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Toyota Lets You Try Before You Buy With its Rental Program

We have seen nearly every gimmick under the sun with various automakers, from Saturn and its "No Haggle" pricing — see where that got it — to Volkswagen with its "Sign Then Drive Event." One gimmick that we’ve been waiting for is for when dealerships start renting out their cars for extended test drives or just a weekend trip.

Well, the wait is now over, as Toyota has done just that. From the looks of things, about 85 percent of Toyota and Scion dealers across the U.S. participate in this program and Toyota claims that its rental rates are competitive with local car-rental companies. According to the Toyota Rent a Car website, you can rent cars, trucks, SUVs, Hybrids and even the 2013 RAV4 EV for a day, week or even months. Unfortunately, the 2013 Scion FR-S isn’t on the list of available models, but the almost-as-cool Scion tC is on the list.

So, we can now check brand-new rent-a-buckets off of our wish list, now we are just waiting for all of the dealers to morph into rental showrooms and Internet-based car buying — now that is "no haggle pricing!" Those two will likely never happen, but at the rate that Tesla is changing the car-buying experience, you just never know what will happen.

Your move, Elon Musk...

Click past the jump to read about some of the coolest models that Toyota is renting out under this program

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Super Bowl Ad: Toyota Teases Kaley Cuoco Super Bowl Commercial

Super Bowl Ad: Toyota Teases Kaley Cuoco Super Bowl Commercial

Only during the Super Bowl will you see commercials - yes, commercials - have their own teasers. But that’s how lucrative that precious airtime is during the big game; the idea of teasing your million-dollar commercials with separate and cheaper spots leading up to the Super Bowl has kind of become an industry norm.

This year, Toyota is taking that route with the release of a teaser for their Super Bowl commercial(s). We already know that Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco will be the face of the commercials, but what we don’t know is the direction the campaign is going. In the teaser, Cuoco is strutting her stuff to “I Wish” by Skee-Lo – a song that hit No. 13 on the charts in 1995 – where he sings about wishing to be taller and wishing to be a baller. As these wishes are laid out, the passersby get these wishes – a short man grows taller, a delivery-truck driver dunks a basketball and a normal guy gets a good looking woman to call.

The part of the song that is the strangest is when Skee-Lo says “I wish I had a rabbit in a hat with a bat in a ‘64 Impala.” We get the ’64 Impala, but the “rabbit in a hat with a bat?” What the??? Well, your wish is Toyota’s command, obviously, as waiting in Cuoco’s car is just that.

Stay tuned for the rest of Toyota’s Super Bowl commercials; they are bound to be sweet. We’ll have them all here following the game!

Click past the jump to see the original Skee-Lo video to see where this all stems from.

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1994 Toyota PPI Trophey Truck 015

1994 Toyota PPI Trophey Truck 015

The Toyota PPI Trophy Trucks are often referred to as one of the most significant trucks in off-road history, and rightfully so. The partnership between Toyota and Precision Preparation Inc. (PPI) resulted in 27 wins and seven championships in the now-defunct Mickey Thompson Off-Road Stadium Series, and who can forget the fact that the best of the best in off-roading, Ivan “Ironman” Stewart, was a part of this team.

The example we have today, the 1994 Toyota PPI Trophy Truck 015, was the final truck built under the Toyota/PPI partnership. To make this truck even more desirable, Ivan Stewart himself piloted it at the Baja 2000.

This fine truck has just come off of a restoration and RK Motors Charlotte is giving you the opportunity to own this piece of off-road history. We are certain this freshly revamped off-roading legend is going to require a premium price.

To find out more about this truck and its asking price, click past the jump.

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The Car Show: Season 1 Episode 8

The Car Show: Season 1 Episode 8

This week’s episode of The Car Show packed many of the things that were vacant from the last week’s episode. Yes, we said it, there was much more Car Show and a lot less filler crap.

Some of the mini segments did make their way into the show, including 0-60 (one of our favorites), Behind the Wheel, and of course, One for the Road. Aside from that, there were more celebrity appearances with two different interviews and a trip up the German Autobahn and down the Pacific Coast Highway in an Audi R8 V10 Spyder.

If anyone finds Adam Carolla the least bit annoying then you’ll be happy to know that he participates in Red Bull’s SoapBox Derby and falls a little short of the finish line. One nasty scrape later and he still finds a way to piss people off. All for the love of cars.

Hit the jump for more details on The Car Show: Season 1 Episode 8.

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2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser TRD

2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser TRD

When we are looking for a sport utility vehicle that can negotiate the urban jungle as well as the real jungle, the 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser TRD (Toyota Racing Development) is an outstanding option. This descendant of rugged Toyota off roaders is no longer a one trick pony and has added urban practicality to its impressive off road reputation. Toyota has made the FJ Cruiser TRD a utilitarian option that can do both jobs supremely well whether it is navigating the parking lot at the supermarket or crawling over a sand dune in the Sahara.

Of the different versions and options offered for the vehicle, we picked the the 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser with the TRD package because it offers quite the bang for your buck ($33,461). For that price, we got a genuinely brilliant off roader that can seat five adults, but more importantly, receives a sportier feel with TRD 16-in. 6-spoke alloy wheels and hefty BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires. Then there’s the TRD-developed, high-speed–tuned Bilstein shocks for extra support.

The FJ is a relative newcomer to the market (introduced in 2006) . Now, the FJ is aiming to tackle the suburbs as well the trail. Let’s see if the FJ can truly be the best of both worlds.

Hit the jump to see if Toyota was successful.

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Have cars become multi-racial?

Have cars become multi-racial?

Sure, you have American car companies, German car companies, Japanese car companies, and so on and so forth. These determinations are based pretty much on where auto manufacturers are headquartered, but when you get right down to it, are the labels really accurate?

One would assume that when he/she buys an American car, that car was more or less manufactured in America, with American parts. And the same would go for German, Japanese, etc nameplates. This is simply not so in a lot of cases.

For example, according to the Internet Auto Guide, Toyota, a Japanese nameplate, uses mostly American-built parts in its models. In fact, they use more American parts than any of the American manufacturers -Ford, Dodge, and Chevrolet included. Some of those Toyota models are also assembled in the United States.

The AIG site recently published a list of the seven cars with the most American parts under the hood. Granted, the top two were models from American manufacturers - the Dodge Avenger and the Chrysler 200 - but, according to the report, Toyota uses more American parts, across the board, than any of the so-called American manufacturers. Their models ranked third (Camry) and fourth (Avalon) on the list. These two vehicles not only used American parts, but are also built in the U.S. at a facility in Georgetown, KY. In a sense, aren’t these really American cars then?

Full story after the jump.

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Texas Mile Recap: March 25-27, 2011

Texas Mile Recap: March 25-27, 2011

The Texas Mile Event has come to an end and this year was another one for the record books. We saw the return of some familiar faces and many newcomers to the runway race-track. As you may recall, the entire point of this event is to see how fast your car can go. That may sound simple, but the idea behind much of racing is to beat your competition around a circuit type track. Simply having the fastest car in a straight line race is more closely related to drag racing where such vehicles as Funny Cars and Top Fuel Dragsters hit 200mph in a ¼ mile.

In a place where everything is bigger - Texas, that is - several fans of speed have put together an event on a much longer straight than a ¼ mile. Anyone in a normal car is able to reach their terminal velocity at this event and that is what makes your adrenaline pump. In all honesty, most people don’t hit more than 100mph in their car at any point in time. Number one, it’s illegal and number two, there is usually not enough room to get up to speed and sustain it for any period of time.

This year’s event gave those speed junkies a chance to let their powerful automobiles and motorcycles reach their maximum speed. The highest speed this year was set by a motorcycle doing 278.6mph. To take a full look at the race results continue reading below.

Hit the jump for more details on the Texas Mile Event Recap.

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Toyota to recall 1.13 million Corollas and Matrix over electronic problems

Toyota to recall 1.13 million Corollas and Matrix over electronic problems

Just when you thought that Toyota was finally turning the corner after all its recall woes this year, here comes news that the manufacturer is once again issuing a (voluntary) safety recall involving approximately 1.13 million units of 2005-2008 Toyota Corolla and Toyota Matrix vehicles.

According to Toyota, the recall is being issued in the US in large part because of a potential defect in the cars’ Engine Control Modules (ECM).

According to Toyota: “On vehicles equipped with the 1ZZ-FE engine and two-wheel drive, there is a possibility that a crack may develop at certain solder points or on the electronic component used to protect circuits against excessive voltage (varistor), on the ECM’s circuit board. In most cases, if a crack occurs at certain solder points or on certain varistors, the check engine may illuminate, harsh shifting could result, or the engine may not start. In limited instances, if cracking occurs on particular solder points or varistors, the engine could stop while the vehicle is being driven.”

Continued after the jump

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Fourth Generation Toyota Prius to be built in U.S.

Things don’t necessarily come out as planned and Toyota is one carmaker that definitely knows that to be true. And, no, we are not talking about its recall woes, although those are good lessons for the Japanese company. What we are discussing is the U.S. production of Toyota’s gasoline-electric vehicle, the Prius. Toyota’s original plans were set to have the hybrid built at its Mississippi facility, but when a plant in California formerly co-owned by GM shut its doors, Toyota turned its attention to the Corolla and left the Prius overseas.

Now, according to Reuters, the Toyota Prius may see its production in the Land of the Free by 2016. Executive Vice President Atsushi Niimi says that is when the next remodeling of the Prius is expected and that is when Toyota would feel comfortable enough in the U.S. economy to move it over.

"If you look at unemployment, housing, and other economic indicators there’s not much good news. I think it will take time for the market to recover," Niimi said. He added that he doesn’t agree with reports stating that the U.S. market could recover to above 12 million units next year or 14-15 million in 2012.

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Top Ten Small Cars for under $20K

Top Ten Small Cars for under $20K

For those of us who don’t want to drive around town in a vehicle the size of a train, there have always been small cars to keep us happy. They have gone through many changes since they first became popular during the gas crisis. No longer is it acceptable to just be small and fuel efficient, as the automotive buying public demands much more out of these tiny vehicles.

Today’s modern small car has to be quick and fun to drive, while also having plenty of room inside the cabin. If the car doesn’t manage over 30 miles per gallon then it’s a big disappointment. Not to mention looks. A small car needs to look good as well as not be completely boring to look at everyday.

We have compiled a list of the top ten best small cars on the market in the United States and, like always, we have one rule; the price needs to be under $20,000. That should give us plenty to choose from.

Hit the jump to see the list.

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UAW president Bob King and Union Members Picket In Front Of Toyota Dealers

UAW president Bob King and Union Members Picket In Front Of Toyota Dealers

When newly-elected UAW president Bob King reached office, he was quick to organize past and present UAW members to picket in front of Toyota dealers nationwide, probably because they had nothing better to do.

King and his fellow union members have started their picketing, which, according to Automotive News, stretches nationwide though they are mostly in California and New York.

“We’re going to show these corporations that if they are unjust to our members that they are going to pay a price,” King previously said. “It’s a better business decision to work with us than treat people unfairly.”

King has told his fellow people that they need to adopt a Toyota dealership, which has had cars ranked as the most American made, and picket in front of them. California is the main focus due to a joint plant previously held by Toyota and General Motors. King wants to pressure the Japanese automaker into reopening the plant, despite the fact that they have already decided to move production to Mississippi, another American plant, though not unionized.

In addition to Toyota, King and his rowdy bunch hope to draw attention on the importance of unionizing all automakers and suppliers in the United States.

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American Made Index by Cars.com

American Made Index by Cars.com

So, has anybody ever said that they only buy American made cars? Well, if they’re driving anything but the Toyota Camry, you can all them a liar. Cars.com has released its annual American Made Index, which tells us which car is the most American Made.

First place was the Toyota Camry, which is actually a little funny. It’s not just the Camry that is American made. Toyota’s Sienna is in tenth and the Tundra brings home eighth.

Second place was another “Japanese” sedan, the Honda Accord. The biggest surprise was that the Accord took the place of an American icon, the Ford F-150, which is now completely off the list.

The change is due to the fact that 75-percent of the Accord is American and the car is being assembled in two plants in the United States. The F-150 saw its American parts percentage drop from 80 percent to 55 percent.

Ford gets a little redemption, as the Escape is in the third and the Focus is in fourth. General Motors brings home fifth with the Chevrolet Malibu and Chrysler gets seventh and ninth with the Ram 1500 and theJeep Wrangler.

So, only half of the top ten are so called “American cars”, with the other five being “imports”. Pretty amusing if you ask us.

See the complete index at Cars.com

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Toyota gets satirized in Minneapolis-based musical called "Toyota: The Runaway Musical Hit!"

Toyota gets satirized in Minneapolis-based musical called "Toyota: The Runaway Musical Hit!"

If you’re lucky to be somewhere in Minneapolis right now - who thought we’d actually write that and mean it - then we highly suggest you find a way to catch this new musical that’s becoming a hot ticket in town. Created by a comedy theater and improv school called ’Brave New Workshop’, the musical is all about Toyota. That, and all of it’s unintended acceleration woes. We get the tongue-in-cheekness of it all and it actually sounds like something we’d go and watch on a Friday night.

Titled as "Toyota: The Runaway Musical Hit!", the creators have promised anyone watching that they’re going to have a rollicking good time with the musical - or as they loosely said. "prepare yourself for an unstoppable musical ride".

These guys worked so far to the end with this they even managed to use - without permission, we heard - R.E.O. Speedwagon’s hit song "Can’t Fight This Feeling" and made it into their own. Don’t believe us? Check out the lyrics.

"And I can’t stop this Prius anymore.
I forgotten what I started stopping for.
I got the brake pressed clear down to the floor.
[Who just came through the back door?]
Baby I can’t stop this Prius anymore."

The show runs until August 14 so you have loads of time to make the trip to the Twin Cities to catch this "runaway musical."

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Toyota to move Highlander production to Indiana

Toyota to move Highlander production to Indiana

According to AutoNews, Japanese automaker Toyota plans to move all of the Highlanders’ production to Indiana. This move is going to be made in order to localize the production of the vehicle for North America, as well as reduce the companies chances of being affected by exchange rates.

Highlander production has been in Indiana since last fall, but the company was still importing from a plant in Kyushu, Japan. These imports account for 17 percent of all Highlanders sold in the United States. Toyota now plans to stop the importation of vehicles and produce the SUV solely in Indiana, said Toyota spokesperson Paul Nolasco to AutoNews.

“This is part of our continuing trend to build more product where we sell,” Nolasco said.

So what is the affect of building its cars only in Indiana, rather than half and half? Simple, Toyota won’t be affected by rapidly fluctuating exchange rates.

Nolasco could not say when the shift would be complete, but in Japan, the Nikkan Kohyo business newspaper has reported that production of Highlanders will stop at Toyota’s Kyushu plant in August. The report also said that the production of the SUV in Indiana would increase to 2,000 units a month.

Sales of the Highlander were up 24 percent to 27,072 units in the first four months of 2010 and if this trend continues, this decision could be a wise one in terms of saving money.

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Toyota Camry plows through Advance Auto Parts store in Louisiana

Looks like Toyota’s woes aren’t about to slow down - no pun intended - anytime soon. That became apparent when the latest Toyota vehicle - a Toyota Camry - crashed into an Advance Auto Parts store in Shreveport, Lousiana, almost running into a Corvette owner inside the store.

According to the owner of the Camry-turned-missile, he was trying to stop the car and braked only to watch helplessly as the car instead accelerated straight through the car parts store. Fortunately for the driver, the local police investigating the incident have yet to issue a citation and as far as the Corvette owner who nearly lost his life, he lived to tell the story of his harrowing ordeal, complete with a vivid description of the crash as it occurred.

Check out what he had to say after the jump.

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Toyota mans up to its mistakes; releases new 'Commitment' advertisement

Toyota mans up to its mistakes; releases new ’Commitment’ advertisement

This much we know about Toyota since Akio Toyoda took the helm as company president: when they screw up, it doesn’t take forever for them to apologize and assume responsibility for their follies.

Whether it’s an emotional press conference from Toyoda himself or a tear-jerker ‘Commitment’ advertisement for the Super Bowl, the brand knows well enough that the two most important words in this situation are ‘damage’ and ‘control’.

So despite the cheesy nature of their new commercial, we have to applaud Toyota for owning up to their mistake. They messed up and they’re taking full responsibility for it.

Whether or not the consumer outrage over this global recall of Toyota vehicles softens up is an entirely different matter. But for now, apologizing and ensuring its consumers that their fully committed to make things right is a good start for the brand to fully redeem itself.

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Man crashes Toyota Tundra into a dealership because of lack of customer assistance

Man crashes Toyota Tundra into a dealership because of lack of customer assistance

It’s a bad time to be a Toyota owner these days. After news broke out last week that Toyota was being forced to recall over 1 million cars globally due to those sticky accelerator pedals, the Japanese-based auto giant has gone into full scale damage control, giving Toyota owners a chance to return their Toyota vehicles to a Toyota dealership where they’d undergo free repairs to fix the faulty pedals.

Mikel Valviva decided to return his recalled Toyota Tundra in one of the local dealerships in his area, but after being told that he would have to wait to get his Tundra fixed, Valvina took matters into his own hands. Instead of patiently waiting for his turn, Valvina “somehow” accelerated his Tundra straight into the dealership.

While it seems ridiculous to accuse someone of deliberately crashing his vehicle into a dealership because he felt disrespected, this whole situation involving Toyota and all these faulty accelerator pedals have left everybody in a constant state of confusion.

As far as Valvina’s supposed accidental torpedoing of the Toyota dealership, local authorities have indicated that the whole incident could very well have been unintentional. Or maybe the accelerator pedal just got stuck.

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Video: John Stewart pokes fun at Toyota over ’PedalGate’ controversy

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Toyotathon of Death

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The Toyota ‘PedalGate’ controversy has, for the better part of a few weeks now, dominated the headlines all over the world thanks in large part to the massive recall Toyota has been forced to comply with regarding the sticky accelerator pedals that have hampered just about 4 million Toyota vehicles.

And just like every other major headline that has propped up recently, ‘PedalGate’ has seen its fair share of critics and analysts sharing their two cents on how Toyota can salvage whatever ounce of respect it has left from its customers.

While most of these so-called analysts have used the stage to convey their opinions in a serious platform, Jon Stewart used the Daily Show – yes; that Daily Show - to take some pot shots at the beleaguered brand.
Since everybody has pretty much condemned Toyota since this whole ‘scandal’ broke out a few weeks ago, we thought that we could all take a break from all the criticizing and just grab a laugh at their expense instead.

It doesn’t really help in the overall picture, but at a time like this for Toyota, it doesn’t hurt to step back and laugh about it – even for just a few minutes.

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Toyota Supra IV crashes in Southern California

Toyota Supra IV crashes in Southern California

In the land of Hollywood comes another car crash with yet another inattentive driver behind the wheel thinking that just because he’s got a high-powered sports car, it gives him free reign to exercise his need for speed.

A fourth-generation Toyota Supra lost control in Southern California after the driver of the car somehow veered away from the road and launched itself into a sidewalk where it smashed front-first onto a pole before nestling snugly on a patch of grass.

There’s not much else we know about the crash except that the damage to the Supra wasn’t as bad as it should have been, which is great news considering steel poles aren’t exactly the cushiest things to hit your car on.

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Next-generation Toyota Sienna minivan to make an appearance at the LA Auto Show

Next-generation Toyota Sienna minivan to make an appearance at the LA Auto Show

The 2009 auto show season has pretty much come and gone and as the year continues to wind down, one of the last shows to happen will be the Los Angeles Auto Show.

One of the car manufacturers that are scheduled to participate is Toyota and the Japanese auto giants have begun releasing the fleet of cars that are scheduled to make their way to LA.

One of them is the all-new Toyota Sienna minivan, which will undoubtedly replace the existing model to become Toyota’s bet against the Honda Odyssey and the Chrysler Town and Country.

Toyota has yet to release further details regarding the new Sienna except for the fact that it’s scheduled to be rolled out to dealerships sometime in the next year.

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JUN AKIRA Boneville Supra

JUN AKIRA Boneville Supra

Thanks to the wonderful world of Super Street, by way of our friends at Speed Hunters, we bring you yet another gem hidden amongst mountains of blinding white salt that shows up at Bonneville’s Speed Week straight from the dry lakebed. The bright yellow Toyota Supra turbo that you see before you is none other than the JUN Auto Akira Supra. According to the manufacturer’s website this is an “Ultra high speed specification JZA80 Supra” and it was built to compete in only one place in the world the dried up lakebeds of Utah, an entire ocean away from the Auto Mechanic shop where it was being built in Japan.

The JUN Akira Supra first arrived at the dry lake bed in August of 2001 to compete in the National Speed Trials, the Supra challenged the current record and walked away as the fastest Toyota vehicle ever with a top speed of 249.292 MPH and an average recorded time 240.192 MPH thanks to its unique streamlining bodywork and a 3.2 Liter 2JZGTE with two TRUST T78 turbochargers bolted to the side pumping enough air to make almost 1200 HP, but underneath all that racecar specification equipment is a Toyota Supra Twin Turbo that you could buy new from any dealership, boy 1996 was a good year.

Continued after the jump.

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