Since Toyota said they were going to release hybrid along the lineup they’ve slowly been making good on that claim. The Highlander hybrid has been out for several years now, and Toyota has several hybrid sedans other than the Prius. In the coming year Toyota plans on releasing a Rav4 hybrid. The new model will probably maintain a power level similar to the standard Rav4, but should dramatically improve the fuel economy of the vehicle. Toyota may amp up the power of the vehicle a bit, which should help offset any additional weight that it takes on thanks to the hybrid equipment.
The All-Electric Rav4 Dropped
There was a lot of hype around the all-electric Rav4 that Toyota had planned, that is until Tesla decided that they wouldn’t supply the automaker with the batteries any longer. Now Toyota is planning a hybrid version of the Rav4, and that’s probably as close you’ll get to the all-electric that was announced awhile ago, at least for the time being.
Good Rugged Family Hauler
The Rav4 Hybrid will fill in a gap in the market for a smaller family vehicle that’s rugged enough to take off-roading on trails for camping purposes. The new model will offer a good amount of seating room for a family of five, and will offer enough storage space even with the hybrid tech to carry a modest amount of camping gear.
Hybrids Across the Lineup
It seems that Toyota is making good on their pledge to turn their entire lineup into hybrid models. With each new year a few more hybrids are added in, and given enough time just about every Toyota model should be offered in a hybrid format. Sure the vehicles cost more to create, and they are priced a bit higher, but there are plenty of eco-minded families who don’t mind spending a bit more to cut their gas costs.
The new model is expected to be released in 2016. Toyota already has the model listed in the upcoming vehicle’s section of the website so it’s definitely official. If you were considering picking up a new Rav4 in the next year or two you may want to consider the hybrid version instead. The vehicle will no doubt have an impressive fuel economy, and will be a better option than many other hybrids for driving around town, thanks to the increased storage capacity over sedans.
There’s a few areas that a family sedan needs to excel in to be truly enjoyable to drive around packed full of kids. It’s easy to get caught up with the look or the flashy features of a vehicle without considering the factors that really matter in the everyday family sedan. Before you go out shopping for your next car, take a look at this list and consider what these qualities mean to you and how they should influence your vehicle choice.
Top Level Comfort
One of the most important things that you want to look for in a family vehicle is comfort. A roomy sedan makes a pretty good vehicle for family trips, but only if the seats are suitably comfortable. Get in the vehicle and pay close attention to how the seat feels. Before buying any car, make sure that you take it for a test drive to get a real feel for the driver’s seat. Do yourself another favor and sit in the passenger’s seat as well as in the back of the car to get a full perspective. Cars with good lumbar support are an excellent option to consider.
While you can’t really gauge the reliability of a vehicle just by driving it around or looking at it, you can learn a lot by looking at reviews or other mentions of reliability. Vehicles made by Toyota, Lexus or Honda tend to be very reliable. Just look out for vehicles that are named most reliable and consider one of those or the runner-up vehicles when making your decision.
Although safety is often put on the back-burner when making a purchase decision, it should be one of the top considerations for a vehicle that is going to haul around you and your family on a daily basis. Pay attention to IIHS safety ratings as well as NHTSA ratings to get a good feel for how safe a vehicle is. The ratings are easy to find more vehicles and will tell you a lot about the safety features and crash capabilities of a car quickly and efficiently.
Finally there are the family features that you can’t overlook. It’s nice to have a car with dual-zone climate control or an advanced media system, but sometimes it’s the simple things like multiple cigarette lighter ports that really make the difference. Think about what you and your family values the most in a vehicle and take that into consideration each time that you look over a vehicle. Whether that is satellite radio, an Aux port or just roomy rear seats make sure that you are paying attention.
Since the release of the Mirai many from the US have been worried about the high price of the vehicle. Sure it’s new technology, and the price is bound to dip down with time, but for most people it’s hard to imagine such space-age technology ever being as affordable as a budget gasoline vehicle that you can pick up today, and Toyota concedes that it probably won’t be, although it might be close.
Getting Prices in Line with Diesels
Since before Toyota made the announcement they were producing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles they have been pushing engineers to figure out how to reduce the cost to produce the vehicle by any means possible. Toyota knows that the lower the price of the car is, the more likely it is to be adopted and sell in larger numbers. According to Toyota and their team of engineers it should be possible to get the vehicle’s price down to around what a diesel sedan of the same size sells for today. That’s certainly not as affordable as some of the gas sedans that you can get in this country, but it’s much cheaper than the $57,500 asking price the Mirai is going for at the moment.
Building a Hydrogen Infrastructure
Toyota has been having troubles getting a refueling infrastructure up and running too, and this is largely because there aren’t too many people interested in backing the technology today. It’s still a gamble, and despite a pretty high demand for the vehicle, now that it’s in production, there is no telling whether people are going to really commit to fuel-cell technology or not yet.
Fuel Cell Vehicles Versus Electric
While Tesla believes that electric cars are the transportation of the future, the executives at Toyota are convinced that buyers will feel more comfortable with the way that fuel-cell vehicles work, and stick with that technology for the higher range and greater level of familiarity. Unfortunately fuel-cell technology is more expensive. Battery prices keep coming down and electric charging stations are much more affordable to construct than hydrogen refueling stations are.
It’s hard to say which technology is going to prevail, and it’s possible they will simply coexist in the future, but if Toyota can make good on its claim to create the more affordable fuel-cell vehicle and there is no public timeline on that goal yet, there is a good chance more people will back the technology and we’ll see a market shift in that direction.
Much to everyone’s surprise the 2015 Toyota Sienna has become the best-selling van in its segment. The Sienna has long since been an underdog compared to the Chrysler Town and Country, but it looks like that image has finally changed and buyers have come to see the value in Toyota’s most family-friendly offering. When you stop to actually consider what you get with the Sienna it makes a lot of sense that so many of them are selling.
Inside the Sienna
While the Sienna isn’t the most spacious minivan in the segment, it comes with ample seating room for comfortably holding up to eight passengers. The front row seating offers plenty of room and the second row is highly adjustable for another set of tall passengers to lounge as well. The third row is a bit more cramped, but still offers a respectable level of legroom. Every model of the Sienna comes with a backup camera, to make backing out of tight spaces or out of driveways safer than before. The vehicle also comes with an additional airbag that makes it even safer to ride in for the front passenger. Another nice feature that has come to the Sienna is the SpeakEasy system, that allows the driver to talk over the speaker system so that everyone can hear them, front to back. The third row seats fold flat into the floor for added storage when you’re only carrying five passengers, and the interior is flexible enough for it to be used for most everyday tasks, including lugging around furniture if you need to.
A Revised Exterior
While the inside of the Sienna is what keeps most customers happy after they buy, the outside is what’s drawing them in so much. The refreshed minivan comes with a new more aggressive grille and headlight units. You’ll also get a set of LED daytime running lamps on the upgraded trim levels of the vehicle. The Sienna has a sleeker profile than many of its competitors and this is what is making it a more desirable option from the outside.
Celebrate Safety and Reliability
Other than all the nice family features and the attractive profile, the Sienna is at the top in terms of safety and reliability as well. It received top scores from the federal government crash tests. It also was chosen as the best option in its segment for the J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study showing that it’s built to last, something that every family wants to hear.
Overall the 2015 Toyota Sienna takes an already good vehicle and makes it even better. It’s built in some nice new family features and it performs better than ever before. If you are in the market for a family vehicle, this is one of the best current models out on the market.
Toyota has just begun production of the Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle and the first few models should start rolling around public roadways in the next couple weeks. The car is only being sold in limited locations initially, mainly because there isn’t a hydrogen refueling infrastructure to support the vehicles yet, and it will only be available in small numbers for the first couple years, but Toyota is making it happen and actually producing the highly anticipated vehicles for mass consumption.
Vehicles are Becoming Available Daily
Now that production of the Mirai has begun approximately three new vehicles will roll off the assembly line on a daily basis at the plant. This is just the starting point for vehicle production and it’s set to increase over time. There is a greater demand for the Mirai than expected, especially from Japan, and that’s making it crucial for the plant to begin producing higher volumes of the car over time.
Seeing How its Made
Perhaps in hopes of familiarizing people with hydrogen cars a bit more, Toyota wants the world to know what goes into its newest cars and has put together a series of short videos detailing the construction process. These little “How its Made” videos give you a firsthand look into the Mirai and the hard work involved with building one.
If you would like to see how the Mirai is made you can see the various stages in the videos below.
A Higher Profile Plant
It’s no surprise that the Mirai construction is going to take place at the Motomachi plant in Toyota City Japan. This is where many of the high-profile Toyota and Lexus vehicles are created, and where a vehicle as important as the Mirai should be manufactured. The plant was home to the Lexus LFA supercar, as well as many other high-profile vehicles such as the Supra, the Soarer and the Corona. The plant is known for its highly skilled workforce, and should help improve the quality of the finished product.
About the Mirai
If you haven’t heard much about the Toyota Mirai yet, its the first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and is going to be out on the roads shortly. The vehicle is capable of getting 300 miles on each fill up and generates a total of 153 horsepower. The car costs about $45,000 and only limited numbers will be available during the first few years of production. Toyota hopes that it will pull consumers away from current gasoline powered vehicles and that it becomes the new mainstream form of mobility, but there are still hydrogen production and infrastructure details to work out before the technology becomes mainstream.
Critics often argue and try to take away from the environmentally friendliness of hybrid vehicles by citing the energy used and pollution produced when creating the batteries that are used in these vehicles. After all, if you are generating more waste when creating the vehicle, what good is all the waste that it saves during its operation. Even though that’s true to an extent, the European branch of Toyota is working very hard to ensure that their hybrid vehicles are not leading to more waste in the environment, and that they are actually taking away from the nasty chemicals being sent up into the atmosphere, and to do this they have a very aggressive recycling initiative going on.
Toyota is working hard to gather up any and every old hybrid battery that they product. Both European and Lexus dealerships are taking all the old batteries from vehicles that they are responsible for, and they are sending them to be recycled at one of the many facilities in the area. This helps to keep the same materials cycling into new products, and helps to reduce the energy waste and resource waste involved with hybrid vehicle production.
How Toyota is Gathering up Old Batteries
In order to make sure they are getting back as many old batteries as they can from their vehicles, Toyota is offering to give Toyota and Lexus dealers in Europe a brand new hybrid battery in exchange for an old one. Because of this one simple incentive, Toyota is able to obtain 91 percent of all the batteries that they create and recycle them into new products.
Gathering Back Every Old Battery
In order to be even more environmentally friendly Toyota is working hard to increase their retention rate from the low 90′s to 100 percent. That means that they want to get back every single hybrid battery that is produced in Europe, so that they can be recycled and reused in any way possible. In order to up the percentages of battery reclamation Toyota is extending their battery replacement deal until March 31 2018. This will give more people a chance to take advantage of it and to keep clean cars out on the road.
Recycling the Batteries
There are a few different companies in the EU that handle recycling these old batteries after their lifespan is done and over with. Société Nouvelle d’Affinage des Métaux in France also known as SNAM, is responsible for recycling all the nickel-metal hydride or NiMh batteries used in the Prius, Auris Hybrid, in the Yaris and all the Lexus hybrids. Belgium-based Umicore NV is responsible for taking care of all the lithium-ion batteries that are used in the Prius Plug-in and Prius+ models.
Not only are many of these batteries being recycled, but the European branch of Toyota is also looking into different ways that the batteries could be reused before recycling. They make good stationary energy sources for things like resource backup and other energy projects where affordable storage solutions are needed. In a world where so many different hybrid batteries are being produced, it’s reassuring that many of those batteries are being recycled or reused in some way to help keep environmental impacts down as low as possible.
Toyota has long-since been the big player in the mid-sized truck segment. Their Tacoma has been the highest seller of all the mid-sized trucks in recent years. With 155,000 models sold in 2014 they managed to more than double any other truck in the segment, which is impressive, but also shows the level of commitment that Toyota buyers have. Even though the Toyota Tacoma has become a popular choice for truck buyers there is a new competitor on the scene that Toyota’s now locked in battle with, and that means they are producing a new and highly improved version of the Tacoma to help them keep the lead in the market. The 2016 Toyota Tacoma is upgraded in several different ways to help it stay ahead of the newly-launched Chevy Colorado.
Major Performance Enhancements
The Tacoma is notorious for relying on the same old technology that it always has, and many consumers don’t have a problem with that because it’s so darn reliable and enjoyable to drive around in. That being said, the older models are starting to look a bit dated, and that’s precisely why Toyota is making so many changes in their vehicle to help it remain competitive. Toyota updated the engine, the transmission, the suspension as well as looks both inside and out to create a superior product to the older model.
The new V6 engine runs on the more efficient Atkins cycle that so many of Toyota’s products are using at least part of the time. This should enhance fuel efficiency figures for the vehicle. The new six-speed automatic transmission should also provide smoother performance and enhanced efficiency figures as well. The slightly more rugged suspension and lightweight body design gives the Toyota less mass than the Colorado and helps it stand up to harsh off-road conditions that trucks are occasionally subjected to.
New and Improved Looks
The 2016 Tacoma has a sportier look than before. This is thanks to the larger wheel flares as well as a bigger hood than before. Toyota also decided to square the front-end of the vehicle more than before, giving it a more muscular stance. Finally they offer a new grille-design that offers a more triangular look than before.
When you climb inside the Tacoma it’s clear that work was done to make it look a bit more luxurious and put together than past models are. The Tacoma features more soft-touch materials, a more cleaned up set of buttons and media center, and it’s just more comfortable to sit in. Overall the Tacoma is a lot more attractive to look at, and this is one of the main improvements that is going to help the Tacoma hold onto that market share that it has been enjoying for so long now.
Just as Reliable
One of the main benefits of owning a Toyota has always been the reliability of the vehicles. Toyota is known for having vehicles that last and last, more-so than most other automakers. This is why Toyota’s have such a high resale value, and why so many of their customers are repeat buyers who are looking for that same level of reliability that they got the first time around. If you are looking for a solid work truck that you can count on the Tacoma will deliver. It’s built on the same rock-solid foundation as always, it’s just a littler prettier to look at and comes with some nice new features that help it keep up with the times.
The 2016 Toyota Tacoma provides a highly desirable option for interested mid-sized truck buyers. It offers the same features that inspire so many consumers to decide on Toyota, and it improves upon many of its features that were already seen as strengths before. It’s better looking, more efficient, and more rugged than it was before.
The 2015 Toyota Highlander hybrid is a pretty desirable vehicle if you have a lot of people you want to carry around without burning through gasoline at a rapid pace. The massive SUV holds between seven and eight people without a problem and everyone can sit comfortably while travelling down the road. While gasoline is pretty cheap at the moment, that isn’t likely to continue for too long, and when gas prices go back up the EPA rated fuel economy of 28 MPG combined will be pretty nice to have.
One of the best things about the Highlander is the interior. It’s nice to lookl at, and provides plenty of comfort and utility features to make it good for most uses. The two-tone interior has a classy look, and while it is packed with nice features, such as a digital infotainment system, and a bunch of hybrid tech, the interior is pretty clean looking and simple. All the buttons in the vehicle are labeled in large lettering, and most of the knobs are large and easy to hold and use.
The front seats are both heated and ventilated while being very supportive and comfortable. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is also heated, making it very enjoyable to use on those chilly winter mornings in northern climates. The Highlander also provides plenty of storage space for when you need to carry home a load of grocierys, or maybe some new appliances or furniture. 13.8 cubic feet of space is aviable with all three rows of seats in place, but when the third goes down into the floor you have 42.3 cubic feet and with the second folded down as well you get a whopping 83.2 cubic feet. There’s also a small under-floor storage compartment for added storage that’s big enough to hold a few bags of grocieries without a problem.
Power and Performance
The Highlander isn’t exactly a powerhouse, but it comes with more than enough to keep it from feeling sluggish. When you add together the 3.5 liter V6 and the two supplementary electric motors you get a total power rating of 280 HP. This is 10 more horses than the standard Highlander, and the vehicle speeds up and slows down with ease.
The Highlander Hybrid is a pretty heavy vehicle and it feels very grounded and provides a great level of traction in all driving conditions. Since electric motors are located both at the front and back of the vehicle it has all-wheel drive and has a very capable feeling when driving it. The Highlander isn’t a fun ride, but it’s not boring either. It’s a good family vehicle, and feels rock solid no matter where you take it.
The only downside to the 2015 Highlander Hybrid is the price tag that it comes along with. It will set you back $48,385, and that’s if you decide that you don’t want any of the available extras. This isn’t a bad price for a vehicle that comes with so many features, and it comes with the upgraded Highlander Limited Trim package, but with gas as cheap as it is today, some families won’t feel like the price is justified.
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.