Toyota will bring six vehicles to the Specialty Equipment Market Association show (SEMA) this week. All six are bespoke vehicles for the show; however, four of these vehicles will be going head-to-head in competition as part of Toyota’s Dream Build Challenge.
Based off of fan votes, one of these vehicles will be crowned victor by none other than Top Gear’s Rutledge Wood.
When marketing a competitive build-off, its best to enlist teams that are no strangers to competition: athletes and their corporate sponsors.
NASCAR driver Parker Kligerman and Kyle Busch Motorsports went the enthusiast route by turning a Toyota Camry SE into a functional rally car. Painted in classic Toyota Racing colors, the CamRally has a stripped away interior, fender flares to cover its wider track, and a big turbo mounted to the V6 engine.
Freestyle skier Simon Dumont and Oakley worked to turn the 2014 4Runner into a skiers dream machine. With an iPad integrated into the dash, rugged roof racks, and knobby tires, Dumont and Oakley’s 4Runner promises to get winter sports fanatics to their mountain of choice in full warmth and comfort.
Channeling both Kligerman’s CamRally and Dumont’s 4Runner, BMX rider Drew Bezanson and Skullcandy turned an everyday Corolla into the Crusher Corolla. With a slick paint job and rally wheels, the Crusher Corolla has the go-anywhere vibe of the CamRally; however, an integrated bike rack, center console mounted iPad, and headrests that mimic Skullcandy’s latest headphones provides the Corolla Crusher with the comfort and technology that the CamRally lacks.
Finally, Supercross riders Justin Brayton and Josh Grant worked with Joe Gibbs Racing to make a Toyota Tundra that caters to the dreams and needs of supercross riders. Unique to their Let’s Go Moto Tundra is this truck’s eight-foot bed and CrewMax cab. That huge bed houses three television screens, a videogame counsel, fridge, and a toolbox, not to mention enough space to transports a motocross bike. The truck was also lifted to ensure that it could make it through rough terrain.
Log onto ToyotaDreamBuild.com to vote for your favorite.
Though not part of the Toyota Dream Build, DC Shoes took on the task of outfitting a Toyota Tacoma to tackle any snowy road or mounted. The truck won its own competition, in which fans voted among a number of designs, with the winning design making it past the drafting table to be turned into a real show car. The truck includes a snowplow, a roof-mounted pop-up tent, and an LED light bar to provide plenty of light when parked in remote locations.
Last, but not least, LifeTime Fitness worked with Toyota to create a RAV4 that’s perfect for any triathlete. With an integrated hot water shower, blender, refrigerator, and custom roof rack, the LifeTime Fitness RAV4 has all the tools any triathlete needs to remain cool and comfortable.
Keep an eye on LA Car Guy to find out which Toyota Dream Build is dubbed champion, and for the latest auto news.
Photo credits: Toyota
With the 2014 Corolla, Toyota brings to market a completely updated version of its bread and butter car. Besides the Camry, the Corolla is the highest selling vehicle in the Toyota lineup with approximately 300,000 units sold per year. Since entering the market in 1968, Toyota has sold 10 million Corolla’s worldwide. Meanwhile, Corolla is responsible for 38% of the company’s overall U.S. sales.
The appeal of the Corolla crosses demographic lines. While its modest price makes it a desirable buy among younger shoppers, the Corolla’s inherent value has made the car a favorite among older buyers, as well as Hispanic and African American buyers, who have made the Corolla the #1 vehicle sold to both communities.
With the 2014 model, Toyota has done a 180 with the Corolla, turning the car into a purchase made out of passion and not just necessity. This starts with an exterior design that is more dramatic than the 2013 model. It certainly makes a statement, as the Corolla will no longer blend in to the background of mall parking lots. Different trim lines are accompanied by different appearance packages. The S model has a unique shape to the grill, grill inserts and fog lamps. The LE Eco model offers a rear spoiler, low rolling resistance tires, and a smoothed out under tray to lessen aerodynamic drag. LED headlights are standard across all models – a first for the compact segment.
The S model, with it’s blacked-out trim and grill, makes for a very striking vehicle, particularly in silver or blue. Other trim lines are more conservative in their style, but still maintain a handsome look.
The wheelbase of the 2014 Corolla has been stretched 3.9 inches, which leads to an additional 5 inches of rear legroom, giving the 2014 Corolla more legroom than some midsize sedans. This added space means two adults will be able to fit very comfortably in the back, with enough headroom for a 6-foot tall person.
The dash area is all-new as well, with a horizontal design and a significant upgrade in materials. While hard plastics are used throughout most of the cabin, each piece has a solid look and feel to it. The steering wheel has a nice thick design that’s very comfortable to grip, meanwhile S models come with a leather-wrapped wheel that gives a more premium feel compared to the standard steering wheel.
Seat materials are also well done. The standard cloth seats offer a nice thickness that leads one to believe the material will stand up to the test of time. Higher-end models use Toyota’s Tex Leather that also has a solid look and feel to it.
Bluetooth is standard on all models, as well as eight airbags, power windows, and the aforementioned first-in-class LED headlights. LE trimmed Corolla’s add Entune audio with a 6.1-inch touchscreen, as well as a backup camera with dynamic glide slope guidance. For 2014 Entune has been upgraded with a simpler user interface, an improved voice recognition system, and additional apps. Unlike in previous years, Entune is now a subscription-free service, allowing all 2014 Corolla owners to enjoy the service.
There are three transmissions available on the 2014 Corolla. Base L model’s come with a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic transmission. LE and LE Eco models come only with a CVT that is available on the sportier S model with integrated paddle shifters. A six-speed manual is standard fare on Corolla S models.
The CVT transmission is a Toyota designed and built unit that is programed to simulate a seven-speed gearbox. Most of the “shifting” is felt only under heavy throttle settings, otherwise the transmission provides the seamless drive and feel associated with CVTs.
From behind the wheel, the Corolla offers a rather firm but very comfortable ride that soaks up bumps and potholes well at normal city speeds. As you approach highway speeds, the suspension transmits more road imperfections into the cabin. It’s not jarring, but it is noticeable.
One item that drivers will immediately take note of is that the Corolla gives you the feeling of going much slower than the speed you are actually traveling at. Going 70 mph, gives you have the perception that you are actually going 50-55 mph. This speaks to the quality of the Corolla’s chassis and sound deadening materials.
This also translates to the feeling of acceleration in the 2014 Corolla. Between the quiet cabin and the dynamics of the CVT, the perception is that the Corolla is accelerating rather slow; however while not quick, Corolla’s available power is more than adequate for all driving situations.
The LE Eco is unique over other Corolla models in that it employs Toyota’s Valvetronic system. While the standard VVT system adjust the opening and closing of the valves for maximum efficiency, Valvetronic goes one step further in adjusting valve lift and allows Toyota to maximize the engine’s efficiency. The net result is a Corolla with 8 extra horsepower and an EPA-rated 42 mpg on the highway.
The 2014 Corolla will come with two additional airbags over the outgoing model, raising the number to eight. Toyota has also increased side impact resistance by incorporating a new support beam for additional safety protection.
Available in four trim levels, the 2014 Corolla L has a base price of $16,800, while the LE stickers at $18,300, the LE Eco at $18,700, and the S at $19,000. Option packages have been simplified into two categories: Plus and Premium. Toyota made the decision to simplify the Corolla’s option packages from customer feedback and observed buying dynamics.
Toyota knows its customers very well, and the latest Corolla will appeal strongly to them. The core essentials that have made the Corolla so popular are still the cornerstones of the 2014 model; however the car’s dramatic new styling and modern interior that challenges that of the Sentra, Civic, and Forte, give the car a newfound glory. The Corolla continues to fall short of being an all-out “driver’s car” but it is a very competent compact car. With the Corolla entering dealership lots, Toyota’s challenge is to see if the 2014 model can increase the car’s customer base, as Toyota wants to increase Corolla sales by 10%.
The J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, a touchstone for the industry’s current successes and failures in new-car design and production, has just released the results of its 2012 Initial Quality Study (IQS). Lexus was the highest-ranked brand for the second year in a row with the fewest problems per 100 vehicles. The brand was followed by two other luxury manufacturers, Jaguar and Porsche, which tied for second place. Cadillac and Honda rounded out the top five.
According to the study, as the North American automotive industry continues to recover, vehicle manufacturers post the strongest improvement in initial quality since 2009 and are producing higher-quality vehicles than ever before. Still, quality was hurt by widespread glitches in technology such as touch-screen controls and voice-recognition software, said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates.
As manufacturers introduce increasingly sophisticated multimedia systems designed to enhance the ownership experience, owners more frequently cite these systems as a source of quality problems. For the first time in the 26-year history of the study, owners report more problems related to audio, entertainment, and navigation systems than in any other vehicle area. This is driven in part by a rapid increase in the fitment of new technology, such as voice recognition on mainstream models.
“Until recently, this type of sophisticated technology was found primarily on high-end models” said Sargent, “However, over the past few years it has rapidly found its way into the automotive mainstream. For example, in 2012, more than 80 percent of owners indicate that their new vehicle has some form of hands-free technology.”
Toyota and Lexus vehicles captured five segment awards (Yaris, Corolla, ES 350, LS and RX) and five Toyota manufacturing facilities in Japan and North America won plant awards, including one Gold, in the 2012 Initial Quality Study (IQS), more than any other automaker in both categories.
The study also found:
- Toyota has fewer problems than the premium brands industry average;
- 15 Toyota, Lexus, and Scion models ranked in the top three of the segments they compete in;
- Corolla is the highest performing non-premium model, it also ranks fifth overall;
- The all-new Prius v garnered second place in a closely contested segment; and
- The redesigned Camry scores even better than last year’s model
“We are very pleased with this year’s Initial Quality Study honors”, said Ray Tanguay, Senior Vice President and Chief Quality Officer Toyota Motor North America, Inc. “These accolades echo our enduring commitment to quality, value, and customer satisfaction”.
After a tragic year in Japan and a strain on the parts supply chain, Toyota still managed to find a way to produce over 1.25 million vehicles and 1.14 million engines in North America alone, along with completing three major expansion projects in the United States.
In total, Toyota produces 12 models in North America: Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Highlander, Matrix, RAV4, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma, Tundra, Lexus RX350 and Venza. What’s more, the following United States expansion projects were completed in 2011:
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia completed an expansion resulting in increased 6-speed automatic transmission production bringing the plant’s total employment to approximately 1,100.
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama began 4-cylinder engine production in the fall, resulting in 240 new jobs.
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi began Corolla production in the fall, adding 2,000 jobs.
Looking forward, Toyota expects to assemble its 25 millionth vehicle in North America this year (2012), and will begin producing its all-electric RAV4 at its Woodstock, Ontario facility.
Toyota’s manufacturing site in Kentucky produced the most vehicles in the United States with 371,694 units produced, where over half of which were Camrys. Toyota’s Indiana plant put in a lot of work as well, producing just under 244,000 units, many of which were Sienna minivans. However, it was Toyota Manufacturing of Canada with the top number, producing 458,729 units, nearly all of which were Corolla sedans and RAV4 crossovers. Also of note is Toyota’s Virginia engine plant, which produced nearly half a million four and six cylinder engines. Kentucky was just under, producing over 415,000 four and six cylinder engines.