2011 Toyota Avalon Review – Providing comfort in familiarity

Thursday November 4th, 2010 at 9:1111 AM
Posted by: Derek

Pros

  • Generous amounts of power available from the standard V6 engine
  • Luxurious comfort without the upscale price tag
  • Redesigned interior is spacious, elegant, and incorporates many high-tech features
  • Outstanding 660 Watt, 12-speaker JBL sound system

Cons

  • Not to be mistaken for a sports sedan
  • Navigation display has low-resolution graphics and the default screen is never the one I want to see
  • Faces tough competition at its price point

Toyota has introduced a redesigned Avalon for 2011, teaming its 268-HP V6 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission for high fuel efficiency (29 MPG EPA highway rating). Evoking a time when travel was sophisticated, elegant and comfortable, the new Avalon combines a distinctive new exterior style and a restyled interior rich with premium touch points and practical new technologies.

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Best Hybrid and Green Cars of 2010

Monday November 1st, 2010 at 8:1111 AM
Posted by: AKramer

CarReview_Best_Green_Car_2010By Alex Kramer

What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago gas was cheap, the SUV was king, and fuel efficiency was one of the last things car buyers were concerned about. Surprisingly, it was also ten years ago that Honda and Toyota introduced a seemingly radical technology that involved strapping batteries and an electric motor to a gas engined car, creating the first hybrids.

Fast forward ten years and the traditional SUV has all but died out, gas is $3 per gallon, and hybrids are as common as apple pie. More importantly, awareness of global warming and our dependence on foreign oil, along with a depressed economy, has made fuel efficiency a far more important criteria for car buyers. This, in turn,  has spurred the automotive industry to pursue smaller, cleaner and more efficient designs. The result is a plethora of choices for buyers seeking a more fuel efficient, greener set of wheels.

Although hybrid cars are perhaps the most effective way to significantly increase fuel efficiency, with 9 out of the top ten most fuel efficient cars featuring a gas electric drivetrain, not everyone will be happy with the increased cost and performance sacrifice that often comes with hybrid ownership. Luckily we now also have a new generation of clean diesels that are nothing like the noisy, smoke belching diesels of the past, instead providing excellent performance along with hybrid worthy fuel efficiency. And for those who are wary of all of this alternative technology, there are finally plenty of efficient, well made small cars available in America.

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Posted in Expert Reviews, Feature Articles, Ford, Lexus, Mercury, Toyota, Volkswagen |Tags:, , , , , , , , || 4 Comments »


2011 Toyota Sienna Review – A minivan with swagger

Tuesday October 5th, 2010 at 7:1010 AM
Posted by: Derek

Likes:

  • Smooth and quiet ride
  • Star Safety System is standard on all Sienna models
  • Tri-zone climate control
  • Dual power sliding side doors with power lift gate
  • Front/rear parking sonar
  • Dual view widescreen with split-screen capability
  • Many, many convenient storage bins and cupholders strategically placed

Dislikes:

  • Navigation screen defaults to displaying map view and no option for “night” view when headlights are switched on
  • Plastic dashboard materials look and feel cheap
  • Second-row seats don’t stow or swivel, and removing them requires muscle
  • Top-line versions get pricey

The minivan is one of the great automotive innovations of the past 50 years. It’s been beloved, berated, embraced, and shunned since the Dodge Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country version took the box-on-wheels design mainstream in the 1980s. And that’s a good thing because the minivan takes a stand and makes a statement: “I can carry you and yours and your stuff’ anyplace you want to go … and do it in comfort.” Now, as Toyota introduces the third generation of Sienna minivan, you can add “… and swagger” to that statement.

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2010 Toyota Camry Review

Monday May 24th, 2010 at 1:55 PM
Posted by: Derek

2010 Toyota Camry

by Derek Mau

Pros:

  • A much needed bump in power of 11 hp
  • Resale value and reliability make Camry a safer investment than the S&P 500
  • Auto up/down for ALL four window switches

Cons:

  • Missing iPod and iPhone interface
  • Hard plastic steering wheel and too many interior hard plastic surfaces
  • Driving excitement on the same level as doing your laundry

Toyota has had its share of ups and downs lately, but popularity of their #1 sedan remains strong. The Toyota Camry has been America’s best-selling car for seven consecutive years and 11 of the past 12 years.

For 2010, the Camry receives a midcycle rejuvenation. Most notably, the base four-cylinder engine increases in size from 2.4 to 2.5 liters, with a corresponding 11-hp bump (21 hp on the SE). Now, both the manual and automatic transmissions have six speeds instead of five. Other changes include a restyled grille and taillights, a new optional audio system with satellite radio and Bluetooth® for base and LE models, and auto up/down windows all around. Finally, stability control is now standard across the model range for improved safety.

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Closed NUMMI Plant in Fremont Gets A New Lease on Life With Tesla – Toyota Deal

Friday May 21st, 2010 at 9:55 AM
Posted by: Derek

tesla_model_s_sedan_medTesla and Toyota to build electric cars at NUMMI plant

The closure of the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California six weeks ago was just another downfall to California’s struggling economy and double digit unemployment rate. Late Thursday, Tesla Motors announced that it is teaming up with Toyota to build its all-electric Model S sedan at the recently shuttered NUMMI plant in Fremont, creating more than 1,000 new jobs.

Under the agreement, Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, will invest $50 million in Tesla, which will buy the NUMMI plant for an undisclosed sum. The joint venture was unveiled by Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s CEO, who flew in from Japan for the announcement, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at a heavily attended 5 p.m. news conference at Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters.

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NHTSA Fines Toyota $16M Over Pedal Recall

Tuesday April 6th, 2010 at 8:44 AM
Posted by: michael.leroy

Toyota fined $16M
U.S. DOT seeks largest ever civil penalty

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is going to fine Toyota Motor Corporation $16.375 million for failing to notify the agency of sticking accelerator pedal defects. The NHTSA contends that Toyota knew the potential risk to consumers, but was reluctant to react. The fine will be the largest civil penalty ever given by the NHTSA.

Toyota is being fined due to the company’s slow response to notify the NHTSA. Auto manufacturers are required to inform the NHTSA about potential safety problems within five business days. The U.S. DOT claims the Japanese automaker knew the problem existed for at least four months before it contacted the department.

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YouTube Users Prove it is Possible to Stop a "Runaway" Prius

Wednesday March 17th, 2010 at 10:33 AM
Posted by: michael.leroy

proving prius brakes workPrius owners defend their cars online

James Sikes now famous runaway Prius story, is still making headlines, but YouTube users are not buying his story. Several Prius owners have posted videos onto the website proving that it is rather trivial to stop a “runaway” Prius.

The hybrid owners in the video have no problem slowing the car down at freeway speeds using the brakes. The videos also prove the car will turn off and will shift into neutral even if the throttle is stuck.

Check out the videos after the jump.

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Prelimary Results of San Diego "Runaway" Prius Investigation

Tuesday March 16th, 2010 at 9:33 AM
Posted by: Derek

toyota-recallDriver’s Account Doesn’t Match With Findings

For the past week, the media have been waiting for the results of an investigation into Jim Sikes’ runaway Toyota Prius. While the investigation was taking place, a Congressional memo leaked, followed by an NHTSA report, both of which found little evidence to support Sikes’ story. Now, Toyota has released its preliminary report on the incident, and the automaker has reached the same conclusion.

Toyota engineers completed an investigation of the 2008 Prius driven by Mr. James Sikes that was the subject of a 911 emergency call on Monday, March 8. 61 year-old Mr. Sikes reported that the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed down a San Diego freeway, the accelerator pedal was stuck, and that the vehicle was out of control and could not be stopped. The emergency operator repeatedly instructed the driver to shift the car into neutral and turn off the power button.

Sikes refused to heed the operator’s advice to turn off the car or put the transmission in neutral, concerned that the car would flip over if he did. After a half-hour run down the freeway, a California Highway Patrol officer who had caught up with Sikes advised him to use both the brake pedal and parking brake to stop the car. After bringing the speed down from 94 mph to about 50 mph, Sikes finally turned the car off.

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Toyota Recalls Could Free Imprisoned Camry Owner

Tuesday March 2nd, 2010 at 8:33 AM
Posted by: michael.leroy

1996 Camry on trialWho is at fault, the driver or Toyota?

In a bizarre turn of events, Toyota’s recent recall problems may free an imprisoned man. Koua Fong Lee, a Hmong immigrant with only a year of driving experience, was involved in a fatal accident in June 2006. Lee claimed his 1996 Toyota Camry would not stop. The alleged out of control Camry struck an Oldsmobile parked at a red light at a speed of approximately 70 to 90 mph. The accident resulted in the death of three people.

A jury did not believe that Lee attempted to stop his vehicle and as a result he was sentenced to eight years in prison. Lee contested he attempted to stop the car, but was unable too. A city mechanic inspected the brakes and testified that they appeared fine. The prosecutor during the trial argued that Lee must of hit the gas by mistake.

Lee is now hoping to get his case reopened and is now claiming that his vehicle must of suffered from the same acceleration problems several Toyota models are being recalled for. Surprisingly, both the prosecutor and the family of the victims are interested in freeing Lee if the Camry was to blame.

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Toyota in the Hot Seat at Congressional Hearings

Wednesday February 24th, 2010 at 3:22 PM
Posted by: Derek

Aiko Toyoda and Inabi Yashimi swear in at Congressional hearingLawmakers blistered the world’s largest automaker with accusations of greed and insensitivity

After an exchange of pleasantries that included praise from committee members for his willingness to step into a lion’s den, Toyota President and Chief Executive Officer Akio Toyoda, and Yoshimi Inaba, president and chief executive officer, Toyota Motor North America, drew heavy fire from both Democrats and Republicans for the company’s slowness in dealing with safety defects in its autos and trucks that led to deaths and eventually the massive recalls.

“I’m deeply sorry for any accident that Toyota drivers have experienced,” the grandson of the founder of the Japanese auto giant told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He suggested his company’s “priorities became confused” in a quest for growth over the past decade at the expense of safety concerns.

Toyoda told the panel he was “absolutely confident” there was no problem with the electronics of Toyota vehicles and repeated the company’s stance that sudden accelerations were caused by either a sticking gas pedal or a misplaced floor mat. Some outside experts have suggested electronics may be at the root of the problems.

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