Category: Toyota

The Million Mile Tundra

May 18, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , ,

Most people are happy to reach 200,000 miles with their vehicle before retiring it for something else. That wasn’t the case for Victor Sheppard, the previous owner of a 2007 Toyota Tundra with more than 1 million miles on the odometer. That’s right, you read that right. The truck had more than a million miles on the clock and still drove around perfectly fine.

Million Mile Tundra

That figure seems to defy all logic. Most people believe they are at least halfway through the life cycle of their vehicles when they roll over 100,000 miles, and are ready to pack it in at any point thereafter. Victor Sheppard made it very clear that you can go much farther than that if you really want to, and he didn’t do it with superhuman effort either, just regular maintenance and plenty of visits to his local service department.

Traveling for Business

It’s amazing to think that Sheppard was able to accumulate more than 1 million miles in the span of just 9 years, but travelling across country for work helped him accomplish such a figure. He put more than 125,000 miles on the vehicle during each year of use until it finally reached 999,999 on the odometer. After all this travelling around Sheppard states that his “…truck looks great, and, except for a few little dents, it’s almost like new,”

Regular Service

With so many miles on the truck Sheppard had to head in to the service department regularly. With 117 total visits to the local service center the truck was able to remain in excellent condition and even has many of the original parts that it left the factory with.

The 1 Million Mile Reward

After travelling for 1 million miles Sheppard was thrilled with the performance of his 15th Tundra, but what he didn’t know was that Toyota was prepared to trade him a brand new 2016 model for his 1 million mile truck. They offered a straight swap deal so that he could begin racking up miles all over again on his 16th Tundra, while they take a look at the vehicle that lasted for so long to try and learn as much as possible from it.

Toyota plans on stripping down the entire truck and examining every one of its components. While doing this they will learn about which parts are still original and which have been replaced, and they will likely learn how to engineer even more long-lasting trucks in the process. It’s clear that Tundra trucks are reliable, but most people probably never imagined that one could travel for over 1 million miles without issue.

The Toyota FJ Cruiser is No More

May 17, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , ,

Well it’s official, the FJ Cruiser is no more from August onward. Of course the cruiser hasn’t been sold in the United States since the 2014 model year, but it has been sold in other places around the world such as Australia, where rugged vehicles get a closer following.

2014 toyota fj cruiser

Built for Impressive Performance

In a market that prefers mild-mannered vehicles the FJ Cruiser stands out starkly. It was produced after the FJ40 Land Cruiser and designed to tackle most rough terrain types capably. The vehicle has always been aimed at serious off-roaders, but it appears that there aren’t enough of those around to sustain the market needed to keep producing the vehicle. That’s why Toyota stopped shipping over the vehicles back in 2014, but sales continued in Australia giving the vehicle more time to shine. It even managed to win 4×4 Australia magazine’s 4×4 of the Year title this year thanks to its robust mechanical design that stands up to hard use where others do not.

The Last of a Dying Breed

The 2014 model year cruisers in the United States are the last of the models that you can get your hands on, and they’re worth serious consideration if you want a highly rugged SUV. Like Hummers, the Land Rover Defender and a host of other off-road vehicles before them, the FJ Cruiser just couldn’t be sustained. There’s nothing against the vehicle personally, people are just more interested in ride quality and tech features than they are in a vehicle’s overall off-road capabilities. Which makes sense since so many people rarely venture off roads here in the US.

Resale Value Stays Strong

It should come as no surprise that the FJ Cruiser resale values are holding strong. There is still a dedicated market for the vehicle, though smaller than what Toyota was hoping for when it first released the vehicle. That means that even though this rugged SUV isn’t going to be produced any longer, it’s still quite expensive to purchase, and something that you’ll have to work hard to buy in the future as less become available.

Though the FJ Cruiser isn’t going to be produced any longer, it doesn’t mean you can’t still own one for yourself. There are plenty of dealerships still selling the SUV and if you look around a bit you should be able to find one hanging out in a lot nearby. They’re truly exceptional vehicles, worthy of consideration by any real off-road enthusiast.

The Toyota Avalon Hybrid is a Surprisingly Fun on the Track

May 16, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , ,

The Toyota Avalon Hybrid is about the farthest you can get away from a high performance vehicle on paper. It’s packed with a four-cylinder engine, a CVT automatic transmission, and front wheel drive. That doesn’t stop it from being a real blast to blaze around tight corners and actual race tracks though. The Avalon is surprisingly powerful and quick, and it’s a good mix of peppy performance and real-world refinement that will satisfy most car buyers nicely.

2016 toyota avalon hybrid

Low End Power

The Toyota Avalon isn’t a powerhouse, but when you opt for the hybrid version you get a lot of low-end torque that you wouldn’t get with many other vehicles. That electric motor pushes out power nearly immediately and gives you an extra bit of bite that makes the Avalon feel more powerful than it should at low end speeds. This means that when you go around particularly sharp corners and other low-speed track features you can really blaze through them and feel like you’re moving quick.

Front Drive Stability

Driving enthusiasts will tell you that you want and need rear wheel drive to blaze around tracks and sharp corners. What they won’t tell you is that you actually get a great amount of stability at high speeds with front wheel drive, especially if you aren’t afraid to really stomp down on the gas pedal. Not only that, but you’ll enjoy safer driving qualities while at standard speeds while doing normal non-racing things.

Sensible Fun

One thing that the Toyota Avalon has going for it that some Porsche performance car doesn’t is that it’s sensible. You can carry around a family of four or five in the vehicle comfortably, and it’s perfectly suited to everyday tasks. That means you can tear up a back stretch of road and still get that same goofy smile on your face that you would in a sports car. The only difference is, when it’s time to go pick up the kids, to run to the grocery store to make an appointment, you can do so comfortably and inconspicuously. You won’t stand out, and you won’t have to worry about how you’re going to fit everything in that tiny Porsche.

Of course the Toyota Avalon isn’t a performance car, and it isn’t something that you should buy if you plan to race competitively, but that isn’t the point. The point is, the Toyota Avalon can be a lot of fun, and is a car that you can really push the envelope in. Sure it’s not as sexy as a $300,000 sports car, and it’s not going to break any speed records, but it’s an ideal choice for a balanced driver looking for balanced fun and function.

A New More Affordable Toyota Mirai is on the Way

May 12, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , ,

There’s no arguing that the Toyota Mirai is a revolutionary vehicle, but such revolutionary technology comes at a cost, and that cost is about $50,000. That’s more than many car buyers are willing to spend, or can afford to spend. When the first wide-spread hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is selling for so much money, it keeps most people from being able to take advantage of the technology. Toyota is working to refine the technology that the Mirai relies on, to create a smaller, more affordable version for 2019.

Toyota mirai

Does that Mean a New Model or Mirai?

At the moment it’s unclear if Toyota means to create another hydrogen fuel cell model to compete alongside the Mirai, or to just further refine the Mirai and stop offering the original once the new and lest costly version is released.

A More Affordable Hydrogen Car By 2020

Toyota is the sponsor of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games, and it would be the perfect stage to present an all-new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to the masses. With billions of viewers tuning in from around the world, there is literally no better way to get word out about the vehicle, and that’s why Toyota plans on having the vehicle completed before the Olympics.

A Lagging Infrastructure

Hydrogen fuel cell technology is being supported in just a few locations around the world, with Japan being the most enthusiastic proponent of the technology. There are currently around 80 refueling stations in Japan, and somewhere around 11 stations in California. Both of those figures need to go up dramatically for the Mirai to be the massive success that Toyota expects it to be with more than 30,000 models sold by 2020 in the US (around 210 have been sold in the US currently). There are plans for an additional 12 stations within California, and plans to put others up around the United States in large metropolitan areas.

If Toyota is able to get the cost of the Mirai down, much like the automaker did when it released the Prius c, more buyers will be willing to take the risk and buy a vehicle created from such new technology. It’s what Toyota is counting on, and it could be just the thing they need to really get that technology out there to the masses. It’s an exciting time to be a vehicle owner, and it’s likely that some pretty major innovations will be released by Toyota in the near future.

Surprisingly You Can Tow Trailer with the 2016 Prius

May 6, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , ,

If you’re looking for a way to get a smaller trailer from one place to another, you might not need to pick up a truck or SUV after all. The compact 2016 Toyota Prius is engineered to handle the task just fine, that is as long as you don’t plan to tow more than 1,600 lbs.

2016 Toyota Prius Towing

Helping the Prius Tackle Towing

Toyota hasn’t stated why it decided to make the Prius a capable tower, but the automaker did take a moment to explain how the feat was accomplished. The 2016 Prius comes with sophisticated heat management systems that allow the electric motor and the differential to handle a bit more pressure that towing puts on it. In other words, the drive system of the Prius isn’t going to overheat and experience problems by towing up to 1,600 lbs. You can’t exceed this amount though, even if the trailer has built-in brakes, because that’s too much strain on the Prius.

Only Available in Certain Markets

This towing capability isn’t available in every market that you’ll find the 2016 Prius, but it’s more prevalent than you might expect. If you’re planning on buying a Prius, make sure that you ask about the vehicles towing capabilities and whether you can have a hitch and trailer wiring added on or not. Many dealerships should be able to help you find a Prius that is up to the task and already set up with a hitch for you. Even if you don’t get a dealership to help you out, there’s a good chance you can find a garage that can set you up with the hitch and wiring anyway.

Move that Pop Up Camper

Whether you have a compact lumber trailer, you want to move an ATV or just pull around a small pop up for your next camping trip, you can do it all with the Prius. That’s pretty exciting if you don’t like the idea of picking up another vehicle just to do some very minor towing, and it makes the highly efficient hybrid just a bit more versatile. There are plenty of smaller pop up campers that stay under this weight limit for comfortable camping with your little efficient Prius.

If you need a light-duty towing vehicle, you might be able to handle the task with a 2016 Prius. It seems absurd, but it’s pretty cool.

The 2016 RAV4 Hybrid is Truly Impressive

May 3, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , ,

SUVs are considered many things, but efficient is seldom one of them. That’s not the case with the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid. This mid-sized SUV manages what most other mid-sized SUVs and even sedans can, a combined fuel efficiency rating of 31 MPG. That level of efficiency is very admirable in a mid-sized SUV and provides buyers a good reason to consider the already capable RAV4 hybrid.

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Tops in Fuel Efficiency

According to Consumer Reports the 2016 RAV4 SUV Hybrid has the highest fuel efficiency of any of the mid-sized SUVs on the market. With 36 MPG highway and 26 MPG city the middleweight SUV is pretty forgiving at the pump, something that will mean a bit more if fuel prices fluctuate in the other direction anytime soon.

Quality Enhancements

Not only is the latest RAV4 more efficient, it’s also improved in a number of other ways as well. It’s decidedly smoother when going down the road with much better soundproofing than what you’ll find on other models. The SUV also comes with an improved media system and spacious interior seating. It’s capable, roomy and efficient, all while offering all-wheel drive that so many SUV buyers continue to be more and more interested in.

Overall, the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid SUV has a lot going for it and not too much to go against it. If you opt for the hybrid version you’ll of course spend a bit more money in order to acquire it, but not as much as you’d think. The Hybrid XLE is just $700 more than the standard XLE and that’s a small price to pay for such an efficiency boost.

If you’re looking for a reliable SUV that’s efficient and spacious enough for a family to use comfortably, you’d have a tough time finding something more suitable than the RAV4 hybrid. Even when you spend the extra money to bump up to a Lexus 300h or RX 450h you won’t be getting the same levels of fuel efficiency.

Toyota Makes an Exciting Battery Breakthrough

May 2, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , ,

While researching technology for its hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, Toyota’s team of scientists came across a new battery technology that could make magnesium batteries possible. Magnesium-based batteries have long been impractical because there weren’t many compatible electrolytes to use with the metal. That all just changed.

Toyota RAV4 EV
Toyota RAV4 EV

The Discovery

While working on a hydrogen storage device Toyota scientists stumbled across an electrolyte that works with magnesium anodes. This means a magnesium battery could theoretically be produced now. Of course a great deal of research and development will have to happen before magnesium batteries are outfitted on electric vehicles.

The Benefits

A magnesium battery is beneficial for a few different reasons. It’s thought to be safer, more energy dense and more affordable. When you combine those benefits into one battery you get a highly desirable solution that could improve the range of electric vehicles while also making them more affordable to the end consumer.

A More Abundant Material

Lithium isn’t the easiest metal to find, nor is it the most affordable. Lithium ion batteries are quite expensive for this very reason, and that’s one of the reasons that magnesium batteries are so promising. Magnesium is highly abundant and readily available. That means that magnesium-based batteries would likely be much more affordable than batteries that rely on lithium. That’s exciting news with so many automakers planning on pushing forward more and more capable electric vehicles in the future. Perhaps this technology discovered by Toyota could make that effort a bit easier to undertake.

It’s easy to get excited about this scientific breakthrough and to expect a whole new batch of improved battery-powered vehicles to be released in the next decade, but scientists say that isn’t too likely. It’s possible for up to 20 years of research and testing to be needed before a product is finally released to the public. With as much funding and urgency that’s being placed on electric vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles in general we hope that the process will be a bit more expedited than that. Either way, the future of battery-powered vehicles just got a bit brighter thanks to cutting-edge Toyota research.

Prius Parade Record Set on Earth Day

April 29, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , ,

Earth Day is a big event for companies around the world every year. It’s a chance for them to take strides forward and to really make an impression. This earth day a group of proud Prius owners all worked together to set a world record and gain even more recognition for the Prius, as one of the most fuel efficient hybrid vehicles sold in the United States to consumers. A total of 332 Prius owners set the world record for the most vehicles in a hybrid parade.

the prius parade earth day 2016

Setting the Record

The record had each of the 332 different Prius vehicles go around a loop at the Alameda Air Field for a parade lap. The total process took quite some time, but it was an exciting moment and a real celebration to the Toyota Prius and all the adopters that have been on board with the vehicle since early on.

Picking the Spot

Alameda California was chosen as the spot for the record because Californians are known for buying more Prius vehicles than most other people around the country. This made it an obvious place to hold the event and to really celebrate the environmentally conscious population in the surrounding area. Sure the event didn’t actually improve the earth in any way, but it celebrated the use of vehicles that can. Driving a Prius can help keep some contaminants out of the atmosphere while lowering the amount of fossil fuels used.

Celebrating the Prius

The Prius serves as a symbol of early adoption and innovation for environmental friendliness in the automotive industry. While it isn’t as revolutionary as the new Toyota Mirai, it was nearly as revolutionary when first released more than a decade ago. The car is still selling well around the world, and is an exciting legacy that will hopefully continue on for years to come, while leading to even more innovative technologies in the future.

Toyota to Race Two Siennas around the Country

April 29, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , ,

Despite all the efforts put forth by the likes of Chrysler and Toyota over the years, the public’s perception of minivans and what it’s like to own one isn’t very positive as of late. It’s often viewed as a sacrifice to the suburban lifestyle that large families have to make, where as SUVs are the more exciting alternatives to that sacrifice. Well, Toyota says that’s bull, and the automaker is sending two custom Sienna minivans around the country to race on tracks and dash that perception in front of as many people as possible by entering into the One Lap of America event.

racing toyota sienna

The Event

The Tire Rack One Lap of America event sends drivers throughout the 48 lower states in a quest to race on a huge number of tracks around the country. Drivers will travel between 3,000 and 4,000 miles and take three hot laps on more than a dozen different tracks throughout that process. It’s a test of endurance and a test of skilled driving.

Showing off a Vehicle’s Endurance

The drive is meant to test the set of drivers behind the wheel of their chosen vehicle, but it also shows off the durability of the vehicle being used. This is a great opportunity for Toyota to show just how durable its Sienna minivan is. The cars must make use of the same set of tires from start to finish of the event, which is a serious test all in itself with so many track races to go through.

Comfort Merged with Performance

At each of the track events the vehicle is pushed to its limits and is expected to do well in the speed laps around the track. The Sienna will show that it has decent performance as it blazes around each of the different tracks, and that in itself should show that it can be exciting to drive and isn’t just about comfort while travelling.

The Perfect Machine for the Job

The Sienna is designed to be an ideal vehicle for long-distance trips, and what better way to test out that capability than by travelling thousands of miles around the country? Both Siennas will be takne through the entire road course just as all the entrants, and it would really be something for them to come up in a top position, though even if the Siennas lose I’m sure that the drivers are going to be exceptionally comfortable throughout the trip.

More about the Siennas

One of the Siennas being used is the R-Tuned Sienna shown off at the 2015 SEMA show in Las Vegas. This model is set to compete in the Trucks/SUV class of the race. The other model is the never before seen SE+ concept vehicle that adds a sporty flair to the Sienna SE model.  That version will compete in the Exhibition class of the race giving the Sienna’s two different classes to compete in.

It’s hard to say if this race is going to challenge perceptions as much as Toyota thinks it will, though it will be pretty cool seeing Sienna minivans blazing around the tracks at each stop, but it’s going to be a lot of fun watching this take place and the performance of each of the vans along the way.

Toyota Adopts a More Environmentally Friendly Synthetic Rubber

April 19, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , ,

Creating standard rubber from petroleum isn’t very good for the environment, though most automakers rely on it for a range of the items used in their vehicles. Toyota is taking steps to rely on a more earth-friendly rubber compound instead, for things like hoses and engine parts. This should noticeably reduce the emissions produced while creating one of the company’s vehicles.

Toyota biohydrin rubber

Biohydrin Rubber

Standard rubber is produced using petroleum products. Biohydrin rubber is produced using plant waste instead and reduces the amount of petroleum-based products that are needed during the creation process. It functions much the same as typical rubber and has reliable resistances to oil, heat and other substances that can cause problems in a vehicle, so performance should be about the same overall.

A 20% Emission Reduction

Toyota estimates that the total number of emissions created for the rubber parts in the vehicle will be reduced by 20% thanks to using the biohydrin rubber compound instead of the standard. While this won’t result in a dramatic reduction in overall emissions for vehicle production, it could still reduce the amount of emissions given off noticeably when you consider how many vehicles the technology will affect.

Not a Wasteful Solution

Some plant-based solutions require growing new plants to obtain the necessary supply. Take for instance the production of ethanol from corn. This fuel corn must be grown in great quantities to provide for the fuel production. It’s not the same situation at all when it comes to this new rubber compound. It’s produced from waste plant materials that would otherwise have to be recycled in another way if not used to produce the rubber. That means that standard farming practices can go on as they always have and the automaker is actually recycling in the process of developing this more earth-friendly rubber solution.

Expanding their Efforts

Replacing standard rubber with this plant synthetic is just the first of many different steps that Toyota wants to take to replace rubbers and plastics with more earth-friendly solutions. The company has teams working on coming up with additional solutions that might also be used in the future to lower emissions even further.

With new emissions restrictions being put in place every automaker is looking for ways to lower their carbon footprint any way they can. This latest innovation just shows that Toyota is a bit more dedicated to the task than other automakers are, and is sure to be an innovator on environmental actions in the future as well.