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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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2015 Toyota Camry - Driven

2015 Toyota Camry - Driven

The Toyota Camry has been in the U.S. since its humble beginnings in 1983. Humility didn’t linger around, however, as Camry sales grew to 128,000 units by 1985. By 1988, Toyota was building Camry sedans in its new factory in Kentucky. Ten years later, the Camry was already in its fourth generation. Now 32 years and eight generations after the original, the 2015 Camry is still experiencing sales growth and gaining popularity, but there is always room from improvement.

I spent two days getting a sneak peek at the redesigned 2015 Camry to see what Toyota has planned for this four-door family stalwart. Talking first hand with the designers reveals more attention to flashy styling and sportier looks. The engineering team mentions things about a more rigid body thanks to extra spot welds and a powertrain that continues without changes.

In general, the Camry is now aimed at a younger audience, somewhere in the mid-40 range. That’s not to say those on either side of the median age won’t find appeal in the car. That is especially true with the Camry’s new, sporty trim level: the XSE. A unique grille, bespoke 18-inch wheels, and upgraded interior materials separate it from LE, SE, and XLE trims. The hybrid version is still available with its Atkinson Cycle, 2.5-liter, inline four-cylinder. For those looking for some extra punch, the venerable 3.5-liter V-6 returns as well.

Click past the jump for the full review

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Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro vs. Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro vs. Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

The Jeep Wrangler has long been the king of off-roading machines. It’s two solid axles, manual transfer case, gracious ground clearance and never-ending supply of aftermarket parts have made the Wrangler the stuff of legend. What’s more, its removable doors and top put passengers closer to the elements and heightens the thrill of the trail.

Of course, for all good champions, a new challenger is never far behind. Enter the 2015 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro. This is Toyota’s latest version of its (almost unchanged) 4Runner design. Thanks to some clever engineering in the Toyota Racing Development labs, the 4Runner now enjoys a truly hard-core off-road version that usurps even the venerable Trail Edition 4Runner.

Heavy duty Bilstein shocks with remote reservoirs, thick coil springs with a 1.5-inch suspension lift, upgraded wheels and tires, and a tank-like front skid plate make the TRD Pro a natural in the dirt. All the same off-road tech on the Trail Edition carries over to the TRD Pro as well. This includes the electronic locking rear differential, manual transfer case, and Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select system.

Differentiating the TRD Pro series 4Runner from the standard models is a unique front grille with TOYOTA spelled out in block letters. Appropriate TRD Pro badging follows suit, attached on the C-pillars and bespoke TRD Pro wheels. Things inside aren’t much different than other 2015 4Runners, beside a TRD gear shifter and some branded floor mats.

So how does the 4Runner stack up against the stalwart Jeep Wrangler? Head on past the jump for the full rundown and videos.

Click past the jump for the full Wrangler vs. 4Runner battle

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2015 Toyota Yaris

2015 Toyota Yaris

For 2015, 10 years after its introduction, the Toyota Yaris is getting its second restyling with revised looks inside and out, a quieter cabin, a fuel-efficient engine, and all the versatility that comes with the three- and five-door versions. The U.S.-spec Yaris debuted in 2005 with lots of spunk and clever packing wrapped in an inexpensive sub-compact. Offered in both the three-door and five-door hatchback styles, the Yaris filled a niche near at the bottom of Toyota’s lineup. Refreshed in 2011, the Yaris continued its mission largely unchanged, save for a more modern design. Now for 2015, Toyota is improving the Yaris with more refinement and a better driving experience, while still retaining its superb value proposition. Starting at just $14,485, the Yaris makes a great city car or a sweet first car for a teenager. Its 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder will keep curious teens out of trouble with Johnny Law, while the expansive cargo area and decent back seat might land them in trouble with mom and dad.

Toyota has resolved a few of the complaints that plagued the previous-generation Yaris, namely the NHV levels inside the cabin. More sound insulation and more premium interior materials help push the Yaris’ feel upmarket, while it still keeps its low price point. With three trim models and two body lengths to chose from, the Yaris is a pretty customizable hatchback.

With the updated features and added benefits, Toyota may see the Yaris climb back up the sales charts to the level of its glory days in 2008 when sales of the hatch topped 100,000 units. Selling only 21,343 units in 2013, the Yaris was apparently in desperate need of a makeover. Let’s see what Toyota has done to turn up the heat.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Toyota Yaris.

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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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2014 Toyota Highlander - Driven

2014 Toyota Highlander - Driven

The venerable Highlander has been a strong seller for Toyota since its debut back in 2001, when it helped usher in the era of uni-body crossovers. Back then, the Highlander represented a solid alternative to the mundane four-door sedan with its higher ground clearance, upright view of the road and tidy dimensions. Five passengers and a decent amount of cargo could trudge though snow or down wooded paths with more confidence than in a Camry, thanks to the available all-wheel drive. The little CUV That Could embodied the premise of the whole crossover craze; combining the on-road manners of a car with SUV-like capabilities in a smart package.

The Highlander moved into its second generation in 2008, and received a mid-life refresh in 2010. Those changes helped it stay competitive, but the time has come for the next generation. Enter: the all-new 2014 Highlander.

Everything inside and out has a new look. Sharper, crisper lines make the CUV more manly and rugged, while its overall look still labels it as civilized. It rides on the same wheelbase but has grown some three inches, giving more rear passenger legroom.

An eight-passenger configuration is available on mid-level trims, and a powerful 3.5-liter V-6 can send power to all four wheels when the right option boxes are checked. Both the four-cylinder and hybrid models return for 2014, but with improved fuel economy.

I had the chance to drive the Highlander through the “snowpocalypse of 2014” along the icy streets of Charleston, South Carolina, as the town suffered its first snowfall in years.

Click past the jump for our 2014 Toyota Highlander review

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2014 Toyota Land Cruiser

2014 Toyota Land Cruiser

If you look into the history of the Toyota brand, the Land Cruiser has been around for more than half a century. It has long proven how capable it is on whatever terrain you throw at it. Where a Range Rover would fall apart, crying out for for maintenance, the Land Cruiser would continue to do its job. When it comes to reliability, the Japanese sure do have some secret formula.

For the 2013 model year, Toyota gave the Land Cruiser a mild makeover. New styling elements were added upon an already awesome-looking machine. The interior too was overhauled, with more standard features than before, while a rather potent V-8 engine provided the muscle required to take on the worst of rugged terrains. Added safety features and driver aides all made it easy to drive.

For 2014, Toyota has made subtle changes to the Land Cruiser. It still boasts the 5.7-liter, V-8 engine and a handsome-looking exterior, but the automaker has now standardized all optional features into one attractive package. So, the 2014 Land Cruiser will be available in just one trim level.

Click past the jump to read our extensive review of the 2014 Toyota Land Cruiser

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2014 Toyota Land Cruiser Euro-Spec

2014 Toyota Land Cruiser Euro-Spec

When the going gets tough, it’s time to summon the Toyota Land Cruiser. When it comes to go-anywhere ability, the only vehicle that has managed to stand its ground against the Land Rover is the Toyota Land Cruiser, which in itself has earned a legendary status. For the year 2013, Toyota updated the Land Cruiser with added standard features and a styling overhaul.

Now, for the year 2014, Toyota has brought an evolutionary design change to the Land Cruiser. It may look different, but underneath it still is more or less the same burly, all-wheel-drive SUV with loads of features and creature comforts.

Like most heavy-duty off-roaders, the 2014 Land Cruiser is based on a body-on-frame platform that gives it added strength to take on the roughest of terrains the world can throw at it.

Over the past 60 years, the Land Cruiser has evolved from a manual select, all-wheel-drive utility vehicle into a luxurious SUV packed with the latest electronic aides, cameras and safety features. Has the addition of computer programs and guidance systems made exploring the farthest reaches of this planet child’s play? Lets find out.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Toyota Land Cruiser

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2013 Toyota Mark X

2013 Toyota Mark X

One of the many advantages of being in Toyota’s home country of Japan are the number of models the automaker builds exclusively to their homeland. The Toyota Mark X, which we first saw in concept guise a few years ago, is one of them.

Unlike any model Toyota produces for the international market, the Mark X is exclusive to the Japanese market. More importantly, the 2013 model of the car gets a facelift, making it even more distinguishable than its past incarnations.

For one, the front grille of the car is probably the only one amongst Toyota’s many models to have a huge "X" adorning it. In addition, the car also gets LED infused headlights, bulging fenders, a trunk-mounted rear spoiler, and wraparound taillights that resemble the Toyota Camry. Inside, the Mark X also gets plenty of new equipment and features, particularly the higher trim Premium and 350 G’s models that both have leather upholstery, heated front seats, stainless steel door sill plates, and a comprehensive infotainment system that includes GPS navigation, a TV tuner, and 12 speakers.

As far as performance goes, the Mark X comes with two powertrain options with the first being a 2.5-liter V6 engine that produces 200 horsepower and 179 lb/ft of torque. Meanwhile, a more powerful 3.5-liter V6 engine is also being offered with 314 horsepower and 280 lb/ft of torque.

In case you’re interested - and you live in Japan - the 2013 Mark X retails for 2.4 million yen, which is around $30,500 based on current exchange rates.

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New Toyota Camry Release Date and Details Leaked

New Toyota Camry Release Date and Details Leaked

In the 2012 model year, the Toyota Camry received a redesign, well actually two redesigns. In the U.S. we saw a Camry that featured a rather un-Camry-like wedge front end. In Thailand, however, they received a more conventional looking Camry. Recently, a brochure leaked about the new Thailand-style Camry making its way to Malaysia in June 2012.

Does this necessarily mean that the newly redesigned Camry will be available in the U.S.? Not really, but it is a good sign that it may eventually make its way here. This new Camry will likely be a test mule to see how it performs in smaller markets. If it does well, it will likely make its way around the world.

This “new“ Camry features a stouter looking front end that nearly resembles the front end of some Lexus cars. Not a big surprise, considering Toyota and Lexus are under the same Toyota Motor Company umbrella and have shared components regularly. Gone is the two bar grille, space ship-like headlights, and wedge style front end. In their place is a five-bar chrome grille, flatter front end, and more classy-looking headlights, making this look much more conventional and nearly like a luxury car.

For now, we can only hope that a new Camry comes to the U.S., but there is no anticipated replacement in the U.S. market. Then again, Toyota does have its unnamed sedan that it’s unveiling at the 2012 New York Auto Show, which we all assume is an updated Avalon, but it could be a Camry. Plus, you just never know what kinds of tricks these car companies have up their sleeves at these car shows.

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2013 Toyota Avalon

2013 Toyota Avalon

Toyota Avalon has been firstly unveiled in 1994 and until know we have seen three different generation. Today, at the New York Auto Show Toyota has unveiled the fourth generation Avalon, a model that comes with a progressive and emotionally styled exterior design, improved dynamic performance, a greater degree of refinement, and a highly spacious, comfortable interior.

The model has been designed to attract younger buyers and features a sleek and expressive profile with a longer, sloping roofline, flared front fenders, and reduced front and rear overhangs. The car’s interior combines comfort, convenience and technology. Toyota opted to combined premium materials with smoked chrome-metallic accents. The new Avalon has been crafted with innovative technologies such as advanced capacitive touch switches, a three color display screens that support the multi-information display, the audio/navigation interface, and the climate control panel.

Toyota did not offered any details on the car’s engine just yet, but we expect to see the same 3.5-liter V6 engine maybe with improved output and fuel economy.

Updated 04/05/2012: This review has been updated with the official details, images and specs.

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Subaru/Toyota FT-86 will be badged as Scion in the US: Features extremely low center of gravity

The Toyota/Subaru FT-86 creation has been buzzing about the internet since the two announced their partnership, but after months of concepts and hearsay, a Subaru source has provided a bit of official information about the new sports car. The FT-86 will be arriving in the U.S. badged as a Scion FR-S and will feature one of the lowest centers of gravity of any vehicle out on the market. It will actually be right behind the Porsche GT3 and the Ferrari 458, thanks to the boxer engine provided to Toyota by Subaru. Subaru’s boxer engine has a flat, low profile that balances weight efficiently and provides quick handling response and flat, confident cornering.

We’re expected to see debuts of all the FT-86 variants when the Tokyo Motor Show opens its doors in December 2011 so we’ll have more details on those models at that time. Subaru’s version of the FT-86 is also being considered for an STI version which could come sporting a new generation, naturally aspirated (not turbocharged as with other STI models) 2.0-liter, four-cylinder boxer engine.

Speaking of the STI, Subaru sources also say that the new STI will take at least two years before coming to the market and will be drastically different from the base Impreza. In fact, this is part of Subaru’s plan to separate their conventional models from their performance models. The Impreza was put together with an eye out for economy, but the STI will be a different beast altogether. It will get its own engine, one that will have nothing to do with the Toyota engine created for the FT-86 project and will make it easier for Subaru to market the vehicle as a performance model. No specific figures were given, but we expect the new STI to carry a turbocharged version of the 2.5 liter boxer engine with more than 305 HP on tap. The engine will be mated to a fully synchronized close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission.

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