With each passing year Americans increase their demand for fresh and new crossovers to drive around town. What used to be a niche vehicle has come into the mainstream and CUVs are taking over as the most popular form of transportation in the United States. In order to keep up with that demand Toyota has been ramping up CUV production and is even looking at some new models to help them keep up with competitors.
Sales figures for CUVs and SUVs were up by 16 percent in 2015 showing just how interested Americans are in these vehicles. With such large sale spikes in these sectors it’s important that Toyota works hard to keep up with demand if they want to remain competitive. They have already had to increase production for their Rav4 and Lexus RX crossovers, and it’s likely that the surge will continue throughout 2015 as well.
The SUB Rav-4 CUV
The Rav-4 is Toyota’s smallest CUV currently but the automaker is considering developing an even more compact vehicle to help them keep up with some of their competitors. They believe that the next big surge of vehicle demand will be centered on these small crossovers and it’s highly likely that the Toyota lineup will expand with a compact crossover in the near future.
The Appeal of the Crossover
It’s hard to say exactly what is so appealing about a crossover compared ot the standard SUV or a truck. Most American’s who purchase SUVs and trucks never take them off paved roads, or do so only a small portion of the time, and maybe crossovers are so popular because they provide the benefits of both SUVs and trucks without many of the downsides that come with such large vehicles. Crossovers are spacious inside and they are more fuel efficient than SUVs or pickup trucks are. They aren’t as robust and can’t withstand harsh driving conditions or handle towing as much, but that isn’t what they are meant for. Crossovers are comfortable to drive and they provide a rugged looking exterior that makes them a bit more exciting than a minivan.
If you’re a fan of crossover vehicles it’s likely that you will see more offerings from many of the top automakers in the coming years, Toyota included.
Toyota has invested a great deal of time and energy into researching and developing all the technology leading up to their fuel cell vehicles. Now they are showing how much they are truly dedicated to advanced society to hydrogen-powered vehicles by making those 5,680 patents available free of charge, to any companies producing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. These patents are only available until 2020, when Toyota will begin capitalizing on them once again, but by then the industry should have advanced dramatically.
Toyota Can’t Do it Alone
Akio Toyoda, Toyota President is the first to admit that the auto giant can’t do it alone. They don’t have enough power and research specialists to be a strong enough driving force to get everyone into hydrogen-powered vehicles, and that’s why they are hoping to enlist the help of some of the other leading automakers as well.
Letting Go of Profits
By giving out all of these valuable patents Toyota is essentially saying goodbye to massive profit potentials over the short term. It’s hard to decide if what they are doing is smart or ludicrous. While they are throwing away profit potential, they are also securing a strong future for hydrogen tech, which they can still profit off of. By making this move, Toyota is following in the footsteps of rivals Tesla, the electric car company that recently made all of their electric patents available to the public.
Bringing Higher Quality Products to the Public
By giving out all their patents Toyota is guaranteeing to offer the top quality products to the public, because if they don’t one of their competitors will. This shows that Toyota is confident in their engineering capabilities, and that they believe they can still beat out their competitors even when they don’t have their secret tech locked away from prying eyes.
While some people may see this move as Toyota being foolish, they are doing society a favor by giving hydrogen technology a true chance to grow and prosper. Giving away their patents may be just the driving force needed to get more automakers involved in the technology, and to speed up the advancements associated with it. All the research that will benefit from these new ideas could result in more major advancements that dramatically improve the technology as time goes on. That’s Toyota’s hope, and we’ll have to wait and see if it pays off.
While most Toyota’s are known for being pretty bland and blending into the crowd seamlessly, that certainly isn’t the case with the 2015 Toyota 4Runner TRD. This massive beauty is an effective driver that really stands out in both performance and looks. It builds on what worked in 2014 while offering some nice new features that buyers will appreciate.
The 2015 Toyota 4Runner TRD isn’t a traditional beauty, in fact it’s a bit bold and ugly, but it’s got such an air of aggression that it draws looks wherever it goes. The 4Runner has a massive gaping grille with angry slanted headlights accented by deep crescent air intakes below. The serious look is further built upon thanks to the black wheels topped with knobby high-traction tires. This SUV looks like it’s ready to climb mountains or at the very least pull a few people out of snowy ditches during those chilly winter months.
Exciting New Changes
One of the most exciting things about the 2015 version of this vehicle is all the changes that its received. It now comes with a revise suspension that makes the vehicle feel more capable and connected when driving on pavement. The SUV has TRD performance shocks, specially tuned springs and rear remote reservoirs for improved performance. It also comes with those massive 31.5 inch off-road tires that give it an aggressive look and 17-inch aluminum wheels that shave off some weight.
Capable Performance and Handling
The 2015 4Runner TRD is built on the same reliable powertrain that it used in the 2014 version. IT comes with a very capable 4 liter V-6 engine that produces a total of 270 HP. The motor is tied to a five-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly even if it doesn’t provide the best fuel efficiency figures.
The vehicle comes with an electronic locking rear differential and Crawl Control tech for effective handling in very steep and uncomfortable positions. The vehicle comes with a multi-select traction control system, allowing you to pick different suspension and steering dynamics depending on the terrain that you are traveling over.
The Massive Interior
The inside of the 4Runner is massive and quite comfortable. Since it only holds two rows of seats there is plenty of storage space for everyone within. It’s capable of holding up to 46.3 cubic feet of stuff, and that makes it a great resource for carting around camping gear or anything else that you want to haul around.
All the changes help to make the 4Runner into a more desirable vehicle than before. It’s one of the few Toyota models that inspires passion on consumers and that makes it well worth the $40,000+ price tag that’s tacked onto it. There are plenty of reasons to own this SUV but you won’t realize how much you want it into you’ve given it a test drive.
Recently the 2015 Toyota Highlander was chosen as the Best Buy SUV by Kelly Blue Book in the mid-sized SUV category, similar to the 2014 award the Highlander obtained from Consumer Reports. It managed to achieve this title by edging several capable SUVs in the class thanks to a good mix of utility, style, and performance. This SUV may not be the flashiest in the segment, but according to Kelly Blue Book it makes a lot of sense to at least consider as your next SUV purchase.
Why Did it Get the Rating?
Kelly Blue Book listed a variety of different reasons that they liked the 2015 Highlander and for why they gave it the top rating. They stated that the SUV has just the right amount of style, comfort amenities and performance to give buyers everything that they want from the vehicle. They cited some of the nice comfort features such as the Blue-ray entertainment package, and they focused on the smooth performance of the powerful little V6.
Kelly Blue Book also took a moment to address the overall value of the vehicle. The cited Toyota’s reputation for high resale values and the ability for owners to get a large portion of their original investment back out of the vehicle as one good reason to consider the vehicle. They also touched on the SUV’s expected low cost of ownership and maintenance due to good fuel efficiency figures as well as a high level of reliability. Overall even when just considering the track record of Toyota and the expected reliability Kelly Blue Book points out that the Highlander is a good option.
A Safe Ride Too
Not only did is the Highlander recognized as an excellent value as a vehicle, but it’s known for its high level of safety as well. The 2015 Highlander received a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS just a few days before it received the rating from Kelly Blue Book as well. That means you can get a great value with this mid-sized SUV while enjoying a nice safe drive as well. This is a pretty impressive combination that mid-sized SUV buyers should pay attention to in the future.
The Highlander starts at around $30,000, and several different upgrade packages are available to boost that figure up to a higher range. It’s already available for purchase from many dealerships around the country and major institutions such as KBB and the IIHS are already starting to take notice of the vehicle and what it has to offer to customers.
Even though Toyota seems to be focusing on Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles as the transportation of the future, they are still working hard to develop their electrical technology, and they have quite a few developments up their sleeve. The automaker has two different powerful battery technologies in development that could both dramatically improve the performance capabilities of electric-driven vehicles, one of which is in the prototype stage already, solid-state batteries.
Solid State Batteries
Toyota is developing a technology known as solid state batteries and they have already produced a coin-sized prototype that manages an impressive level of energy density compared to current lithium-ion batteries. The battery manages an energy density of around 400 Watt-hours per liter, or 400 Wh/L. This is currently close to two times as dense as lithium batteries being used today, which could do great things for electronics in general outside of the automotive industry. On top of offering more energy storage capabilities, this battery can also put out a power stream about five times as powerful as lithium-ion batteries are capable of doing. That means more powerful motors can be driven using fewer batteries. This technology is expected to be released in 2020 and should be perfected enough to hit between 600 and 700 Wh/L by 2025.
What Makes them Different
Solid state batteries are known as such because they rely on a solid electrolyte in place of the liquid electrolyte that’s used in lithium ion batteries. Instead of nickel-metal hydride or a lithium ion, solid ceramic or a polymer is used instead. This packs more energy into a smaller area allowing for a greater storage capacity.
What the Batteries Can Do
With solid state batteries being at the current energy density of the prototype in development a family sedan would be able to drive for around 300 miles on a single charge. While this is quite a ways off from the 600 miles that many automakers are shooting for, this is still a huge step forward for the industry overall and something to get excited about.
Lithium Air Batteries
Toyota is also developing lithium air batteries, but they expect these to take about five to ten years longer to develop than solid state batteries. These batteries rely on a small cathode that interacts with oxygen and requires less materials overall. This makes it possible to squeeze even more energy into a tiny area and could allow up to 1,000 Wh/L of storage by 2030.
These two advances represent major breakthroughs for the electronics industry and will make it possible to produce long-distance electric vehicles that are much more efficient than the ones we see today. It’s hard to say if they are simply hedging their bet on Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles with this technology or if they plan to incorporate it into future vehicles to create something even more sophisticated for drivers to rely on.
Not only are Toyota vehicles known for being highly reliable, but they are also very safe and recent tests performed by the International Institute for Highway Safety(IIHS) prove it. According to the 2014 study Toyota managed to take 12 Top Safety Picks, 8 of which were Top Safety Pick+ awards. That’s more safety awards than any of the other automakers in the world, and that’s something to be proud of.
What the Ratings Mean
The IIHS give out two different safety awards, Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick plus. The former is for above average vehicles that meet a long list of safety requirements, and the latter is for exceptional vehicles that meet the same requirements while having additional preventative equipment for even safer driving conditions. There were 71 total awards given out by the institute and Toyota received 12 of them between their standard and luxury brands.
The Top Safety Pick+ Vehicles
Out of all the vehicles that were given a good rating, the most impressive are the ones among the Top Safety Pick+ ranks. The Prius, Prius V, the Lexus RC, the Camry, the Highlander, the Sienna, the Lexus CT and the Lexus NX all received this award. Each of these vehicles comes with an impressive level of safety equipment making them good family cars and cars for young drivers you want to keep safe.
Great Family Vehicle
If you’re looking for a solid family vehicle to ride around in with larger families the Toyota Sienna is an excellent option. Out of all the minivans sold this year the Sienna was the only one to receive the Top Safety Pick+ distinction. That’s huge for van owners and families who want to provide the safest environment for their children.
Overall the number of vehicles that are now getting the safety rewards went up dramatically this year, but that’s in large part because the automakers are getting used to the more stringent testing requirements that were implemented the previous year. In 2013 just 39 winners made the list, but that amount has gone up to 71 vehicles since then. That’s an increase of almost double.
Toyota has established itself as one of the top automakers in the industry as far as safety and reliability is concerned, but they aren’t the only automaker to get a high number of safety awards. Honda managed to get the award for ten of their vehicles, giving them the second highest of any automaker.
If you’re looking for a vehicle that you can trust while driving around, check out any of the Top Safety Pick+ vehicles from Toyota. Each meets a very stringent set of requirements and has been proven to handle crash situations very well.
Each year Consumer Reports takes a look at reliability surveys as well as the features for more than 200 vehicles and they use all that information to figure out which cars, trucks and SUVs are the best in their class and which is the best overall. After all the numbers were crunched, the Camry Hybrid was determined to be the best overall value. It was praised for its high level of reliability as well as for its fuel efficiency.
The Reason the Camry Hybrid Was Selected
Typically when Consumer Reports chooses a vehicle for the best value it isn’t one that costs close to $30,000, but that’s not the case with the Camry Hybrid. Even though this vehicle is far more expensive than many vehicles out on the market, it still manages to be the best overall value and can save you money over time if you choose to go with it. The vehicle costs $29,000 to buy new but it has an operating cost of just 52 cents a mile. That’s incredibly affordable and lower than most other vehicles available today.
Good Things They Had to Say
Consumer Reports was impressed by the vehicle’s ability to get 38 MPG which they said was good for a mid-sized sedan. They also went over reliability surveys and used that information to try and determine how much work would have to be done on the vehicle in the first five years of ownership. Since the Camry Hybrid is known for being so reliable it was estimated that it wouldn’t take much work to keep running and that helped give it such a low cost of operation.
Winning Other Categories
The overall most valuable car wasn’t the only title that Toyota took on the Consumer Reports test. They also managed to take the top spot in four other categories, winning some with their Lexus models and the rest with a mixture of Toyota cars and SUVs. Toyota has built their name on reliability, and winning so many top positions only helps them further that image even more.
Consumer Reports went on to say that although the vehicle is highly reliable and very affordable to drive around, it isn’t very exciting. It offers a smooth ride that’s a bit dull. That means if you’re picking up a car for the feel of driving it more than the actual comfort or dependability of the machine you may be a bit disappointed with the Camry Hybrid. However, if you are in the market for a vehicle that you can truly count on, and that will save you money over the five year period of ownership then the Camry Hybrid is an excellent choice. It’s a comfortable vehicle, and Toyota engineers created a rock-solid vehicle when they designed it.
The Camry is known as one of the industry-leading sedans today and it’s no surprise that the hybrid version of that car is also a hot seller. Even with all of the tech advancements and media features that are packed into the Camry Hybrid it was beginning to fall behind new competitors a bit. The 2015 refresh offers in enough new features to help the vehicle compete with competitors new to the segment and makes it into an even more desirable sedan.
The New Look
The 2015 Camry Hybrid has a new look inside and out. On the outside all of the body panels have been swapped out for new ones. At the back of the car you’ll notice a more rounded look. Larger taillights and a premium chrome strip that helps give the vehicle that upscale look. The sides of the sedan have a more scultpted and edgier look, and the same C-pillars have been used but are broken up by chrome and black accents to give the impression of a more aerodynamic look. Overall the outside of the vehicle looks very similar to the old model, but it’s but modified in slight ways to give it an upscale and streamlined look.
On the inside of the Camry Hybrid everything’s been improved in slight ways. The plastic used throughout is of a higher quality. The climate control buttons and knobs are bigger and made of nicer material. The doors are covered in faux leather or suede depending on the trim level and the gauges are redesigned into a classy twin-gauge display. The touchscreen media system has been improved as well. The screen is larger and the menus on the display are more user-friendly than before and the same as the ones on the 2014 Highlander.
Enhanced Driving Mechanics
Even the more powerful Camry Hybrid has often been criticized about its somewhat dull driving dynamics. Toyota sought out to improve that situation a bit with this refresh. More effort is required to steer the vehicle than before, and the wheel holds firmly in the center more effectively than it did before. Some significant suspension tuning gives the vehicle a slightly stiffer feel, but it still holds that comfortable quality that makes the Camry attractive to easy-going family drivers. The car is just more responsive than before and a bit more fun to take around the bends and winds during family road trips.
Now with a Rearview Camera
The base version of the Camry Hybrid now comes with a simple rearview camera that makes backing up a bit safer and more enjoyable to do. It’s not one of the best systems on the market, but it certainly does a nice job of letting you see while backing up, and that’s all that really matters.
Overall the 2015 Toyota Camry hybrid is a nice improvement. It’s still clearly the same car, but it looks and feels better than it did before. It’s a more attractive version of one of America’s most popular hybrid sedans and it’s worth considering if you were planning on upgrading the family sedan anyway.
As the top level executives at Toyota were looking over the concept car for the new Prius Hybrid, they came to the conclusion that the design simply wasn’t good enough, and charged the designers and engineers with coming up with an edgier look to help set the vehicle apart.
Expect a Highly Refined Prius Look
A great deal of work has been done on the next generation of the Prius, and that work should give it a vastly different look than what we are used to. It’s not clear yet whether it will have an edgier look or not, but Toyota has been cracking down on design issues and trying to come up with better looking vehicles than ever before. They are working to give the Prius a sporty look that will draw in younger buyers looking for a cool and modern vehicle that isn’t just known for being environmentally friendly.
Although there is no word about exactly what changes have occurred, some appearance changes are pretty likely because the vehicle is being built in the C-platform. The car will likely have al owered hood, a lower center of gravity and a smaller air intake. It will also probably have a higher rear end with a sportier stance overall thanks to this new platform. This will give the vehicle an edgy look that will separate it from the old styled Prius dramatically.
Differentiate the Prius and the Plug-in Version
The new designs will reportedly help differentiate the standard Prius from the plug-in version as well. This will help those driving the plug-in stand out more and could make the experience more enjoyable for the buyers who decide to spring for the modified vehicle.
A More Modular Prius
The next generation of the Prius is being built on the more modular C-platform and this affords the engineers a great level of flexibility when desigining the interior of the vehicle. Now they are capable of making the inside larger and more enjoyable to be in thanks to all of the design options that they have available. This will result in a more pleasing interior in the next Prius.
In a vehicle that’s already known for its fuel efficiency it’s impressive that it will be improved upon even more. The engineers are making use of more lightweight materials to enhance the fuel economy even further, while maintaining the highly aerodynamic footprint of the vehicle to help avoid losing out on any of the efficiency benefits that the Prius already had going for it.
These new design changes are being guarded closely and Toyota expects them to have a major impact on how buyers see their vehicles in the future. For a brand that’s long been known as “dull” “safe” and “plain” new and improved designs could make a major difference.
The Toyota Tacoma has demonstrated an impressive level of longevity for the small number of updates it has received. It’s been going strong for the last 10 years as one of the real mid-sized trucks on the market, along with the Nissan Frontier. Now Toyota has decided that it’s time to up their game and offer a completely revised version of the Tacoma. They’re going to wipe the slate clean and come up with a model that’s equipped with more new parts than old, that should fix a lot of the trucks weaknesses.
Making Improvements to the Aging Truck
The Tacoma received a full revision in 2005 and since then has just been refreshed every few years with minor changes. The main areas that Toyota will try to improve on the Tacoma are in fuel efficiency and performance. The truck will receive a new engine along with a different transmission. These changes should give it more power while making it more fuel efficient as well, which are the two main changes that the Tacoma needs to stay on top.
Gearing Up for the Changes
Experts aren’t just releasing rumors about the Tacoma, Toyota is already gearing up their production plants to be able to create the modified mid-sized truck. According to a spokesperson from the San Antonio production plant engineers have already been there to make the needed changes to allow the new trucks to be built there. Toyota is committed to creating this refreshed model and they say that they have been planning it all along and that they aren’t simply reacting to the new models put out by GM.
New GM Models
GM recently released updated versions of the Chevy Colorado and the GMC Canyon, both of which are more fuel efficient and capable than ever before. While these trucks aren’t exactly the same size as the Tacoma, they are close enough to be a threat to the vehicle. These are the models that the Tacoma has to compete with, and it’s a good bet that the changes it has received will have a major impact on how it performs overall.
Toyota will unveil the all-new Tacoma at the Detroit Auto Show next month. It promises to be a whole new truck that only bears a resemblance to the 2005 model of the Tacoma. It should have a new body and a highly modified interior with a whole new look.
Mid-sized truck fans should keep their eyes peeled for announcements coming out of Detroit in the coming month. It’s a pretty good bet that they will like what they see.