Full-sized truck manufacturers are always competing to see who can create the most powerful tower, the most capable hauler or the truck with the most luxurious interior, but there’s another category that they are always going after as well, and that’s best off-roader. That last category is exactly what the 2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro is directed at, and it makes quite the impression. The oversized truck is a capable driver during standard road conditions, but it becomes more impressive when you bring it on less travelled trails and back roads. The truck manages to hold its grip in most situations and has emits a loud throaty growl as it races up hills and overtop other present obstacles. It’s relatively affordable for such a capable machine with an MSRP of $46,259 and it’s got enough features to remain competitive with most other models in its sector, which is why it should be considered by anyone who’s serious about going off road, but doesn’t want to own a bunch of separate vehicles.
This Tundra isn’t packed with a massive engine, but it comes with sufficient power for towing and handling most off-road conditions capably. The 5.7 liter V8 offers 381 horses. It’s easy to manipulate and features a six speed automatic with a sequential shift mode for added control. The truck also has tow and haul modes depending on what you are using it for. It’s quick to speed up, glides effortlessly over most roadways and maintains its grip capably even when you’re in loose dirt or sand.
The Tundra TRD Pro is modified to take on the elements more effectively. It comes with 2.5 inch Bilstein shocks to dampen any major bumps in the road. The truck also makes use of three-stage compression dampening and is equipped with a ¼ inch aluminum front skid plate to absorb the blow of any rocks that come its way. Overall the truck offers a very smooth ride, even when you’re going over not so smooth roads, or out-of-the-way paths.
Since the 2015 Tundra TRD Pro is at the top of the lineup it comes with most of the enhanced tech features available on a Toyota. The truck as an HD radio with satellite as well. It features both AM and FM channels and comes with a seven-inch touchscreen unit. Easily connect devices through the included USB port and use the Aux in jack to play audio from your devices over the radio. The truck comes with Bluetooth for streaming music or phone calls wirelessly. It also has a full suite of apps that let you tap into the Internet while sitting in the front of a truck. It relies on the Internet connection of your phone to look up information so that you don’t have to purchase a separate data plan just for the vehicle.
The interior of the TRD Pro is a mash up of custom features that will let everyone know they are riding in an upper-level model of the Tundra. The front bucket seats have red stitching and accents. The floor mat shows off a custom TRD pro logo and the seats are embroidered with that same logo.
That Distinct Look
On the outside of the Tundra there are clear enhancements that make it stand out. The 18 inch TRD black alloy wheels are nice, but it’s the 32 inch tires that really put off the off-roading image that gives this truck so much allure. It also comes with a nicely oversized grille and black bezel headlights that go well with the rest of the black accents.
The nice thing about the 2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro is that it manages to be highly capable while off-roading, but that’s not all the truck is. It retains a bed long enough for useful hauling, and it has enough interior space for comfort making it a very capable regular driver as well. You won’t have to go out and buy a second vehicle for the moments when you want to do a bit of standard driving and that’s the real strength of the 2015 Toyota TRD Pro.
For Toyota, every day is Earth Day and the little things add up, especially when almost 43,000 team members across 14 North America manufacturing plants do them. Such efforts have saved nearly $600 million since benchmarking began in 2002.
They’ve also resulted in Toyota’s 11th consecutive ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Award from the U.S. EPA for continued leadership in protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency.
Eleven consecutive ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Awards are the most by any automaker.
Examples of achieving energy efficiency at Toyota’s 14 North American manufacturing plants include:
- Reduced total energy use by 35 percent per vehicle produced or 14 billion kilowatt hours of energy.* That’s enough power to keep the city of Chicago up and running for nearly an entire year.
- Reduced CO2 emissions by 40 percent per vehicle produced by eliminating the use of electricity and natural gas when avoidable.**Since benchmarking began in 2002 “While there’s always room for improvement, achieving energy efficiency demonstrates that good ideas have helped us become environmentally responsible while making a significant impact to our bottom line,” said Robin Haugen general manager of Toyota’s plant and environmental group. “Through our team members’ efforts and outstanding collaboration, we
have minimized our environmental footprint in communities where we assemble vehicles, engines and parts. We’re so proud to receive our 11th consecutive ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Award from the U.S. EPA and we’ll strive to do better.”
Recent environmental improvement activities across some of Toyota’s 14 manufacturing plants include:
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama (Huntsville)
- Saved 300,000 gallons of water a year – enough to fill half of an Olympic-size swimming pool – by reusing compressor condensate water in the cooling tower. The tower accounts for nearly 50 percent of the facility’s water use.
- Switched to higher-efficiency motors and used compressed air more efficiently.
- Installed LED lighting, solar lights and daylighting to reduce purchased electricity.
- All environmental projects – part of a $1 million investment to make the plant more sustainable – result in annual saving of more than 3.3 million kilowatts hours, equal to 125 average U.S. homes and reducing more than 2,000 metric tons of CO2.Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana (Princeton)
Reduced the volume of air that has to be conditioned in the paint booths, a process that’s necessary for the paint to adhere to vehicles. The project reduced energy use by 125,000 MMBtus, enough to power 1,450 average U.S. homes for a year and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 8,900 metric tons.
In addition to the energy and greenhouse gas savings, the improved paint process reduced the amount of paint and emissions.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky (Georgetown)
The plant has teamed up with Waste Services of the Bluegrass to generate power from local landfill waste that naturally creates methane gas, marking the region’s first business-to-business landfill gas to energy initiative. Toyota estimates the locally generated landfill gas will supply enough power each year for the production of 10,000 vehicles. Once operational later this spring, the system will generate one megawatt of electricity each hour the system is operating, or about what it takes to power nearly 800 average U.S. homes annually.
Plus landfill greenhouse gas emissions will be cut by as much as 90 percent, resulting in better air quality for the local community.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi (Blue Springs)
- Installed a geothermal heat exchanger that supplies chilled water to a compressed airdryer to eliminate the chiller load in the winter months when the plant’s HVAC systems are not using chilled water. This reduces electricity usage by 1.5 million kilowatt hours per year, equal to 56 average U.S. homes.
- Installed a single axis solar cell array in spring 2013, with a maximum output of 50 kilowatts. The power generated by the array is redirected back to New Albany Light,
Gas & Water, the local utility company, and ultimately is transferred back onto the grid for public use.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas (San Antonio)
The plant uses about 1 million gallons of recycled water per production day, or about 250 million gallons each year. Since its opening in 2007, the plant has used nearly 2 billion gallons of recycled water. That’s nearly 2 billion gallons that wasn’t drawn from the local Edwards Aquifer.
Toyota’s accomplishments will be recognized in Washington, D.C. on April 20.
Deciding whether you want to buy that shiny new Toyota or lease it isn’t always easy to do, and it’s tough to figure out which option is the more financially savvy one for your particular situation. Unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether leasing or buying is the better option and they both have their downsides and upsides depending on what type of car owner you are. Take a moment to learn more about both buying and leasing vehicles and you should be able to make a decision for yourself.
Assessing Your Commitment
Think about how long you plan on keeping the vehicle you have sitting in your driveway currently, and be realistic about it. If you are the type of person who wants to switch to a new model every couple of years vehicle ownership may not be the right option for you. If you regularly trade in for the newest model you are paying much more than you have to be for your vehicles. Owning your vehicles is the more affordable option if you stick with your car for as long as you can, but if you are itching for a new vehicle just a couple years after making your purchase a lease could be more affordable for you.
When you lease a vehicle there is a limit to the number of miles you can put on it throughout the term of your agreement. If you drive a high number of miles on a yearly basis you will have to agree on a higher number of miles in your lease agreement, which ultimately means that you will pay a higher monthly rate. If you don’t add enough miles to the agreement you risk running out and having to pay overage fees for each individual mile over the total limit which can be very expensive if you’re thousands of miles over where you should be. If you are the type of driver who travels more than 12,000 to 15,000 miles a year you might have a hard time relying on a lease.
Lease payments are normally cheaper than loan payments because you aren’t paying for the value of the vehicle, only the depreciation that it is going to experience over the term. So if you lease a $20,000 car you might pay around $12,000for depreciation over the term while you would be paying the full $20,000 on the loan. That means that the lease payment is close to half of what the loan payment is going to be. If you need access to more money each month it makes sense to lease rather than buy.
Paying for Wear and Tear
Buyers enjoy leasing cars because they have access to new shiny vehicles every three to five years. The only downside to a lease is all of the wear and tear fees that you have ot dela with. When you lease a vehicle you will have to pay wear and tear fees for a vehicle that takes any damage. If you have issues with keeping cars in good shape you could end up being stuck with a stiff fee at the end of your lease for problems you may not have to have corrected on a vehicle you own.
Now that you know a bit more about buying and leasing you can decide if it makes more sense to purchase that new Corolla or simply lease it and look out for a newer model in a few years from now.
Toyota is planning on releasing their advanced automatic braking and collision avoidance system for their entire lineup, as a very affordable option package. The option should cost between $500 and $635 and is planned for release on nearly all of the Toyota lineup. This is what Toyota USA Senior Vice President Bob Carter had to say about the planned offering. “Studies indicate that advanced active safety technologies can have a profound effect on automotive safety. Toyota is proud to expand the availability of these technologies – and to do so at an excellent value proposition for our customers as well.”
The Initial Offering
Initially the technology is only going to be offered on the Rav4 Hybrid SUV and the Lexus RX crossover, but that offering is expected to be expanded rapidly. Within the first year seven additional models between Toyota and Lexus are expected to also get the technology. Toyota says that by the end of 2017 nearly all of their lineup should provide the technology as a low-cost option.
What the Tech Does
The technology relies on cameras and lasers to prevent an array of collisions by automatically triggering the brakes while also providing audio and visual cues. The system watches out for pedestrians, drivers and other potential collisions in front of the vehicle and will help apply braking force to minimize damage and reduce the occurrence of accidents.
The braking systems are designed to work under most driving conditions, but auto braking will only reduce braking speeds by around 19 MPH. This is a huge decrease at lower speeds and could cut out a lot of accidents. The advanced system also keeps an eye on lane markers and lets the driver know when he starts to drift over the line. This should help alleviate accidents caused by tired drivers.
On top of helping to mitigate accidents, the system also helps make driving a bit more comfortable. The Auto High Beam feature will automatically dim your high beam lights when it sees the lights of incoming vehicles. This makes driving at night smoother, and helps you avoid flashing other drivers. The package also provides dynamic cruise control for smoother acceleration and deceleration on the highway. Assign a range of speeds to the system and it will automatically adjust the speed within the range to remain the correct distance from other vehicles.
Overall the technology should make the road a much safer place, and by committing to release it on so many different models there will be a lot of people benefitting from the new tech in just a couple years. It’s an ambitious project and should help to bring the other automakers in line as well sparking additional safety offers to remain competitive.
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.