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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

PROS:

  • 58% more room
  • Double sunroof
  • Airy interior

CONS:

  • 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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Posted in Expert Reviews, hybrid, Toyota |Tags:, , , || 3 Comments »


2011 Toyota Highlander Review

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

2011_toyota_highlander_02_med
By contributing editor David Colman

Likes:

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

Dislikes:

  • 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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Posted in Expert Reviews, Toyota |Tags:, , || 1 Comment »


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

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

2011_toyota_corolla_1_med
By contributing editor David Colman

Likes:

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

Dislikes:

  • 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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Posted in Expert Reviews, Toyota |Tags:, || 1 Comment »


Scion FR-S Concept Revealed at New York Auto Show

Thursday April 21st, 2011 at 12:44 PM
Posted by: ggaillard

The return of the affordable, sensible, fun-to-drive coupe

Scion_FRS_Concept2
By Greg Gaillard

FR-S stands for Front-engine, Rear-wheel drive, Sport. Pretty simple. Jack Hollis, VP of Scion, personally believes it should stand for Friggin’ Really Sweet, but the legal department at Toyota was NOT feeling the same way.

Initially people questioned Toyota’s investment in Subaru. GM had struggled to create a profitable partnership with the off-beat brand, so what could Toyota do differently? The unofficially named Toyobaru answered by not following the traditional strategy of re-skinning existing platforms to fill out brand portfolios. A decision was made to build something new; something that melded both companies’ best components and ideas. Soon thereafter rumors suggested that the first product from this mindset would be a co-developed 2+2 sports car that would put a halo over both companies’ showrooms.

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


Japanese Automakers Resume Limited Output

Monday March 21st, 2011 at 10:33 AM
Posted by: aquadog

Japanese Automakers Resume Limited OutputJapan is slowly taking steps to resume auto and parts production after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit on March 11, with auto companies starting limited production throughout the week. Due to aftershocks, rolling blackouts and infrastructure problems, Japanese auto factories have remained idle costing Japanese automakers an estimated $150 million a day, according to Goldman Sachs.

The IHS Automotive Insight states that “lost production outside of Japan is so far about 10,000 vehicles, but that number will rise ‘exponentially’ as more parts suppliers are affected, reducing stockpiles of components for cars and trucks built overseas”. The U.S. is starting to feel the effect, as General Motors Co. will shut down production at its 900 employee pickup plant in Shreveport, La. next week, which relies on Japanese made transmissions.

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Posted in Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Press and News, Suzuki, Toyota |Tags:, , , , , , , , , , || No Comments »


Toyota Prius Wagon to Hit U.S. in 2012

Monday March 14th, 2011 at 5:33 PM
Posted by: aquadog

Toyota Prius WagonToyota is expanding their Prius family with a new larger and heavier wagon-like Prius V — that’s the letter V for “versatility,” Toyota says, not the Roman numeral five.

The new Toyota Prius V, will go on sale in the United States in late summer or early fall. Toyota announced production has begun on the new gasoline-electric hybrid Prius wagon, that is set to hit Japan in April, followed by the U.S. and Europe. Although, those dates might slip as Japan begins clean up after its latest tsunami disaster.

Some major differences between the Prius hatchback and the new wagon-style Prius are improved visibility due to the driver being situated 1.2 inches higher, an extended rear cargo which will eliminate the hatchback’s split rear window, a 220 pound weight difference, and the option of a new polycarbonate panoramic moonroof that weighs 40 percent less than glass. The new Prius wagon is wider, taller and about five inches longer, and shares the same engine, platform, and hybrid drivetrain as the Prius hatchback, giving it approximately 42 MPG in the city and 38 MPG on the highway. New inside features include a computer mouse-inspired one-dial climate control button and a high-capacity lithium ion battery.

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


Toyota FT-86 II Concept Moves Closer to Production

Wednesday March 9th, 2011 at 8:33 AM
Posted by: aquadog

Toyota FT-86 II ConceptA new concept  of the Toyota FT-86 debuted at the Geneva Motor. The Toyota FT-86 II concept sports coupe, after making its original debut at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show with the FT-86 concept, seems to be moving closer to an actual production model.

Little information and specs have been released about the redesigned FT-86 II concept. However, we do know that it will use a 2.0-liter, four cylinder boxer engine with power driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission.

A few major differences between the original FT-86 concept version and the latest FT-86 II concept are the larger rear window and front grille, a new front bumper with a string of LED daytime running lights, and a different rear bumper with larger dual tail pipes.

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


Bongiovi Acoustics Digital Power Station Speakerless Car System

Friday January 21st, 2011 at 7:11 AM
Posted by: aquadog

Bongiovi Acoustics Digital Power StationBongiovi Acoustics and Johnson Controls have teamed up to create the first 100% digital audio processing speakerless car system for Toyota cars, which is currently being shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Designed by music legend Tony Bongiovi, an audio engineer and record producer, the Bongiovi Acoustics Digital Power Station (DPS) is the latest in software technology, that will reassemble audio in real time for an optimal listening experience.

Johnson Controls make all parts of the car vibrate, thus producing sound and acting as speakers. The Bongiovi DPS with the digital signal processing of each car’s unique acoustic environment and vibrations, provides a recording studio quality audio experience without the size and cost of other premium audio upgrades and extra hardware. For example, instead of having a subwoofer, the system uses the sheet metal beneath the seats, and having no speakers also provides more space and options on the doors.

The Bongiovi Acoustics Digital Power Station will be available fall 2011 starting at $280 for most current Toyota models.

Experience DPS technology with a free plug-in optimized for iTunes and Mac users at www.dpsplugin.com. A Windows version will be available shortly.

Posted in Car Stereo and In-Car Electronics, Press and News, Toyota |Tags:, , , , , , , || 1 Comment »


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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Posted in Expert Reviews, Toyota |Tags:, || 6 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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Posted in Expert Reviews, Toyota |Tags:, , || 4 Comments »


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