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2009 Toyota RAV4 Review – a car disguised as an SUV

Friday April 3rd, 2009 at 7:44 AM
Posted by: Derek

2009 Toyota RAV4
Review and photos by Derek Mau


  • Toyota quality and ergonomics
  • Lots of space for people and their stuff
  • Very good fuel economy for an SUV
  • Star Safety System™


  • 4-speed automatic transmission
  • Optional side-step rails only work for small feet or loading the roof rack
  • Standard audio system is weak sounding

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Toyota Develops World's First Rear-Seat Center Airbag

Monday March 30th, 2009 at 8:33 AM
Posted by: tonyb

Here’s something that had never occurred to me: There is no airbag for the rear, center seat passenger. Turn out this fact DID occur to the bright sparks at Toyota, and they have decided to address the issue by making the world’s first rear seat center airbag. This is, by and large, a pretty good idea. Sure, very rarely are cars fully stuffed with people and in need of airbags, but sort of like a motorcycle helmet, when you need a rear seat center airbag you’re sure glad it’s there.

Airbags are one of the few, if not the only safety device currently on cars that were not first developed for racing se. This hindrance aside, they have proven in most cases to be a Godsend. Not only have they saved countless lives in frontal impacts, but the advent of side curtain airbags have done wonders in helping people survive side impact crashes. Recently several manufacturers have started including airbags for rear seat passengers mounted into the seatbacks of the front seats. So, the last man left alone, so to speak, was the person in the center rear seat.

Enter Toyota, whose new Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) airbag is fitted in a large, fixed, rear-seat center console in the roof, and will make its debut in an unnamed Toyota model to be launched in Japan later this year. OK then, everyone is now, er soon, covered.

Source: CarScoop

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Are We Losing Our Hunger for Hybrids?

Thursday March 26th, 2009 at 8:33 AM
Posted by: m35man

The momentary dip in gas prices has caused Americans to gravitate away from buying hybrids in droves, at least for now. I predicted that this would happen. We have very short memories in this country, and I figured we’d go back to gas-only vehicles as soon as the gas crunch subsided. But before I started calling American car buyers short sighted and overly gas-dependent, I looked at the reasons for the sluggish hybrid sales.

Nationally, Toyota Prius sales dropped 30.8 percent last month, compared with February 2007. Toyota Camry Hybrid sales were off for the month by 47.4 percent, Honda’s Civic Hybrid sales were off 21.5 percent, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid sales were off 48.6 percent, according to CleanMpg.com, which tracks sales of “green” cars

People are still skeptical about hybrids. They’re worried they won’t hold up or that the battery packs will fail, which basically totals out a hybrid. They can also purchase gas vehicles right now that get mileage comparable to what hybrids get. And overall, hybrids cost more than their non-hybrid counterparts.

Fro example, a hybrid Honda Accord costs about $3,800 more than the comparable non-hybrid version, including purchase, maintenance and insurance costs. Over five years, assuming 15,000 miles of driving per year, you’ll make up that cost in gasoline money if the price of gas goes up immediately to $9.20 a gallon and averages that for the whole period.

Is the hybrid really the answer to our environmental concerns? Are all the green hybrid owners out there going to be green with envy in a couple of years when there are better, more fuel-efficient cars on the market and they can’t sell their used hybrids? Will another type of planet-friendly transportation catch the public’s attention and leave the hybrid behind on the green technology highway?

Stay tuned. There will be a ton of new hybrids on car lots within the next year and we’ll see then just how hybrid-hungry we really are.

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

Toyota Stays In the Race

Thursday March 19th, 2009 at 8:33 AM
Posted by: m35man

Formula 1 racing

Toyota Motor Corporation, the world’s largest automaker, announced plans to continue racing in Formula One and NASCAR series, even as demand for their cars is taking a pit stop worldwide. The carmaker will participate in the two racing series despite being financially restricted by catastrophic business conditions.

According to a Toyota press release, this will be the 8th straight year that Toyota has participated in Formula One competition. Its TF 109 race car, in line with new F1 regulations, sports a broader front wing and improved performance and reliability, according to Toyota.

In Japan, Toyota will participate using the Lexus brand this year and will aim to recapture the Super GT GT5000 title using the Lexus SC430. They will also continue to supply engines to the Japanese Championship Formula Nippon—the top category of car racing in Japan, aiming for the 4th straight title by a Toyota-powered car.

In the U.S., Toyota will again participate in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series with the Toyota Camry, which totaled 10 wins in ’08. The carmaker is also aiming to win the Nationwide Series, NASCAR’s second-most popular series, also with the Camry. And Toyota will continue to race the Tundra in the Camping World Truck Series, after capturing both the manufacturer’s and driver’s titles last year.

Toyota is forecasting its first loss in 59 years as the global recession hammers demand for automobiles and the company seeks loans from the Japanese government. But, they also see the value in continuing to market itself in a smart way. Racing is a great way to keep your name out there and Toyota realizes this.

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

2010 Tundra Unveiled at Chicago Auto Show

Friday February 13th, 2009 at 3:22 PM
Posted by: m35man

2010 Toyota Tundra

Toyota unveiled the 2010 Tundra pickup at the Chicago Auto Show this week, featuring an optional smaller, more fuel-efficient V-8 engine and other features, including an optional flex-fuel powertrain which will allow the vehicle to run on gasoline-ethanol blends.

Toyota is trying to make the Tundra a little greener and a little sleeker, in response to sluggish light truck sales. People who are hurting financially are more prone to buy a truck that gets better gas mileage, without sacrificing too much power. If they can feel good about the environment and still haul large loads, it’s the best of both worlds–and if embraced by consumers–the Tundra pickup and could help Toyota’s overall sales significantly during the second half of 2009.

The economy has been tough on the truck market, so manufacturers are trying to come up with new ways to attract buyers. Let’s see if they buy into the new, improved 2010 Tundra.

Read this article from MSNBC.com after the jump.

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Toyota Recalls 1.3 Million Yaris

Friday January 30th, 2009 at 11:11 AM
Posted by: tonyb

2007 Toyota YarisUh-oh, another recall, and this is a big one.

Toyota, largest automaker in the world has to recall one of its most popular models, the Yaris. As a matter of fact, they are recalling 1.3 million of the little buggers, so this is a pretty big deal (BTW, just what IS the plural of Yaris? Is it Yarii? Or is it both singular and plural, like moose?). A lot of people find the Yaris an unattractive ride, but a lot of people, especially women, we’ve noticed, are really taken by its cuteness and proportions. It’s also inexpensive, well laid out on the inside gets great mileage and has been a big hit for the company. So if you own a Yaris, read on.

On Wednesday Toyota said the recall involves 134,900 of them residing in the United States. The recall is due to a seatbelt defect. In extreme front-crash situations, the defective seatbelt unit could cause a foam pad to ignite. However, no cases of fire have been reported to Toyota or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The recall includes 2006 and 2007 model year Yaris vehicles. Owners will be notified of the recall next week via a letter from Toyota.

Well, we guess the good news is that” … no cases of fire have been reported … “, but still, if you own a Yaris, and you don’t hear from Toyota, call up your dealer.

Safety first kids, safety first.

Source: LeftLaneNews

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

Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa Comparison – The New Big 3's Little 3.

Monday January 26th, 2009 at 9:11 AM
Posted by: Kurt Gensheimer

Honda Fit - Nissan Versa - Toyota Yaris

By Kurt Gensheimer

Whether or not you’ve grown up as a car buff, unless you’re a troglodyte who still walks barefoot from point A to point B, you’re probably familiar with who “The Big 3″ automakers comprise. And if you’ve watched any of the executive groveling before our esteemed panel of D.C. dunderheads we call our “leaders”, then you’re absolutely familiar with The Big 3. However in the aftermath of Toyota’s recent ascension past GM to become the number #1 selling automotive brand in the world – in addition to its involvement in NASCAR and multiple American manufacturing plants – the old Big 3 moniker may need revision to include Toyota.

And who would be “The Other 2″? Honda and Nissan seem to fit the role quite well, with similarly expanding market share and multiple U.S.-based factories. Yes, it seems that when people nowadays refer to “The Big 3″, there needs to be some level of clarification – New School or Old School?

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Posted in Expert Reviews, Feature Articles, Honda, Nissan, Toyota |Tags:, , , , , , || 8 Comments »

It's a Family Affair at Toyota

Wednesday January 21st, 2009 at 9:11 AM
Posted by: m35man

Akio ToyodaAs Obama takes on the tough job of running our country, Toyota Motor Corp. is also looking at some very tough times. So, it came as no surprise that right before our inauguration, the carmaker named a new leader to run its organization. It’s fitting actually, because Toyota is the size of a small country if you think about it.

This one is a family affair.  Akio Toyoda is the grandson of Toyota’s founding father and he is talking about adopting a “back to basics” approach – which may be exactly what the company needs to rebound from a sales slump with no end in sight.

For many years, Toyota management rejected the idea of letting Akio run the show, saying he was too young and inexperienced. Now, in a crisis, they’re turning to him. Hopefully, he can help introduce some new school ideas that the old-timers will be able to get on board with.

In 2007, Toyota was the most popular car sold in California. More than 20% of all the new vehicles registered in California in ’07 were Toyotas. But, ’08 was a debacle, and everyone suffered, not just the Big 3. I was on a Toyota dealership’s lot the other day and the salesmen were standing around acting as if someone had just died. I wouldn’t want to be a car salesman right now. It’s got to be a lonely job

There’s no doubt that new blood can help a flagging company. Toyota is hoping this 52-year-old “youngster” can get them moving in the right direction. What will his first move be? If I were him, I’d get a myself a Lexus LS 600h L hybrid (the most expensive car Toyota makes, retailing at $104,750) and a hotter secretary. (or to be politically correct, I should say “an attractive administrative assistant”) But, that’s just me.

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Toyota Unveils New FT-EV at Detroit Auto Show

Wednesday January 14th, 2009 at 1:11 PM
Posted by: m35man

Toyota FT-EV conceptLast Sunday as part of the opening festivities for the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Toyota unveiled their new FT-EV concept car, scheduled for release in 2012.

I like the idea behind it (“green and lean”) but couldn’t Toyota come up with a design that doesn’t look like something out of “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”? I keep expecting a Oompa Loompa to pop out from under the hood of this thing. If Scooby Doo and Shaggy lost their van, they would probably drive something like this, if the Great Dane could fit in it. No gear head worth his weight in engine grease would be seen dead driving this thing. It looks like grandma’s golf cart and even she might find it a little too cutesy.

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Let the Sun Shine, Toyota Declares

Friday January 2nd, 2009 at 7:11 PM
Posted by: m35man

solar priusToyota, who’s Prius is the most popular car on the hybrid market today, is upping the “clean and green” ante with a new vehicle in development that will run partially on the sun’s rays. They will also start the long-range development of a car that will run solely on solar. Both vehicles will take several years to design and build, but the sun will be around for awhile, so it’s a win-win.

Sales of the Prius are still huge, but not as high as they were last summer when gas prices spiked through the roof. Here in San Francisco where I live, pro-green residents gobbled up Priuses like jelly bellies or iPods. I saw a guy the other day trying to open the door of what he thought was his Prius, until he noticed that his (same color and year) was parked a few spots over. Consequently, a lot of Prius customization companies are cropping up all over the country — so that owners can distinguish their Prius from all the others out on the road.

Toyota should be praised for announcing this new endeavor. If only the Big 3 would get on the solar bandwagon – with real projects rather than lip service. And people wonder why Japan is kicking our derrieres when it comes to selling cars!

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