Category: Toyota

Toyota Gears up for an Exciting SEMA Reveal

October 25, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , ,

Toyota is known for putting out some pretty cool concept vehicles, and there’s no better place to showcase those extreme concepts than at SEMA. That’s why Toyota plans to go big this year and show off a total of 30 different vehicles at the event. They’ll show just how extreme Toyota can be, they’ll celebrate the automaker’s rich heritage, and likely hint at a few features that will start popping up on future generations of vehicles.

The Tundrasine Concept from 2015
The Tundrasine Concept from 2015

Extreme Machines

Toyota didn’t want to give too much away about what you can expect at SEMA this year, but the automaker did say what each of the extreme models is going to be based off of. The Corolla, Tacoma, Sienna, 86, Prius and Land Cruiser are all going to have extreme models at the event.

This means that Toyota will show off it’s capability to produce luxurious, fast, highly capable, detailed and performance-focused machines.

Not only does Toyota plan to show off an extreme version of many different vehicles, but the automaker is going to put it beside a standard version as well as an older version of the same vehicle to really give the viewers some perspective.

A Look Back in Time for Corolla Owners

Toyota also plans to show off a display for the Corolla, one of its most popular vehicles that’s reaching the 50-year milestone this year. The display will show off all 11 generations of the Corolla next to one another so enthusiasts can look back in time over all the models that Toyota released to the public. It’s one of the few times that people will be able to see all the Corollas together in one place.

Take a Look at All the Vehicles at Once

If you’d like to see all the different special project vehicles that Toyota is set to display at SEMA, you can do so after the November 1 event by visiting the Central Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center. All 30 vehicles will be on display there between November 1st and 4th.

Keep your eyes open for the big event on November 1st, and you’ll get to witness many of the new Toyota vehicles and concepts for the future. It’s a rare opportunity to see what engineers are planning for future vehicles, and to see just how creative the company can be.

The 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro is the Tool for Any Off Roading Job

October 24, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , ,

For most people a standard Toyota Tacoma is all the truck they’ll ever need. It’s a highly capable vehicle that’s good for hauling lumber, and sturdy enough to tow a small boat. It’s the type of vehicle that you want when you have a tough job to get done, but what happens when you have a particularly tough off-roading task to complete? Well that’s when you’ll want the 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro instead. It’s like the standard Tacoma’s more powerful and capable older brother that grew up in the mountains and laughs at paved roads. It’s equipped with all the enhancements to tackle the most difficult off-roading tasks, and is exactly what you want if you live off the beaten path, or you like to travel there on a regular basis.

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The Standard Build

Every single one of the 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro trucks are double-cab varieties with short bets. They also are all fitted with a V6 3.5 liter engine and four wheel drive. These highly capable trucks come fitted with the Class IV towing package, meaning that they can pull a whole lot of weight around.

Highly Durable

This truck comes with Kevlar reinforced tires. That’s right, the tires are practically bullet proof! That means that you can drive around town without worrying about what you run over so much. I’m sure that the design is meant for driving over jagged rocks and other off-road obstacles, but really, who doesn’t want Kevlar reinforced tires?

Off-Road Ready

 

The TRD Pro is made to go off-roading and it comes with plenty of features to allow you to do so with confidence. The built-in inclinometer and tilt gauge help you to avoid taking on grades that are simply too steep to handle. It comes with a durable aluminum skid plate on the bottom front that protects both the engine and the suspension from nasty scrapes and bangs. The truck offers plenty of ground clearance during regular driving, and the powerful four-wheel drive setup will give you the traction that you need in sand, snow, mud or just about anything else that you decide to drive through. The Crawl Mode also helps you automatically go over really rough patches of an off-road trail for those seriously dicey moments you don’t want to be handling the gas and brakes for.

Nice Interior

When you’re buying something as upscale as the TRD Pro, you have to expect a quality interior, and Toyota goes above and beyond in this regard. The truck comes equipped with beautiful soft and supple seats trimmed with black leather and finished with built-in heaters. There’s a standard rear power-slide window that feels like a luxury in a pickup, and there’s a GoPro camera mount so you can record all the extreme trails that you take this beauty through. Couple all the nice interior finishes with the capable Entune Touchscreen media system with built-in nav and hands-free audio, and you get the nicest interior that you can find in a Toyota Tacoma.

 

Beautiful Manual Functionality

The Tacoma comes in either manual or automatic, but we’re particularly fond of the manual model. It shifts beautifully with nicely spaced gears and a smooth feel to the shifter. The truck comes fitted with an electronic locking differential in the rear, and A-TRAC brake traction control for smoother braking on rough terrain. The truck also comes with Crawl Control that handles steep ascents and descents in the truck while handling both the brake and the gas. Unfortunately the standard Tacoma gets significantly lower fuel efficiency while driving around, which is a pretty big deal on a truck that sucks down gas on its good days.

A No Compromise Auto Transmission

Switching to an automatic transmission doesn’t really sacrifice much. It shifts smoothly and improves your fuel efficiency over the drive. Not only that, but there is still a manual shift feature that allows you to manually choose gears to drive in if you don’t like what the automatic is doing.

The auto setup comes with its own Crawl Control, which will keep everything nice and smooth even as you climb over really nasty terrain. Just don’t scrape the undercarriage and you’ll enjoy a reliable ride.

Toyota is Releasing Full Sized Hydrogen Buses in Japan

October 20, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , ,

Toyota has a vision for the future, and it includes full-sized city buses that run on hydrogen fuel. The automaker is already developing the buses and plans to have them out and running on the streets before the 2020 Olympic games. The buses that all run on hydrogen fuel don’t produce any pollution during operation, and they provide the same performance that standard diesel buses offer today.

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They Function as Generators

One of the coolest features of these buses is that they can be used as highly reliable generators in times of emergency. That means that power could be provided to sections of the country that need it most if the grid happened to go down. In emergency situations such as hurricanes and other natural disasters, this could be a helpful feature that would certainly be valuable to have around.

Three Times the Power of a Tesla Model S

In order to offer enough power to effectively drive the buses around, Toyota developed a system significantly more power than that what runs the Mirai. The system relies on a series of 10 pressure tanks that hold a total of 600 liters of compressed hydrogen overall. That gives you a total power output of 235 kWh or about three times the amount that a Tesla Model S can put out. That’s a source of power that could really help in an emergency situation.

Achieving Clean Hydrogen Fuel

The one major criticism that still surrounds hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is that they don’t currently operate on clean fuel, because the hydrogen they use is formed from methane and other potentially harmful fuel types. This is an issue that Toyota is working hard to resolve, but the important consideration to make, is that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles could be fueled entirely by clean energy sources in the future, something that fossil fuel-based vehicles can’t argue.

Toyota continues to push out hydrogen fuel-cell technologies as Japan works toward a fully hydrogen-based society in the future, and that’s a technology that could be adopted in the United States as well. Sure electric vehicles are more efficient, but hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles run on fuel that can be pumped into the vehicles as needed. The full-sized buses that Toyota is developing is an exciting infrastructure enhancement that should show off how capable hydrogen vehicles are, and it will be interesting to see how they do once they’re finally released in Japan.

Toyota Takes the Top Spot for Truck Loyalty in 2016

October 17, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , ,

Anyone that knows a long-time truck owner probably realizes just how loyal truck owners are. According to a statistic by Edmunds, truck owners are more loyal than they’ve ever been since the company started tracking loyalty back in 2005. Currently, truck owner loyalty is as high as 75 percent depending on the model of the vehicle, which means that 3 out of 4 truck owners will continue relying on the same brand in the future. While loyalty is important to most truck owners, it’s especially important to owners of Toyota trucks. According to Edmunds Toyota earned the highest pickup truck loyalty rating out of all the brands sold in America.

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Why Truck Owners are So Loyal

It’s hard to say exactly what it is that makes truck owners so loyal, but experts believe that it’s all the utility that these vehicles provide owners with. A truck can haul cargo, it can tow and it can offer traveling utility that you simply don’t get with msot other vehicles. Not only that, but trucks are heavily used in work positions and laborers rely on their vehicles to help them accomplish their jobs. Trucks are tools more than other vehicles are, and tool owners tend to be very loyal about what they rely on to get the job done.

The Tacoma Takes the Top Spot

According to Edmunds, Toyota owners are about 70% loyal overall. That’s higher than GM and Chevy owners that are at 69% and greater than Ram owners that are at 68%, but the top spot actually goes to one specific model of truck, the Toyota Tacoma. According to Edmunds, Tacoma owners are 75% loyal, or the most loyal vehicle owners in the entire country. They will continually trade in their old Tacomas for newer ones, and rarely think about moving to the Nissan Frontier, or other similar mid-sized truck models.

Nothing comes Close to Truck Owners

When you consider all the other segments of vehicles, it’s amazing how loyal truck owners really are. While the truck segment is close to 70% loyal overall, vans are second with a 52% loyalty and SUVs are third at 52%. These figures aren’t even close to truck owners, and it’s pretty surprising when you think about it. If you don’t believe the figure, just go out and talk to a serious truck owner that you know. They’ll likely swear up and down that GM, Toyota, Ford or Chevy makes the very best trucks around, depending on what they own, and give you a list of reasons why that’s the case.

Loyalty often denotes quality, and in the truck world, that means that Toyota trucks are some of the highest quality that you can get.

Toyota is Finally Adding Stop Start Technology to Standard Vehicles

October 11, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , ,

The 2017 Toyota Highlander is the very first fuel-only Toyota vehicle to get stop-start technology. This is a pretty nice breakthrough for the automaker and a nice perk for drivers considering picking up a new SUV this year. Sure other automakers have been offering the technology for a few years now, but drivers that favor Toyota vehicles will be really pleased to hear about the tech offering that will soon be available to buyers.

2017-toyota-highlander

What is Start-Stop?

Start-stop is a technology that shuts off a vehicle’s engine when it isn’t in motion. This is technology that is used on all Toyota hybrid vehicles, but something that hasn’t been added to standard vehicles yet. It’s pretty cool tech, that will keep you from worrying about all the fuel that you’re wasting in traffic jams and slow driving conditions with plenty of braking and stopping.

The Major Benefits

The main benefit of start-stop technology is saved fuel. That’s because any time that you are idling you are wasting fuel. With this tech you won’t idle any longer. Instead the car shuts right off and when you get ready to go it kicks right back on again seamlessly.

Another benefit is the reduction in pollution. With your engine running less, you’ll be putting off less pollution and helping to keep the environment just a little bit nicer. By running your engine less, you’ll also likely extend the lifespan of the engine, helping it to last longer and function more reliably.

Turn it on or Off

Highlander owners won’t have to rely on the technology if they don’t want to. There is going to be a button that allows drivers to shut off stop-start if they would rather not use it. There are also some conditions when the technology won’t be available. For instance, if the vehicle is sitting on a significant slope, or if the AC is turned all the way up. This prevents stop-start from initiating to prevent issues from arising.

Toyota plans on adding the technology to most of its vehicles in the future, but would not divulge which vehicles specifically would be getting the technology. If you are looking for a way to be more efficient, or you just like the idea of stop-start tech, you should consider the 2017 Toyota Highlander. Just make sure it isn’t the LE model, or it won’t come with the technology available.

Driving Impressions from the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime

October 4, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , ,

The Toyota Prius Prime is just about to come online and for sale at Toyota Hollywood and Toyota Santa Monica.  We had the opportunity to get behind the wheel recently in a preview drive, and we think the Prius Prime is going to be a big winner! Overall it looks to be the most capable Prius to date, and it’s actually pretty enjoyable to drive around as well. Here’s an overview of the Prime and what you can expect if you get behind the wheel of one of these technological marvels.

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It Looks Much Different

The Prius Prime is designed to look unique and to stand out. Toyota doesn’t want other vehicles to look like the Prius, and that’s exactly what they’ve achieved with the Prime. The front end of the vehicle is pretty aggressive with an hourglass shaped grill, and glinting headlamps that are made of four LED lights that swoop down toward the grill in an almost scowling expression. It’s got a stacked rear end with multiple sharp angular shapes and taillights that almost hang to the sides of the rear end. The car doesn’t look like anything else on the road today, and for anyone that wants to stand out, that’s a good thing.

Whisper Quiet

A great deal of emphasis has been put on a nice quiet ride in the Prius Prime, and that means a great deal of soundproofing. There is soundproofing on the windshield of the vehicle, the floor as well as all the other windows throughout the cabin. The end result is an almost eerily quiet interior that is emphasized even more in EV mode when no engine hum is audible.

Efficient Heating and Cooling

The Prime can be cooled remotely with the press of a button on the fob, or a click tap on a smartphone using the included app. It also comes equipped with an electric heat pump, something that most other vehicles don’t have. That’s to allow it to produce heat even when the combustion engine isn’t in use while traveling down the road. It’s particularly effective at warming up the interior, and gets things nice and toasty quick.

Rear Visibility

The unique rear glass doesn’t hinder rearward visibility, however, the bar that separates the glass portions takes some getting used to.

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Solid Driving Mechanics

In electric mode, the Prius Prime has good acceleration up to around 50 miles an hour.  It’s the instant torque of the electric motor that works so well in stop and go driving.  Unlike the previous Prius Plugin, there is more substantial pure electric range with the new Prius Prime.  We were able to achieve the rated 25 miles of pure electric range easily, while driving it in a fairly aggressive manner.  If you’ve had a chance to drive the new Prius then you will know that the current generation, which includes the Prius Prime, has vastly improved in driving dynamics.  If you want to take the Prius Prime up into the canyons you can, while it won’t be a powerhouse up there, it IS actually fun to drive.

Fuel Economy

It’s excellent as you’d expect.  On top of the 25-mile pure electric range (124 MPGe) it has a 640-mile highway range and EPA fuel economy numbers of 55 City, 53 Highway and 54 Combined.

More To Come

We will have more to say about the Prius Prime, including the all new 11.6 inch touch screen display, so make sure you keep an eye on this blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Highlights of the 2017 Toyota 86

October 3, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , ,

Well the Toyota 86 has been out for awhile, and we’ve taken the time to test out the vehicle. I’m not going to say that it’s a revolutionary vehicle, or that it’s a perfect sports car, but it does have some nice improvements since when it was the Scion FR-S, and it’s a lot of fun to drive around. Here are some highlights of the vehicle experience.

2017-toyota-86

It’s a Whole lot of Fun

The Toyota 86 is great fun when taken on backgrounds with plenty of twists and turns. It’s well-balanced and offers very direct steering. While it performs beautifully out on most roads, the car is pretty much the same as the Scion FR-S. It relies on the same general mechanics, and

The Manual is the Way to Go

One of the biggest perks of the Toyota 86 is that it comes with a manual transmission and it’s a blast to use. This transmission shifts smoothly, the shifter is highly ergonomic in the hand, and the vehicle gets a 5 HP boost to 205 HP, making it slightly more powerful than the automatic transmission option. For any driver that wants to maximize their experience, there’s really no better option than a manual transmission. The automatic does offer a higher fuel economy with 24/32 MPG while the manual only offers 21/28 MPG, but the added entertainment is worth the loss in fuel in my opinion.

More Comfortable Performance

With adjusted spring rates, and damping around the vehicle, and a more robust anti-roll bar, the Toyota 86 feels more grounded and capable than the Scion FR-S. It offers improved handling over major bumps, and is just more stable overall.

A Nice Quality Interior

The Toyota 86 isn’t a luxury car, but it still looks and feels pretty nice inside. Most of the interior surfaces are covered by a suede-like material, and running your hand along any surface feels much better than plastic would. The steering wheel is a bit thinner than in the FR-S, and there are audio controls mounted on it that weren’t present before. Overall the 86 is comfortable and feels sporty up front without being over the top.

The Toyota 86 isn’t a crazy sports car, and it isn’t priced like one either. At around $27,000 it’s quite affordable and a pretty decent little sports car for someone looking for a more engaging ride. Sure it’s not packed with power at right around 200 HP, but it’s not slow either. It’s satisfying to drive around, and a lot of fun when you opt for the manual version.

The Futuristic FCV Concept by Toyota is Something to See

September 29, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , ,

toyota-fcv-conceptToyota made a lasting impression at the 2016 Paris Motor Show with its FCV concept vehicle. The pint-sized car looks like a flying vehicle straight out of the Jetsons and focuses on futuristic technology that we might benefit from in a decade from now.

 

Unique Styling

The most notable thing about this concept car is its outward appearance. The little vehicle looks like a flying car out of the Jetsons. Of course it doesn’t fly, but the way that the front end of the vehicle was designed, the car has a lifted up look that makes it appear to glide as it moves down the road. The door is actually a series of separate ribs, and has a pretty edgy look. The rear wheels are nearly entirely encapsulated, and only peak out the bottom of the car body slightly.

Hydrogen Powered

Toyota is all for hydrogen power, and the automaker believes it is the fuel of the future. That’s why it should be no surprise that the FCV concept runs on hydrogen just like the Mirai. This vehicle can be filled with hydrogen, and will propel you down the road, or it can be used to send power to your home or back into your community itself.

In-Wheel Motors

This concept vehicle relies on a unique motor setup that places the motors within the wheels themselves. There are four small motors that reside in the compact wheels, and they offer all-wheel drive performance and will propel you down the road nearly silently.

Power Your Home or Community

This concept vehicle can be attached to your home or even to a community power line to provide power for your neighbors. The concept shows how you can use your vehicle for more than just getting around. By keeping your car full of hydrogen, you could theoretically use it as a generator for your home, or to send power back into your local grid for the benefit of other people nearby. It’s a pretty cool concept and I could see it being quite useful in the event of an apocalypse that leaves people without widespread power, though then how will we all get our hands on the hydrogen needed to run the car?

It’s unlikely that moist of the tech shown off in the FCV concept is going to make its way into a Toyota car in the near future, but it shows where styling is headed, and how vehicles of the future could be composed.

Toyota Only 8.8 Billion Miles from Automated Vehicles

September 27, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , ,

There was a point in time when Toyota didn’t believe that Autonomous vehicles would be a thing. The company said the tech would be too difficult and that it would be a long way off. Even though Toyota has its doubts about the tech, it’s still pushing forward at full speed trying to make it a reality in their vehicles before other automakers crack the code. One of the key elements to making this all possible is a single figure, 8.8 billion. That’s how many miles of testing that the Toyota technicians believe is necessary before the technology is possible. Wait what! That’s a whole lot of driving.

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Chauffeur Mode

Toyota has plans to create automated driving that takes over some of the driving responsibilities. The company wants to make it a feature that you can turn on and off, similar to cruise control today. Don’t feel like driving yourself to the mall? Just flip on chaffeur mode, sit back and relax until you reach your destination. That’s the type of tech that Toyota wants to make possible for everyone interested.

Aid the Elderly and Disabled

One of the major benefits of autonomous technology according to Toyota, is the benefit that it will bring to both disabled and elderly people. Anyone that would normally have difficulty driving, could seriously benefit from a vehicle that drives itself. It would be a great source of freedom being able to travel independently with a vehicle, without having to worry about actually driving it.

Microsoft and Toyota Team up

Microsoft is helping Toyota by working with the Toyota Gazoo WRC Racing Team. Perhaps, Microsoft will help bring some interesting tech advancements to the company.

With a testing goal of 8.8 billion miles, it will take a significant amount of time before Toyota believes that autonomous vehicles are safe for the general public. By then it’s likely that some other automakers will have released self-driving technology as well, but few will have as much time into testing, research and development, as Toyota does.

Toyota Might Add a Plug to Every Future Prius

September 26, 2016 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , ,

Recent comments from Toyota indicate that the automaker might decide to put a plug on every single Prius sold in the future. The automaker stated that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to create an improved Prius that offers higher levels of efficiency. Most of the obvious improvements have already been made, and it took a whole lot of work to push the Prius Eco up the the 58 MPG city and 53 MPG highway that it offers. It would be very difficult to create a model that offers around 60 MPG combined, which is what Toyota would want to offer on the next model. That’s why the most logical step might be to make every single Prius a plug-in hybrid instead.

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The Plug In Option

By going with plug-in models Toyota has a lot of room for future improvements. The automaker could expand the battery of the vehicle to offer progressively farther electric-only distances. Toyota could also improve the recharge speed of the vehicle until filling it up is as quick and easy as adding gas to your current vehicle, or maybe even faster with a potent enough recharge station.

While the standard gas-electric hybrid model is quite limited and already pretty maximized by the top Prius today, there is plenty that Toyota can do with the plug-in model. That’s why buyers shouldn’t be surprised if they hear Toyota announce that all future Prius vehicles are going to receive a plug and a larger battery. Toyota is already making it possible to drive around with just electric power using the current Prius, and future enhancements could be really exciting as long as they include a plug in the mix.

If you are interested in trying out a Prius with a plug in it, there is already a Prius model that offers just that. The Prius Prime is a pretty cool little hybrid that comes equipped with a plug. According to Toyota execs, the future of the company’s technology rests in hands of the Prime. If it does well, the chances of future plug-in hybrids is very good and it’s possible the whole lineup will take on the technology. If it doesn’t sell well, Toyota might decide to scrap plugs entirely. We’re on the verge of some major changes at Toyota and it will be interesting to see which way the automaker decides to go from here.