 percent year-over-year increase across both the Toyota and Lexus brands. Toyota brand sales rose 17 percent, to the luxury division’s 15 percent.
Don’t expect that kind of growth to continue, says Jack Hollis, Toyota North America’s general manager, as the industry still expects a slump in 2018. More important to Toyota than last month’s sales, however, is the type of vehicles Toyota buyers actually took home. In this case, brand loyalists added crossovers, SUVs, and trucks to their driveway in greater numbers than ever before.
The record set for Toyota light truck sales in the U.S. last month was exactly what the company was hoping for. Still, keeping that truck-buying momentum going is now job one.
There are few things sweeter in life than bragging to your friends and family about the good deal you just negotiated on a new car. They certainly won’t care, but the amount of self-satisfaction received from reminding yourself that you are a force to be reckoned with at the dealership is immeasurable.
Of course, the bargain in the driveway can turn into a money pit once you calculate all the costs associated with vehicle ownership. Fuel costs, financing, insurance, and depreciation can all add up — especially if you purchased the wrong model. So what’s a thrift-obsessed shopper to do, calculate the total cost of ownership on every model in every segment over a five-year period to determine which is the best value overall?
Don’t be ridiculous, someone has already done that.
It’s leg day at the Toyota Athletic Center. As the Chicago Auto Show kicks off, Toyota has changes in store for its off-road TRD Pro lineup that should help drivers of the brawniest Tacomas, Tundras, and 4Runners keep their sunglasses perched on their nose while blasting through an arroyo.
For the 2019 model year, the same 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass shocks found on the existing Tacoma TRD Pro make their way into the full-size Tundra and midsize 4Runner SUV, along with other suspension improvements. The net effect is a higher ride height and milder manners both on-road and off.
In the case of the Tacoma, going TRD Pro means you’ll never leave home without your snorkel.
Toyota not-so-subtly confirmed that the Tacoma TRD Pro will soon be available with a factory snorkel via a teaser photo on Tuesday. The automaker wants to remind everyone that new Toyota Racing Development 4×4 models will appear at the Chicago Auto Show later this week.
Mounted high enough for the Tacoma to drive through miles of bumper-deep volcanic ash or water without suffocating the engine, the snorkel showcases Toyota’s commitment to off-roading — or at least the associated trappings.
Time for the third entry into the sub-class of vehicles from the 1980s that I call Tall Import Wagons. The first was a light blue Nissan Stanza, known as “Multi” up north in Canada. Then, a similarly blue Colt Vista showed us what Dodge could do when it swapped the emblems on a Mitsubishi.
Today, a third competitor takes center stage: the Toyota Tercel 4WD wagon.
Toyota announced a recall of roughly 49,000 vehicles in the United States on Wednesday. Affected models include the 2016 Toyota Prius, the 2016 Lexus RX, and the 2015-2016 Lexus NX crossover. The safety issue involves the airbag systems that could fail due to an electrical problem.
Unlike the scary Takata recalls, the biggest danger here is the non-deployment of the front or side-curtain inflators. Toyota claims an open circuit could develop within the system’s sensor. If this were to occur, the airbag warning light should illuminate to indicate a failure.
Profitable as home water delivery in the desert, Toyota’s RAV4 compact crossover performs an increasingly important function in the division’s lineup. As passenger car sales fall, vehicles like the RAV4 compete in the most lucrative and hotly contested segment in the auto industry. Some 407,594 Americans took home a RAV4 last year. Five years earlier, that sales figure stood at 171,877.
Given the model’s impact on the company’s fortunes, messing with a good thing could be risky, just as standing still could lead to a drop-off in consumer interest. For the next-generation RAV4, due as a 2019 model, Toyota’s not playing it safe. The model pictured here goes in a styling direction we’ve seen before, though not on a production model.
I was 15 or so, basking in the heady scents of Armor-All, Windex, cheap suits, and desperation. Mom was waiting for the salesman to “check with the manager” as she negotiated for her second of six Corollas. I wandered off, as I typically did when presented with rows of shiny new cars.
You’d think I’d have gravitated to the Supra, or perhaps the Celica, considering my youth and love of motorsports. Nope. The brand new first-generation Tacoma 4×4 is what caught my eye that day. Taut lines and purposeful flares made it look so much more aggressive than the old nameless Toyota Truck. Not that I hated the classic HiLux – while other kids of my era gravitated toward the DeLorean in the Back To The Future series, I lusted after Marty’s black Xtracab 4×4.
It seems that every time I’m looking for a new vehicle, a Toyota truck ends up on my shortlist, but I’ve yet to pull the trigger. I’ve never really needed the capability of a traditional pickup, so I was interested in seeing how the modern midsize crew cab works as a family hauler. This 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Offroad appeared at my door just as I was doing my periodic rationalization of the current fleet. Can this minivan family live with a truck?
Three years ago, I stood in the Palais des congrès in Montreal as representatives from Mazda Canada introduced the next-generation Mazda 2, a model that never made it to either Canadian or American dealer lots. Well, not as a Mazda, anyway.
The 2015 Montreal International Auto Show debut of the KODO-ified little hatchback was hardly on the same level as, say, that of the next-gen Ram 1500 or Chevrolet Silverado or Ford Ranger we saw last week in Detroit. Still, the previous 2 endeared itself to buyers as a roomy, agile, and quirky little beast, and the redesigned model looked sharp. All good. Certainly, small cars weren’t nearly in as much danger from subcompact crossovers in 2015 as they are now.
So it was odd to see the model disappear from the future lineup on both sides of the border, only to return almost immediately as a Scion-badged sedan, the iA.
The one-car iA line, now sporting a Toyota badge, soldiers on alongside the existing three- and five-door Yaris — the Yaris that isn’t a Mazda — for the 2018 model year. But it’s in 2019 that things get confusing.
As we told you not too long ago, Toyota’s sticking with its traditional car lineup in the face of declining sales — clinging to it, really. How else could you explain not only the continued existence of the full-size Avalon sedan, but a wholly new generation of it?
That’s what we have here this morning in Detroit. The 2019 Avalon, the fifth-generation of a lineage dating back to the 1995 model year, is here. It’s longer, lower, wider, faster, thriftier, and plusher than before, while boasting enough technology to impress or confuse just about anyone who might find themselves behind the wheel.
Recall the days all those years ago (probably over a century for some of you), as the time approached for you to start driving. Some of you may have been prescribed a vehicle by the gift of a generous or perhaps spiteful relative. Others received a set stipend from the Bank of Parentus, while the rest worked at a low-end job to scrape up funds for an automotive purchase.
Today, we want to know what your aspirations were at the time; which vehicles did you desire and shop for as your first car?
Coke and Pepsi. Colt and Smith & Wesson. Bert and Ernie. Camry and Accord.
The greatest rivalries inspire both loyalty and loathing among fans on either sides of the fence, but there can be only one victor. In the automotive world, sales are the yardstick by which success is measured, as passion alone can’t keep a car model alive.
For the sedan segment, no rivalry is fiercer than that of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, both longstanding standouts in the midsize class. With both models taking a larger and larger share of the shrinking market, and having both received an extensive revamp for the 2018 model year, how did the two challengers perform in 2017?
With news of Mazda’s rotary engine development surfacing throughout the past year, we’ve been actively following its progress. Of course, die-hard rotary fans have been less enthused, as all information points to the powerplant continuing on as a gas-driven range extender for EVs — rather than the heart and soul of a high-performance coupe. It could still happen, but it’ll be a long wait.
The prognosis recently became more interesting, though enthusiasts aren’t likely to feel any better about it. Toyota is hinting that Mazda’s rotary could be the perfect solution to a concept vehicle it’s currently working on. Unfortunately, that unit is the e-Palette — an autonomous box riding atop the company’s new battery electric platform, with more applications as a mobile store than as a personal conveyance.
It looks like Alabama has won out over North Carolina in the battle to secure a massive, $1.6 billion joint assembly plant. The factory, a partnership between Toyota and Mazda (which, as of last summer, Toyota owns a 5 percent stake in), is reportedly headed to Huntsville, Alabama, and should give the smaller automaker the American capacity it needs to boost crossover sales.
Sources tell Reuters that company officials and government representatives will make an announcement today at the future factory site. Not only does the new plant herald lots of new jobs, it also means a new model.
Wanting to remind the world that it’s not as far behind in the race toward autonomy as some have claimed, the Toyota Research Institute intends to bring a Lexus LS 600hL equipped with its 3.0 autonomous research platform to CES next week. Toyota introduced the platform 2.0 last March — the first autonomous testing platform developed entirely by TRI.
Since then, the automaker has focused heavily on machine vision and machine learning, leaning on all the popular sensing equipment currently synonymous with autonomous technologies. As the system was designed specifically to improve over time, version 3.0 uses a Luminar LIDAR system with a 200-meter sensor range that covers a 360-degree perimeter of the vehicle. The testbed Lexus is also equipped with shorter-range sensors, which are placed low on all four sides of the vehicle and are meant to spot low-level and smaller objects.
The litmus test for defining a “proper” sports car has been a moving target ever since the first G.I. brought a rickety MG stateside, but the question has been argument fodder in bars and internet forums for nearly as long.
Some argued that the radical 1962 MGB wasn’t a sports car, due to its unibody construction and lack of folding windscreen. Others argued that the revolutionary 1963 Corvette wasn’t a sports car, as the coupe profile didn’t fit the roadster norm that had thus far defined Chevrolet’s fantastic plastic essence. Last year, McLaren sought to define a sports car with four characteristics which, by the miracles of marketing, eliminate basically every other car ever built, including some of its own.
One feature is particularly contentious: the manual transmission. For decades, “true” sports car enthusiasts eschewed anything with two pedals, as the act of manually selecting gears was surely essential to spirited driving. Yet a virtual stroll through the websites of most sports car makers shows a dearth of clutch pedals.
Surely the Toyota 86 would be an exception. It’s a real sports car, designed from a clean sheet with rear-wheel drive and compact packaging for supreme tossability. There’s no way it could be anything less than awful when burdened with an automatic transmission. Right?
Toyota, one of the original purveyors of hybrids, has recognized the need to juice its EV profile. Chevrolet, Nissan, and a bevy of other automakers already have an answer for customers looking to totally shun gas stations. Toyota does not.
The plan, unveiled Monday in Japan, calls for “more than ten” all-electric Toyota cars to be available worldwide by the early 2020s. This is quite a jump for a company that’s experienced in hybrids and PHEVs, but doesn’t currently offer a single example of EV technology here in America.
Taking stock of my leather- and suede-trimmed surroundings, the first thought to cross my mind after settling into the top-spec 2018 Toyota Tundra tester was, “I can think of an easy way to save $500.”
That’s the extra coin you’ll pony up for the 1794 Edition package Toyota Canada tacked on to this range-topping, root beer-colored pickup. (“Smoked Mesquite” for all you color swatch fans.) To my left and right, and even straight ahead, pale, butterscotch-colored leather sprung up on the dash and doors, complemented — if you can use that word — by faux woodgrain so shiny, you’d swear a shoulder check might reveal the presence of an opera window.
It’s 180 degrees from subtle, and perhaps the same distance from tasteful. Below my feet, embossed 1794 Edition floor mats called attention to the founding of JLC Ranch, home to Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas. Round brass studs glistened on either side of my shoes, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the base of a centerfire rifle cartridge.
My second thought, once America’s oldest full-size pickup got underway, was: “Haven’t these buyers ever visited a Ford dealer?”
The Toyota 86 and its Subaru BRZ twin don’t get a lot of respect in a world where Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge offer horsepower levels nearing infinity, but we’ll probably miss them when they’re gone. Rear-drive two-doors on the low end of the price scale are a very rare breed these days.
After last year’s Special Edition 86, Toyota’s uncharacteristically youthful sporting model undergoes further changes for 2018, this time offering up a GT variant that sounds fearful, but is actually anything but.
This morning’s Question of the Day was all about all-wheel drive and which models could stand a dose of four-wheel traction. So far, no one’s talking about the Nissan Versa Note.
Nissan, however, is more than happy to talk about the fact that its upcoming Kicks subcompact crossover will arrive with power relegated only to the front wheels. Hardly a brawny setup for a high-riding vehicle, but the automaker doesn’t seem to care much about the buyers it might be leaving behind. Toyota, on the other hand, harbors lingering regrets over its entry in the B-segment class, the C-HR.
A quick glance of the North American automotive landscape reveals an environment not too welcoming for traditional passenger cars. Actually, it’s beyond unfriendly. The public’s desire for crossovers, crossovers, crossovers makes the market as hospitable to large sedans as Pripyat, Ukraine, is to human life.
Nevertheless, Toyota’s unyielding desire for a full-size flagship sedan means the Avalon — a solid, safe, conservative model launched for the 1995 model year — will live to see another generation. And, judging by a teaser image released by the automaker on Friday, the 2019 Avalon is dressed to impress.
It might be the model’s last chance to make an impression.
What’s stopping Toyota from fielding more than one vehicle in a single class? Answer: absolutely nothing, assuming there’s sales to be had.
After unveiling three crossover concepts over the course of the calendar year, the automaker, not unsurprisingly, now says it’s going to go ahead and build one. Sure, the body might revert to something a little less showy, but the decision means Toyota diehards will soon gain more choice — and the opportunity to pass over a vehicle many reviewers find lacking.
In a shrinking segment increasingly dominated by two longstanding nameplates, the battle for sales supremacy is quickly resembling a U.S. election. Two main players, plus a handful of also-rans. (In Europe, this would be a very different — and probably quite confusing — affair.)
For all players in the U.S. midsize sedan market, it’s really a battle to hold on to market share, to keep sales from sliding further, as more and more customers look elsewhere for family transportation. Two Japanese offerings, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, loom over all other challengers. In November, one of these nameplates began putting some serious distance between it and its main competitor.
Toyota Motor Corp. is shuffling its management team because it’s worried about the automotive industry’s uncertain future. The changes, announced this week in Tokyo, take effect at the start of the new year. Toyota wants to diversify its corporate leadership in order to handle the changing shape of car building and the growing role of “mobility.”
However, an argument can be made that the company might be browning its pants prematurely. While the current nature of the automotive industry appears to be evolving into something else, it won’t happen overnight. Still, company president Akio Toyoda talks of the shifting winds as if someone has placed a gun to his head.
“Over the next 100 years, there is no guarantee that automobile manufacturers will continue to play leading roles in mobility,” Toyoda explained. “A crucial battle has begun — not one about winning or losing, but one about surviving or dying.”
Toyota pulled the wraps off its FT-AC Concept at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show today.
Its full name is Future Toyota Adventure Concept, but whatever you call it, this concept is ready for trail duty. Or at least, it looks the part.
As per usual with concepts, details on specs are light. The press release mentions 20-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, fog lamps, LED headlights, infrared cameras mounted on the mirrors that can record off-road driving exploits and in-car Wi-Fi that can be used to broadcast the footage. There’s also a roof rack with rear-facing LED lights that can be controlled from the cabin, and a hideaway integrated bike rack.
The Toyota Sprinter Carib was sold as the Tercel Wagon in North America for the 1983 through 1987 model years, and most examples rolling out of American showrooms came with the more fuel-efficient front-wheel-drive setup. However, the four-wheel-drive Tercel Wagons held their value for decades after the front-wheel-drive ones depreciated into oblivion and were crushed, and thus I don’t see many of the latter type in wrecking yards these days.
Here’s a now-rare FWD ’86 that held on past age 30, spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard.
Okay, the “V” stood for “versatility,” but the largest Toyota Prius family member’s obvious usefulness hasn’t earned it a lasting place in the American automotive landscape. After arriving for the 2012 model year, the lengthened hybrid, which boasted 50 percent more interior volume than its Prius sibling, will disappear from the U.S. after 2017.
Early sales of the Prius V significantly bolstered the volume of the hybrid family, which also includes the Vrtucar-approved Prius C. However, the model’s first full year of sales proved to be the V’s high water mark. Sales declined each year thereafter, and much of the blame rests on another vehicle in the Toyota showroom.
If you haven’t already put off your regularly scheduled sleep tonight in anticipation of Tesla’s big ol’ semi, there’s a new reason to get excited. The third concept utility vehicle to emerge from Toyota’s fevered brain this year is here. Well, sort of.
As usual, we’ve been presented with a teaser shot. Get a load of these headlights! LEDs everywhere — even on the roof. And what a set of jutting wheel arches. Are they designed to scoop up would-be buyers?
So, the FT-AC (Future Toyota Adventure Concept) makes three. Three concept vehicles, each one brawnier than the last, one of which might be just the ticket for luring in those urban millennials with great jobs and husky dreams of outdoor shenanigans. Of course, that’s assuming Toyota is brave enough to build one.
Alabama and North Carolina are the final states left in the running for Toyota and Mazda’s $1.6 billion collaborative production venture. Tennessee, Texas and South Carolina are now out of the running but, as you know, there can only be one.
Which state is the smart money on? Your guess is as good as ours, but Toyota does already have an engine manufacturing plant in Huntsville, Alabama. It might make sense to keep things centrally located, especially if it NAFTA falls through and Toyota has to shift Corolla production back to Mexico and bring the Tacoma into the states. Of course, if that doesn’t happen, a factory closer to West Virginia and the little 2ZR-FE DOHC might be preferable.
U.S. sales of midsize cars plunged 16 percent to fewer than 130,000 units in October 2017, the lowest-volume month for the midsize sedan category since the winter doldrums of January.
For almost every player, from the forgotten Mazda 6 to the recently revamped Hyundai Sonata to the all-new Toyota Camry, there were fewer U.S. buyers in October 2017 than in October 2016. In most cases, far fewer. Hyundai Sonata volume plunged 49 percent, year-over-year, as Hyundai pulls away from daily rentals, clarifying just how little retail demand the Sonata truly musters. Double-digit percentage drops were also reported by the Kia Optima, Subaru Legacy, Volkswagen Passat, and Mazda 6.
But the sharp October tumble wasn’t reserved for each member of the midsize category. Newly launched this fall, U.S. sales of the 10th-generation 2018 Honda Accord predictably improved in October, driving Honda’s share of the segment up four points to 21 percent.
It’s a familiar story.
The first-generation Toyota RAV4 arrived on the market at the beginning of the compact crossover boom. While almost all first-generation models had four cylinders under the hood, there were exceptions. If you were fortunate enough to live in the People’s Republic of California, you could pony up for the electric version and show all your neighbors how conscientious you were. But that’s only part of the story.
The rise and fall of the RAV4 EV is an interesting historical aside, because it shows you exactly what corporate treachery can do.
So diverse are the trim levels available in a modern pickup truck, it wouldn’t be shocking to see automakers begin offering a “Scotsman” edition, complete with three-on-the-tree shifter, for buyers accustomed to eating beans out of a can. On the other end of the ladder, surely “Limited,” “Platinum,” and “Tungsten” fall short in the luxury trappings offered within their leather-trimmed cabins. Buyers clearly need a wood-panelled humidor for their stogies.
Suffice it to say that automakers are making the purchase of a pickup truck more appealing than ever, and in October, buyers did their duty. October 2017 was a boffo month for light truck sales, with every full-size truck line recording rising year-over-year sales in the United States. Unfortunately, but not all that unfortunately (according to accountants, anyway), buyers offered a raised middle finger to mid-size pickups sold by those same automakers.
Intended to be the best of both worlds, crossovers deliver the ruggedness of a sport utility vehicle with the handling characteristics of a sedan. At least, that’s the theory. In practice, we’ve often found them lukewarm — sacrificing the best traits of either segment to deliver something that can bridge the gap between them. If that’s what you’re looking for, then there isn’t much of a problem. But we’ve often thought you’d be better off in a hatchback or a more traditional SUV.
Crossovers do have a role to play, however. I find petite examples particularly adept at city duty. But there aren’t many crossovers offering driving excitement below the $40,000 mark, and none of them are particularly svelte. Toyota seems to understand our plight and, in continuing its attempt to rebrand itself as a bold automaker, decided to make something genuinely thrilling out of the ho-hum C-HR.
It’s called the “R-Tuned,” and the manufacturer claims it’s the quickest CUV ever to grace God’s green earth.
Even though it represents a small slice of the model’s overall volume, Toyota owes a lot to the hybrid version of its top-selling RAV4 compact crossover. Without it, the RAV4 wouldn’t actually be the United States’ top-selling compact crossover.
Through the end of September, Toyota sold 36,352 hybrid variants, pushing the RAV4 nameplate ahead of the Nissan Rogue/Rogue Sport family. Sales of the hybrid model are up 10 percent this year. Realizing it has a good thing on its hands, Toyota seems eager to get more RAV4 Hybrids into the hands of green-car shoppers looking for more room to go with their fuel economy.
The automaker is now planning a new entry-level trim for the 2018 RAV4 Hybrid.
With the aggressively styled LC 500 garnering most of the Lexus coupe headlines, what with its eight-cylinder engine and look-over-here sheetmetal, its RC stablemate often gets short shrift. Meanwhile, the more attainable Toyota 86 (formerly the Scion FR-S) seems to make headlines for not offering extra horsepower than for anything else.
America is not a forgiving place for coupes these days.
Still, which of these rear-drive Toyota-built coupes holds the most appeal to a buyer? The 86’s handling and youthful intentions aside, it’s arguably the RC, as Lexus’s coupe offers more interior room, horsepower, and clout. Even the base RC 200t, which becomes the RC 300 for 2018, brings a 241-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter to the table, handily besting the 86’s turboless 2.0.
Of course, it’s not really a fair comparison. The price gulf between the two models is quite significant. Or is it?
If only other automakers were as sensible and wise as Toyota. If those companies held Toyota’s Magic 8 Ball, conjuring up all the right answers in the little purple window, they wouldn’t be so hasty to embark on risky ventures.
That’s the view of Toyota’s executive vice president, who’s apparently feeling pretty pleased with himself and his company. Didier Leroy broke from the automaker’s staid, stay-the-course-and-don’t-ruffle-feathers attitude at the Tokyo Motor Show this week, describing his rivals’ faults at a dinner held on the show’s sidelines.
Plunge headlong into electric vehicles? Sure, make wild long-term promises to customers, Leroy said. Toyota doesn’t do that. It just hands you a real car when it’s ready. Oh, and those diesels everyone’s worried about? Toyota fell out of love with them long before the word “dieselgate” left anyone’s lips.
Toyota’s feeling its oats.
The only thing better than two plants producing North America’s hottest-selling midsize pickup is three plants churning them out. That’s a big part of Toyota’s plan to stay ahead of General Motors and future competitors like Ford in the small yet vital segment.
Despite making every effort over the past year to build more Tacomas at its Tijuana, Mexico, and San Antonio, Texas, assembly plants, those facilities are maxed out, leading to Toyota’s August decision to punt Corolla production (initially bound for a planned Guanajuato, Mexico, plant) to a new $1.6 billion U.S. facility in the near future.
On paper, the Guanajuato plant aimed to produce 200,000 Corollas per year. Well, those plans have changed. Toyota now says it will drop its investment in the plant from $1 billion to $700 million, with production capacity dropping by half. That still means 100,000 extra Tacomas for a hungry customer base.
Toyota is parading the TJ Cruiser concept around the Tokyo Motor Show, taking the public’s temperature on how it might be received as a production model. The vehicle itself is an amalgamation of a traditional sport utility vehicle and ultra-practical cargo van. With an emphasis of being simple, rugged, and sensible, it’s everything a specific subset of enthusiasts have been clamoring for.
We already hinted at our approval of the general idea with our own Tahoe Grande concept — a hypothetical model merging the dynamic features of Chevrolet’s Tahoe SUV and the unparalleled practicality of the family-friendly Dodge Caravan. It was pure sex and so is the Toyota TJ Cruiser, sagaciously speaking.
Like it or not, bias is always going to be a concern whenever consuming any sort of media. Efforts can be made to present fair and balanced reporting on any issue, but the problem is, quite simply, that news organizations are made up of people who hold their own opinions. The best way the reader/listener/viewer can navigate the bias is to know what those biases are, and account for them.
Let me be clear – I’m biased against the Prius. Nearly two decades of negative reinforcement about the Prius and Prius drivers have hardened a dislike of the little wedge that promises nothing but slow driving in the left lane. Minimal performance and a focus on fuel economy above nearly all else is foreign to those of us who truly enjoy driving.
Thus, I dreaded the arrival of this 2017 Toyota Prius Prime to my driveway, worrying that I might doze off from sheer boredom during my commute. When I saw the white paint applied to the vehicle’s sharply-angled flanks, I was further concerned about the appliance-like nature of this plug-in people hauler.
For five consecutive years between 2012 and 2016, the Honda CR-V has been America’s most popular utility vehicle.
In fact, the CR-V has topped America’s SUV/crossover sales charts in nine of the last 10 years, a streak of dominance that began in 2007.
It appears increasingly likely in 2017, however, that the Honda CR-V’s streak will be broken by the Toyota RAV4. Thanks to 20-percent year-over-year growth through the first three-quarters of 2017, the RAV4 leads the CR-V by more than 31,000 sales and the Nissan Rogue/Rogue Sport by more than 15,000 sales with scant time remaining for the RAV4’s rivals to make up the gap.
The difference maker? Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid.
Still glued to hydrogen as the fuel of the future, Toyota will unveil a new fuel cell concept at the Tokyo Motor Show that could be summarized as a mobile lounge. Existing somewhere between a crossover and minivan, the “Fine Comfort-Ride” concept vehicle underscores a more roomy and relaxing automotive future.
At 190 inches long and 77 inches wide, it isn’t a petite transport. However, that mass translates into a spacious cabin — with ample room for six — affixed with all the luxuries you’d want to see in the car of tomorrow. It has lavish swivel chairs, mood lighting, connectivity for each passenger, and windows that double as infotainment screens.
Unfortunately, it has the face of Droopy Dog. This may be the first time an automaker has molded a vehicle’s bodywork into jowls.
We’ve asked you before about the particular brand you’d resurrect if given the power to bring just one back from the dead. A different Question of the Day also inquired which models trumped the previous generation by bringing fresh ideas and improvements to the redesign.
Today, we follow similar lines and ask which model was killed off too soon; which vehicle deserved one more generation.
While we enjoy a concept car that isn’t set so far into the hypothetical future that it’s almost impossible to imagine the world in which it could exist, it’s also fun to see less-than-realistic designs emerge in a vehicle that is pure science fiction. Pursuing the latter mindset, Toyota has decided to expand upon the original Concept-i car with an entire series of “mobility vehicles” — each intended to help deliver a tomorrow where you are no longer required to walk.
Now part of a full lineup of experimental vehicles, Toyota views the Concept i-Ride and Concept i-Walk as supplementary modes of transportation for last January’s original four-seat concept. That vehicle debuted as more of a robotic friend than an traditional automobile. Toyota even went so far as to propose an artificial intelligence system that allowed the i-car to build a relationship with the driver that “feels meaningful and human.”
Today we step back in time over 50 years to check out a little beige truck. Imported across the sea, it fell right into the hands of a caring buyer — one who cautiously stepped away from the American pickup truck norm. What we have here is the very beginning of a Japanese manufacturer’s truck offerings in North America; a 66-horsepower genesis moment.
It’s a Toyota Stout, from 1966.
Toyota Motor Corporation is considering the possibility of cutting its home market product lineup by half.
Toyota currently markets more than 60 models in Japan, but there’s no expectation that the brand will suddenly cull its lineup to just 30 models by 2018. It will be a very long process, and it’s one that is likely to have minimal impact on the United States.
But which models are likely to go first? Perhaps one of the ten vans on offer.