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  1. Back in 2011, Toyota made a very bold prediction; the Prius would be the best-selling Toyota model in the U.S. by the end of this decade. This seemed legitimate as gas prices had been climbing a steady rate and the Prius was the most popular hybrid. But that meant beating the Toyota Camry which in 2010 sold 327,104 models (the Prius only sold 140,928 models in 2010). To do this, Toyota would create the Prius family with the introduction of the Prius C, V, and Plug-In Hybrids. Five years on after this bold prediction, Toyota is reconsidering their plans. Thanks to lower gas prices (and in turn, consumers returning to pickups and crossovers) and models such as the Camry, Corolla, and RAV4 outselling it by a large margin, Toyota is now saying the Prius won't achieve that lofty goal. "Given all the changes in consumers' preferences right now, I don't think we're forecasting the Prius to be our top volume seller anymore," said Bill Fay, Toyota Division general manager to Automotive News. Part of the reconsideration deals with the Prius C and V. Fay said Toyota is planning to "reinvest" in the C and V. But whether or not a second-generation happens for either model is still too early to tell. The V's future is in doubt more than the C because of a new hybrid model - the RAV4 Hybrid. While the RAV4 doesn't come close to matching the Prius V's fuel economy numbers (34 City/31 Highway/33 Combined for RAV4 Hybrid, 44 City/40 Highway/42 Combined for the Prius V), it does offer slightly more practicality and the option of all-wheel drive. "We'll have to see how well the RAV4 Hybrid does. Because the RAV4 could really take the place of the Prius V," Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  2. The end of another year is upon us and I’m in the process of picking my favorite vehicles from the year. But before we get to that, I need to give some vehicles their time in the review spotlight. Trying to crank a review or a two a week is a hard task for some folks, myself included. I tend to spend a week with a vehicle, driving it in my daily routine, taking notes and photos, and hopefully beginning the review before the vehicle leaves. But that last part is the thickest part as it doesn’t always work out because of life. Whether it's a personal or family emergency, vacation, changes in work, or just being distracted, life always finds a way to get in and mess up whatever you are trying to do. Towards the end of every year, I have a small number of vehicles that have fallen between the cracks and are just waiting for me to find them and write something up. This year is no different as seven vehicles have been waiting patiently for their turn and their time has come. We're going to be looking at the last three of the seven. For this piece, I’ll be listing the good and bad of each vehicle, along with some notes that I took on each vehicle. 2015 Infiniti Q70L 3.7 3.7L VQ DOHC 24-valve V6 (330 Horsepower, 270 Pound-Feet) Seven-Speed Automatic Base/As-Tested: $53,500/$62,755 Cheers: Comfortable ride, large back seat, still looks stylish on the exterior Jeers: Interior is starting to look dated, Fuel economy could be better, Competitors are much more modern Notes: Let’s play a game. See if you can try to spot the differences between the 2015 Infiniti Q70L and the 2012 Infiniti M35h. Ready? Go. Now if you figured out the Q70L is longer than the M35h, then pat yourself on the back. Since Infiniti went to the Q nomenclature, the only real change to their midsize luxury sedan was to introduce a long-wheelbase model. Compared to the standard Q70, the adds about 5.9 inches to the wheelbase. Sitting in the back seat was very pleasurable thanks to a large amount of legroom on offer. Disappointingly, there isn’t any seat adjustments for the rear passengers, nor any heat. Despite getting up in age, the Q70L is still a striking vehicle to look. The flowing lines up front and along the side still look fresh as the day it was first introduced into the world. Twenty-inch wheels only add a bit of prestige to the model. But the interior is where you begin to feel the age of the Q70. Despite the model being trimmed in leather and wood, the Q70’s interior hasn’t changed at all since we last drove it back in 2012. The center stack is pushed out, giving a cramped feeling for passengers sitting up front. Not helping is the very dated infotainment system which looks like it has come from the Windows 98 era. For the Q70L, there is a choice of a 3.7L V6 or a 5.6L V8. Our tester had the V6 with 330 horsepower paired up to a seven-speed automatic transmission. Power comes on a very linear rate though you’ll need to plant your foot to the pedal if you are making a pass. This introduces a sound of the engine being put under a lot of strain. The ride is somewhat stiff as it seems to pick out a fair amount of imperfections on the road and transmit them to the passengers. A lot of this comes down to the optional twenty-inch wheels, and we expect the standard eighteen-inch wheels to provide a much better ride. At least, wind and road noise are kept to near-silent levels. While the introduction of the long-wheelbase for the Q70 does give it some new blood, there isn’t a good reason why anyone should choose it over one of the new midsize luxury sedans in the class. Let’s hope Infiniti has a replacement coming very soon. 2015 Kia Forte5 SX 1.6L Turbocharged GDI Four-Cylinder Six-Speed Manual Base/As-Tested: $20,890/$26,035 Cheers: Exterior Styling, Fuel Economy, Space Jeers: Wrong gearing in vehicle, Engine doesn’t feel quick, Interior looking very dated, not really sporty Notes: We have hot hatches and we have cold hatches (the non-sporty variety). Is there space for something warm? Maybe if the 2015 Kia Forte5 SX is something to go on. The Forte5 as the name suggests is a five-door hatchback and looks much sportier than the Forte sedan. This is thanks to a new front end with a wide and narrow grille, and a set of eighteen-inch alloy wheels done in a five leaf pattern. These wheels might be my favorite OEM wheels. Inside is where the Forte5 begins to lose some points. The dashboard makes the interior feel much older than it is (Forte5 was introduced back in 2013 as a 2014 model) thanks to hard plastics and parts having a scratchy texture. We hope a Kia is planning a refresh for the interior in the near future. Not helping are the leather power seats which comes as part of the SX Premium package. While they do provide a decent level of comfort and support for short trips, the seats cannot provide long-distance support. My brother and I learned this as the Forte5 was pressed into Christmas travel duty. But Kia wins some points back in the interior. The back seat is large, providing more than enough head and legroom for anyone sitting back here. Also, the Forte5 can be equipped with everything except the kitchen sink. Our tester boasted heated seats for front and rear passengers, a cooled seat for the driver, memory seat for the driver, a touchscreen with navigation, dual-zone climate control, and a sunroof. Power comes from a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. Our tester came with the standard six-speed manual, but you can go with a six-speed automatic. This is the same engine we liked in the Hyundai Veloster Turbo, but in the Forte5, it is a bit of a mess. The engine seems smothered and not as powerful as the Veloster Turbo. The cause is due to the manual. The gears are too short to allow the engine to fully produce all of the power it is capable of. Also, the short gearing means you’ll be seeing the revs up at 3,000 rpm at a 70 MPH cruise. Some longer gearing could solve both of these problems. At least, fuel economy wasn’t badly affected. Close to 700 Miles were put on the Forte5 SX and we got an average of 33.2 MPG on mostly highway and rural roads. Ride and handling are somewhere in the middle. The Forte5’s suspension is able to deal with most bumps and imperfections on the road with no problem. Bigger bumps do unsettle the vehicle a little bit. In the corners, the Forte5 feels steady and doesn’t show any sign of roll. But it isn’t any fun to pilot around such as a Mazda3. This mostly comes down to the steering with Kia’s FlexSteer system that allows you to vary the weight from light to heavy. We don’t like this system as the light setting is way too light and the heavy setting doesn’t feel hefty. Kia would do itself a lot of good by throwing out the FlexSteer system and do a new steering system that is somewhere in the middle. 2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro CrewMax 5.7L DOHC 32-Valve Dual Independent VVT-i V8 Six-Speed Automatic Base/As-Tested: $44,000/$45,465 Cheers: Off-Road Package Comes With Everything, Excellent Value, Comfortable Ride Jeers: V8 Feels Sluggish, Fuel Economy Notes: Toyota decided to go back to some of their roots when it comes to their trucks and SUVs. Earlier in the year, the automaker launched the TRD Pro series for the 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra. The TRD Pro boasts changes to suspension, wheels, and exterior to make them ready to go off the beaten trail. Our first taste in the TRD Pro came in the form of a Tundra CrewMax. There is no mistaking the TRD Pro Tundra as it comes in a wild orange paint, paired with an old school Toyota grille (reminiscent of Toyota’s SUVs in the late eighties and early nineties) and eighteen-inch off-road alloy wheels finished in black and wrapped in meaty off-road tires. We like the TRD Pro embossed into the rear fenders as it adds a touch of distinctiveness. Inside is your standard Tundra interior with black cloth seats embroidered with the TRD Pro logo. Under the skin, Toyota made some small changes to the Tundra TRD Pro with revised suspension tuning, new front springs, outboard off-road shocks in the rear, and skid plates. We gave the TRD Pro a light exercise around a dirt field and it passed with flying colors. The suspension has more than enough travel to traverse various heights of terrain and the steering provides a good feel on the terrain you are driving on. This is a truck I love to go on a trail to see what it is fully capable of. These changes to make the Tundra a capable off-roader don’t hurt it on a day to day basis. The suspension provides a smooth ride, and there isn’t much noise coming from the tires. The one problem that is holding the Tundra TRD Pro back is the engine. Toyota uses a 5.7L I-FORCE V8 with 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. This engine never feels powerful due to two reasons; a curb weight of 5,625 lbs and a lazy throttle. These two cause you to put your foot farther down on the pedal to get to that power. That also means your fuel economy will be hurting. Average for the week in the Tundra TRD Pro was 12.9 MPG. Toyota really needs to go back to drawing board and figure out how to make a V8 that can balance power and fuel economy. Otherwise, Toyota has a really interesting offering in the truck market with the TRD Pro. Disclaimer: Infiniti, Kia, and Toyota Provided the Vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
  3. The end of another year is upon us and I’m in the process of picking my favorite vehicles from the year. But before we get to that, I need to give some vehicles their time in the review spotlight. Trying to crank a review or a two a week is a hard task for some folks, myself included. I tend to spend a week with a vehicle, driving it in my daily routine, taking notes and photos, and hopefully beginning the review before the vehicle leaves. But that last part is the thickest part as it doesn’t always work out because of life. Whether it's a personal or family emergency, vacation, changes in work, or just being distracted, life always finds a way to get in and mess up whatever you are trying to do. Towards the end of every year, I have a small number of vehicles that have fallen between the cracks and are just waiting for me to find them and write something up. This year is no different as seven vehicles have been waiting patiently for their turn and their time has come. We're going to be looking at the first four of the seven. For this piece, I’ll be listing the good and bad of each vehicle, along with some notes that I took on each vehicle. 2016 Acura ILX A-Spec 2.4L 16-Valve, DOHC i-VTEC Four-Cylinder (201 Horsepower, 180 Pound-Feet of Torque) Eight-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic Base/As-Tested: $31,830/$32,830 Cheers: Excellent handling in the corners, improved styling, large back seat Jeers: Engine has to be worked hard, a large amount of wind and road noise, bouncy ride, questionable material choice, poor value when compared to competitors. Notes: Acura went back to the drawing board this year with the ILX in an effort to fix the slumping sales of the model. Some of the fixes do make a difference such as a new front clip and headlights that give some much need aggression. Inside, a set of leather and suede seats add a nice touch and provide good comfort. It should be noted the seats come with the A-Spec package. The engine lineup which included a 2.0L, 2.4L, and hybrid has been simplified to just the 2.4 with 201 horsepower. This eliminates one of the big problems for the ILX of being too slow if you opted for the hybrid or 2.0L. One item that Acura didn’t mess with was the handling. The ILX is a sweetheart around corners as it provides minimal body roll and excellent steering. Acura also made sure that the ILX’s suspension was compliant when dealing with bumps on a day-to-day basis, something it does very well. Sadly, that is where the good points of the ILX end. Despite Acura’s attempt on improving the ILX’s interior, it looks and in some parts, feels like the Civic that it is based on. Not something you want to be said since this vehicle competes in the same class as the Audi A3 and Buick Verano, both with impressive interiors. The 2.4L has the power to compete with the vehicles in the class. But to access this power, you’ll need to be working the engine somewhat hard - around 3,000 to 4,000 rpm. This would be ok if the ILX had a six-speed manual. But Acura dropped it for this year, replacing it with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. There isn’t anything wrong with the dual-clutch transmission, it’s quite smooth and doesn’t hesitate when going up or down. But it makes working the engine to its fullest, boring and not joyful. But the biggest problem for the ILX is the price. This particular ILX came with an as-tested price of $32,830 and that doesn’t include one of the huge changes for the model, a load of additional safety equipment. Acura added a number of safety systems such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation, and road departure mitigation. To get all of this, you need to either get the ILX Technology Plus ($32,990) or the ILX Technology Plus and A-Spec ($34,890). Around that price, you could get yourself into a well-equipped Buick Verano Turbo with much more amenities and better performance. 2015 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 3.2L 24-Valve VVT V6 (271 Horsepower, 239 Pound-Feet of Torque) Nine-Speed Automatic Base/As-Tested: $30,395/$36,869 Cheers: Sharp Looks, Very Capable Off-Road, V6 Performance Jeers: Ninth-Gear Seems Non-Existent, Price-Tag, Annoying Stop-Start System Notes: In my original review of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, I said that I was very impressed as Jeep made the leap from a boxy, go-anywhere SUV to sharp looking crossover with some Jeep DNA still there. But I wasn’t as impressed with the nine-speed automatic as it shuddered through the first three gears and wouldn’t go into ninth. At the time, I put the Cherokee on the wait and see list. A year has passed and another Cherokee has come in for a review. This particular Cherokee is the top of the line Trailhawk and it features a number of changes to make it a ‘Trail-Rated’ model by Jeep. Outside are a set of tow hooks on the front and rear bumper to pull out the vehicle if it gets stuck. A set seventeen-inch aluminum wheels come wrapped in meaty all-terrain tires to get you through whatever muck you decide to go through. Done up in a sharp red, the Cherokee Trailhawk makes no apologies of what its intended purpose is - going off-road. Under the skin, the Cherokee Trailhawk comes with Jeep Active Drive II. This four-wheel drive system is quite advanced as it offers a low-range setting for rock crawling and a rear lock to improve traction. Other changes for the Trailhawk include an off-road suspension with a one-inch lift, skid plates, and a 56:1 crawl ratio. We did some light off-roading on a dirt trail and found the Trailhawk to very capable as the four-wheel drive kept power flowing to us moving. Also, the suspension provided a very comfortable ride over the trail. Power for the Trailhawk comes from the optional 3.2L V6 with 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet. This engine feels plenty powerful for any situation that it is thrown at it. It also very refined during acceleration and at cruise. One part of the engine we aren’t keen on is the stop-start system. We found it be somewhat annoying as the engine wouldn’t always shut off, despite our foot planted firmly on the brake pedal. We mostly left it off for the majority of the week. As for the nine-speed automatic, it has been cleaned up for the most part. Gone is the shuddering we experienced in our first Cherokee, replaced by smooth and crisp shifts. Still, the transmission was very hesitant to go into ninth gear. We drove about 50 miles on the freeway at a 70 MPH cruise to see if it would go into ninth and no luck. At least, the ride is smooth and refined, even with the off-road tires. The big problem for the Cherokee Trailhawk is the price. The base model will set you back $30,395. Our test Trailhawk with a few options such as the V6, navigation, and a couple of other packages to reach an as-tested price of $36,869. That is a lot of money for a small crossover. But considering the number of changes to make the Trailhawk a very capable model, we think that for some folks who want the capability of something like a Wrangler, but with a bit more comfort should give this model a look. Everyone else should stick with the Latitude or Altitude models. 2016 Mazda CX-5 Touring 2.5L Skyactiv-G Four-Cylinder (184 Horsepower, 185 Pound-Feet of Torque) Six-Speed Automatic Base/As-Tested: $26,465/$28,835 Cheers: Improved Dash Makes Huge Difference, New Infotainment System, Performance and Fuel Economy, Excellent Handling Jeers: Road and Wind Noise are still in abundance Notes: It seems every time we get into the CX-5, Mazda has done some sort of change to it. The last time we drove a CX-5, it came with the new 2.5L version of the Skyactiv-G four-cylinder. The 2016 model fixes two of the biggest complaints we had in previous CX-5’s; the plain dashboard and poor infotainment system. We’ll start with the dash. First seen in the 2016 Mazda6, the dashboard looks more premium thanks to improved materials and new shapes. The new dash also brings in Mazda Connect, the latest infotainment system. This system is a huge improvement over the old system in terms of overall performance and usability. We didn’t have the issue of the navigation system showing you traveling on a different than the one you were on like we did in the 6. The CX-5 is still a joy to drive thanks to the 2.5L Skyactiv-G four-cylinder providing more than enough power for any situation and the chassis that provides superb handling in the corners. One issue we hope Mazda addresses in the future is noise isolation. There is still an abundance of wind and road noise entering the cabin. The 2016 Mazda CX-5 shows the continual improvement that the Japanese automaker has been doing is making it a better vehicle. 2015 Toyota Avalon XLE Touring 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve Dual VVT-i V6 (268 Horsepower, 248 Pound-Feet of Torque) Six-Speed Automatic Base/As-Tested: $36,080/$37,130 Cheers: Stylish Look, Powerful V6, Upscale Interior, Excellent Fuel Economy Jeers: Sporty ride may turn off some buyers Notes: I came away very impressed when I drove the Avalon Hybrid a couple years ago. The combination of sharp styling, sporty ride, and amazing fuel economy made me pick this as one of my favorite vehicles of that year. But would the regular Avalon receive the same praise? Mostly. The Avalon is still one the sharpest looking full-size sedans with a low-slung front end, narrow grille, and coupe-like roofline. The interior is much the same as the hybrid with loads of space for both front and rear seat passengers, comfortable leather seats, and a impressive design with quality materials used throughout. Unlike the hybrid, our XLE Touring came with the smaller seven-inch Entune infotainment system. It still is easy to use and quick to respond whenever you touch the screen or one of the capacitive touch buttons. Power comes from a 3.5L V6 which is used in a number of other Toyota and Lexus products. Horsepower is rated at 268 and torque is rated at 248 pound-feet. The engine is quite a peach as speed comes on at a very quick rate. But the engine is also quiet during acceleration, making a perfect highway companion. In the corners, the Avalon displays a level of athleticism not seen in other full-size sedans. Body roll is kept in check and the steering provides decent weight. This does mean the Avalon isn’t as comfortable as competitors as some bumps do make their way into the interior. Disclaimer: Acura, Jeep, Mazda, and Toyota Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
  4. To meet the growing demand for pickups in the U.S., Toyota will be boosting production of the Tacoma and Tundra in 2016. Bill Fay, head of Toyota's U.S. division says a third shift has been added to their Baja California, Mexico plant (Tacoma) and an additional 250 workers, plus a more flexible work schedule to its San Antonio, Texas plant (Tacoma and Tundra). The new workers and extra production will be in place in San Antonio by the middle of next year, said Fay. At the moment, Toyota's dealers are sitting on a 20-day supply of the Tundra, while the Tacoma is at a 10-day supply. "If you were to ask any of our U.S. dealers what they want, I'd say every one of them would say 'More trucks," said Bob Carter, senior vice president for U.S. Toyota operations. Source: Reuters
  5. AutoGuide recently found patent filing in Japan for a possible hardcore version of the Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ, and Toyota GT86. The filing features renderings of a coupe with a new front end, large rear wing, and a new set of wheels. This looks similar to the Subaru STI Performance Concept shown at the New York Auto Show earlier this year. Now the filing has Toyota and Fuji Heavy Industries - Subaru's parent company - listed as the creators. Not surprising since both have been working together on this coupe. One of the big questions lingering over this filing aside from when we could actual see this, is how much performance could this coupe have. The STI Performance Concept boasted around 300 horsepower from a turbocharged 2.0L boxer-four. Source: AutoGuide
  6. The past few months at the Cheers & Gears Detroit Bureau has seen some midsize sedans make a second appearance. One has gone the eco-friendly route, another came with some added zip in its sporty model, and the last has undergone some significant changes. The three sedans in question are the Hyundai Sonata Eco, Toyota Camry XSE V6, and 2016 Mazda6. Now if you want to know what we thought of these vehicles originally, you check out our reviews here. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring 2015 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid Next: 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco The current Hyundai Sonata is a bit head scratcher. When the new model was shown last year at the New York Auto Show, it looked like Hyundai dropped the ball. While the automaker had made a number of improvements in terms of the interior and the engine, the big item of the exterior design was somewhat forgotten. The sleek shape had been changed for something a bit more conservative. This has caused sales to slump and Hyundai to order a refresh a year sooner than expected. But even with these problems, is there a Sonata model that can stand above the rest? As we found out earlier this year, it isn’t the Sonata Sport 2.0T as it has a number of problems with being sporty. Let’s see if the Hyundai Sonata Eco can do it. What makes the Eco different from other Sonata models is under the hood. Hyundai employs a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 177 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Aside from this and an Eco badge on the trunk, it looks like the standard Sonata. But the Eco doesn’t drive like the standard model. With the torque arriving at 1,500 and continuing towards 4,500 rpm, this means the Eco’s has power readily available when you’re leaving a stop and continues onwards. Power comes on smoothly and linearly. The only downside to this powertrain is the dual-clutch transmission stumbles a bit due to slow shifts and occasional juddering. It should be noted that Hyundai has made some improvements to the DCT since we’ve driven the Sonata Eco, and the improvements are noticeable when we drove Tucson with this transmission. The other difference between the Sonata Eco and other trims comes in the form of fuel economy. The EPA rates the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco at 28 City/38 Highway/32 Combined. This is slightly better than the standard Sonata with 25 City/37 Highway/29 Combined. My week of driving saw an average of 33.4 MPG, slightly above the combined figure. In the ride and handling department, the Sonata Eco is quite a comfortable car as the suspension keeps most bumps from reaching the interior. Road and wind noise are kept to acceptable levels. Those who want a bit of sport should look towards the Mazda6 as it offers the driver a bit more information and enjoyment on the curves. The 2015 Hyundai Sonata Eco starts at $23,275, about $2,125 more than the base SE model. Considering what comes standard - a power drivers seat, backup camera, five-inch touchscreen radio, and a chrome front grille - the Eco is quite a good value. Our test Eco came with the optional tech package which adds $4,100 to the base price. But the package transforms the Eco into a handsomely loaded model with such features as blind-spot monitoring, dual-zone climate control, eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, leather seats, heated front seats, and push-button start. The Eco may be the best all-around trim in the Hyundai Sonata lineup. Not only does it offer impressive fuel economy for a midsize sedan, it comes well equipped and boasts a price tag that will not make you wonder if you spent too much. For many, it might be the right sedan. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonata Eco, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2015 Make: Hyundai Model: Sonata Trim: Eco Engine: 1.6L Turbocharged, Direct-Injected Four-Cylinder Driveline: Seven-Speed Dual Clutch, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 178 @ 5,500 Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500 - 4,500 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/38/32 Curb Weight: 3,250 lbs Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL Base Price: $23,275 As Tested Price: $28,310 (Includes $810.00 Destination Charge) Options: Tech Package - $4,100 Carpet Floor Mats - $125.00 Next: 2016 Mazda6 Grand Touring Small changes can make a big difference to a vehicle. No one is a bigger believer to this mantra than Mazda. A classic example is the CX-5. When it launched in 2013, the crossover drew me in with its sharp looks and impressive handling dynamics. But the 2.0L four-cylinder was a bit of a let down as it was a bit underpowered for the vehicle’s weight. Mazda went back and installed a larger 2.5L four-cylinder for the CX-5 and it made a world of difference in overall performance. So imagine taking this idea of making small changes and doing it to another vehicle. Mazda has done that with the 2016 Mazda sedan. Let see what the changes are and if they make the 6 an even better sedan. The outside get some minor changes such as the grille slats draped in chrome and a longer chrome bar that runs underneath the grille. The big changes for the 2016 model are for the interior as Mazda has taken the interior from 3 and placed it into 6. The new dash brings forth improved materials to make it look and feel more premium, along with Mazda’s new infotainment system. This system is a massive improvement over the older one in terms of performance and overall usability. However, Mazda’s system has an odd problem with the navigation system as it shows you traveling on a different road a few hundred feet away than the one you are currently on. Now the system does correct itself, but it takes up to half a minute. One other change for the 2016 Mazda6 is the optional i-Eloop system. This is a regenerative braking system that recycles the kinetic energy that is moving the vehicle into electricity that is stored in a capacitor. The capacitor then feeds that power to various electronic components to help reduce the load on the alternator and improve fuel economy. Now Mazda says the system delivers up five percent better fuel economy. This shows in the 2016 Mazda6’s fuel economy numbers of 28 City/40 Highway/32 Combined, slightly better than the 26 City/38 Highway/30 Combined on the 2014 model. So does it make a difference? Most likely as my average for the week in the 2016 model was 31 MPG, three MPGs higher than the 2014 model. Aside from all of these changes, the Mazda6 is still one of the best driving midsize sedans on sale. The 2.5L Skyactiv-G engine gets up to speed at a quick rate, while the six-speed automatic is one the fastest and smoothest shifting transmissions on sale. Mazda also hasn’t changed the fun-to-drive characteristics we loved in our original road test of the 6. One item we wished Mazda would work on is noise isolation. Road and wind noise were very apparent when driving the 6 on the expressway. The 2016 Mazda6 shows the little changes can take a sedan that is considered by many to be one of best and make and make it that much more. Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 6, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: Mazda Model: 6 Trim: Grand Touring Engine: Skyactiv-G 2.5L DOHC Four-Cylinder Driveline: Skyactiv-Drive Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 5,700 Torque @ RPM: 185 @ 3,250 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/40/32 Curb Weight: 3,250 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hofu, Japan Base Price: $30,195 As Tested Price: $33,395 (Includes $820.00 Destination Charge) Options: GT Technology Package - $2,180 Door Sill Trim Plates - $125.00 Cargo Mat - $75.00 Next: 2015 Toyota Camry XSE V6 Can a Toyota Camry be sporty? Before you start writing comments saying no and telling me that I’m crazy, it is a legitimate question. Consider Toyota’s pledge a couple years ago where it pledged to make their vehicles more engaging. So far, Toyota’s vehicles have looked more exciting. In terms of making them more engaging with driving, it has been mixed. The Avalon Hybrid we thought was a good driving vehicle, while the Corolla S wasn’t. So with that in mind, let us see how the sportiest Camry, the new XSE fares. The 2015 Camry went through a substantial refresh with most of body being changed - aside from the roof. It’s quite dramatic when compared to the previous model. The Camry XSE gets some unique tweaks to make it stand out further such as new mesh grille insert, 18-inch wheels, and dual-exhaust ports. The changes do make the Camry XSE stand out, but it also makes the XSE look like it's trying a bit too hard. Inside the XSE features a number of changes that we delved into our Camry Hybrid SE review including the revised dash with stitching. The only differences for the XSE is a set of faux-suede seats and red stitching. It would be nice if Toyota could do something more to differentiate the Camry XSE from other Camry models in the interior like some new trim pieces specific to the XSE. Power for the XSE comes in the form of a 2.5L four-cylinder as the base, with a 3.5L V6 as an option. Our XSE tester came with the optional V6 which packs 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet. No matter which engine you pick, a six-speed automatic comes standard. The V6 is quite the surprise as it pulls very strong through the rev range and will cause the front wheels to break loose if you aren’t careful with the accelerator. Toyota should also be given some credit for building one of the smoothest and quietest V6 engines on sale. The six-speed automatic shares the smooth characteristics of the engine. Fuel economy for the Camry V6 is rated at 21 City/31 Highway/25 Combined. I saw an average 24 MPG for the week. Now Toyota has made a number of improvements to the XSE to make it sporty such as firmer shocks and springs, new bushings, and a revised ­electric power steering system. So does it make a noticeable improvement to the Camry’s handling? Somewhat. The changes to the suspension do help in terms of body control. But the steering feels a little-bit rubbery and doesn’t provide any increased weight from the standard Camry. At least the Camry XSE provides a somewhat smooth ride. The big problem for the Camry XSE is the value proposition. The base price of the Camry XSE V6 starts at $31,370 and includes LED headlights, a seven-inch touchscreen with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system and navigation; power seats, and dual-zone climate control. However, our test vehicle was fitted with a number of options such as blind-spot monitoring, a JBL audio system, radar cruise control, and lane-departure warning which caused our as-tested price to be $35,768. Considering what you get and how the model doesn’t live up to its sport pretensions, it makes us question whether or not the XSE is worth it. While the XSE is a step in the right direction for in terms of making the Camry a bit more sporty, we think Toyota could have gone a little bit farther in this regard. Also, the value for money equation doesn’t quite work for the Camry XSE. It is a good effort, but Toyota needs to do a bit more work. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Camry XSE, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2015 Make: Toyota Model: Camry Trim: XSE V6 Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve w/Dual-VVTi V6 Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 268 @ 6,200 Torque @ RPM: 248 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/31/25 Curb Weight: 3,480 lbs Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, KY Base Price: $31,370 As Tested Price: $35,768 (Includes $525.00 Destination Charge) Options: Entune Premium JBL Audio with Navigation - $805.00 Technology Package - $750.00 Blind Spot Monitor with Rear-Cross Traffic Alert - $500.00 Remote Start - $499.00 Special Color (Ruby Flare Pearl) - $395.00 Four Seasons Floor Mat Package - $325.00 Illuminated Door Sills - $299.00
  7. Last night in Las Vegas, Toyota introduced everyone to the forth-generation Prius. The new model promises to be more efficient and sportier than the previous model. The 2016 Prius shares a resemblance to the Mirai hydrogen car in terms of looks. From the overall profile to the shape of the rear taillights, the fourth-generation Prius is very polarizing. Size-wise, the 2016 Prius is 2.4 inches longer, 0.6 inches wider, and 0.8 inches lower than the outgoing model. This is due to the new Prius using Toyota's New Global Architecture (TNGA). The interior for the Prius retains a number of characteristics from previous models such as the instrument cluster positioned in the middle and the joystick control for the transmission. There is also a fair amount of white plastic around the center stack and console, reminding us of the first-generation Chevrolet Volt. Unfortunately, Toyota didn't say anything about the Prius' powertrain or fuel economy numbers. What they did say is the new model will bring a 10 percent increase in overall fuel economy, and there will be a new Eco trim which will increase fuel economy numbers more. Toyota promises the 2016 Prius will also be fun to drive. We'll have more information the next Prius in due time, including when it will go on sale. Source: Toyota Press Release is on Page 2 Beyond Possible: The Sky's the Limit for the All-New 2016 Prius at Las Vegas World Premiere Event Striking exterior design ushers in new hybrid era New platform and rear double wishbone suspension dial up driving dynamics Ten percent fuel economy improvement on core models; highest MPG without a plug First vehicle based on Toyota’s New Global Architecture Toyota Safety Sense system available among other safety enhancements LAS VEGAS, Sept. 8, 2015 - - The same vehicle that pioneered the hybrid category just disrupted the status quo again. The all-new, fourth-generation Prius starred in a spectacular evening production of music, food and special effects to celebrate an industry icon in a way that was anything but expected. More than 350 journalists, social influencers and Toyota guests watched the all-new 2016 Prius elevate into the Las Vegas night sky. After almost twenty years of shaping the world view on alternative energy vehicles, and more than 3.5 million global sales, Prius is setting out to change the world again. Today’s consumers expect environmental credentials, and the new Prius delivers. Smaller, lighter hybrid system components, higher-energy density in the batteries, and an internal combustion engine touting ground-breaking thermal efficiency (more than forty percent), contribute to a significant advancement in fuel economy. With an expected ten percent improvement in EPA estimated MPG on core models, Prius will offer best-in-class fuel economy among vehicles without a plug. A soon-to-be unveiled Eco model will achieve an even greater improvement, strengthening Toyota’s leadership in hybrid fuel efficiency. But it’s not just about MPG anymore. Today’s customers want all the traditional benefits of a hybrid, but don’t want to compromise on looks and performance. So Toyota upgraded the Prius inside and out to deliver the complete package - emotional styling, smarter technology and impressive MPG, in a vehicle that’s more fun to drive than ever. “Prius set the global benchmark for hybrids, but now is breaking its own boundaries with more engaging style and fun-to-drive dynamics,” said Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager, Toyota Division. “What was once a rational purchase that for many customers focused on fuel economy, is now so much more. This Prius will invite new drivers into the category by delivering an impressive look and feel, built on the foundation of safety and eco-consciousness that define the vehicle’s heritage.” Easy on the Eyes The Prius’ exterior has been completely reimagined. From the side, it is longer and sleeker with the overall outline evoking an athletic shape. Inspired by a runner in the starting blocks, the sporty design conveys a feeling of forward motion. The hood is lower and the distinctive roof peak has been moved forward. Bold character lines run along the side from the front fenders – one just above the sill that sweeps up towards the rear fender, while the upper crease morphs into the rear spoiler, which has been lowered. The use of new standard LED headlamps minimizes the Prius’ front fascia and, at the same time, provides an arresting lighting display which helps define the vehicle’s character. The unique and striking rear combination lamps express the distinctive lines of the Prius from the rear spoiler to the trailing edges of the sides. A palette of seven exterior colors includes an all-new Toyota hue, “Hypersonic Red.” This new color utilizes a newly developed treatment process, which results in a deep and vibrant luster highlighting the external forms. Need a Hug? The Prius’ new, premium interior adopts advanced technology complemented by features that are functional, fun and have high visual impact. The wrap-around dash design, form-hugging seats, ease of controls and improved visibility put the driver in complete control. Once inside, drivers will feel immediately comfortable and impressed by styling cues that are unique in the industry. The wide instrument panel, seamlessly designed to be both functional and beautiful, gives a sense of comfort and spaciousness. Available premium white ornamentation in the lower sections of the cabin is reminiscent of fine bone china. Efficient Development from the Start The 2016 Prius is the first global vehicle to implement Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA). TNGA aims to greatly improve core vehicle performance and enhance product appeal through an integrated development program for powertrain components and vehicle platforms. Development of vehicles is being grouped to promote strategic sharing of components with the goal of improving resource efficiency by better than twenty percent. Resources will be directed into developing advanced technologies, and most importantly even further strengthening product appeal. A Fun-to-Drive Hybrid? A “Wish” Come True Engineered from the ground up, the new Prius is 2.4 inches longer, 0.6 inches wider and 0.8 inches lower than the model it replaces, providing a planted on-road presence while delivering more occupant and cargo room. Hallmarks of TNGA, a lower center of gravity and a more responsive suspension package, dial up the driving excitement. In fact, the height of the Prius’ front badge is exactly the same as that of Scion’s FR-S sports car – a remarkable achievement in height and mass reduction. The all-new rear double wishbone suspension produces a better connection to the road, providing greater control and feedback in all driving conditions. A more rigid body helps improve responsiveness while cornering. From winding mountain roads to the wide boulevards downtown, the new Prius stays connected to the road, without sacrificing ride quality and occupant comfort. Safety First TNGA also provides a more rigid structural framework to help enhance occupant protection in the event of a collision. The high strength upper body is designed to distribute frontal collision impact energy. Plus, the Prius will be among the first U.S. models to offer Toyota Safety Sense (TSS), a new multi-feature advanced safety package anchored by automated pre-collision braking. TSS bundles cutting edge safety technologies including: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control Automatic High Beams Available on the new Prius, Toyota aims to make Toyota Safety Sense available across nearly the entire vehicle lineup by the end of 2017.
  8. The fourth-generation Toyota Prius has made an early debut thanks to spy photographer who caught the vehicle uncovered at a photo shoot. There's a lot of the Mirai hydrogen vehicle in the new Prius' design. Such details include very busy front-end with split opening grille and forked headlights, to a similar side profile and blacked-out C-Pillar. The Prius will be keeping the liftback shape that it has been using since the seconf-generation model. We don't know any details on the next-generation Prius hybrid powertrain, but Green Car Reports says the next Prius will use Toyota's new global modular platform and possibly have all-wheel drive as an option. We'll get our first look at the next-generation Prius next month. Source: Green Car Reports
  9. It seems not a day goes by without someone saying that 'crossovers are the hot thing'. Yes, we are part of this group. Just consider the automakers who are currently selling a subcompact; Chevrolet Trax, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3, and Nissan Juke. There is one automaker missing from this list, Toyota. However, the Japanese automaker could be joining in the near future. A spy photographer caught a fully camouflaged Toyota subcompact crossover testing in the deserts of the American southwest. The overall shape seems to inspired from the C-HR concept shown at the Paris Motor show last year. Comparing the two, we can see some similarities such as a long hood and sloping roofline. The subcompact crossover will use a new modular platform and come with a turbocharged four-cylinder with a CVT. No word if a manual transmission will be on offer. One item still up in the air is whether or not this subcompact crossover will be sold as a Toyota or Scion in the U.S. Some believe it could be destined for Scion as some of the photos show a xB following the test mule. Another item that is not known at this time, when we will see the subcompact in production form. Source: Autoblog
  10. The midsize sedan field has changed drastically within the past few years. New models are now standing in the spotlight, while older and more established models are beginning to fall flat. The Toyota Camry is beginning to feel some of the pressure. While it still is one of the top selling vehicles in the U.S., the likes of the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Ford Fusion are eating into its sales. Toyota knew it was time to make some changes to keep the Camry on top. The result is the 2015 Camry. I spent a week in the Camry SE Hybrid to see if these changes help or hurt. The 2015 Camry is quite a departure in terms of design. Whereas previous-generations were more reserved and somewhat boring to look at, the 2015 model is quite out there. From a long, slim chrome bar paired with a massive mesh grille up front, to character lines along the side, this Camry has style. A set of grey, 17-inch wheels and hybrid badging finish off the finish off the Hybrid SE. I’m not to keen on the Camry’s overall design, but I have to admit this is the most exciting Camry in a while. The interior is also a departure from previous Camrys. There is some style throughout the interior with slight curves on the dash panels and grey stitching on certain interior pieces. There is also more soft-touch materials used throughout to make the cabin a bit more pleasing to touch. The center stack gets a seven-inch touchscreen with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system, and a set of large buttons and knobs to control it and the climate control system. Some might complain and make fun of the giant buttons and knobs that Toyota employs., Bbut in the age of using small buttons which are difficult to find, or capacitive-touch buttons which can be hit and miss, I appreciate Toyota’s decision to keep it simple. One item I wish Toyota would fix is the touchscreen as it appears to be washed out in any condition. SE models get a set of sport seats with what Toyota calls ‘sport fabric material’ - a combination of their SofTex vinyl and patterned fabric. Finding a comfortable position in the front is no problem thanks to good support from the seats and a number of adjustments - power for the driver, manual for the passenger. The back seat has no shortage of head and legroom for even the tallest of passengers. See Page 2 Powertrain and Ride Impressions One item Toyota did not dare mess with is the hybrid powertrain. Like on the larger Avalon Hybrid, the Camry Hybrid uses a 2.5L Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder paired with an electric motor to produce a total output 200 horsepower. This powertrain is paired to a CVT. There are also three different drive modes which varies power output: Drive: Goes between electric, gas, and hybrid modes automatically. Eco: Restricts throttle response and use of the A/C compressor EV: Runs the vehicle solely on electric power if the vehicle is under 25 MPH The Camry Hybrid is quite the potent vehicle. Leaving a stop light, I was shocked at how it was able to leap off and get moving at a quick rate. Maybe it was due to me thinking I was driving a Prius XL. But the reason for this fast response is due to the 199 pound-feet of torque from the electric motor which is available from 0 to 1,500 rpm. More impressive was how the Camry Hybrid did around town and on the freeway as the powertrain was able to get up to speed at a reasonable rate. I had to remind myself that this a hybrid and not a basic four-cylinder model. Fuel economy is rated at 40 City/38 Highway/40 Combined for the hybrid. My average for the week was around 37 MPG. This was due to frigid weather I was driving in. Now the Hybrid SE model is new for this generation of Camry Hybrid which includes a sport-tuned suspension. Does this make the Camry Hybrid sportier? I have to say no. In the corners, the car felt somewhat squishy - possibly due to the low-rolling resistance tires. Also, the steering felt very rubbery and had no feel. If you want a midsize hybrid sedan that is somewhat fun to drive, I would point you in the direction of the Honda Accord Hybrid. But for day-to-day driving, the Camry Hybrid is quite good. Even with the sport-tuned suspension, the vehicle still kept bumps and imperfections at bay. Wind and road noise were kept at acceptable levels. At the end of my week with the Camry Hybrid SE, I felt that most of these changes have helped the Camry. It may not be the most exciting to look at or to drive, but Toyota focused on improving the basics which will help it in the sales chart. As for the SE trim, I think its a half-baked idea. They have the looks down, now Toyota just needs to work on making the driving a tiny bit more sporting. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Camry Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2015 Make: Toyota Model: Camry Trim: Hybrid SE Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive (2.5L DOHC 16-valve VVT-i four-cylinder, 105 kW Electric Motor) Driveline: CVT, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 156 @ 5,700 (Gas), 200 (Total Output) Torque @ RPM: 156 @ 4,500 (Gas), 199 @ 0-1,500 (Electric) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 40/38/40 Curb Weight: 3,565 lbs Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, KY Base Price: $27,995 As Tested Price: $32,987 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge) Options: Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite - $1,300.00 Power Tilt/Slide Moonroof - $915.00 Remote Start - $499.00 Clear Protective Film - $395.00 VIP RS3200 Plus Security System - $359.00 Four Season Floor Mat Package - $325.00 Illuminated Door Sill Enhancements - $299.00 Wireless Charging for Electronics - $75.00
  11. It seems America isn't the only place that is interested in the Toyota Tundra. CarAdvice.com.au reports there is “enormous demand” for the Tundra in Australia. Speaking with Tony Cramb, Toyota AU's executive director of sales and marketing said there was room for a larger truck. But there are two key items withholding the Tundra from the Australian marketplace. “We have an enormous demand for a Tundra here in Australia, there’s no doubt if we could get a diesel Tundra, then I think we’d sell 100 a month. But regrettably because it’s manufactured in the States, it’s unlikely to happen that way," said Cramb “… We’ve had strong requests at dealer meetings to get the Tundra here, and we have made representation. But when it comes down to it, because it’s not LHD here, and because it’s petrol, in the end it’s very hard to make the case.” For now, those who are interested in buying a Tundra in Australia can visit an importer and pick up one for around 120,000 AUD (about $94,000). Source: CarAdvice.com.au
  12. If you want the most off-road capable Toyota Tacoma, then you'll be happy to hear the 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro will be arriving at dealers next months. But it will cost you a fair chunk of cash. The 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro will carry a base price of $41,700 (includes a $940 destination charge). This nets you an off-road package that includes FOX 2.5 internal bypass shocks, new front springs with a 1-inch lift, and a revised rear suspension with progressive leaf-springs. The exterior features a retro Toyota grille, new head and taillights, front skid plate, and a set of 16-inch wheels wrapped in Kevlar-reinforced off-road tires. Power comes from a 3.5L V6 with 278 horsepower. The V6 in the TRD Pro features a larger alternator, and coolers for the oil and power-steering. A six-speed manual comes standard, while a six-speed automatic is optional. No matter which transmission you choose, you'll get a part-time four-wheel drive system. Models with the manual transmission A-TRAC 4WD traction control system that modulates power to all four wheels without cutting the throttle. Opt for the automatic and you'll get Crawl Control that manages the throttle and brakes to maintain movement at one of five speed settings. Source: Toyota Press Release is on Page 2 Toyota Releases Pricing for All-New 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro TORRANCE, Calif., August 2, 2016 - - It’s dirtier than ever and it’s coming soon! It’s the highly anticipated return of the all-new Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro! Whether tackling treacherous snow-covered terrain, driving off the beaten path, or surviving extreme conditions where roads fear to tread, the adrenaline-pumping Tacoma TRD Pro will be up for any challenge. Based on the ninth-generation Toyota Tacoma pickup that launched last fall, the Tacoma TRD Pro will start getting down and dirty when it reaches dealerships later this month. The Toyota Tacoma rejoins the 2017 model year TRD Pro family with all-new factory-installed off-road equipment designed by the experts at Toyota Racing Development (TRD) to make it EVEN MORE off-road capable than before. Aimed squarely at extreme off-roading enthusiasts who know the value of body-on-frame construction, and challenge themselves and their trucks and SUV’s in some of the harshest conditions, the new 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro will raise the bar on TRD Pro performance. Courtesy of TRD, the new Tacoma TRD Pro will add an array of new performance equipment and features, making this a truly next-generation TRD Pro product, and the new benchmark for challenging off-road terrain. Extreme Exterior for Extreme Performance The 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro is designed to not only look tough, but to perform in the toughest off-road environment. Based on the Tacoma TRD Off-Road 4x4 Double Cab Short Bed model in either 6-speed manual (with clutch start-cancel switch) or 6-speed automatic transmission, the new Tacoma TRD Pro will be available in three exterior colors: Cement, Barcelona Red Metallic, and Super White. The exterior of each Tacoma TRD Pro model will also include: 16-inch TRD black alloy wheels with Goodyear Wrangler® All-Terrain Kevlar®-reinforced tires TRD Pro aluminum front skid plate Rigid Industries® LED fog lights New projector-beam headlights with black bezels, LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL), and auto on/off feature New taillights with black bezels TRD Pro badge on front door with diamond-pattern knurled finish Black TRD Pro and 4x4 rear tailgate badging Each Tacoma TRD Pro will also come equipped with a heritage-inspired TOYOTA front grille with color-keyed surround, blacked out hood scoop and graphic, color-keyed power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, color-keyed door handles, black overfenders, and a color-keyed rear bumper. Interior Sportiness Combined with Convenience Technology Driving a truck designed for harsh off-road conditions does not mean you also have to live without riding in comfort or the latest safety and convenience technologies. The new Tacoma TRD Pro combines performance and convenience with standard features that include: Black TRD Pro leather-trimmed heated front seats with TRD Pro logo located on the headrests Leather-trimmed tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth® hands-free phone controls Entune™ Premium Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite New for 17MY power sliding rear window with privacy glass TRD shift knob TRD Pro floor mats Rear parking assist sonar Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) The new Tacoma TRD Pro also includes an analog instrumentation that features a 4.2-inch color Multi-Information Display (MID) with an integrated inclinometer and tilt gauge. The MID also has outside temperature, odometer, tripmeters, and average fuel economy. As in all Tacoma models, a GoPro® mount is located on the windshield for serious off-roaders who like to document their exploits with GoPro® HERO cameras.
  13. It seemed for a time that the midsize truck was a dead vehicle driving. If you wanted one a few years back, you only had the choice of the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma. All of the other midsize trucks had disappeared due to pricing and fuel economy figures being very close to full-size trucks, causing many buyers to go with the larger option. But the midsize truck has been enjoying a resurgence thanks to General Motors introducing the latest versions of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon into the U.S. This, in turn, has caused automakers to reconsider this class with Toyota introducing a ‘redesigned’ Tacoma last year and news coming out that Ford readying a new Ranger towards the end of this decade. GM hasn’t been resting on their laurels either. Last year saw them introduce a diesel engine that gives the Colorado and Canyon best-in-class towing numbers. A check-up in the midsize truck class was needed. Over the past few months, we spent some time in the 2016 Toyota Tacoma and GMC Canyon with the diesel option. Here is what we found out. Exterior: First up is the Toyota Tacoma which doesn’t look that much different from the previous model we drove back in 2013. The design brief for the 2016 model must have something to the effect of ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it’ in terms of the overall shape. But that isn’t to say Toyota hasn’t made some changes to the design. The front end gets a larger grille, new headlights, and a more aggressive front bumper. Around the back, the tailgate has the ‘Tacoma’ name embossed. The GMC Canyon takes some ideas from the full-size Sierra in design. The front features a large chrome grille and rectangular headlights with LED daytime running lights. Our truck came fitted with a set of 18-inch wheels finished in what GM calls ‘ultra-bright chrome’. The rest of the truck is similar to Colorado in terms of the cab and bed design. I have to admit I prefer the Colorado over the Canyon in terms of design. The Colorado just stands out slightly more due to its more distinctive front end. In terms of beds, both trucks came with their short bed option - measuring about 5 feet. Those needing a bigger bed can option a 6-foot on both trucks. But it should be noted that the Tacoma Limited only comes with the 5-foot bed option. If you want the longer bed, you’ll need to drop down to one of the lower trims. As for bed features, both trucks feature a dampened tailgate and adjustable tie-downs on the bed rails. But the Tacoma begins to pull ahead as it features tie-downs integrated into the floor, storage compartments, and the option of a 120V/400W outlet. Interior: Like their full-size brethren, midsize trucks have been seeing a noticeable increase in terms of interior design and materials. Sitting in either truck, you’ll be impressed with the amount of soft-touch materials and the small design touches throughout the interior. Between the two trucks, we would say the Tacoma is the sharper looking with dash inserts that match the color of the seats and silver trim running around various parts. As for the dash layout, both trucks feature a simple layout with controls within easy reach. In terms of seating, the Canyon and Tacoma offer seating up to five. But the Canyon is the most comfortable of the two trucks. The front seats provide the right balance of comfort and support. For 2016, GM has added a height adjustment for the power seats. This little addition makes finding a comfortable position that much easier. As for the back, there is a decent amount of headroom. Legroom varies on how tall the passenger sitting up front is. It ranges from decent to nonexistent. The Tacoma, on the other hand, is a comedy of errors. First off, the front seats are mounted quite low and cause you to think that you’re sitting in a bunker. This wouldn’t be an issue if you could adjust the height, but the Tacoma doesn’t offer that. Making matters worse is the tilt and telescoping steering doesn’t offer enough range in terms of its adjustments. As I wrote my notes about the Tacoma, “instead of the truck fitting around you, you have to fit around it.” The back seat is best reserved for either small kids or cargo. An average size adult like your’s truly will find barely any head and legroom. Infotainment: The base Canyon SL and Canyon get a 4.2-inch color screen radio, while SLE and SLT trims get an 8-inch IntelliLink system. Our Canyon SLT tester featured the optional 8-inch IntelliLink system with navigation. General Motors has been improving IntelliLink/MyLink over the past few years in terms of overall stability. The system still stumbles in terms of performance and recognizing various devices plugged into the USB inputs. For 2016, GM has added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. We tried out CarPlay in the Canyon and found it to be slightly better than IntelliLink in terms of the iPhone-like interface and snappy performance. But like in previous GM models with CarPlay, we found various applications would crash and the system wouldn’t always see my iPhone. Since driving the Canyon, we have tried out CarPlay in vehicles other manufacturers and didn’t have any issues. All Tacomas feature Toyota’s Entune infotainment system. Depending on the trim, the screen will measure either 6.1 or 7-inches. Our Tacoma Limited tester came with the 7-inch screen. Entune might not be newest-looking infotainment systems on the block, but its simple interface and fast response times make it one of the better systems on sale. We also like how you can customize the home screen to provide various information such as audio and navigation. At the moment, Toyota hasn’t added Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to Entune. Powertrain: The GMC Canyon is the most well-rounded when it comes to powertrains. There is a 2.5L inline-four, a 3.6L V6, and the engine found in our tester, a 2.8L Duramax Turbodiesel four-cylinder. The diesel produces 181 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic and either two-wheel or four-wheel drive. When leaving a stop, you’ll find yourself wondering where that turbodiesel thrust is. Turbo lag is very apparent with this engine. Once the turbo does spool up, the engine delivers power at a smooth and immediate rate. The six-speed automatic provides quick gear changes. In terms of towing, GMC says the Canyon diesel with four-wheel drive can tow up to 7,600 pounds. For the Toyota Tacoma, you can choose from a 2.7L four-cylinder or a 3.5L V6. We had the V6 in our tester which boasted 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. The V6 can be paired with a six-speed manual or automatic, and either two or four-wheel drive. Our truck came with the automatic and four-wheel drive. On paper, the Tacoma trails the Canyon’s V6 (305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque). Out in the world, the Tacoma surpasses GM’s V6 partly due to it feeling more grunty at low rpms. You don’t feel that you need to give the Tacoma’s V6 more gas to get moving at a decent clip. The six-speed automatic delivers smooth gear changes, but we wished it would go through the gears quicker. Towing is rated at 6,400 lbs, about 600 pounds less than the Canyon with the V6. Fuel Economy: The EPA rates the 2016 GMC Canyon four-wheel drive with the diesel at 20 City/29 Highway/23 Combined and the 2016 Toyota Tacoma V6 with four-wheel drive at 18 City/23 Highway/20 Combined. Our average for the week in both trucks were 25 MPG for the Canyon and 19.2 MPG for the Tacoma. Ride & Handling: No other midsize truck can come close to the GMC Canyon in terms of ride. Like the Chevrolet Colorado I drove last year, the Canyon’s suspension smooths over bumps and other road imperfections. You think that you’re riding in a sedan and not a truck. GM has done a lot of work in terms of sound-deadening for models equipped with the Duramax diesel. Thicker windows and more soundproofing means you’ll the clatter of the diesel engine when accelerating. The extra soundproofing also means the Canyon doesn’t have much wind and road noise coming inside. Contrast this with the Tacoma which feels more like a bucking bronco. You’ll able to tell how smooth or rough various roads are as the suspension will transmit a good amount of the surface into the seats due to the Tacoma retaining a solid-rear axle. Put a heavy load into the bed and the ride does smooth out. This is ok if you’re coming from an old pickup truck. Not so much if you’re coming from a sedan or crossover. Road and wind noise are very apparent at speeds above 45 mph. But the Tacoma does redeem itself when it comes to off-roading. Thanks to 9.4 inches of ground clearance, flexible suspension, and loads of off-road tech (hill start and descent control to name a couple), the Tacoma can tackle a trail with no issue. Thanks to winter storm during our week in the Tacoma, we were able to put the four-wheel drive system to the test. Fitted with a set of Michelin off-road tires, the Tacoma went through deep snow with no issues. It should be noted that if you’re serious about taking a Tacoma off-road, then you should look at the TRD Off-Road which adds new shocks, meatier off-road tires, the Multi-Terrain Select system that varies the traction control system for different conditions, and crawl control that modulates the brakes and engine when dealing with some treacherous obstacles such as a steep hill. The Canyon isn’t as capable off-road. For one, it is about an inch shorter in terms of overall ground clearance. Second, the front air dam which is used to improve overall aerodynamics hampers off-road performance. A key example of this comes in approach angle. The Canyon only has an 18-degree approach angle while the Tacoma has either a 29 or 32-degree approach angle. Value: Both of these test trucks make a strong case for going with one of the lower trims. The 2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited Double Cab starts at $37,820 for the four-wheel drive model. With options, the as-tested price came to $41,024. Yes, you do get a lot of standard equipment such as blind-spot monitoring, dual-zone climate control, navigation, heated seats, push-button start, and a JBL audio system. But you can get a fair amount of those features as options on the SR5 and the two TRD models. One other thing to consider. The Toyota Tacoma is one of the best vehicles to retain its resale value. Kelly Blue Book says the Tacoma will retain 73 percent of its resale value after three years. The Canyon SLT has a slightly lower base price of $37,450. But it is the more expensive of the two with an as-tested price of $44,365. A fair chunk of the price comes from Duramax diesel which will set you back $3,730. For the as-tested price, you can get into a decently equipped full-size truck. Again, the lower trim SLE gets most of the equipment from the SLT as options for a slightly lower price. Final Thoughts: If you’re expecting me to say the GMC Canyon is better than the Toyota Tacoma or vice-versa, then you’ll be surprised at what I’m going to say. Both of these trucks are good choices in the midsize truck class. The choice comes down to what are your desires and needs. For example, if you’re coming from passenger sedan into your first truck or planning to do some towing, the GMC Canyon and sister Chevrolet Colorado are what you should go for. On the opposite end, the Tacoma is perfect for those who want something to tackle the trail or need a V6 with a bit of punch. 2016 GMC Canyon SLT Crew Cab Cheers: Fuel economy of the diesel, barely any wind and road noise, smooth ride Jeers: Price, GMC Intellilink still has some bugs, fair amount of turbo lag 2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited Double Cab Cheers: Very capable off-road, V6 feels quite punchy, clever features in the bed Jeers: Rides like an old school truck, difficult to find a comfortable seating position, fair amount of road and wind noise Disclaimer: GMC and Toyota Provided the trucks, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2016 Make: GMC Model: Canyon Trim: SLT 4WD Crew Cab Short Box Engine: 2.8L Turbodiesel Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel drive Horsepower @ RPM: 181 @ 3,400 Torque @ RPM: 369 @ 2,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/29/23 Curb Weight: 4,698 lbs Location of Manufacture: Wentzville, MO Base Price: $37,450 As Tested Price: $44,365 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge) Options: 2.8L Duramax Turbodiesel Four - $3,730 Bose Audio System - $500.00 8" Color Touchscreen with GMC Intellilink and Navigation - $495.00 Spray-On Bed Liner - $475.00 Copper Red Metallic Pain - $395.00 Driver Alert Package - $395.00 Year: 2016 Make: Toyota Model: Tacoma Trim: Limited 4X4 Double Cab Engine: 3.5L Atkinson Cycle V6 with Dual VVT-i Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 278 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 265 @ 4,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/23/20 Curb Weight: 4,480 lbs Location of Manufacture: San Antonio, TX Base Price: $37,820 As Tested Price: $41,024 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge) Options: Tonneau Cover - $650.00 V6 Tow Package - $650.00 5" Chrome Oval Tube Step - $535.00 Carpet Floor Mats w/Door Sill - $209.00 Mudgaurds - $140.00 Bed Mat - $120.00
  14. With the Volkswagen diesel emission scandal hanging a dark cloud over the fuel, many automakers are considering whether or not they want to continue with diesel. Karl Schlicht, executive vice-president of Toyota Europe tells Autocar the company is wondering whether or not they should stop offering diesels. He uses the example of the Yaris Diesel. At the moment, the option makes "up less than 10%” of total sales for Europe. Dropping this model is a real possibility. “I think that anyone looking at investing in a new diesel plant, which might have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, will have to look long and hard at whether they would get payback,” said Schlicht. This comes as stricter emission standards and tests are on the horizon for Europe. Source: Autocar
  15. Toyota is recalling 482,000 Prius and Lexus CT 200h models for an issue with the side curtain airbags. According to Toyota, the hybrids use air bag inflators composed of two chambers welded together. Some vehicles may have a crack where the weld is. Over time, the crack can grow and cause the pieces to separate. "If an inflator separates, the CSA could partially inflate, and, in limited circumstances, one or both sections of the inflator could enter the interior of the vehicle," the company said in a statement. The models involved include, 2010 - 2012 Lexus CT 200h 2010 - 2012 Toyota Prius 2010 - 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In The fix involves dealers installing retention brackets on the inflators to prevent it from entering the vehicle. Source: Toyota Press Release is on Page 2 Toyota Recalls Certain Prius and Lexus CT Vehicles PLANO, Texas, June 28, 2016 – Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. today announced that it is conducting a safety recall of approximately 482,000 Model Year 2010 - 2012 Prius; 2010 and 2012 Prius Plug-In Hybrids and 2011 and 2012 Lexus CT 200h vehicles. The involved vehicles are equipped with curtain shield air bags (CSA) in the driver and passenger side roof rails that have air bag inflators composed of two chambers welded together. Some inflators could have a small crack in the weld area joining the chambers, which could grow over time, and lead to the separation of the inflator chambers. This has been observed when the vehicle is parked and unoccupied for a period of time. If an inflator separates, the CSA could partially inflate, and, in limited circumstances, one or both sections of the inflator could enter the interior of the vehicle. If an occupant is present in the vehicle, there is an increased risk of injury. All known owners of the involved vehicles will be notified by first class mail. Toyota and Lexus dealers will install retention brackets on the curtain shield air bag inflators at no cost. These retention brackets are designed to prevent the inflator chambers from entering the vehicle interior if separation occurs. Information about automotive recalls, including but not limited to the list of involved vehicles, is subject to change over time. For the most up-to-date Safety Recall information on Lexus, Toyota and Scion customers should check their vehicle’s status by visiting http://www.toyota.com/recall and entering the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Safety Recall inquiry by individual VIN is also available at the NHTSA site: safercar.gov/vin. For any additional questions, customer support is also available by calling Lexus Customer Service at 1-800-255-3987.
  16. The long-rumored joint roadster/sports car project that BMW and Toyota are working on has found a home for production. German newspaper Kleine Zeitung reports Magna Steyr - a unit of Magna International based in Canada and specializes in building low-volume models - has been contracted by BMW to build a new model at the Graz, Austria plant starting in 2018. The plan is to have an annual production run of 60,000 vehicles. BMW has confirmed that it will be contracting Magna Steyr to build a new model next year after deciding it would end production of the Countryman and Paceman at the factory - possibly the next 5-Series sedan. The Paceman will be axed while the Countryman will be moved to the Netherlands to the factory that produces the standard MINI. Neither BMW or Magna Steyr commented on what the model would be. Considering the low production numbers in question, many believe that is reserved for the new BMW roadster (possibly named Z5) and the Toyota Supra. Source: Automotive News Europe (Subscription Required), Kleine Zeitung
  17. Tetsuya Tada, the man behind the Toyota 86 coupe (and sister models Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S) has some dreams that he would like the Japanese brand to take on. One thing Tada-san is adamant Toyota should do is launch a dedicated high-performance brand. “BMW has its M Division, Mercedes-Benz has Mercedes-AMG, Audi has quattro GmbH, so they have a stance of a sports car, but Toyota hasn’t,” Tada-san told CarAdvice. “So I would like to build that major sports car brand within Toyota, like BMW’s M.” The closest thing Toyota has at the moment is their TRD (Toyota Racing Development) arm. But Tada points to Gazgoo Racing - the group behind the racing efforts of the Lexus LF-A and Toyota 86 - as a possibility to reach this goal. “BMW and M and Audi and quattro GmbH used to be like the Toyota relationship with Gazoo – it wasn’t really one body, it was two separate things. But because of the time and the continuous effort, now they are together. So, I’m wishing that Toyota puts effort continuously, and then someday later, Toyota and Gazoo will be one body. The important thing is to keep putting in the effort and continue – never give up,” said Tada-san. Tada-san is also working on encouraging Toyota to build more vehicles with passion - see the upcoming Lexus LC 500 as an example. He is very much aware of the ‘opportunity’ to build a flagship sports car - the rumored Supra. “We’re putting all the effort into making it happen. There is so much gossip about it may be happening or it may be produced, but amongst Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), much of the things people think, have already been tried. But trying [‘things’] and trying to reach production, are two different things. So, of the ideas from our team, maybe one tenth is the production car.” Toyota and BMW currently have a partnership of developing various things, including a sports car platform. Rumor has it that next-generation BMW Z4 will share its platform with the Supra. Finally, Tada-san revealed what he would like to do as a dream project. “I would prefer a new Celica GT4 – turbo, four-wheel drive. [it’s a] really fun car and really fast. And [it was fast on] every type of road. [A new one is definitely] one of my dreams.” Source: CarAdvice
  18. Most enthusiasts have a deep love for wagons. So it should come as no surprise as many enthusiasts are falling head over heels for this Toyota 86 Shooting Brake concept that was shown today in Australia. The concept takes the 86's body and extends the roofline towards the back to create a wagon shape. What makes this concept really impressive is that it is fully functional as it has run a few laps on Toyota's various test tracks. Back in 2014, the chief engineer for the 86, Tetsuya Tada was visiting Toyota's Australia office where he was shown a one-quarter scale clay model. He was impressed by the work that he decided to bring this idea to life. A hand-picked team in Japan built a full-size and functional concept. Before you ask, there are no plans to put the Shooting Brake into production. Source: Toyota Press Release is on Page 2 GLOBAL REVEAL OF TOYOTA 86 SHOOTING BRAKE CONCEPT Toyota Australia has unveiled a global first - a dramatic new "Shooting Brake" concept version of the 86 sports car. The prototype was conceived and developed by Toyota Australia's Product Design team and hand-built in Japan under the direction of the global sports car division. The Shooting Brake concept, which adds a more practical hatch styling to the rear of the sporty coupe, has been revealed to the world in Sydney by the Toyota 86 global chief engineer Tetsuya Tada. Toyota Australia divisional manager national marketing Brad Cramb said the unusual "shooting brake" name referred to a stunning design that gives the four-seat sports car a unique flavour with more rear head room and luggage space. "The Toyota 86 lends itself perfectly to a concept that expands its appeal with added versatility while retaining its sleek and sporty coupe styling and sharp, responsive driving character," Mr Cramb said. "The Shooting Brake concept is a classy option for active couples or a second car for families who want something different. Equally suited to weekends away as well as the track, it's a car you could buy with your head and your heart." Tada-san said he was inspired to support the project when shown a one-quarter scale clay model during a visit to Australia in November 2014. "I was totally surprised - and I liked it so much I arranged for my expert takumi prototype craftsmen to hand-build the Shooting Brake concept based on the Australian design," Tada-san said. "The concept car is a fully functional, driveable vehicle that has been put through its paces on Toyota test tracks. "The nicely weighted and direct steering of the 86 ensures the car retains the involving drive experience of the coupe with a slightly more neutral feel in tight corners on a driver's favourite road." Tada-san said Toyota wanted to gauge reaction to the concept, although it was conceived as an internal design study and there were no plans for production. "While we never say never, and I would love this concept to become a production reality, it is very much a concept that demonstrates the passion within Toyota for cars that are fun to drive." Toyota Australia's design chief Nicolas Hogios said his Australian design team engaged in enthusiastic debate about the extent to which they should make changes to the 86 coupe, eventually remodelling only the rear quarter and roof. "Like kids in a lolly shop, we thought about restyling more of the car; however, like a good parent saying 'no' to too many sweets, we made the conscious decision to keep as much of the original 86 as possible, only changing what was absolutely necessary. "The silhouette is still sporty, taut and energetic, but it's more practical as it allows the roof to be used to carry surfboards, bikes or storage pods for a weekend away while the larger opening of the new boot enables much easier loading. "As a result, we have expanded the appeal of the coupe while intentionally retaining the purity of the now-iconic 86 style," he said.
  19. The Toyota Prius remains the poster child for the hybrid vehicle. But when it comes to the plug-in hybrid, there really isn't a vehicle that stands for it. Sure you could make the case for the Chevrolet Volt or the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq, but Toyota wants the Prius to be that vehicle. Today at New York, the Japanese brand introduced the second-generation Prius Plug-In or as they call it, the Prius Prime. The Prime boasts a larger 8.8-kWh lithium-ion battery to increase EV-only range from 11 to 22 Miles. It's better than the Ford Fusion Plug-In Hybrid (20 Miles), but it still trails the likes of the Chevrolet Volt (53 Miles). Toyota has also improved the hybrid system for the Prius Prime. For the first time, Toyota is using a dual-motor generator drive system, allowing the electric motor and generator to power the front wheels. This means the Prius Prime can use the 1.8L Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder, electric motor, or both to move the vehicle along. Toyota says the Prius Prime is estimated to get 120 MPGe when using the battery only, and "targeting a hybrid MPG equal to or better than the Prius liftback" - 54 City/50 Highway/52 Combined for the standard Prius. In terms of looks, the Prius Prime features different headlights, a blacked-out front fascia, and new taillights. The Prime also gets an aluminum hood and a carbon-fiber liftback to shed some weight. Toyota says the Prius Prime will arrive at dealers this fall. Source: Toyota Press Release is on Page 2 Prime Mover: Toyota Maxes Out Tech and Style in the World's Best-Selling Hybrid to Create the 2017 Prius Prime Ultra-efficient Prius with Plug-in Hybrid Powertrain Manufacturer-estimated 120 MPGe Available in 50 States Techno-wonder with Available 11.6-inch Multimedia HD Display, Head-up Display and Wireless Phone Charging A Total Package in Every Aspect, Adding Up to Great Value NEW YORK, March 23, 2016 – If there’s electricity in the air at the 2016 New York International Auto Show, it’s probably coming from the Toyota display, where the world’s hybrid vehicle leader has unveiled the new Prius Prime, an ultra-efficient model with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. “Prime” means best, making it the perfect name for one of the most technologically advanced, best-equipped Prius in the model’s history. The Prius Prime’s manufacturer-estimated 120 or above MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) is expected to be the highest MPGe rating of any Plug-in Hybrid.* It also represents a substantial 26-percent enhancement over its predecessor, a result of greater battery capacity and an improved hybrid system. In hybrid mode, the Prius Prime is targeting a hybrid MPG equal to or better than the Prius liftback. The 2017 Prius Prime combines an electrifying design with an even more capable electric powertrain than the previous-generation Prius Plug-in Hybrid. The Prius Prime is expected to offer an estimated two times the electric range of the previous model -- 22 miles – meeting the daily commuter distance of over half of U.S. drivers, and drive at speeds up to 84 mph without leaving EV mode. As parsimonious with fuel as the Prius Prime may be, it drives with the same verve as the standard new-generation Prius hybrid, one result of the new high-strength platform and double-wishbone independent rear suspension. Prius Prime adds even more premium touches and exclusive tech features compared to the all-new Prius hybrid, including its available 11.6-inch, HD central multimedia screen with standard navigation and available full color head-up display. “Prime” also describes the vehicle’s available advanced safety technology, Toyota Safety Sense™ P. This multi-feature advanced active safety suite, bundles the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection and Automatic Braking; Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist; Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with full stop technology and Automatic High Beams. Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are also available for additional peace of mind. All 2017 Prius hybrid models come standard with eight supplemental restraint system airbags, including multi-stage driver and front passenger front airbags; driver and front passenger side airbags; full-length curtain airbags; a driver knee airbag, and a front passenger seat cushion airbag. Electrifying Design Cheats the Wind … and the Scales If the 2017 Prius Prime looks like the future, it was purely intentional on the designers’ part. The new-generation Prius Prime is 2.4 inches longer, 0.6 inches wider and about an inch lower than its predecessor. The growth boosts cargo room over its predecessor and gives the Prius Prime a road-hugging stance. The wind-cheating body and its high-strength/low weight structure are critical factors in the Prius Prime’s astoundingly low energy consumption. Its coefficient of drag is expected to be among the lowest for production sedans. Automatic grille shutters help reduce drag by closing when airflow to the radiator is not needed. Yet the Prius Prime is no aero jellybean. It’s chiseled profile and edgy character lines seem to dare the wind to stand in its way. Energy-conserving quad LED headlights glow like diamonds cutting the night, and LED rear combination lamps leave an unforgettable nighttime signature. Driver visibility remains excellent, aided by a full-width aero glass panel over the rear spoiler and a standard backup camera. The distinctive aero rear window is eye-catching and adds to its slipstream character. While giving the new-generation Prius models more features, Toyota kept vehicle weight in check by using aluminum for the hood, carbon fiber on the rear hatch, and by using high-tensile strength steel in other parts of the structure. In fact, the lightweight carbon fiber rear hatch makes opening and closing almost effortless. EV or Hybrid? Both. The Prius Prime will please anyone who wants to reduce trips to the gas pump, and it would make a great road trip car, too. The Prius Prime will allow drivers to stay in EV mode in more situations, helping to enhance vehicle range on one tank of fuel. You can plug it in, gas it up, or both. On one 11.3-gallon tank of regular-grade gasoline and a full electric charge, the 2017 Prius Prime anticipates a class-leading estimated total driving range of over 600 miles (Toyota recommends making occasional stops to refuel and recharge yourself and passengers). Mechanical Genius Both the standard Prius hybrid and the Prius Prime are powered by Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain, which seamlessly combines the output of the gasoline engine and electric motor through a planetary-type continuously variable transmission. The biggest difference is that the Prius Prime can be plugged in at home to recharge its larger 8.8kWh battery pack. In Hybrid mode, the Prius Prime can run on the gasoline engine or electric motor alone or a combination of both. Even when not running in EV mode, the Prius Prime will automatically rely more on its electric capability in situations where it is more efficient than running the gasoline engine, especially in urban and suburban driving and during shorter trips. The Prius Prime will also feature a Toyota-first dual motor generator drive system, using both the electric motor and the generator for drive force, helping to boost acceleration performance. Regenerative braking recaptures electrical energy under deceleration and braking and stores it in the battery, which helps to reduce fuel consumption. Even better, there’s no special equipment for home charging. Just use the supplied cord and the Prius Prime takes approximately 5.5 hours using a standard household outlet. Charging takes less than half the time with a 240V source. Efficiency Expert Not to be overshadowed by all the electrical magic, the Prius Prime’s gasoline engine also plays a starring role in that efficiency. The 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle, 4-cylinder engine – the same as in all 2016 Prius hybrid models – earns a groundbreaking 40 percent-plus thermal efficiency. Most modern automobile engines reach about 25-30 percent. Myriad details throughout the hybrid powertrain contribute to the efficiency, including an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system with a cooler, smaller, lighter, quieter hybrid system water pump and an exhaust heat recirculation system that speeds engine warm-up. Looks Marvelous, Feels Marvelous The Prius Prime looks and feels far from frugal on the inside, where a four-seat cabin layout, with center console running front to back, looks more like a high-end luxury coupe. Practicality remains ever present, however, with standard 60/40 folding rear seatbacks. It’s a quiet cabin, too, thanks to the sound-insulating laminated windshield and front door glass and the optimized aero shape that helps keep wind noise where it belongs – outside. The Prius Prime coddles the driver and passengers with standard heated front seats, an automatic climate control system, and available SofTex® synthetic leather trimmed seats. The climate control system is quieter, thanks to an electric compressor, and it’s smarter, focusing airflow only to areas where occupants are seated in order to help maximize fuel economy and comfort. The climate control system can also operate without the engine on, with a heat pump that allows the system to cool or heat the cabin while driving in EV mode. The driver can activate the remote air conditioning system with an available key fob or smartphone app to cool the interior before entering the cabin. High Tech, Low Effort The centrally mounted gauge panel, a Prius hallmark since the model’s inception, appears to float above the dashboard. The panel features dual 4.2-inch full-color TFT (thin film transistor) multi-information displays, and the driver can change their content by using steering wheel controls. The display provides a multitude of readouts for hybrid energy information and more, and the driver can choose how much information to view. Want to cut the cord? With available wireless cell phone charging for Qi-compatible devices, just place your Qi-compatible devices on the console pad to charge it wirelessly. Multimedia Mogul Sound and vision inside the Prius Prime likewise meet the standard of “prime.” Toyota equipped this top Prius with its top Entune® multimedia system and made it all accessible through a new and exclusive 11.6-inch HD tablet display. The navigation graphics look simply stunning, and intuitive touch controls make operation a snap. Prius Prime will also offer an exclusive suite of Prius Prime Apps, allowing you to remotely manage your vehicle’s charging schedule and status, locate charging stations, track and compare your eco driving score with others on social media, remotely control the vehicle’s climate system, and more – all from your smartphone. It’s advanced eco at your fingertips. An available Entune™ Premium JBL® Audio system with Integrated Navigation and App Suite puts 10 JBL GreenEdge™ speakers in six locations for sonic bliss. The Entune™ Multimedia Bundle includes AM/FM cache radio (letting you pause songs and play later), HD Radio™, HD Radio™ predictive traffic and Doppler weather overlay, SiriusXM® Satellite Radio with 3-month complimentary SiriusXM All Access trial and Gracenote® album cover art. Of course there’s a USB 2.0 port with iPod® connectivity and control, plus advanced voice recognition and hands-free phone capability, phonebook access and music streaming via Bluetooth®. For iPhone users, Siri® Eyes Free mode adds yet another in-car assistant. The Entune™ App Suite adds yet more music sources, including Slacker Radio, iHeartRadio and Pandora® as well as Destination Search, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable®, Facebook Places, Yelp™ plus real-time traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports and stocks. Access to Entune® services is subscription-free. Built-in Parking Valet In the urban jungle, where hunting for a prime parking space is a sport, the Prius Prime wins. Available Intelligent Parking Assist (IPA) uses ultrasonic wave sensors to size up a parallel parking space and then, when activated by the driver, can steer the car into it. The system can also reverse the Prius Prime into perpendicular spaces and automatically steer it out of a parallel space. When the way forward gets narrow, such as in a parking garage, the system’s Intelligent Clearance Sonar provides visible and audible warnings if the driver gets too close to obstacles on the vehicle’s sides. The 2017 Prius Prime will begin arriving in Toyota showrooms in late fall. Source: Toyota
  20. We know that Scion will be heading to the great parking lot into the sky later this year. But we didn't know how Toyota is planning to rename Scion's models when the changeover happens. Autoblog spoke with Scion spokeswoman Nancy Hubbell who said the iA would be renamed 'Yaris iA' and the iM to 'Corolla iM'. We know, not the most imaginative names. But there are reasons for this. Hubbel explained the iA is sold as the Yaris sedan in Canada and Mexico, so "that connection was already there." As for the Corolla iM, it is basically the Corolla wrapped in a hatchback. As we reported last week, the FR-S will become the Toyota 86. One model that won't be making the transition will be the tC. 2016 marks the final year of production of Scion's front-wheel drive coupe. Source: Autoblog
  21. Toyota has updated the Highlander - its three-row crossover - for the 2017 model year. It might not be the most exciting vehicle making its debut at the New York Auto Show, but it is an important one as crossovers are currently the big sellers for many automakers. The changes begin on the exterior with more prominent lower and upper grilles that are finished in either silver (LE, LE Plus and XLE) or chrome (Limited or Limited Platinum). Toyota has also introduced a new trim for the Highlander called the SE. This trim adds a dark finish for the grilles, 19-inch alloy wheels, and new suspension tuning. Under the hood is a new 3.5L V6 with direct injection. Toyota hasn't revealed any power figures, but does say “will generate significantly more horsepower” than the current 3.5L V6. An eight-speed automatic will no doubt improve fuel economy. The base 2.7L four-cylinder and hybrid powertrain carry over. Toyota has added a number of safety features for the 2017 Highlander. Automatic braking, auto high-beams, lane-departure warning, Pedestrian Pre-Collision, and radar cruise control all come standard via Toyota Safety Sense package. The 2017 Highlander family arrives at dealers later this fall. Source: Toyota Press Release is on Page 2 Toyota's Debut of 2017 Highlander Mid-Size SUV to Showcase Significant Performance Updates Newly Developed Direct Shift 8-Speed Automatic Transmission New 3.5-liter Direct Injection V6 Boosts Horsepower/Helps Increase MPG New Available Stop and Start (S&S) Engine System Standard Toyota Safety Sense New Sportier SE Gas Model; Hybrid Trim Expands to Four Grades Refreshed Exterior Styling TORRANCE, Calif., March 14, 2016 -- Toyota will be debuting the significantly enhanced 2017 model year Highlander mid-size sport utility vehicle (SUV) on Wednesday, March 23 at the upcoming New York International Auto Show. The popular Highlander, receives an array of new and updated equipment and technology, inside and out, including a new Direct Shift 8-speed (8AT automatic transmission). Highlander is a no-compromise mid-size three-row SUV that brings together the best in style, technology, comfort, capability, and safety. Its exterior design conveys both refinement and strength, which complements a refined interior that sets a high bar in its segment. The third- generation model, now entering its fourth year, offers room for up to eight, a choice of three powertrains and six model grades, including a new sporty SE model. The Highlander Hybrid adds two new grades, (LE and XLE) to its existing lineup of Limited and Platinum models for a total of four. All Highlander Hybrid models will continue to be all-wheel drive (AWD). The six Highlander gas models will continue to be (LE, LE Plus, XLE, SE, Limited and Limited Platinum) available in both front-wheel and AWD. It all adds up to the ideal family vehicle. Greater Level of Performance Performance will be enhanced in the 2017 Highlander gas models with the addition of the new Direct Shift 8AT (automatic transmission) that will be paired with a new 3.5-liter V6 Direct Injection Engine. The new transmission is more compact and will provide more transmission efficiency through its 8-speed gear range. The 8AT (Automatic Transmission) will be standard on all V6 Highlander gas models. The new 3.5-liter Direct Injection V6 Engine will be available on all Highlander gas models and standard on all Hybrid grades. The new engine will generate significantly more horsepower, provide enhanced fuel efficiency, and deliver a more direct driving feel by expanding the lock up range. In addition to Highlander, the new Direct Shift 8AT (automatic transmission) and 3.5-liter V6 Direct Injection Engine powertrain will be equipped in the 2017 model year Toyota Sienna van. In an effort to help conserve fuel, Highlander V6 models (excluding LE) will come standard with a new Stop and Start Engine System (S&S). While driving the Highlander, the S&S allows the engine to shut off when the vehicle comes to a complete stop and restarts when the driver lifts their foot off of the brake pedal. The standard powertrain on Highlander 4x2 LE gas models will remain the 2.7-liter 4- cylinder paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission. All Highlander Hybrid models will continue to receive the electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT). Updated Luxury Look and Feel The 2017 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid will receive tasteful styling enhancements that will continue to turn heads. The changes start with a new upper and lower front grille design for all grades. Each grade will be distinguished by different grille finishes that will also carry into the headlamp housing. The grille on all LE, LE Plus and XLE grades will receive a silver painted finish, while Limited and Platinum grades will receive a painted chrome finish. From behind, the rear taillights will receive a sleeker redesign. A chrome trim garnish will also be added on the rear bumper of Limited and Platinum models. Highlander will receive three new exterior colors, including Celestial Silver Metallic, Toasted Walnut Pearl, and, exclusively on the new SE, Salsa Red Pearl. Interior updates include a new brown leather interior that will be available on the Limited Platinum grade. Charging personal devices will be more efficient as all Highlanders will add four USB ports for a total of five. For those looking for a Highlander with all the bells and whistles but require added passenger seating, the premium Limited and Limited Platinum grades will offer buyers the choice of second-row captain’s chairs (providing seating for seven), or second-row bench seats that will expand capacity to eight people. Sporty New SE Grade For a touch of sportiness, Highlander will now be available in the new SE model. It starts on the outside with unique 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels, tuned suspension for a sportier ride, and a sporty dark paint treatment to the front grille, which is also incorporated into the headlamp housings and roof rails. Inside, the SE will stand apart from all other Highlander models with unique black leather- trimmed seats with silver stitching and pattern seat inserts, a black front tray, and matching dash and door inserts. Toyota Safety That Makes Sense The 2017 Highlander will come standard with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS), a new multi- feature advanced safety package anchored by automated pre-collision braking. TSS bundles cutting edge safety technologies including Pre-Collision System (with Forward Collision Warning and automatic emergency brake), Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beams, Pedestrian Pre- Collision System and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. The Pedestrian Pre-collision System (PCS) uses a camera and radar to detect objects ahead of the vehicle. When the system determines there is a possibility of collision it prompts the driver to brake with an audio and visual alert. If the driver notices the hazard and brakes, the system provides additional braking force. If the driver fails to brake in a set time, the system automatically applies the brakes, reducing speed in order to prevent or mitigate the collision. Lane Departure Alert (LDA) uses a camera to detect visible lane markings. If the system determines that the vehicle is starting to deviate from the lane, LDA alerts the driver and will provide steering assist to help get the vehicle back into its lane. Automatic High Beam (AHB) helps enhance forward visibility during nighttime driving. It uses a camera to detect the headlights of oncoming vehicles and the tail lights of vehicles ahead, and then automatically switches between high beams and low beams so as not to dazzle other drivers. The Highlander XLE grade will also adopt blind spot monitor as standard equipment. To help make parking easy and safe, the 2017 Highlander Limited Platinum grade will come standard with a Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan. This Toyota technology employs four cameras that are mounted on the front, the side mirrors and rear of the vehicle to project a panoramic view of the vehicle’s surroundings on the central touch display monitor. The system offers drivers assistance when parallel parking, and when pulling in and out of parking spaces. The Bird’s Eye View Monitor system also debuts a Toyota-first feature called Perimeter Scan, which provides a live rotating 360-degree view around the vehicle, helping the driver to see potential obstacles. Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana (TMMI) in Princeton, Ind., which employs over 4,000 American workers, assembles all Highlanders and exports them to 12 countries. The 2017 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid will begin arriving at Toyota showrooms in the fall of 2016.
  22. When Toyota redesigned the Tacoma last year, we wondered if a TRD Pro version would be coming as well. Today at the Chicago Auto Show, Toyota revealed the 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro. The Tacoma TRD Pro begins with the suspension as Toyota has added a set of FOX 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks, TRD front springs that raise the ride height by an inch, and a set of progressive-rate off-road leaf springs. The four-wheel drive system comes with a limited-slip differential, Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select. A set Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain tires come with a set of sixteen-inch TRD wheels. Power comes from a 3.5L 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. There is a choice between a six-speed manual or automatic. Outside, the Tacoma TRD Pro comes with the old school TOYOTA emblem on the grille, TRD Pro badging finished in black, hood scoop, and a skid plate. Inside are a set of leather seats with the TRD logo embroidered, leather-wrapped steering wheel, Toyota's Entune infotainment system with navigation, and a mount for a GoPro camera. The Tacoma TRD Pro arrives at dealers this fall. Source: Toyota Press Release is on Page 2 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro - - Dirtier Than Ever! Toyota Kicks Up More Dust with the Debut of the Newest Tacoma TRD Pro Off-Road Pickup CHICAGO, Feb. 11, 2016 - - Whether tackling treacherous snow-covered terrain, driving off the beaten path, or surviving extreme conditions where roads fear to tread, the adrenaline-pumping TRD Pro Series from Toyota is up for any challenge. Two years ago, the TRD Pro Series arose from Toyota’s storied off-road racing heritage, with its numerous victories in the grueling Baja off-road endurance races. Born from this experience, the Toyota TRD Pro Series Tacoma, Tundra, and 4Runner have helped serious off-roaders go places they never dreamed possible. This fall, the Toyota Tacoma will rejoin the 2017 model year TRD Pro family with all-new factory-installed off-road equipment designed by the experts at Toyota Racing Development (TRD) to make it even more off-road capable than before. Aimed squarely at extreme off-roading enthusiasts who challenge themselves and their trucks and SUV’s in some of the harshest conditions, the new 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro will raise the bar on TRD Pro performance. Courtesy of TRD, the new Tacoma TRD Pro will add an array of new performance equipment and features, making this a truly second-generation TRD Pro product, and the new benchmark for challenging off-road terrain. Extreme Exterior for Extreme Performance The 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro is designed to not only look tough, but to perform in the toughest off-road environment. Based on the Tacoma TRD Off-Road 4x4 Double Cab Short Bed model in either 6-speed manual (with clutch start-cancel switch) or 6-speed automatic transmission, the new Tacoma TRD Pro will be available in three exterior colors: Cement, Barcelona Red Metallic, and Super White. The exterior of each Tacoma TRD Pro model will also include: 16-inch TRD black alloy wheels with Goodyear Wrangler® All-Terrain Kevlar®-reinforced tires TRD Pro aluminum front skid plate Rigid Industries® LED fog lights Projector-beam headlights with black bezels, LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL), and auto on/off feature Taillights with black bezels TRD Pro badge on front door with diamond-pattern knurled finish Black TRD Pro and 4x4 rear tailgate badging Each Tacoma TRD Pro will also come equipped with a heritage-inspired TOYOTA front grille with color-keyed surround, blacked out hood scoop and graphic, color-keyed power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, color-keyed door handles, black overfenders, and a color-keyed rear bumper. Interior Sportiness Combined with Convenience Technology Driving a sporty package in rugged off-road conditions does not mean you can’t ride in comfort and with the latest safety and convenience technologies. The new Tacoma TRD Pro combines sportiness and convenience with standard features that include: Black TRD Pro leather-trimmed heated front seats with TRD Pro logo located in the headrest 4-way adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support and 4-way adjustable front passenger seat Entune™ Premium Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite TRD shift knob TRD Pro floor mats Leather-trimmed tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth® hands-free phone controls Rear parking assist sonar Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) The new Tacoma TRD Pro also includes an analog instrumentation that features a 4.2-inch color Multi-Information Display (MID) with an integrated inclinometer and tilt gauge. The MID also adds outside temperature, odometer, tripmeters, and average fuel economy. As in all Tacoma models, a GoPro® mount is located on the windshield for serious off-roaders who like to document their exploits with GoPro® HERO cameras. Pro Performance The new 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro continues to be all about off-road performance as it strives to raise the bar from the original. The Tacoma TRD Pro will be powered by a 3.5-Liter V6 DOHC 24-valve direct-injection Atkinson-cycle engine with VVT-iW (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent Wide) intake and VVT-I exhaust. Tacoma TRD Pro really earns its off-road cred through its TRD-installed suspension and exhaust enhancements that include: FOX 2.5 Internal Bypass shocks tuned by TRD TRD-tuned front springs with a 1-inch lift TRD-tuned rear suspension with progressive-rate off-road leaf spring Every Tacoma TRD Pro will be equipped with 4WDemand part-time 4WD with a transfer case and Automatic Limited-Slip Differential (Auto LSD) that are both electronically-controlled. Also standard will be a V6 Tow Package that includes a Class-IV towing receiver hitch, ATF cooler (automatic only), engine oil cooler, power steering cooler, 130-amp alternator, 4- and 7-pin connector with convertor, and Trailer-Sway Control (TSC). An electronically controlled locking rear differential is also standard to help distribute engine power evenly to both rear wheels so they move at the same speed, providing more grip in low-traction conditions. When the trail gets challenging, Tacoma TRD Pro’s Crawl Control (CRAWL) will help drivers conquer their off-road adventure. Equipped on automatics only, this advanced system automatically modulates the throttle and brakes on five low-speed settings so you can keep your focus on navigating across difficult terrain. Equipped on Tacoma TRD Pro automatic is the Toyota Multi-terrain Select system. With five modes to choose from, the system helps regulate wheel spin by automatically adjusting the engine throttle and traction control. When combined with the standard Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain tires with tough Kevlar construction, Multi-terrain Select helps enhance traction dramatically, meaning you can get back to the fun more quickly. Tacoma TRD Pro’s Hill Start Assist Control (HAC), equipped on automatic transmission models only, helps you safely get up those hills. This technology helps minimize Tacoma from rolling backward when you move your foot from the brake to the gas pedal, so you can move upward with confidence. The added traction of 4WD is great, but with Active Traction Control (A-TRAC), it’s even better! Equipped only on the Tacoma TRD Pro manual, A-TRAC is a 4WD traction control system that uses the 4-channel ABS system to control power flow to the front and rear wheels, all without cutting throttle input, to help make traction no matter where you may be.
  23. Toyota and Subaru's partnership on the GT 86/Scion FR-S/BRZ is well known, but it could be a one time thing. Toyota has turned to BMW for help on a new flagship sports car, rumored to be a spiritual successor to the Supra. Because of this, the speculation has been flowing of whether this partnership could expand to other sports cars. Drive.com.au had the chance to speak with Tetsuya Tada, the chief engineer for the GT 86 family. Tada said the next-generation GT 86 could be part of the BMW partnership. However when asked if Subaru will be a part of this, Tada said "Maybe, but this is not decided at the moment." When asked if BMW could take the place of Subaru in the partnership, Tada said "That is one possibility." Source: Drive.com.au William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  24. This morning, we reported on the rumor that Toyota was planning to its North American headquarters from California to Texas. Well this afternoon, the company has made it official. In a statement, Toyota announced that it will be moving from Torrance, California to Plano, Texas. The move will take about three years and affect around 4,000 people. Those 4,000 people include, 2,000 from Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. Headquarters in Torrance, CA 1,000 from Toyota Financial Services in Torrance, CA 1,000 from Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America in Erlanger, KY Some employees of Toyota Motor North America based in New York "With our major North American business affiliates and leaders together in one location for the first time, we will be better equipped to speed decision making, share best practices, and leverage the combined strength of our employees. This, in turn, will strengthen our ability to put customers first and to continue making great products that exceed their expectations. Ultimately, enabling greater collaboration and efficiencies across Toyota will help us become a more dynamic, innovative and successful organization in North America. This is the most significant change we’ve made to our North American operations in the past 50 years, and we are excited for what the future holds,” said Jim Lentz, Toyota North America CEO. As part of the plans, Toyota will offer all their full-time employees and their spouses an expenses-paid site visit to Plano, and a relocation payment if they decide to move. No word on how many of Toyota's current employees plan to move to Texas. Source: Toyota, Automotive News (Subscription Required), Wards Auto William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. Press Release is on Page 2 Toyota to Establish New North American Headquarters Manufacturing, Sales and Marketing, Corporate and Financial Services Headquarters to Unify in New, Shared Campus in Plano, Texas Toyota Technical Center in Michigan to Expand as Part of Increased Investment in Engineering Capabilities Torrance, Calif., Erlanger, Ky., New York, N.Y., and Ann Arbor, Mich., April 28, 2014 –Toyota today announced that it is establishing a new headquarters in North Dallas (Plano), Texas for its North American operations in a move designed to better serve customers and position Toyota for sustainable, long-term growth. Within the next three years, Toyota’s three separate North American headquarters for manufacturing, sales and marketing, and corporate operations will relocate to a single, state-of-the-art campus in Plano. Toyota’s North American finance arm also plans to move its headquarters to this new shared campus. Altogether, these moves will affect approximately 4,000 employees. At the same time, Toyota will expand the Toyota Technical Center (TTC) in Michigan to accommodate the relocation of direct procurement from Erlanger, Ky., to its campus in York Township near Ann Arbor. This expansion is part of an increased investment in engineering capabilities and will accommodate future growth in product development. The transition to Plano from three current headquarters locations – affecting approximately 2,000 employees at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS) in Torrance, Calif.; about 1,000 employees at Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA) in Erlanger, Ky.; and certain employees at Toyota Motor North America (TMA) in New York, N.Y. – will begin with initial small groups this summer. However, the majority of these employees will not move until construction of Toyota’s new headquarters is completed in late 2016 or early 2017. Toyota Financial Services (TFS) is not expected to transition to Plano from its current headquarters in Torrance, Calif., until 2017, which will affect around 1,000 employees. Jim Lentz, who was named Toyota’s first chief executive officer for the North America Region in 2013, said: “With our major North American business affiliates and leaders together in one location for the first time, we will be better equipped to speed decision making, share best practices, and leverage the combined strength of our employees. This, in turn, will strengthen our ability to put customers first and to continue making great products that exceed their expectations. Ultimately, enabling greater collaboration and efficiencies across Toyota will help us become a more dynamic, innovative and successful organization in North America. This is the most significant change we’ve made to our North American operations in the past 50 years, and we are excited for what the future holds.” In support of the communities in California and Kentucky, Toyota also announced a $10 million philanthropic commitment to provide continued funding for local non-profits and community organizations in these states over a five-year period beginning in 2017, over and above existing commitments. The establishment of a new headquarters builds upon previous efforts by Toyota to enhance regional autonomy, self-reliance and responsibility. While the sales and marketing, manufacturing and corporate business units will retain their responsibilities and operating names, Toyota expects that new cross-functional teams will identify and execute on ways to serve the broader North American organization. Toyota will construct a new, environmentally-sustainable campus facility in Plano, which is expected to take two or more years to construct after groundbreaking in the fall of 2014. Until the new campus facility is complete, initial small groups of employees will work from a temporary location in the Plano area. Toyota will also build a new facility on TTC’s York campus (subject to final approval of state and local incentives) to accommodate approximately 250 direct procurement positions currently based at TEMA in Erlanger. In addition, about 300 production engineering positions based in Erlanger will be relocated to a new facility to be built at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK) in Georgetown, Ky., while approximately 1,000 TEMA administrative positions will transition to Plano. Toyota’s 10 manufacturing plants in the U.S. will not be impacted by these changes. Also, the following Toyota units will not be impacted at this time: Toyota regional field offices and Lexus area offices Operating units in Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico Toyota Financial Service’s regional offices, sales offices, service centers and its bank Calty Design Research facilities Toyota InfoTechnology Center Toyota Racing Development AirFlite Inc. Logistics Services Field Locations Distribution centers After moving from its existing headquarters, Toyota will continue to have approximately 2,300 employees in California and 8,200 employees in Kentucky. This includes 750 new jobs being added at TMMK for production of the Lexus ES, which begins in 2015. Toyota will also continue to maintain offices in the New York City area and Washington, DC. The move will not impact Toyota’s relationship with Gulf States Toyota, Inc. (GST), a private distributor of Toyota vehicles based in Houston, Texas. Toyota Financial Services (TFS) is a service mark used to refer to a number of entities, including Toyota Motor Credit Corporation (TMCC), Toyota Financial Savings Bank (TFSB), and Toyota Motor Insurance Services, Inc. (TMIS).
  25. Toyota is considering moving substantial parts of its U.S. headquarters from California to Texas. Bloomberg has learned from sources from the automaker that certain high-level employees were told of the move on Friday and that the company will make an announcement today. “It would be very consequential for Southern California. There might be some brain drain and tumult for employees, though it should be largely seamless to the consumer. This kind of thing can create some disruption of momentum,” said Jack Nerad, executive market analyst for Kelly Blue Book. Reasons for this move include putting Toyota USA's executives close by their manufacturing plants in San Antonio, Kentucky, and Mississippi. However, another reason for this move comes down to how expensive it is to live and work in California. Automotive News pulled some stats on California and they aren't pretty. Expatistan rates the Los Angeles metropolitan area as the ninth most-expensive place to live California is third in Tax Foundation's study in which states have the worst complex, non-neutral taxes with comparatively high rates Forbes rates California 36th in which states are best to do business Meanwhile, Texas has been rated seventh in the same study done by Forbes. Texas also has a number of tax breaks and lower cost of living. We'll keep you posted on this developing story. Source: Bloomberg, Automotive News (Subscription Required) William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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