Toyota’s New E-Palette Concept Can Serve as an Open Platform for Developers
As part of its future autonomous mobility service, Toyota has introduced the e-Palette Concept at the Consumer Electronics Show. If you’re a fan of aesthetically pleasing concept vehicles, now’s the time to turn away because the e-Palette is anything but attractive. The concept is actually just a box on four wheels, albeit one that serves a lot of different purposes depending on who’s using it.
2018 Toyota Research Institute Platform 3.0 Autonomous Car
A few years ago, concept cars were mostly about futuristic design features and new technology. This is still available today, but most automakers are including semi or fully autonomous driving systems in their show cars. This technology is supposed to become a production feature in 2021, and everyone is racing to get there first. Toyota is among those companies, and it just introduced an update to the LIDAR-equipped Lexus that it showed off twice in 2017. It’s still built around the old LS600hL — the Japanese firm launched a new LS last year — but it’s now called Platform 3.0 and comes with numerous upgrades.
The company’s Research Institute teamed up with more firms and departments than ever to create the third prototype, including CALTY Design Research in Michigan, Toyota Motor North America Research and Development, and Luminar. The latter has recently developed the most powerful LIDAR system on the market, which made its debut on this autonomous Lexus. Production of the CES-bound concept car is scheduled to commence this spring, but volume will be kept low, and all vehicles will be built for testing purposes only. Let’s find out more about Toyota’s most performant autonomous car yet in the review below.
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2017 Toyota FT-AC Concept
Toyota’s been hitting it big with its recent concept vehicles. This year alone, we’ve seen the Japanese automaker unveil the Concept-i, the FT-4X, and the GR HV Sports Concept. Now that we’re less than a month away from flipping our calendars to 2018, Toyota introduced one last concept at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show. It’s called the Future Toyota Adventure Concept (FT-AC), and in my mind, it’s the best Toyota concept to come out this year.
Yes, I’m picking it over the GR HV Sports Concept, the sexy, taiga-style, two-door concept that we first saw at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show last October. I like the GR HV Sports Concept, but given a choice, I’d probably pick the FT-AC Concept over it. There’s something about this angry-looking SUV prototype that’s hard to ignore. Maybe it’s because of its design. Perhaps it’s because of the assortment of tech and connectivity features it has. It might even be a combination of both. The FT-AC is a concept that screams to my imagination, telling me to tell Toyota to turn it into a production model. I don’t know if I have that kind of cache, but I definitely wouldn’t be opposed to seeing it happen.
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Toyota FT-AC Concept Previews Hybrid SUV in Los Angeles
The cool thing about Toyota is that it produces a wide range of crossovers and SUVs that are affordable, reliable, and off-road-capable at the same time. Granted, some might be a bit boring to look at, but this could change in the near future. At least that’s what the new FT-AC concept suggests. Unveiled at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, the FT-AC, which comes from Future Toyota Adventure Concept, promises to make weekend getaways a more fun and exciting experience.
About the size of a current RAV4, the FT-AC sports a very rugged look with massive wheel arch extensions, a beefy underbelly plate, and front bumper assembly, and a concept roof rack. Up front, the off-road-specific features are combined with aggressive-looking, swept-back headlamps, and a grille that’s actually similar to a few production models. The rear is a combination of angular features, with the taillights’ sharp edges extending well into the bumpers. The bumper features a big protective plate at the bottom, while a special rack holds a mountain bike. More protection can be seen on the side skirts, while the off-road tires complete the off-road-capable look.
The concept comes with a few cool convenience features too. For starters, the roof rack’s LED lights can be controlled via a mobile device, while the capable geolocation system ensures you won’t get lost no matter the trail you tackle. The side mirrors include infrared cameras that can record trail runs, but they can also be removed and mounted off-vehicle. An integrated Wi-Fi hotspot uploads footage to cloud-based storage for instant access via mobile devices
Finally, Toyota says that the production version of the FT-AC could be a hybrid and use a drivetrain that’s both capable and fuel-efficient. The Japanese firm also talks about an advanced torque-vectoring AWD system, variable terrain-response settings, and four-wheel lock functionality, but doesn’t give additional details. All told, the FT-AC could become a very interesting production SUV, even if Toyota decided to tone its design down a bit.
Can The Toyota R-Tuned C-HR Beat The Honda Civic Type R’s FWD Lap Record At The Nurburgring?
When you build a custom version of an SUV and later on claim it to be the “fastest of its kind,” the rationale after that is to go to a race track and validate your boasts. To his credit, that’s what Dan Gardner of Dan Gardner Spec wants to do with the race-spec, 600-horsepower Toyota C-HR, provided that Toyota allows him to do it.
At the moment, Gardner says that the Japanese automaker has no plans for the R-Tuned C-HR past its SEMA showcase so it’s anybody’s guess where the power-packed SUV will show up next. That said, if Gardner had his way, it’d be at the Nurburgring where it can properly stretch its legs and make a run at the current FWD lap record of the Honda Civic Type R that the Honda hot hatch set in April 2017 with a time of 7:43.8. Not only does Gardner believe that the R-Tuned C-HR can beat the Civic Type R’s lap time, but he actually has “no doubt” that it can do it if given the opportunity to do so. That’s not to say that it can take the record away from the Civic Type R. The R-Tuned C-HR isn’t a production car so it wouldn’t be eligible for the record to begin with. But Gardner still wants to do it, if only to let the world know that there’s truth to his “fastest SUV” claims. Considering what amount of aftermarket tuning the C-HR was subjected to, I’m prepared to believe him regardless of whether or not the SUV does hit the ‘Ring.
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NASCAR Champ Truex Jr. Designs All-Black Toyota Camry for SEMA
Toyota got really busy for the 2017 SEMA Show and its lineup for this year’s event included a handful of bespoke Camry sedans designed by NASCAR drivers. Among those who created their own race-inspired Camry was Martin Truex Jr., who recently clinched the Sprint Cup title behind the wheel of his NASCAR-spec Camry. Built as a homage to his track-prepped car, the production Camry was modified with help from Toyota’s Motorsports Technical Center (MTC) and Misfit Industries.
Much like the race car he used this season, the SEMA-bound Camry is finished in black. But the color is far from being a Toyota palette standard. Crafted by Misfit after going through six different shades, the final paint is covered with a satin top coat for a unique, nearly matte look. What’s more, all existing chrome trim was refinished in durable cobalt Cerakote, which turned the exterior of the Camry completely black. The wheels, which are based on those of Truex Jr.’s race car are also finished in black. But NASCAR’s new champion didn’t stop at new paint, trim, and wheels. The Camry also sports a front splitter, a ducktail spoiler with visible rivets, and a new diffuser with redesigned exhaust pipes with three holes on each side.
The interior matches the sober look of the exterior with black leather with black stitching on the seats and Truex Jr.’s initials stitched on the headrests. Under the skin, the Camry gained an AEM intake system, a TRD exhaust, a custom Tein coilover suspension for lowered ride height and bigger brakes from StopTech. The Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric high-performance tires also add to the sedan’s improved performance.
Needless to say, Truex Jr.’s options for this Camry are a bit too serious as far as exterior updates go, but I must admit I would like to see this package offered on a limited-edition model. High-performance features and black matte paint are the perfect combination if you like subtle looks on beefed-up cars. Of course, a few engine upgrades would be nice too. What do you think? Let me know in the comments section.
2018 Toyota Camry Rowdy Edition II
One of the best-selling sedans in the United States in recent decades, the Camry is known mainly for its solid quality, good bang for the buck, and excellent reliability. It was never among the best looking vehicles in its niche and needless to say, Toyota received a lot of heat for that. This changed with the latest-generation Camry, which arrived with a decidedly sportier exterior design that borrows a few cues from the premium Lexus brand. The new styling was immediately transferred onto the NASCAR race car, which was used by four different teams and driven by more than 15 drivers during the 2017 season. Among them is Kyle Busch, who designed a custom Camry for the 2017 SEMA Show.
In second place in the Sprint Cup standings as of November 1, Busch teamed up with Chuck Gafrarar of Chuck G Fabrication, who collaborated with NASCAR race teams since 2002, to give already eye-catching sedan a bit of a twist design-wise. Busch also delved into the Toyota parts bin for performance-enhancing upgrades and called his creation the "Rowdy Edition II." If you’re not familiar with the term, Busch uses the nickname "Rowdy" after Days of Thunder character Rowdy Burns. He’s actually nicknamed "Shrub," as the younger brother of Kurt Busch (a shrub is a smaller bush, get it?), but let’s face it, the Camry Shrub Edition doesn’t sound as appealing.
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2018 Toyota Camry XSE Denny Hamlin
The Toyota Camry is a lot of things. Flashy isn’t one of those things. That’s the usual narrative surrounding America’s top-selling model, but just because the Camry has been pigeon-holed as a certain type of car, that doesn’t mean that it can’t spread its wings every so often and break out of its own house, especially when you get someone like Denny Hamlin involved. The 36-year old NASCAR racer may drive a race-spec Toyota Camry in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, but at the invitation of Toyota, Hamlin’s trading in his race overalls for a chance to design his own custom Toyota Camry. The result is this stand out piece of work.
Hamlin’s Camry may not be the quintessential Camry upgrade, but it looks the part of one. It has a wide range of custom features, ranging from fancy graphics, shiny wheels, and a wide-body conversion. And, those are just on the exterior of the sedan. Instead, Hamlin’s influence is clearly evident, particularly in the choice of colors the 2016 Daytona 500 winner picked to stamp his personalized touches on the four-door ride. All told, the Hamlin-designed Camry makes up one of the handful of custom-tuned Camrys that are on display at the 2017 SEMA Auto Show. It may not have the visual presence that Rutledge Wood’s Camry has, but it certainly qualifies as the most dynamic build among all the Camrys that were designed by Hamlin’s peers. At the very least, it’s the one that I’d like to have for myself.
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2018 Toyota Camry Rutledge Wood
Racing analyst and former Top Gear USA presenter Rutledge Wood is known for his affinity with plaid T-shirts. He’s also known for having a deep-seated passion for the automotive industry. So, when Toyota was looking for individuals to take the lead in building custom Toyota Camrys for the 2017 SEMA Auto Show, Wood’s name inevitably turned up. So Toyota tapped him to work on his own custom version of the Camry, and the result is a car that reflects the man’s boisterous personality.
I’m not one to pass judgment on something I know little about at this point, but I can tell all of you that Wood’s work on the Camry is the most impactful of the bunch. It’s certainly the most colorful of all the custom Camry’s we’re seeing at SEMA, and the story and the process behind its creation involves the use of certain techniques that you can expect from someone like Rutledge Wood. He may be the only non-NASCAR driver to get a chance at customizing a Camry for this year’s SEMA, but all told, Wood vindicates Toyota’s decision to tap him with a creation that has as much going for it as some of the Camrys that were customized by actual NASCAR racers.
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2017 Toyota C-HR R-Tuned
SEMA is a place where the imagination reigns supreme, an event that celebrates the weird, the wild, and the most extreme that the automotive industry can muster. Case in point – this performance version of Toyota’s funky C-HR (Coupe High-Rider) compact utility vehicle. Believe it or not, this thing is so performance-oriented Toyota is claiming it as the “world’s quickest CUV.” Backing that boast is a lap time of 1 minute, 25.22 seconds at the Willow Springs International Raceway in Southern California. Quoting figures plucked from fastestlaps.com, Toyota says that time makes the CH-R R-Tuned quicker than such incredible sports machines like the Nissan GT-R Nismo, McLaren 650 S Spyder, and Porsche 911 GT3. That’s some rather heavy-hitting company for a humble subcompact crossover, but it’s got the R-Tuned has the upgrades to match. Long story short, this thing is stripped and race-ready, rocking 600 turbocharged ponies, exotic suspension components, and very effective aero.
Offered as a follow-up to the Sienna R-Tuned build that Toyota brought to SEMA back in 2015, the C-HR R-Tuned was created by Southern California speed specialists Dan Gardner Spec (DG-Spec for short), the same folks who turned wrenches on the hot-to-trot Sienna R-Tuned. This latest creation is even more over the top, and clear evidence that with enough dedication, you can make anything blisteringly quick – exactly the approach we want to see at SEMA.
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2017 Toyota GR HV Sports Concept
Toyota is the largest automaker in the world, even outpacing Volkswagen this year with over 7 million units sold across a plethora of markets. But, despite the huge volume of automobiles Toyota pumps out annually, picking a true-blue sports car from its lineup is a little limited. Very limited, actually, with just a single performance model on offer in the form of the Toyota GT86. Don’t get us wrong – we’re big fans of the little two-door coupe, and we’re quite happy that it exists. That said, we think Toyota has the means to offer us at least a few more options, don’t you? Now, it looks like we might get just that, as Toyota appears to be gearing up for the release of the next-generation Supra. While details on that are rooted in rumor, Toyota could be offering a glimpse at things to come with this new concept at the Tokyo Motor Show. Dubbed the GR HV Sports Concept, it’s a compact two-door with eccentric styling, a hybrid powertrain, and an odd H-pattern automatic gearbox.
Intrigued? So are we. Toyota frames it as “a new way to enjoy cars by integrating the thrill of a sports car with the environmental friendliness of an eco-car.” We see it as a chance for Toyota to instill the brand with a little more adrenaline. Read on for the details.
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2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser
Toyota has debuted a concept vehicle designed to not only showcase innovation but to also create an entirely new vehicle class. It’s called the Toyota Tj Cruiser, and it’s basically the cross between a minivan and crossover SUV. Toyota says the overall theme is one of work meets play, which led to the Tj Cruiser name. It literally stands for Toolbox Joy. Wait, what? Yeah, Toolbox for its functionality and van-like hauling capability and Joy for the “joy of visiting various places by car.” Wow. Of course, the Cruiser name is borrowed from retro-redo of the iconic FJ series, the FJ Cruiser. As fans of the Jeep Wrangler, it just makes us think about the 1997-2006 Wrangler TJ. What’s worse, the Tj Cruiser’s design makes us think Toyota took a Honda Element, Chevrolet Astro, the Volkswagen Thing, and some weird early-2000s Chrysler concept all squished together like different colors of Play-doh.
Needless to say, the Tj Cruiser’s visuals leave much to be desired.
Once past the questionable styling, the Tj Cruiser’s thesis actually works – a no-holds-barred functional vehicle with available AWD for unpaved roads, room for objects 10 feet long with the seats folded, and four people with the seats in place. There are even aluminum rails with movable tie-down cleats on the ceiling and walls, much like those in a pickup’s cargo bed. Toyota Says the Tj Cruiser rides on the next-generation global architecture and uses a stronger-style suspension system with all-terrain tires. Power is hybrid, of course, paring a 2.0-liter gasoline four-cylinder with an electric motor and a battery pack. Front-wheel drive is planned as standard, while AWD will be optional. Toyota has mentioned no firm plans for production, but the Tj Cruiser will be on display at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show October 25 through November 5.
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2017 Toyota Crown Concept
The Toyota Crown isn’t a popular model here in the U.S., and there’s good reason for that. It’s not sold here, though, in its place, we have the Toyota Avalon. It’s a different story in Japan and some parts of Asia where the Crown has become a staple in those markets. Believe it or not, the “Crown” nameplate is actually the longest-running of its kind to be affixed to Toyota, a distinction that stretches all the way back to 1955, spanning a staggering 14 generations, the last of which was introduced in 2012. Fast forward five years, and here we are. Toyota’s all set to launch the 15th-generation Crown by showcasing a near-production prototype of the luxury sedan at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show.
There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding what Toyota’s plans for the next-gen Crown was, especially now when a new platform is available to be used. Hardly a shock then to see that the next-gen Crown will, in fact, utilize Toyota’s TNGA platform, which was first used in 2015 by the Toyota Prius. The new platform is going to be one of the biggest changes in the next-gen Crown, but it won’t be the only one. Looking at the photos released by Toyota reveal a few important changes to the physical makeup of the luxury sedan, including a more dynamic stylistic design that remains unique across Toyota’s wide range of model lineups. Look at it from multiple angles and its hard not to notice some European influence in the sedan’s design. It’s a testament to the status of the model, also bolstered by the fact that the Crown is also one of a few Toyota models to actually carry its own badge. We may not be familiar with the badge itself, but rest assured, the Toyota Crown is arguably one of Toyota’s most important models - it doesn’t survive 15 generations for no good reason.
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2017 Toyota C-HR Hy-Power Concept
Launched in 2016, the C-HR is Toyota’s answer to the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. Only 4.4 meters (14.4 feet) long, the C-HR is the company’s smallest crossover to date and slots under the already iconic RAV4. The small SUV has received many positive reviews in its first year on the market, mostly being praised for its well-equipped interior, comfortable ride, and sporty interior. But nothing stands out more than its bold and rather unusual styling. Arguably the most exciting small crossover on the market in terms of exterior design, the C-HR became even more striking at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show thanks to a special package by ED2, Toyota’s European design studio. It’s called the C-HR HyPower, and it’s just a concept for now.
Much like most concepts, the HyPower includes features that you can’t normally buy with the regular C-HR. There’s a wild finish for the roof, a special body paint, and orange accents on the outside, while the interior boasts quilted seats and a bright contrast. As the name suggests, this concept car is more powerful than the usual C-HR hybrid. Not much is known at this point, but Toyota did confirm that the show car previews some sort of higher performance drivetrain that will be revealed in early 2018. Let’s have a closer look at the concept in the review below.
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2017 Toyota Hilux ’Invincible 50’
Toyota has now been building the Hilux pickup for 50 years. That’s a half-century of history made and a reputation built. Of course, most know the Hilux as an indestructible mid-size pickup that sells in nearly every country around the world – 190 countries, to be exact. Well, to celebrate the Hilux’s golden anniversary, Toyota has put together a one-off show truck called the Hilux “Invincible 50.” The automaker then chose the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show to display its self-congratulating concept.
Toyota started with a Double Cab Hilux and added several Toyota-branded aftermarket parts customers can typically find at a Toyota dealership. There is also a custom wrap designed to grab the attention of show-goers at Frankfurt, too. The truck is designed to be at home both on the job site and doing fun weekend-style activities. Toyota’s marketing hype says it’s “ideally suited to a broad range of both professional and leisure activities.” Perhaps that means the cargo box holds hammers just as well as camping gear. Either way, Toyota certainly has the right to celebrate the Hilux’s 50 years in production.
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Toyota C-HR Hy-Power Is the Ultimate Hipster Car
Launched in 2016, the Toyota C-HR is becoming one of the company’s most popular crossover. It has to do with its affordable sticker, compact size, and fuel-efficient engines, but the C-HR also stands out thanks to its outlandish and youthful design. However, a team of designers from ED2, Toyota’s European design studio, thinks that the crossover isn’t wild enough. As a result, it created C-HR HyPower Concept with added features inside and out and a more powerful hybrid drivetrain.
Unveiled at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, the HyPower Concept is pretty much a customized C-HR. The goal was to create an even more impactful and emotional styling for the already wild-looking crossover, but there’s no official word on whether this project will spawn a higher performance version or a customization program. Still, the C-HR HyPower Concept is an interesting take on the tiny crossover and the design is more than doable in case Toyota votes in favor of a bespoke program.
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2016 Toyota 86 Shooting Brake Concept
Initially a custom-built luxury wagon altered for use by hunters and other sportsmen, the shooting brake concept gained more modern meaning in the late 1960s by bringing practicality and sportiness under the same roof. The two-door wagon took many forms and adopted many badges in the last four decades, but the body styles became less popular in the 21st century, with only a handful of models available in dealerships. Toyota has just unveiled its very own shooting brake, but unlike the Ferrari FF (recently renamed the GTC4Lusso), it’s not yet slated to become a production car.
It’s called the 86 Shooting Brake Concept and as the name suggests, it is based on the Toyota 86 sports car. Granted, the Ferrari FF comparison is a bit out of line given that the concept car is just a regular 86 under the skin, but this is definitely the most important update this car has received since its official introduction in 2012.
How did this happen, you ask?
Well, Toyota says that the company’s Australian design team created a 1/4-scale clay model of the shooting brake and showed it to Tetsuya Tada, the father of the 86, when he visited in 2014. Tada was so impressed that he commissioned his takumi craftsmen from Japan to build a full size vehicle based on the Australian design. The shooting brake is not only fully functional, but has already been put through the paces on Toyota’s test tracks.
"The nicely weighted and direct steering of the 86 ensures the car retains the involving drive experience of the coupe with a slightly more neutral feel in tight corners on a driver’s favorite road," Tada said.
"The silhouette is still sporty, taut and energetic, but it’s more practical as it allows the roof to be used to carry surfboards, bikes or storage pods for a weekend away while the larger opening of the new boot enables much easier loading," added Nicolas Hogios, Toyota Australia’s design chief.
The company says the shooting brake is only a study built to "gauge reaction" and that there are no plans for production. On the other hand, Tada noted that "we never say never and I would love this concept to become a production reality." At least there is some hope that the shooting brake will make it into showrooms sometime in the future...
Continue reading to learn more about the Toyota 86 Shooting Brake Concept.