Category Archives: Toyota

2018 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell

2018 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Toyota Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell sedan. Many car makers have been producing Hydrogen Fuel Cell concept cars since the late 1990’s. I first test drove the Hy Wire from General Motors in the early 2000s.

Now, it is clear to me, this is a technology that has gone from concept to production for public consumption. Yes, it is a little pricey but that is always expected in the early years but there are work-arounds to own and drive this exciting ‘electric’ car. Yes, it is an electric car – not an internal combustion powered vehicle.

I was less anxious about refueling with the Fuel Cell car than with an all-electric car. Electric require anywhere from 45 minutes to 24 hours to recharge. It only takes 5 minutes to refuel a Hydrogen car. Remember, this is simply an electric car with an on board charging system including regenerative charging from braking. There is even a shift select labeled Br so you can recharge when going downhill as in driving in the mountains where descending will allow recharging and afford some braking. That is much like an internal combustion engine car where you can use the engine to slow you by using lower gears.

General Information:

Assembly- Toyota, Aichi, Japan; Classification is- Subcompact; Vehicles from Toyota- 4Runner, 86, 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:

This is nearly the same as any other electric car. Quick acceleration and a smooth quiet ride. It holds about 5 kg (kilograms) of hydrogen fuel at about 11 lbs at a cost of about $14.50 to $16.00 a Kilo. I found the fuel usage to be pretty accurate but because of the limited number of refueling stations you have to plan ahead to know where all stations are located and that fit your travel needs and habits. One tank of fuel takes you about 260 miles.

Here’s how it works:

Styling:

Futuristic which is in line with much of the designs of today.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

There is no question most will find a Fuel Cell car are similar in cost to purchase of the competition noted here. The cost of Hydrogen is more expensive than gas / diesel, or Hybrid power systems.

Conveniences and comfort:

Generally, you can have all the great high tech features available on most other cars. I also found it to be an exceptionally smooth and quiet ride.

Although there are only about 35 refueling stations in California at this time, there are that many under construction and those I’ve been to are on the property (leased space) of gas / diesel stations like Chevron and ARCO. What that tells me is that the infrastructure is expanding faster than Rapid Electric Charge stations – (45 minutes for an 80% charge). Not my idea of ‘rapid’.

Consumer Recommendations:

The competition noted includes Hybrid offerings and that puts the Mirai in the company of pricey similar transportation cars. However, this newly available Fuel Cell technology electric car market is still evolving. This Mirai is currently available to purchase or lease arrangements, which I would prefer and found that to be the usual case for those I interviewed at refueling stations. Generally, the lease includes fuel and maintenance and may vary with each manufacturer. One man I spoke with who was driving a Mirai had a lease which included $15,000 in fuel during the lease period.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars published:
• 2007 – Honda FCX Clarity
• 2010 – Mercedes-Benz
• 2014 – Hyundai Tucson
• 2015 – Toyota Mirai .
• 2016 – Riversimple Rasa.
• 2016 – Honda Clarity
• 2018 – Hyundai Nexo.

I have only written about the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Car, but would like to test drive more of the above listed production cars. Note: contact me if you are driving a Fuel Cell car and what your experience has been.
joe@autolove.com.

Recognized Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled
Toyota Mirai 59,000 NA 4 4 Japan Japan
Jaguar XF 59,000 28 5 4 UK UK
Volvo S90 60,000 25 5 4 Sweden Sweden
Audi A6 60,000 23 5 4 Germany Germany
BMW 5 Series 54,000 72 5 4 Korea Korea
Mercedes E-Class 54,000 25 5 4 USA Canada
Cadillac CTS 55,000 24 5 4 USA USA
Lexus GS 48,000 26 5 4 Japan Japan
Infiniti Q50 58,000 24 5 4 Japan Japan
Lincoln MKZ 41,000 24 5 4 USA Mexico

Good News:

New technology that has come of age. Emissions are water and so pure that it is said you can even drink it.

Bad News:

More expensive than conventional cars of today.

Standard Equipment:

Toyota Fuel Cell system, 151 horsepower, Electric motor, power and ECO modes, stability and traction controls, ABS electronic brake system with Brake force distribution and brake assist, smart stop technology, Safety and emergency connect assistance, stolen vehicle locator, roadside assistance, radar cruise control with pre-collision system, lane departure alert, blind spot detection / monitor with rear cross traffic alert, carbon fiber reinforced polymer, fuel cell stack protective structure and Hydrogen storage tanks, eight airbags, 17” alloy wheels, LED headlights with auto high beam, auto folding and heated mirrors, rain sensing wipers, 7” touch screen with backup camera, Siri eyes free, Wifi connect powered by Verizon, Sirius XM radio, Bluetooth Hands-free and Music streaming, smart key system with push button start, power windows, heated front seats, USB, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel.

Gas Stats:

67 combined City and Highway MPG

$3.79 / Gal of gas avg. October 12, 2018
$14-16.00 per Kg (Kilo) of Hydrogen

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $58,365.

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

2018 Toyota Prius c Four

2018 Toyota Prius c Four

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Toyota Prius c Four. To clear up some confusion on the model designation of the “Prius c” a brief explanation is in order. The model protocol has changed with Toyota and it simply means they have numbered the model 1 through 5. “One” is the base model and each succeeding number to “Five” adds more features to the last. This, instead of designations like CE, LE, XLE etc. It is easier to understand since we all know 5 is greater than 1.

Prius was introduced in 1997 in many countries and was the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle. It went over big in a PC world where economical vehicle operation and being friendly to the planet was high on the list of important matters. Heck, you even had a free pass, at the time to ride in the diamond lane with only one person in the car. Anything to advance the interest in ECO cars. Well, we all have opinions on that group think, but most will agree on the idea in principle. Now, of course, in 2018 there are many choices for ECO cars on the market generally, but specifically there are only a couple of manufacturers who dabble in this small ECO car market. But in this class, I like the Hyundai and Kia small efficient around town options. I say around town because most small cars are not Highway Cars. A classic example is the ‘All-Electric’ car that I’ll talk about more in the coming weeks. Simply put Electric only cars are ok for local travel where carrying a lot of stuff is not important, or short commute uses of these cars.

General Information:

Assembly- Isawa, Iwate, Japan; Classification is- Compact; Vehicles from Toyota- 4Runner, 86, Avalon, Camry, C-HR, Corolla, Corolla Hatchback, Corolla iM, Highlander, Land Cruiser, Mirai, Prius, Prius C, Prius Prime, RAV4, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma, Tundra, Yaris and Yaris iA.

Handling & Performance:

Just fine handling, easy to maneuver and park and more than fast enough.

Styling:

Design is in the can, and since introduction in 1997 Prius has changed little. Size varies from the ‘c’ to the larger Prius V.

Fit and Finish:

Typical and good fitting components that are easy to assemble.

Cost:

Prices range from the low to high twenty-thousand-dollar range.

Conveniences and comfort:

Most of today’s usual features are available for comfort and all the gadgets we are addicted to these days.

Consumer Recommendations:

If you are convinced you want a Prius and are as confused as most in all the variations a great source of explanation can be found at this Autotrader link:
https://www.autotrader.com/car-reviews/toyota-prius-vs-prius-c-vs-prius-v-whats-differenc-223750

I like the Hybrid idea because it provides economical operation. I’m not convinced, however, that All-Electric cars will work for all applications, but rather only close to home use. Beyond local use only Hybrids fill the bill. But for best all-around use gas / diesel cars are the best option. To me, gas powered cars and trucks will dominate the auto scene for a good long time. This is especially true because gas / diesel power has become so efficient there is little difference in performance and operating cost. I like the idea of owning a car where there are refueling facilities everywhere. Electricity is everywhere but the charge times for all electric is way too long.

Recognized Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled
Toyota Prius c Four 26,000 46 5 4 Japan Japan
Toyota Prius 26,000 56 5 4 Japan Japan
Volkswagen Golf 22,000 29 5 4 Germany Mexico

Good News:

Great economical 5 seat car, fast enough, good fuel economy.

Bad News:

On the mountain road test proved passing is a very tough thing, fuel economy is not significantly greater than gas powered.

Standard Equipment:

Hybrid synergy drive system, 1.5-liter DOHC 16V VVT inline 4-cylinder engine, EV / ECO modes, 15” alloy wheels, VSC & traction controls, ABS brake system with elect. Brake force Distribution and brake assist, smart stop technology, 9-air bags, safety sense, pre-collision system, lane departure alert, auto high beams, LATCH Child safety system, engine immobilizer, tire pressure monitor, LED projector headlights, stop and tail lights, heated power outside mirrors with turn signals, rear spoiler, power tilt / slide moonroof, Auto climate control, premium audio and Nav and App suite, 6.1 touch screen with backup camera, AM/FM/CD with 6-speakers, SXM, HD radio, aux jack, USB port and Bluetooth, 3.5” TFT multi-info display with selectable screens, Cruise control, power windows, smart key with push button start, heated front seats, 6-way adjustable driver seat, 4-way adjustable passenger seat, 60/40 split fold down rear seats and cargo area tonneau cover.

Gas Stats:

48 City and 43 Highway MPG

$3.49 / Gal avg. September 11, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $24,965.

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

2018 Toyota 86 2-Door Coupe

2018 Toyota 86 2-Door Coupe

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Toyota 86 2-Door Coupe. Yep, there is a small back seat if you’re in a pinch and don’t want to put someone in the trunk. But you may have to remove their legs first. Most cars like this have never had a useable rear seat. Case in point in my mind is the much larger Ford Mustang where the rear seat is nearly as bad as these 2-seat sports cars.

General Information:

Assembly- Ota Guma Japan; Vehicles from Toyota- 4Runner, 86, C-HR, Corolla, Corolla iM, Highlander, Land Cruiser, Mirai, Prius, Prius C, Prius Prime, RAV4, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma, Tundra, Yaris and Yaris iA.

Handling & Performance:

As you’d expect this class sport car is an outstanding performer beyond even what they look like they could do. I test most all cars over a mountain road course, in Southern California it is usually the Angeles Crest which is Highway 2. Of course, I call it the ‘Crest Test’ for that reason and as a kid the Crest test referred to Crest Toothpaste. Anyone remember that?

“On RAILS”is a term that comes close to describing how well it corners and handles the ‘curves’. It will surely get your heart started. And on top of that, it will pull more G’s as speed increases and grip seems to improve. I never once felt uncomfortable about it holding the road. However, I must say the same about the competition listed here. All three are super on the curves and the rides are equally impressive.

One way I judge the road-ability of a car is how fast you can take a curve over the posted suggested speed. If the yellow sign suggests 30 mph most cars will feel right at the edge of in control at about 50, or 20 mph over. This Toyota 86 is comfortable at 40 miles over.

Dynamic rev Management is an innovative sport car feature that manages RPMs with an automatic transmission so that in a downshift the engine automatically revs the engine to match the engine speed of the next lower gear. This automatic action mimics the shifting characteristics of a manual transmission. What they won’t think of next, eh.

Styling:

Sporty look to go along with the feel you get when you drive it. But most first impressions from others was that it must be very expensive.

Fit and Finish:

Very Good.

Cost:

Excellent option if you’re looking for a sport car.

Conveniences and comfort:

You’ll notice it comes with most of the features so common on cars these days. But when it comes to comfort you will expect entry and exit to be a pain in the neck, back and other parts of your body. You will also expect to have limited space and thus you won’t have convenient storage compartments you get accustomed to in larger cars.

Consumer Recommendations:

It is clear and amazing, to me, that you can have such capable sports car handling performance in this price range. Anything beyond this is, in my opinion, to be left to the professional race car class of drivers anyway.So, don’t waste your money on more if you are not a race car driver.

I say that because a friend of my son, Paul Walker, died for this very reason. The car was far too powerful for Paul’s friend, who was driving, to control and a crash at over 100 mph killed them both. If you know the story you know alcohol or drugs were not involved. Moral of the story: Know your limitations when you get behind the wheel.

Paul Walker and friend (driving) died in fiery crash in 2013 – Car Porsche Carrera GT

Recognized Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled
Toyota 86 28,000 27 4 2 Japan Japan
Subaru BRZ 26,000 24 4 2 Japan Japan
Nissan 370Z 32,000 22 2 2 Japan Japan

Good News:

Affordable performance sport car, fabulously fun to drive.

Bad News:

Anything built this low to the ground is for the young who are still limber enough to get in and out of. That holds true for a woman in a dress or skirt as it is awkward to negotiate entry and exit moves. Know what I mean!

Standard Equipment:

2.0 LITER 4-cylinder Boxer 200 HP engine, dual variable valve timing, direct and port injection system, dynamic rev management and controllers on a 6-speed sequential auto transmission, 17” alloy wheels, 4-wheel anti-lock ventilated disc brakes with brake assist and electric brake force distribution, MacPherson strut front suspension, Torsen limited slip differential, stability and traction controls, hill start assist control, VSC Track mode, front airbag system with seat mounted side airbags and side curtain airbags front and rear, back up camera, tire pressure monitor, power exterior mirrors, auto projector beam LED headlights and taillights, 7” touch screen display audio AM/FM/HD radio with 8-speakers, aux/USB ports with iPod connectivity, hands free phone capable and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology, aha application, remote keyless entry with engine immobilization, power windows and locks, 1-piece folding rear seatback, leather trim, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, air conditioning, rear window defogger, multi-information display.

Gas Stats:

24 City and 32 Highway MPG

$3.45 / Gal avg. August 26, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $26,975.

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

2018 Toyota 86 2-Door Coupe

2018 Toyota 86 2-Door Coupe

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Toyota 86 2-Door Coupe. Yep, there is a small back seat if you’re in a pinch and don’t want to put someone in the trunk. But you may have to remove their legs first. Most cars like this have never had a usable rear seat. Case in point in my mind is the much larger Ford Mustang where the rear seat is nearly as bad as these 2-seat sports cars.

General Information:

Assembly- Ota Guma Japan; Classification is- MiniCompact; Vehicles from Toyota- 4Runner, 86, C-HR, Corolla, Corolla iM, Highlander, Land Cruiser, Mirai, Prius, Prius C, Prius Prime, RAV4, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma, Tundra, Yaris and Yaris iA.

Handling & Performance:

As you’d expect this class sport car is an outstanding performer beyond even what they look like they could do. I test most all cars over a mountain road course, in Southern California it is usually the Angeles Crest which is Highway 2. Of course, I call it the ‘Crest Test’ for that reason and as a kid the Crest test referred to Crest Toothpaste. Anyone remember that?

“On RAILS” is a term that comes close to describing how well it corners and handles the ‘curves’. It will surely get your heart started. And on top of that, it will pull more G’s as speed increases and grip seems to improve. I never once felt uncomfortable about it holding the road. However, I must say the same about the competition listed here. All three are super on the curves and the rides are equally impressive.

One way I judge the road-ability of a car is how fast you can take a curve over the posted suggested speed. If the yellow sign suggests 30 mph most cars will feel right at the edge of in control at about 50, or 20 mph over. This Toyota 86 is comfortable at 40 miles over.

Dynamic rev Management is an innovative sport car feature that manages RPMs with an automatic transmission so that in a downshift the engine automatically revs the engine to match the engine speed of the next lower gear. This automatic action mimics the shifting characteristics of a manual transmission. What they won’t think of next, eh.

Styling:

Sporty look to go along with the feel you get when you drive it. But most first impressions from others was that it must be very expensive.

Fit and Finish:

Very Good.

Cost:

Excellent option if you’re looking for a sport car.

Conveniences and comfort:

You’ll notice it comes with most of the features so common on cars these days. But when it comes to comfort you will expect entry and exit to be a pain in the neck, back and other parts of your body. You will also expect to have limited space and thus you won’t have convenient storage compartments you get accustomed to in larger cars.

Consumer Recommendations:

It is clear and amazing, to me, that you can have such capable sports car handling performance in this price range. Anything beyond this is, in my opinion, to be left to the professional race car class of drivers anyway. So, don’t waste your money on more if you are not a race car driver.

I say that because a friend of my son, Paul Walker, died for this very reason. The car was far too powerful for Paul’s friend, who was driving, to control and a crash at over 100 mph killed them both. If you know the story you know alcohol or drugs were not involved. Moral of the story: Know your limitations when you get behind the wheel.

Paul Walker and friend (driving) died in fiery crash in 2013 – Car Porsche Carrera GT

Recognized Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled
Toyota 86 28,000 27 4 2 Japan Japan
Subaru BRZ 26,000 24 4 2 Japan Japan
Nissan 370Z 32,000 22 2 2 Japan Japan

Good News:

Affordable performance sport car, fabulously fun to drive.

Bad News:

Anything built this low to the ground is for the young who are still limber enough to get in and out of. That holds true for a woman in a dress or skirt as it is awkward to negotiate entry and exit moves. Know what I mean!

Standard Equipment:

2.0 LITER 4-cylinder Boxer 200 HP engine, dual variable valve timing, direct and port injection system, dynamic rev management and controllers on a 6-speed sequential auto transmission, 17” alloy wheels, 4-wheel anti-lock ventilated disc brakes with brake assist and electric brake force distribution, MacPherson strut front suspension, Torsen limited slip differential, stability and traction controls, hill start assist control, VSC Track mode, front airbag system with seat mounted side airbags and side curtain airbags front and rear, back up camera, tire pressure monitor, power exterior mirrors, auto projector beam LED headlights and taillights, 7” touch screen display audio AM/FM/HD radio with 8-speakers, aux/USB ports with iPod connectivity, hands free phone capable and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology, aha application, remote keyless entry with engine immobilization, power windows and locks, 1-piece folding rear seatback, leather trim, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, air conditioning, rear window defogger, multi-information display.

Gas Stats:

24 City and 32 Highway MPG

$3.45 / Gal avg. August 26, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $26,975.

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

2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD PRO 4X4 dbl cab

2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD PRO 4X4 dbl cab

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD PRO 4X4 dbl cab. Toyota says you can ‘go way, way, way off-road’ and take off-roading even further. TRD stands for Toyota Racing Development. There is a lot of buzz and ‘look-sees’ on line and on the road about this new offering to avid off-roaders. Even if folks didn’t know much about this new ‘tough guy’ they knew it looked serious about going outback.

Me, I took it to the High Sierra’s where most of the geography was solid granite. I can’t help wondering how well it would do on the Jeep Jamboree venue’s. Rubicon Trail, west of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains, is classed a 10 in difficulty and it is much like the Granite formations in the Sierra mountains where I tested this Tacoma.

General Information:

Assembly- San Antonio, TX. USA; Classification is- Small Pickup; Vehicles from Toyota- 4Runner, 86, 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 is promoted as a serious off-road truck and I don’t doubt Toyota’s assessment. I’ve been on Jeep Jamboree’s in past years and was hugely impressed with the sure-footed prowess of Jeep’s off-road. I didn’t get into as serious outback adventures as those Jamboree’s because I was not supported by 120 other Jeeps traversing the same terrain.

But I did pal around with a 1942 Army version Jeep and of course it is the “Original” granddaddy of tough off road, all terrain vehicles. The Jeep is much smaller so it could go places I could. Talk about basic, the Jeep is basic to the max. The Toyota is a ‘Cadillac’ by comparison.

I was far above the dust of the desert, but the 2019 model of this Tundra has moved the air intake above the windshield. So, if you’re intending to enter the Baja 1000 you may want that new design.

“Crawl Control” – there is a setting designed for driving on difficult terrain at low speeds. It assists the driver by controlling acceleration and braking, allowing the driver to focus on steering. So, if you’re on large and lose rock it crawls slowly. Those who have been over large boulders and challenging terrain know ‘fast’ isn’t a good thing in such situations. This feature will keep you in control. Pretty cool.

Styling:

Style is typically Toyota but this TRD PRO takes the look to another level of Toughness Japanese trucks haven’t been known for in the past. Nice addition to the brand.

Fit and Finish:

Very Toyota – very good.

Cost:

Pricing is just about where I expected it to be. I have a Ford F350 4X4 Long Bed and $70,000 just gets you in the door. So, after taking this Tacoma through its paces in the High Sierra rugged mountains I must admit the price is ok by me.

Conveniences and comfort:

This model includes all the important features I enjoy and demand for the cars / trucks I care to drive and own. The list is generous and all is included with no ups and extras. Nice, I like it.

In addition to the great on-road features, TRD Pro is equipped with a heavy duty 1/4” aluminum skid plate to avoid being ‘inconvenienced’ off-road.

Consumer Recommendations:

Not a large field of serious off-road trucks so the search is a short journey. Look closely and I think you’ll agree this TRD PRO is a very serious contender. It’s at the top of my list for sure.

Recognized Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country of Origin
Toyota Tacoma 45,000 18-22 5 4 Japan
Nissan Frontier 38,000 15-21 5 4 Japan
Chevrolet Colorado 44,000 19-22 5 4 USA

Good News:

Consistent performer, comfortable ride on-road and great off-road prowess.

Bad News:

N/A

Standard Equipment:

3.5-liter V6 / 278 horsepower engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, 4-wheel on demand, part-time 4×4 system with 2-speed electronically controller transfer case, locking rear differential; multi-terrain select. Crawl control; Hill-start control, towing receiver hitch, engine oil cooler, power steering cooler, 130-amp alternator, 4/7 pin connector and trailer sway control, Toyota safety sense, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, sway warning system, automatic high beams, dynamic radar cruise control, rear backup camera and rear parking sonar, blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert, TRD-tuned FOX 2.5 internal bypass shocks with rear remote reservoirs, LED fog lights, TRD front skid plate and TRD exhaust, 16” TRD Black Alloy wheels, 5 foot composite bed with 120 v power outlet, deck rail system with 4 adjustable tie down cleats, easy lower, lockable and removable tailgate, smart key system with push button start, leather trim seats with heated driver and front passenger seats, leather trim steering wheel with audio controls, power horizontal rear window with privacy glass, front dual zone A/C with individual temperature controls, Entune premium audio with integrated Navigation and app-suite, 7” hi – resolution screen, AM/FM/CD, USB/AUX, Bluetooth, HD radio and SXM, Qi Compatible wireless smartphone charging.

Gas Stats:

18 City and 22 Highway MPG

$3.39 / Gal avg. July 9, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

Pricing:

MSRP $43,520.

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

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