The term crossover is one of those dirty words that advertising agencies came up with when SUVs could no longer cut it and automakers needed to figure out a way to move more units. While we tend to frown upon that kind of labeling because it leads to less than capable vehicles built upon a car’s chassis with rather boring styling and even worse performance. However one reliable Japanese automaker has made us eat our own words with the Toyota Venza.
Overall it looks like someone stepped on a Lexus RX and then pulled the e-brake so hard that all the torque from the VVT-i equipped 3.5 Liter V6 stretched it a couple of inches in the midsection. The Venza is smaller than the traditional truck and offers loads of luxury and performance, in short, Toyota has produced the quintessential crossover and is guaranteed to sell a lot of them.
Loaded with options like 20 inch rims, HID headlamps, multi screen displays, comfortable leather upholstery and wood grain trim; this multi passenger vehicle is perfect for any new car shopper who needs the space and practicality of a minivan, but wants the attitude and style traditionally associated with a fun to drive vehicle.
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When Toyota decided to create a marketing campaign around the 2010 Toyota Prius, not a lot of people would have even thought that the Japanese automakers would use flower pots – enormous ones, at that – as its central marketing tool in promoting the Prius.
You can’t blame Toyota for not thinking out-of-the-box with this one. Apparently, nothing is safe from the clutches of technology these days, even garden ornaments.
If you happen to be in the Boston area, you might want to check out Prudential Plaza and see these strange yet eye-catching pots, which incidentally stands at an attention-seeking 18 feet. While you’re at it, bring your laptops with you because these pots really do have Wi-Fi connections, thanks to the solar panels attached to the petals and stems of these sculptures.
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We here at Top Speed have thoroughly enjoyed our run with the subcompact Toyota Yaris. Since we received the tiny five door, we have thoroughly tested the car both on highway and off. The VVT-i 1.5 Liter four cylinder works hard at higher speeds, but is able to chug along with the flow of traffic. Despite the car’s smaller footprint, the Yaris is extremely spacious on the interior, and the cloth seats were extremely comfortable on our two hour highway stint. The Yaris did quite well on the open road, the car was able to get up to speed quickly, there was minimal exterior noise in the cabin and the seating position kept the controls in easy reach while allowing you to relax for the duration of the trip.
The Yaris shines in a crowded urban environment. The way that the wheels are pushed out to the far corners, just like the original compact car the Mini, allows for many of the same benefits. There is maximum use of the interior space, weaving in and out of traffic is a breeze and finding a parking space has never been easier. For those reasons and many more, we don’t mind trading in massaging seatbacks and fancy hard drive based navigation units for a simpler, less-complicated automobile. However our favorite feature of the Yaris are all the storage compartments hidden in the dashboard.
The Toyota Yaris is not only a great first car; it is also a great second car. Save the 599 for the weekends, tell your wife that you’ll be taking the Yaris to the office today, you’ll just have to be selective about which clubs to bring to the driving range after work, because an entire golf bag definitely won’t fit in the trunk. But for around $15,000 you can’t go wrong with a Toyota Yaris, it also comes with one of the greatest guarantees in the world, it’s a Toyota.
If Toyota decides to bring the iQ to the U.S., it may have to educate the American public on the benefits of a premium mini car. The 1.0-liter engine should be good for 54 mpg, but the little car may come at a relatively premium price. The Japanese version retails for between 1.4 million yen and 1.6 million yen ($13,860-$15,840). That kind of cash could buy a new Ford Focus or a slightly used Honda Civic (Toyota’s own Yaris starts out at $12,205.)
The only other premium microcar out there is the Smart ForTwo, a which is 12 inches shorter than the iQ and gets 44 mpg. But the ForTwo pricing also starts at about $11,000.
Toyota is targeting sales of 102,000 units a year. Sales of the iQ should begin in Japan on November 20, and in Europe by 2009. The iQ should find good homes in both of these places, because they are traditionally friendlier than the U.S. to the small car.
For the iQ to come to the U.S., Toyota must develop different airbags and improve bumper strength for the iQ to pass safety standards. Toyota may also change the iQ for comfort items, including upgrading the engine to 1.5-liters.
Toyota confirmed today that the Prius hybrid sedan will be built in USA, at a plant under construction in Blue Springs, Miss. Production is scheduled to begin in late 2010.
Also, the Highlander mid-size SUV, originally scheduled to be built in Mississippi, will now be manufactured in Princeton, Ind., beginning in Fall 2009.
The production of Tundra, that by the way has been busted to 50.000 units a year, will be moved to the San Antonio plant in Spring 2009.
In addition, Toyota will temporarily suspend Tundra and Sequoia production beginning August 8 due to the declining overall market for full size trucks and SUVs. Production is scheduled to resume in early November.
Toyota announced that the iQ -one of the greatest Smart competitors- will go on sale in Japan in November and hits European showrooms in January. USA is also under consideration: "From the early stages of development, we didn’t recognize that oil prices would be like this," he says. "Also, the Smart is very successful in the U.S. market."
The iQ is packed with engineering innovations to save space and has better handling and performance, says Nakajima. It weighs less than 2,200 pounds and boasts the best fuel efficiency of any gasoline-powered car in Toyota’s lineup, excluding the Prius.
For the European market, Toyota will also offer a 1.4-liter diesel powerplant. The car also will come with 1.3- and 1.0-liter gasoline engines.
Toyota hasn’t announced the iQ’s price, but it is expected to have the same price as the Yaris: $9,975.
The company hopes to sell around 100,000 vehicles a year.
According to Automotive News, Toyota is in talks with General Motors about producing the hybrid Prius at their joint production venture in California. If the two companies will reach agreement would be for the first time that the Prius — the world’s first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle — is made in the United States.
Toyota may produce Prius cars at New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI), a venture established by the two groups in 1984 that currently makes Toyota Corolla, Toyota Tacoma, Toyota Matrix, and Pontiac Vibe vehicles, it said.
The Japanese company plans to ship key components from Japan and assemble them at the venture in Fremont, Calif., where demand for environmentally friendly cars is high, the newspaper said.
Toyota aims to sell at least 1 million hybrid vehicles a year from the early 2010s. It currently produces the Prius in Japan and China.
According to research firm AUTODATA CORP., Toyota brand appears set to become the best-selling automobile brand in the U.S. this year. Toyota was the sales leader through November, with its market share rising 0.8 percentage point from the first 11 months of 2006 to 14.2 per cent.
For the 2007 model year, the Camry Solara is raising the bar in the sporty coupe segment as it receives one of Toyota’s most extensive mid-life cycle changes to date. Refreshed and updated, Camry Solara has several exterior and interior styling changes, additional standard safety equipment, and enhanced audio and convenience features.
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