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2019 Toyota Corolla Trek

2019 Toyota Corolla Trek

Here’s another iteration of the Toyota Corolla you didn’t think you needed

With almost 50 million units sold since it was first introduced in 1966, the Toyota Corolla is, without question, the best-selling car in the history of the auto industry. Even if the world is populated by Corollas, Toyota has found a way to continuously reinvent the model in ways that make it popular. It comes as no surprise then that we’re going to see another reinvented version of the Corolla called the Corolla Trek at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. Based on the Touring Sports wagon body of Toyota’s best-selling model, the Corolla Trek is essentially a raised version of the wagon that’s not a lot different from the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. The recent trend of automakers raising their wagons and hatchbacks in the name of giving them crossover-like appeal has now taken over Toyota. We’ll see what that’s about when the Toyota Corolla debuts in Geneva next month.

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2015 Toyota Avalon Hybrid - Driven

2015 Toyota Avalon Hybrid - Driven

The Avalon has been a quiet stalwart of the Toyota lineup, providing a plush ride for those not interesting in owning a luxury brand (i.e. Lexus), but want all the bells and whistles normally associated with one. Equipped in the Limited trim, the Avalon offers just as many luxuries as say, the Lexus ES or even GS sedans, but without the hubbub. Add to that a fantastic hybrid system, and the result is a surprising package that affirms its halo role in the Toyota lineup.

I recently spent a week and a generous road trip getting to know the Avalon Hybrid. In fact, I took the car on an eight-hour adventure to my hometown for my 10-year high school reunion. The Avalon might not garner the same attention as the Lexus RC F from late 20-somethings, but I didn’t go with the mindset of impressing.

My wife and I made the quiet journey from central Florida north to I-10, then due west to the sleepy little town of Pascagoula, Mississippi. Save for a few high-profile tobacco attorneys, many of the town’s 22,000 residents are blue-collar, with folks working in the fishing, shipbuilding, or oil industries. Still, Southern charm runs deep here, with wrap-around porches on antebellum homes, sprawling live oak trees covered in Spanish moss, and thick, twangy drawls coming from gents and belles alike.

In other words, it was the perfect place for such a subtle luxury car to fit in.

Continue reading for the full review

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2014 Toyota Prius Plug-in - Driven

2014 Toyota Prius Plug-in - Driven

The Prius name may be more than 15 years old, but Toyota’s a more recent iteration of the hybrid is this – the Prius Plug-in. And as the name implies, this Prius has a trick up its sleeve for how it goes about charging.

As with any conventional Prius, the Plug-in can be charged on the go. Tap the brakes or coast down a hill, and the electric motor harnesses the wheels’ rotational energy, feeding it back into the battery. However, this model goes one step further, offering customers the ability to charge the car while it sits in their garage.

Plug the included power cord and transformer box into any 110-volt wall outlet, and the Prius Plug-in will trickle charge it’s batteries for three hours, giving the car an advertised 11-mile, all-electric range. Pop the charging cord into a 240-volt, and the deed is done in one and a half hours.

So how well does the added plug-in feature work? To find out, I spent a week with the Prius, testing out its electrified abilities first hand.

Continue reading for the full review of the 2014 Prius Plug-in Hybrid

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2015 Toyota Prius Persona Series Special Edition

2015 Toyota Prius Persona Series Special Edition

The Toyota Prius has been around since 2001 and very rarely have we ever used the words "elegant" and "luxurious" to describe it. But Toyota is determined to infuse those two things on the 2015 Prius with the unveiling of the Persona Series Special Edition. Yes, the Toyota Prius is getting a special edition treatment. But that’s not even the most surprising part about this whole thing. Believe it or not, the Prius Persona Series Special Edition actually looks pretty darn good. Who knew!

This is actually the second time we’ve seen a Persona Series Prius, as Toyota released one in 2013 too. It comes with plenty of exterior and interior upgrades that really bring out a side of the Prius we rarely get to see. That’s about as big a compliment you can throw at the hybrid sedan that doesn’t involve its outstanding fuel efficiency.

The Toyota Prius Persona Series Special Edition will arrive in dealerships in September with a price of $26,985. Another $325 will be added to that total if customers opt for the Blizzard Pearl exterior paint.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Toyota Prius Persona Series Special Edition.

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2014 Toyota Prius - Driven

2014 Toyota Prius - Driven

The original Prius hit the streets of America back in 2000 with its Corolla-like looks and a funky hybrid-electric drive that was unlike anything else on U.S. roads except the two-seat Honda Insight. That first-generation Prius was replaced in 2004 with the familiar hunchback turtle look we’re all used to. The second generation is where Toyota really gained ground with hybrid sales, moving over 600,000 cars before the third-generation Prius took over in 2009. With the new model, the Prius gained a few reshaped exterior panels and a more futuristic interior while retaining is stellar fuel economy numbers. Since then, Toyota has moved over 710,000 third-gen cars.

I recently found myself behind the wheel of a 2014 Toyota Prius with the “Three Model” option package. One level up from the base model my tester came equipped with some nice features like a 6.1-inch touch screen in the center dash, Sirius XM radio, navigation, Toyota’s smart key entry and start system, and power windows. But despite those features, the car still felt very basic. Cloth seats, a rubber steering wheel, manual seats, and hard plastics everywhere kept the car feeling rather down-market.

Besides the interior’s shortcomings, the Prius performed just as you’d expect: slow and efficient. So does the car live up to all the hype that’s been following it all these years? Click past the jump to find out.

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Toyota Prius

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2013 Toyota Prius Persona Series

2013 Toyota Prius Persona Series

Toyota is slowly announcing the trim levels for the Prius’ 2013 model year and it has been relatively “blah” so far. Toyota is at least attempting to spice things up – or at least mailing in its attempt – by releasing a :ahem: “Special Edition” model that it has dubbed the Prius Persona Series.

This so-called special edition has pretty much just two things that are special about it. The first is a black-cherry paint job that can only be found on the Persona Series model. Also unique to this model are the darker-finished 17-inch wheels and the “Persona Series” badges on the outside. In addition to the black-cherry paint, you can also opt for black and Blizzard Pearl.

On the inside, Toyota will fit the Prius Persona Series with black SofTex seats with red accent stitching. For those that don’t know, SofTex is imitation leather that Toyota patented earlier this year. Also wrapped in charcoal-colored SofTex with black accents and red contrasting stitching is the steering wheel.

Lastly, the Prius Persona Series gets dark chrome accents throughout the interior, including on the steering wheel, gear shifter ring, arm rest, door handles, and front cup holders. Other than those additions, the Prius Persona Series comes with the same 134-horsepower, 1.8-liter engine that the base Prius Two comes with.

Toyota has priced this special model at $27,890, which is about $1,300 more than the 2013 Prius Three. At least this is a step in the right direction for the Prius, but we are still waiting for Toyota to find a way to really make the Prius “cool.” The wait shall continue…

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2010 Toyota NORI Concept

2010 Toyota NORI Concept

Toyota has always prided itself on being an industry leader when it comes to building eco-friendly vehicles that not only look past the current norms of today’s industry, but challenge them to address the growing need of building economical and efficient yet technologically advanced vehicles. This year, the LA Design Challenge, an annual fixture at the LA Auto Show, is looking for the best concept that addresses these specific needs; to build a lightweight car while minimizing the dependence on using natural resources.

You could say that Toyota is right at their element with this year’s competition and they’re bringing a concept vehicle that answers all of the event’s requirements.

Calling it the NORI Concept, Toyota envisioned its concept as a car that infuses cutting-edge technology with the emissions and fuel economy standards set up by the contest’s guidelines. To prove its point, Toyota built the NORI concept with a unique podular feature wherein the car’s body and its chassis are built as one instead of two separate parts, making it stronger, lighter, and aesthetically more appealing. As a supplemental energy, the NORI concept harnesses solar technology that’s captured through solar cells woven into the concept’s PODULAR, serving as energy back-up should the situation call for it. The podular body is also strengthened using ‘nori’ to create bioplastics technology while combining it with carbon fiber weave to create a sturdy body that can withstand the environment. The specific use of ‘nori’ – in Japanese, it means “seaweed” – reduces the vehicle’s weight.

Full story and press release after the jump

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2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

If you have been following our video reviews, you know we have already featured the Toyota Highlander. But this is the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, and it’s full of enough technology to make it worth its own review. This is Toyota’s second generation of both the Highlander model and the available hybrid engine. Along with the Prius and the Camry Hybrid, this makes up Toyota’s gas-electric group. The new Highlander Hybrid is powered by a 3.3-liter double overhead hybrid engine, which produces 209 horsepower. This advanced Hybrid Synergy Drive System has the fuel economy of up to 27 MPG city, and 25 MPG highway. It comes standard with four-wheel drive, equipped with intelligence drive. Just like the gasoline powered Highlander, the hybrid is available with the choice of a Base or Limited trim. The price for the 2008 Highlander Hybrid starts at $33,700.

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