Toyota recently unveiled their Hydrogen car, the Mirai, and it’s been greeted with mixed feelings. Some love the car, others hate it, but overall it was received pretty positively. Many critics and reviewers had a chance to drive around in the new hydrogen car, and many were pleasantly surprised by its performance. Read on to find out more about the first hydrogen fuel cell car available for purchase and how it’s pretty different from the Prius.
Unexpectedly Swift Performance
At 4078 lbs. most people aren’t expecting the Mirai to be light on its feet, but it feels surprisingly good while driving. It comes equipped with a single 153 HP electric motor, that provides nearly instantaneous torque and powers the car from 0 to 60 in around 9 seconds. While it’s not a sports car, it doesn’t feel sluggish either.
One major benefit of all the hydrogen equipment installed in the vehicle is that it gives it a low center of gravity providing a sporty feel. The car can take corners quickly without suffering from body roll and it just feels good banking around corners.
The Mirai is quiet and quite comfortable to ride around in. You’ll register a slight whirr from the electric motor and the regenerative brakes, but other than that you won’t hear much sound while traveling down the road in this car. Both the front and rear seats are heated, and they feature an ergonomic design that makes them a pleasure to ride around in. Unfortunately for those families of five, the Mirai only seats four people, but that does mean that each passenger gets a bit more space to enjoy.
With a starting price of around $57,000 it’s important that the Mirai feels like a luxury vehicle within, and thankfully it does. It comes with a premium JBL sound system. It offers plush heated seats and an advanced media system run through a mid-sized touchscreen display. There’s another screen to handle climate control settings and to display vehicle information. The Mirai relies on quality materials, but you won’t find leathers or fancy wood trims within. Toyota used quality materials to build a safe and appealing interior, that won’t really jump out at you.
The system comes with a couple nice perks that you won’t find on many other vehicles. It features regenerative braking, similar to what is found on the Prius, to recoup braking power into more useful electricity. It also comes with a generator system, designed to let you power the essentials of your home for up to a week using your vehicle. This is in case of emergencies and could help you stay comfortable in case of a natural disaster.
New Mirai owners won’t have to worry about paying for their fuel because Toyota is footing the bill for the Hydrogen for the first few years. That being said, it’s still pretty valuable to know what to expect once fuel stops being free and you actually have to pay for it. Currently Hydrogen costs about $10 per kilo to produce, which transfers to around a $4 or $5 per gallon equivalent. This could go down in the future if manufacturing technology improves, but that’s what you should expect right now. During testing the Mirai managed fuel efficiency levels of around an equivalent to 50 MPG, making it a pretty low-cost solution as far as fuel is concerned, but nothing that’s going to save you a fortune in the near future.
Overall there are still mixed feelings about the Mirai. Some people love it, most agree that it handles very well and is a pleasure to drive, but others are hesitant about the new technology. The fueling stations have a long way to go before they will become widespread, and the Mirai has a long road ahead of it as new adopters accept the technology. It starts at $57,000 but with government and state incentives it could be purchased for as little as $45,000 making it pretty affordable for such cutting edge technology.
Toyota has been going on about their hydrogen fuel cell cars for the past couple of years now, but it looks like they will finally become a reality on the road, starting next month. The car is to be dubbed the Toyota Mirai and the company hopes that it is to the car industry, what the Prius was back at the beginning of 2000. The hydrogen car looks very promising, but it’s not clear whether a strong enough hydrogen refueling station infrastructure can be developed.
The Refueling Problem
Most manufacturers aren’t interested in creating a hydrogen refueling station or spending money to run it, because there aren’t any cars out on the road that need the technology. At the saem time. Most car buyers are apprehensive about picking up a hydrogen fuel cell car that they don’t have a way to refuel. This is a pretty classic problem with very new technology, and Toyota is working hard to solve the issue the smart way.
Solving the Issue
In order to solve this problem Toyota is working with the California government and forming partnerships with fuel companies eager to get into the growing industry. The government has pledged $200 million to put up 100 refueling stations around the state. Toyota gave a loan to FirstElement Fuels for $7.3 million in order for them to open up a handful of refueling stations early in the year to support the first cars released.
The Release of the Mirai
Toyota doesn’t expect the hydrogen car industry to be booming by the end of the year, but they do expect to make some sales. They predict a very modest 200 Mirai’s will be sold by the end of 2015 and expect around 3,000 sales by the end of 2017. The car will be sold for around $57,000 and may be eligible for up to an additional $13,000 off from federal tax credits and state rebates. This could drop the price as low as $45,000 for customers looking to buy the cars outright, but Toyota suspects that many of them will simply lease the vehicles for $499 a month.
Toyota as well as many other automakers have jumped through a bunch of hurtles in order ot make this technology a reality and it seems that we could see an industry shift away from gasoline and diesel fueled vehicles to much cleaner hydrogen powered cars. It’s a good shift for the environment, but its success hinges on these pioneering automakers to make it a reality.
Toyota Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Avalon with the 2015 Touring Sport Edition
The Toyota Avalon has been a slightly confusing vehicle since it was released 20 years ago. Most people aren’t sure if it’s meant to be a basic commodity car or should be considered a luxury vehicle because it’s certainly outfitted like one. One thing’s for sure, the Avalon has never been considered one of the sportiest cars out on the road. To celebrate 20 years with the flagship model Toyota has decided to release the 2015 Toyota Avalon Touring Sport Edition that will hopefully lend a little more sportiness to the model.
Mostly Cosmetic Upgrades
The majority of the upgrades made to the 2015 Avalon Touring Sport edition have been to improve the looks of the vehicle and it’s expected to drive the same as the rest of the models in the lineup. That being said, it looks a lot different than the standard model, and it’s arguably more sporty than the base Avalon, or even many of the upgraded trim packages.
The Touring Sport comes with LED daytime running lights as well as HID headlamps that improve night driving visibility while offering a more modern look. The stealth black paintjob given to the Avalon makes it look particularly class and helps give it an edgy vibe once you climb behind the driver’s seat. The black exterior contrasts nicely with the dark blue trim and perforated leather interior. Bright blue stitching is included around the interior helping to set off the dark leathers and creating a brilliant contrast throughout the vehicle.
The car sits on 18 inch alloy wheels and of course has all of the badges and engravings that mark it as the Avalon Touring Sport Edition.
20 Years of Avalon
Originally released to replace the aging Toyota Cressida, the Avalon was the top-end car that Toyota had to offer starting in 1994 and onward. It’s been able to distinguish itself through its select features as well as its large amount of legroom. It went from being built on the same platform as the Camry to being very similar to now being very similar to the Lexus ES and with each new generation has slowly become more luxurious and pronounced.
If you’re after an edgier Avalon or you want a piece of history with the essential equivalent to the 20th anniversary version of the vehicle the 2015 Touring Sport Edition is worth a look. It’s essentially the same car, with modern accents and an edgy contrast between black and blue that helps it stand out.
Toyota understands that the Yaris isn’t overly special and that it probably won’t stand out in a crowd, but they also know that it doesn’t have to. According to them the Yaris is just your everyday car, albeit a reliable one, and that’s all it has to be with its impressively low price tag. Toyota recently released the 2015 Yaris and there were only a few major changes with most of the new additions being relatively minor, but it has improved for the better and those who enjoy the 2014 version won’t find anything to hate in the new one.
The Yaris has a few noticeable changes, but much of it is just the same as the old model. The suspension has been altered in a few different ways. First of all Toyota added in 36 new spot welds to increase the body rigidity as they have been doing on all their models. They added softer springs and shock absorbers to the vehicle to smooth out the ride a bit and handling should feel about the same thanks to the added welds.
On the inside of the interior you get slightly enhanced materials. They look a bit nicer and are higher quality, but it’s still obvious you aren’t in a luxury cabin. The seats are comfortable and the entertainment system has been updated on the higher trim levels. They offer USB and Bluetooth connectivity. The interior is also more highly insulated than before, helping to drown out more annoying road noise.
The Yaris is a fun little car to drive. It’s not fast, but it feels pretty quick around corners because of its compact size. Another major perk of the Yaris is how big it feels inside. Out of all the different subcompacts on the market the Yaris feels like one of the largest, even though it only offers a mediocre level of interior space. Rear passengers have plenty of leg room and four passengers can ride around quite comfortably.
There are quite a few things to like in the Yaris, but there are a few negatives as well. The car didn’t have a very perky powertrain last year and Toyota hasn’t updated the sluggish system in any way. You still get a car that takes nearly nine seconds to hit 60 and very drawn out shifts made by an aging four speed automatic or five speed manual. The car also lacks some niceties like cruise control, making it a bit burdensome to drive over long distances.
Why Get It
If you’re after a sporty little compact the Yaris probably isn’t for you. There are more expensive alternatives that are a lot faster and more enjoyable to drive. If you’re after the most space for your money and you want a rock solid car that’s going to keep running for years to come the Yaris is an ideal option. Toyota is keeping the systems that are proven to work, and you can count on this vehicle to be reliable. Toyota sells a huge number of cars based on their reliability, and that’s what the 2015 Yaris has to offer above all else.
Toyota held the top spot for most valuable auto brand in the world accord to Interbrand’s new ranking of 100 best global brands. This is the 11th year in a row that Toyota has bested the rest of the World’s automakers and it even moved up from 10th to 8th position on the list of worldwide brands. This goes to show that Toyota isn’t just providing solid stability that it’s known for, but also shaking up the market and adding in excitement with its latest offerings and increasing in power.
How Interbrand Compiles Their List
Interbrand compiles a list based on the overall quality of brands that they assess, using three different metrics. They take a close look at the financial performance of the brand, its competitive strength, and how much of a role the brand plays in purchasing decisions around the industry. These three factors come together to determine the best and worst brands, and together they are what put Toyota at the top of the Automotive Heap.
Toyota’s Improved Position
Toyota has been leading the auto industry according to Interbrand for 11 years now, but between 2013 and 2014 their ranking improved. Toyota was ranked at position 10 last year, and now is holding strong at number 8. Toyota’s well-known reputation for quality products is what holds it up at such a good position, but their growth in China and Europe over the last year are the two factors that helped propel the brand up to its new and improved position.
Advancing Alternative Technology
Not only does Toyota have a strong foothold in traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, but it also has one of the strongest market shares in hybrid vehicles currently with the Prius lineup, and the brand is trying to expand to uncharted waters with the new hydrogen fuel cell car. By branching out into these new technologies, and dominating the market, Toyota is improving its brand overall and becoming even more of an industry giant.
There are only three other car manufacturers that managed to crack the top 20 on Interbrand’s list and they are Mercedes at 10, BMW at 11 and Honda at 20. Each of these brands has a long list of followers and their badges are all able to command purchases effectively. Toyota manages to stay ahead of the rest of these brands by offering a broader lineup, and holding a larger market share That being said, brands like Audi and Volkswagen are gaining ground on Toyota with brand value gains of 27% and 23% respectively. Both were able to outgain Toyota even though the top brand managed to improve by 20%.
Toyota is clearly a market leader, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that has owned one of their vehicles. They build good cars that are highly reliable, and they are always working hard to innovate and expand their lineup further.
Voice-controlled media systems were invented to make driving a safer experience. Unfortunately, recent studies show that many of these systems can cause “inattention blindness”. Essentially drivers are getting distracted and not watching the road as closely as they should be. Luckily this isn’t the case for every media system, and AAA’s recent study shows that Toyota’s voice recognition system is the least distracting of the bunch.
The AAA foundation put six different automaker media systems to the test to see which was the least distracting. During the test they instructed drivers to make phone calls and operate both the CD player and the radio. The test results were a bit disarming.
Out of all six systems tested only Toyota’s was less distracting than making a phone call using a standard cell phone.
No More Distracting than an Audiobook
The study determined that Toyota’s system was no more distracting than an audiobook, which is more than safe for regular driving conditions. If you have ever listened to a book on tape while driving around safely, you could probably operate Toyota’s system without a problem as well.
Why Other Systems are Distracting?
Drivers want to be able to use voice controls while driving around, but they become easily distracted when the controls are working as smoothly as they would like them to. When the system does not recognize a command and the driver can’t perform the desired command they not only become frustrated but also distracted.
The longer drivers had to spend trying to make the system understand their commands, the more distracted they became. It can also be distracting when the system doesn’t respond back to the driver confirming their command.
How Toyota Gets it Right
The reason that Toyota’s system is so much safer than many of its competitors is its simplicity. It doesn’t jam in a bunch of unnecessary features. The interface is simple, the system understands most voice commands very accurately and it talks back to the driver. With all of these different elements put together you get a very reliable media system that can be depended on to entertain while being safe to use.
The AAA foundation has provided the data from their study to each of the automakers involved in the testing and they hope that the rest of the companies involved will take action to improve their systems. According to Peter Kissinger, the AAA Foundations president, Toyota’s results are something that they would like to see replicated by all of the automakers in the future for improved road safety.
Toyota recently unveiled their Bass Pro Shop edition of the 2015 Toyota Tundra. This custom vehicle was created to compete with high-end Chevy and Dodge models and does a great job setting itself apart from other offerings. Customers will enjoy a nice custom look, and special packages from Bass Pro Shop that nobody else has access to. This is the first partnership between Bass Pro Shop and Toyota and it’s worth taking a look at if you’re an avid outdoorsman.
When you opt for the Bass Pro Shops Edition of the 2015 Toyota Tundra what you’re really paying for is a great looking custom vehicle. It comes equipped with 20 –inch matte black wheels that are completely milled. Bass Pro Shops off-road decals can be spotted in several different locations on the sides and the rear of the vehicle. A durable spray-on bed liner enhances the utility of the vehicle, and a stainless steel exhaust tip is a nice piece of refinement. Unique fender flares feature pockets giving them a bolted-on appearance. Black textured oval step tubes make the truck easier to climb into and help continue the dark theme started by the wheels.
This Tundra is based on the 4×4 CrewMax SR5 and provides an impressive level of performance. It comes equipped with a powerful 381 HP V8 with a six speed automatic transmission. This rugged vehicle is built on a durable suspension meant to handle major bumps and dips that you’ll encounter when taking dirt or grass paths.
The added fender flares help keep the truck looking nice and shiny even when you go over muddy roads. Even the interior is easier to maintain thanks to durable Bass Pro Shops branded floor mats that are included throughout the cab.
Special Bass Pro Shop Packages
To make this vehicle even more unique there are special outdoor packages available to owners offered by Bass Pro Shops. Owners can choose between fishing, camping, marine outdoor, or hunting gear to enhance their trucks with.
Where to Get it
If this truck’s caught your eye you’ll have to travel to one of the few states that has them available in October. The Bass Pro Shops Edition will only be available in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Oklahoma. That means if you don’t live near one of those states you’ll have to take a little road trip to secure one of these beauties.
Whether you’re an avid fisherman or a dedicated hunter the 2015 Toyota Tundra Bass Pro Shops edition is a vehicle that you can be proud showing off. It’s more than capable of getting the job done, and it stands out among many trucks that all look the same. It retails for $43,975 putting it on the higher end of the pricing spectrum for Tundra trucks, but it comes with enough customizations and improvements to make it worth considering.
The 2015 Toyota Sienna has undergone some pretty serious changes for just being a model refresh. While it may look nearly unchanged on the outside, when you climb inside the cab it’s easy to see all of the hard work that Toyota has put into the latest iteration of their family hauler.
Nearly Unchanged Appearance
If you were hoping for a completely revamped look for the 2015 Sienna you’ll be disappointed, because it looks very similar to the 2014 edition. So similar in fact, that it took me a couple minutes of studying to pick out the differences between the two versions. You’ll notice that the LED lights are slimmer on the 2015 model, and you now have LED accents around the lights. Other than that you won’t see much difference between the two vehicles.
Massive Interior Overhaul
While Toyota decided not to tamper with success with their exterior styling, they knew they had some ground to cover in the interior department. Critics have long been claiming that the Sienna cabin isn’t quite as luxurious as some of its competitors. The 2015 remodel solves most of those issues marvelously. More durable and classy plastics are used throughout the cabin, and padded trim has been added to the tops of the doors. The dash is adorned with stitched faux leather or you can opt for wood trim for an even classier look.
With the interior overhaul the Sienna goes from trailing its competitors a bit to leading out in front. They have arguably one of the nicest interiors available in the minivan segment in the 2015 year, and that’s pretty important when it comes to a vehicle most families will spend a significant amount of time in.
Improved Console Layout
Extending your arms while trying to reach buttons is never fun while driving down the freeway, and the 2015 Sienna offers a more comfortable layout than ever before. Many of the controls have been moved closer to the driver, and they are compacted into a more orderly cluster that not only makes the whole interior look more well-laid out, but also makes changing stations on the radio or adjusting the interior temperature more comfortable.
Added Standard Features
When you pick up the 2015 Sienna there are more standard features that everyone can look forward to, without worrying about paying expensive added feature costs. It comes with the touchscreen Entune media system, a rear-backup camera and a powerful three-zone automatic climate control system to ensure that everyone remains comfortable throughout the trip.
On top of these three features safety also gets a boost in the Sienna, with blind spot monitor systems becoming a standard feature. The side curtain airbags also provide 30 percent more coverage than before.
Same Powertrains but Enhanced Ride Quality
Toyota didn’t make any changes to the powertrains being used in the Sienna, but they did make some changes to the suspension for the better. 142 spot welds were added around the suspension of the vehicle making it much more rigid than before. This allowed engineers to change up other aspects of the suspension making it smoother and more comfortable. The end-result is a very comfortable ride, that is less bouncy and more grounded than before.
Between all the changes the 2015 Toyota Sienna is more attractive to ride in, more comfortable, more responsive and safer, while maintaining all its positive features and design qualities. There isn’t much to complain about and a lot to look forward to.
Toyota recently announced the pricing and a more details about their TRD package for the 2015 Toyota Tundra as well as their other performance vehicles (the Tacoma and the 4Runner) for all you off-roaders out there. The package provides a range of performance and aesthetic enhancements that make this rugged truck a whole lot more fun to take out on trails and into the woods. This rugged pack was designed by the expert engineers who work at Toyota Racing Development and it’s built using the same technology that goes into many of the tough off-roading race cars the team competes with regularly.
Getting the Package
If you decide that you want this off-roading package you need to purchase the four-wheel drive version of the Tundra and have it added on. The package will also be available with the Tacoma and the 4Runner later on. Getting this package is essentially the same as getting one of the specialty trim packages of the Tundra and you have to special request it at the time of ordering.
What All the Vehicles Get
Each of the TRD performance vehicles in the Toyota lineup will receive advanced Bilstein shocks, TRD-tuned front springs, a unique TOYOTA badged front grill, special TRD floor mats, TRD shift knobs and black TRD alloy wheels. The Bilstein shocks come equipped with a remote reservoir allowing them to hold more oil which increases the total suspension travel possible making the vehicles more effective in very rough conditions.
Exclusive Tundra Features
Although each of the TRD models come with many beefed up features some of the nicest features are exclusive to the Tundra model. The vehicle is equipped with a TRD badged front skid plate to help protect against rocks and debris. It also comes with specially tuned springs that provide two inches of lift to the front of the vehicle for added clearance. The all-black wheels come with Michelin off-road tires designed specifically for the Tundra making them highly effective while off-roading.
On top of all the performance enhancements this special Tundra also comes with some aesthetic upgrades to enjoy. It’s equipped with PRO stamping on the bed of the truck, a special interior seat color and a TRD Pro custom instrument panel. This truck has halogen headlights fitted with black sport bezels, and it comes with a TRD dual exhaust system making the truck more audible and aggressive sounding.
The Tundra TRD pricing was announced as starting at $41,285 at the double cab level and $43,900 if you decide you want the CrewMax cab instead. It isn’t available at the lower cab levels.
If you decide that you want a more rugged version of the Tundra the TRD package offers a lot of performance value for the price. Sure you could pay for an aftermarket kit to enhance your truck yourself, but it makes sense to leave it in the hands of the company that created the original vehicle to enhance it as well. The resulting vehicle is more rugged, more capable and more fun to drive around.
Consumer Reports recently did a comparison of the top SUVs out on the market today to determine the best models based on weight class and size. The Toyota Highlander came out on top for the mid-sized SUV class thanks to a long list of features and impressive performance figures cited by the company. Read on to learn what Consumer Reports found so enchanting about the 2014 Highlander, and why it might be a good SUV to take a look at some time in the future.
One of the main reasons that the Highlander received the vote form the editors at Consumer Reports was because of its impressive level of performance. The hybrid version of the vehicle achieved a very high level of fuel efficiency at 25 MPG while still maintaining power and being able to pull up to 3,500 lbs. behind it. Even the standard V6 version of the vehicle managed to get 20 MPG helping it beat out plenty of the competitors.
Smooth Handling and Enjoyable Features
Compared to many of the other test subjects that Consumer Reports looked at the Highlander had better handling. It felt like a steadier ride while dealing with several different terrain types and experienced less body roll around corners. This made the Highlander feel like a more solid and stable option than most of the competitors.
On top of the impressive handling, the critics were also impressed with the infotainment system because of its ease-of-use. Most brands focus on cramming in as many features as they can into a vehicle without worrying about how difficult they will be to access, but this isn’t the case with the Highlander. It comes with plenty of useful features, but they are all very easy to access and make use of. The system also sports reliable voice controls making it easier for drivers to get the information they need safely while driving.
Beating out the Competitors
The Toyota Highlander was up against some very tough competitors and still managed to come out on top. It was tested against the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban as well as the Ford C-Max. Each of these SUVs was rated as “Very Good” by Consumer Reports but the Highlander still managed to beat them all out thanks to its unique blend of quality features.
After going through all the perks that Consumer Reports lists off there is no question of why they chose the 2014 Toyota Highlander as the best mid-sized SUV out of all their test subjects. It just combines the best set of features together to create an extremely enticing package overall. If you’re interested in picking up a new SUV the Highlander is a good model to check out. Not only does it have the enjoyable features listed above, but it’s known for its high resale value and its reliability.