Posts from ‘Toyota’
Through their logos, many automakers have created a dazzling world of wonder. In logo land, you’ll discover roman gods, prancing horses, and mystical beasts—as well as religious themes such as the Holy Trinity and the Christian Crusades. It’s a universe of stars and planets, ships and rockets, diamonds and domination. One emblem, which is simply a crooked letter, symbolizes a trustworthy handshake.
Disappointingly, such companies as Volkswagen (whose symbol is VW) and Ford (Ford) have refused to join in the fun. But many of the other logos have fascinating meanings. Let’s explore. . . .
The Acura logo plays with our minds a little. Most observers think the logo is a stylized letter A, for Acura, just like Honda’s logo is a stylized H for Honda. But according to Honda (Acura’s parent company), the image is a caliper, a design instrument used for measuring thickness.
The Alfa Romeo badge pays tribute to its home city, Milan, Italy. It features the city’s coat of arms, which symbolizes Milan’s two ruling families during medieval times. On the left is a red cross, a Christian symbol of heraldry that represents the right of a person to bear arms. On the right, a serpent devours a human being, interpreted by some as a Muslim—that is, the enemy of the Christians during the Crusades.
I’m not suggesting that this is a problem; I am just sharing a fascinating tidbit: Of the 31 separate Toyota, Scion, and Lexus models for which Automotive News reports sales, four models alone account for more than half of that volume. Just four.
Toyota Motor Sales, USA sold nearly 2.1 million cars in the U.S. during calendar year 2012. Combining for a hefty 1.1 million of those sales are the Camry, Corolla (including Matrix), Prius (all versions), and RAV4.
|Toyota’s U.S. Sales, Calendar 2012|
|Combined 2012 sales||1,104,369|
What this means is open to interpretation. Three of these big-volume vehicles fall into what Ford recently began calling the “Super Segment,” specifically compact and midsize cars and compact crossovers. These segments have enjoyed the bulk of the post-recession auto-sales boom.
However, despite Ford’s success in these categories, we see that its Super Segment plus dedicated hybrid (SSPDH) performance trails Toyota’s by a wide margin:
|Ford’s U.S. Sales, Calendar 2012|
|Combined 2012 sales||761,502|
You sound like an idiot.
I don’t know if your ignorance is willful, or if it’s driven by some sort of latent racism or misplaced sense of nationalism, but you sound like an idiot.
Every time you refer to Japanese-brand vehicles as “rice burners” or “Jap crap,” you reveal to everyone in attendance that you are a clueless troll with little interest in having a real discussion.
Yet you, and a slowly shrinking pool of fellow idiots, still persist in perpetuating the long-discredited meme that Japanese cars and trucks are somehow substandard products.
The sometimes unspoken but always present tacit component of this line of reasoning is that American-brand vehicles are better than Japanese vehicles—and always have been. It is on this point that your baffling disconnect from the truth becomes most poignant.
I, too, once believed unfailingly in the superiority of American automobiles. A four-year stint as a pump jockey and part-time mechanic quickly corrected that.
You’re probably familiar with the successful Eat This, Not That! series of books, which document America’s unhealthiest meals while offering other suggestions that provide just as much taste with less nasty stuff.
Consider this article the automotive equivalent, but with a slight twist. I present to you five vehicles that might be on your shopping list, but I would encourage you to check out their alternatives. Eat This, Not That! crosses platforms, offering suggestions for similar meals at different restaurants. This list will primarily focus on alternative vehicles that you can find either in the same showroom or under the same corporate umbrella; e.g., Toyota/Lexus/Scion.
All cars are model-year 2013.
Drive This: Ford Flex Limited EcoBoost
Not That: Ford Explorer Sport
In this battle of 7-passenger, 350-plus horsepower midsize crossovers from Ford, the funky looking Flex wagon is our choice. It’s a bit of an apples and oranges comparison since the company positions the Flex EcoBoost as sort of a luxury-touring vehicle while the Explorer Sport is a high-performance model. The former overwhelmingly succeeds in its mission while the latter is largely a flop. Flex rides well, handles more competently than you would expect, and is plenty powerful. The Sport is fast, too, but its brittle ride, lackluster handling, and general lack of refinement leave us cold.
See Consumer Guide’s review of the 2013 Toyota Highlander.
The redesigned 2014 Toyota Highlander bows in New York. The Japanese brand’s 3-row crossover gets a major styling overhaul, a new interior, and new features.
Company officials say the revamped highlander has 30 percent more sound-deadening material, making the cabin quieter and less prone to vibration and harshness.
Highlander will seat up to 8 passengers, making it one of only three midsize crossovers to do so (the others are twins Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia and the Honda Pilot). Buyers will have the option of selecting a bench seat for the 2nd row or two-place captain’s chairs with a collapsible center storage tray. The cabin is 4.3 inches wider, allowing for more shoulder space and easier access to the 3rd row.
Available drivetrains don’t change much. Entry-level models with front-wheel drive will offer a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The volume 3.5-liter V6 returns, but for 2014 it teams with a 6-speed automatic (replacing the previous 5-speed). This engine is available on models with front- or all-wheel drive. Toyota will continue to offer a gas/electric hybrid model with standard all-wheel drive as well. It pairs a 3.5-liter V6 engine with an electric motor and is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that behaves like an automatic.
Reading blog posts by Consumer Guide’s esteemed Publisher Tom Appel makes you really think about the cars of your past. Again, I will borrow a page from his book and reminisce about the cars I most greatly desired in 1998, my senior year at the now-closed Driscoll Catholic High School in Addison, Illinois.
During those formative high school years, I probably thought about cars more than the vast majority of my 109 classmates. Most had their own cars, but they really only valued them as basic transportation. This applied to the kids who received their cars as hand-me-downs or as brand spanking new courtesy of well-to-do parents. I would argue that right around this time was the start of a rather disturbing trend of folks my age really not caring about cars at all.
I cared, though, as I do to this day and will continue to do so until I die. While you can say that the 1990s was a decade of bland homogeny in the automotive world, you could still find some real gems from rather unlikely sources.
One of the advantages of having been a Consumer Guide test driver for 22 years is that several cars that were hopelessly out of reach when new are now within the realm of possibility . . . the financial realm, that is.
Furthermore, there’s the added benefit of having the test of time on your side. Some cars just don’t wear well. Others you’ll see still going strong at 200,000 miles, so if you find one with 120,000, there’s a good chance you can get a lot more use out of it. You might also get an idea of how much work they might require in order to do that.
One other stipulation for this list—which would otherwise be much longer—is that fuel economy counts. With gas “down” to about $3.90 a gallon at the time of this writing, cars that swill the stuff in sub-20-mpg gulps just didn’t make the cut.
Ugly is in the eye of the beholder. I will not suggest that the cars here are the ugliest vehicles that retailed during the period being discussed, but they are certainly worthy of some serious design scorn. To me, ugly cars usually suffer from an overabundance of design elements—really, the visual equivalent of mixed metaphors. But most importantly, I just think the five cars here are nasty-looking. I realize that I am in the minority on the Celica, but I suspect that I have the people’s support when it comes to dissing the Taurus. Got your own list of ill-favored rides? Let’s hear it.
1996-1999 Ford Taurus
This sorry redesign (pictured above) marked the beginning of the Taurus’s slow decent into rental-darling hell. How Ford let the Taurus go from making car-design history to looking like an asthmatic catfish is beyond me, but buyers stayed away from these midsize sedans and wagons in droves. A deeply discounted (and deeply decontented) Model G variant was added midway through the ’96 model year, but as it turned out, making map pockets optional wasn’t effective tonic for cringe-worthy styling.
At the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, Toyota unveiled the 2014 Tundra.
Toyota’s large pickup truck receives new features as well as new exterior and interior styling. Exterior changes include a unique front grille and lower bumper design for each trim level, a new tailgate with “Tundra” embossed directly into the sheet metal, and a new look for the pickup’s bed sides. Also, a built-in rear spoiler is expected to help with fuel economy. Regardless of trim level, the grille and hood are 1.6 inches higher than the outgoing model. A big change for the 2014 model is the introduction of new three-piece front and rear bumpers that are less expensive to replace.
The interior is also changed for 2014. The central control panel has been moved 2.6 inches closer to the driver, and seats have been redesigned for better passenger comfort and improved front-seat ventilation. Moreover, the rear seats in CrewMax models now fold upward for better use of the area’s cargo space. All models are available with front bucket seats or a bench seat. Standard features include a rearview camera, a wireless cell-phone link, and a display in the center of the instruments.
At the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, Toyota showed off the Corolla Furia Concept, a vehicle that forecasts the look of the company’s next Corolla compact car.
The Furia Concept is a compact-size vehicle. The concept is about 2 inches longer than the current Corolla, and the wheelbase is about 4 inches longer. To achieve that wheelbase, the wheels were pushed to the corners.
The exterior of the Furia Concept boasts 19-inch wheels, a blacked-out grille, and LED headlights and taillights. It also has some very odd body parts. Those include carbon fiber body panels in the wheel wells, rocker panels, rearview mirror covers, and sections of the front and rear bumper, with metal exhaust outlets integrated into the bumper.
Since the Corolla Furia is a concept vehicle, it will not go on sale. Also, Toyota did not announce pricing or an approximate on-sale date for the next Corolla, but expect prices to be in line with those of other compact cars.