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Toyota Sienna Swagger Wagon rides again with Busta Rhymes

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Minivans/MPVs, Marketing/Advertising, Videos, Toyota

Let's face it: there are few things less "gangsta" than a minivan (which goes a long way towards explaining why crossovers have been gradually taking their place as the family-hauler of choice across America, but we digress). The point here is not lost on Toyota, which has embraced the uncool image of the minivan with the Swagger Wagon campaign.

We first saw the suburban-goes-urban campaign pop up with the introduction of the new Sienna back in 2010. And now that the Sienna's been updated for 2015, the campaign is back again, featuring none other than Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr. himself... better known to most as Busta Rhymes. The decidedly white-bread video spot that follows may make you cringe, but you've got to admit that it's well done, even if it doesn't have the charm and freshness of the original.

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Toyota prices TRD Pro Tacoma, 4Runner

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: SUVs, Trucks/Pickups, Toyota, Off-Road

Toyota TRD Pro Series Family

Toyota is finally all set to drop more details about the upcoming off-road ready TRD Pro Series models of the 4Runner, Tacoma and Tundra after first revealing them in February. These trucks and SUV might not get the big engine and other mods that desert-stormers like the Ford F-150 Raptor have, but they are still a nice step up over the stock versions. All of the TRD Pro vehicles come as 4x4 models with Bilstein shocks with remote reservoirs in the rear, TRD front springs, skid plates, black wheels, retro-inspired "TOYOTA" badging and TRD-branded floor mats and shift knobs on the inside. They're available in three colors: Inferno, Attitude Black Metallic and Super White.

The Tacoma hits the market first in early August with prices starting at $35,525, plus $885 for delivery, processing, and handling, for an Access Cab V6 with a six-speed manual. Opting for a five-speed automatic brings things up to $37,390 after the destination fee. A Double Cab with a manual goes for $37,320, or $38,300 for the automatic, after the delivery charges. The 4Runner follows in September with just a single trim priced at $41,110 - $41,995 after the charge - for the V6 and five-speed auto.

Toyota is holding off on revealing more about the Tundra for now. It's coming in the fall, but the company isn't announcing prices yet. We don't have to wait long, though. "Within the next month we'll reveal that," said Toyota spokesperson Sam Butto to Autoblog about the TRD Pro Tundra's price.

Each model gets its own individual upgrades, as well. The Tacoma gets a 1.75-inches of additional wheel travel up front with softer springs, 16-inch wheels and a TRD exhaust with polished tips. The 4Runner gets 17-inch wheels and an inch of additional wheel travel in the front. Finally, the Tundra has two more inches of travel up front and 1.25 inches in the rear thanks in part to different Bilstein Zone Control three-stage shocks from the other models, plus a TRD dual exhaust. Scroll down to read even more details about these off-roaders.

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2015 Toyota Prius Persona special edition arrives in September

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hybrid, Toyota

2015 Toyota Prius Persona Special Edition in red

Is the Prius going into "Pimp My Ride" territory? A new official special edition model won't be lowered or have three-wheel motion or anything like that (though that'd be cool), but the world's best-selling hybrid is putting on a few stylish bells and whistles this September.

Toyota has announced something called the 2015 Prius Persona Series Special Edition. Included on the special variant will be 17-inch alloy wheels, a metallic exterior finish, heated power mirrors and chrome shift knob rings and door grips. Inside, you've got special badging and black SofTex fabric stitched with gray. The new Prius Persona will come in two colors: "Blizzard Pearl" and "Absolutely Red." The special edition has base price of $26,985, and the "Blizzard Pearl" option knocks it closer to the $27,400 mark and there's also the $895 (give or take) delivery fee.

Demand for the Prius in the US has plateaued recently as other automakers have broadened their selection of advanced-powertrain vehicles. Through the first half of the year, combined sales of the four Prius variants were down 11 percent from 2013 numbers to about 107,000 units, including about 63,000 of the standard sedans and almost 20,300 of the Prius C compact hybrids. Perhaps there are enough personas out there that sales will get a boost from this special edition. Take a look at Toyota's press release on the 2015 Prius Persona below.

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What you missed on 7.31.14

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hybrids/Alternative, Etc., Crossovers/CUVs, Porsche, Toyota

Daily U-Turn

Thumbs downOur controversial automotive beliefs

Everyone's got an opinion, and some of ours are more unfavorable than others. Whether its one staffer's pro-vote for the Smart Fortwo, or another's dislike of a certain Hellcat-powered Challenger, these not-so-popular beliefs are often kept off the pages of Autoblog. Until now. Read our confessions, here.

Porsche MacanQuick Spin: 2015 Porsche Macan S

We already gave Porsche's Macan Turbo a proper shakedown over in Europe, but back at home, west coast editor Michael Harley was able to take the less-powerful, less-expensive Macan out for a proper drive, on- and off-road. Yes, we hit both track and trail in the new baby Porsche. Have a read in our Quick Spin.

Toyota Camry HybridCR pushes for Camry recall

There's a potential problem with certain Camry Hybrid models from the 2007 to 2011 model years, but Toyota hasn't issued a recall - yet. The folks at Consumer Reports are urging the Japanese automaker to call back some of these sedans due to problems with the brakes. Read the full rundown of CR's claims, here.

Top Stories

  • Bret Michaels Poisons Nissan's commercial trucking ops
  • Toyota GT86 CS-R3 rally car presages for-sale customer racecar
  • Outstanding auto loans total higher than ever
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Autoblog editors come clean about their controversial automotive beliefs

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Etc., Dodge, Mazda, SMART, Subaru, Toyota, Electric, Diesel

thumb down

We all have controversial opinions. Be it whether you think the Nissan Juke is actually pretty attractive, manual transmissions aren't always better, or you honestly didn't hate the Pontiac Aztek, we all harbor some persuasion, be it big or small, for which we catch copious flak upon expression.

In recognizing that all of us here at Autoblog harbor at least one viewpoint that stubbornly goes against the grain of popular opinion among auto enthusiasts, we've decided to come clean with them right here, proudly speaking our minds in a mature, structured manner - a striking contrast to how these things tend to come up while debated in the office.

We'd also like to invite you to share your unpopular and controversial opinions with us and the Autoblog faithful down in Comments. Don't be ashamed - this is a safe place.

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Toyota GT86 CS-R3 rally car presages for-sale customer racecar

07/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Coupes, Toyota, Off-Road, Racing

Toyota GT86 CS-R3 rally car

Rallying may enjoy a very strong association with all-wheel drive, but it wasn't so long ago that the World Rally Championship was populated by cars that slipped and slid across gravel and tarmac using rear-wheel drive. One of those was the Toyota Celica. While the little Celica eventually joined the gravel-spewing masses with an all-wheel-drive rally car, Toyota is returning to its rear-drive rally roots with a modified version of the critically acclaimed GT86.

Called the CS-R3, the new model boasts all the necessary changes to turn the diminutive twin of the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ into a car capable of tackling the tough, twisting paths that are so routinely conquered by the world's rally cars. That means, of course, the CS-R3 has gotten a power bump.

Expected output sits between 240 and 250 horsepower, thanks to a new racing exhaust and manifold, as well as other changes. The ECU has been replaced with an item a bit more suited to racing, while the compression ratio has also been adjusted to boost the output.

Power continues to travel to the rear wheels, although a six-speed sequential racing box, complete with a racing clutch and a lightweight flywheel, has replaced the GT86's six-speed manual. The brakes, meanwhile, are 13-inchers in front and 11.8 inches in back on tarmac stages, while gravel stages demand 11.8-inch rotors at all four corners. Regardless of brake disc size, four-piston front calipers and two-piston rears are standard.

While Toyota is debuting this car at the 2014 Rallye Deutschland, it's not going to be racing there. Instead, the event will serve as the "pathfinder" car for the rally, and will tackle each course with an eye on safety, ahead of the actual WRC cars.

Toyota has already committed to offering the CS-R3 as a customer option, promising that it will be a "cost-effective option."

"It's important to say that the GT86 CS-R3 which Isolde [that's Isolde Holderied, a two-time women's WRC champ] will drive is not the finished article; we need the data from Rallye Deutschland to finalize our development program," Nico Ehlert, Toyota Motorsport's principal engineer for customer motorsports. "But it does represent a significant step in the GT86 CS-R3 story and gives a clear indication to our future customers that this project is progressing quickly."

Scroll down for the full press release from Toyota.

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Consumer Reports calls on Toyota to recall older Camry Hybrid models

07/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hybrids/Alternative, Sedans/Saloons, Safety, Toyota

Toyota Camry Hybrid

Consumer Reports is calling on Toyota to issue an official recall of 178,000 Camry Hybrid sedans from model years 2007 to 2011, claiming that a pair of issues affecting the brakes are so dire they demand a more official action than what the company has undertaken so far.

The first issue, as CR tells it, relates to a clog in the brake-fluid reservoir filter, which if left untreated could lead to a number of dashboard warning lights. The "front brake assist could be temporarily lost," too, according to Toyota's own notice to dealers and owners of affected models. The company has issued a "service campaign" that will fit a new brake-fluid reservoir free of charge to any affected model brought to a dealer by June 30, 2017.

The other issue plaguing the fuel-sipping Camrys is being treated via a warranty extension, and focuses on the ABS brake actuator, a particularly expensive (both in terms of parts, at $1,000, and labor, around $3,000) item that is necessary for the anti-lock braking to function. There's also a related issue with the brake pedal's "stroke sensor," which like the actuator can lead to a very difficult-to-depress brake pedal. The warranty extension increases the coverage of the actuator to 10 years or 150,000 miles (whichever comes first).

While both the service campaign and the warranty extension were prompted by a number of complaints and an investigation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only the 2007 and 2008 models were investigated. Toyota broadened the scope of the issues, including 2009 to 2011 models, when it announced the service campaign and warranty extension. Despite the company's actions, CR claims that as of this writing, the 2007 and 2008 Camry Hybrids have still managed to rack up 269 complaints, with 14 reported crashes and five injuries.

CR ends its bit, arguing that the nature of these issues and the effects they can have on the way a vehicle behaves warrant an even greater action, saying:

"We think Toyota's proper action would be a recall. Greatly diminished brake function is a serious safety concern. A recall is more comprehensive and widely published than a mere service campaign, and owners don't have to wait for a problem to happen before qualifying for the repair. Besides that, unlike extended warranties, recalls don't expire and are performed proactively."

Thoughts? If NHTSA didn't demand a recall, do you still think the issues are dire enough to demand one? Could (or should) Toyota satisfy CR's demands by stepping up the information campaign regarding the warranty extension and service campaign? Have your say in Comments.
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New drifting world record set in Toyota GT86

07/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, Euro, Videos, Scion, Toyota

The world's longest drift

We have entered a drifting arms race. Last year, BMW smashed the Guinness World Record for the longest drift by hanging the tail out for 51.3 miles around a wet skid pad in an M5 at the BMW Performance Driving School in South Carolina. That beat the previous milestone of nearly seven miles. Now, Bimmer's record is up in smoke as well and is in the possession of a Toyota.

German driver Harald Müller pummeled the old record to drift for 89.55 miles around a 0.15-mile (235.5-meter) course in Samsun, Turkey, in a Toyota GT86 (or Scion FR-S as it's known in the US). According to the Guinness World Records website, it took him 612 laps and 2 hours, 25 minutes and 18 seconds to manage the achievement. Sit back to watch a few minutes of the German's two and a half hours behind the wheel with the tail out.

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Toyota's Psy-style Waku-Doki ad inherits Japan's bizarre ad crown

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Etc., Japan, Marketing/Advertising, Videos, Toyota

Screencap from Toyota's Japanese

A new Japanese Toyota ad featuring crisply suited businessmen driving into the jungle only to segue into a Psy-style music-video dance-off with a gorilla and natives is the latest car commercial to go viral. Jungle Wakudoki is the newest installment in a grand tradition of bizarre ads from the island nation that are by turns hilarious, head-scratching and occasionally even frightening.

Let's face it: My people are weird.

I'm half-Japanese and take suitable pride in my Asian roots, but even I can't figure out what's been slipped into the water coolers of the country's ad agencies much of the time - or the nation at large, for that matter. From Japan's ubiquitous obsession with all things adorable (kawaii) to its offbeat sense of humor and its bizarrely perverse and violent tentacle porn, it's clear there's a lot going on in the culture, and only some of it bubbles up to the surface in its marketing efforts. Much of the strangest and most amazing ads are for non-transportation products (e.g. laundry soap, snacks, energy drinks), but the automotive space has its fair share. This latest Toyota ad had me trawling YouTube for a common theme, trying to make sense of why these spots are the way they are. Scroll down to watch the Toyota ad in question as well as a bunch of other examples of Japan's most bizarre car-related ads and see if you can't find the thread that runs between them. Is it just that something's being lost in translation? Have your say in Comments.

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Scion xB to be replaced by Auris hatchbach, iQ dead after 2014

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Economy, Hatchbacks, Scion, Toyota

Toyota Auris

Scion seemed like such a good idea when it was first launched. Toyota's aim was to provide young people with stylish, affordable cars that would serve as a gateway to the automaker's family of products. It was also supposed to be something of an incubator for new ideas that were too radical for its more conservative Toyota and Lexus brands. Over a decade since its launch, the brand has languished, and today's showroom is populated by slow-selling and aging vehicles that have often been slow to receive upgrades. However, there may be a bright spot on the imminent horizon, as there are reportedly a slate of new models on the way over the next three years.

According to a model timeline published by Automotive News, the Scion lineup is about to get a major overhaul. First, the boxy xB may finally be going to the big refrigerator box in the sky, to be replaced by a version of the more conventionally styled Auris hatchback (pictured above) from overseas markets in early 2015. Later next year, the xD will also allegedly bow out in favor of a new hatchback based on the Mazda2 (thanks to a recently signed platform-sharing deal). For 2016, the sporty tC hatchback is also said to get a redesign, and interestingly enough, a Corolla-based compact crossover could join the ranks, too.

While those changes should boost sales volume, there's also news that's sure to make enthusiasts happy. Automotive News cites company executives who confirm a second-generation FR-S is on the way in early 2017. A Subaru exec also recently gave a similar confirmation that it was working on another BRZ.

Finally, as first rumored last year, the little iQ will likely sing its swan song at the end of 2014. The news hardly comes as a surprise. Through June, Scion has sold just just 1,227 of its Smart-sized commuter nationwide, down 47 percent from last year.

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