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Lexus is Rebadging the Toyota Alphard Minivan So It Can Sell a Luxury Van

Lexus is Rebadging the Toyota Alphard Minivan So It Can Sell a Luxury Van

This is not a bad move if you know what the Toyota Alphard is like

Lexus is joining the minivan segment with the upcoming release of the LM minivan. Yes, you read that right. Lexus, the same company that gave us the LFA supercar, is dipping its toes in the minivan market, proving that automakers will do just about anything to make money these days. The automaker has yet to unveil the LM minivan — that’s happening at the upcoming Auto Shanghai 2019 that kicks off on April 16 in Shanghai, China — but a teaser image of the model has provided clear hints that the model will be largely based on the Toyota Alphard. Yes; the same luxury van that Toyota has been selling in various Asian markets for the better part of 17 years. Production plans for the Lexus LM suggest that we’ll see the minivan hit the road sometime in 2020, though it’s unlikely that we’ll get to see the LM in the U.S.

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Toyota's New E-Palette Concept Can Serve as an Open Platform for Developers

Toyota’s New E-Palette Concept Can Serve as an Open Platform for Developers

These concepts could be making their way into your city in the near future

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.

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2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser

2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser

When interior functionality ruins exterior design

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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2018 Toyota Sienna

2018 Toyota Sienna

A new exterior look could give the seven-year-old minivan an extended life on the market

The Toyota Sienna has been in its third generation since 2010. While models like the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica have since been updated and gone through generational shifts, the Sienna has soldiered on with relatively mild updates. In 2017, Toyota did upgrade the 3.5-liter engine and dropped the six-speed automatic for an eight-speed unit, but otherwise, it’s been pretty much the same van all this time outside of some minor changes to the exterior in 2015. Well, Toyota is bringing a revamped Sienna to the 2017 New York Auto Show, but it’s not a new-gen model. Instead, Toyota is adding new “swagger” with a new front fascia, new side skirts, some noise and vibration enhancements, and some additional technology like extra USB ports, an updated rear entertainment system, and a semi-digital instrument cluster.

But, don’t get it twisted. The Sienna may be pretty old, with the 2018 model year being the 8th year this generation is on the market, but it does pull its own weight as far as sales go. Sales have been well over the 100,000 mark from 2011 forward, with 2015 seeing 137,497 examples sold and 2016 accounting for 127,791 examples sold. That’s a pretty big deal considering the market it bursting with SUVs of every shape and size you can imagine. So, let’s see what these new enhancements do to liven up the third-gen Sienna and how it might help it stack up against some of the competition.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Toyota Sienna.

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2016 Toyota Extreme Sienna

2016 Toyota Extreme Sienna

It’s not the Swagger Wagon, but it’s pretty darn close

The Toyota Sienna may not be one of the first models anybody associates with the SEMA Auto Show, but Toyota’s resident people mover has been a showstopper in Las Vegas over the past few years. Anybody remember the R-Tuned Concept from last year’s show? How about the SpongeBob Edition? While we’re at it, let’s not forget about the Swagger Wagon Supreme from 2010, one of the most outlandish builds we’ve ever seen at SEMA. This year, Toyota’s booth at SEMA brought the Extreme Sienna. While it’s not as mind-blowing as the Swagger Wagon, it still upholds the oftentimes audacious nature of SEMA.

Regardless of what you think of the Sienna, you can’t deny that it’s an incredibly popular car among aftermarket tuners. This time around, Toyota brought in Rick Leos, hot rod builder extraordinaire from Real Time Automotive to put his aftermarket touch on the Sienna. “We wanted to go to a place no one else would think of with this build,” Leos said, referring to what he and his team decided to do on the minivan. “This Extreme Sienna is our contribution to the van culture movement that’s happening right now. People are showing a lot of vision and adapting vans to serve for almost any purpose. We wanted to take this idea all the way to the next level.”

That “next level” can be interpreted in so many different directions, but as far as Leos and Real Time Automotive were concerned, it was a license to go crazy on the Sienna, which is exactly what they did to the minivan, most notably the infusion of luxury to the vehicle’s interior. The result is as impressive a build for the Sienna as we’ve seen in a long time. Even SpongeBob can’t say anything about it.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Toyota Extreme Sienna.

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2016 Toyota Sienna – Driven

2016 Toyota Sienna – Driven

Toyota’s most family-friendly vehicle

The minivan segment might not be the most glamorous vehicle category, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more functional, practical, and economical ride when it comes to transporting seven of your closest friends and family. Yep, the minivan can haul people and their stuff in glorious comfort while making most SUV crossovers look cramped and poorly designed. Sadly, the minivan gets a bad rap. It’s pigeon holed as the mommy-mobile on it way between soccer and ballet, filled with Cheerio crumbs and at least one soured formula bottle lost in one of the dozens of cup holders.

Looking past that stereotype reveals a rather competitive segment, with hot players from Honda, Kia, Nissan, and of course Toyota. While each of these automakers have respectable offerings, it’s the all-new Chrysler Pacifica that has the minivan segment on fire in 2016. In light of this, we wanted a closer look at Toyota’s offering.

The Sienna has been around since 1998, undergoing three generational changes since then, with its most recent change being a mid-cycle refresh in 2014. Not much has changed since then, but the Sienna still provides a great place for seven or eight passengers (depending on seating configuration), decent fuel economy, and most of the modern tech folks expect these days.

Let’s dive in and see what the 2016 Toyota Sienna has to offer.

Continue reading for the full review

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2016 Toyota uBox Concept

2016 Toyota uBox Concept

A purposeful concept designed by students

Toyota designers and engineers have spent the last two years collaborating with students at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research to design a new car. The project is called “Deep Orange” and, after two years of work, the team has designed, engineered, and hand-built what it is calling the uBox Concept. The project is intended to develop interested from the “next generation” of car buyers, dubbed Generation Z, and is designed to provide utility and recreation on the weekend but serve as an office space during the week.

Johnell Brooks, an Associate Professor in Clemson’s graduate engineering program, said, “Deep Orange gives students’ hands-on experience with the entire vehicle development process, from identifying the market opportunity through the vehicle build. It’s like automotive boot camp for the real world, and it wouldn’t happen without industry partners like Toyota.”

The uBox Concept made its debut on April 12th at the Society of Engineers World Congress and Exposition in Detroit, Michigan. It features an um… interesting design on the outside and a good portion of the interior components can be customized and created with 3D printing technology. All told, it isn’t a bad design for a group of students embarking on their first major design and engineering project, so let’s take a closer look at the uBox concept and see just how the students did.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Toyota uBox Concept.

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2015 Toyota Sienna R-Tuned Concept

2015 Toyota Sienna R-Tuned Concept

Did a Toyota minivan really beat a Chevrolet Camaro in a hot lap race around the Willow Springs race track? Toyota claims that it happened, although it did say that it wasn’t a regular Sienna that humbled the mighty Chevy muscle car. It was the Sienna R-Tuned Concept, a fully customized Sienna that Toyota Technical Center, in collaboration with renowned performance shop DG-Spec, built specifically for the 2015 SEMA Auto Show.

Based on a stock Sienna SE "Swagger Wagon", the R-Tuned Concept falls under the category of unlikeliest cars to shame a 455-horsepower Camaro. But, was it really as surprising as some people are making it to be? The answer to that question can be found in the extensive work done by TTC and DG-Spec to turn this Sienna into an all-conquering minivan that’s oozing with swag.

The van has a racy exterior that highlights its new-found aggression on the track. It also has a stripped-down interior and enough performance modification to give its 3.5-liter V-6 engine the juice it needs to become more than just Toyota’s favorite people-hauler.

Continue reading to learn more about the Toyota Sienna R-Tuned Concept.

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Toyota Donates Mobility Sienna To Veteran-Ran Spinal Cord Rehab Center

Toyota Donates Mobility Sienna To Veteran-Ran Spinal Cord Rehab Center

Just a few weeks before the Independence Day celebrations of July 4, Toyota pulled through with $300,000 of last-minute funding for a United States veteran’s dream of opening a recovery center for spinal cord injury patents.

It all started when Chief Warrant Officer Romy Camargo’s Army detachment started taking enemy fire on September 16, 2008 while on a humanitarian mission in Afghanistan. In the midst of the firefight, Camargo fell limp to the ground with a bullet wound to the back of his neck. Camargo’s life would never be the same.

Camargo was quickly transported back to the U.S. where his treatments began. The doctors gave him little hope of living, but his pulled through. He eventually grew strong enough to breath without a ventilator and began the long road of physical therapy. Though his doctors say his chances of walking are slim, his determination says otherwise.

Camargo and his wife Gaby spent many hours on the road traveling from their home in Tampa, Florida to a therapy center in Orlando. It was during that time the couple set their sights on opening a state-of-the-art facility in their hometown that would cater to veterans and civilians alike who suffer from spinal cord injuries.

As the June 2015 closed out, the Camargo’s dream opened up. With the help of Toyota and several other key sponsors – along with thousands of volunteers – Stay In Step opened its doors.

What’s more, Toyota donated a 2015 Toyota Sienna minivan fully equipped with a mobility ramp for Stay In Step to use. Located adjacent to Tampa’s medical hub, Stay In Step serves as a regional center for SCI injuries. The center is stocked with the latest in physical therapy equipment, including a Toyota-engineered robot that assists in walking movements.

Simon Nagata, Toyota’s Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer was present for Stay In Step’s grand opening and personally handed Romy the keys to the new Sienna.

Continue reading for more information

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Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle (UUV) Previewed Before SEMA

Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle (UUV) Previewed Before SEMA

Meet the Toyota Sienna UUV, or Ultimate Utility Vehicle. This might just be the ultimate Swagger Wagon and it came directly from Toyota. Yep, ‘Yota engineers merged a Sienna minivan body with the ladder frame underpinnings of a Tacoma pickup truck to make this beastly family hauler.

Sadly Toyota is keeping the UUV’s specs mostly under wraps until its official debut at the 2015 SEMA show in November, though that doesn’t stop us from speculating. Visually, the UUV is wearing a steel bumper fitted with off-road lighting and a winch, while the smoked headlights match the flat-black wrap that covers the Sienna’s body. Off-road LED light bars front and rear light the way and flat fender extensions keep the body safe from flying debris.

Those fender extensions and the lack of a visible track system mean engineers have reworked the rear door’s opening style. Perhaps it opens suicide-style like the modified front doors.

The UUV rides atop a Tacoma frame and utilizes a lifted suspension with remote reservoir shock absorbers and a long-arm rear suspension kit. Massive 305/55-series Nitto Trail Grappler M/T tires are mounted on blacked-out 20-inch wheels to complete the look. It’s highly likely the UUV is powered by the same 4.0-liter, longitudinally mounted V-6 that comes in the Tacoma. Then again, it could be the new 3.5-liter V-6 destined for the 2016 Taco.

Until the SEMA show, the UUV will be touring the country as part of Toyota’s “Ever-Better Expedition.” Toyota says the expedition’s purpose is to “get out to feel and learn from the road.”

While that mission statement leaves more questions than answers, the automaker further explains saying the trip will include some of its most popular vehicles on a 110-day transcontinental journey that puts engineers on the road to experience their products first-hand for an extended time and to connect with customers. The engineers will also be gathering insights and inspiration for future vehicles. Stops include New York City, Daytona Beach, Route 66, ice roads in Alaska, and Pike’s Peak.

Continue reading to read more about the Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle (UUV).

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2015 Toyota Sienna Premium AWD: Driven

2015 Toyota Sienna Premium AWD: Driven

The stigma of the minivan over the years has gone from being smart, capable people hauler to "I wouldn’t be caught dead in one." Why is that?
Why do we shun a segment of the auto industry that’s probably the only segment that consistently makes sense? For some reason we’re okay with putting four-cylinder engines in muscle cars, adding 20 inch wheels to family sedans, or with BMW->https://www.topspeed.com/cars/bmw/index115.html] sacrificing functionality in the name of style with the X6, but we just aren’t okay with minivans. We prefer less-practical, less-versatile and less-roomy SUVs. We’re okay with stuffing third-row seats back there that 85 percent of people can’t fit in just so we can say that we’re not driving a minivan.

As a result of our turned-up noses, minivans have been axed from major manufacturer’s lineups over the past 10 years. Ford’s Freestar admittedly wasn’t its best effort, but it still was more practical (and cheaper) than an Explorer. The GM threesome of of the Saturn Relay, Buick Terraza and Chevrolet Uplander were likely even worse, but they held their own on the cheaper end of the minivan market. And Hyundai’s first minivan, the Entourage, didn’t even make it to a second generation.
But there has been one minivan that has consistently been the lesser of all the supposed evils, though: the Toyota Sienna.

Continue reading to learn more about the Toyota Sienna Premium AWD.

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2015 Toyota Sienna SpongeBob Edition

2015 Toyota Sienna SpongeBob Edition

The Swagger Wagon has just received a dramatic and quite literal facelift, featuring the unmistakable mug of SpongeBob Squarepants. This one-off piece of absurdity is actually a 2015 Toyota Sienna, customized to the hilt by Toyota and Nickelodeon to promote the upcoming SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.

The Sienna SpongeBob Squarepants Edition will make its public debut at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. As sure as the sun is hot, this creation will likely go down as one of the more popular attractions in Los Angeles.

Once the SpongeBob Sienna gets its fill of the spotlight in Los Angeles, the van will embark on a cross-country tour to promote the new SpongeBob movie before the it opens in theaters on February 6, 2015.

Serious-minded folks are likely to scoff at the Sienna SpongeBob and dismiss it as nothing more than a novelty showpiece. How easy these people forget that this is actually the second SpongeBob-themed creation Toyota has built in as many years. Remember the 2014 Toyota Highlander Spongebob Squarepants Edition that made its debut at the 2013 SEMA Auto Show?

On a far less obvious level, it’s a genius marketing ploy to attach SpongeBob Squarepants to a minivan Toyota wants parents all over the U.S. to buy. What better way to do draw attention to that than by dressing up a Sienna using a cartoon character that kids of this generation are all-too familiar with. We see what you’re doing there, Toyota.

Click past the jump to read more about the Toyota Sienna SpongeBob Edition.

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2015 Toyota Sienna DUB Edition

2015 Toyota Sienna DUB Edition

The Toyota Sienna will be well-represented at the 2014 SEMA Auto Show. Who saw that coming, right? But stranger things have happened, especially when it comes to SEMA. So prepare yourselves for two improbably cool Sienna mini-vans, one of which is the Sienna DUB Edition.

The Sienna DUB Edition comes by way of DUB Magazine to the world’s biggest aftermarket auto show. I’m not here to compare the two DUB creations because they’re two different models. But it’s hard not to compare the Sienna DUB Edition with the Sienna:Remix.

The two models are essentially similar in a lot of ways, not the least of which is they’re proclivity to make our ears bleed with their massive audio systems. But the Sienna:Remix has completely dedicated itself to being a audio box, leaving out a host of the Sienna’s core features, including the rear seats. Last I checked, those are still pretty important.

By contrast, the Sienna DUB Edition offers a more realistic setup. For one, the seats are still there and the interior’s actually dressed up quite impressively. DUB Magazine also spent time working on the Sienna’s exterior looks, adding plenty of new details, including a wide-body kit and a lowered suspension, turning the normally mundane minivan into a sporty and aggressive people hauler. Oh, and the DUB Edition audio system is pretty sweet, too. It’s not as hardcore as the one in the Sienna:Remix, but it still comes with a generous amount of high-end audio technology.

Click past the jump to read more about the Toyota Sienna DUB Edition.

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2015 Toyota Sienna:Remix

2015 Toyota Sienna:Remix

Back in the 2010 SEMA Auto Show, the Toyota Sienna made a surprise appearance at the world’s biggest aftermarket show as the Swagger Wagon Supreme. Fast forward to 2014, and the Sienna is returning to SEMA in a number of different configurations, one of which is the one-off Sienna:Remix.

This audio house on wheels was jointly developed by SiriusXM and West Coast Customs, two establishments with out-of-the-box creativity, joining forces in an attempt to turn the Sienna into a certified party wagon.

Toyota even found a way to integrate the Sienna:Remix to its old "Swagger Wagon" campaign, showcasing this new project as the latest example of how "fun" can still come from unlikely places like, say, a minivan.
In some ways, you can think of the Sienna:Remix as the Swagger Wagon Supreme’s spiritual successor, a lineage of two heavily customized Sienna minivans that were created to imbibe the van’s identity as a fun and spunky vehicle with limitless aftermarket potential.

The proof is in the pictures, ladies and gentlemen. The Sienna Remix is unlike any Sienna you’ve ever seen outside of the Swagger Wagon Supreme.

Click past the jump to read more about the Toyota Sienna:Remix.

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2015 Toyota Sienna - Driven

2015 Toyota Sienna - Driven

Toyota has been in the minivan market for decades, though the Sienna didn’t roll on the scene until 1998. That first year, the Sienna was marketed as the “Camry of Minivans.” That made sense since it was based on the Camry and used the same 194-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6. The second-generation Sienna came around in 2004 with much improved styling that looked more grown up. A larger, more powerful V-6 was used and the interior had more creature comforts. Things soldiered on almost unchanged until 2011 when the third generation entered production.

Technically the Sienna is still in its third generation, but for 2015, the Swagger Wagon gets a smart exterior update, an updated dashboard, and even more added comfort.

I spent some time catching a sneak peak at the revisions on the 2015 Sienna along the white sands of Ponte Vedra Beach in sunny Florida. The cool breeze and warm weather were perfect for a family vacation, and so was the Sienna. With seating for up to eight passengers and all their gear, the Sienna proved yet again why minivans do it better.

With the rear seats folded, there’s more cargo room than in many crossovers, plus seats for five. That’s hard to beat. Mom and dad up front now have the ability to communicate with backseat passengers though Toyota’s EasySpeak microphone system. A new dash layout complete with an easy-to-use HVAC control, Entune infotainment system, and revised gauge cluster means this Swagger Wagon rolls in style and utility.

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2015 Toyota Sienna

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2014 Toyota U-squared Urban Utility Concept Vehicle

2014 Toyota U-squared Urban Utility Concept Vehicle

Concept cars are being unveiled in all sorts of places these days. Take the case of Toyota for example. The Japanese automaker recently attended a private-panel discussion hosted by Make: magazine in San Francisco to unveil the Urban Utility Concept, or U2 in short. Toyota’s purpose of attending the event was to showcase the innovative concept that aims to attract young, entrepreneurial urban drivers. The U2 Concept was developed by the company’s Calty Design Research based in Newport Beach, California.

After its appearance at the private panel discussion, the Toyota Urban Utility Concept is scheduled to make its first public appearance at the World Maker Faire in New York City on Sept. 20 and 21, 2014.

It’s an appropriate venue to make its public debut, especially with Maker Faire events being geared towards modern inventions and growing entrepreneurship possibilities.

The Toyota U2 Concept fits in that kind of environment.

Click past the jump to read more about the Toyota U-squared Urban Utility Concept Vehicle.

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2015 Toyota Sienna

2015 Toyota Sienna

The Swagger Wagon is rolling into 2015 with some minor changes and updates centered mainly around a few exterior cosmetic bits and a few interior pieces. The new Sienna minivan isn’t much different from the outgoing van, which debuted back in 2011. The Sienna dates back to 1998 when Toyota launched the all-new minivan as a replacement for the mid-engine Previa minivan. (Yes, the Previa’s engine sat under the front seats!) The Sienna then moved into its second generation in 2004 and onto the third generation in 2011.

Toyota decided to take an unconventional approach to launching the 2015 Sienna and has enlisted the help of three kid-caring, viral Interwebz families that will help promote the van’s image as a cool parent-mobile. The marketing strategy piggybacks on the success of Toyota’s Swagger Wagon campaign back in 2011.

Officially the new Sienna will be launched in person at the Artscape, a free-arts festival in Baltimore, MD that happens from July 18th through 20th. But for those outside of Baltimore, the parents behind “Action Movie Kid,” “Eh Bee Family,” and “Convos with My 2-Year-Old” will be touting the Sienna’s launch hard on the web.

Click past the jump to read the full review of the updated 2015 Toyota Sienna.

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