Category Archives: Toyota

How Toyota’s FT-4X Concept Could Revamp Future Of SUVs

Toyota’s FT-4X concept SUV certainly made waves when it was unveiled in New York yesterday, but the pint sized utility also hints at what could be in store for Toyota’s CUV lineup.

Currently Toyota has a very diverse lineup of CUVs, but a notable void exists in the compact CUV segment. Granted the C-HR is a commendable attempt at filling the gap, but its odd styling does detract from its overall mission somewhat.

This is where the FT-4X finds its niche, building on a rugged looking canvas that hints at crossing the beaten path. However, Toyota claims that the FT-4X’s suit of clothes actually highlight its “Rugged Charm” (whatever that means) and that it was designed to appeal to “casual core” consumers. The flat panel roof houses power outlets, which allows buyers to power campsite electronics directly from the exterior.

The interior was also designed to reflect the needs of city dwellers with Toyota claiming that it is a “rolling gearbox” with the cabin offering commendable levels of storage in a deceptively open layout. A key feature is the dual temperature controlled storage boxes in the tailgate that can keep food hot or cold while still moonlighting as a handy place to store your gear.

Curiously, Toyota chose to not add a formal infotainment system, and instead constructed a unit that allows occupants to mount their phone to it in a nod towards Generation Y’s varied uses for smartphones (including navigation.)

Toyota has not formally commented on whether the FT-4X will eventually spawn a production model or not. But buyers clamoring for a reborn FJ Cruiser will most likely be disappointed. Instead, the production version would most likely be a compact CUV that would give Toyota an entry against the Jeep Renegade as well as the Kia Soul and Honda HR-V.

Toyota Teases 2018 Camry Ahead of Detroit Debut

The Toyota Camry has always been known for two key attributes its ability to bring strong sales to the Japanese auto giant’s coffers, and its equally bland styling elements. However if a lone teaser image is to be believed, 2017 will bring big changes to the venerable four door.

While a lone shot of the tailight may not be too revealing at first glance, a closer look reveals that a substantial redesign is in store for the 2018 Camry. The LED taillight design is quite handsome, but what has our attention is the vent that runs from the bumper into the tailight. While it is most likely non-functional, it adds a dash of boldness and, intergrates nicely into the design.

Lastly the intresting crease in the C-pillar has us wondering how the trunk and rear window will mesh since it resembles a five door hatchback-esque layout versus the traditional four door sedan approach. The one aspect we aren’t fans of is the obvious traits that it borrows from rivals especially the Ford Fusion and the Kia Optima.

This is a minor complaint of course, and we look forward to seeing what else is in store for the 2018 Toyota Camry when it maked its debut in Detroit. Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for the latest on the 2018 Toyota Camry, as well as our live coverage from the 2017 North American International Auto Show.

Lotus Begins Work On Next Generation Elise, Will Be Headed To U.S.

Lotus has revealed that it has begun development of the next generation Elise sports car which will return to the U.S market after several years.

Overall, sources are revealing that this upcoming Elise will be more of an evolutionary effort versus a straight up revolution. While it will still be an all new car from the ground up, it will also not waver from its role as an ultra lightweight sports coupe that makes no compromises for comfort or luxury.

However some of its compact design will be sacrificed with the new Elise being slightly wider to accommodate new side airbags which are mandated by U.S. law. It’ll also be slightly longer than before, but it will still weigh in at a featherweight 1,984 lbs.

As before, Toyota will supply Lotus with both engines and transmissions with Lotus offering a new automatic option to buyers for the first time ever. Rear wheel drive is standard fare which is fine with us since all-wheel drive would have added unnecessary amounts of flab.

The current generation Elise as well as its hardcore brother the Exige have not been street legal here in the U.S. for several years. But the new model is said to be designed with U.S. regulations in mind, which explains why the company is pushing the automatic variant to buyers that might be adverse to the idea of shifting their own gears. Lotus even claims that the U.S. market will eventually be its biggest market after the Elise is reintroduced.

That’s a bold claim, and at first glance it appears a bit over ambitious with current sales of the Evora 400 barely registering as a threat against more exotic competition. However, the revamped Elise will not only add volume to the brand’s sales, but also allow the small British company to lure younger buyers with a lower pricing ladder.

Buyers looking to eventually add one to their garage will have plenty of time to save money since the model is very early in the development phase. If things proceed as planned, look for the Elise to make its U.S. return in 2020, with sales kicking off shortly afterward.

 

 

BMW Z4 Production To End Next Month?

With a replacement model currently being developed in a collaboration with Toyota, it’s no secret that the current generation Z4’s days in the BMW lineup are numbered. However a new report suggests that production could end as early as next month.

That’s according to a new report that was revealed by the BMW fan site BMW Blog which tentatively hints at this scheduled departure. If it is indeed true, the Z4’s abrupt exit would leave BMW with a sizable gap in its lineup due to its successor not being ready for full scale production.

The replacement (dubbed the Z5) is being developed in a collaboration with Toyota, and is expected to also share its platform with the reborn Toyota Supra. Prior reports claim that the Z5 will be much more focused on sporty dynamics than the current generation Z4, and put a renewed emphasis on targeting performance minded enthusiasts. BMW and Toyota have so far been tight-lipped on the finer aspects of this car, but spy photos revealed that the car will ditch the current model’s bulky hard top in lieu of a more traditional and lighter soft top. Look for this soft too to also reduce costs of maintenence for owners.

Despite the high level of secrecy surrounding the Z5, eager buyers will not have to wait very long to find out more information, with the car slated to make its auto show debut in the near future, possibly at the Geneva Motor Show. As for the Supra, look for that model to make its debut later with the Toyota badged version appearing exclusively as a coupe. When it appears, it will share the stage on dealer lots with the budget minded 86 sport coupe, and give the Japanese carmaker a formidable one two punch in the sporty coupe segment.

Toyota Unveils Newly Renamed 2017 86

With the death of Scion and the subsequent rebranding of its two surviving stablemates Toyota revealed that the Scion FR-S will live to see another day and be reborn as the 2017 Toyota 86.

The rebranding allows the performance coupe to fall in line with Toyota’s global naming scheme and also shed its connection with the now deceased Scion brand. Prior to this latest name change, the FR-S was known as the GT86 or simply 86 in world markets since 2012 when the model was first introduced.

“When we announced the transition of the Scion models to Toyota we hadn’t planned on changing the names of the cars. But by popular demand for our sports car we decided to adopt the global name of 86” stated Toyota VP Bill Fay.

In addition to the new name, the 86 also receives several upgrades to help it embrace its new lease on life. The exterior styling for example has received several improvements and 2017_Toyota_86_002_D12251168D759247F6395FC10C00EC8045C0407Fnow features new LED headlights and turn signals as well as a revised front bumper that incorporates a new grille assembly that is much more pronounced than before. The rear end has also been reworked and now features a new rear bumper and revised LED tailights that are much sportier than before. Rounding out the list of changes are a new set of alloy wheels that now feature a twisted spoke design to help make the profile look sharper than before.  Toyota also upgraded the interior, and while it retains its driver focused layout, it now incorporates new “Grandlux” material that makes its way to the instrument panel and door panels as well as new seating material that now features silver contrast stitching to help brighten up the otherwise Teutonic styled interior.

The main change here is under the hood with the 86 making slightly more power than before. While it is not the turbocharger or supercharger that some enthusiasts have clamored for, the still naturally aspirated 2.0 liter four cylinder now makes 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque when paired with the standard six speed manual transmission. This 2017_Toyota_86_003_491F19B7422021FF05C19D601901C497CE93DDB0is a gain of five horsepower and is roughly the same gain in torque. The transmission also gains new gear ratios to help it bring this extra oomph to the rear wheels more efficiently. Toyota engineers left no stone unturned and even upgraded the car’s handling manners thanks to slightly retuned shocks and equally tweaked spring rates.

Look for the 2017 86 to make its formal debut at the New York Auto Show next week in what will be a key event for Toyota with the Japanese firm unveiling the 2017 Highlander as well as a new Prius variant, and the rebranded iA and iM.

Toyota Announces Finalized Lineup Of Rebranded Scion Vehicles

In an announcement released earlier today Toyota revealed its finalized lineup for all the Scion vehicles that were displaced following the shutdown of the brand a few months ago due to flagging sales.

When the brand was chopped in February, it was known that the iA, iM, CHR, and the FR-S would live on, but it was unclear where they would fit in Toyota’s diverse model lineup. Today’s announcement clarifies this, and should please Scion loyalists. While we will be covering the updated 86 sports car in a separate report, the budget minded iA will become the Toyota Yaris iA. A bit awkward sounding perhaps, but look for the newly minted member of the Yaris family to add some life to sales of the subcompact thanks to its Mazda roots, as well as its budget minded sticker price.

Meanwhile the iM hatchback will be spun into the Corolla lineup, and be known as the Toyota Corolla iM. Like its smaller iA brand cousin, the new name is a bit of a mouthful, but it does make sense when it comes to the topic of overseas alignment. In many other parts of the world the iM is either simply known as the Corolla hatchback or the Auris depending on which market you happen to be in. Plus, the hatchback would allow the Corolla to be a contender in the small but hotly contested hatchback segment.

As for the mediocre and outdated tC coupe, that model will join the Scion brand in the automotive graveyard, but not before the all new “Release Series 10.0” makes its way to showrooms. Like past Release Series models, this one will feature exclusive paint as well as several minor revisions in a bid to give the two door a proper farewell.

Look for marketing support to gradually wind down during the summer, with Toyota finally pulling the plug sometime in fall though it may take some dealers a bit longer than that to formally remove all the various Scion logos from their buildings.

 

Toyota Teases Mysterious Prius Variant

Calling it ‘The next mechanical marvel’ in the Prius family, Toyota has released a lone teaser image of the mystery Prius variant that it plans to unveil at the 2016 New York Auto Show later this month.

The cryptic teaser image the company released does not reveal too much about the unknown offering, but it does focus on the all new taillights which span the entire width of the car. The LED bar is much thinner here, and is vertically shorter than the units on the current generation Prius. This suggests that the mystery model could either be a more practical four door sedan, or a two door coupe. Personally I suspect that the four door is the more realistic possibility of the two since the coupe would only appeal to a limited niche market, and would look out of place in a family of cars that is better known for being green than being fast.

It’s also unknown whether it is a direct successor to the Prius Plug-in Hybrid or an offshoot like the Prius c and the bigger Prius v were for the old Prius. However, it could be linked to a recent patent filing by Toyota that trademarked the term “Prius Prime” suggesting that a potential rebranding of the car could occur during the next few years. Regardless, look for the new model to retain the standard car’s eco friendly hardware as well as its basic interior layout which would help Toyota reduce both development and production costs.

Expect additional information to emerge closer to Toyota’s press confrence in New York where the new offering will also share the stage with the 2017 Highlander. Hopefully Toyota will share more details about the “Prius Prime” trademark and whether more models will be joining the Prius model lineup in the near future.

Toyota Confirms 2017 Highlander For New York

A refreshed Highlander is on the way, and the world will get its first glimpse of the revamped CUV at the 2016 New York Auto Show.

The exterior styling of the 2017 Highlander has been tweaked, and while it is still not that exciting to look at, it still retains its function over form motif which should please young families. The front grille for example features2017_Toyota_Highlander_06_4BD0FD340C9B243DB5D0BE29473F93A7E3498963 new finishes that vary depending on the model selected. Naturally, the up-level Limited and Platinum models get the fanciest trim but expect the other models to still look good. The rear fascia features slightly tweaked taillamps that will be sleeker than before, but will otherwise retain the current generation’s styling language.

Enthusiasts looking for some form of fun from the Highlander will be content with the all new SE model (pictured). The SE brings model exclusive 19-inch wheels, a sport tuned suspension, and dark trim for the front grille and 2017_Toyota_Highlander_02_C2CD51CEB2617181843201E010A59B64BF057B06headlights. While it will not fare well in dogfights with more performance oriented entries from SRT, AMG, or M, it should help make the trek to soccer practice less mundane, while also adding a bit of style at the same time.

As for the interior, three row functionality has always been a strong selling point for the Highlander, and the 2017 model continues this trend by offering buyers the choice of either seven or eight passenger configurations. This is awesome, but with only five USB ports in the entire vehicle, expect three of 2017_Toyota_Highlander_07_AE9F112DE0EE84CA69299C743471207C78320B57the passengers to be forced to fend for themselves. Otherwise expect the cabin to largely retain the basic layout that is already seen in the current generation Highlander albeit with minor tweaks to distinguish between trim levels.

Performance for the 2017 Highlander comes from a pair of engines with the base 2.7 liter four cylinder engine being carried over from the previous generation with the older six speed automatic also carrying over but only on the front wheel drive LE model. Higher grade models receive an all new 3.52017_Toyota_Highlander_03_254DA1461FD69F3E01EB0B5C02A90B0BFC0C171B liter V6, but the big news here is that it is hooked up to an all new eight speed automatic transmission. As for the Highlander Hybrid, that model will continue to live on, and still offer its Continuously Variable Transmission and all-wheel drive capability as standard equipment. Toyota did not release formal performance figures, but expect that information to be revealed closer to its official debut.

With the CUV segment as a whole greatly expanding due to a spike in sales, the Highlander also arrives with a new suite of safety technology which is a key factor for a majority of buyers when they are trying to decide which CUV to put in their driveway.  In the case of the Highlander, automatic braking, lane departure warning, Pedestrian Pre Collision, radar powered adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beams all arrive standard as part of Toyota’s Safety Sense package. Highlander Platinum models up the safety factor even further and add a 360 degree Birds Eye View Camera to help with parking in tight spaces especially when parallel parking the vehicle.

After it makes its debut in New York, Look for the 2017 Toyota Highlander to make its way to dealer showrooms sometime in late April.

Toyota Debuts Setsuna Design Experiment, Will Be Unveiled At Milan Design Week

With the 2016 Milan Design Week celebration fast approaching, Toyota has unveiled an all new concept car that aims to push the boundaries of design, while also showcasing a bit of retro inspiration at the same time.

Known as the Setsuna Concept, the car takes the unusual step of being made mostly out of wood  (taking a page out of the Morgan Motor Company playbook in the process.) Toyota designers claim that the wood construction as well as its open top roadster configuration helps the Setsuna symbolize how cars transform before the eyes of their owners over the years. The name itself is also a play on this, and is a translation from a Japanese word that means “moment.”

“With the Setsuna concept, Toyota is expressing the notion that, as a family accrues time and experiences together with their car, lovingly caring for it and passing it on to the next generation, that car will acquire a new type of value that only members of the family can appreciate ,” the company stated in its release. The Setsuna’s designers chose several distinctive types of wood for each part of the car including the frame, exterior panels, floor assembly, and even the seats. The panels also employ an all new okuri ari technique (dovetails) and are held together without the need for either screws or nails which would have detracted from the relatively simple design language of the Setsuna concept.

That relatively simple design language also carries a strong nautical theme with the car resembling a boat hull thanks to its curved body as well as the open wheels. Toyota claims that the wood body will eventually develop a”complex character” over the years with a specially designed 100 year meter “keeping time” for generations to come. Look for the Setsuna to make its formal debut at the exhibition next month and while it will most likely not lead to a production based model, it could perhaps inspire Toyota designers to use some of its vintage cues in the construction of future Toyota models.

Mirai front fascia

First Look 2016 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Sedan

When Toyota first unveiled the Mirai concept car, it had big plans and equally lofty ambitions for its fuel cell sedan. Styled to look like nothing else on the road and engineered to deliver maximum fuel economy the Mirai certainly has the potential to meet its goals. But does it fall short? to find out I visited the Chicago Auto Show’s “Concept Car Garage” event  and went behind the wheel to see whether it could live up to the hype and achieve its goal of delivering green driving fun.

The exterior styling of the Mirai is a bit of a paradox. On the one hand its not that attractive thanks to its function over form approach to exterior styling, and some of its strange styling elements. On the other hand it is a bold styling exercise that does do a good job of making the Mirai look very futuristic. As stated earlier, the Mirai embraces a function over form theme with each part playing an important role. The big front air intakes for example Mirai 1help channel air into the fuel cells though they do generate a rather long front overhang which can make the car look unbalanced from some angles. The rear fascia helps maximize aerodynamics and is reminiscent of the current generation Toyota Prius. Toyota claims that the side profile is reminiscent of the air to water reaction that takes place in the fuel cells. While I’m still pondering whether it indeed achieves that effect or not, I do like the 17-inch light weight alloy wheels which help improve fuel economy.

The interior of the Mirai is a bit on the plain side, but it still packs several innovations that makes it stands out. The seats for example are produced by a clever “form in place” method where the seat cover is place in a mold which is then injected with urethane foam that helps produce both an ideal location, and comfort. During my time in the Mirai, I Mirai interiornoticed that seat comfort was quite good with decent amounts of support, though I wish they could’ve had more lower back support. The dashboard of the Mirai features a 4.2 inch high definition TFT LCD that resides just below the drivers eye line. This slick display showcases a wide range of information including vehicle speed as well as a separate multi-function display that can show navigation information, audio and navigation settings, as well as a hybrid system display.

Below this is a piano black center console that houses the touch sensitive air conditioning controls. The controls are surprisingly easy to use with our favorite feature being the groove that denotes the temperature sliders. Other controls however also reveal some of the ergonomic flaws that exist in the Mirai. For example, the tiny transmission lever (borrowedMirai dashboard from the Prius) can be a bit finicky to use, and sometimes takes a bit of effort to get into drive. Some of the build quality also does not quite match the precision that you would expect from a car that is close to $60,000, but its focus on innovation and technology helps make up for these quirks to a degree.

Driving the Mirai is a unique experience, and is on par with some of the other fuel cell powered vehicles that I have driven in the past. While the event did feature a 10 mph speed limit, the Mirai was undeterred by this, and still delivered a decent driving experience. Power comes from a 153 horsepower electric motor which wields 247 lb-ft of torque and allows the Mirai to deliver an impressive amount of acceleration. The steering feel is predictably numb, but it still does allow the Mirai to have an impressive amount of response and control. The biggest limitation of the Mirai however is not its average performance numbers, but rather the lack of a stable national hydrogen fueling infrastructure. Currently California is the only state in the country with such a capability boasting about 20 or so fueling stations. This relative lack of fueling facilities is the chief reason why the Mirai is only sold in California with other states missing out on Mirai sales.

At the end of the day the biggest question here is whether the Mirai is a solid long term value. With a base MSRP approaching $60,000, it puts the Mirai in a price point that is usually reserved for luxury vehicles and performance oriented vehicles. However, they Mirai backseatcannot match the whisper quiet ride and the fuel savings that serve as the Mirai’s strong suits. Unlike conventional electric vehicles, the Mirai’s running costs are about the same as that of a conventional electric car, which eliminates the ability to recoup the higher costs over time.

Despite this, the Mirai still has a unique level of appeal, and caters to a segment of the market that craves a vehicle that is cutting edge, while still delivering the exceptional fuel economy that makes it stand out in the green car segment. It will be several decades before the rest of the world makes the switch from fossil fuels to renewable fuel sources, but the Mirai does provide a compelling glimpse into this future, and could serve as a figurative first step towards the realization of this goal.