2013 Toyota Avalon Limited Review

Monday December 31st, 2012 at 10:1212 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: 0.28 CD and Short Overhangs Yield a Looker
Gripes: Why All the Interior Chrome Trim?

Did you ever notice how automotive reviewers feel compelled to trash a company’s previous offering – one they universally loved just a few years back – whenever they’re given a new version of the same model to drive? This frequently occurs because manufacturers themselves denigrate their prior offering in order to cast a fairer light on its replacement. In most new model debuts, the comparison is odious. But the completely redesigned and repurposed 2013 Toyota Avalon is one of those rare cases that validates the rejection/adulation syndrome.

Until now, the Avalon has registered little more than a cipher in Toyota’s otherwise hot selling product line. Derived from the forgettable Cressida back in 1995, the Avalon came across as a luxurious sedan designed to satisfy customers who thought they had pulled into a Buick dealership. Even though it underwent makeovers in 2000 and 2005, the Avalon remained a stodgy looking car for folks who didn’t relish taking much of a chance on their automotive purchase. To be sure, Avalon was quiet, refined, and well put together in the best Toyota tradition. But when it came to serving up sizzle, Avalon was more tepid than a wet briquette.

Avalon’s wandering in the wilderness is officially over. Toyota management snatched design of the 4th generation model away from the minions in Japan and turned the new car over to the American styling whizzes employed at the Toyota Technical Center in Woodridge, California known as CALTY. They have come up with a startlingly handsome sedan that bears no resemblance to its predecessors. Yes, it still has 4 doors, seating for 5, and a full 16 cubic foot trunk. But the sheet metal that now clothes the Avalon is devastatingly effective at communicating the total reboot of this model line. The motivating idea is to appeal to a younger buyer who will cross shop the Avalon against products from BMW, Audi and yes, even Buick.

Against them all, the Avalon fares well. Its frontal view connotes snarl. From the side, its ellipse is slick, with the cabin glass tumbling home in one unbroken line from roof to rocker panel. CALTY definitely outdid themselves with the shape of the new Avalon. Because the externals are so compelling, the interior is somewhat of a letdown, harkening back to the detail-oriented fussiness of previous versions. Instead of a sleek overall design along the lines of a BMW 3 or Audi A4, the Avalon cockpit presents a lumpy pastiche, with too much chrome outlining every pod edge, instrument binnacle and door rest. Although the chrome used is “smoked” to lessen brightness, matte aluminum would have improved the overall ambiance immensely. At one point, I was actually blinded by dazzling reflections off the bezel of the instrument cluster.

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2012 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4×4 Review

Monday October 8th, 2012 at 4:1010 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Prodigious Off-Roader, Stylish, Made in USA
Gripes: TRD Exhaust Noise, Annoying Cruise Control

Sometimes it takes an old school truck like this Tacoma to reaffirm that the simple virtues are best. Take the key to the Tacoma, for example. It’s small, light weight, and unpretentious looking. And you actually need to insert it into a slot on the steering column and twist it clockwise to start the Tacoma. After testing an endless stream of keyless entry vehicles with starter buttons instead of key receptacles, I found the Tacoma’s throwback system such a delight that it made me wonder why manufacturers ever gave up on it.

The rest of this Tacoma follows suit. It has a full-size spare, for example, mounted under the bed for easy access in case of emergency. Because its side windows lack the auto-up feature so common today, you can actually place that plane of glass exactly where you want it without fighting a computer system for control. It has no paddle shifts attached to the steering wheel, but the sturdy floor-console mounted shift lever features sharp detents for each gear. The front seats aren’t 14-way adjustable, but they’re still more comfortable than you would expect given their simple manual controls for backrest angle and fore/aft positioning.

This back-to-basics brand of practicality extends to the pickup bed, which features “heavy duty all weather flooring,” a $50 option. The interior sports $165 worth of “all weather mats and door sills” which look utilitarian enough to cope with the muddiest boots in sloppy weather. On the right rear wall of the truck bed is a 3-pronged 115 volt receptacle with spring actuated, self-closing cover. This nifty device allows you to plug in any electric device, affording 400 watts of output while the truck is idling, or 100 watts when underway.

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2012 Toyota Prius c Review

Tuesday March 20th, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: Ultra Efficient, Handsome, Comfy Front Seats
Against: Nervous Electric Steering, Tiny Base Model Tires

The Prius is the Japanese version of the Swiss Army Knife. You can buy a lot of different versions to fit your needs. There’s original Prius, which Toyota now terms the “liftback” model in order to distinguish it from the recently introduced “V” version, a stretched model with roomier interior. Now a third version is coming on line called “c” for city transport. The Prius c is a smaller and significantly lighter offspring of the world’s most successful hybrid vehicle. It weighs nearly 600 pounds less than any other Prius, and costs significantly less as well. The c model will be offered in 4 levels of trim, with the base model retailing for just $18,950. If you bump all the way up to level 4, you’ll still lay out only $23,230.

Of course, nothing comes free when you cut size and substance, and the Prius c is no exception. It is the only current Prius with drum rear brakes instead of discs at all 4 corners. The tires fitted to the level 1 Prius c are small enough to work on any number of motorcycles. These R400 Bridgestone Turanzas measure just 175/65R15, and do not offer much in the way of adhesion. But of course, such low rolling resistance tires are an integral part of the Prius mileage equation because their hard tread blocks reduce contact patch resistance and promote extraordinary mileage. The base Prius c fulfills those expectations by returning 53 MPG in city driving, 46 MPG in highway mode, and 50 MPG combined fuel economy. These are the highest figures yet recorded for a passenger car without plug-in capability. Many of you will stop reading right here and get yourself on the March, 2012 delivery list for the Prius c based on mileage figures alone.

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Table of Contents – Editorial Car Reviews, Feature Articles

Tuesday October 11th, 2011 at 2:1010 PM
Posted by: Derek


Below is a comprehensive list of all the Expert Car Reviews and feature articles published on CarReview.com [updated 10/11/2011]:

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Teen Drivers, Children and Seniors Benefit From Toyota Tests at Collaborative Safety Research Center

Wednesday September 21st, 2011 at 7:99 AM
Posted by: ponycargirl

Toyota Technical Center - CSRC; Crash Test
By Megan Green

As part of a new era of openness mandated from CEO Akio Toyoda , Toyota opened their doors to the media at their Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC) at the York Township, Michigan Toyota Technical Center (TTC) for the first time in company history. Collaborative research partners including representatives from MIT, the Transportation Active Safety Institute, Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VT), Wake Forest School of Medicine, Washtenaw Area Transportation Study, Wayne State University School of Medicine, and University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute were on hand for the announcement of ten new safety initiatives. Toyota’s goal is to share technology and research results from the various studies with the automotive industry and public. To further support this effort, they launched a new website www.toyota.com/csrc in January where this collaborative research on automotive safety is available online.

A significant portion of the research is concentrating on the most vulnerable populations, which, in their eyes, are young children, new teen drivers, seniors, and pedestrians.

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Redesigned 2012 Toyota Camry Launched Today – First driving impressions, more power and better fuel economy

Tuesday August 23rd, 2011 at 2:88 PM
Posted by: ponycargirl

2012 Toyota Camry SE

Toyota’s redesigned 2012 Camry mid-size sedan was launched today simultaneously in Los Angeles, Detroit, New York City and the Toyota- owned plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, where the Camry is being manufactured.

At first look, the exterior shape is fairly close to the 2011 Camry. The change is more in the details – the headlights reshaped to curve around the front horizontally, integrating with a more subtle and simplified honeycomb grille. The entire front end is beefier and is seated lower, the fog lights tied into the design with chrome detailing. The windows are a bit more squared at the A pillar and C pillar than the previous model, adding to the sharper, boxier appearance.

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2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser Review – Be all you can be, with the FJ Team Trails Special Edition

Monday August 15th, 2011 at 2:88 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser Team Trails Edition
By David Colman


  • Go anywhere rig
  • Startling appearance
  • Huge HVAC dash knobs


  • Droning exhaust note
  • Cheesy emergency jack
  • Impeded rear vision

Ten-hut you army wannabes! Fall in you Hummer chums! Toyota has a new dog tag for camouflaged ammo fans.  It’s called the Trail Teams Special Edition Package (Upgrade Package 3 @ $3,650) on the $26,880 FJ Cruiser. Check the box for “Army Green Exterior Color” and Toyota will send you packing with an FJ that looks like a 5 gallon Jerry can.  Instead of the usual white roof, yours will be olive drab, just like the rest of the body, the interior door trim, the seat fabric inserts, and the face of the dashboard. Items that would normally be silver or chrome, like bumpers, exterior mirrors, grill, door handles and even the TRD 6-spoke Special Edition alloy wheels, are all matte black on this special FJ. Only the six lug nuts holding each steel wheel in place are chrome. The subdued colorless combo transforms the FJ from a pastel Lego brick into an MP bulldog.

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2012 Toyota Prius v Wagon Review – Building upon the success of Toyota’s popular hybrid

Tuesday June 14th, 2011 at 7:66 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2012 Toyota Prius v
By contributing editor David Colman


  • 58% more room
  • Double sunroof
  • Airy interior


  • Reduced MPG
  • Awkward shape
  • Plethora of driving distractions

A couple of years ago, 3 of us set out on wine country safari in a second generation Prius 4-door. By the end of the day, the cabin of that car was beginning to feel very small. The trunk was loaded with cases of wine and the rear springs sagged accordingly. Our spirits flagged from sharing such close quarters. While the trip was a success, the Prius was judged to be undersized for the mission.

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2011 Toyota Highlander Review

Tuesday May 24th, 2011 at 12:55 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By contributing editor David Colman


  • Spacious and airy
  • Flat storage area
  • 5,000 lb. tow rating


  • Hit-or-miss remote tailgate release
  • Bug-eye styling
  • 270 hp not enough

The Toyota stylists who freshened the look of the Highlander for 2011 did not do its front fascia any favors. New headlight modules stand nearly 4 inches proud of the fender surface, imparting a frog-like visage to the SUV. The rear makeover is more successful than the front, but the revamped Highlander is never going to win any beauty contests. Inside, the redo is more beneficial. Three rows of seats are now standard in all models. The second and third rows flips flat by releasing seatback-mounted detents. The resultant flat load floor is a boon if you need to stow bulky items. Liftover height at the tailgate threshold is low enough to make insertion of ungainly objects like a bike easy. However, the tailgate key fob release only worked sporadically.

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2011 Toyota Corolla Review – A demure compact car with esprit de corps

Monday May 23rd, 2011 at 2:55 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By contributing editor David Colman


  • Big car feel, little car price
  • Superior quality furnishings


  • 4-speed automatic one gear short
  • Electric window lifts lack auto-up function

I love this car more from the back seat than from the front seat. That’s because it’s more rewarding to be a passenger in the Corolla than its driver. The back seat is commendably spacious and comfortable, with a slouch-inducing backrest angle that makes you feel like you’re lounging on your sofa at home. Even the rear windows retract completely into the doors, an unusual and welcome occurrence for back glass on hot days.

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