Toyota Camry Atara SX vs Toyota Camry GL 2012 Review

June 27th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

Should you go for the hotter-looking Camry Atara SX over the Camry GL and forget about the roughly seven grand more you’ll have to pony up, or is the base level GL so awesome that you couldn’t want for anything more for an executive or family sedan?

Under the bonnet the two are very similar. You do get a twin exhaust system in the SX which liberates a couple of extra kW (135 vs 133) from the 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine, and more torque (235Nm vs 231Nm) but you won’t notice it. Toyota’s weight figures say both cars are 1465kg, but I don’t Continue reading “Toyota Camry Atara SX vs Toyota Camry GL 2012 Review” »

Toyota Adds Seven Seat Wagon to Popular Prius Family

June 26th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

With the arrival of the seven seat Prius v, Toyota has expanded the Prius into a family of vehicles.

Prius is now the first full hybrid vehicle available as a standalone model range, with Prius v joining the Prius c and the flagship Prius hatch.

The ‘v’ behind the Prius v name stands for versatility. Newly designed from the ground up, Prius v is longer, wider and taller than the standard Prius, with an extended wheelbase, making it possible to accommodate adults in all three rows.

The adoption of three-row seating has been achieved thanks to a highly compact, space saving lithium-ion battery pack. Placed under the centre console between the front seats, this is the first lithium-ion battery to be fitted to a Toyota sold in New Zealand.

Toyota New Zealand General Manager of Sales, Steve Prangnell says: “The Prius was a niche model when it first went on sale 15 years ago. But now, from a global viewpoint the Prius v adds the additional flexibility needed to take us to the verge of an era where hybrids are the normal choice in cars.”

“Prius sales globally have more than doubled as Toyota has extended the Prius nameplate to four models. This year we’ve added the Prius c, or Aqua as it’s known in Japan, and Prius v to the existing Prius hatch and Prius Plug-In models. In the first quarter of 2012, Prius sales were just shy of 250,000 units globally, trailing Corolla with 300,800 and the Ford Focus.”

“Based on the latest sales results, 2012 is likely to go down in history as the year of the hybrid – the first time customers have bought more than one million hybrids in a year. This level of
success makes it clear that hybrid technology has been accepted into the mainstream.”

“Prius v is a welcome addition to our hybrid family. With its size, versatility and fuel efficiency, it’s going to attract customers from across the market. It’s a viable alternative to small or midsized
sedans and wagons as well as compact SUVs and crossover vehicles – with fuel economy few of our competitors can match,” says Steve Prangnell.

“With the added seating, Prius v will challenge the perception of customers who think they need a big SUV to transport the family. Also, the added cargo space means Prius v would make an ideal light delivery vehicle for smaller businesses.”

“Taking into account the Prius hatch, city-sized Prius c and now the Prius v seven seater, it’s an exciting time for us. We now have a Prius family member to suit a broad range of buyers, lifestyles and budgets.”

Prius v showcases the latest generation of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain, which incorporates a 1.8 litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine with a powerful 60kW electric motor for a combined system output of 100kW. The Prius v returns class-leading fuel economy of 4.1 litres/100km and CO2 emissions of 99g/km.

The Prius v is available in three grades for New Zealand buyers: Prius v, Prius v s-Tech and the technology flagship Prius v i-Tech.

Prius v will be priced from $50,990 with advanced features including a 6.1 inch display screen audio system, automatic air conditioning, leather-accented steering wheel, energy monitor, keyless entry and start, electric power steering and cruise control. Outside, 16 inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights, a rear spoiler and rear privacy glass give a premium look.

Seven airbags, a reversing camera, hill-start assist, vehicle stability control and traction control, and anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution are also Standard.

The Prius v s-Tech adds a head up display, driver’s seat lumbar support and seat height adjustment, manual rear window sun shades, additional smart key door sensors, and a large panoramic style roof with electronic sun shades. The recommended retail price for the Prius v s-Tech is $55,490.

The top-of-the line Prius v i-Tech offers the best in safety and convenience technology. It has a satellite navigation system with seven inch touch screen display, as well as eight JBL GreenEdge speakers. Synthetic leather seats with front seat heaters give a premium feel inside, and LED headlights with auto on/off control set the Prius v i-Tech apart outside. Toyota’s sophisticated pre-crash safety system with dynamic radar cruise control improves safety, while the Intelligent Park Assist (IPA) system assists with parallel and reverse parking.

Toyota Hilux 2WD Dual Cab 2012 Review

March 15th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

Aimed squarely at the urban tradesman, the Hilux was almost immediately pressed into service helping me move a large number of items from one storage place to another, including things like a ladder and garden tools. Our test Hilux had been fitted with a number of useful SR5 options such as a roof rack, security alarm, reversing sensors, nudge bars in stainless steel, rear corner protectors, side running boards, a custom cab, towbar, monsoon windows, alloys, a clear acrylic bonnet protector and more. These added significantly to the visual appearance of the Hilux, and added significantly to the price (see the table below).

If you don’t need four-wheel drive because your working life involves visiting the suburbs, you’ll benefit from the extra efficiency that not having to drive all four wheels gives you (8.1 litres per 100km as opposed to 8.3l/100km) and, if you’re like me, you’ll enjoy the five-speed manual gearbox and sense of connectedness with what’s going on that is often lacking in today’s vehicles.

The gearbox grabs the power from the 3-litre turbodiesel which sucks air into the intercooler via a bonnet scoop. It produces 126kW and 343Nm which gives it adequate acceleration for getting out of junctions in the city. A limited slip rear differential helps keep the power to the ground, but no Continue reading “Toyota Hilux 2WD Dual Cab 2012 Review” »

Toyota unveils Prius C hybrid small hatch

November 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota has officially revealed its new standalone hybrid hatchback model that will be called the Aqua in Japan and be known as the Prius C in the rest of the world.

The Prius C is set to be the fourth entry into Toyota’s expanding range of Prius-badged hybrid models. There’s the regular Prius, the new plug-in Prius PHEV and the Prius V minivan. The new Prius C five-door hatchback will occupy a position as the base model of the Prius family.

The Prius C is only slightly bigger than the Toyota Yaris but packs a hybrid drivetrain, consisting of a “high-output” electric motor with a 1.5-litre gasoline engine. The 1.5-liter petrol unit produces 55kW at 4,800 rpm and 111Nm of torque, with the electric motor adding in up to 45kW and 169Nm.

Toyota said that it expects the Prius C to return a fuel economy of around 4.7lt/100km when used in the city. Continue reading “Toyota unveils Prius C hybrid small hatch” »

Toyota recalling 550,000 vehicles worldwide – 990 in NZ

November 10th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota has announced that it will be recalling around 550,000 vehicles globally for a potentially faulty crank shaft pulley.

Toyota NZ has advised that just under 1,000 Toyota and Lexus vehicles are affected by the precautionary engine component recall.

Toyota New Zealand General Manager Customer Services, Spencer Morris, says the affected part is the crankshaft pulley used on the 3 litre V6 1MZ-FE engine and 3.3 litre V6 3MZ-FE engine used in some 2004/2005 Toyota Camry, Highlander, Harrier, and Estima models. This engine was also used in the Lexus RX range during the same years.

The pulley drives the belt which operates the power steering, alternator and air conditioner. In rare cases, the inner and outer pulley parts may start to separate. If left unchecked, the pulley may eventually stop driving the belt, leading to an increase in steering effort.

Drivers may first notice an unusual noise, or the illumination of the red battery charge warning light. Continue reading “Toyota recalling 550,000 vehicles worldwide – 990 in NZ” »

Toyota on track for 24 years as NZ market leader

November 9th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota NZ had a big month in October with five of its models featuring in the top 10 highest selling vehicles for the month, and the company out selling any other make by over 1,000 vehicles.

Official data from NZTA shows that Corolla and Yaris totally dominated the market, finishing one and three for the month, both in the passenger market and overall. The updated Hilux led the commercial market and finished fourth overall.

Steve Prangnell, Toyota general manager Sales and Operations, says the release of a new model Yaris hatchback during October gave fresh impetus to sales of Corolla’s smaller stablemate as Yaris led the segment.

“Yaris wasn’t in the top 10 vehicle models for sales in September, so we are looking forward to customers around the country giving their verdict as stocks of the new hatchback begin to arrive. Yaris has also now broken in to the top 10 vehicles for the year to date, which is an impressive result.” Continue reading “Toyota on track for 24 years as NZ market leader” »

Toyota Hilux 3-litre diesel 4×4 2011 Review

November 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Always check if something doesn’t feel right. It’s a lesson I had a gentle reminder of when I took the new Hilux to the in-laws’ farm on the Coromandel Peninsula. I’ve driven various models of Hilux before and they’ve always been accomplished, reliable utes, so the snap oversteer at low speed in the wet coming up the winding hill on Auckland’s Domain was a bit of a surprise. The traction control deftly reined it in a fraction quicker than I could apply opposite lock – that was unusual as we were only doing 20-25kph.

The second reminder was that on the open road the Hilux was ‘jiggly’…overly so. But I put this down to it being a ute with nothing in that back, and that if there was half a ton of hay and sheep in there it would settle the suspension down. Driving up the Thames coast wasn’t particularly pleasant at times, but you wouldn’t expect the Hilux to be a demon in the corners.

Once at the farm, which has some nice steep tracks, we decided to do a bit of light off-roading, even though the supplied tyres are barely mud oriented – really just chunky road tyres. Some light rain that had passed over the hard-packed clay soon made the going treacherous and we hit a small drainage rut that slid the Hilux sideways towards a stand of manuka that, while sparing us from dropping down a steep bank, wouldn’t have made the paintwork that flash.

I made the executive decision that we should probably stop at that point, as my significant other (who grew up on the farm) knew that the track got worse further on, and we were having small moments of being out of control.

As there was nowhere to turn around, reversing 150m back up the track was the only option. Except that putting it in reverse yielded zero grip and saw us edging perilously sideways towards the trees. “I’m letting some air out of the tyres,” I said, secretly hoping that the embarrassment of having to be pulled out by the family’s digger like one previous visitor who lost his ute down a bank wouldn’t become a reality. Continue reading “Toyota Hilux 3-litre diesel 4×4 2011 Review” »

Toyota to sell hydrogen-powered car by 2015

November 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota brought hybrid motoring to the masses with its Prius and other car makers are still in the process of catching up. But emission regulations are getting tougher and now, even Toyota is seeking out ways to offer even “greener” cars.

All-electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf are an option for eco conscious buyers. But Toyota is looking further into the future and plans to  launch a new fuel cell model in Europe by 2015.

Many of the major carmakers have dabbled in hydrogen-powered cars building fuel-cell concepts and prototypes. It was Honda that has come closest so far by launching the FCX Clarity in 2008 – but it’s only available for lease for a limited number of customers.

Toyota’s zero-emissions hydrogen car will apparently be sold to customers in four years’ time but in limited numbers. Not surprisingly the research and development on hydrogen power doesn’t come cheap and these cars will come with a high price tag. Continue reading “Toyota to sell hydrogen-powered car by 2015” »

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