Toyota’s RAV4 gets “Rugged” Makeover

Lawrence Illif reported for Automotive News on the new version of the crossover compact from Toyota, the RAV4 Adventure. Illif reports that Toyota expects the made-over more “rugged” RAV4 may overtake the Camry for sales this year.

Some of the RAV4 Adventure’s changes are merely aesthetic. These changes include a height lift, roof rack and lower body guards—all features that seemed aimed at the weekend-warrior market. There are, however, more functional feature upgrades that will appeal to the same crowd interested in a compact SUV: a towing package, upgraded radiator and supplemental cooling for engine oil and transmission fluid. This all making “rugged” more than metaphor for the RAV4 Adventure.

Illif writes: “Now, Toyota is floating a trial balloon to see if consumers want something with a little more DNA from Toyota’s truck division.”

Illif quotes Greg Bernas, chief engineer in the Toyota Technical Center’s product development office: “Turning the soft roader into a rock climber would take additional engineering and “sitting down and understanding exactly what the capabilities are,” Bernas said, but isn’t out of the question if consumers show enough interest.”

Looks as if Toyota has a winner on its hand with a continued interest in weekend eco-tourism and the usefulness of small format SUVs for the suburban consumer.

Joe Victor

2017 Toyota Yaris iA

The 2017 Toyota Yaris iA starts at $15,950 and you can finance it for 60 months at 0% APR. It comes in three shades of grey, black, sapphire blue, dark blue and red. The Yaris iA has a 1.6L 4-Cylinder 6-speed you can either get in Manual or Automatic.

Some of the other standard equipment is 16-inch alloy wheels, contoured sport seats, 7-inch touch-screen display, two USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity, remote keyless entry, push button start. It also comes with a tire pressure monitor system, and has low-speed pre-collision system which can detect certain objects on the road apply the brakes to avoid collisions.

Alas, they do not come in hybrid models. They are rated to get 30/39 est. mpg.

Check it out:
http://www.toyota.com/yarisia/

Toyota FT-1 Concept car

Here is another car making its rounds to all the auto shows. The Victor crew got to see it at the New York International Auto Show this spring. The Toyota FT-1 is a beauty. (psst … FT stands for Future Toyota)

This car was devised by Calty Design Research in the Sony PlayStation Gran Turismo game environment. The way the front engine is configured sets the cockpit further back for better weight distribution. Find out more here.

Toyota FT1

Another interesting car: Toyota i-ROAD

IMG_0363

The Victor crew found a “car” at the New York International Auto Show that is more like a motorcycle-car hybrid. It is the Toyota i-ROAD. It is perfect for urban areas. It can seat two (if you put a small person in the back.)

There are two wheels in the front that move up and down independently but synchronize with the driver’s steering. You can lean just like you do on a motorcycle. Two of them will fit in a parking space. It is the answer for those who may want a motorcycle but don’t want to get wet on a rainy day. Its lithium-ion batteries will go a little over 30 miles on one charge.

See it in action:

A vehicle for your next wilderness adventure

It will be trail season again soon in Northeast, Ohio and that means camping, fishing, off-roading and other activities in rugged terrain. Jody Victor wanted to know which 2014 off-road vehicles were up to the test of wilderness trails, rocky inclines, and uneven terrain.

Consumer Reports uses a seemingly unsophisticated, but useful system to test “…axle articulation, suspension travel, traction, approach and departure angels, and more.” The test system is a simulated “Rock Hill” consisting of a 23 degree incline of boulders arranged in cement.

They suggest the benefits of their testing system are twofold: first, it provides a “repeatable terrain” or one that doesn’t change after many test runs; second, it simulates an honest, if not extreme, terrain. This terrain is similar to something one would find in the American Southwest.

They further explain that sophisticated off-road 4-wheel drive systems helped scores on some vehicles, but were not a major factor in determining off-road performance. The Toyota FJ Cruiser came out on top over vehicles like the Land Rover LR4 which employs such off-road gadgetry.

In fact, Toyota came in second, fifth and ninth as well with their Tacoma, Sequoia Limited and their 4Runner SR5.

Jody, you can find out more at Consumer Reports.

~ Joe Victor

Color Changing Concept

You might have heard of “mood rings” if you are old enough to remember the craze from the 1970s. They would change color according to your “mood”. What it actually did was detect your temperature and change color accordingly. So why am I talking about this, Jody? Because this month in the Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota plans to display a color-changing vehicle in the show. It changes color according to the driver’s mood, warns of cars in blind spots, and suggest destinations based on your facial expression.

This car is codenamed Toyota FV2. See an image of it here.

~ Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor: 10 Best Values In Used Cars, 2012, Part II

When you start looking for a car, used or new, it helps to get some ideas about value, reliability, and safety. Here’s Jody Victor® with the second half taken from an article by Jessica Anderson of Kiplinger and msn.com.

Jody Victor®: Hey Joe, you are absolutely right! Having some info to go on gets you started and helps you make an informed decision when it comes to buying a new or used vehicle. Here’s the rest of the article.

2008 Subaru Outback 2.5i

Price when new: $25,240 (automatic)
Dealer used price: $15,218
Private-party price: $14,068
Certified used price: $16,256
MPG (city/hwy): 20/26

The Outback offers the best of both worlds: car-like construction to aid in maneuverability and fuel economy, plus the utility of all-wheel drive, copious amounts of cargo room (34 cubic feet) and a higher stance that improves visibility. Six airbags are standard, and it was an IIHS Top Safety Pick, too.

2009 Ford Taurus Limited

Price when new: $31,495
Dealer used price: $16,634
Private-party price: $15,271
Certified used price: $17,653
MPG (city/hwy): 18/28

Just a year after Ford revived the Taurus nameplate, it added standard stability control and earned a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Limited trim comes with Ford’s voice-activated SYNC system, which allows you to connect music devices with USB and phones via Bluetooth, making them easier to use safely.

2008 Mazda CX-9 Sport

Price when new: $30,035
Dealer used price: $18,315
Private-party price: $16,689
Certified used price: $20,424
MPG (city/hwy): 16/22

It seats seven and has 17 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third-row seats (48 cubic feet with the third row folded down), which helped the CX-9 win Kiplinger’s Best in Class award for this model year. Safety bragging rights include an optional blind-spot monitoring system — which will alert you if there’s something in your blind spot when you attempt to change lanes — and standard stability control.

2009 Toyota Sienna LE

Price when new: $26,865 (7-passenger)
Dealer used price: $18,463
Private-party price: $16,692
Certified used price: $19,882
MPG (city/hwy): 17/23

Multiple seating configurations make this minivan family- and cargo-friendly. In the seven-passenger Sienna, the removable second row captain’s chairs can be spaced out to give your brood elbow room, or arranged as a bench for easier access to the third row. The third row is split 60/40, and the sections fold over or completely flat. Even the front passenger seat folds down, should you have serious cargo needs.

2009 Infiniti G37x AWD

Price when new: $36,615
Dealer used price: $23,889
Private-party price: $22,308
Certified used price: $26,174
MPG (city/hwy): 18/25

The G Sedan gives German sedans like the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4 a run for their money, but it costs thousands less. The 2009 model got a larger, 3.7-liter V6 engine that puts out 328 horsepower, as well as a seven-speed automatic transmission — plus, it packs in essential safety features, such as head and side airbags and stability control.

 Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check them out!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars IV

Want a vehicle with the fewest annoying problems? I asked Jody Victor®  to finish up his list based on a survey of customer satisfaction in the first 90 days from J.D. Power and Associates.

Jody Victor®: Here we go! The last installment from an article by Clifford Atiyeh of msn.com.

Top Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV: Lexus RX

Lexus pretty much invented the luxury crossover segment with the first RX 15 years ago. It had a level of quality and style that other automakers couldn’t match for many years. Today, it’s still one of the best. The RX’s ride is quiet and smooth, and the interior is posh. The mouse controller on the infotainment system is almost impossible to use, though.

Top Large Premium Crossover/SUV: Cadillac Escalade

This old-school Cadillac is huge and dripping with chrome all the way down to its 22-inch rims. It’s not even as nice as it could be inside for its $80,000 price tag. But high-tech features such as magnetic suspension give this rig outstanding poise for its supersize weight. Choosing an Escalade means you have little concern for gas prices or getting your car stolen, which insurance companies agree is likely to happen.

Top Large Pickup: GMC Sierra 1500

Tough construction, good reliability and above-average resale value make full-size General Motors pickups easy choices. Plus, they come in many configurations and styles to fit any budget and occupation. Denali models are especially well-trimmed and chromed without being gaudy. Plus, a natural-gas option is now available for those who have access to the cheap fuel.

Top Midsize Pickup: Nissan Frontier

American manufacturers aren’t paying much attention to smaller pickups anymore, so it goes without saying that Nissan has a good — if extremely basic — truck for this segment. The Frontier is short on refinement, but it offers a spacious bed and enough torque for most jobs. It’s a prime example that keeping things simple can pay off in the long run.

Top Minivan: Nissan Quest

If you can live with its funky, upright design, you’ll find the Nissan Quest perfectly capable for minivan duty. Folding seats, an under-floor cargo bin, available DVD entertainment systems, power doors, a dual glass moon-roof — it’s all here. That Nissan has beaten its more popular van rivals from Honda and Toyota is impressive, although we’re still partial to the Odyssey.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check them all out!

Joe Victor