If current marketplace trends hold, the Toyota Prius will not be America’s best-selling hybrid by next year.
The steep rate of decline experienced by the Prius in 2017 is no surprise. For one thing, it’s a continuation of the decline we saw earlier in the fourth-gen Prius’ tenure. For another, there are new Prius competitors, such as the Hyundai Ioniq and Toyota’s highly efficient 2018 Camry Hybrid. But the Prius’s rapid slide — sales are down by a third so far this year — is also what Toyota predicted at the turn of the calendar.
Yet even if the rate of Prius decline suddenly and unexpectedly slows, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which the Toyota Prius, long the dominant hybrid in America, holds onto its crown as the top seller for long.
The victor in 2018 will, however, almost certainly be a Toyota.
Today’s Question of the Day is the inverse of one I posited back in March of this year. At that time, we took your suggestions for current vehicle designs which you thought would stand the test of time.
It’s now time to cover the other side of the ugly coin; the vehicles on sale today which will become dated-looking quicker than all others.
There are a number of major consequences springboarding off the early August 2017 announcement that Toyota and Mazda would come together to build an assembly plant in Somewhere, United States.
First, Mazda production returns to the United States for the first time since the Mazda 6 left Flat Rock, Michigan, in 2012.
Second, the Toyota Corolla — produced now in Cambridge, Ontario, and Blue Springs, Mississippi — will be assembled in a second U.S. assembly plant.
Third, Toyota will acquire a 5-percent stake in Mazda, while Mazda returns the favor by claiming a 0.25-percent portion of Toyota.
And to the increasingly pickup-truck-conscious U.S. consumer, the most significant consequence of the Toyota-Mazda partnership will be more Toyota Tacomas. That’s right: more pickup trucks for America.
Toyota Motor Corp. is set to strike a deal to take a 5-percent stake in fellow Japanese automaker Mazda Motor Corp. The alliance includes the construction of a joint-venture $1.6 billion U.S. automotive plant and sharing EV technology — showing that Mazda hasn’t totally sworn off the idea of an electric car.
The two companies have been dating casually for a couple of years; Toyota sometimes uses Mazda’s Mexican factory to build compact cars, the two have fostered a love child (the Mazda 2-based Toyota Yaris iA), but this is the first time they’ve seriously considered moving in together. Toyota claimed the decision was about more than just a strategy to share technology, suggesting the automakers had genuine feelings for one another.
“The greatest fruit of our partnership with Mazda is that we have found a new partner who truly loves cars,” Toyota President Akio Toyoda said in a statement, “It has also sparked Toyota’s competitive spirit, increasing our sense of not wanting to be bested by Mazda. This is a partnership in which those who are passionate about cars will work together to make ever-better cars. It is also the realization of our desire to never let cars become commodities.”
Toyota Motor North America’s executive vice president for sales, Bob Carter, is not ready to rain down doom and gloom on the state of the U.S. auto market.
From Toyota’s perspective, even the July results — 2017’s seventh consecutive month of decline, and the worst decline yet — didn’t represent the end of the American auto industry as we know it. In fact, total Toyota/Lexus U.S. volume actually increased 4 percent despite a shorter sales month than in July 2016.
While aware of the overall climate, in which Toyota sales are down more than 2 percent this year, Toyota’s U.S. sales boss says he’s “energized,” according to Automotive News. “The industry is not at a pace where it was in 2016 — we didn’t expect it to be at the pace of 2016,” Carter says, “but it’s still very healthy.”
And not without good reason.
We learned early in July that many of the early 2018 Toyota Camrys available in Toyota’s U.S. showrooms wouldn’t be built in Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant.
Through June, not a single one of the 2016 and 2017 Camrys sold in America were imported. But all of the 2018 Toyota Camrys sold in July came across the Pacific from Japan.
Granted, most of the Camrys leaving Toyota showrooms are still old new Camrys, not new new Camrys.
Don't Go All Hybrid/Turbo/Electric/Fuel Cell Just Yet - Toyota V6 And V8 to Gain "Dynamic Force" Camry Engine Tech
Forget hybrids. Set aside, for this moment, plug-in hybrids as well. Ignore the EV hubbub and the pie-in-the-sky hydrogen fuel cells. While you’re at it, remove turbochargers and their accompanying displacement reductions from your memory, too.
The naturally aspirated internal combustion engine has legs. The proof is in the 2018 Toyota Camry’s 2.5-liter Dynamic Force four-cylinder. With no hybrid assist, no turbos, no cord that plugs into your garage wall, and no futuristic fuel source, the new Camry 2.5-liter produces 206 horsepower and hits 41 miles per gallon on the highway on regular 87 octane.
That’s 16-percent more power 24-percent more highway mpg than the 2017 Camry’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder. With improvements in conventional, naturally aspirated, gas-fired engines occurring in such leaps and bounds, it’s no wonder Toyota has bigger plans for the Dynamic Force blueprint.
Toyota, the company that came out with the Prius in the 1990s and decided it had perfected the electric car, may be looking regain its EV advantage by 2022. It’s not something you’d expect to hear, considering Japan’s largest automaker has lagged behind in terms of competitive electric development for the last few years.
While its hybrid program got the drop on the competition, it subsequently favored hydrogen fuel cells over purely electric vehicles as the next automotive epoch — creating a bit of an industrial dinosaur.
Fortunately, Toyota has no shortage of muscles to flex. Once news broke that Toyota was earnestly considering electric R&D, everyone speculated it would be competitive at roughly the same time as other automakers. Not so. On Tuesday, Japanese newspaper Chunichi Shimbun reported Toyota has quietly upped its game to surpass them.
It started last year. Toyota, in concert with upgrading the Prius C with Toyota Safety Sense C added a matte black bodykit to the lower portions of the 2017 Prius C.
But for 2018, the Toyota Prius C is a veritable off-roader — a Rubicon-rolling, 4×4 river-fording FJ Cruiser successor.
The 2018 Prius C’s black cladding reaches up and around the wheel arches, and that cladding is interrupted at the Prius C’s chin by skidplate-aping metallic accents, heaven forfend.
There are more than 40 brands offering 230-some nameplates in America today. Not a single one is a direct Land Cruiser competitor. So what is the Land Cruiser’s mission?
It’s not aimed at the towing crowd. A $50,000 full-size half-ton anything can tow more than the Land Cruiser’s 8,100 lbs. It’s not for hauling people. A Sequoia, or any other full-size SUV, offers more interior volume, with at least $20,000 left over. It’s not for brand snobs, as Toyota offers the nearly identical and vastly more popular Lexus LX for those people. And no, it’s not even for the radical off-road enthusiast. There are Wranglers, Tacomas, 4Runners, and Raptors with off-road capabilities to match the impressive Land Cruiser.
The market analysis justifying the Land Cruiser is contained somewhere deep inside Toyota’s North America’s product planning offices in Plano, Texas. But until a disgruntled employee or careless contractor leaks the file, we will simply need to speculate.
The Land Cruiser appeared in commercial quantities in the 1950’s and from there went on to earn its reputation for go-anywhere durability. I can personally attest to the utility and capability of the 70-Series Land Cruiser based on my time in a high-roof troopie that shrugged off poor driver decisions in Malawi (always check water crossings before going wheels wet) and baboons (there is a fine line between curiosity and malevolence). But today’s North American spec Land Cruiser originated with the J50, which bifurcated the Land Cruiser lineup back in 1967. Thereafter, the Land Cruiser badge would be placed on a growing range of light commercial vehicles (J20/30/40/70), as well as on easier to live with yet highly capable passenger-oriented SUVs (J50/60/80/90/120/150/100/200).
None of these products were designed for the North American market. And today’s Land Cruiser is no different. It receives minor adaptions to confirm to the peculiarities of our market. But at 112 inches, its wheelbase is four to 10 inches shorter than other full-size SUVs. And its width and overall length are likewise three-quarter size. Sure, it has Toyota’s 381 horsepower 5.7-liter gas V8 and a speedo that reads in mph, but these alterations hardly conceal a vehicle as close to African spec as you will find on a dealer lot in North America. This is one of the few unadulterated foreign market vehicles journalists and enthusiasts pine for.
The average Toyota dealer sells seven of these rigs annually.
As Toyota watches its RAV4 quickly climb sales charts, the Japanese behemoth estimates it will sell fewer copies of its new-for-2018 eighth-generation Camry than it has in six years.
According to Reuters, Toyota is targeting 30,000 monthly Camry sales in the U.S. once the 2018 model fully takes over. That’s 360,000 Camry sales per year, well below the 412,000-unit average Toyota has managed over the last half-decade; 7-percent below last year’s output.
Toyota considers the thought of overall midsize sedan demise “inconceivable” but is by no means blind to the segment’s evolution. Recent deaths, such as the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger, followed the disappearance of the Mitsubishi Galant, Suzuki Kizashi, and domestic nameplate removals, as well. Remember the Mercury Milan, Pontiac G6, and Saturn Aura?
But as the midsize segment struggles, Toyota looks down from its lofty perch and sees the odds increasingly turning in the Camry’s favor. “If other automakers left the sedan market to focus more on SUVs,” Camry chief engineer Masato Katsumata says, “that would be an opportunity to expand our market share of the segment.”
Stiffer structures, a lower center of gravity for improved handling, more shared components, and a 20-percent cost cut are all benefits of the Toyota New Global Architecture. Eventually, Toyota wants all of its front-wheel-drive vehicles to use TNGA as a starting point.
You first witnessed TNGA in the 2016 Toyota Prius, then in the 2018 Toyota C-HR, and most recently in the 2018 Toyota Camry that’s trickling into dealers now.
But beyond the ability to improve existing nameplates and spawn dramatically different new cars, TNGA is also intended to improve plant efficiency. Yet a massive shift at Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky assembly plant, detailed by Wards Auto, hasn’t yet resulted in the efficiency rewards.
“When we change over in the future with the Avalon, we’ll be able to pull that efficiency out of (the operation),” Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky president Wil James told Wards.
Ah yes, Avalon. How could we forget?
As all-new 2018 Toyota Camrys begin to trickle into Toyota’s U.S. dealers over the coming weeks, take a close look at the VIN.
It’s viewable through the windshield on the driver’s side. See that first number? It’s likely a 4, which means this Camry was built in Georgetown, Kentucky.
But there’s a chance that the VIN on the new 2018 Camry sitting on your local Toyota dealer’s lot doesn’t begin with a number at all.
You’re looking at the once-coveted J-VIN. Ooh la la.
When I poke through automotive graveyards in search of the rare and the interesting, I always take a look at late-1980s/early-1990s Toyota Camrys for the very rare All-Trac all-wheel-drive versions and extremely rare manual-transmission versions.
So rare that its existence in the wild is merely theoretical, however, is the V6-powered manual-transmission Camry… and I just found one in Denver. Let’s take a look!
If the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius are presented as solutions to cut greenhouse gas emissions, it may be a toss-up as to which one wins.
This is according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s fueleconomy.gov website, which lets consumers determine tailpipe plus upstream emission. The difference on a nationally averaged basis is negligible, while regional variations see one car or the other pulling ahead.
Minivans. They’re the ultimate family haulers: unpretentious, utilitarian, and usually ugly.
Minivans haven’t been slow in some time. A decade ago, the Honda Odyssey produced 244 horsepower and required fewer than nine seconds to accelerate from nought to 60 miles per hour, hardly the behavior of a contemporaneous Chevrolet Aveo.
But the rate at which minivans have been packing on the ponies and adding gear ratios has evolved quickly over the last year. The Chrysler Pacifica came first, producing horsepower similar to its Pentastar twin from Dodge but adding a handful of gears. 0-60 times dropped to 7.3 seconds.
That was nothing to sneeze at. At least until Toyota made the 2017 Sienna the most powerful van in the segment and linked its 3.5-liter V6 to an eight-speed automatic; at least until Honda launched the 2018 Honda Odyssey with 10 speeds and 280 horsepower. Now the numbers are staggering.
Toyota Truly Believes 2018 Camry Will Do For Midsize Sedans What Tacoma Did For Midsize Trucks; Kentucky Plant Employment At All-Time High
Excited at the prospect of an all-new midsize sedan despite a drastic decrease in demand for midsize sedans, Toyota is ramping up employment at the Camry’s assembly plant in Georgetown, Kentucky.
With 700 additional manufacturing workers helping to launch the 2018 Toyota Camry, employment at Toyota’s Kentucky facility grew to 8,000, more than at any point in the plant’s three-decade history.
Toyota also builds Avalons and Lexus ES350s in Georgetown. (The Venza, a former Georgetown wagon, is dead.) But it’s the Camry, especially this all-new 2018 Camry, that will bring glory to the Kentucky plant if glory can indeed be brought.
Jack Hollis, the Toyota division’s group vice president and general manager, strongly believes the Camry is the beginning of a pro-sedan wave in America. In an extended interview with Autoline, Hollis spoke highly of the 2018 Camry’s potential, and of the potential for the entire car sector once the Camry stimulates demand.
“I think you’re going to see the entire sedan market pick up,” Hollis told Autoline, before hedging only a bit. “We’ll see a year from now.”
Back in late May of this year, I inquired which modern automaker was the most daring. While I posited it could be Nissan or Volvo, many of you replied it was actually Dodge, followed by Kia and Mazda.
This week, let’s turn back the clock a couple of decades and see if all our answers require a bit of reworking. We’re off to everyone’s favorite car decade, the 1990s. Which automaker was most daring in the era of the neon and teal fanny pack? I’ll give you two specific model examples, much like I did before.
The third-generation Toyota Hilux pickup (called the “Toyota Truck” in the United States) was a legend of reliability and frugality well into our current century, and plenty of small motorhomes were built on its sturdy platform. You’ll still see them occasionally today, but the skin-crawling ickiness of tenth-owner RVs tends to mean the end comes quickly when they wear out. Here’s one that took nearly 40 years to reach that point, now residing in The Final Campground: a self-service wrecking yard near Denver.
Now that pickup trucks have graduated from the role of farm and construction site conveyance to family hauler, space and seating have become as important as bed length and payload capacity. Not surprisingly, regular cab pickups and even extended-cab models have become a scarce sight on local roads.
Ram, Toyota and General Motors have since turned their extended cab full-sizers into front-hinged, almost-crew-cab four-doors, leaving Ford and Nissan with the only clamshell layouts in the business. As for regular cabs, who even thinks of those? Not many. So few, in fact, that Toyota beancounters decided to drop the axe.
Yup, there’ll be no regular cab Tundra when the refreshed 2018 models arrive in late summer. Are you sad?
The 2018 Toyota Camry will be priced from $24,380, including delivery, when it goes on sale this summer — a $425 increase compared with the base 2017 Camry.
Riding on an evolution of the Prius and C-HR’s Toyota New Global Architecture, the 2018 Camry is an all-new design for the first time since the 2012 model year. Market positioning is key, even for a Camry that’s been America’s best-selling car for 15 consecutive years, as demand for midsize sedans is quickly falling and even Toyota is seeing greater interest in the RAV4 than the historically dominant Camry. With new competitors approaching from Honda and Nissan, Toyota isn’t fooling around with this hugely important launch.
All eighth-generation Camrys are equipped with an eight-speed automatic. There’s essentially no tangible weight increase. The Camry offers the most standard horsepower in the midsize segment, the optional 3.5-liter V6 now produces 301 horsepower, and all Camrys now include Toyota Safety Sense P with pedestrian detection, radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, and auto high beams.
Perhaps most notably, highway fuel economy jumps all the way to 41 miles per gallon; above 50 mpg for Camry Hybrids.
Five Years on, Scion FR-S/Toyota 86 Has Few Buyers Left, But Still There's a Comparison Test Win up Its Sleeve
Five years have passed since the Scion FR-S — known elsewhere as the Toyota GT86 and known now in America as the Toyota 86 (and at Subaru as the BRZ) — arrived in America. Buyers, never particularly numerous to begin with, are few and far between. Toyota now sells 62 percent fewer Toyota 86s in America than the Scion FR-S managed during its first year.
You expect to see sports cars peak early and then gradually fade. The degree to which the Toyota 86 née Scion FR-S has faded, however, has been more than a little striking. FR-S/86 sales have fallen so far, so fast, that U.S. car buyers are now ten times more likely to acquire a new Chevrolet Camaro, three times more likely to acquire a new Volkswagen Golf GTI, and twice as likely to acquire a new Mazda MX-5.
But is the Toyota 86 deserving of such rejection? Not according to a just-completed CAR Magazine comparison test in which the five-year-old Toyota claimed victory — ahead of the Mazda MX-5 RF and BMW 2 Series.
After a Dreadful Start, 2017's Second Half Is the Minivan's Time To Shine - but Can the Segment Recover?
The 2018 Honda Odyssey went on sale three weeks ago. The Chrysler Pacifica has only been on the market for a year. The Toyota Sienna will enjoy another refresh for the 2018 model year.
If ever there was a time in which America’s minivan segment needs to shine, the second-half of 2017 is it.
Minivan sales tumbled 14 percent, year-over-year, through the first five months of 2017. Only 3 percent of the auto industry’s volume is now minivan-derived. Year-over-year volume decreased in nine consecutive months between August 2016 and April 2017.
There are far fewer competitors now than there were a decade ago. Therefore, the minivan market doesn’t need to produce the sort of volume it did a decade ago. However, minivan sales can’t continue to plummet, month after month after month.
Minivan sales need to rise. If they can’t do so now, then when? And if the segment can’t do it with fresh product from Chrysler, Honda, and Toyota, then who can supply the growth?
The all-new 2018 Toyota Camry’s new 2.5-liter four-cylinder base engine generates 203 horsepower in the entry-level model, 206 horsepower in the 2018 Camry XSE.
This means the eighth-generation Camry offers the most standard horsepower of any car in America’s midsize segment, at least for the time being.
We know not yet what the 2018 Honda Accord will bring. Honda released some engine details last Friday, including information that reveals the death of the Accord’s V6 and future reliance on the 1.5-liter turbo from the Civic and CR-V — as well as the 2.0-liter turbo from the Civic Type R. But we don’t know how much power Honda, notoriously not a participant in any horsepower war, will allow the Accord’s basic 1.5T to produce.
Meanwhile, the Camry’s upgrade engine continues to be a 3.5-liter V6, and Toyota’s gone and done the right thing with that powerplant, too. Moar powah.
The Toyota MR2 has always been a somewhat rare Junkyard Find, partly because not many were sold in the first place, and partly because the surviving examples tend to be cherished by MR2 enthusiasts. Here’s a solid ’86 that showed up in a Denver self-service wrecking yard a couple of weeks back.
“Stepping up to a midsize is basically a no-brainer for buyers at this point,” CarsDirect’s senior price analyst Alex Bernstein tells TTAC.
With demand for midsize sedans drying up, deals on aging models are warming up.
Now in its sixth model year, the 2017 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T S — the entry-level Passat — is available in June for a 36-month lease at $189 per month and $1,999 due at signing.
The 2017 Honda Accord, a new version of which is due later this year, is also available in June in basic LX trim on the same terms.
Meanwhile, the mid-grade 2017 Toyota Camry SE 2.5, set to be replaced in the coming months by an all-new model, is likewise available in June for $189 per month with $1,999 down over 36 months.
“This is about as cheap as lease deals have ever been on these midsize sedans,” Bernstein says. But it actually gets even cheaper, marginally cheaper, according to CarsDirect’s examination of 500 lease deals.
Forget, if only for the next few minutes, the way it looks. You may hate it, you may love it. But don’t let your interpretation of the 2018 Toyota C-HR’s exterior angles cloud your judgement.
While you’re at it, set aside class designations, as well. Whether you, like me, consider the 2018 Toyota C-HR to be unqualified for “crossover” status because it’s missing all-wheel-drive availability, the C-HR is still positioned as a rival for front-wheel-drive HR-Vs, Renegades, Encores, and CX-3s, among others.
The Toyota C-HR was initially intended to form part of the Scion lineup in North America, but with that brand’s demise, Toyota wisely moved the C-HR into its own lineup. Slotted below the Toyota RAV4 with dimensions that all but mirror the old Toyota Matrix, the 2018 Toyota C-HR is a $23,495-25,435 hatchback that’s garnered more attention during its stay with me than any vehicle I’ve ever tested.
To my surprise, almost all of that attention was positive. But is the Toyota C-HR worthy of such attention?
The 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure Is No Niche Market Special Edition - It'll Be More Popular Than Most SUVs
In late 2015, Toyota revealed that the automaker’s increasingly popular RAV4 would be increasingly leaned upon for major U.S. sales volume.
As of five years ago, Toyota USA had never sold more than 200,000 RAV4s on an annual basis. Toyota didn’t touch the 300,000 marker until 2015.
But the goal set in 2015 was loftier: 400,000 U.S. sales of the RAV4 in 2018. An SE trim level helped. Then the RAV4 Hybrid became a real success. Toyota sold 352,154 RAV4s in 2016 and is on track for 380,000 sales in 2017.
What will put the Toyota RAV4 over the hump?
If all goes according to plan, the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure that goes on sale in September won’t be a mere oddball offshoot.
Yes, we’re talking #brands, because brand value is a point of pride for all companies, not just automakers. In the latest ranking of brand value, it seems Toyota needn’t worry about losing its lofty perch among automakers.
For the fourth year, the Japanese automaker beat out all other car companies in the 2017 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking published by market research company Kantar Millward Brown. Valued at $28.66 billion, Toyota sits in the 30th spot, one notch above Walmart. That’s two spots lower than last year’s rankings, something Toyota can blame on increase costs and a weak yen.
The ranking also contains good news for Ford and troubling news for BMW.
Making its way around the internet lately is this photo of a Toyota Prius, tastefully modified by its present owner. Dancing boldly across the side of the hybrid is the iconic 1990s teal and purple Solo Cup theme. This jazzy decal is well known to anyone who has drank a beverage between 1992 and now.
We need to have a candid discussion about flying cars. Automobiles and airplanes entered into the mainstream around the same time, and we’ve talked about combining them into a singular platform ever since. While nobody has successfully pulled it off, we keep acting like the technology is right around the corner. The closest we’ve gotten are the Terrafugia Transition and Pal-V One. However, both of those products make major on-road sacrifices, undergo a pre-flight metamorphosis, and require regular access to a runway. They’re still not representative of anything we’d consider a real car.
Lack of success hasn’t stopped automakers from dabbling in the field of aviation. Toyota has purchased Cartivator Resource Management in the hopes that its “flying car” expertise will yield a vehicle capable of lighting the torch at the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo. Still, based on the firm’s progress to date, we can only imagine the attempt ending in a globally broadcast fiery disaster.
People want to talk to me about the 2018 Toyota C-HR.
Since I took possession of a Toyota Canada-supplied C-HR last Friday, more people have approached me to discuss the C-HR than any other car I’ve ever had the pleasure or displeasure of testing.
Naturally, I assume they’re not going to have kind things to say. Let’s be honest: the Toyota C-HR is not a conventional beauty. “It’s not mine,” I quickly declare to a couple examining the C-HR in the grocery store parking lot as I approach it, bags in hand. “You can say whatever you think.”
And then they do. But the words they speak are not in keeping with my expectations.
A great advantage to being one of the world’s largest automakers is that one can afford to wait for a bet to pay off. Witness this body-on-frame fifth-generation 4Runner, introduced to an apathetic and SUV-adverse public in the dark days of the 2009 as a ’10 model. It is still sharing showroom space with Corollas and Camrys today. Contrast this to Kia that introduced its body-on-frame SUV – the Borrego – at around the same time. It landed in the market with a dull thud and quickly resigned itself to the automotive dustbin of history in North America.
The 4Runner’s fortunes are on the upswing assisted by consumers consuming SUVs with all the restraint of a record producer with a garbage bag full of cocaine and a garden hose. Toyota sold more 4Runners in 2016 than at any other time in the last dozen years despite the brand’s glacier-like design cycle and the 4Runner being largely unchanged since the turn of the decade.
A concept vehicle which bowed at April’s New York International Auto Show could adopt a somewhat familiar name if it makes it to production.
Toyota has filed a trademark application for the TJ Cruiser name — a moniker which harkens back to the large, rugged and funky FJ Cruiser of yesteryear. However, if this name does find its way to a production vehicle, don’t expect similar proportions.
The current 2017 model year will be the last for the Lexus CT200h.
An indirect successor to the Lexus HS250h sedan, the Lexus CT200h will end a seven-year model run in the United States that resulted in more than 90,000 sales.
Imported from Miyawaka, Japan, the Lexus CT has seen its average U.S. monthly output fall 58 percent over the last three years. Never a tremendously popular entry-level luxury car, the hybrid-only Lexus was forced to compete against very successful luxury sedans from Mercedes-Benz and Audi — CLA and A3, respectively — in the latter portion of its tenure.
The Lexus couldn’t compete.
I really enjoy encountering the cheap and cheerful compacts of the past. Their lack of technological complexity, superb integrity in exterior design, and complete absence of flim-flam is refreshing.
Our Rare Ride today is such a compact, from a company many in North America don’t know. It’s the Daihatsu Charade.
Which automaker stands the best change of gobbling up more of the U.S. light vehicle market in the near future? According to the results of a newly released study, and not entirely unsurprising, it’s two of the world’s largest automakers.
General Motors and Toyota are each planning a slew of new and refreshed products over the next few years — something which should serve to lure buyers away from other brands. Among domestic automakers, one brand is forecast to suffer at the hands of its Detroit rival’s success. You know the one.
Here's Some Evidence At Least One Rival Automaker Approved Of Volkswagen USA's Post-Emissions Scandal Handling
Vinay Shahani, a former decade-long Nissan employee, has just been poached from Volkswagen of America by Toyota.
Shahani was Volkswagen’s U.S. vice president in charge of marketing, responsible for cementing a cohesive product message after the eruption of the now infamous diesel emissions scandal that broke in September 2015.
“Things are definitely difficult for the Volkswagen brand,” Shahani told the Automotive News New York Marketing Seminar one year after Volkswagen’s wrongdoing was made public.
Shahani’s perseverance through said difficulty obviously drew the attention of Toyota Motor North America, particularly since Shahani’s resume proves he’s no mere ad man.
Daring. Thinking outside the box, as it were (a three box, naturally). Putting forth a car which is a bit risky and against the grain of the accepted beige
sedan CUV. Increasingly, automakers are unwilling or unable to play in this space. Regulations, fuel economy and stiff competition force each manufacturer in line with the others. A midsize vehicle that’s almost identical to the offering at the dealer across the street is not out of the question.
But there has to be an answer to my Question of the Day, which is thus: Which modern auto manufacturer is the most daring?
Even as it develops efficient new platforms and streamlines its operation where it can, Toyota finds itself against the ropes as a falling yen and rising costs sends profits tumbling. Its end-of-fiscal-year financial statements, released today, are enough to send bean counters to the medicine cabinet in search of antacid, while the company’s president warns of more trouble ahead.
To Akio Toyoda, the increasingly gloomy picture has all the hallmarks of a failing sports team.
America’s insatiable crossover thirst has made the Nissan Rogue — a relative newcomer to the segment — a sales juggernaut and a top rival to the likes of the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.
As summer approaches, two of those vehicles are undergoing a sales strategy shift to better position the models against each other. No, one of the models isn’t the new-for 2017 CR-V. Nissan and Toyota, however, hope to draw in more customers by tweaking prices and content on the Rogue and RAV4, though the two automakers are going about it in very different ways.
Last week, my Ace of Base selection was met with loud derision from certain corners of the web. My intent was to prove how it’s possible for one to get into a comfortable, well-equipped, diesel-powered Canyon pickup without springing for an SLT or Denali trim. Nevertheless, my efforts were met with a chorus of WHY DON’T YOU JUST DO AN ACE OF BASE ON A ROLLS-ROYCE RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE.
Well then, without further delay…
Heads of state and other dignitaries typically like to ride around in large, sedan-shaped vehicles. Offerings like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and contemporary Rolls-Royce sedans have long been the go-to around the world. Of course, there are exceptions. For places like the United States, national pride dictates an American-made Cadillac or Lincoln.
The Japanese also have a strong sense of national pride, and for decades there was only one vehicle appropriate for heads of state and CEOs — the Toyota Century.
Now it’s gone.
As automakers dial back sales projections in a year that’s seen a rough start, the industry could be holding out hope for a legislative solution to lagging demand.
Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz made this claim during the opening of the company’s expanded Ann Arbor research and design center on Thursday, adding that incentivizing new vehicles to draw down bulging inventories can’t continue forever. In his view, automakers are keeping extra vehicles on hand for a reason, not just because production hasn’t adjusted for slow sales.
Lentz, like other auto executives, is hoping for a sales bump in the event the Trump administration green-lights its proposed $1 trillion infrastructure plan.
In February, a Texas Toyota dealership and The Genesis Center of Kaufman County joined forces to raffle off a fully restored 1994 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo. Donated by a local resident battling cancer, the entirety of the proceeds from the draw were designated specifically to help fund the center. Genesis is a faith-based shelter which also provides job placement, parenting classes, financial management programs, spiritual counselling, material needs, and medical referrals to women and children in crisis. It is funded largely through the church or via direct donations.
All in all, the dealership managed to raise more than $50,000 for the center. However, when Rebecca Rawl was announced as the winner of the raffle in April, many stated that the name was suspiciously close to that of the wife of sales manager Danny Rawls. Toyota of Rockwall was quick to rectify its mistake, specifying that the name given had been a mistake and “Rebecca Rawls” had in fact been the lottery winner.
As you can imagine, this did not go over well.
Popular? Most definitely. In fact, the Lexus NX is twice as popular as Lexus anticipated.
The Lexus NX, a crossover you must never confuse with the Nissan NX, is marketed in the United States both in NX200t and NX300h variants. At the New York International Auto Show three years ago, Lexus revealed the brand hoped to sell around 26,000 NXs per year; roughly 2,200 per month. At that point, in the lead-up to the NX’s 2014 Q4 launch, there were two schools of thought. One, the NX was so ghastly to behold Lexus surely wouldn’t sell 2,200 per month. Or, because Lexus is such a luxury crossover powerhouse, even the NX — with a face even a mother couldn’t love — will be more popular than Lexus anticipated.
Dealers believed Lexus’ forecast was on the low side.
But could anyone have expected the Lexus NX would be more than twice as popular as originally forecasted; that the Lexus NX would be America’s fifth-best-selling luxury utility vehicle; that the NX would account for one-in-five Lexus sales in America?
High atop Mount Forbidden, the “other market’s” imported vehicle stands alone. It awaits that special day, some 25 years in the future, when the clouds will break and a descent into the mortal realm is possible.
And, after that special day comes, the vehicle gets a chance to stand out beyond all normal cars in any given American parking lot. It was never meant to be seen in this country, and yet someone with an entrepreneurial spirit made it possible. Come with me now, as we experience JDM van goodness.
Call them frenemies. BMW and Toyota are working together on a high-profile sports car project that will result in a long-awaited Supra successor and a replacement for the Z4. Two heads are better than one.
“The concept works, the platform can deliver and now we have two proud sets of engineers — one group German, one group Japanese — who are each fighting and arguing for the car they want,” BMW sales boss Ian Robertson said last year.
The fighting and arguing extends beyond the R&D facilities in Munich and Toyota City.
No. BMW chose the most basic, beige, new Toyota Camry to make a point on behalf of a bright red pre-owned 3 Series.
Hardly the work of a BFF.
Newfound hybrid competition from the likes of the Hyundai Ioniq has forced Toyota into a mid-year strategy shift. Starting imminently, the automaker plans to offer a less expensive base model of the Prius while bulking up the model’s content with no-charge added safety features.
According to automotive research and car-shopping website CarsDirect, the entry price of a Prius should drop by $1,210, bringing its base MSRP (including destination) to $24,360. That helps close the gap between it and the Ioniq, which has strategically positioned itself as the segment’s value pick.
Gil’s my next-door neighbor. We live in very similar homes, we share a fondness for canine companions, and we would both happily live on pizza alone.
But Gil and I couldn’t be more different. Gil is cool, you see.
Gil’s young; I’m not not as young as I used to be. Gil can change the alternator on an old Ford Explorer in mere minutes; I can change a lightbulb if given time. Gil goes out on Friday nights; I have little children to put to bed.
And while I spent the last week driving a basic version of the outgoing 2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid, Gil pulled his Suzuki Katana out of storage. Yes, Gil drives a motorcycle. I drive a silver Camry Hybrid LE.
But who does Gil call in the middle of a workday when his Suzuki breaks down?
Camry Man, naturally. Mr. Dependable.
Are you the “casualcore” type? If you have to ask what the hell that means, you’re not hip enough for this concept. There’s also a chance you live outside the city, or perhaps in the suburbs, and don’t take seldom, unplanned adventures with your trendy urban buddies on their day off from PR work or coding.
If so, Toyota didn’t spare a thought about you when it crafted the promotional copy behind its new FT-4X four-wheel-drive crossover concept. Based on the same platform as Toyota’s C-HR pseudo-crossover — a vehicle that omits four-wheel motivation from its roster of options — the FT-4X is meant to be a do-anything, go-anywhere vehicle for the trendiest people you’ve ever met.
So trendy, in fact, that you’ll need to take a Gravol just to read about them.
Four words. That’s the extent of the details dropped by Toyota today, along with a picture that displays not quite an entire wheel. Perhaps the automaker should take a page from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and release 397 feature-length films about each of the mystery vehicle’s components.
The four words and one picture depict the upcoming FT-4X, a Toyota concept bound for a New York Auto Show unveiling on April 12. From the few clues we have, this concept — in Toyotaland, “FT” prefixes mean “future Toyota” — should boast some measure of off-roading bona fides, possibly enough to make Jeep worried.
Is this the best car in the world?
Not necessarily this car, but the 2002-2006 XV30-generation Toyota Camry in general. Is this Camry better than all the rest?
It doesn’t handle like a modern Mazda 6, doesn’t stop as well as a modern F-150, doesn’t have the perceived interior quality or features of a modern Honda Fit, and has suffered greatly from the effects of alloy wheel corrosion over the last winter.
But the 2004 Toyota Camry LE V6 we told you about last fall just made its way through another harsh, Prince Edward Island winter. Another 7,000 miles were smeared across its odometer. One trip was taken all the way from Prince Edward Island to Toronto; another from Prince Edward Island to Hamilton, Ontario, and another from Prince Edward Island to Mont Tremblant, Quebec.
Credit a single oil change.
Toyota is teaming up with Clear Channel Outdoor Americas to help clean California’s air with a billboard advertising its hydrogen-powered Mirai fuel cell sedan.
From April 3 to May 28, a total of 37 billboards in Los Angeles and San Francisco will filter smoggy air, thanks to the titanium dioxide-coated vinyl used in the sign.
While Toyota missed an opportunity to explicitly rub salt in a certain rival’s wounds, this is nonetheless a pleasant change of scenery in the automotive world, especially considering all of the
Volkswagen emissions scandals of the past couple of years.
The Toyota Prius is struggling.
That’s not terribly surprising. Fuel prices are low. Efficient hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric cars are available at virtually every new car dealer. The Prius has lost its early adopter buzz.
Oh, and the 2017 Toyota Prius is a grotesque little creature, shaped for the wind; not your eyes.
Toyota sold fewer Prii in America last year than at any point since 2004. In 2017, Toyota expects to sell far fewer than in 2016.
Making matters worse is the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid I’m driving this week. The Ioniq is $2,485 cheaper than the Prius. The Ioniq is, at the very least, less unattractive. The Ioniq’s interior is both more attractive and more straightforward. And hear ye this: the Hyundai Ioniq is rated at 55 mpg city and 54 mpg highway; better than the Prius’s 54/50 ratings.
But the Toyota Prius has witnessed the arrival of a direct competitor from a major passenger car player before. Yes, the Toyota Prius saw the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius killed that Honda dead.
Will the Toyota Prius become a serial killer and murder the Hyundai Ioniq, too?
Can a hybrid vehicle really shine when there’s a plug-in sibling hogging both the spotlight and the technological podium? For some automakers new to the game, time will tell. But at Toyota, which first made “hybrid” a household word, it seems the introduction of a new Prius variant has tentatively confirmed doubts about the viability of the stock Prius.
We’ll gain better perspective as 2017 plays out, but so far, it’s looking like the Prius Prime plug-in is doing well, and the Prius is maintaining the status quo. Which is to say, it’s not doing well.
Surely it’s time for a new minivan from Toyota. Despite significant interior updates for the 2015 model year and significant powertrain improvements for 2017, the third-generation Toyota Sienna that launched in 2010 is still kickin’, seven years later.
First, the 2015 Kia Sedona shook things up. Then the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica confounded expectations. Landing shortly is the 2018 Honda Odyssey, which won’t surprise anyone if it’s the best in its class.
Clearly then, it’s your turn, Toyota.
Uh… Toyota, hello? Paging Toyota. Call for Toyota on Line 1, all-new Sienna required on the Princeton, Indiana, production line.
The 2018 Toyota Sienna gets a facelift. A refresh. An update. A refurb. What’s up with that?
If you didn’t stay up to the wee hours last night excitedly singing the Toyota Yaris’ praises in an internet chat group, you’re forgiven. Demand for the subcompact hatch has fallen to remarkably low levels compared to years past, as newer, more dynamic hatches increasingly hijack buyers’ attention.
Still, the subcompact segment isn’t one Toyota wants to yield to its rivals. As such, the little Yaris (not to be confused with the Mazda 2-based Yaris iA) is due for a makeover. While the refreshed 2018 Yaris hasn’t been to the gym, it does look like it stared in the window and took notes.
A year and a half since Scion introduced the iM in the United States, little more than a year since Toyota announced the Scion brand’s discontinuation, and six months since the Scion iM began to operate as the Toyota Corolla iM, almost every Toyota Corolla buyer chooses the inferior Corolla sedan instead of this hatchback.
Fortunately, the iM generates more sales activity for Toyota than it did for Scion. Over the last four months, for instance, the Corolla iM produced 6,548 U.S. sales, up 34 percent compared to the year-before figure claimed by the Scion iM.
After spending a week with the refreshed 2017 Toyota Corolla XSE sedan in January and the last week with the 2017 Toyota Corolla iM, it’s clear the iM is the superior Corolla. It’s clear that a far greater percentage of the 28,000 monthly American Corolla buyers should be choosing this car.
But they don’t. And they won’t. And there are a number of reasons why.
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- Marky S. I own the same C.C. XSE Hybrid AWD as in this article, but in Barcelona Red with the black roof. I love my car for its size, packaging, and the fact that it offers both AWD and Hybrid technology together. Visibility is impressive, as is its small turning circle. I consider the C.C. more of a "station wagon" by proportion, rather than an “SUV.” It is fun to drive, with zippy response and perky pick-up. It is a pleasant car to drive and ride in. It is not trying to be a “Butch Off-Roader”, or a cosseting “Luxury Cruiser.” Those are not its goals or purpose. The Corolla Cross XSE Hybrid AWD is a wonderful All-Purpose Car (O.K. – “SUV” if you must hear me say it!) with a combination of all the features it has at a reasonable price.
- Ernesto Perez There's a line in the movie Armageddon where Bruce Willis says " is this the best idea NASA came up with?". Don't quote me. I'm asking is this the best idea NY came up with? What's next? Charging pedestrians to walk in certain parts of the city? Every year the price for everything gets more expensive and most of the services we pay for gets worse. Obviously more money is not the solution. What we need are better ideas, strategies and inventions. You want to charge drivers in the city - then put tolls on the free bridges like the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. There's always a better way or product. It's just the idiots on top think they know best.
- Carsofchaos The bike lanes aren't even close to carrying "more than the car lanes replaced". You clearly don't drive in Midtown Manhattan on a daily like I do.
- Carsofchaos The problem with congestion, dear friends, is not the cars per se. I drive into the city daily and the problem is this:Your average street in the area used to be 4 lanes. Now it is a bus lane, a bike lane (now you're down to two lanes), then you have delivery trucks double parking, along with the Uber and Lyft drivers also double parking. So your 4 lane avenue is now a 1.5 lane avenue. Do you now see the problem? Congestion pricing will fix none of these things....what it WILL do is fund persion plans.
- FreedMike Many F150s I encounter are autonomously driven...and by that I mean they're driving themselves because the dips**ts at the wheel are paying attention to everything else but the road.