Category Archives: Toyota

ich bitte um Aufmerksamkeit – The 2020 Toyota GR Supra

May I Have Your Attention Please

The 2020 Toyota GR Supra

It’s a Z4 No, It’s a Toyota, No, it’s a BMW,

No, it Really is a Toyota

Check out our YouTube Video on the new 2020 Toyota Supra

 

2020 Toyota GR Supra LineupWhen the word came out that the iconic sports car from Toyota was going to be made along with BMW as a partner, you would have thought the most horrible thing could have ever happened in the world of autos.

 

BMW Toyota LogosThe Elephant in the Garage is that YES. Indeed, The Japanese and the Germans teamed up to bring America a couple of sports cars. For me, after driving the new 2020 GR Supra, is really a great sports car, with great design, super handling and all at a reasonable price.  I have since driven the BMW Z4, and it too is a nice. As a droptop, BMW is very different from Toyota’s hardtop iteration.  It is not Toyota has never teamed up with other car companies in the past.  Corolla and Prism, joint venture, yep that one built in Freemont California, where electric cars are now, made. BRZ and FRS/86 with Subaru, as well as one coming up with Mazda. Supra, a small batch production, so making it with BMW, using the Magna Steyr plant in Austria, makes sense from a business point of view.   Personally, I think we are going to be better for collaboration between the two companies.

 

Toyota GR Supra and Toyota 86 parked outside Salamander Resort in Middleburg VALuckily,  I found myself on the international media launch in May after Toyota selected group of Washington DC area auto journalists for an up close, and a personal sneak peek of the 2020 Supra in March.  Though the GR Supra was on display at various auto shows, no one had the chance to get behind the wheel of it until the May media event.  My verdict is, no matter where it is made, or who collaborated with whom, drivers around the world will love this new 2020 Supra sports car from Toyota.

 

Do you want another four-door sedan? 

Toyota Supra RearToyota has a history of making cars for everyday people, the brand has not been thought of as a producer of exciting cars, let alone sports cars, though it does have a history of producing outstanding ones. The European inspired Toyota 2000 car in the 1960s, the 2-door Celica in the ’70s, a throwback to the first Ford Mustang. The upper tier Supra of the 1980s and last produced in 1993 that sold for a $50K price tag when new.

While Trucks, SUV’s, crossovers, minivans, and sedans are the mainstay of the Toyota brand. The word exciting is not often used in the same sentence as Toyota. Akio Toyoda has publicly stated “No more boring cars” at the launch of the recent generation Camry, the company is moving forward with that mantra, across their entire platform of products, which for drivers, is going to be worth something.

 

What’s the new Supra Got?

Toyota Supra in SuburbiaA winning combination of a well-engineered and expertly designed vehicle that drives and handles like a sports car.  One that will be as good as a weekend racer as it will be as a daily driver. And one that will not rattle your bones on those long-distance drives.  While getting in and out of it may take some yoga lessons, but this 60-plus found it easy, once inside the car feels right. Seats are extremely comfortable with 14-way adjustability.  GR Supra has all the technology and safety that you find in many Toyota products as well as more expensive cars on the road. And with the power and performance that will provide all the fun that only a GT car can.  This car took me back to a time when I did not need four seats or four doors.

 

Three Trim Levels

Dash of Toyota SupraThe 2020 Supra comes in three trim levels, the Base 3.0, the better equipped 3.0 Premium, and what Toyota kept calling the Track Edition, a limited run of 1500 units, the 3.0 Launch Edition.  There are only a few options available like $1,495 matte finish paint on the nitrous yellow and phantom, a silver. Driver Assist Package is a $1195 option including full-speed adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and parking sonar, $2460 upgraded JBL entertainment and navigation on the 3.0 grade: 8.8-inch wide-format touchscreen display with Navigation, Supra Connect telematics services, wireless Apple CarPlay, premium 12-speaker, 500 Watt JBL audio system.

Why those options? Toyota sees this as a weekend racer for many of its buyers, and items like upgraded nav | stereo, and driver assistance package may not be that useful on the track or autocross.

My take is most buyers will want to put all the tech and safety into the 3.0 premium package, especially since it adds a lot of value for the money.

Supra Pricing and trim levels

2020 Supra Pricing

Pricing is based on equipment, with the base 3.0 – 49,990 – 3.0 Premium – $53,990 – Launch Edition (track edition) $55,250 (only 1500 available) – Does not include a $920, DPH Fee (delivery, process, and handling) nor any dealer charges. Toyota sees the base model as a weekend track car, so it comes without much of what equipment that the Premium and Launch Editions have, as they are seen more as on road daily drivers.

With the initial fifteen hundred of the launch edition already spoken for, there will no doubt be a dealer upcharge to buy one initially. Dealer premiums on cars are something that I personally despise, and customers who want one of these cars will pay to just be able to have the vehicle.

 

Colors

2020 Toyota Supra ColorsEven the colors show that Toyota is backing the No More Boring Cars statement. Absolute Zero, Tungsten, Turbulence Gray, Nocturnal, Renaissance Red 2.0, Downshift Blue, For an additional charge  Nitro Yellow, and Phantom are available. Phantom is a flat finish option that really looks good on the Supra. Interiors have the choice of Interior Black Alcantara & Leather on 3.0 or all Black Leather on Premium and Launch edition (except on the Renaissance Red.

 

Powertrain and Running Gear

2020 Toyota Supra with hatch openAll trim levels of the 2020 GR Supra are powered by a twin-scroll turbocharged 3-liter (2998 cc) 24 valve Double Overhead Cam direct injection gasoline (93 octanes) engine with 8-speed automatic transmission. This performance engine has a chain drive, variable valve timing and lift, producing 335 horsepower and 365 lb of torque and is certified as a ULEV. Fuel mileage is what you would expect for a performance car in the size and a curb weight of  3397: 24 city, 31 highway 26 combined miles per gallon. 13.7-gallon fuel capacity.

2020 GR Supra Premium in RedSupra’s suspension is double joint type MacPherson strut in front and rear multi-link with five-arm construction with front and rear stabilizer bars.  Electric Power Steering and parking brake, which is the norm these days with all the driver assist functions. And Brembo Brakes front and rear are very apparent, with a 4-piston fixed front, single piston floating calipers rear.

 

Standard features

Toyota Supra App
Use the app to manage the 2020 Toyota GR Supra

Inside the Supra you will find the 8.8-inch color, LCD gauge cluster has a more analog look than a digital one, which is impressive. The 14- way power driver and passenger Sport bucket seats with driver side memory are incredibly comfortable for a sports car and come in Alcantara/Leather or All leather depending on the trim level. Dual automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, and paddle shifters. A very well-done carbon fiber interior trim finishes the interior.

2020 Toyota GR SupraOutside you will find the Supra running on the 9-inch-wide front, 10-inch-wide rear forged aluminum wheels (different finish on different trim levels, though the wheels, are essentially the same design.) running 19-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sport Tires 255/35R19 96W Front 275/35R19 100Y Rear.  No Spare you receive a puncture repair kit.  Active exhaust which means it has a lot of audible personality with burbles and pops exits through dual brushed stainless steel tips.  The exhaust burble will not get old on this car as it does on others. The GR Supra features LED lamps all the way around.

The multi-function smart key a bit light in heft and felt that for a specialty car like this, it could use a little more flash and substance.

All of this is within the Supra’s 172.5 inches in length / 73-inch width and the 50.9 inch height and 4.5 inch ground clearance means it is close to the ground, and with the 50/50 weight balance between the 62.8 inch front and 62.6 inch rear tread width it seats 2 with an interior volume of 50.9 cubic feet. And you don’t need rear seats; it’s a sports car.

Warranty

2020 Toyota GR Supra in flat finishToyota’s GR Supra comes with a standard 3-year/36K-mile comprehensive and a 5-year/6K-mile power train warranty. A 5-year unlimited mileage corrosion perforation warranty is also provided. ToyotaCare – Toyota’s complimentary maintenance plan that comes with every new Toyota provides for two-years or 25K miles, whichever comes first. Every new Toyota will be covered for all standard factory scheduled service as well as 24/7 roadside assistance.

BWM or Toyota

20190516_103635Since driving the GR Supra, an opportunity came up to drive the BMW twin the Z4 sDrive30i, which comes with a 2.0-liter twin turbo inline 4-cylinder, 16-valve engine. A soft top convertible priced at $63,845.

 

BMW Z4 Dash
BMW Z4 Dash is clearly different than the GR Supra

While the dash has a similar look, the exterior does not have the muscular lines the Supra has. More feminine in feel than the Supra, having the smaller engine, while capable did not have the spunk of the Supra’s nor did it sound as audacious as the Supra.  While they maybe fraternal twins, the two vehicles are indeed very different, as a hardtop and Cabrio can indeed be.

Thanks, Toyota

IMG_2733We thank Toyota for providing me an opportunity to get to know the new Supra over a day at Summit Point Motorsports Park in Summit Point WV, as well as hosting meals and lodging. Toyota did not provide any compensation for this review.

 

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Words and Images by William West Hopper

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The 2020 Toyota Corolla – This is how Age and Beauty Work Together in Harmony.

Check out our Walk-Around Video of the new 2020 Toyota Corolla on location in Savannah GA

2020 Toyota Corolla comes in L, LE, SE, XLE and XSE Trim levels at the Perry Lane Hotel in Savannah GA.Toyota Corolla for 2020 is the prime example that when you grow up and become an adult, it does not mean you have to be old and stodgy.  Here the twelfth generation Corolla, now built on Toyota’s new TNGA platform, brings together timeless interior and exterior styling with advanced safety systems that provide a secure and fun driving experience. Whether you are driving across town or across the country in the new 2020 Toyota Corolla, you will want to do it all over again.

 

What makes the 2020 Toyota Corolla different? 

Photo by Toyota of the TNGA Platform on the 2020Toyota Corolla
Photo by Toyota of the TNGA Platform on the 2020Toyota Corolla

For 2020 the Corolla is built on Toyota’s TNGA platform gives an improved track and balance providing a better driving experience and a more comfortable ride with a multi-link suspension. TNGA has increased the body rigidity by 60%  and lowered the center of gravity, reducing overall length and height. While Corolla’s width has increased, the wheelbase stayed the same. Overall the exterior is more dynamically styled with defined wheel arches and stronger body lines. A new three-dimensional trapezoidal grill is more Lexus than base Toyota.  And Corolla’s interior is more spacious and comfortable with soft-touch materials in a cockpit-like environment. And with an exceptionally spacious trunk, you may not think you are in what was once considered a compact car.

All of Corolla’s trim levels get Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 as standard. That means improved pre-collision system with pedestrian detection even in low light situations, added day-time cyclist detection and enhanced speed reduction capability. Active Corning Assist fights understeer (the tendency to turn less sharply than is intended) improves grip while going around corners and is standard on all Corolla models. A full-speed range dynamic cruise control, lane departure with steering assist along with road sign assist means the car’s camera will recognize Stop, Yield, Do Not Enter, and Speed Limit signs displaying up to three of them on the dash.

The 2020 Toyota Corolla is Amazon Enabled along with Apple Car Play.
The 2020 Toyota Corolla is Amazon Enabled along with Apple Car Play and a JBL Sound System option.

Top of the line, the XLE (Luxury) and XSE (Sport) Corollas include the optional adaptive front lighting that provides a wider beam of light with headlights that swivel and auto level to better guide you in the dark. Automatic High Beams with available J LED headlights, 16” Alloy Wheels, 3-location smart key, moonroof give the Corolla touches that make it more desirable. The JBL Sound option with 9-speaker, 800 Watt 8-channel system provides premium concert hall quality on the XLE and XSE models.

Two multi-information displays for the dash, a 4.2 inch standard on the L, LE, and SW, and a larger 7 inch on the XLE and XSE, as well as new colors, Blueprint, and Celeste, join Blizzard Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, Super White, Black Sand Pearl, Barcelona Red Metallic, and Blue Crush Metallic bring more to the Corolla than we have seen before.

 

Interior

The dash on a 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE
The dash on a 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE

Inside you will find a roomy passenger cabin with plenty of soft-touch materials that will please drivers and passengers alike and a surprisingly large trunk. The 8-inch touchscreen center display provides control for the audio system with apple car play standard as well as connected to Amazon Alexa. USB outlets and in optional upgrade trim you can get a Qi wireless charging as well as JBL premium sound.

Even on the base L model with fabric 6-way adjustable driver’s and 4-way adjustable passenger seat, you still have a premium feel, more so when you upgrade to the LE, SE or above. Topping out with the XLE or XSE trim grades, the value added is well worth the small upcharge.

 

Three Power Plants

2020 Toyota Corolla offers a Hybrid variant
2020 Toyota Corolla offers a Hybrid variant based on the Toyota Prius.

Corolla has plenty of power and performance with three power train choices; a 1.8-liter, 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and a hybrid. Yes, you heard it correctly, Corolla now comes in 50-plus mpg hybrid. Toyota has put their proven Prius hybrid powertrain into the Corolla, this means you get Toyota’s well-known hybrid powertrain in the class-leading Corolla style.  If you are not driving enough to warrant a 50-plus MPG hybrid, there is the base L, or a sporty SE or XSE, or luxury LE and XLE option. Corolla for 2020 is the most refined it has ever been and the safest ever with Toyotas standard Safety Sense the most advanced safety available on the market today.

Corolla has always done well in fuel consumption, and for 2020 fuel economy for the L & LE 30/38/33 SE-CVT, 31/40/34 SE-MT 29/36/42 LE Hybrid 53/52/52 XSE 31/38/34 XLE 29/37/32 on regular gasoline.

 

2020 Corolla Pricing

The 2020 Corolla has a base price of $19.500 for the L and topping out at $25,450 for the XSE. The LE Hybrid starts at $22,950. On non-hybrid models add $2k for the LE and $1500 for the SE.  Audio options start at $815 and go up to $1715 for the JBL Premium system with wireless charging. Adaptative Headlights add $450, and if you want that special color, it will run another $395.

 

2020 Toyota Corolla XLE in Savannah GA
2020 Toyota Corolla XLE in Savannah GA

Corolla indeed is the bestselling nameplate of all time with 46 million global sales. Introduced in Japan in 1966 and coming to the USA in 1968. Corolla quickly became a strong seller both in the new and pre-owned market because of four things: Great price point, well-designed, dependable, and economical to own and operate. Which is why the Toyota Corolla has always been the vehicle of choice for many as their first new vehicle and known as a dependable vehicle for many thousands of miles.  Toyota knows that and has worked hard to continue that tradition.

William West Hopper at the 50th Anniversary of the Toyota Corolla
William West Hopper at the 50th Anniversary of the Toyota Corolla

Words and Images (except where noted) by William West Hopper

You are invited to the LGBTQ Family Night at the Washington Auto Show on Feb 1, 2018.

2017-Washington-Auto-Show-Saturday-54Join us at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Thursday evening February First, 2018 for an evening of auto show fun with friends at the LGBTQ Family Night at the Washington Auto Show.

 

Sponsors

Cadillac, Lexus, Mazda, and Toyota are; and we hope you will as well. These automotive companies are some of our 2018 sponsors along with The Washington Auto Show itself.

 

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Like last year, this will be a gathering of friends at the DC Auto Show. You don’t have to be an automotive enthusiast, and there will be no set program, just come meet new people, or friends of long standing, and enjoy all the 2018 Washington Auto Show has to offer.

Cadillac XT5
Cadillac XT5

We will have a private room, and plenty of friends to talk with about cars and all else. Thanks to Cadillac and Mazda for supporting our event, we will have snacks and iced tea, but more importantly, we want to get you out and enjoy the show, see the displays and experience all that the show has to offer.

 

Toyota HSR Left SideAfter Party

After the show is over, Toyota and Lexus will be hosting an afterparty for those attending the event. So you will not want to miss that and drink a toast to the New Year thanks to our friends at Toyota and Lexus.

 

MX5 Santa

Why are we holding this event, so that LGBTQ friends and family know that the auto manufacturers and dealers in the Washington area appreciate our business and want us as customers.

 

When and Where?

Date, Thursday evening February 2nd, at the Washington Convention Center (Room to be announced ) from 5 pm to 9 pm (when the show closes) then we will transfer the party over to a nearby location for a little more celebrating.

While there is no fee to attend the LGBTQ Family night at the Washington Auto Show, we ask you to register for the event.
Register Here:

Yes, the event is free, though you will have to purchase tickets to get into the show.  You can get tickets directly from the show here. Or if you want discounted tickets through Groupon, you can click here. Or if you are not on Facebook, send us an email to let us know you are coming and if you are bringing a friend or family along with you.

For information on what will be happening at the 2018 Washington DC Auto Show, check out their daily schedule of events.

American Sweethearts the SUV & CUV

American family favorites, Crossovers and SUV’s dominate the market due to their versatility. So understandably there are plenty of them at all price points, a mix of high and middle-end models. I have taken these out over the past few months for quick around the block drives as well as extended time periods. Here are my thoughts on them. Some, not all we have done full reviews on which are featured elsewhere on the site.

Fiat 500X – Cuteness seems to be a staple with the Fiat brand. Though with the whinnyFiat 500X engine and a transmission hunting for the right gear provide a less than enjoyable drive experience. I took this funky Italian breadbox up the mountain roads of New York State in May. Pluses are plenty of space and a very attractive interior design. Lots of trim levels and features are available. Discounts are plentiful at year end. Minus are: A clunky exterior, a noisy drivetrain, and a transmission always hunting for the right gear. Prices start at $19,995 and with generous year-end allowances you can put a lot of cute Italian into a small payment for a Fiat.

 

Nissan RogueNissan Rogue – An overall everyday crossover, easy to get in and out of, with plenty of cargo space. I kept expecting more from the Rogue considering the amount of hype this vehicle has gotten from Nissan’s  PR department to the auto media. Including being heavily featured in recent Star Wars movie promotions and #RogueTrip events. Pluses are a well-made dependable vehicle. Minus are that the Rogue is not so memorable in the overall scheme of things.  Starting at $24,680 and going up depending on trim levels and options. My heart does not go pitter-patter over this model as it does with Nissan’s other products. Though I may need a #RogueTrip to experience this vehicle in more depth.

 

 

 

Toyota Highlander

 

2018_Toyota_Highlander_SE
2018_Toyota_Highlander_SE

When did this crossover become so large and in charge? What once was a mid-sized big SUV replacement seems to be growing. While right in the middle of Toyota’s extensive lineup of SUV’s and Crossovers it is a good option for those looking for a dependable, and long-lasting vehicle with plenty of options. Pricing starts at $31,030, incentives are not aggressive due to this being a top-selling model. I was not expecting a WOW, and the Highlander followed suit by not making me squeal for joy while behind the wheel. Though in the long run, the Highlander will be there, dependable and safe as any of Toyota’s vehicles.

 

 

 

GMC Acadia Denali

 

2017 GMC Acadia Denali
2017 GMC Acadia Denali

GMC is an upmarket luxury truck maker showing that GM is paying a bit more attention to the details. Bringing luxury and utility together in an elegant package. While not as finely outfitted as the Terrain (which was not available to drive, though I attended a presentation on it earlier this year, see another post.) The Acadia is available starting at $42,255 and the Denali (upscale) trim starts at $45,415. While this is not a sports car, nor is it a luxury boulevard cruiser, the Acadia provided a very comfortable drive experience, one that I would find enjoyable on a long road trip. It was a nice both inside and out with a lot of attention to detail, especially for the front seat passengers.

 

 

 

Hyundai Tuscon

 

2017 Hyundai Tucson
2017 Hyundai Tucson

Sorry to say, this is one that I took out of the parking lot and quickly brought back. A cheap fit and finish made it memorable, and not in a good way. Even in the next to the top of the line Night Edition drag, there were some basics that could be improved. I have been very impressed with what Hyundai and Kia have brought to market recently and comparing the Tuscon to other Hyundai models driven in the past year, this one was a disappointment. While the Tucson starts at $20,200, it could be so better from a company that offers America’s best automotive warranty and well-known customer service. Hyundai is pronounced like Sunday for those who wrestle with the pronunciation of the brand name.

 

 

 

Land Rover Discovery

 

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Well now we are talking, no longer the boxy wannabe of its forebears, the odd exterior design is not unpleasing to the eye, just reminded me of a bathtub, a luxury spa tub. The Disco, as it is known, would not take long to get used to. The interior was quite comfortable, though not as impressive as I would expect from this legendary British Empire Automotive brand. This is one we would like to spend more time with to get the full Rover experience. Starting at $52,090 it is right at a price point with some strong competitors offering top-notch larger size SUV’s. The Discovery and it’s twin the Discovery Sport are positioned just under the famed Range Rover. The brand is owned by Tata, a large multi-national, multi-product-service company based in India. Which may be why this vehicle and the Jaguar F-Pace seemed to be so closely related, almost cousins. (Jaguar is also owned by Tata.)

 

Diesel powered Jaguar F-Pace
Diesel-powered Jaguar F-Pace

Jaguar F-Pace  – Here is a sleek and sumptuous SUV that I was very excited to get to drive for a few days this Fall. While it was an enjoyable ride, it was not everything I had hoped it would be. The 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel-powered version provided excellent fuel economy power and responsiveness. Comfort was nice with heated and cooled seats and all that one would expect in a proper English road car. Some of the technology was substandard compared to the competition, such as a limited vision camera, the center console display and the tinting on the windows rendered my two separate electronic toll pass devices inoperable, which was a tad embarrassing, as I was driving a Tata executive from China to an automotive media event. With prices starting at $42,065 for the basic model, topping out at over $62K for The pinnacle of F-Pace luxury, the Portfolio Edition. With a great ride and wonderful styling and fuel economy in the upper 20’s on diesel fuel, it is not one we would ask to leave the stable. But maybe send back for some more training.

 

 

Kia Niro

Kia Niro Hybrid
Kia Niro Hybrid

Stepping into a Kia, the last thing you would expect is to fall in love with an economy car, a hybrid at that. That is what I did, within a few moments of driving this odd little crossover, I said to myself, I would buy this car. It was nimble, spacious and had plenty of technology aboard. A bit quirky and awkward at first, but it grows on you like a loveable, nerdy, best friend. I could easily see loading stuff in this car and be heading out on adventures. Prices start at $23,240 for the base model going up to $31,900 for the top-of-the-line Touring model. All feature a 1.6 L 4-cylinder and Full Parallel Hybrid System and provide anywhere from 40 to 52 miles per gallon. Even more of a reason to love this little Korean Crossover. Yet another vehicle from Korea that will give the Prius some challenges in the marketplace.

 

Cadillac XT5
Cadillac XT5

Cadillac XT5 – For me, it is hard to see Cadillac as a crossover, or even as an SUV. In my mind, Cadillac is a luxury car that says you have made it in the game of life. I have fond memories of the powder blue Eldorado Convertable (with a white top) that I drove to my Junior and Senior Prom in High School (it matched my Tux, hey it was the mid-1970’s and I still have the clip-on bow tie and button on ruffles for the shirt! And even the tux jacket somewhere.) The XT5’s interior rear-view mirror (the same on all Cadillac models) is a bit unnerving as it is a live video feed out the back, which for some reason played havoc with my sense of equilibrium, and eventually, I did find a way to switch it off. As a Crossover, it was a nice, but not as roomy or easy to get in an out of as I would like. And as a Cadillac, it was quite plain. I just would like it to be more elegant, more luxurious, more everything that a Cadillac is. Which also means different from the other GM products on the market, which the XT5 really is not. Prices start at $39,395 and with a number of add-ons it could be a contender. I especially like all of the safety features that Cadillac is offering on its current line of vehicles.

 

 

 

Jeep Compass

 

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When you think America, the original SUV is just one name JEEP. While it may not be what we see on today’s roads, it was the World War II Jeep that the soliders brought home with them. Realizing that this rugged little four-wheel drive workhorse that took them all across the world’s battlefields. Now it has now become a staple in US driveways. No longer simple or even little, the Jeep has many iterations and is as capable as ever. The 2018 Jeep Compas is as close to the original as you might want to get, just now with a battalion of safety and technology features, not to mention and comfort that was unknown when it became a civilian product.  The Compass may not have much more room, but four guys in this Jeep can be an interesting experience. We all found the engine noise annoying, especially on long drives. The Compass is a great size for urban runs. Prices start at $20,995 and discounts can be had depending on the dealer or buying service you are using.

 

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

 

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A much-anticipated SUV that feels direct from the Italian Alps is this upscale
ride from the legendary automaker, Alfa Romero. With prices starting at $41,995 the Stelvio will be one that will sell quickly, even adding lots of options. This is one great looking SUV, sales will happen due to the Stelvio’s exceptional style, if for no other reason. Size is not enormous, but the driving experience is all European. Fit and finish need some work, though as with an Italian lover, you get the good with a few rough edges. We have not spent enough time in this vehicle as we would like, and hope to do so in the coming year.

 

Volkswagen Atlas

 

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We reviewed this full-sized 3-row American style SUV from the company that built the People’s Car earlier this year. The Atlas will fit the needs of many Americans due to the amount of interior space it offers. The Atlas is not going to win beauty pageants, it is a rolling bread box with very square angles. Made in Tennesee, it looks like a Ford Explorer just with a little some German styling cues. This is not the SUV for you If you are looking to make a statement about what you drive. Starting at just over $30K, this one will be a dutiful and dependable workhorse, as VW’s are well known for.

 

 

I was able to drive these vehicles due to membership in several professional automotive media organizations or by invitation of the manufacturer. I received no compensation or incentives for driving and reviewing the vehicles mentioned, other than the loan of the vehicles for up to seven days.

William West Hopper and the Kia Stinger
William West Hopper and the Kia Stinger

Words and Photos by William West Hopper
Photos of the Toyota Highlander, GMC Acadia, Hyundai Tuscon were from their respective automotive media sites.

 

 

The Toyota Camry, All New for 2018

Docile, Domesticated, Dependable, Durable, and Now for 2018, Dynamite!

What would improve, the ever-popular Camry? Currently, the most American made vehicle on sale in the USA. An every day plain-jane sedan that has sold over ten-million vehicles since it was introduced in 1983.  Styling!  Toyota has made the 2018 edition sportier. Actually, it is all-new for 2018, from the ground up.  Let’s take a look!

The hand painted roof is only available on Camry's upper X trim models, notice the lower stance and swooping lines.
The hand painted roof is only available on Camry’s upper X trim models, notice the lower stance and swooping lines.

This new model will not alienate previous owners who have been devoted to Toyota’s four-Door Sedan for years. Buyers of sports sedans will now be taking a second look at this model as a viable competitor in the market place. Toyota’s reputation for reliability, safety and more are now embraced in this new model.

Styling

Designed from the ground up, the dull staid image has been left in the dust! With an all-new platform and powertrain, still that dependable, long lasting, and safe Camry. Now, some might even say it has become sexy. Where the 2018 Camry grabs attention is in the flowing lines. Inspired by the design of a catamaran, known for skimming across the water’s surface with strong bold outriggers, and a very light and airy body. Now you will be able to tell the difference from the SE and LE models by defined front-end styling cues.

2018 Camry interior is very cockpit inspired. Focused on the driver.
2018 Camry interior is very cockpit inspired. Focused on the driver.

The Camry’s sweeping lines flow from outside into the passenger cabin.  A wraparound cockpit for the driver and front passenger bring controls within easy reach of the driver, and with the upper trim level offers a head’s up display (which wearing polarized sunglasses is a tad hard to see) keeping the driver’s eyes on the road. The front passenger will feel snug in the wraparound interior design. Visually it may be a bit confining, though there is plenty of space.

For rear passengers, no gymnastics are needed to get into the rear seats, as in some sports sedans. The rear bench seat fits two comfortably and 3 snugly. While the trunk is spacious, it’s rectangular trunk lid opening may take some negotiating with bulky items. Even the Camry Logo has been redesigned – individual letters stamped across the center of the trunk lid.

The rear of the 2018 Toyota Camry is different as well. Only the Logo remains the same.
The rear of the 2018 Toyota Camry is different as well. Only the Logo remains the same.

Engineering – TNGA Platform

Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) is a re-engineering of the whole vehicle, not just one part. Resulting in a new and improved driving dynamics for the 2018 Camry. Which was very apparent behind the wheel. This chassis has 3-times more welds giving it a stiffer more in control feel. A double wishbone rear suspension still provides a comfortable ride. While wider and with a lower center of gravity, the Camry has tighter handling due to this new platform as the weight is evenly distributed over the four tires. This results in better overall performance. “The new Camry is an extremely balanced machine with much more excitement.”

Toyota New Global Architecture is what the 2018 Camry is all about.
Toyota New Global Architecture is what the 2018 Camry is all about.

Three Power Trains

Three new drivetrains, a 4-cylinder, 6-cylinder gasoline engine, and a new second-generation hybrid powerplant mated to a new Eight-Speed automatic transmission are what drive the 2018 Camry.

2018_Toyota_Camry_LE_Hybrid_03_291A080C9D9BCA2A2D7D8EE7A412740433B7FB8BWhile the 2.5 4-cylinder is fine, we found the 3.5 six provides a better powerband for our driving style. At the time we drove the new Camry the hybrid was not in the press fleet. With MPG numbers reported to be over 50 mpg this will be the one to test drive. The car handles like it on rails, having the hybrid system repositioned in the engine bay and battery moved out of the trunk and under the car will definitely provide a more evenly balanced feel of driving.

 

The Direct Shift 8 Speed Transmission offers plenty of gears to operate in at all speeds and load parameters, we found it to be smooth and best of all, a gear shift lever positioned where one would expect it, in the center of the console. Some classic styling touches just seem right.

Camry Safety

New light designs are just a part of the 2018 Camry. Lights were one of the first safety features on cars.Safety TSSP – is a suite of safety sysems including pre-collision system and if the vehicle is equipped with an electric parking brake can take the car down to zero. Combine that with the other dynamic safety systems (Saftey systems are standard in all models of Camry models for 2018.) And like the 2017 model, no doubt the all new Camry will also have a Five Star Overall Saftey Rating.

 

Camry Trim Levels

Making the trim levels distinguishable from each other was part of the redesign. Now there will be no mistaking the SE and L grade models.  It is details like the quad tip exhaust, a dual exhaust with four tips and other details you will notice.

  • L Model –  Will be the most base entry-level – very budget friendly.
  • LE Model – You will see a large chunk of Camry models outfitted in this high tech trim level.
  • XLE – The top of the line luxury model with all the technology that is available and special options will be available.
  • XLE V6 – Total luxury with the power of the V6 engine.
  • SE – Sport Trim – Toyota expects this to be a volume leader.
  • XSE – Full sport with full tech!
  • XSE V6 – Adding the V-6 powerplant to the top of the line sport model, even a hand painted black roof will be available in this trim.
Cockpit focused controls for the driver in the 2018 Toyota Camry.
Cockpit focused controls for the driver in the 2018 Toyota Camry.

Camry’s interior is driver-centric focused with the center console stack wrapping around the driver and the passenger. Controls turned toward the driver giving it a cockpit feel.

 

New Camry Colors

While we are used to seeing a lot of the basic colors, silver, white, black, there are three new colors coming to the 2018 Camry; Windshield Pearl, Brownstone, Galactic Aqua Mica.

A Two Tone Roof is now showing up in different manufacturers lines, as well as in the Toyota  C-HR.  Camry will offer the hand-painted black roof on three different colors of the XSE model completing the aggressive look in sports sedans along with black painted window trim and side mirrors. You can order the two-tone roof when you order your XSE in Blue Streak Mettalic, Celestiral Silver, and Wind Chill Pearl.The Camry has an all new center console.

 

The redesigned 2018 Toyota is now available at dealers nationwide. This model is the most American Made vehicle sold in the USA today. Produced at the Georgetown Kentucky plant for the American market.

 

Words by William West Hopper
Photos by William West Hopper & Toyota Motor Company’s media site.
For more information on Toyota go to toyota.com

 

Why all the Hate on the Toyota Prius?

2017 Toyota Prius Three
2017 Toyota Prius Three

American drivers have taken heartily to the Toyota Prius since it was introduced as the first mass-market hybrid automobile, while automotive enthusiasts have continued to see it as a pariah.

 

What is it about this car that garners such strong emotions?

 

Is it the design? Now in a third design generation, this hybrid that started a revolution has developed a more futuristic look than the rather a dull looking small econobox that first showed up in 1997. Today it is a cross between an emoji and spaceship styling, almost a throwback to the 1950’s when cars had fins.

Since inception, this successful model line has morphed into a sedan, mini-SUV, even a smaller hyper-miler version and now a fanciful Prime model. First gens are still on the road today which shows that Toyota has earned its legendary reputation for longevity, reliability and road worthiness.

Toyota's Hybrid power-train has led the industry in this high mileage segment.
Toyota’s Hybrid powertrain has led the industry in this high mileage segment.

Is the emotional response to the Prius
because it is different on so many levels?

Nothing in the automotive world has moved the needle more than the hybrid combination of gasoline and electric to power a vehicle. And today some twenty years later hybrid technology is available on almost every mainstream brand. Increasing miles per gallon has staggered for years until Toyota brought this economy car to market. We were getting in the high 40’s as we drove the 2017 Toyota Prius Three for a week.

 

Toyota's Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charger is right where you would put your phone.
Toyota’s Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charger is right where you would put your phone.

As American’s we love all the
technology, so it can’t be that!

Technology is not just propelling the vehicle down the road, it is also benefiting the driver from the extensive operational data to little things like the Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charger in the center console. From the backup camera to the heads up display. Toyota’s Saftey Sense ™ Pre-Collision system w/ pedestrian detection, lane departure alert auto high beam adjustment and full-speed dynamic radar cruise control all in a car that stickers at $30,186 including delivery.

 

 

Toyota Prius 3 has lots of flowing lines in its design, and at night ambient blue lighting.
Toyota Prius 3 has lots of flowing lines in its design, and at night ambient blue lighting.

 

Being different is not a bad thing.

Interior has flowing lines, though the choice of contrasting colors and fabric on the seat may be a bit garish, the heads-up display and controls were easy to use.

 

 

Prius's gear selector is a stalk and separate button, which may cause some confusion.
Prius’s gear selector is a stalk and separate button, which may cause some confusion.

The only thing I had some issue with was the gear selector, a lever that went over and up/down to select Drive or Reverse, then a separate button off the stalk for Park. Once placed in reverse it prompted an obnoxious beep, like that of a construction vehicle, but only on the inside. Understandable as quiet as the vehicle is when powered on, the driver may not know it is in reverse. If the occupants are being alerted, why not those outside the vehicle too?

 

Plenty of cargo as well as passenger room in the third generation of the Toyota Prius.
Plenty of cargo as well as passenger room in the third generation of the Toyota Prius.

So it is not a sporty performance car,
it was never designed to be one.

So this is not a muscle car or even a sports car. And it is light enough to be buffeted by a windy March day. My take is that while it may not be a luxury or a sexy sports car, it does exactly what it is designed to do, which is move occupants and their gear economically and safely from place to place without any fanfare. So there is nothing to hate on there.

 

The interior of the Toyota Prius is well appointed for an economy car.
The interior of the Toyota Prius is well appointed for an economy car.

As a guy born and bred from a time when muscle cars ruled the American road and someone who loves technology, I was excited to get the opportunity to spend some time in the Prius. It brought back the memories of the first “foreign car” my family owned, was a 1970 four-door Toyota Corona. At the time it was the latest and greatest, small classicly designed car that costs $1995.00. For its time, it had very modern amenities like bucket seats, automatic transmission, and what they marketed as very customer focused, a power outlet in the glove box for a 12 v trouble light as standard equipment. Today what car company would even want you to think you would ever need such a thing?

So maybe it is the attitude of the Prius driver, which I too had in making a right on red when a big SUV came flying up from behind honking its horn telling me to get out of the way. Yep, I was sipping fuel, and you were guzzling it

The center display screen provides plenty of data on the operation of the Prius.
The center display screen provides plenty of data on the operation of the Prius.

So here we are 47 years later with a Toyota that gets 52 mpg compared to the 20 mpg that the Corona managed. With an advanced technology package that makes that little trouble light plug seem archaic. Though even at the time Toyota was a brand thinking ahead at what you might need.

Toyota pioneered the Hybrid with the Toyota Prius. In 2017 is even more refined as an automobile.
Toyota pioneered the Hybrid with the Toyota Prius. In 2017 is even more refined as an automobile.

 

If you are looking for a modern, safe, high mileage sedan with good trunk space, then the Toyota Prius at the $30K sticker price is well worth consideration. – Though I still long for that Red 1970 Corona!

The Toyota Corona from the late 1960's and early 1970's.
The Toyota Corona from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Toyota was nice enough to send over a 2017 Prius Three for us to spend a week driving and experiencing. With that, we were able to provide this review of the vehicle to you our readers. We appreciate their confidence in Queer4Cars and their support of LGBQ diversity. Toyota is a #NoHate company, which makes us feel good about their products and support of

We appreciate Toyota’s confidence in Queer4Cars and their support of LGBQ diversity. Toyota is a #NoHate company.

Historic photos by Toyota News US Pressroom
Words & Photos  by William West Hopper

Racing the Mortal Minivan. Toyota’s Sienna on the One Lap America Circuit

 

Toyota Sienna at One Lap America 2016 Summit Point Raceway. Front Sienna SE+, Rear Sienna R-Tuned.
Toyota Sienna at One Lap America 2016 Summit Point Raceway. Front Sienna SE+, Rear Sienna R-Tuned.

This past April, Toyota invited a handful of Washington DC area automotive journalists to join them at Summit Point Raceway to see two original manufacturer built minivans, not customized racecars, compete in the One Lap America race series. Toyota USA’s Engineering and Marketing departments were campaigning a Sienna R-Tuned Concept and a Sienna SE+ during the week-long – multi-state racing event, that is One Lap America. Where they were raced all day, then driven hundreds of miles to the next track at night to get back on the track and race again the next day.

 

Reality TV Star Rutledge Wood and Champion racer Craig Stanton, sign autographs at the 2016 One Lap America stop at Summit Point Raceway
Reality TV Star Rutledge Wood and Champion racer Craig Stanton, sign autographs at the 2016 One Lap America stop at Summit Point Raceway.

 

Toyota brought on Top Gear America’s, Rutledge Wood, a bearded hipster TV reality show host, as well as Grand-Am Rolex GT Champion race driver Craig Stanton, to pilot these vans, and a crew to support them as they raced the week away, with everyone working together like a seasoned race team.

 

One Lap America 2016 Toyota Sienna SE+ at Summit Point Raceway
One Lap America 2016 Toyota Sienna SE+ at Summit Point Raceway,

 

 

 

 

 

Toyota’s purpose was both promotional, and an engineering one. Showing off that Toyota’s best-selling Sienna minivan could compete heartily with serious racecars, but also as an opportunity for the engineering team to tweak the van for better overall drivability in everyday situations and longevity.

Toyota Sienna R-Tuned, stripped and caged for racing the One Lap America 2016 series
Toyota Sienna R-Tuned, stripped and caged for racing the One Lap America 2016 series.

 

A Toyota Sienna R-Tuned Concept vehicle, interior stripped out, caged with a custom suspension, and many modifications the Sienna SE+, tricked out with TRD Badging, on the shifter and oil cap, dark tinted lights and Pirelli P Zero tires, and the fluids replaced to better perform under racing conditions. Inside the SE+, sans roll cage, the seats were slipped in for passengers, or removed when out on the racetrack in competition. While both vans were labeled “Concept”, each appeared to be using off the shelf parts and products that any amateur racer could get.

 

Riding inside the Toyota Sienna SE+ on the 2016 One Lap America parade lap at Summit Point Raceway
Riding inside the Toyota Sienna SE+ on the 2016 One Lap America parade lap at Summit Point Raceway.

 

During a break in the racing, a van load of the DMV Scribes drove the Sienna SE+ on Summit’s Main course. While none of us were as track savvy as the competitive team from Toyota, it was fun to get a minivan loaded with adults and seats on a race track, then see it stripped and back out racing minutes later in Wood’s capable hands.

 

Toyota and Racing: Toyota vehicles racing is nothing new, from enthusiast’s auto crossing Scion’s to Camry’s chasing round the NASCAR oval; Toyota Trucks going at it in the dessert in an off-road rally; Lexus IS F-Sport in a street race. Toyota has a racing brand, TRD, that you see proudly on street vehicles, pretty much everywhere you go. But the common family hauler, the Sienna minivan, that is not what is thought of when the topic of competitive racing is discussed.

Toyota Sienna SE+ Sporting the TRD and all the One Lap America promotional stickers for 2016
Toyota Sienna SE+ Sporting the TRD and all the One Lap America promotional stickers for 2016.

This was one of those times where automakers wanting to appeal to that “younger Dad”, And make him think of motorsports and minivan in the same sentence. Instead of wrestling with the admission one has achieved stable adulthood and needs to transport their kids, friends of the kids, the dog, and a variety of belongings, around suburbia.

Toyota Sienna R-Tuned engine bay featuring the TRD logo on the oil cap
Toyota Sienna R-Tuned engine bay featuring the TRD logo on the oil cap.

 

With this One Lap America experience, Toyota is not only showing that the family haulers can be the equivalent to racecars, as these two Sienna minivans indeed hauled it down the racetrack with the best of them, often competing with high-power performance monsters. In the end the team completed the week-long event in first place with 160 points, 65 more than its Acura MDX competitor, the other entrant in the Truck/SUV class.

 

One Lap America is the ultimate road trip, stopping at 12 different tracks over 8 days, in 7 different states. One Lap America is a race series for the enthusiasts sponsored by Grassroots Motorsports Magazine and Tire Rack. Starting in 1984 this is the 32nd year running. A legendary race, made even more so by the movie Cannonball Run.

 

The Toyota Sienna 2016 One Lap America Team, showing off their badges, showing they have donated to the charity.
The Toyota Sienna 2016 One Lap America Team, showing off their badges, showing they have donated to the charity.

 

More information on the Sienna One Lap program and the Toyota Engineering Motorsports team can be found at SiennaOneLapofAmerica.com as well as on  toyotaengineeringmotorsports.com. In addition, fans can follow along via Toyota’s FacebookTwitter, and Instagram channels.

 
Information on the One Lap of America event can be found at OneLapofAmerica.com.

The Toyota Sienna competitively racing against serious race cars in the 2016 One Lap America Series at Summit Point Raceway
The Toyota Sienna competitively racing against serious race cars in the 2016 One Lap America Series at Summit Point Raceway.

As they say while out racing, “Keep the Shinny Side UP!”

 

Words and Photos by William West Hopper