Category Archives: Toyota

2018 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited

Photos Courtesy Toyota

By Vince Bodiford

Among all of the Toyota cars, the Avalon is my favorite. It’s the largest of all of their sedans, and I like big cars. It’s also named after one of my favorite places anywhere – Avalon, which is the crown jewel little town on Santa Catalina Island off the coast of Southern California.

Like the town of Avalon, the car is painting-perfect in good looks, is charming and welcoming, is upscale, and is just the right size.

As Toyota’s flagship midsize sedan, the Avalon brings premium style, performance, interior amenities, and presence to the road – without a first-class price. It’s this blend of high-quality characteristics that has been key to the Avalon’s success since it first rolled off the assembly line at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky back in 1994 (I drove that very first model, and it was great back then, too).

Avalon offers V6 and hybrid powertrains (for this test I drove they hybrid), the latter delivering 40 mpg combined. The Avalon offers a choice of V6 or hybrid powertrains – one of eight Toyota hybrid models available for 2018. The Avalon’s 3.5-liter, DOHC V6 with Dual VVT-imakes 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 248 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm. Teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission, the V6 offers EPA-rated 24 mpg combined fuel economy (21 city/30 highway).

The Avalon offers a luxurious ride, yet also has a sporty side, especially when drivers use the standard steering wheel paddle shifters on the gas model and driving mode selector (Eco, Normal and Sport modes).
The Avalon certainly looks the part of a premium luxury sedan, with a coupe-like profile, bold grille and discrete chrome trim. Even with the sweeping roofline, Avalon provides ample rear seat head room. Interior design and appointments also live up to the premium promise. Avalon’s cabin – one of the roomiest in the segment – offers a choice of three interior color themes including Almond, Light Gray, and Black. Serenity on the road is assured by sound-absorbing and sound-insulating materials, including acoustic-type glass used for the windshield and side glass.

Even the smallest of cabin details have been paid attention to. The power windows, for example, slow down as they approach the top of the window frames, and the coin box features a damper for smooth opening and closing. The steering column tilts and telescopes, and elegant smoke chrome trim surrounds the center panel, while glossy trim frames the shifter.

For drivers wanting more sportiness, the Avalon Touring provides a dynamic and responsive driving experience with sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch dark gray painted alloy wheels. Standard LED headlights and LED daytime running lights give the Touring grade a unique styling signature as well as cutting-edge illumination.

Like the colorful little village on Catalina Island, the Toyota Avalon is available in striking colors with fun names: Ooh La La Rouge Mica, Crème Brulee Mica, Sizzling Crimson Mica, plus Parisian Night Pearl. Pricing starts at $42,800 which is the middle of the price range in the category.

For more information, see your local Toyota dealer, or visit Toyota.com

2018 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

2018 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Toyota Avalon Hybrid. You know what, it is so nice to look at the instrument panel and see the range is like 500 miles. Those days of 7 MPG is behind us, thankfully. Then you look at the price of oil at $61.00 a barrel (55 gallons) turns into $4.00 per gallon at the pump. Now I’m just breaking even. Cars get more economical and the market (oil companies) get their pound of flesh. Then government taxes it heavily and the consumer is back to square one. OK, so that is a myopic view and we really need to put it all in perspective. The cost of goods and services has, overall, come down over the years.

Consider the price of a Ford Model A in 1929 in any color you wanted it (grey, green or black) began at $500 up to $1,200. Surely everyone could afford $500, which translates into $7,200 in 2018 dollars, to $17,000 for the top of the line. Pretty amazing, eh.

General Information:

Assembly: Georgetown, Kentucky, USA; Classification is Midsize; Vehicles from Toyota: 4Runner, 86, Avalon, Camry, C-HR, Corolla, Corolla iM, Highlander, Land Cruiser, Mirai, Prius, Prius C, Prius Prime, Prius V, RAV4, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma, Tundra.

Handling & Performance:

Smooth and comfortable is my first impression. If this were a Corvette, for example, you would be as pumped as a thoroughbred at “post time”. But a sophisticated passenger car isn’t off to the races but more a ride in the park. For sure this is a nice ride and has been an enjoyable week of leisurely travel.

Styling:

Typical Toyota design is to provide good functionality which has surely met consumers appreciation and we know that because Toyota is one of the top selling cars in the world. Fiat has edged them out worldwide in recent years to be number one.

Fit and Finish:

Toyota quality has infected all brands over the past few decades. Most brands have the Toyota standard to live up to. Some do, some don’t. For example, my 2011 Ford F350 is an exception. I just can’t find a cause of whistling sound emanating from the dash that would drive most to drink, or worse.

Cost:

The price of admission is about what I expected and a good value at $40,000.

Conveniences and comfort:

All the bells and whistles are included and what isn’t there isn’t all that important.

Consumer Recommendations:

I’m not a fan of ‘all electric’ but I am a big fan of Hybrid technology for today. Tomorrow – the moon, but I’m in no hurry. Before you’re ready, cars will be driving you. Be patient and enjoy the ‘drive’ in the meantime. The future? I can just imagine race drivers will be obsolete and computers will drive the cars and compete, for what I can’t imagine? Can’t wait, though and quite frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. I’ll enjoy ‘Lizzy’, as long as I can.

Recognised Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled
Toyota Avalon Hybrid 40,000 40 5 4 Japan USA
Ford Fusion Energi 40,000 42 5 4 USA Mexico
Chevrolet Volt 38,000 42 5 4 USA USA
BMW 3-Series 46,000 30 5 4 Germany Germany

Good News:

Comfortable affordable near luxury sedan with very good fuel economy.

Bad News:

N/A.

Standard Equipment:

Hybrid drive with a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder engine, automatic transmission, 17” alloy wheels, power assisted 4-wheel disc brakes, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, dynamic radar cruise control, automatic high beams, star safety system stability and traction control, electronic brakeforce distribution, and smart stop technology, 10-airbags, LATCH child anchor and tether system, anti-theft system with engine immobilizer, blind spot and cross traffic alert, heated mirrors with turn signal indicators, power tilt and slide moonroof, climate control with rear seat vents, AM/FM/CD/HD SXM audio system with 9-speakers, Aux/USB, Bluetooth, backup camera, leather trimmed steering wheel with audio, Bluetooth & voice command controls, leather seating with 8-way driver power seat and 4-way passenger power seat, smart key system with push button start and wireless smartphone charging.

Gas Stats:

40 City and 39 Highway MPG

$3.35 / Gal avg. March 10, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $40,132.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2018 – An Automotive Love Affair

2018 Toyota Yaris iA

2018 Toyota Yaris iA

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Toyota Yaris iA and. since my review research of the 2013 model, as you might expect, Yaris has matured a bit for 2018. It has some history now and it remains in the top half, in class, for reliability and low ownership costs for a roomy interior car with good overall comfort.

My highway miles told me it was a nice stable car for its size and weight. Others I’ve recently reviewed, you may recall, in similar stature were not so good. No complaints from me here, especially for the money one must wonder – you can’t go wrong.

General Information:

Assembly: France; Classification is: Subcompact; Vehicles from Toyota: 4Runner, 86, Avalon, Camry, C-HR, Corolla, Corolla iM, Highlander, Land Cruiser, Mirai, Prius, Prius C, Prius Prime, Prius V, RAV4, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma, Tundra.Yaris, Yaris iA .

Handling & Performance:

Great turning radius and although I was impressed with the highway performance this would be a great commuter and small family sedan. Not much to complain about here and moreover the fuel economy is a big plus and can only grow more important as gas prices continue to rise.

Styling:

Basic design and quite frankly simple clean lines is good for me, especially in such an economy vehicle.

Fit and Finish:

Good.

Cost:

Outstanding value.

Conveniences and comfort:

Pretty basic but the standard features are very good for the money.

Consumer Recommendations:

Usual stuff to make your drive comfortable and economical, but as you look at all the standard features for the money you should be impressed. Overall it is a bargain for your transportation needs and a great young family car.

Recognised Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled
Toyota Yaris iA 18,000 35 5 4 Japan France
Mitsubishi Mirage G4 18,000 37 5 4 Japan Thailand
Chevrolet Sonic 17,000 28 5 4 USA USA
Kia Rio 17,000 32 5 4 Korea Korea
Nissan Versa 17,000 34 5 4 Japan Mexico

Good News:

Good performer, unbeatably priced, comfortable and roomy in class.

Bad News:

Not much to bitch about.

Standard Equipment:

1.5 liter 106 Horsepower 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, sport drive mode, front wheel drive, 16” alloy wheels, low speed pre collision system, stability and traction controls, anti-lock braking system with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, front and side curtain airbags, LATCH child safety system, rear view backup camera, tire pressure monitor, variable intermittent wipers, power mirrors with LED turn signal indicators, fabric trimmed 6-way adjustable driver’s seat and 4-way adjustable passenger seat, 7” color touch screen display, AM/FM/HD radio with 6-speakers, 2-USB ports with iPod connect, Bluetooth hands free phone and music streaming, voice recognition, connected suite for Pandora, Aha and Stitcher audio, remote keyless entry with push button start, cruise control, power windows and locks, tilt / telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, air conditioning, 60/40 split fold flat rear seat.

Gas Stats:

$3.35 / Gal avg. February 26, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

32 City and 40 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $17,050.

2018 Toyota Camry 4-door XSE

2018 Toyota Camry 4-door XSE

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Toyota Camry 4-door XSE. When we buy a product it’s always good to look at the philosophy of the company, to the extent we can. I’ve spent time in the manufacturing process in Japan and have reported, to you in the past, on their culture and thus its influence on work ethic. Here is a short look into how a company mission or philosophy can lead to the processes they employ in making the car you may own.

The push towards lean manufacturing originates from the Toyota Production System which is often referred to as Just-In-Time (JIT) Production. The Toyota Company became successful after World War 2 when Japanese factory owners adopted many American production and quality techniques. The manufacturing techniques of Henry Ford and the Statistical Quality Control ideas of Edwards Deming became the foundation of Toyota’s production process.

Unlike the American automotive industry, Toyota encouraged employees to be a part of the production process. The company introduced quality circles, which was a group of workers who meet to discuss workplace improvement. Quality circle members make presentations to management with regarding the quality of production.

Toyota developed a set of procedures that reduced the time required for setup and changeovers. Unlike Ford’s production, Toyota developed manufacturing in smaller batches and this required a set of processes that reduced setup and changeover times. The resulting procedure was Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED). There are seven steps used in the SMED method for the changeover, including streamlining the external and internal activities.

The developments made by Toyota were adopted by other Japanese manufacturers but none were as successful. In the 1980s, American companies began to adopt some of the processes developed by Toyota and gave these names such as Continuous Flow Manufacturing (CFM), World Class Manufacturing (WCM), and Stockless Production.

It is this playing off one another’s experiences that has been the foundation of our world society today. You know, the invention of the wheel. As simple or basic as things are, the rest could never follow to evolve without beginnings. I suspect we need be very careful of thinking ‘we’ did this or that, unless the “we” includes those who came before us.

General Information:

Assembly: Georgetown, Kentucky, USA; Classification is: Midsize; Vehicles from Toyota: 4Runner, 86, Avalon, Camry, C-HR, Corolla, Corolla iM, Highlander, Land Cruiser, Mirai, Prius, Prius C, Prius Prime, Prius V, RAV4, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma, Tundra.

Handling & Performance:

There are three driving settings, ECO, Normal and Sport. Select sport and it will ‘rocket’ your driving experience. It is a quick and fun performer, while the ECO setting will get top fuel economy, thus it fits all driving choices with a touch of a button. I like it – and Normal is good too.

Styling:

Toyota has always been in style and has led the way in many respects. This ‘Flag Ship’ of their fleet has attractive clean lines. Some may be off-put by some unusual accent lines but the look grew on me over the week of testing.

Fit and Finish:

Very good and consistent with a maturing reputation of Japanese quality. Remember Avis’ advertisements in competition with Hertz rent a car battles? Avis smartly said, “We’re #2 – We Try Harder”. Today reflects that slogan in that there are some ‘also rans’ to Toyota that are challenging their perch on the top spot.

Cost:

Toyota is at the upper end of the cost spectrum and for sure Hyundai will impress you as well for the money.

Conveniences and comfort:

All the hi-tech equipment features I recommend and generally very comfortable seating. I really enjoyed the ride.

Consumer Recommendations:

Toyota has earned their many years of consumer recognition of Toyota as a quality product. People have embraced the product, over those years, and thus they have been included in our test drives. They have become the standard of excellence image for foreign cars to America just as Cadillac has been the standard of excellence for domestic cars in America.

All here listed are worthy of your consideration. Try them all and you’ll make the most informed decision about the best car in your future.

Recognised Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country/Origin Assembled
Toyota Camry 36,000 26 5 4 Japan USA
Ford Fusion 35,000 20 5 4 USA Mexico
Acura TLX 37,000 24 5 4 Japan USA
Hyundai Sonata 33,000 26 5 4 Korea USA
Chevrolet Malibu 32,000 26 5 4 USA USA
Kia Optima 31,000 25 5 4 Korea USA

Good News:

Quality product with consumer endorsement, Camry has matured nicely over the years and this is a good example of that progress.

Bad News:

Annoying seat belt bell that goes from a gentle ding to a louder unnecessary gong. I get it. Perhaps if they provided a ‘variometer’ so I could adjust the reminder bell to decibels more suited to my sensibilities. I do wear my seat belt but I object to an obnoxious reminder.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter V6 301 hp engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, sport tuned suspension, pre-collision system, dynamic radar pedestrian detection, cruise control with lane departure detection, steering assist, ABS with brake assist and smart stop technology, traction control, ten airbags, electronic brake force distribution, blind spot detection with cross traffic alert, anti-theft system with alarm, 19” black machined finish alloy wheels, auto on/off LED headlights, panoramic glass roof with power moonroof, 8” touch screen with connected Nav and App suite, USB, AUD, 10” color heads up display, sport leather trimmed heated front seats and leather trimmed steering wheel with audio, Bluetooth phone and voice command controls, backup camera with dynamic gridlines, 7” multi-information display, tire pressure monitor, wireless charging pad, smart key system with push button start and dual zone climate control.

Gas Stats:

22 City and 32 Highway MPG

$3.25 / Gal avg. February 11, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $34,950.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2018 – An Automotive Love Affair

2018 Toyota Highlander SE FWD V6

2018 Toyota Highlander SE FWD V6

An Automotive Love Affair

By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Toyota Highlander SE FWD V6. In these recent week’s I’ve been covering some Toyota product after a long dry spell with Toyota. There simply are so many cars that have come on the scene we needed to consider contenders of Toyota.

My first impression is that it is what I expected. A good solid car that has enjoyed top billing in today’s world of cars. And rightfully so. I’ve owned a few Toyota’s over the years and personally toured Japanese manufacturing companies. I’ve been impressed with the work ethic there and always been happy with the work they do.

That being said, there are some hungry competitors out there still in the hunt for top spot. When you’re at the top you are very visible and everyone is taking pot shots at you. Toyota has remained vigilant and is a tough competitor. I have been spending a lot of time with South Korean Cars, Hyundai and Kia, and find them to also be tough and determined. I’ve also toured Hyundai production lines and they too are impressive in facilities and people. Don’t you just love Capitalistic competition, where the free market dictates winners and losers. Toyota is no loser, but neither is Hyundai/Kia (sister companies as you likely know). But then, Fiat is at the top today and have taken the lead as largest car company in the world.

General Information:

Assembly: USA; Classification is Small SUV; Vehicles from Toyota: 4Runner, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Camry, Camry Hybrid, C-HR, Corolla, Corolla iM, Highlander, Land Cruiser, Mirai, Prius, Prius C, Prius Prime, Prius V, RAV4, RAV4 Hybrid, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma Access Cab, Tacoma Double Cab, Tundra CrewMax, Tundra Double Cab, Tundra Regular Cab, Yaris and Yaris iA.

Handling & Performance:

Bullet proof. Not much more need be said, but I’ll say it anyway. With 3.6 liters, you get great performance and handling over the mountain Angeles Crest curvy road it was comfortable and in control. Naturally high center of gravity SUV’s are not race cars and surely you can’t push too hard, but I tend to do just that to find limits. But all in all, it holds its own and keeps up with the flow of traffic just fine.

Styling:

We all have found Toyota to be recognisable on the highway – mostly because there are so many of them. But the lines are beginning to blur with the growing number of competitors like Hyundai/Kia who are quickly filling in the gaps.

Fit and Finish:

Toyota has been among the best in design and assembly. This Highlander is no exception.

Cost:

In line with the competition.

Conveniences and comfort:

Good. But wann-bes are pushing the high-tech stuff to gain an edge. You’ll want to watch closely and push contenders for the best features for the money.

Consumer Recommendations:

This field of brands are all worthy adversaries. At the end of the day you’re going to have to do a lot of test drives in class to find the best fit for your needs.

If you read my column regularly you know I am a fan of Hyundai/Kia, at this time – but we all know it is YOU who will vote with YOUR dollars and that is what counts. Just take the time and see all of them, because you’ll likely be driving your next car for a good long time. That wasn’t always true when many will tell us cars, in years past not always made for long lasting service.

Recognised Competition:

Toyota Highlander SE $41,000, CadillacXT5 $41,000, Buick Enclave $41,000, Ford Flex $41,000, Jeep Grand Cherokee $40,000, Mazda CX-9 $41,000, Dodge Durango $39,000, Hyundai Santa Fe $40,000.

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country/Origin Assembled
Toyota Highlander 41,000 23 7 4 Japan USA
Cadillac XT5 41,000 22 5 4 USA USA
Buick Enclave 41,000 21 7 4 USA USA
Ford Flex 41,000 18 7 4 USA CANADA
Jeep Grand Cherokee 40,000 21 5 4 USA USA
Mazda CX 9 41,000 24 7 4 Japan Japan
Dodge Durango 39,000 21 7 4 USA USA
Hyundai Santa Fe 40,000 20 7 4 Korea Korea

Good News:

Great array of features included as priced, good power, comfortable seating for up to 7 people.

Bad News:

N/A

Standard Equipment:

3.5 literV6 engine, direct shift 8-speed auto trans, power assist 4-wheel disc brakes, 19” alloy wheels, stop / start engine system, hill-start assist control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert and steering assist, auto high beams, dynamic radar cruise control, 8- front, side and side curtain airbags, blind spot monitor with cross traffic alert, smart key, alarm and engine immobilizer, LATCH anchor system for children, power liftgate with flip-up window, power tilt / slide moonroof with sunshade, 7-seating leather heated front seats, 12-way driver power seat and 4-way passenger seat, 2nd row captain seats and sunshades, 3rd row 60/40 split fold flat seats, backup camera with 8” display, touch screen Nav, and audio and CD/MP3/ USB/Auxiliary, HD and SXM, Bluetooth phone/Music and App suite, 4.2” color nav linked multi-info display, 5 USB ports.

Gas Stats:

21 City and 27 Highway MPG

$2.99 / Gal avg. December 31, 2017

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $40,090.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2018 – An Automotive Love Affair

2018 Toyota Corolla

2018 Toyota Corolla

An Automotive Love Affair

By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Toyota Corolla. Corolla was introduced into the US market in the summer of 1968. That is exactly 10 years after Toyota began marketing and selling their cars in the US. Surely they have come a long way in quality and in numbers. By 2012 they had produced 200 million cars and since then they have consistently sold over 10 Million cars each year worldwide. But they aren’t the largest car maker any longer since VW eclipsed Toyota’s record in 2016.

No question they are a very good car company but in today’s world the competition is stiffer than in the past, in my opinion. Technology has advanced so rapidly that one has to wonder what will happen to the automobile industry in the relatively near future.

I have been working with an Autonomous vehicle company and it is impressive how fast the concepts are being picked up by many metropolitan cities for the use of driverless cars. Other interested potential users include the major airline industries, Disney theme parks, Colleges, and many more.

“Beam me up Scotty” may not be heard any time soon, but the demand for cars in America may be taking a nose dive, as driverless vehicles are perfected. From what I’ve seen that shouldn’t be too far off.

General Information:

Assembly: Japan; Classification is Midsize; Vehicles from Toyota: 4Runner, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Camry, Camry Hybrid, C-HR, Corolla, Corolla iM, Highlander, Land Cruiser, Mirai, Prius, Prius C, Prius Prime, Prius V, RAV4, RAV4 Hybrid, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma Access Cab, Tacoma Double Cab, Tundra CrewMax, Tundra Double Cab, Tundra Regular Cab, Yaris and Yaris iA.

Handling & Performance:

Actually I was very surprised and impressed on the Crest Test mountain road course for a 1.8 liter 132 horsepower engine.

Styling:

Simple and I like it that way.

Fit and Finish:

Good and that is no surprise to those who drive Toyota products.

Cost:

Very affordable and the options that upgrade to the SE model are also affordable at $1,535 over base prices noted here.

Conveniences and comfort:

Very good features at this price point for a midsize car when you include the options. I like the lane assist but if it isn’t needed you can turn it off. To me it is a helpful feature but it can be annoying.

Consumer Recommendations:

Pay particular attention to the Smart Cruise feature in all those you test. I found this version isn’t as good as the ‘smarter’ smart cruises out there. The reason I give it bad marks is that it cuts out at 25-30 mph and when you’re used to full start/stop versions this one can be dangerous. Most these days, at the very least, will come to a complete stop before releasing control. Let me know what you think.

Recognized Competition:

Toyota Corolla $23,000, Kia Niro $24,000, Honda HR-V $23,000, Mazda CX-3 $22,000.

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled
Toyota Corolla 21,000 31 5 4 Japan Canada
Hyundai Elantra 21,000 35 5 4 Korea Korea
Mitsubishi Lancer 21,000 26 5 4 Japan Japan
Chevy Cruze 22,000 32 5 4 USA USA
Mazda 3 20,000 32 5 4 Japan Japan
Subaru Impreza 20,000 32 5 4 Japan USA
VW Jetta 22,000 32 5 4 Germany Mexico

Good News:

Economical to buy and operate, basic, good power and handles nicely. It continues to be one of the more popular offerings from Toyota.

Bad News:

Small size feeling more like a sub-compact to me. Another thing that is an irritation, for me, is the Seat Belt warning tone, that seems even louder than most. What’s next, the car can’t be started until you buckle up? That rubs me the wrong way because the Smart cruise has an almost inaudible sound when it drops control of the cruise function. My reason is simple, I want the option to turn off the seat belt bell. Or if it triggered a reminder periodically it wouldn’t be so bad. Hey, I’m just going next door or taking a turn around the ranch – Shut up !

Standard Equipment:

1.8 liter 132 horsepower 4-cylinder VVT engine, Continuously variable transmission, sport drive mode, 17”Alloy wheels, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar, power steering, auto high beams, Star Safety system, power ABS braking with brakeforce distribution and smart stop technology, 8-airbags front, front side mounted, driver knee, passenger seat mounted side airbag, passenger seat cushion, front and rear side curtain airbags, LATCH child system, power heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals, rear spoiler, SofTex front sport seats with fabric inserts, power adjustable front seats, audio with 6 “ touch screen, multimedia bundle with AUX/ USB, Bluetooth, Voice recognition, Siri Eyes free 4.2 ” color monitor, backup camera, leather wrapped steering wheel with Audio & hands free phone voice command, steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, climate control, remote keyless entry, power windows and locks.

SE Premium package for $1,535 includes: Audio Plus with Navigation, multimedia bundle with 7” HD touchscreen display, AM/FM CD player, 8-speakers, Aux, audio jack, USB port with iPod connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition, phone, phone book access and music streaming with Bluetooth wireless technology, GPS nav scout link app, Siri eyes free, Sirius XM w/ 3 month comp, HD traffic and Weather, Smart Key system with push button start, power tilt / slide moonroof with sunshade.

Gas Stats:

28 City and 35 Highway MPG

$2.99 / Gal avg. December 17, 2017

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $20,495 – with SE Premium Pkg – add $1,535.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2017 – An Automotive Love Affair

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium

An Automotive Love Affair

By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium. Overall it is a nice car but it is sometimes the little things that bug us most. In this case it was the Seatbelt alarm. It is always annoying but this was especially noxious to my senses when I ignored its demand to buckle up. Several seconds after the first reminder a really loud alarm that you can no longer ignore. What next? will the manufacturer require you to connect your seatbelt before the car will start. You can see it coming as your every action is controlled by a computer. In my opinion, you should be provided with a switch you can turn off such alarms. I’m guessing there are some services from aftermarket folks to disable the alarm. If you know any let me know and I will share with other readers. I put the seat belt on but if I’m going next door to the neighbor I should be able to decide when I put it on. Nag, Nag, Nag just doesn’t get it for me. Perhaps the manufacturer should allow a button to be pushed to delay the reminder. That would make me happy.

General Information:

Assembly: Japan; Classification is Compact; Vehicles from Toyota: 4Runner, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Camry, Camry Hybrid, C-HR, Corolla, Corolla iM, Highlander, Land Cruiser, Mirai, Prius, Prius C, Prius Prime, Prius V, RAV4, RAV4 Hybrid, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma Access Cab, Tacoma Double Cab, Tundra CrewMax, Tundra Double Cab, Tundra Regular Cab, Yaris and Yaris iA.

Handling & Performance:

It handled the Crest Mountain course very well. Fun.

Styling:

Undecided on design, but the consumer is the judge of what looks good to them. So ultimately sales will be the judge. For me it’s a little busy and I’m inclined toward smooth lines.

It looks like a two door at first glance but it has real high rear door handles molded into the body. Curious because small children would not be able to reach them as they are almost to the roof height.

Fit and Finish:

Good… meaning pretty average at this price point.

Cost:

I’m always amazed at how affordable, generally, that such a great convenience, like today’s cars, can cost.

Conveniences and comfort:

Good standard features listing.

Consumer Recommendations:

All competitors are very closely priced so in class a test drive of all 4 would be wise. I am partial to the Kia but wouldn’t rule out any of the others listed. Styling wise Kia and Mazda have more traditional clean lines, which as noted here are more to my liking. Kia reports the best fuel economy because it is a Hybrid. But the pricing is the same so it gives Kia a decided advantage.

Recognized Competition:

Toyota C-HR $23,000, Kia Niro $24,000, Honda HR-V $23,000, Mazda CX-3 $22,000.

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled
Toyota C-HR 23,000 29 5 4 Japan Japan
Kia Niro 24,000 50 5 4 Korea Korea
Honda HR-V 23,000 29 5 4 Japan Mexico
Mazda CX-3 22,000 29 5 4 Japan Japan

Good News:

Priced right and fuel economy is good.

Bad News:

Kia seems to have a MPG advantage.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 144 horsepower 4-cylinder electronic fuel injected engine, front wheel drive, electric power assisted steering, 4-wheel disc brakes, 18” alloy wheels, Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, auto high beams, full speed range dynamic radar cruise control, electric parking brake, front, side and side curtain airbags, backup camera, LATCH child system, tire pressure monitoring system, auto on/off headlights, rear window wiper and defogger, power mirrors with turn signals, variable intermittent wipers, 7” touch screen for audio, AM/FM/HD with 6-speakers, Aux/ USB ports with iPod connectivity, hands-free phone and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless, voice recognition, 4.2” color multi-information display, dual zone climate control, remote keyless entry, power locks and window, leather trim tilt and telescopic steering wheel with controls.

Gas Stats:

27 City and 31 Highway MPG

$2.99 / Gal avg. December 17, 2017

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $24,350.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2017 – An Automotive Love Affair

Toyota Tundra with Chief Engineer

2017Chief Engineer Mike Sweers (left) and Toyota Division Group Vice President and General Manager Bill Fay pose with the 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro after its reveal at the Chicago Auto Show.

Photo by Joe Wilssens

By Joe Mavilia

Our road trip in the Tundra was as comfortable as a large luxury sedan. Photo by Toyota

TEST DRIVE Toyota Tundra 4X4 SR5 Crewmax has Michigan roots Michigander Mike Sweersis Toyota’s “Truck Whisperer”

My recent test drive of the Toyota Tundra pickup was one of longest road trips we’ve taken in a while – about 1,200 miles from Michigan to Virginia and back. We found the pickup had pleasant road manners and provided a ride quality you’d expect from a large luxury sedan. With a base price starting at $38,470 it was easy to see why this American-made full size pickup is popular in the Midwest – with its engineering roots right here in Southeast Michigan.

At the Toyota Technical Center in York Township, Mike Sweers serves as the chief engineer for both the Tundra and Tacoma. Based right here in Southeastern Michigan, we spokewith him to find out a little more about the life of a chief engineer and what goes into making Toyota trucks.

Exactly what do you do?

“A chief engineer’s responsibility is really the vehicle from the start to the finish of its life cycle. What I mean by that is as we start with the vehicle concept, looking at what the customer wants, needs, desires, and how that vehicle fits into their daily life and how we – as Akio Toyoda would say – make our customer smile. So that involves collecting data from Product Planning, Marketing and other groups.

We meet with evaluation groups so we can understand how a customer would use the vehicle in the segment. Since I’m in charge of trucks, it’s how would a full-sized truck customer use this truck instead of a compact truck customer. What do they do with them? From a daily driver, to weekends, to the guy who goes out and races his truck in the desert or rock climbs.”

So when it starts, you have nothing really?

“It depends. If it’s a brand new concept vehicle or a brand new segment, it’s different. We have to understand what we’re trying to sell. Trucks are a very well established segment. And how you treat that segment or how you break into that segment may be completely different. For Tundra, it’s more of what we call a niche truck. The opposite of that is Tacoma. We are the leader in that segment. And how we approach each vehicle is a little different.”

So what is the difference between a Tundra customer and an F-150 customer?

“A Tundra customer is really buying the truck because they know that truck is going to last. It has the lowest cost of ownership. It has the highest residual value in the market. And that supports the fact that the customer will get a high-quality product.”

What is the design process like?

“As we move into design, we get into daily activities with the engineers. How are we going to put the vehicle together? What combinations go together? We work with TEMA production engineering. We work with purchasing every day, cost planning every day. We need to make sure we’re hitting design targets. And we’re still working with styling, and the goal is that the initial sketch everyone agreed to is what we want to hit. So trying to find new ways of manufacturing and making sure we can still build the product.

What’s important to doing your job well?

To me, the key to being a good chief engineer is to be a customer. So if I have to change the oil, can I get to the oil filter without running oil all over the place? We had a van when my kids were young and I had to make everyone go inside when I’d change the oil on it because it was a 90-minute affair and an hour of that was cleaning up the oil. It would infuriate me, and that’s something I think about. Even when we go down to the plant, one thing I tell our engineers is, “If you wouldn’t want to do that job for eight hours a day, then don’t ask somebody else to do that job.”

For more information, see your local Toyota dealer, or visit www.Toyota.com

Test Drive by Vince Bodiford

2010 Camry (842)

This week we’re looking at a 1992 Toyota Camry V6 LE 4-door sedan with 205,000 miles on the odometer. I would have guessed 502,000 miles, but could I be dyslexic? What a junk never-the-less. I wanted to look at what a car becomes when it is used and abused. It was purchased and used most of its life in New Jersey so the many harsh winters have added to the use and abuse. Then I got to thinking of my 1997 Dodge Ram 3500 dual wheel with over 260,000 miles. Some say that the Cummins diesel engine is just broken in about that mileage. 18 wheel trucks with Cummins diesel engines will easily do a million miles before needing any real care.

It is appropriate to use the Camry for this OLD car review because it has become so popular with a cult following for Toyota products. If you are one of those and have a story of your Toyota and want to share it, write me. Most of the folks who love foreign made cars and trucks tend to discount American made products unfairly. At this year’s LA Auto Show Ford showed off its dominance with the largest and most impressive display that outshined everything else. Yes, even Toyota. Funny how American car makers have finally begun to regain the trust of American car buyers over the past couple of years. I believe the turnaround for Ford was due in large part to the fact that most people were impressed that Ford refused any Bail Out MONEY. God bless American ingenuity and independence. Ford will be remembered fondly for snubbing the Federal Governments attempts to take control.

Camry has been one of the most popular of Toyota’s model offerings in America and they were the top dog in the automotive world. I like the New Camry but I now dread getting back into this old worn out 1992 dog.

Handling & Performance:

Rickety and rattle trap is a good description of this Camry but that’s not all bad, since all those squeaks and rattles kept me awake on the long drive home. The brakes were smooth but I didn’t dare turn too many switches for fear that something would break or fall off or it would stop running altogether. My accounting professor in college defined depreciation as “Old age, Obsolescence or Use” and if that is a fair definition this Camry is fully depreciated and is not long for the road.

I thought – do I dare take this over a mountain road for a test that I do with most every new car I review. Nah, not a chance with this one, because something is liable to break and I’ll end up down a 1,000 foot cliff which I doubt would be much good for either of us.

Styling:

This Camry still looks good from a distance and that just goes to show you that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Conveniences and comfort:

It’s got a lot of stuff that was available back when it was new, but some stuff doesn’t work any longer. The windows ceased to function, the seats are worn and the springs are painfully evident. The radio has since been replaced with a cheap knock off from Pep Boys. It was really depressing and I reflected on how I have come to expect everything to work since I review New cars mostly. I even feel I should be able to count on it to deliver perfect service, but after many years and miles that expectation is unrealistic. Cruise Control is one of those features that I can’t live without, so I was happy to find it still worked well.

It didn’t have navigation but with this car I was happy to get anywhere even if I were lost.

Fit and Finish:

It was good when first assembled new but the close tolerances are starting to annoy each other.

Cost:

I don’t know what a tow would cost these days but that may be the best investment at this juncture. I wouldn’t even want to donate the car to charity. That wouldn’t be very charitable.

Consumer Recommendation:

Both of my trucks are still running. The 1997 Dodge Ram has well over 260,000 miles (I stopped looking at it at 200,000) and the 1984 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck also has over 200,000 miles. Take care of whatever you drive and it is likely to last longer than you need it.

Recognized Competition:

Toyota Camry, Mitsubishi Galant, Hyundai Sonata, Chevrolet Malibu, Saturn Aura, Pontiac G6, Kia Optima, Mazda 6, Mazda Tribute, Nissan Altima, Mercury Milan, Ford Fusion.

Good News:

It made it to 205,000 miles; annoying seat belt reminder bell doesn’t work.

Bad News:

It’s limping badly and might have to be shot.

Standard Equipment:

3.0 liter 185 hp V6 engine, 4-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, power windows and locks, seating for 5, audio with cassette player, driver airbag.  I’m sure there is more but I can’t find it. With this car I was happy to have a AAA membership.

Gas Stats:

$3.07/ Gal avg. Dec 1, ‘10

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

18 City and 26 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $19,228 New. $2,300 Kelly Blue Book – a real stretch for this one.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2010 – An Automotive Love Affair

2010 Toyota Venza AWD (829)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2010 Toyota Venza AWD SUV. If you ever questioned the popularity of the SUV consider that nearly half of Toyota’s lineup are SUV’s. MSRP for RAV4 ($22,000), FJ Cruiser ($24,000), Highlander ($26,000), 4Runner ($27,000), Venza ($30,000), Sequoia ($39,000) and Land Cruiser ($66,000), or 7 out of 16 .

The why is pretty simple – they are the most profitable models for all car makers. Venza is just the latest addition to the SUV offerings from Toyota which began with the 2009 model year. To me Venza is a middle of the road model and although the Sequoia and land cruiser are bigger and bulkier I prefer smaller and Venza is just right for me where son Mike with 4 kids Land Cruiser is more to his need. So he bought a Lincoln Navigator and a GMC Yukon Denali. Both are AWD and that is a problem since fuel economy is a contradiction in terms. He also has learned the GMC tends to have transmission and differential problems as they age. The Lincoln is older but no noticeable problems after 130,000 miles. The key is taking care of either or any car. Changing the transmission fluid and engine oil is critical for longevity.

I’ve owned a few Toyota’s because I was in the auto repair business for many years and I was too busy working on other people’s car choices that I didn’t have time to work on my own car. Toyota solved that problem.

Opinion:

The popularity of Japanese cars stems from the basic work ethic of the Japanese. Consumers have found the result to be a quality car that is pitted against competition burdened with a work force controlled by strong arm Union organizers.

America invented the automobile industry and Henry Ford perfected the process but the Japanese have avoided Unions who have pushed wage packages of US automakers to more than double that of the Japanese and Korean companies.

Those who read my column know I have complained about this for years but the mainstream media won’t attack powerful Union thugs.

A Wall Street Journal article states that on average, GM pays $81.18 an hour in wages and benefits including pension and retiree medical costs.But Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson manages to ignore the huge labor cost advantage enjoyed by non-union Toyota.
How much of an advantage?  According to that same article, Harbour Consulting President Ron Harbour estimates Toyota’s total hourly U.S. labor costs, with benefits, at about $35 an hour.

The problem with this huge gap is that quality is cut to make up for the difference of labor costs. Friend and automotive designer Merkel complains that components are engineered precisely so that an acceptable failure rate is conditioned on cost. Naturally, I don’t expect a car to last 100 years when we toss them in the junk pile after 10. But foreign non-union manufacturers are able to make a car last longer. And that folks is a big thanks to the UAW who have bullied management (with Golden Parachutes) to cave in to Union demands.

The final bottom line is that consumers naturally gravitate to foreign car makers because they instinctively know that this is TRUE.

Handling & Performance:

I thoroughly enjoyed the ride around New England – Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC. I like the size, comfort and road-ability. 268 horsepower is just perfect for a balance of enough performance and fairly good fuel economy.

Styling:

Well, they surely give you lots of price ranges but with the exception of the FJ Cruiser (that I love the look of) the rest are simply too much the same and I could flip a coin and be just as happy with one as another.

Fit and Finish:

Predictably outstanding

Cost:

Chose one that fits your budget and you’ll be happy.

Conveniences and comfort:

Toyota offers eight option packages: Security, Convenience, and Lighting. Leather, Comfort, Tow and for combined packages, Premium #1 and Premium #2.

Recognized Competition:

Toyota Venza $26-30,000, Acura RDX $33-38,000, Audi A4 Avant $35,350, BMW 3-Series Sport $36-38,000 Chevrolet Equinox $23-30,000,Dodge Journey $21-30,000, Ford Edge $27-38,000, Honda CR-V $22-30,000, Hyundai Santa Fe $22-30,000, Infiniti EX $34-37,000, Mazda CX-7 $22-33,000, Mercury Mariner $24-27,000, Nissan Murano $28-39,000, Pontiac Torrent $25-31,000, Saab 9-3 $30-37,000, Saturn Vue $23-31,000, Subaru Outback $23-31,000.

Good News:

Comfortable, fair fuel economy, nice styling and Toyota time proven quality.

Bad News:

None.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 268 horsepower V6 engine, 6-speed auto trans, 20” alloy wheels, power steering, 4-wheel ABS power disc brakes with electronic brake distribution, stability control, front side and side curtain airbags, LATCH child system, tire pressure monitor, rear intermittent wiper, climate control, audio with CD integrated SAT & USB port, hands free pone & music streaming via Bluetooth, MP3 player, 60/40 fold flat rear seat, tilt & telescopic steering wheel with controls, power windows & locks, remote keyless entry.

Gas Stats:

$2.95/ Gal avg. September 5, 2010

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

18 City and 25 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $29,550.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2010 – An Automotive Love Affair