For so long in American vehicles bigger has meant better. Larger cars can fit more people and store more things out back. Bigger means more flexibility, it means more capability, but what if smaller was better. What if smaller meant easier, more convenient, more efficient, more environmentally conscious. No matter how you want to look at it, bigger is not always better and the American market is sorely in need of smaller modes of transportation, especially in urban environments where roads are notoriously congested.
Take a Look at the i-Road Concept
Toyota’s vision of future transportation certainly meshes with the “smaller is better” idea. At first glance you might think it’s a very high-end and futuristic children’s toy. But on closer examination it’s easy to see the genius behind the design.
Convenient Safe Transport
Toyota worked hard to get two things out of the i-Road. It needed to be compact and nimble like an electric scooter, but stable like a car and enclosed for wet weather driving. They managed to infuse all this into the concept vehicle and it’s capable of travelling in most conditions capably while weaving in and out of tight spots like a full-sized car never could.
Getting You Around Town
Tthis pint-sized car, scooter, err vehicle does come with some limitations. It can’t climb above a top speed of 37 MPH, which might limit where you can take it. It also can’t travel more than 31 miles on a single charge. That probably won’t be an issue for city-dwellers looking to get around town, but it’s an issue to folks out in the suburbs with lengthier commutes. Still there are plenty of potential scenarios where the concept could do great things.
Leaning and Swiveling around Corners
If the appearance of this vehicle wasn’t enough to let you know that it isn’t a car per-se, watching it travel around a few corners will do the trick. The two front wheels come down from the wheel well to tip the cabin in the ideal direction to maintain balance around tight corners. Not only that but the rear of the vehicle has just a single wheel that swivels around giving you more effective cornering capabilities.
A Tight Second Seat
If you aren’t very tall yourself and you’re trying to transport someone else who’s pretty compact, such as a child, you can bring a passenger along for the ride in the cabin. They can sit right behind you in the vehicle, though it’s a bit of a squeeze. The added room in back can also serve as storage space for a briefcase, some groceries or anything else you might want to carry along with you from one side of the city to the other.
Of course this vehicle won’t be available in the United States anytime soon, but it’s being tested in Tokyo and France at the moment.
When you think about high-octane racing vehicles, chances are the Toyota Prius isn’t the first one to come up. After all, the Prius is known far and wide as the ultimate hybrid vehicle, not a gas-guzzling racecar. However, all that is about to change, as Toyota has just unveiled a high-performance version ready for Japan’s Super GT racing series. Introducing the 2016 Toyota Prius GT300!
Buying a hybrid vehicle used to be an easy process because the Prius was one of the few options on the market. That’s not the case any longer. There are hybrids from several different manufacturers and you have dozens of options to choose from. If you’re looking for a mix between efficiency and affordability you really only have a few options to choose from though. The Chevy Volt and the Toyota Prius are often compared and to excellent hybrid vehicle options, depending on what you’re looking for.
In order to make use of the Volt’s 50 mile range each time you drive it you have to be committed to plugging it in each time you finish your trip. That means plugging it in at home and at work, unless of course you work 20 miles or so from your house. The charging time when plugging into a standard outlet is 9 hours, but it drops down to 4 hours when using a 240 volt level-2 charging station instead. The Prius on the other hand delivers excellent fuel-efficiency all the time and never has to be charged. That means you can hop in it and drive as often as you like and still enjoy the high levels of fuel efficiency.
The Fuel Efficiency Battle
It’s tough to say which of the two vehicles get better fuel efficiency because it really depends on the driving conditions. If you have time to charge your vehicle every day and you drive fewer than 50 miles each day you’re going to get better efficiency out of the Volt. You won’t have to rely on gas and can just use the electric motor to get where you need. On the other hand, once you surpass that 50 mile marker things get a bit more confusing and complicated. The Prius is more fuel-efficient when running on gas, so the farther past that 50 mile mark you get with your regular driving, the better the Prius becomes as an option.
Modern Versus Conventional Controls
Both the Prius and the Volt are pretty upscale inside, but the Prius has a much more modern and even futuristic look to it with touchscreen controls and an advanced console, while the Volt has a much more conventional look to it. If you prefer your vehicles to look modern and futuristic the Prius is the way to go, if you want something that looks like a standard car with standard styling that you would expect in any standard car then the Volt is for you.
The option that’s best for you really depends on the type of driving that you’ll be doing. If you plan on travelling many times a day and you don’t have time to recharge your car all the time you’ll likely get better efficiency out of a Prius. If you’re a less frequent driver and you don’t go too far you’ll enjoy the Volt more. Not only that but you can drive the Volt like a normal vehicle if you don’t have time to charge it, and you’ll still get pretty decent efficiency levels overall.
Both vehicles have a lot going for them. The Prius is easier to own and drive at peak efficiency, but the Volt comes with the added electric battery versatility for drivers that want to maximize their fuel efficiency for shorter trips. The one last thing you have to consider is the release date of each vehicle. New models of the Prius are already coming viable around the country, the new Volt isn’t expected to be sold around the country until close to 2017 if not even later. If you don’t feel like waiting for the latest model you might want to consider the Prius instead. Neither vehicle is better than the other, just different. It’s up to you to decide which kind of different is the right one for you.
Most people think that Toyota just got into hydrogen fuel-cell technology because they learned about the Mirai. That’s simply not the case. The automaker has been working on the tech behind the Mirai for the past 23 years and is one of the most dedicated companies to the technology. Toyota knows that hydrogen powered vehicles could be a very big thing for the world and something that should be pursued heavily, but they’ve come up against some pretty serious problems with the release of the Mirai. The hydrogen refueling infrastructure still isn’t there and Toyota has been scaling back the sales of the vehicle for that very reason. That doesn’t mean the tech will fail, or that it’s not worth the time and effort, it just means the company has to work even harder than before to make it happen, and that’s exactly what they seem to be doing.
Creating Refueling Networks
Toyota has run into some hiccups while trying to sell the Mirai to customers and get the vehicle spread out throughout California. Refueling stations that were supposed to open already have been behind schedule and the company actually had to open up the dealerships where the vehicles were sold to handle refueling tasks. For the automaker, one of the biggest challenges of getting hydrogen vehicles out to the general public is building up a solid refueling infrastructure. A total of 49 stations are supposed to open in California to serve that market, but Toyota is already working on getting some stations in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The company plans on having major success with the Mirai and future hydrogen vehicles and is banking big time on the tech that’s supposed to be better than electricity.
Almost half of the Mirai is put together by hand, and the remaining sections of the vehicle are handled by robots. This process helps keep costs down while guaranteeing a high level of precision and accuracy where it’s needed most. The vehicle is unique and the construction process will likely become even more streamlined in time, but Toyota takes a great deal of care making sure that they are built to high standards.
There isn’t too much information about what Toyota plans for the future beyond the Mirai, but the automaker still has pretty big plans for the little hydrogen-powered car. The company wants to have 3,000 Mirais out on the open road by 2017, and it plans to make those sales numbers jump even further after that point.
Releasing hydrogen vehicles to the general public and getting them to adapt the technology and actively embrace it is a bold goal. It’s something that most automakers would never dream of doing, but Toyota isn’t a common automaker. As the pioneer of hydrogen vehicles and one of the largest automakers in the world Toyota has the experience and the power to make its goal happen.
While everyone is salivating over the stock 2016 RAV4, I’m over here really considering picking up the RAV4 Hybrid. No I’m not a tree-hugger, or whatever other lingo you use for people that care about the environment, and the fuel efficiency improvements themselves don’t tell you the whole story of the new crossover hybrid. There is more to the upgrade than just less time spent at the pump, and it’s the extras, like improved power that get me really excited. If you haven’t even considered the hybrid yet, like most people according to Toyota who believes only 10 to 15 percent of the RAV4 models sold will be hybrids, you should seriously consider picking one up.
Fuel Efficiency for Days, Well Err Miles
The RAV4 hybrid is obviously more fuel efficient than the conventional variation of the SUV. After all, that’s what hybrid vehicles are all about. When you opt for the hybrid version of this mid-sized SUV, what you get is a vehicle with efficiency levels somewhere in the neighborhood of a new mid-sized sedan. You should expect to get about 34 MPG in the city, and 31 out on the highway. That amounts to about 33 MPG combined, a figure that’s really impressive when you consider that you’re looking at an SUV and not a little car. Sure fuel is cheap at the moment, but you’ll still save some cash, and many people overlook the other benefit of not having to refuel as often. With better efficiency ratings you’ll get to the pump less often which is nice, especially in the colder months up north when pumping gas isn’t very much fun.
It’s Not Just Better on Fuel
I could see how many car buyers could skip over the hybrid model for the standard RAV4 if it just improved on fuel economy and offered the same of everything else. I get it, fuel prices are down really low, they don’t look like they’re going to shoot up any time soon either. That doesn’t mean that fuel efficiency isn’t important though, and even if it isn’t that’s not the only thing that the RAV4 hybrid has to offer. The vehicle also happens to be quite a bit more powerful.
How Much More Powerful?
The RAV4 Hybrid gets a HP and torque boost that’s nothing to sneeze at. The vehicle has 194 HP, up 18 from the standard model. The torque and power improvements on the vehicle allow it to go from 0 to 60 in .09 seconds less than it takes the standard model to do it handling the task in just 8.1 seconds. Sure it’s not a race car, but for a mid-sized SUV that’s definitely respectable and the nearly 1 second saved on acceleration is something you’ll feel during daily driving.
The Price Difference Isn’t that Much
Well now that you know about the benefits you’re probably thinking about what they’re going to cost you. In all actuality you won’t spend much more for the hybrid benefits than you’d already be spending for the standard RAV4. That’s because when you get the same options inside the vehicle other than the improve power and efficiency, you end up spending just $700 less than what you would have paid for the hybrid. So all that efficiency and power comes at the very affordable price of $700. Of course if you were planning on buying the base model without any upgrades or option packages the hybrid would be significantly more expensive for you, but that’s not the case with many car shoppers today.
If you thought racing the Lexus XT 200h at Nurburgring back in 2011 was one of the strangest moves you’d ever see from a team you’re about to be even more shocked at the team’s latest decision. Not only does Toyota Gazoo Racing plan on using some standard race cars for the event, but the team also plans to enter the C-HR, that’s right a crossover vehicle is going to be entered in a race that’s dominated by cars.
What the Heck are they Thinking?
It’s hard to know exactly what they are thinking. This is clearly an experimental move and the team is using standard cars as backups, but they really believe that the crossover is going to do great things. The team stated that they were creating a better race vehicle from a crossover body instead of relying on what you get with a car.
Changes to the C-HR
There are no details about the exact changes made to the C-HR, but there were clearly some modifications made ot the vehicle that you can see with your eye. It comes with a more aggressive front fascia that could be to improve aerodynamics, but is likely for aesthetics more than anything else. The vehicle is also fitted with a massive wing at the back and it has a set of vents along the hood. These improvements make a pretty large engine likely, but it’s only speculation at this point.
Introducing the Latest C-HR
Toyota plans to release the production C-HR at the Geneva Motor Show this year. It’s supposed to have the same shape of the concept version that was shown off at the 2015 LA Auto Show and since it was previewed with a Scion badge it’s likely to show up in the United States as well.
2016 makes ten years from Toyota Gazoo Racing competing at Nurburgring. Have they lost their minds or is the team onto something really great with this latest decision? Only time will tell when we see the results from the race. Either way, we’ll all get to see how well crossovers stand up to cars in a race setting. That’s a pretty exciting experiment for everyone, and you could see more crossovers at the starting line next year if things go well for the team.
If you didn’t already think the Toyota Tacoma was a mean off-roading machine, you’ll have a hard time arguing with that fact after seeing the results published by Peterson’s 4-Wheel and Off-Road. The company took a very detailed look at a range of different off-road designed vehicles and decided that the Tacoma was the very best of the bunch. The company compared eight different vehicles to one another and while putting each through a battery of very harsh tests it was clear that the Tacoma was built to handle the most punishment.
- 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road
- 2016 TD6 Range Rover Sport
- 2016 Dodge Ram Rebel
- 2016 Nissan Titan XD
- 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4×4
- 2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk
- 2016 Mercedes-Benze G550
- 2016 Chevy Colorado Diesel
Took One of the Most Important Off Road Tests
Peterson’s 4-Wheel and Off-Road holds an annual test to put lightweight vehicles against one in off-road tests. The results from these tests are recognized around the world. More than 3-million readers trust the results of the tests and winning the top place in an off-road test from the company is a massive honor.
Near the Top on Paper
The 2016 Tacoma didn’t take first place on a sheet of paper, in fact it lost to the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk, but it came pretty darned close anyway. Even though the Tacoma didn’t take the top spot when looking at everything that comes in it, that doesn’t matter. The sum of the parts is often greater than the individual specifications in the best vehicles, and that’s clearly the case in the Tacoma TRD Off-Road.
The Top Vehicle in Real Life
While the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk topped the off-road tests on paper, the superior specifications didn’t lead to real life performance increases over the Toyota Tacoma and that’s what truly matters. In fact, the Toyota Tacoma bested a wide range of off-roading varients in real life performance. It was put to the test against the Land Rover Range Rover TD6, the Nissan Titan XD, the Chevy Colorado, the Canyon and the Ram Rebel. It was even tested against diesel variations of some of these vehicles and that didn’t make an ounce of difference.
During testing the 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD was taken over rock outcroppings, it was taken through sand dunes, it was moved through the mud and a bunch of other nasty situations. It ate them up and asked for more. It was the most capable of the bunch on all these tests and was clearly built to handle off-roading.
The Tacoma comes packed with 278 HP and 265 lb.-ft. of torque. That power allowed the truck to power through sandy pits and up steep rock hills without stuttering. While going over loose terrain the traction control of the system didn’t cause any issues and certainly didn’t slow the truck down. That wasn’t the case for some of the other contenders on the list and the smooth performance of the truck is one of the main reasons that it took the top spot. It managed to many different driving conditions while maintaining its composure the whole time. If that’s not an impressive feat I don’t know what is.
Toyota is understandably excited about taking first place and anyone looking for a quality off-road vehicle should consider the 2016 Tacoma TRD Off-Road edition. It’s clearly one of the best options on the market today.
The 2015 Toyota Corolla was a seriously popular vehicle. In-fact it was one of the best-selling mid-sized sedans on the market. Toyota couldn’t afford to just sit around idly expecting success once again, not with the 2016 Honda Civic storming the market with a revamped look. That’s why the company put some of its best designers to work revamping the exterior of the 2017 Corolla. The results are pretty impressive to say the least, and you might find yourself wanting the latest Corolla after you see it.
A Mirai Front End
Do you think the front of the Mirai is awesome, or ridiculous? If you’re one of the folks who like the edgy look the Mirai has the new Corolla is going to be right down your alley. It has the same general shape and it’s edgy indeed. The grill out front flares down opening to a wide almost triangular shape. At either side of that unique grill are triangular gills that help fill out the front while breaking it into three distinct triangular segments. Not only did Toyota change around the grill, it also adjusted the headlights to give them a smoother look. Instead of flaring downward slightly near the inside, the new headlights maintain their shape throughout, a cool improvement if you ask us.
No photos of the interior are available yet, but you better believe that the 2017 Corolla is going to sport an enhanced interior to go with the refreshed exterior. It might not be changes as radically as the front end of the Corolla is, but it’s sure to offer some features and improvements that are pretty exciting.
More Changes to Come
The 2017 Corolla isn’t on display for the public yet and it’s hard to say exactly what sort of improvements that Toyota has made to the model other than the basics. That being said, there are sure to be some serious tech and performance enhancements in the vehicle. Whether it drives differently is hard to say, but the latest Corolla looks to be a serious contender in the mid-sized segment and something that car buyers should look out for. More information is likely to be released over the next month or two, and the refreshed model should be out on the market sometime in summer for those eagerly awaiting it.
Ford came up with open-source technology known as SmartDeviceLink that’s designed to connect mobile apps to in-car interfaces. It’s interesting tech that will bring some cool capabilities to new vehicles. Many car companies are adopting the technology in their own vehicles and Toyota says that it plans to add the tech in its vehicles in the future.
What the Tech Does
The technology’s main goal is to create a unified platform and standard across the industry for giving the driver the ability to interact with applications using buttons and voice recognition in the vehicle. By standardizing this process automakers will be able to roll out new technologies faster and automakers could even share features amongst one another if they really wanted to.
Standardizing the Industry
Ford’s giving the technology away to hopefully get all automakers on the same page. When everyone uses the same standard it’s easier to innovate than ever before. Any improvements other automakers make could be applied to different companies as well. It also means that after-market companies will be able to develop higher quality products for a wider range of vehicle types.
Bringing More Device Support Along the Way
Device manufacturers have a hard time providing the support necessary for effective vehicle integration, but anyone that adopts this technology should become more desirable for mobile device manufacturers. Less work has to go into the products to enable them to work in many different brands of vehicles with the tech. That means you’ll likely see improved support for a wider variety of mobile devices in Toyota vehicles over time. That all on its own is exciting and a good reason for the automaker to adopt the technology.
Toyota understands the benefit of shared technology. The automaker has willingly shared its technology in the past and it’s trying to align itself with the rest of the auto world to make its products more user-friendly. This is just another example of how the company hopes to streamline its products and make them better for the end-user along the way. On the surface new Toyota vehicles won’t look too much different, but the media communication will be through a new standard by then, and that will create some very real benefits for Toyota owners over time.
One of the biggest challenges to making self-driving vehicles into a reality is getting detailed data about all the roads in America. Getting such data for a small section of roadway or even a planned route is one thing, but making it happen for all the roads in the country is another altogether. It’s a massive project that the company would be hard-pressed to tackle on its own, and it plans to turn to all the vehicles driving around the road to compile that very important data. Toyota is planning to use new vehicles to capture road data on a massive scale and compile all that information into a comprehensive data center.
Getting the Data
Toyota plans on outfitting cars around the country with GPS systems and cameras to capture as much data as possible. All the data will be captured as people drive around the roads throughout the United States. The sheer amount of data that could be collected by the millions of vehicles travelling around the roads of the United States could make quick work of gathering all the data that needs gathering, and that’s what Toyota believes will allow it to create effective self-driving vehicles in time.
Currently laser-imaging devices are used to capture information for every little bit of roadways and that information is then processed carefully by a powerful computer. That process is slow and it makes mapping out roads troublesome while also making it difficult to get updated information about roads. Using such technology would result in roads not being updated nearly enough for accurate information. Instead of using such precise laser imaging devices, Toyota plans on getting many times more simple pieces of information from the GPS and camera setups in thousands or millions of vehicles. The information can be compiled over and over again and compared to triangulate highly accurate information. Toyota believes that the information will be accurate to within two inches, more than enough to keep cars operating safely.
It’s an exciting idea and a way for Toyota to prepare for the future. The automaker is already working to bring hydrogen fuel cell technology to the mainstream and now it could be one step closer to creating self-driving vehicles.