It’s no secret that automotive companies like Toyota want to create self-driving vehicles, but some companies are putting in more effort than others to make it happen. Toyota is putting a great deal of emphasis on artificial intelligence in order to allow their vehicles to predict pedestrian movements as well as traffic adjustments. This technology could help make self-driving vehicles safer and much more effective than the more simplistic models that companies are using at the moment for testing and development.
Ramping up Research and Development
Toyota announced last week that it would be putting in a total of $1 billion to create two different research and develop centers, both in the United States. The first will be in Silicon Valley and the second at a campus right by MIT in MA. Overall a total of 200 scientists and engineers should eventually be included on the project, but that money will be spent over a term of five years.
Toyota forged a separate relationship with Stanford and MIT to research more into artificial intelligence to help improve human and robotic interactions, because that’s what a self-driving car would be, a robot. To further those research efforts specifically Toyota is contributing $25 million to both Stanford and MIT toward artificial intelligence research. Steve Eglash, the executive director of the artificial intelligence lab at Stanford is hopeful that the two research centers funded by Toyota will lead to improved vehicle handling in poor weather conditions and on busy city streets.
The Standard side of the research effort will be housed in an existing building and will work on between seven and nine different projects. Not only is Toyota offering a staggering amount of research funding for these projects, but the automaker is also offering access to its massive data pools collected from drivers, from past research and development efforts and through all the different studies and engineering work that’s been completed in the past.
All the funding and the focused effort on learning more about artificial intelligence and what it can do for driving should help move self-driving technology ahead by leaps and bounds. Researchers that aren’t part of the project are excited about the prospects of the work as well and are looking forward to building on the research later on to help further the field of artificial intelligence even more and to apply it to other sectors around the world.
Artificial intelligence has the ability to affect almost every part of life and people are just starting to realize that. Toyota wants to build better and safer vehicles, but the research efforts will likely yield benefits to the rest of society as well.
One of the coolest vehicles shown off at the Tokyo Motor Show is one of the smallest as well and it’s worth talking about. The Toyota S-FR is a compact little coupe with a highly distinctive look to it. It’s around the same size as the Mazda Miata, but it offers four seats instead of two. This compact little car has a highly unique style that has a Japanese feel to it.
A Really Unique Style
The Toyota S-FR has a very unique look that was modeled after a worn pebble. It doesn’t have angles or straight sections anywhere. Instead it’s a mesh of curves and minor rounded corners. The car looks like an oval that was stretched and worn away a bit and it’s unlike any other vehicle out on the road currently, which is a good thing for drivers trying to get something that looks a bit different.
Under the Hood
The Toyota S-FR has its engine positioned up front and it’s rear wheel drive. It’s a bit longer than the Mazda Miata, but would be the smallest sports car that Toyota offers to date if the auto giant decides to go ahead with production.
In the Cabin
Inside the cabin you’re presented with a very stylish but clean interior. It’s a mesh of deep blacks and eye-popping yellows. Together you get a very dynamic vehicle that makes use of rubbers alongside more traditional cloth materials for an unusual but pleasant interior. It looks luxurious but different and it’s obviously designed for comfort as well. The instrument panel is very small and it’s circled by a digital rev counter. A single cup holder resides in the center of the two seats.
The classy car is clearly targeted at sporty subcompacts like the Miata, but it’s set in a lower price range with an MSRP of just $18,000, making the car a bit more affordable than some other options out there. There is no word that the vehicle is even going to be produced, but with such a unique look and a nice feature set, there’s no doubt that there would be interest in the vehicle. It might not be a hit seller, but in a limited production run to get started Toyota might have a successful car on its hands.
Is it just me or are pickup trucks getting more expensive year after year? Trucks seem to be increasing in size each and every year, and for some that’s a good thing since they can haul more, carry around full families comfortably and come packed to the brim with more tech features than ever before. But for someone just looking for a good solid work truck the increased features probably don’t seem that appealing after looking at the base price of the truck, and the Toyota Tacoma comes in at one of the most expensive options on the list with an MSRP of $23,300. But there’s a positive side to the dark picture that I’m painting for truck owners, and that is that you can actually get a Tacoma for less than the base price if you know what option to pick.
That’s Right Less than Base
If you select the “Utility” package when you order a Toyota Tacoma you can get a truck for $1,715 less than the base price of the vehicle. That’s great news for the local delivery driver, or the mom and pop shop just looking for a lightweight truck to move stuff around with. The package cuts down on all the extras that those companies aren’t going to need in the first place and instead just offers a solid base package.
For an adjusted MSRP of $21,585 it’s possible to pick up a Toyota Tacoma without the back seat or the sliding rear window. The bumpers, door handles and side-view mirror of the truck come in black instead of the brighter colors offered in different variations of the Tacoma. On the inside you’ll notice that the media system isn’t nearly as robust, but you know what, it’s a solid truck that can get the job done for less.
Still not the Cheapest
Even with this bare-bones package the Tacoma doesn’t come in at the most affordable vehicle of the bunch. The Nissan Frontier is significantly cheaper with an MSRP of $18,190, but that doesn’t mean the Tacoma isn’t the best deal out of all the new mid-sized trucks on the market. The Tacoma is known for its performance and for its reliability. When you need a truck that isn’t going to quit until long after you get your business going, you may want to think about the Tacoma. If you run vehicles into the ground you’ll likely get more life out of the Tacoma than you would the Nissan. If you resell them later on, you’re more likely to get a higher value out of the Tacoma as well.
If you thought the days of a simple work truck were over entirely, you can breathe a sigh of relief and take a look at one of the utility package Tacoma’s. They’ll get the job done for less, and you’ll still get all the features that really count on a work vehicle.
According to a recent study by iSeeCars, buying a new Toyota could be a pretty darned good investment, or at least it has been for all the people studied in the different surveys. According to the study, 28.5 percent of Toyota Prius owners who got the vehicle when it was brand new kept it for at least a decade. The study showed that only one vehicle out there topped the Prius in terms of retention and that was a Honda crossover.
Prius Owners Love Their Vehicle
The study just goes to show that Prius owners truly love their vehicle. With 10 years of ownership out of the car, it’s easy to see how it could be an excellent investment, even when purchased brand new. Not only was the price of the vehicle per year very low because of how long it was used, but the fuel savings throughout all that time must have been quite large compared to a sedan getting the average fuel efficiency of the time. Even today a Toyota Prius from 10 years ago is quite fuel efficient and the fuel savings of these owners must be in the thousands.
Toyota Cars are All over the List
Toyota vehicles made up a good portion of the longest kept vehicles on the list. Toyota had at least four different vehicles that all made it onto the list of top 15 vehicles and 3 out of the top 5 were all Toyotas, the Rav4 and Highlander were the other two on that list.
Higher Resale Value
Not only are Toyota owners holding onto their vehicles longer than other new car buyers, but when they finally make it to the used car market, they’re getting more interest than some other brands are. That’s because car buyers know that Toyota vehicles have a reputation for lasting, and they’re viewed as a quality investment, even when they are more than 10 years old.
Between Toyota and Honda, all the top 15 slots of the list were occupied, except for number 11 which was taken by the Subaru Forester. That’s a telling fact about the quality of these vehicles and it shows that Toyota owners tend to be very loyal ones that aren’t interested in picking up the newest and latest model each time it’s released.
Stop living in the present for a moment and take a look into the future with Toyota. That’s what the car company hoped to achieve when it showed off a highly futuristic concept vehicle at the Tokyo Motor Show. The compact vehicle looks like a spaceship on wheels, and it’s designed to hold up to four people while bringing them around using only hydrogen as the fuel source.
Details of the Vehicle
The little spaceship-looking car comes with four in-wheel motors and a fuel cell stack in the front and a hydrogen tank that’s mounted behind the rear seats.
The vehicle doesn’t come fitted with a steering wheel, which is most likely to point to the likelihood of self-driving vehicles in the near future. It’s also fitted to serve as more than just a means to get around town, it could be a means to power it as well. That’s right, this little space ship of a vehicle could be part of the next world power infrastructure.
Generating Power for Town
Each of the vehicles are designed to serve as generators when they aren’t in operation. That means you could drive to the store, drive home, then connect your house up to your car and use it to power a few things that you might need like lights or your television. While the idea doesn’t sound too practical, it could be cool during a natural disaster, much like stories of the Prius serving as a generator were back during some of the major hurricanes, but it mostly shows how much Toyota believes in hydrogen power technology. The company sees it as a sustainable power source of the future and believes that when hydrogen is created from clean energy like solar, geothermal, wind and tidal generators, it can be the source of all our power needs and an effective way to remove issues with pollution.
While this space-age vehicle isn’t likely to make it out on the streets as a popular vehicle option anytime soon, it would make a pretty convincing vehicle of the future, and it points to the truth that hydrogen could make a really major difference in our power infrastructure if adopted along with clean creation methods.
Well it’s now the 30 year anniversary for Back to the Future II and what would be more fitting than releasing a post about the Back to the Future themed Toyota Tacoma. 30 years ago the movie predicted a lot about this very day. October 21 2015 was the day they arrived in the future, but I bet they never expected a special edition Toyota Tacoma would be released based on the movie.
The Delorean was the most popular Back to the Future vehicle by far, but we can’t forget about Marty’s truck shown throughout the film. In an effort to pay homage to the truck, Toyota put together a custom Tacoma built to look similar to the 1985 truck, sitting atop a 2016 Tacoma base.
An Enhanced Exterior
Toyota did a lot of work on the exterior of the vehicle. A 1985 custom paint job was applied to the vehicle. It comes with a D-4S Fuel Injection Badging and the TOYOTA logo scrolled along the tailgate and the 1985 mud flaps. Tubular bumpers are used at the front and rear of the vehicle, just like the ones found on the truck in the movie.
The truck comes complete with off-roading tires and suspension and custom KC exterior lights mounted around the vehicle to finish off the Back to the Future look.
Not Coming to a Store Near You
While the Back to the Future truck is a lot of fun, and Toyota did an excellent job recreating the movie vehicle, it doesn’t appear that the automaker has any plans to offer the vehicle to the general public. Instead of making it available to everyone, the company is simply putting the single truck on display in popular tourist destinations and showing it off to visitors.
It was a fun way for Toyota to celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of the most iconic movies of the 80’s. The truck will only be on display today, so be sure that you check out major areas in Los Angeles, New York City and Dallas if you happen to be nearby to one of these spots.
The Avalon has been Toyota’s flagship car for years and the 2016 version is better than ever. Toyota took steps to improve the look, the feel and the overall comfort of the 2016 Avalon. It’s vastly different in some areas, such as handling, while very similar in others like luxury features. Overall the vehicle is worth a look and many buyers will probably like what they see.
The Toyota Avalon is a large sedan known for riding supremely smoothly, but things have changed quite a bit between the 2015 and 2016 Avalon’s. The all-new Avalon sacrificed a bit of that smooth cruising technology to make the steering better. The end result is a car that handles a whole lot better. The steering is more responsive. The overall controls are more enjoyable and the 2016 Avalon feels like a much smaller and sportier sedan than ever before.
Sure some of the previous owners aren’t happy about the change because the Avalon now has completely different driving characteristics. It’s rougher, more responsive and not quite as smooth as before. It doesn’t glide over roads and bumps like it used to, but they can get comfort back if it’s really that important to them thanks to the alternative suspension offering.
Since many buyers have been complaining about the stiffer Touring suspension on the 2016 Avalon, Toyota released a comfort version as well. This version is much smoother and more comfortable while still handling a bit better than the previous year’s suspension. That means drivers can choose between the high performance handling of the Touring version or a more comfortable ride with the Comfort edition.
A Real Facelift
The Avalon doesn’t look all new on the outside, but it certainly benefits from a major facelift. It comes with new 18-inch tires, LED tail lights and turn signals, a new grille, and rear chrome trim to give the car an even more upscale look than before.
Improved Handling Characteristics
While sitting inside the 2016 Avalon you’ll notice that handling characteristics are up as well. The brakes have been improved and respond more aggressively. The seats within are more plush and comfortable than ever, and the chrome accents have been dulled a bit to keep reflections down to comfortable levels while driving.
With all the new revisions the 2016 Avalon is more enjoyable to drive around than ever. The major suspension changes and brake enhancements certainly qualify this version as a a major improvement and something worth upgrading to, even if you have an Avalon that’s just a couple years old.
While Toyota doesn’t expect fossil fuel usage to drop significantly in the near future, the automaker is hoping to shave down its own use of fossil fuels in its lineup by as much as 90 percent by 2050. As the world’s largest automaker, those kinds of fuel usage drops would mean amazing things for the world. Not only would they help reduce pollution in the world dramatically, but they will also help encourage other automakers to do the same and all head toward a cleaner environment overall.
One important part of doing away with fossil fuels is boosting vehicle efficiency. Toyota is working on improving its electric vehicles and its hybrid cars. The full Prius lineup received a 20% efficiency boost recently and it’s changes like that that will allow fossil fuel vehicles to eventually wear out.
The Lineup of the Future
In 2050 Toyota pictures its lineup without any cars that run solely on fossil fuels. Instead there are hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell cars. Between these three technologies Toyota’s lineup is much more fuel efficient overall and better for the environment. Fossil fuels are depleted at a much lower rate, and the vehicles can be refueled through green energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal.
Developing New Technologies
Toyota is actively working to improve on existing technology and create new mainstream products that people never would have purchased otherwise. Although the automaker isn’t the first to develop a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, that was Honda, Toyota was able to create the Mirai and turn it into a somewhat mainstream vehicle. There is an overwhelming demand for the vehicle and the technology behind it, and Toyota is slowly spreading around hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
As Toyota and other automakers refine the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle further and refueling stations spread out around the nation the technology will likely increase in popularity. Toyota made hybrid vehicles into a mainstream technology and should be able to do the same with hydrogen fuel cell cars since there’s plenty of interest in the technology already.
As automakers like Toyota continue to push these new technologies and try to replace the old technologies with them, they move toward a more efficient world. They move toward technology that’s self-sustaining. That’s Toyota’s vision and hopefully the vision of many other automakers as well.
Toyota updated the Prius C, it’s most compact hybrid vehicle. It offers more, has a more attractive look and is even more efficient than before. What’s not to love?
The Prius C is a very compact vehicle, and it certainly handles like one with it’s tiny 1.5 liter four cylinder engine. The engine runs on the Atkinson cycle to boost fuel efficiency further up the scale. The car manages 53 MPG, but with just 73 HP it’s a bit sluggish compared to the more sporty compacts out on te market. That being said, where else are you going to find a vehicle that gets this kind of mileage?
Drive on Electricity – But not too far!
The 2016 Prius C allows drivers to move around relying purely on electricity, but it’s only going to be useful to back out of your garage in the middle of the night without disturbing anyone, or to drive to a store right around the block because the car has just a one mile EV range at speeds of 25 MPH or less.
Three Different Driving Modes
While operating the Prius C you get to choose from three driving modes. The first, Normal, gives you the best power available with the vehicle, and it’s not too bad to drive around. The car picks up nicely and actually feels pretty perky for less than 100 HP. The next is Eco mode which saps a lot of that perkiness away from the vehicle, but successfully makes an efficient vehicle even more efficient. Finally there is EV mode that lets you drive around without burning any gas at all. Switching between the different modes gives you more control over how the vehicle handles overall.
Nice Safety Features
The Prius C is safer to drive than ever before thanks to technological safety advancements. It comes with automatic high beams that help keep the road visible, but won’t blind oncoming traffic in the least. The vehicle also has a pre-collisions system that will slow you down to reduce an impact if the vehicle believes you are going to crash. Finally there is lane departure assistant that helps you stay in between your lanes in case you are drifting off while driving, or just aren’t watching the road.
New Improved Look
The Prius C was always a bit short and blocky in design, that’s all changes with the 2016 version. It’s now longer and sleeker in appearance, giving it more of a sedan look. That should help improve appeal for the vehicle, giving buyers who were alienated by the looks of the old versions to something to consider.
Enhanced Interior Tech
Inside the 2016 Prius C you’ll enjoy a 6.1 inch touchscreen media system. It comes with an Aux jack for MP3 devices. It comes with a USB port as well for loading your media. The system has voice recognition and built-in Bluetooth support.
No pricing information is yet out for the 2016 Prius C, but it’s one of the more exciting products that Toyota’s offering, and should at least be considered by most people looking for a commuter vehicle.
Most people already know that SUVs are capable vehicles when it comes to safety. They are large, they’re designed to remain stable during most operating conditions and most come with all-wheel drive today. SUVs are becoming one of the most popular vehicles on the market because of how capable they are, and the 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid makes another addition to that list of safe and capable vehicles with a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) the highest rating that’s currently possible.
The Actual Testing Results
While the final result of the test was a top 5-star rating, there were different aspects of the test and different ratings to go with each. The vehicle received a four star rating in the front crash test, it get a five star rating in the side crash test and received a four star rating in the rollover crash test. That five star rating overall applies to both the all-wheel and two-wheel versions of the vehicle.
The Safety Equipment
It wasn’t just the results of those tests that pushed the vehicle up to a top rating, it was the standard safety equipment as well. The 2016 Highlander comes with eight airbags, stability and traction control as well as antilock brakes. On top of those relatively standard features it is also packed with a standard rearview camera and a hill-start assist feature that makes starting and stopping on a hill safer for everyone involved.
The vehicle is back bigger and more stylish than ever before. The latest Highlander brings more to the table than ever before, and it’s truly an impressive vehicle overall. It has a seating capacity of eight passengers and is designed to take on most weather conditions effectively.
Earning the top safety rating from the NHTSA is a big deal and signifies that the vehicle is pretty darn safe to drive around the roads. It’s bigger and more capable than many other SUVs and it’s designed to get you and all your belongings or your family, where you need to go safely and effectively.