Buy/Drive/Burn: Alternative Japanese Minivans From 1997

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!

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February 2018 Truck Sales: Healthy Volume Doesn't Always Make for a Happy Automaker

As we told you earlier this afternoon, two of the Detroit Three automakers posted significant year-over-year U.S. sales decreases last month. Ford Motor Company and General Motors both saw American sales volume sink by 6.9 percent. While passenger cars both low-end and premium can usually take the blame for any sales decrease, general wisdom says buyers will gravitate in equal numbers towards SUVs, crossovers, and trucks, cancelling out most, if not all, of the sales exodus.

This isn’t always true. In February’s case, Ford can lay some of the blame at the foot of its best-selling crossover, while GM can finger its full-size truck lineup. Ford Escape sales sank 23.9 percent in February, year over year — a loss making up roughly three-quarters of Ford’s missing vehicles. As customers await new versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, the aged models brought in fewer buyers than the same month in 2017 — 16.3 and 25.3 percent less, respectively. Like Ford, that’s roughly three-quarters of GM’s missing February volume.

A 15 percent year-over-year decline at the Ram brand — itself awaiting a new half-ton — brings home the importance of pickups in 2018.

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Rare Rides: The Perfect Toyota 4Runner From 1987

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.

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Goodbye to the Wedge: Will Toyota Grace Us With a Next-generation IM?

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.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Toasting a Luxury Minivan From 1994

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.

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Automated Cars Are Not Able to Use the Automated Car Wash

We’ve been cautiously optimistic about the progress of autonomous driving. The miraculous technology is there, but implementing it effectively is an arduous task of the highest order. A prime example of this is how easy it is to “blind” a self-driving vehicle’s sensors.

TTAC’s staff has had its share of minor misadventures with semi-autonomous driving aids, be it during encounters with thick fog or heavy snow, but truly self-driving cars have even more sensitive equipment on board — and all of it needs to function properly.

That makes even the simple task of washing a self-driving car far more complicated than one might expect, as anything other than meticulous hand washing a big no-no. Automated car washes could potentially dislodge expensive sensors, scratch them up, or leave behind soap residue or water spots that would affect a camera’s ability to see.

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Uber Technologies Is Getting Awfully Chummy With Toyota

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.

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Ace of Base Retro: 1990 Toyota 4Runner

We covered this one a couple of years ago but it’s being featured again today because *just look at it*!! Plus, your author happened upon a fantastic example in rural British Columbia just yesterday, causing him to dance excitedly in the snow like a hotwired puppy.

The 4Runner showed up in 1984, based off the Pickup/Hilux platform and providing the off-road chops to challenge the original Cherokee. For its ’90 redesign (available in calendar year ’89), Toyota saw fit to depart from the agricultural roots of the OG 4Runner, which was essentially a pickup truck with a fibreglass cap grafted onto the box.

Now sporting handsome and cleanly contoured sheetmetal, the gen-2 4Runner arrived at the perfect time to ride the wave of customers trading their cars for SUVs, a trend which, it must be said, has not abated in the least.

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Sheer Magnetism: Toyota's Plan for a Cheaper EV Involves Hard-to-pronounce Words

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.

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Please Stop: Toyota Design Head Envisions Future Without Mass-market Automobiles

It’s starting to feel like people in the automotive industry simply cannot help but blurt out ludicrous claims involving a hypothetical future nobody on the outside seems to care about. These people, in charge of the the automobile’s ultimate form, appear to be so singularly obsessed with the vague concept of “mobility” that they can’t imagine any other alternative.

This week’s example came from Simon Humphries, the new general manager of Toyota’s advanced R&D, who mused about a tomorrow that didn’t need mass-market models. However, we’re not satisfied to condemn the design chief. Media outlets deserve a share of the blame for promoting these concepts without much logical backing.

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A Landlord's Conundrum: Loaded Lesser Model, or Discounted Premium?

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.

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Ace of Base: 2018 Toyota Yaris 3-Door L

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.

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Toyota Gaining Ground in Quest for More Light Truck Sales

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.

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2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Teased Ahead of Chicago Debut With Factory 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.

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Rare Rides: 1985 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon in As-new Condition

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.

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  • Beachy Asphalt only works to keep the dirt road below it dry, and it is the dry dirt that holds up the asphalt surface to make a smooth road surface. Once the asphalt cracks or a spring wells up and the dirt gets wet, all bets are off. It is usually due to a spring that perennial potholes form. They are very hard to get rid of.
  • JamesG I’m the owner of the featured car that’s currently on EBay. Thanks for such a nice write up on these cars. Mine happens to be in excellent condition and the photos don’t do it justice. The HT4100 isn’t as bad as some made them out to be and they can go 200k miles with proper maintenance. I also own a 79 w/the analog fuel injected 5.7 350 which should have been used through 1985 but ever-increasing CAFE regulations called for more economical power plants which made GM shelve this great motor.
  • Jeff S Adam on Rare Classic Cars recently bought a pristine 71 Kenosha Cadillac.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lY-G2dExgXE&ab_channel=RareClassicCars%26AutomotiveHistory
  • Jeff S Wouldn't most of the large suvs in NYC be livery vehicles? If so that would be hurting those who make their living by driving for hire.
  • EBFlex Yes their mass transit is great if you want to be beat within an inch of your life or pushed onto the tracks by some random psycho.