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William Maley

Toyota Adds Some TRD Spice For Sequoia and Tundra, Makes RAV4 More Adventurous: Comments

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The spotlight for Toyota's truck and SUV lineup has been on the Tacoma TRD Pro. But the company is moving the spotlight on three models; RAV4, Sequoia, and Tundra with the introduction of new trims and various updates.

We'll work our way on three models that made their debut this morning at the Chicago Auto show in alphabetical order. First up is the 2018 RAV4 Adventure, position for those who live an active outdoor lifestyle. It certainly looks the part with a taller ride height, larger fender flairs, blacked-out 18-inch alloy wheels, and lower body cladding. The interior comes with all-weather floor mats, door sill protectors, and 120V outlet in the cargo area.

Power still comes from a 2.5L four-cylinder with 176 horsepower and a six-speed automatic. But the Adventurer gets the RAV4's optional towing package as standard. This includes an upgraded radiator, engine oil cooler, and transmission oil cooler. The Adventurer goes on sale this September with pricing to announced at a later date.

Next is the 2018 Sequoia. All trims will get the Toyota Safety Sense-P suite of active safety features as standard. This includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, and pedestrian detection. Outside, the Sequoia boasts a new front bumper and grille.

There is a new trim joining the Sequoia lineup known as the TRD Sport. This trim features black mirror caps and exterior badges; smoked taillight lenses, and 20-inch alloy wheels finished in black. Black fabric covers the seats, with leather an option. There is also a TRD gear knob and TRD floor mats. Power comes from a 5.7L iForce V8 with 381 horsepower paired with a six-speed automatic. There is the choice of rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. Toyota has done some suspension work for the Sequoia TRD Sport with Bilstein shock absorbers and TRD antiroll bars.

Finally, there is the 2018 Tundra. Like the Sequoia, the Tundra will get Toyota's Safety Sense-P suite as standard equipment, along with a revised grille and headlight designs. There will also be a TRD Sport trim on offer as well. For the Tundra, this includes a hood scoop, body color mirrors and bumpers; LED headlights, 20-inch silver aluminum wheels with black insets, and TRD Sport decals on the bedsides. Bilstein shocks and TRD front and rear antiroll bars are used to improve handling.

The TRD Sport will be available on the double cab and CrewMax body styles, along with the choice of rear-wheel or four-wheel drive.

The 2018 Sequoia and Tundra arrive at dealers in September.

Source: Toyota
Press Release is on Page 2


Roughing It in Style - - Toyota Introduces the New 2018 Tundra and Sequoia TRD Sport and RAV4 Adventure Models

  • New Tundra and Sequoia TRD Sport Grades Receive added Styling and Performance Handling Upgrades
  • Standard Toyota Safety Sense – P
  • Refreshed Styling on all Tundra and Sequoia Models
  • New RAV4 Adventure adds Dirt-Inspired Styling and Higher Ride Height

CHICAGO, Feb. 9, 2017 - - Families on the go, TRD style!  Toyota’s Tundra full-size pickup truck and Sequoia large SUV have long been ideal for adventuresome families in need of that unique combination of performance, utility, towing ability and comfort.  For 2018, the experts at Toyota Racing Development (TRD) have developed the new TRD Sport grade for Tundra and Sequoia, offering active families an extra dose of sportier styling and performance for added fun and excitement on their next journey.   

In addition to the new TRD Sport grades, Tundra and Sequoia will receive new styling, convenience and safety features for all 2018 models, including Toyota Safety Sense-P (TSS-P) as standard equipment.

Outdoor family fun isn’t exclusive to Toyota’s two largest truck and SUV models.  For the 2018 model year, the popular RAV4 compact crossover adds a new Adventure grade for young families looking for fun in out-of-the-way places.   Already a fun-to-drive crossover for young families with active lifestyles, the new RAV4 Adventure adds a sportier take-me-anywhere attitude for the weekend warrior.

Tundra TRD Sport
The new Tundra TRD Sport is available on 4x4 and 4x2 grades in CrewMax and Double Cab configurations and powered by the proven 381-horsepower 5.7-liter i-Force V8 engine.  Driving performance will be enhanced with the addition of TRD Sport Tuned Bilstein Shocks and TRD front and rear anti-sway bars.  Key exterior features for the TRD Sport include:

  • Color-keyed mirrors, front and rear bumpers
  • Color-keyed hood scoop
  • 20-inch alloy silver sport wheels
  • LED Headlights with smoked chrome bezel, Daytime Running Lights (DRL), and LED Fog Lights
  • Mesh grille with body color surround
  • TRD Sport bedside graphic

Exterior colors for the TRD Sport will include Super White, Magnetic Gray, Midnight Black Pearl, Blazing Blue Pearl and Barcelona Red Metallic.

The exterior styling is complemented with interior features that include a TRD shift knob and TRD Sport floor mats. 

The TRD Sport is just part of an overall refresh for the 2018 Tundra.  Safety will be enhanced on all Tundra models with the addition of Toyota Safety Sense™ (TSS-P) as standard equipment.  This multi-feature advanced active safety suite bundles a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Auto High Beams (AHB) and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).  Drivers can view the status of TSS-P through an upgraded Multi-information Display.

The 2018 Tundra will receive exterior updates that include a new mesh grille on select trims while the Tundra Limited and 1794 Edition will receive a new billet style grille.  The Limited, Platinum and 1794 Edition will be equipped with new LED Headlights and Daytime Running Lights (DRL), and LED Fog Lights.  LED headlights and Fog Lights are also available when the TRD Off-Road Package is selected on SR5 models.  The SR and SR5 grades will receive halogen headlights with a black bezel and LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL). 

Sequoia TRD Sport
The brawny 2018 Sequoia TRD Sport will be available in 4x4 and 4x2 models equipped with the 5.7-liter i-Force V8 engine.   Road handling is enhanced with TRD Sport Tuned Bilstein Shocks and TRD front and rear anti-sway bars.  Key exterior features on the Sequoia TRD Sport will include:

  • New front grille and bumper grille insert
  • Metallic black mirror caps
  • 20-inch alloy black sport wheels
  • Darkened rear tail light housing
  • Black satin finish TRD Sport badging on the front doors and a Metallic black and chrome Sequoia badge on the liftgate

Exterior colors for the Sequoia TRD Sport will include Super White, Magnetic Gray Metallic, and the new Midnight Black Metallic.  The stylish exterior treatment will be complemented by an assortment of interior convenience features exclusive to the Sequoia TRD Sport including:

  • Standard black fabric seven-passenger seating
  • Optional Black leather captain chair seats (part of the optional Premium Package)
  • TRD shift knob
  • TRD Sport floor mats
  • TRD Sport sill protectors

In addition to the TRD Sport, Sequoia will be available in SR5, Limited and Platinum grades in 4x2 and 4x4 configurations.  All will be powered by the i-Force V8 engine. Like Tundra, the 2018 Sequoia will raise the bar in the area of safety as TSS-P will be standard on all models (includes PCS w/PD, LDA, AHB, and DRCC).    

All Sequoia models will also come standard with new LED headlights with LED DRL, and LED fog lights.  Additional exterior updates include a new front grille and bumper grille insert, distinctive to each grade.  A bumper opening chrome surround will be equipped on TRD Sport, Limited and Platinum grades. 

The 2018 Sequoia will be available in eight exterior colors including three new colors: Midnight Black Metallic, Shoreline Blue Pearl and Toasted Walnut Pearl.  Additional colors include: Super White, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Silver Sky Metallic, Blizzard Pearl, and Sizzling Crimson.

Inside, all Sequoia models will come standard with a new instrumentation panel gauge cluster and 4.2-inch Multi-information Display (MID) that tracks the status of TSS-P.  Also new are an updated center speaker grille smoothed to the surrounding dashboard and interior trim with wood-like accents for Platinum grade.

RAV4 Adventure
The active lifestyle-inspired RAV4 Adventure will be available in front-wheel drive with an Automatic Limited-Slip Differential, or with Dynamic Torque Control all-wheel-drive.  Both versions feature a standard Tow Prep Package that includes an upgraded radiator and supplemental engine oil and transmission fluid coolers, as well as a suspension system with a higher ride height.  As with all RAV4 models, the Adventure grade will come standard with Trailer Sway Control (TSC), Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC), and TSS-P.  Exterior styling features exclusive to the RAV4 Adventure includes:

  • Large overfender flares
  • 18-inch five-spoke black alloy wheels with 235/55R18 tires
  • Lower body guards
  • Black headlight bezels
  • Black fog lamp surround, roof racks and Adventure badging

The RAV4 Adventure will be available in five exterior colors including Black, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Silver Sky Metallic, Super White, and one new color for RAV4 models, Ruby Flare Pearl.

The sporty exterior features of the RAV4 Adventure are mated to exclusive interior features that include:

  • Unique interior trim panels
  • Leather-wrapped shift knob
  • 120V/100W power outlet in the cargo area
  • Adventure door sill protectors
  • All-weather mats floor and cargo mats with Adventure logo

Additional features new for 2018 in select RAV4 models include optional heat/power fabric front row seats, heated steering wheel, and wiper de-icer as part of a new Cold Weather Package.

The 2018 RAV4 Adventure grade along with the Tundra and Sequoia TRD Sport grades will begin arriving in dealer showrooms in September.


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TRD Upgrade, is nice starting point. Toyota, Listen to Frisky, You need to do way more in the update department.

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18 hours ago, Frisky Dingo said:

Actually just found pictures elsewhere. Looks like the Sequoia got a new dash and instrument cluster. About time.

That's good but it does seem like Toyota is pulling the Ford treatment (the current Expy) and letting it languish by not giving a fresh re-design on the outside as well.

 

BTW, where are these other pictures? I'm guessing that it probably matches what's in the Tundra now?

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11 minutes ago, surreal1272 said:

That's good but it does seem like Toyota is pulling the Ford treatment (the current Expy) and letting it languish by not giving a fresh re-design on the outside as well.

 

BTW, where are these other pictures? I'm guessing that it probably matches what's in the Tundra now?

I think they were at C&D. There were no interior shots of the Tundra, but this piece mentions it received a new instrument cluster, so I would assume they got matching pieces.

Also in question is if the mild changes they made to the front of the TRD Sequoia extend to other trims. I would think, but then again.....

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Hopefully Drew and Company will get some new interior pics at the auto show for us. :P

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      Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
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      Year: 2018
      Make: Volkswagen
      Model: Atlas
      Trim: 2.0T SE w/Technology
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve TSI Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 235 @ 4,500
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/26/24
      Curb Weight: 4,222 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Chattanooga, TN
      Base Price: $35,690
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: N/A

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      The three-row full-size crossover has taken the place of large SUVs as the vehicle of choice for growing families. Crossovers offer the tall ride height and large space, but not at the cost of fuel economy and ride quality. Recently, I spent a week in the 2018 Mazda CX-9 and Volkswagen Atlas. These two models could not be any different; one is focused on providing driving enjoyment, while the other is concerned about providing enough space for cargo and passengers. Trying to determine which one was the best would prove to be a difficult task.
      Exterior
      There is no contest between these two when it comes to design as the CX-9 blows the Atlas out of the water. The overall look balances aggressive and elegance traits. For the front, Mazda has angled the clip to give off a sporting profile while a large grille and a set of slim headlights accentuate this. Move around to the side and you’ll notice the CX-9 has quite a long front end and the rear roof pillars are angled slightly forward. These design cues help make the CX-9 look slightly smaller than it actually is.
      Someone once described a Volkswagen vehicle as “looking like a bit of a square, but a posh square.” That’s how I would sum up the Atlas’ design; it is basically a box on wheels. There are some nice touches such as the LED headlights that come standard on all models and chunky fenders. The 18-inch alloy wheels that come with the SE w/Technology look somewhat small on the Atlas, but that is likely due to the large size of the vehicle.
      Interior
      The Atlas’ interior very much follows the ideals of the exterior, which are uncomplicated and utilitarian. While it does fall flat when compared to the CX-9’s luxury design, Volkswagen nails the ergonomics. Most of the controls are within easy reach of driver and passenger. One touch that I really like is the climate control slightly angled upward. Not only does this make it easier to reach, but you can quickly glance down to see the current settings. There is only a small amount of soft-touch material used throughout the Atlas’ interior, the rest being made up of hard plastics. While that is slightly disappointing as other crossovers are adding more soft-touch materials, Volkswagen knows that kids are quite rough to vehicles.
      If there is one benefit to Volkswagen’s plain styling on the outside, it is the massive interior. I haven’t been in such a spacious three-row crossover since the last GM Lambda I drove. Beginning with the third-row, I found that my 5’9” frame actually fit with only my knees just touching the rear of the second-row. Moving the second row slightly forward allows for a little more legroom. Getting in and out of the third-row is very easy as the second-row tilts and moves forward, providing a wide space. This particular tester came with a second-row bench seat. A set of captain chairs are available as an option on SE and above. Sitting back here felt like I was in a limousine with abundant head and legroom. The seats slide and recline which allows passengers to find that right position. The only downside to both rear rows is there isn’t enough padding for long trips. For the front seat, the driver gets a ten-way power seat while the passenger makes do with only a power recline and manual adjustments. No complaints about comfort as the Atlas’ front seats had the right amount of padding and firmness for any trip length.
      The cargo area is quite huge. With all seats up, the Atlas offers 20.6 cubic feet of space. This increases to 55.5 cubic feet when the third-row is folded and 96.8 cubic feet with both rows folded. Only the new Chevrolet Traverse beats the Atlas with measurements of 23, 58.1, and 98.2 cubic feet.
      As a way to differentiate itself from other automakers, Mazda is trying to become more premium. This is clearly evident in the CX-9’s interior. The dash is beautiful with contouring used throughout, and a mixture of brushed aluminum and soft-touch plastics with a grain texture. If I were to cover up the Mazda badge on the steering wheel and ask you to identify the brand, you might think it was from a German automaker. Ergonomics aren’t quite as good as the Atlas as you have to reach for certain controls like those for the climate system.
      The CX-9’s front seats don’t feel quite as spacious when compared to the Atlas with a narrow cockpit and the rakish exterior are to blame. Still, most drivers should be able to find a position that works. The seats themselves have a sporting edge with increased side bolstering and firm cushions. I found the seats to be quite comfortable and didn’t have issues of not having enough support. Moving to the second row, Mazda only offers a bench seat configuration. This is disappointing considering all of the CX-9’s competitors offer captain chairs as an option. There is more than enough legroom for most passengers, but those six-feet and above will find headroom to be a bit tight. Getting into the third-row is slightly tough. Like the Atlas, the CX-9’s second row slides and tilts to allow access. But space is noticeably smaller and does require some gymnastics to pass through. Once seated, I found it to be quite cramped with little head and legroom. This is best reserved for small kids.
      Cargo area is another weak point to the CX-9. With both back seats up, there is only 14.4 cubic feet. This puts it behind most of the competition aside from the GMC Acadia which has 12.8. It doesn’t get any better when the seats are folded. With the third-row down, the CX-9 has 38.2 cubic feet. Fold down the second-row and it expands to 71.2 cubic feet. To use the GMC Acadia again, it offers 41.7 cubic feet when the third-row is folded and rises to 79 with both rows. Keep in mind, the Acadia is about six inches shorter than the CX-9.
      Infotainment
      All CX-9’s come equipped with the Mazda Connect infotainment system. The base Sport comes with a 7-inch touchscreen, while the Touring and above use a larger 8-inch screen. A rotary knob and set of redundant buttons on the center console control the system. Using Mazda Connect is a bit of a mixed bag. The interface is beginning to look a bit dated with the use of dark colors and a dull screen. Trying to use the touchscreen is an exercise in frustration as it is not easy to tell which parts are touch-enabled and not. On the upside, moving around Mazda Connect is a breeze when using the knob and buttons. Currently, Mazda doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility. Thankfully, this is being remedied with the 2019 model as Touring models and above will come with both.
      For the Atlas, Volkswagen offers three different systems. A 6.5-inch touchscreen is standard on the S. Moving up to either the SE, SE w/Technology, or SEL nets you an 8-inch screen. The top line SEL Premium adds navigation to the 8-inch system. All of the systems feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The current Volkswagen system is one of the easiest to use thanks in part to intuitive menu structure and quick responses. Moving through menus or presets is easy as the system reacts to the swiping gesture like you would do on your smartphone. There are a couple of downsides to the Volkswagen system. One is there is no haptic feedback when pressing the shortcut buttons on either side of the screen. Also, the glass surface becomes littered with fingerprints very quickly. 
      I did have an issue with the system when trying to use Apple CarPlay. At times, applications such as Spotify would freeze up. I could exit out to the CarPlay interface, but was unable to get the apps unfrozen until I shut the vehicle off. After resetting my iPhone, this problem went away. This leaves me wondering how much of this problem was with my phone and not the infotainment system.
      Powertrain
      Both of these crossovers are equipped with turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The CX-9 has a 2.5L producing either 227 or 250 (on premium fuel) horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The Atlas has a 2.0L producing 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. An optional 3.6L V6 with 276 horsepower is available for the Atlas. For the Mazda, power is routed to a six-speed automatic and the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The Volkswagen makes do with an eight-speed automatic and front-wheel drive only. If you want AWD, you need the V6.
      Thanks to its higher torque figure, the CX-9 leaves the Atlas in the dust. There is barely any lag coming from the turbo-four. Instead, it delivers a linear throttle response and a steady stream of power.  NVH levels are noticeably quieter than the Atlas’ turbo-four. The six-speed automatic delivers seamless shifts and is quick to downshift when you need extra power such as merging.
      The turbo-four in the Atlas seems slightly overwhelmed at first. When leaving a stop, I found that there was a fair amount of turbo-lag. This is only exacerbated if the stop-start system is turned on. Once the turbo was spooling, the four-cylinder did a surprising job of moving the 4,222 pound Atlas with no issue. Stab the throttle and the engine comes into life, delivering a smooth and constant stream of power. The eight-speed automatic provided quick and smooth shifts, although it was sometimes hesitant to downshift when more power was called for.
      Fuel Economy
      Both of these models are close in fuel economy. EPA says the CX-9 AWD should return 20 City/26 Highway/23 Combined, while the Atlas 2.0T will get 22/26/24. During the week, the CX-9 returned 22.5 mpg in mostly city driving and the Atlas got 27.3 mpg with a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. The eight-speed transmission in the Atlas makes a huge difference.
      Ride & Handling
      The CX-9 is clearly the driver’s choice. On a winding road, the crossover feels quite nimble thanks to a well-tuned suspension. There is a slight amount of body roll due to the tall ride height, but nothing that will sway your confidence. Steering has some heft when turning and feels quite responsive. Despite the firm suspension, the CX-9’s ride is supple enough to iron out most bumps. Only large imperfections and bumps would make their way inside. Barely any wind and road noise made it inside the cabin.
      The Atlas isn’t far behind in handling. Volkswagen’s suspension turning helps keep body roll in check and makes the crossover feel smaller than it actually is. The only weak point is the steering which feels somewhat light when turning. Ride quality is slightly better than the CX-9 as Atlas feels like riding on a magic carpet when driving on bumpy roads. Some of this can be attributed to smaller wheels. There is slightly more wind noise coming inside the cabin.
      Value
      It would be unfair to directly compare these two crossovers due to the large gap in price. Instead, I will be comparing them with the other’s similar trim.
      The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE with Technology begins at $35,690 for the 2.0T FWD. With destination, my test car came to $36,615, The Technology adds a lot of desirable features such as three-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, and lane departure alert. The Mazda CX-9 Touring is slightly less expensive at $35,995 with destination and matches the Atlas on standard features, including all of the safety kit. But we’re giving the Atlas the slight edge as you do get more space for not that much more money.
      Over at the CX-9, the Grand Touring AWD begins at $42,270. With a couple of options including the Soul Red paint, the as-tested price came to $43,905. The comparable Atlas V6 SEL with 4Motion is only $30 more expensive when you factor in destination. Both come closely matched in terms of equipment with the only differences being the Grand Touring has navigation, while the SEL comes with a panoramic sunroof. This one is a draw as it will come down whether space or luxury is more important to you.
      Verdict
      Coming in second is the Mazda CX-9. It may have the sharpest exterior in the class, a premium interior that could embarrass some luxury cars, and pleasing driving characteristics. But ultimately, the CX-9 falls down on the key thing buyers want; space. It trails most everyone in passenger and cargo space. That is ultimately the price you pay for all of the positives listed. 
      For a first attempt, Volkswagen knocked it out of the park with the Atlas. It is a bit sluggish when leaving a stop and doesn’t have as luxurious of an interior as the CX-9. But Volkswagen gave the Atlas one of the largest interiors of the class, a chassis that balances a smooth ride with excellent body control, impressive fuel economy, and a price that won’t break the bank.
      Both of these crossovers are impressive and worthy of being at the top of the consideration list. But at the end of the day, the Atlas does the three-row crossover better than the CX-9.
      Disclaimer: Mazda and Volkswagen Provided the Vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Mazda
      Model: CX-9
      Trim: Grand Touring AWD
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.5L Skyactiv-G Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 227 @ 5,000 (Regular), 250 @ 5,000 (Premium)
      Torque @ RPM: 310 @ 2,000 rpm
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/23
      Curb Weight: 4,361 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
      Base Price: $42,470
      As Tested Price: $43,905 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Soul Red Metallic - $595.00
      Cargo Mat - $100.00
      Year: 2018
      Make: Volkswagen
      Model: Atlas
      Trim: 2.0T SE w/Technology
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve TSI Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 235 @ 4,500
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/26/24
      Curb Weight: 4,222 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Chattanooga, TN
      Base Price: $35,690
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: N/A
    • By William Maley
      The 2018 Subaru Legacy finds itself in a difficult spot. Like other midsize sedans, the Legacy has been seeing its sales fall down as more buyers are trending towards trucks and utility vehicles. But Subaru is trying to stop the bleeding somewhat by introducing an updated Legacy with various improvements to the exterior and mechanical bits. Is it enough?
      Compared to the last Legacy I drove in 2015, the 2018 model has some minor changes. The front now comes with a wider grille, updated design for the headlights, and a new bumper. The 2.5i Sport adds blacked-out trim, fog lights, and a set of 18-inch wheels with painted inserts. This helps makes the very plain design stand-out slightly more. Subaru’s safe approach to design continues inside. There are only a couple of changes like a new steering wheel and updated controls for the climate system. While it lacks in overall excitement, the Legacy’s earns top marks in overall usability as controls are easy to find and reach. Material quality sees an improvement as Subaru has added more soft-touch plastics throughout. The Legacy’s interior feels quite spacious thanks in part to a large glass area and thin roof pillars. Those sitting in the front will find the seats to be a little too firm, but they do provide an excellent amount of support for any trip. The back seat has more than enough legroom for tall passengers. The same cannot be said for headroom as those over six-feet will find their heads touching the liner. Open up the trunk to find 15 cubic feet of space, slightly smaller than the Hyundai Sonata I reviewed a few weeks back. My Sport tester came with an 8-inch touchscreen featuring Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system. The system gains an upgraded processor to address complaints of Starlink being somewhat slow. It makes a big difference as the system starts up much faster and is more responsive when going to different functions. The system also earns points for being easy to use with large touchscreen tiles and shortcut buttons on either side. I did have an issue of Starlink not recognizing my iPhone 7 Plus. The system saw something was plugged into the USB port, but couldn’t figure out what it was. It took a reset of my phone and restarting the vehicle before it would work. After this, Starlink had no issues finding my phone and bringing up the CarPlay interface. Under the hood is a 2.5L boxer-four producing 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT and Symmetrical all-wheel drive. Around town, the engine is very responsive and gets up to speed a decent clip. On the highway, the 2.5 struggles to get up to speed at a decent clip. A lot of the slowness can be attributed to the Legacy’s weight. My 2.5i Sport tips the scales at 3,538 pounds. This is 143 pounds heavier than a 2018 Toyota Camry XSE four-cylinder that I recently drove. The CVT Subaru uses is one of the best in the business. It doesn’t have the rubber-band issue - engine RPMs rise at a quick rate before falling during acceleration - and has been calibrated to have ‘steps’ to mimic a regular six-speed automatic. EPA fuel economy figures for the Legacy 2.5i are 25 City/34 Highway/29 Combined. I saw an average of 28.2 mpg on a 50/50 mix of city and highway driving. Despite this model being badged as a ‘Sport’, the Legacy doesn’t fully live up to this. There is a fair amount body lean when cornering and the steering is a bit too light in terms of weight. At least the AWD system provides tenacious grip to keep you on the road. You would be forgiven if you thought the Legacy was a luxury sedan due to its ride quality. Most bumps and imperfections are soaked up by the suspension. This comes down to a new set of dampers being fitted for 2018. Another improvement comes in the form of noise isolation. Subaru has added more sound-insulating material and acoustic glass for the 2018 model. The end result is barely any tire of wind noise coming inside. Some engine whine does come inside during hard acceleration. Subaru still leads the pack when it comes to active safety. The optional EyeSight driver-assist suite uses stereo cameras to see the road ahead and feed that data to the adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and pre-collision braking systems. The adaptive cruise control system is one of the best as the system is able to adjust the speed and distance in a very smooth manner whenever the system detects a vehicle in front.  The 2.5i Sport begins at $26,345. My tester came equipped with an option package that included the EyeSight suite, Blind-Spot Monitoring, Rear Active Braking, and Navigation for $2,095. That brings the as-tested price to $29,300. Taking into consideration the long list of standard equipment and the sporty touches, the Sport offers a lot of value. Subaru’s changes to the 2018 Legacy help improve what we would consider being a competent midsize sedan. There lies the problem with the Legacy. Unlike other manufacturers that have stepped their efforts in terms of design, features, and other elements to try and draw people back to midsize sedans, Subaru just did the basics and didn’t bring forth something compelling. Previously, you could argue that all-wheel drive was the Legacy’s trump card. But considering how many crossovers have that as an option, it just doesn’t work anymore. Subaru better have something special for the next-generation model due out in 2020 or we might have another casualty. Disclaimer: Subaru Provided the Legacy, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Subaru
      Model: Legacy
      Trim: 2.5i Sport
      Engine: 2.5L DOHC Boxer-Four
      Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 175 @ 5,800
      Torque @ RPM: 174 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/34/29
      Curb Weight: 3,538 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Lafayette, Indiana
      Base Price: $26,345
      As Tested Price: $29,300 (Includes $860.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      EyeSight + Blind Spot Monitoring + Reverse Automatic Braking + High Beam Assist + Navigation - $2,095

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      The 2018 Subaru Legacy finds itself in a difficult spot. Like other midsize sedans, the Legacy has been seeing its sales fall down as more buyers are trending towards trucks and utility vehicles. But Subaru is trying to stop the bleeding somewhat by introducing an updated Legacy with various improvements to the exterior and mechanical bits. Is it enough?
      Compared to the last Legacy I drove in 2015, the 2018 model has some minor changes. The front now comes with a wider grille, updated design for the headlights, and a new bumper. The 2.5i Sport adds blacked-out trim, fog lights, and a set of 18-inch wheels with painted inserts. This helps makes the very plain design stand-out slightly more. Subaru’s safe approach to design continues inside. There are only a couple of changes like a new steering wheel and updated controls for the climate system. While it lacks in overall excitement, the Legacy’s earns top marks in overall usability as controls are easy to find and reach. Material quality sees an improvement as Subaru has added more soft-touch plastics throughout. The Legacy’s interior feels quite spacious thanks in part to a large glass area and thin roof pillars. Those sitting in the front will find the seats to be a little too firm, but they do provide an excellent amount of support for any trip. The back seat has more than enough legroom for tall passengers. The same cannot be said for headroom as those over six-feet will find their heads touching the liner. Open up the trunk to find 15 cubic feet of space, slightly smaller than the Hyundai Sonata I reviewed a few weeks back. My Sport tester came with an 8-inch touchscreen featuring Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system. The system gains an upgraded processor to address complaints of Starlink being somewhat slow. It makes a big difference as the system starts up much faster and is more responsive when going to different functions. The system also earns points for being easy to use with large touchscreen tiles and shortcut buttons on either side. I did have an issue of Starlink not recognizing my iPhone 7 Plus. The system saw something was plugged into the USB port, but couldn’t figure out what it was. It took a reset of my phone and restarting the vehicle before it would work. After this, Starlink had no issues finding my phone and bringing up the CarPlay interface. Under the hood is a 2.5L boxer-four producing 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT and Symmetrical all-wheel drive. Around town, the engine is very responsive and gets up to speed a decent clip. On the highway, the 2.5 struggles to get up to speed at a decent clip. A lot of the slowness can be attributed to the Legacy’s weight. My 2.5i Sport tips the scales at 3,538 pounds. This is 143 pounds heavier than a 2018 Toyota Camry XSE four-cylinder that I recently drove. The CVT Subaru uses is one of the best in the business. It doesn’t have the rubber-band issue - engine RPMs rise at a quick rate before falling during acceleration - and has been calibrated to have ‘steps’ to mimic a regular six-speed automatic. EPA fuel economy figures for the Legacy 2.5i are 25 City/34 Highway/29 Combined. I saw an average of 28.2 mpg on a 50/50 mix of city and highway driving. Despite this model being badged as a ‘Sport’, the Legacy doesn’t fully live up to this. There is a fair amount body lean when cornering and the steering is a bit too light in terms of weight. At least the AWD system provides tenacious grip to keep you on the road. You would be forgiven if you thought the Legacy was a luxury sedan due to its ride quality. Most bumps and imperfections are soaked up by the suspension. This comes down to a new set of dampers being fitted for 2018. Another improvement comes in the form of noise isolation. Subaru has added more sound-insulating material and acoustic glass for the 2018 model. The end result is barely any tire of wind noise coming inside. Some engine whine does come inside during hard acceleration. Subaru still leads the pack when it comes to active safety. The optional EyeSight driver-assist suite uses stereo cameras to see the road ahead and feed that data to the adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and pre-collision braking systems. The adaptive cruise control system is one of the best as the system is able to adjust the speed and distance in a very smooth manner whenever the system detects a vehicle in front.  The 2.5i Sport begins at $26,345. My tester came equipped with an option package that included the EyeSight suite, Blind-Spot Monitoring, Rear Active Braking, and Navigation for $2,095. That brings the as-tested price to $29,300. Taking into consideration the long list of standard equipment and the sporty touches, the Sport offers a lot of value. Subaru’s changes to the 2018 Legacy help improve what we would consider being a competent midsize sedan. There lies the problem with the Legacy. Unlike other manufacturers that have stepped their efforts in terms of design, features, and other elements to try and draw people back to midsize sedans, Subaru just did the basics and didn’t bring forth something compelling. Previously, you could argue that all-wheel drive was the Legacy’s trump card. But considering how many crossovers have that as an option, it just doesn’t work anymore. Subaru better have something special for the next-generation model due out in 2020 or we might have another casualty. Disclaimer: Subaru Provided the Legacy, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Subaru
      Model: Legacy
      Trim: 2.5i Sport
      Engine: 2.5L DOHC Boxer-Four
      Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 175 @ 5,800
      Torque @ RPM: 174 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 25/34/29
      Curb Weight: 3,538 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Lafayette, Indiana
      Base Price: $26,345
      As Tested Price: $29,300 (Includes $860.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      EyeSight + Blind Spot Monitoring + Reverse Automatic Braking + High Beam Assist + Navigation - $2,095
    • By William Maley
      Toyota is planning a big push with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. According to Reuters, the Japanese automaker is doubling-down on investments for fuel cell vehicles by making improvements to reduce costs and building different models including commercial trucks.
      “We’re going to shift from limited production to mass production, reduce the amount of expensive materials like platinum used in FCV components, and make the system more compact and powerful,” said Yoshikazu Tanaka, chief engineer of the Mirai.
      Currently, Toyota hand builds the Mirai at a plant in Toyota City. Everyday, about 6.5 cars roll out of the plant. This is due to the detailed inspections that partially assembled models go through. The parts comprising the Mirai are quite expensive as well. According to analysis done by Strategic Analysis Inc., it costs Toyota about $11,000 to produce each of the fuel cell stacks. Blame the use of the platinum, titanium, and carbon fiber for the stacks.
      Toyota has been building up production capacity as it expects sales of FCVs to increase from about 3,000 to over 20,000 after 2020. This will help reduce the cost of each fuel cell stack to $8,000.
      “It will be difficult for Toyota to lower FCV production costs if it only produces the Mirai,” said a source,
      That's where an expansion of FCVs come in. Toyota is planning a "phased introduction' of other FCVs, including SUVs and commercial trucks starting around 2025. Toyota declined to talk about future products, but did reveal that it has built prototypes of small delivery vehicles and transport trucks with fuel cell powertrains.
      “We’re going to use as many parts from existing passenger cars and other models as possible in fuel cell trucks. Otherwise, we won’t see the benefits of mass production,” said Ikuo Ota, manager of new business planning for fuel cell projects at Toyota.
      Why is Toyota doubling down on fuel cells? Sources say that Toyota believes demand will increase as more countries, including China "warm to fuel cell technology". The company also sees FCVs as a hedge against battery materials such as cobalt becoming scarce.
      But there is still one issue that Toyota, and other automakers build FCVs still need to solve; infrastructure. There aren't many hydrogen refueling stations around. For example, the majority of hydrogen stations in the U.S. are in California. Not helping is a current shortage of hydrogen at refueling stations in California. Green Car Reports says this issue is due to various problems with supplier Air Products. The company said that it hopes to restore hydrogen supplies sometime in early August.
      Source: Reuters, Green Car Reports

      View full article
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