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You are currently browsing the Toyota of Tampa Bay Newsletter archives for May, 2014 .

Archive for May, 2014

Toyota GT 86 Convertible Back on the Table

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Rumors of the Scion FR-S (Toyota GT86) family growing are back on the table.

A new report from cites unnamed sources in Japan that claim Toyota has put the GT 86 convertible and sedan models back under consideration, along with turbocharged and hybrid variants. Rumor has it that the convertible model will join the lineup as early as this year while the sedan model won’t make its debut until 2016. According to the report, the FR-S sedan will offered turbocharged and all-wheel drive, in addition to a turbo-hybrid powertrain.

Since the sedan will be larger and heavier, the Japanese automaker is preparing two powertrains to ensure sufficient performance. The flagship model will utilize Subaru’s Direct Injection Turbo (DIT) engine in the form of a 2.0-liter for Japan and 2.5-liter for other markets. It is likely that the turbocharged engine will be good for close to 300 hp. Toyota could be planning to offer the turbo powerplant in the coupe model as part of a mid-cycle refresh.

Toyota will supposedly use in-wheel electric motors to power the front wheels to offer all-wheel drive capability and will use a hybrid powertrain that is compatible with Subaru’s direct injected boxer engine but more powerful than the system being used in the XV Crosstrek hybrid.

Source: []

Posted in Automotive News |

Testing Toyota’s Tough Truck in the Tundra: Part 1

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Would you be disappointed to find out that a major auto manufacturer wanted to convey the ruggedness of one of its toughest vehicles by sending it down a mere dirt road?

And yet, it was on just such a road that Toyota expected a group of automotive journalists to test the 2014 Tundra’s off-road capability during a recent press event. For a company that touts quality, durability and reliability above all else, it seemed like a seriously lackluster display of what the all-new Tundra can do.

Upon finishing the day, complaints were heard throughout the gathered media, but none louder than Howard Elmer’s (disclosure: my Father). Surprisingly, Toyota didn’t defend its weak off-road course. Instead they replied with a question: “what would you do with the truck and when are you leaving?”

The first answer that ran through his mind jumped out before he considered the implications. “We’ll run from Toronto to Newfoundland, via the Trans-Labrador Highway, in April,” he said. A few months later, four of us gathered to set off on the journey.

The Route and Gear
Toyota provided us with a new 2014 Tundra 1794 Edition and a 2007 Tundra Limited with 68,000 miles on the odometer. That way, we could compare old and new side-by-side. We also had a double-axle 24-foot trailer filled with all of our gear, two full-size spare tires and a Yamaha snowmobile. That meant towing roughly 4,000 lbs behind one of the trucks at any given time.

The Trans-Labrador Highway is the main route through the Canadian region of Labrador. In total, the road stretches roughly 700 miles and almost half of it is unpaved. Each year, the harsh winter climate freezes it completely. When spring rolls around, the frost thaws and leaves potholes and mud topped with a layer of stones. And even when there is pavement, it is cracked, broken and usually completely destroyed, providing a daunting task for the tires. Sounds inviting, no?

Source: []

Posted in Automotive News |

Testing Toyota’s Tough Truck in the Tundra: Part 2

Monday, May 5th, 2014

At this point, we had made it far enough into the reaches of Northern Canada that our hotel had signs posted saying “please don’t clean game in your room.”

To recap, we spent the previous leg of our trip outside cell service. It returned as we pulled in to the hotel and not long after, the phone rang. The call we received told us that the ferry we had booked to take us from Labrador to the Island of Newfoundland – our only access to an airport – had been cancelled. The water was frozen and the ice breaker necessary for the ferry to operate wasn’t available.

At this point, we knew that we had to drive home rather than flying as planned. This doubled the drive distance and added days to the trip that weren’t in the original plan, raising new problems. Our team was on a deadline to return in time for the New York Auto Show. Extra days simply weren’t an option, so we decided to make it as far as Goose Bay – about 75 percent of the way down the Trans-Labrador highway – before turning around and driving all the way back.

This leg stretches 179 miles, which proved to be too far for the 2014 Tundra to travel with the trailer hooked up without re-fuelling. Gas stations are scarce in that part of the world, so we fell back on an emergency jerry can in the trailer.

That brings us to one of the weakest points of the truck: fuel economy. It is worth mentioning that the old truck turned out to have the same fuel consumption as the 2014 model with or without the trailer. While towing, they averaged between seven and nine MPG. No wonder we ran out.

Unbridled, the trucks saw between 14 and 16 MPG, a number that puts Toyota’s V8 on-par with Ram’s HEMI V8. For reference, the EPA pegs the trucks at 13 mpg in the city, 17 on the highway and 15 mpg combined.

Fuel tank size is also on the bottom of the heap at 26.4 gallons. Ford offers the largest tank at 36 gallons, while Ram will sell a 1500 with a 32-gallon tank. Chevy, like Toyota, only offers a single 26-gallon belly for fuel.

Source: []

Posted in Automotive News |

Jim Lentz exposes more details behind Toyota’s move to Texas

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Toyota’s North American CEO Jim Lentz has already given us a rough idea of what prompted the company’s surprise move to the Dallas suburb of Plano, TX from its longstanding headquarters in Torrance, CA. A new story from The Los Angeles Times, though, delivers even more detail from Lentz on the reasoning for the move, what other cities were considered and why the company’s current host city wasn’t even in the running.

Of course, one of the more popular reasons being bandied about includes the $40 million Texas was set to give the company for the move, as well as the state’s generous tax rates. According to Lentz, though, the reason Toyota chose Plano over a group of finalists made up of Atlanta, Charlotte and Denver, was far simpler than that – it was about consolidating its marketing, sales, engineering and production teams in a region that’s closer to the company’s seat of manufacturing in the south.

“It doesn’t make sense to have oversight of manufacturing 2,000 miles away from where the cars were made,” Lentz told The Times. “Geography is the reason not to have our headquarters in California.”

Geography isn’t the only reason, though. Toyota is aiming for a more harmonious coming together of its far-flung and disparate divisions, which is something that couldn’t be provided by moving everyone to Torrance. “We needed a neutral site,” Lentz said, pointing out that moving engineering employees based in Kentucky to Torrance could give the impression that “sales was taking over.”

Lentz said a conversation with Global President Akio Toyoda kick started the idea of moving, as the company sought to organize its North American business “for the next 50 years.”

As for why Plano won, there are a number of reasons, one of which was the area’s cost of living. According to The Times, the average house in the LA area costs $515,000 – in Dallas, it’s less than half that, at $217,500. Toyota also considered the climate, access to direct flights to Japan (Plano is served by the sprawling Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport) and the quality of the area’s schools as factors behind Plano’s victory.

There’s more on the aftermath of the move as it relates to the State of California over on The Los Angeles Times website. Hop over and take a look.

Source: []

Posted in Automotive News |

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