CarReview's Best Car Choices of 2009

Monday November 23rd, 2009 at 3:1111 PM
Posted by: ggaillard

New Year 2009-2010 SignpostContributing editors: Greg Gaillard, Alex Kramer, Kurt Gensheimer, Derek Mau

Despite 2008′s desperate measures to help auto manufacturers hold on to business as usual, 2009 brought only radical change leaving many old business practices and brands behind.

We have been spectators in this year of turmoil and watched the industry struggle to reinvent itself.  Two of The Big Three went bankrupt; one emerged with a global partner, the other became lean and focused.  Diesels are now faster than their gasoline counterparts. Nine out of ten EPA mpg champs are hybrids. VW bought Porsche while Porsche was buying VW.  Overall sales were millions of units short of expectations. Manufacturers now pin their hopes on the Chinese market, while Americans pray that the Volt is half as good as it needs to be. Somehow, during all of this turmoil Kia became cool.  What was once unthinkable has happened.

Amidst the mayhem consumer conservatism has redefined value to mean more than MSRP, monthly payments and residuals. Cars had better be good at what they do or people won’t buy them. The industry must meet the new expectation of great cars and real innovation. Tricky marketing and trend analysis will not build the product portfolios of the future.

While the industry was being shaken to its core, 2009 was a banner year for new technologies and remarkable products.  Read on to find out which cars persevered as CarReview’s best choices of 2009

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Posted in Acura, Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Dodge, Feature Articles, Ford, Honda, hybrid, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen |Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , || 3 Comments »


Lexus GX 460 Makes Its First Appearance in China at Auto Guangzhou 2009

Wednesday November 18th, 2009 at 5:1111 PM
Posted by: Derek

2010 Lexus GX 460

Tokyo – TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announces it will display 45 concept and production vehicles, in separate Toyota and Lexus brand booths, at the 7th China (Guangzhou) International Automobile Exhibition (also known as Auto Guangzhou 2009), to be held at the Guangzhou International Convention and Exhibition Center from November 23 to 30. The theme for the two booths is “The Environment, Safety, and the Future”.

The Lexus “GX 460”, a midsize SUV, will make its world premiere at a press briefing scheduled for November 23. The SUV is expected to have Toyota’s new 4.6-liter V8, which is rated at 310 horsepower and 327 pound-feet of torque in the Toyota Tundra and Sequoia. Also on display for Lexus will be the “ES 240” and other models. The Toyota display will include the new “Crown”, which will go into production and go on sale in China in December this year, the third-generation “Prius” and the “Camry Hybrid”.

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Posted in Lexus, Press and News, Toyota |Tags:, , , , , || No Comments »


First Impressions: 2010 Toyota 4Runner

Monday November 16th, 2009 at 1:1111 PM
Posted by: Derek

2010 Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition

By Derek Mau

2010 is just around the corner and Toyota is ready to release the next generation of their midsize SUV – the 4Runner. The all-new 5th generation 4Runner is due to arrive at dealerships late November and CarReview was invited to preview Toyota’s midsize SUV.

Staying true to its origins, the new 4Runner is built on a traditional body-on-frame chassis and can get serious when straying off the beaten path. With body panels blockier than a pit bull’s head, the new 4Runner looks stocky, very muscular, and more athletically capable than Bo Jackson (before his hip-replacement surgery). A completely redesigned interior and unique cargo area make the newest 4Runner smarter, more comfortable, and more versatile than ever. Available in three models, top-of-the-line Limited, a well-equipped SR5, and the Trail grade for those who require maximum off-road capability.

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Posted in Expert Reviews, Toyota |Tags:, || 7 Comments »


FT-86 Concept Video and Photo Gallery

Tuesday November 10th, 2009 at 7:1111 AM
Posted by: Derek

FT-86 Gran Turismo 5 screen shot

This video is a quick look at a new car and new tracks for Gran Turismo 5, featuring the Toyota FT-86 Concept car. The rear-wheel drive coupe that will be badged as a Toyota was co-developed with Subaru (who provides the engine) and will make its world debut at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show. The name FT-86 is a nod to the popular RWD Corolla AE86 of the mid-1980s. The production version of the 2+2 FT-86 sports coupe, is due to go on sale towards the end of 2011. The engine is from Subaru and is a front-mounted, 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine, a naturally aspirated version of Subaru’s 2.0-liter flat flour normally found in the Impreza that Toyota will massage to boost output closer to 200 horsepower. This is the same engine that, when turbocharged, cranks out 250HP and is found in Subaru’s much loved WRX.

View the video and photo gallery after the jump (updated 1/21/2010)

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Posted in Subaru, Toyota, Viral Video |Tags:, , , , || 2 Comments »


CarReview's 2009-2010 Hybrid Buyer's Guide

Monday October 26th, 2009 at 7:1010 AM
Posted by: ggaillard

Honda CR-Z

By Greg Gaillard

Hybrids Come of Age

Just 10 years ago Honda released the Insight as the first US mass market hybrid combustion/electric car.  Its two seat aerodynamic teardrop shape, light weight and focused engineering delivered spectacular fuel economy that generated quite a bit of media attention.  In the real world however, the Insight represented significant compromises in terms of utility, performance and perceived safety.  Launched at the height of the SUV boom alongside inexpensive gasoline, sales weren’t significant and to many people the Insight was another Honda engineering experiment; a car that Honda’s Asimo robot might drive, but not something American families would put in their garage.

What a difference a decade makes.  Last week the EPA released its annual Fuel Economy Guide for 2010 and hybrids swept the podium with 9 out of the top 10 MPG scores.  At least in terms of EPA ratings, hybrids are the drivetrain technology of the moment.  Perhaps more important than MPG is how the technology has evolved into a variety of solutions that can be used across a range of body styles without many of the original Insight’s compromises.

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Posted in Chevrolet, Feature Articles, Ford, GMC, Honda, hybrid, Lexus, Mercury, Toyota |Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , || No Comments »


Toyota FT-86: The Toyota/Subaru Sports Coupe Breaks Cover

Wednesday October 7th, 2009 at 7:1010 AM
Posted by: tonyb

Toyota/Subaru FT-86

The on again/off again/on again for real Toyota/Subaru sports coupe is certainly on for real now. Official pics and specs of the upcoming two-company joint venture are out, and it looks to be a pretty impressive car on a number of fronts.

The rear-wheel drive coupe that will be badged as a Toyota was co-developed with Subaru (who provides the engine) and will make its world debut at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month. The name FT-86 is a nod to the popular RWD Corolla AE86 of the mid-1980s. The production version of the 2+2 FT-86 sports coupe, is due to go on sale towards the end of 2011.

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Posted in Press and News, Subaru, Toyota |Tags:, , || 2 Comments »


Toyota Issues Safety Advisory Affecting 3.8 Million Cars

Wednesday September 30th, 2009 at 7:99 AM
Posted by: Derek

Toyota floor-mats-all-weather

Toyota Cites Stuck Accelerator Risk For Big Recall

Right now Toyota is calling it a “safety advisory”, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may upgrade this to an official recall. The potential problem lies with unsecured or mismatched floor mats in Toyota vehicles that may interfere with the accelerator pedal. You can read the official statement from Toyota and the list of affected vehicles after the jump.

According to the statement, “A stuck open accelerator pedal may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop the vehicle, which could cause a crash, serious injury or death.”

Until Toyota develops a remedy, Toyota is asking owners of specific Toyota and Lexus models to take out any removable driver’s floor mat and NOT replace it with any other floor mat.

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Posted in Press and News, Toyota |Tags:, || 1 Comment »


Toyota Estima Hybrid Minivan

Monday September 28th, 2009 at 8:99 AM
Posted by: tonyb

What you see here is the Toyota Estima Hybrid minivan. It has a great combination of features, and it’s probably about as practical and environmentally friendly a ride as Toyota can make (which is saying a lot right there). There’s just one problem. Toyota isn’t selling it in America. The Toyota Estima Hybrid Minivan has just gone on sale in Malaysia. I read about it on Paul Tan’s great blog about being a car guy in Malaysia (do you see how far and wide I search to get you people this info?), and I got to say I’m bewildered that Toyota hasn’t brought it here yet.

Sure, I can imagine one reason why not: A lot of Americans are stupid enough to actually believe that they actually need an SUV to drive kids to band practice and get groceries. But if Toyota was smart, they could market around that sad misconception.

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Posted in hybrid, Press and News, Toyota |Tags:, || 8 Comments »


New 2010 Toyota 4Runner Debuts

Friday September 25th, 2009 at 6:99 AM
Posted by: tonyb

Toyota 4Runner

Toyota’s 4Runner, one of their more popular lines, and also one of their more popular SUVs just got a whole bunch of upgrades for the 2010 model year. The 4Runner shares its platform with the FJ Cruiser, has been completely redesigned for 2010, and it continues to use body-on-frame construction. Toyota says that the new 4Runner is “more rugged than the Highlander and more versatile than the FJ Cruiser”.

The 2010 4Runner it taller, wider and longer than the ’09 model and offers an optional third-row of seats. Also for 2010, the 4Runner is available in three different trim levels: the first is the SR5, then comes the more luxury oriented and better equipped Limited, and a more “serious” version called Trail.

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Posted in Press and News, Toyota |Tags:, || 1 Comment »


Prius To Become Its Own “Brand”

Monday September 21st, 2009 at 8:99 AM
Posted by: tonyb

2010 Toyota Prius

Hmmmm, another re-branding effort. I’ve always found that an interesting trend for Japanese car companies. Outside of North America, there is no Acura, for example; everything Honda makes is just a Honda. It looks like Toyota, makers of the world’s best selling hybrid, the Prius, might be spinning off the Prius name into its own brand.

This has been a rumor for quite some time, but recently Toyota made it officially official when they confirmed that there will soon be more Prius models. The announcement came at a Las Vegas gathering of Toyota and Lexus dealers (see, Lexus as separate brand). According to sources, Toyota execs were careful to point out that the future Prius range will not be a full-fledged brand like Lexus or Scion.

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Posted in hybrid, Press and News, Toyota |Tags:, || No Comments »


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