Category: Toyota

The 2017 Toyota Sienna Receives Major Changes

November 18, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , ,

When you hop into the 2017 Toyota Sienna, you’ll enjoy a whole slew of positive changes that you might not have been expecting. It’s more efficient, more flexible, and offers convenience features that you wouldn’t have found on older versions of the minivan. We’ll take a few minutes to delve into each of these improvements, to give you an idea of exactly why you should consider the latest Sienna offering from Toyota.

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Overview of the 2017 Sienna

It’s still true that minivans aren’t very sexy, but that’s not really the point. The 2017 Sienna is a highly functional machine that does everything that larger families need it to. It drives comfortably and handles more like a car than a full-sized minivan. This vehicle comes with ample room for up to seven people to sit comfortably, and it has flexible seats that make carrying all your cargo a snap. Whether you’re taking a trip to the movies, heading over to the grocery store, or bringing your children camping, this minivan gives you the space and the features to get it all done comfortably.

Quicker and More Efficient

The latest Sienna is faster than before with improved acceleration, making those highway ramps just a bit more enjoyable than they already were. It’s also more fuel efficient, so you can take long-distance road trips and save some money along the way. Fuel economy figures are up to 19 MPG in the city and 27 on the highway. Pretty impressive figures for a minivan.

Improved Seating

The Toyota Sienna makes hauling cargo around easier than ever before. The middle row seats slide forward and fold down to create enhanced storage space. The rear seats fold down and out of the way. This gives you ample room for storage without the need to remove the middle seats at all.

Power Features

The Sienna also comes with a range of power features that make doing things like opening doors and adjusting seats simple and quick. The two slider doors open and close all on their own, making loading children in and letting them out easy. The lift gate at the rear of the van also opens automatically, which is another handy feature when carrying groceries or when your hands are full for another reason. Finally, the Sienna makes it easy to unlock doors. Simply hold the smart key up to any of the doors and it automatically unlocks for easy entry without having to push the button.

Overall the 2017 Toyota Sienna is a really capable vehicle. Sure it might not have the swagger that a sports car has, but it’s got all the utility that a family needs.

Toyota has Big Plans for EVs After All

November 11, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , ,

Toyota has long been the champion of hydrogen fuel technology, and that doesn’t seem like it will change anytime soon, but the automaker does seem to be sliding in a new direction when it comes to full electric vehicles. While it was once all about hybrids and hydrogen power, Toyota is now considering releasing full electric vehicles as well. It’s hard to say exactly why the automaker is having a change of heart, but it clearly is.

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The EV Plan

Toyota recently announced that it was planning on developing a few long-range EV vehicles for 2020 in a report put together by Japan’s Nikkei business paper. This is something that Toyota of a year or two ago wouldn’t have even considered, and yet today it’s something that the company is actively planning for. There are a few possible reasons why this is the case, and each one could tell us more about Toyota’s future.

Battery Advancements

One of the main reasons that Toyota was not behind EVs to begin with is because batteries simply weren’t ready for the technology. They weren’t reliable enough, they were not long-lasting enough and they certainly weren’t cheap enough. Some of those things have changed though, particularly reliability. Toyota recently announced that its engineers conquered lithium-ion batteries and figured out a way to make them safe and reliable. This is a tech that the automaker hasn’t used up until now, for fear of volatility. Now that Toyota is comfortable with the energy-dense tech, it’s possible to create long-range vehicles that otherwise wouldn’t have been feasible.

Hydrogen isn’t Taking off Fast Enough

Another possible reason that Toyota is pursuing EVs so readily could be that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles simply aren’t growing and expanding as fast as the company would like. Mirais have been selling from dealerships in California readily, but it’s still taking more time than expected to put together a hydrogen refueling infrastructure. If Toyota expects this infrastructure to take too long, it could be relying on full electric vehicles to bridge the gap, and to grab some added market share until hydrogen fuel cell vehicles reach full maturity.

Toyota has the Research

Some people might argue that Toyota is behind other companies such as Volkswagen, Tesla and Porsche, but that’s not necessarily true. Sure Toyota hasn’t released a full electric vehicle to the public, but the automaker has been incorporating electric drivetrain components into its vehicles for years. The Prius is a good example of plenty of research into electric vehicles, and the Mirai, is pretty much a full electric vehicle, it just relies on a hydrogen fuel cell stack, rather than a battery for its power. All this cumulative research comes together to create a pretty good pool of knowledge that Toyota can rely on to create something special for 2020.

Assembling the Team

Now that Toyota has decided to pursue electric vehicles, it’s putting together a task force to get to work on the project. As early as the beginning of 2017, Toyota is building a team that’s going to focus all its time on developing electric vehicles.

While Toyota was originally very against electric vehicles, it appears that we can look forward to some full EVs from the world’s biggest automaker in just a few year’s time.

A Look at the 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro

November 10, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , ,

For many truck buyers, a truck is just a utility that gets the job done. It’s what you need to haul lumber from the nearest store to build that playset. It’s a rugged space for carrying bags of mulch from the garden center when you redo your front yard. But that’s not what a truck is to everyone. For some people it’s an exciting off-road machine. It’s a way to tackle extreme roads, paths and to travel to destinations that other people simply cannot. For those kinds of people, the 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro makes a whole lot of sense.

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Aggressive Styling

At first glance it’s clear that this truck is made to perform. It comes with a black hood scoop that blends in nicely with the grill and the side and front trim. The truck has a beefy front end with angular lines galore, and it features a tough looking rock guard down front that’s chromed out to make it stand out nicely. This truck is lifted up and adorned with massive suspension components that all come together to really make it look tough and ready to perform.

A Rugged Suspension

The previous TRD Pro made use of Bilstein shocks, but the company couldn’t give Toyota the suspension that it needed with the latest model, so they switched over to Fox instead. This company created a pair of shocks that tie together nicely with the front springs and rear leafs to create a really smooth and confident ride over bumps and rugged terrain. The end result of this careful equipment selection and fine-tuning that equipment is a smoother ride than you’ll find on most off-roading equipment today.

Off-Road Capable

Thanks to the custom suspension, the TRD Pro gets a decent lift up off the ground. The truck also comes with a pair of Good Year Wrangler tires designed with Kevlar rubber to withstand sharper sections of trail with larger rocks and other obstructions. Though the tires are all-around tires designed for on and off-road performance, they’re pretty darned capable. The truck is also fitted with a thicker skidplate than the previous model, and this version comes with an access door to simplify changing the oil.

It Aint Cheap

While this highly capable off-roader is fun to drive around, it’s not exactly a cheap option that you’ll want to buy on a whim. You need to make sure that you really care about all those additional off-road features, because this mid-sized truck isn’t cheap. It comes with an MSRP of $41,700 and the price climbs from there with any extras that you want to add on. This makes it one of the most expensive Tacomas that you can buy today, and one of the most expensive mid-sized trucks in general. That’s not to say that the price isn’t worth it though, because for an off-road enthusiast it totally is. You just have to be willing to cough up the money.

The 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro is a whole lot of fun, and it’s the type of vehicle that you can take just about anywhere. Unfortunately it’s not cheap, and not something you’ll want to keep on nice smooth roads its entire life.

Toyota Goes Crazy at SEMA 2016

November 3, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , ,

Toyota is still the world’s largest automaker, and it seems right that the w2orld’s largest automaker would put forth one of the greatest SEMA entries as well. Toyota went crazy at SEMA 2016 and offered up 30 different custom modeled vehicles to show just how versatile it can be as an automaker, and how much the company truly has available to interested buyers.

Extreme Builds

To show just how innovative the company can be, Toyota put together six different extreme builds that do amazing things with stock vehicles. Each one of these builds is exciting in some way, and proves something about Toyota as an automaker as well. Here’s a breakdown of what they offered.

The XTREME Corolla

Toyota transformed its most popular family sedan into a sexy coupe with a serious dose of power. It comes with a turbocharged engine, custom wheels and paint, as well as a custom interior. This coupe is tied to a six-speed manual transmission and comes with some nic racing extras like Sparco seats within.

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The Prius G

The Prius G is all about gripping power and exciting race performance. It’s not the most powerful vehicle out there, but it was designed by Toyota to offer insane acceleration and launch power. The vehicle managed to achieve a .99g on a skid pad at Willow Springs International Raceway, a figure that’s around the level of the Viper or the Corvette. That’s pretty impressive for a hybrid vehicle, especially a Prius.

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The XTREME Sienna

The XTRMEE Sienna is one of the most exciting and over-the-top entries by Toyota in SEMA 2016. It comes with a luxurious interior that’s reminiscent of a luxury airliner. The vehicle is fitted with a bunch of exterior enhancements like a rear diffuser, dual exhaust and performance wheel and tires. It also comes with an air ride suspension and beefy TRD brakes that can stop it on a dime. If all that wasn’t enough for you, it’s possible to control this vehicle using an iPad. Nobody even has to be in it to drive around safely, and that’s pretty cool all on its own.

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Insane Land Speed Cruiser

The Toyota Land Speed Cruiser is the fastest SUV on earth according to the automaker, and can achieve speeds of 220 MPH all out. It’s fitted with a 5.7-liter V8 and designed with Twin Garrett turbos that ramp up the power even more. The whole thing is fitted with a very cool custom ATI transmission, and the vehicle can handle really high speeds and massive amounts of torque. On the surface the SUV looks pretty cool, but it isn’t until you flip up the hood that things get really exciting with this vehicle.

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Tacoma TRD Pro

The Tacoma TRD Pro is the one entry showed off by Toyota that’s actually available for sale from dealerships around the country. SEMA 2016 was a showcase for the vehicle, before it’s entered into the Great American Off-Road Race. The vehicles’ been outfitted for desert performance, but it’s mostly a stock TRD Pro Tacoma still.

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GT86 CS-Cup

Racing in Cup races demands very specifically crafted vehicles, and the GT86 CS-Cup car shown at SEMA is the very first car designed for the Cup races based off a Toyota 86. It’s a historic vehicle, and something that will hopefully win some cup races as well once the season gets started.toyota-86-sema

Toyota showed off a whole lot of vehicles at SEMA 2016, but it was the Xtreme lineup that stood out the most. Each of the vehicles listed above are exciting in their own way, and there’s a whole lto to love about Toyota overall according to these vehicles.

Toyota Begins to Use Lithium Ion Batteries

October 28, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , ,

While other automakers were openly embracing lithium-ion battery technology, Toyota remained cautious and kept the tech out of all its products. Lithium-ion batteries have long been known for their instability, and are behind serious issues like the Samsung Note phones that were catching on fire. It’s for that reason that Toyota remained careful about the product and avoided using it in all its products. Well, that’s finally changed. Engineers at Toyota exclaim that they’ve tamed the lithium-ion battery to create something safe and reliable.

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Prius battery pack

Protecting Against Common Problems

In order to create a stable product, Toyota had engineers tackle common problems with lithium-ion batteries. Lithium metal is notorious for being highly unstable and quite volatile. It’s caused fires and explosions in the past, and that’s a pretty big deal when you’re talking about putting the compound inside a moving vehicle. That’s something that Toyota engineers tackled head-on, and they say that they’ve managed to create batteries that are highly stable and don’t pose any real risk to users.

A Future with EV Vehicles

Since Toyota has long avoided Lithium-ion tech, to keep its vehicles safer and more reliable, it’s strayed away from long-range EV vehicles. That’s because most other battery types just don’t have the energy density that Lithium-ion batteries do. That could all now change though. With Toyota coming to trust this technology more, the automaker can develop vehicles with longer driving ranges and more exciting full-electric features. Vehicles like the Prius Prime can become even more capable, and full electric vehicles might be produced by the automaker in the future as well.

Even though Toyota states that hydrogen is the fuel of the future, it’s not going to give up on electricity entirely, and is clearly working hard to develop future EV tech. It’s hard to say if that technology is going to be for hybrid enhancements alone, or if Toyota will eventually try developing some electric vehicles of their own.

Toyota Gears up for an Exciting SEMA Reveal

October 25, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , ,

Toyota is known for putting out some pretty cool concept vehicles, and there’s no better place to showcase those extreme concepts than at SEMA. That’s why Toyota plans to go big this year and show off a total of 30 different vehicles at the event. They’ll show just how extreme Toyota can be, they’ll celebrate the automaker’s rich heritage, and likely hint at a few features that will start popping up on future generations of vehicles.

The Tundrasine Concept from 2015
The Tundrasine Concept from 2015

Extreme Machines

Toyota didn’t want to give too much away about what you can expect at SEMA this year, but the automaker did say what each of the extreme models is going to be based off of. The Corolla, Tacoma, Sienna, 86, Prius and Land Cruiser are all going to have extreme models at the event.

This means that Toyota will show off it’s capability to produce luxurious, fast, highly capable, detailed and performance-focused machines.

Not only does Toyota plan to show off an extreme version of many different vehicles, but the automaker is going to put it beside a standard version as well as an older version of the same vehicle to really give the viewers some perspective.

A Look Back in Time for Corolla Owners

Toyota also plans to show off a display for the Corolla, one of its most popular vehicles that’s reaching the 50-year milestone this year. The display will show off all 11 generations of the Corolla next to one another so enthusiasts can look back in time over all the models that Toyota released to the public. It’s one of the few times that people will be able to see all the Corollas together in one place.

Take a Look at All the Vehicles at Once

If you’d like to see all the different special project vehicles that Toyota is set to display at SEMA, you can do so after the November 1 event by visiting the Central Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center. All 30 vehicles will be on display there between November 1st and 4th.

Keep your eyes open for the big event on November 1st, and you’ll get to witness many of the new Toyota vehicles and concepts for the future. It’s a rare opportunity to see what engineers are planning for future vehicles, and to see just how creative the company can be.

The 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro is the Tool for Any Off Roading Job

October 24, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , ,

For most people a standard Toyota Tacoma is all the truck they’ll ever need. It’s a highly capable vehicle that’s good for hauling lumber, and sturdy enough to tow a small boat. It’s the type of vehicle that you want when you have a tough job to get done, but what happens when you have a particularly tough off-roading task to complete? Well that’s when you’ll want the 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro instead. It’s like the standard Tacoma’s more powerful and capable older brother that grew up in the mountains and laughs at paved roads. It’s equipped with all the enhancements to tackle the most difficult off-roading tasks, and is exactly what you want if you live off the beaten path, or you like to travel there on a regular basis.

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The Standard Build

Every single one of the 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro trucks are double-cab varieties with short bets. They also are all fitted with a V6 3.5 liter engine and four wheel drive. These highly capable trucks come fitted with the Class IV towing package, meaning that they can pull a whole lot of weight around.

Highly Durable

This truck comes with Kevlar reinforced tires. That’s right, the tires are practically bullet proof! That means that you can drive around town without worrying about what you run over so much. I’m sure that the design is meant for driving over jagged rocks and other off-road obstacles, but really, who doesn’t want Kevlar reinforced tires?

Off-Road Ready

 

The TRD Pro is made to go off-roading and it comes with plenty of features to allow you to do so with confidence. The built-in inclinometer and tilt gauge help you to avoid taking on grades that are simply too steep to handle. It comes with a durable aluminum skid plate on the bottom front that protects both the engine and the suspension from nasty scrapes and bangs. The truck offers plenty of ground clearance during regular driving, and the powerful four-wheel drive setup will give you the traction that you need in sand, snow, mud or just about anything else that you decide to drive through. The Crawl Mode also helps you automatically go over really rough patches of an off-road trail for those seriously dicey moments you don’t want to be handling the gas and brakes for.

Nice Interior

When you’re buying something as upscale as the TRD Pro, you have to expect a quality interior, and Toyota goes above and beyond in this regard. The truck comes equipped with beautiful soft and supple seats trimmed with black leather and finished with built-in heaters. There’s a standard rear power-slide window that feels like a luxury in a pickup, and there’s a GoPro camera mount so you can record all the extreme trails that you take this beauty through. Couple all the nice interior finishes with the capable Entune Touchscreen media system with built-in nav and hands-free audio, and you get the nicest interior that you can find in a Toyota Tacoma.

 

Beautiful Manual Functionality

The Tacoma comes in either manual or automatic, but we’re particularly fond of the manual model. It shifts beautifully with nicely spaced gears and a smooth feel to the shifter. The truck comes fitted with an electronic locking differential in the rear, and A-TRAC brake traction control for smoother braking on rough terrain. The truck also comes with Crawl Control that handles steep ascents and descents in the truck while handling both the brake and the gas. Unfortunately the standard Tacoma gets significantly lower fuel efficiency while driving around, which is a pretty big deal on a truck that sucks down gas on its good days.

A No Compromise Auto Transmission

Switching to an automatic transmission doesn’t really sacrifice much. It shifts smoothly and improves your fuel efficiency over the drive. Not only that, but there is still a manual shift feature that allows you to manually choose gears to drive in if you don’t like what the automatic is doing.

The auto setup comes with its own Crawl Control, which will keep everything nice and smooth even as you climb over really nasty terrain. Just don’t scrape the undercarriage and you’ll enjoy a reliable ride.

Toyota is Releasing Full Sized Hydrogen Buses in Japan

October 20, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , ,

Toyota has a vision for the future, and it includes full-sized city buses that run on hydrogen fuel. The automaker is already developing the buses and plans to have them out and running on the streets before the 2020 Olympic games. The buses that all run on hydrogen fuel don’t produce any pollution during operation, and they provide the same performance that standard diesel buses offer today.

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They Function as Generators

One of the coolest features of these buses is that they can be used as highly reliable generators in times of emergency. That means that power could be provided to sections of the country that need it most if the grid happened to go down. In emergency situations such as hurricanes and other natural disasters, this could be a helpful feature that would certainly be valuable to have around.

Three Times the Power of a Tesla Model S

In order to offer enough power to effectively drive the buses around, Toyota developed a system significantly more power than that what runs the Mirai. The system relies on a series of 10 pressure tanks that hold a total of 600 liters of compressed hydrogen overall. That gives you a total power output of 235 kWh or about three times the amount that a Tesla Model S can put out. That’s a source of power that could really help in an emergency situation.

Achieving Clean Hydrogen Fuel

The one major criticism that still surrounds hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is that they don’t currently operate on clean fuel, because the hydrogen they use is formed from methane and other potentially harmful fuel types. This is an issue that Toyota is working hard to resolve, but the important consideration to make, is that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles could be fueled entirely by clean energy sources in the future, something that fossil fuel-based vehicles can’t argue.

Toyota continues to push out hydrogen fuel-cell technologies as Japan works toward a fully hydrogen-based society in the future, and that’s a technology that could be adopted in the United States as well. Sure electric vehicles are more efficient, but hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles run on fuel that can be pumped into the vehicles as needed. The full-sized buses that Toyota is developing is an exciting infrastructure enhancement that should show off how capable hydrogen vehicles are, and it will be interesting to see how they do once they’re finally released in Japan.

Toyota Takes the Top Spot for Truck Loyalty in 2016

October 17, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , ,

Anyone that knows a long-time truck owner probably realizes just how loyal truck owners are. According to a statistic by Edmunds, truck owners are more loyal than they’ve ever been since the company started tracking loyalty back in 2005. Currently, truck owner loyalty is as high as 75 percent depending on the model of the vehicle, which means that 3 out of 4 truck owners will continue relying on the same brand in the future. While loyalty is important to most truck owners, it’s especially important to owners of Toyota trucks. According to Edmunds Toyota earned the highest pickup truck loyalty rating out of all the brands sold in America.

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Why Truck Owners are So Loyal

It’s hard to say exactly what it is that makes truck owners so loyal, but experts believe that it’s all the utility that these vehicles provide owners with. A truck can haul cargo, it can tow and it can offer traveling utility that you simply don’t get with msot other vehicles. Not only that, but trucks are heavily used in work positions and laborers rely on their vehicles to help them accomplish their jobs. Trucks are tools more than other vehicles are, and tool owners tend to be very loyal about what they rely on to get the job done.

The Tacoma Takes the Top Spot

According to Edmunds, Toyota owners are about 70% loyal overall. That’s higher than GM and Chevy owners that are at 69% and greater than Ram owners that are at 68%, but the top spot actually goes to one specific model of truck, the Toyota Tacoma. According to Edmunds, Tacoma owners are 75% loyal, or the most loyal vehicle owners in the entire country. They will continually trade in their old Tacomas for newer ones, and rarely think about moving to the Nissan Frontier, or other similar mid-sized truck models.

Nothing comes Close to Truck Owners

When you consider all the other segments of vehicles, it’s amazing how loyal truck owners really are. While the truck segment is close to 70% loyal overall, vans are second with a 52% loyalty and SUVs are third at 52%. These figures aren’t even close to truck owners, and it’s pretty surprising when you think about it. If you don’t believe the figure, just go out and talk to a serious truck owner that you know. They’ll likely swear up and down that GM, Toyota, Ford or Chevy makes the very best trucks around, depending on what they own, and give you a list of reasons why that’s the case.

Loyalty often denotes quality, and in the truck world, that means that Toyota trucks are some of the highest quality that you can get.

Toyota is Finally Adding Stop Start Technology to Standard Vehicles

October 11, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , ,

The 2017 Toyota Highlander is the very first fuel-only Toyota vehicle to get stop-start technology. This is a pretty nice breakthrough for the automaker and a nice perk for drivers considering picking up a new SUV this year. Sure other automakers have been offering the technology for a few years now, but drivers that favor Toyota vehicles will be really pleased to hear about the tech offering that will soon be available to buyers.

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What is Start-Stop?

Start-stop is a technology that shuts off a vehicle’s engine when it isn’t in motion. This is technology that is used on all Toyota hybrid vehicles, but something that hasn’t been added to standard vehicles yet. It’s pretty cool tech, that will keep you from worrying about all the fuel that you’re wasting in traffic jams and slow driving conditions with plenty of braking and stopping.

The Major Benefits

The main benefit of start-stop technology is saved fuel. That’s because any time that you are idling you are wasting fuel. With this tech you won’t idle any longer. Instead the car shuts right off and when you get ready to go it kicks right back on again seamlessly.

Another benefit is the reduction in pollution. With your engine running less, you’ll be putting off less pollution and helping to keep the environment just a little bit nicer. By running your engine less, you’ll also likely extend the lifespan of the engine, helping it to last longer and function more reliably.

Turn it on or Off

Highlander owners won’t have to rely on the technology if they don’t want to. There is going to be a button that allows drivers to shut off stop-start if they would rather not use it. There are also some conditions when the technology won’t be available. For instance, if the vehicle is sitting on a significant slope, or if the AC is turned all the way up. This prevents stop-start from initiating to prevent issues from arising.

Toyota plans on adding the technology to most of its vehicles in the future, but would not divulge which vehicles specifically would be getting the technology. If you are looking for a way to be more efficient, or you just like the idea of stop-start tech, you should consider the 2017 Toyota Highlander. Just make sure it isn’t the LE model, or it won’t come with the technology available.