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At Toyota of Tampa Bay, we are determined to exceed every one of your expectations, from selecting the perfect vehicle to keeping it in top condition for years on down the road.

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You are currently browsing the Toyota of Tampa Bay Newsletter archives for March, 2015 .

Archive for March, 2015

2015 Toyota Avalon is a Luxury Sedan Designed to Thrill and Engage the Senses

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

The Toyota Avalon has been previously typecast as a luxury sedan for those who want life on a slow pace already; or simply put retirees. It has all the quiet comforts and convenience that offer a smooth ride of luxury all the way, making it ideal for laid-back passengers.

This is where the radical change in the 2015 Toyota Avalon comes in. It is no longer just a luxury sedan for the laid-backs but has been made even more powerful and sophisticated and now comes in a more lightweight body.

The elegant full-sized sedan comes in three different trim levels – the XLE, the XLE Premium, and the XLE Touring.

Designed to thrill and engage the senses

The 2015 Toyota Avalon has been designed to thrill and engage one’s senses with its responsive handling, powerful road performance, superb comforts that its interiors provide, and ultra-elegant exterior stylings.

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Posted in Automotive News |

Consumer Reports – Toyota Highlander is a Top-10 Pick of 2015

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Consumer Reports knows practical cars better than anyone. Here’s why they like the Highlander.

When Consumer Reports ranks sports sedans and sports cars we always cringe a little, but the independent magazine’s taste in things practical is unquestionable. The 2015 Toyota Highlander is nothing if not practical. Well, maybe safe, but safe and practical are like peas and carrots.

Highlander Safety

Choosing the Toyota Highlander over the competition should have come easy for the folks at CR. After all, it is the safest vehicle in its class. In fact, the Highlander is the only vehicle of its type to earn the IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating the highest safety rating possible in the US.

Toyota Reliability

Consumer Reports doesn’t need anyone to tell it if a vehicle is reliable. According to the CR, the Highlander ranks a five out of five. Just in case you were still wondering about the Highlander’s reliability (don’t) you may feel better knowing that Toyota is the highest ranked non-premium brand in the most recent J.D. Power and Associated Durability Study. Lexus was the highest overall.

Consumer Reports on Highlander

Speaking about the Highlander Consumer Reports said, “ The interior packaging is cavernous and smart—with neat touches like a wee balcony for your smart phone and a center cubby that will swallow a purse. This is the real swagger wagon for the sensible crowd.” In its full review, CR said the Highlander “ …handles responsively, the ride is steady and absorbent, and interior space is generous.” CR also pointed out that the Highlander can come either as an 8-passenger or seven depending upon which trim a buyer opts for. It’s like two vehicles in one. How practical of Toyota.


Posted in Automotive News |

Toyota is using Oculus Rift to educate drivers about distracted driving

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

In an effort to make drivers more aware of the dangers of not paying attention while driving, Toyota has launched a virtual reality distracted driving simulator as part of its TeenDrive365 campaign.

The ding of a new text is nearly irresistible.

For drivers — especially younger ones — this strong temptation poses real danger. We’ve seen the PSAs, and seen the billboards… but one quick glance couldn’t really hurt, right?

Toyota is hoping to educate drivers to avoid distractions like this one.

As part of Toyota’s ongoing driving and safety campaign TeenDrive365, aimed at teenagers and parents, they’ve created a distracted driving simulator using virtual reality technology.

Participants get in an actual Toyota and put on an Oculus Rift headset, and just like that, they’re in a car, driving down a city street with the radio on, a couple friends in the passengers seats, and cellphone begging to be checked while they’re in motion.

If a car unexpectedly pulls out from in front of a truck and you’re not totally tuned in, it’s bad news — crunching headlights, a cracked windshield — but fortunately, no bodily harm done.

“By putting on the virtual reality glasses, you’re doing it in a really safe environment and you’re really seeing the impact of distractions like texting or picking up your phone would have in a real driving situation, and it’s also a lot of fun,” said Marjorie Schussel, corporate marketing director for Toyota.

In the simulator, participants can look all around the car, and sensors on the steering wheel and pedals translate what they’re doing with their hands and feet into the experience.

To create the simulator, Toyota worked with New York City-based digital marketing agency 360i. Once they’d decided that Oculus Rift was the best technology for them to use, they also settled on software called Unity, which is a 3D application development tool, said Layne Harris, 360i’s vice president of tech innovation and the lead technical director for the team that developed the simulator.

He said the great thing about Unity is the ease with which developers can add an Oculus point of view into a setting. In other words, if a developer purchases a setting, like a city, it’s relatively painless to inject that first person Oculus viewpoint into it.

It’s very rapid development, and provides plenty of opportunity to view the progress so far, which was important for 360i, given that it was working with a major brand.

“You want to have lots of opportunities for them to see how this is being developed, the graphical elements that are being used, we want to make sure that those are all referencing the brand properly and they actually work as expected,” Harris said.

The simulator also makes use of sensors on the steering wheel and pedals.

“We used sensors that took advantage of an accelerometer which is something you’d find in any cell phone nowadays,” Harris said.

An accelerometer can tell the orientation of the device it’s attached to. Through careful calibration, handling the wheel, accelerating or hitting the brakes in the game is accurate and realistic.

On the whole, Harris said the development process was fairly seamless, despite the hard deadline of the International Auto Show. He credits this, in part, to the decision they made to mirror the working set up for everyone who was on the project, whether remote or in the office.

“We just duplicated exactly every single piece of hardware including the sensors and different things that we were using in the car,” Harris said. They rigged toy steering wheels and toy pedals with the sensors so they could see through the process exactly how it was going to turn out.

In virtual reality, the visuals are obviously important, but one element that shouldn’t be taken for granted is the sound design. Harris said they worked with 3D sounds specialists to create a sound design within the headset that’s immersive in itself.

“You could have voices that are behind you, and they’d be very directional so you could definitely tell — even if you close your eyes that someone was behind you in the back seat and you can tell one seat from another based on just this very sophisticated 3D sound,” Harris said.

He said that during the development process, being able to see the difference with and without sound proved to them the importance of having that 3D sound in the VR experience.


Posted in Automotive News |

Toyota’s Sienna Minivan Thrives on Versatility

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Example No. 1:

Some friends were invited to an open house at Naples (FL) Luxury Imports, a multidealer complex with franchises for Aston-Martin, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Maserati, Jaguar, and Land-Rover.

They could have gone separately in their own luxury cars; instead, we carpooled, rolling up in today’s test vehicle, an eight-passenger Toyota Sienna SE minivan.

We stood out in the queue waiting for valet parking, sitting up higher than the guests in their low-slung,make-a-statement Mercedes, Corvettes, Porsches, Jaguars, and similar luxury cars.

We also turned heads as adults exited from both front doors and both power-sliding side doors. It’s not true that someone said we looked like we were getting out of the clown car at the circus.

Don Sarazen of Stoneham, who was riding in the third row, cited the comfort of riding in the “way back.” Manny Rei of Hampton, NH, in the second row, noted that the seats were comfortable but that the pronounced side bolsters took some getting used to.

Example No. 2:

A trip the next day to Marco Island for lunch with another coupleprovided more feedback.

“Hey” we said, “let’s take the minivan. We think it’s pretty neat and wonder how you’ll like it.”

So we did.

“It’s a little tough for a short person to get in here, but once you’re in, it’s really comfortable,” says Jean Troisiof Tewksbury, referring to the second row of seats.

“This is almost like stadium seating,” said her husband Tom. “Visibility is really good back here.”

Both groups cited the extreme (23-inch) slide of the second-row seats, allowing first for easier access to the third-row seats and then for amazing legroom for second-row passengers.

Example No. 3:

The third-row seats fold flat in a two-part maneuver: Pull a latch strap to fold the seat, then grab a handle to rotate it into storage position.

That made room for a 4×4-foot console table Mrs. G found in a furniture store.

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Posted in Automotive News |

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