Thursday, June 28, 2012

Check out Toyota's 2012 College Grad Video Contest Winners -- Third Place

With Toyota's College Grad Rebate Program, recent or new college grads receive a $1000 rebate on select new Toyota models. Do you know what a college grad can do with $1000? I took a creative approach to spreading the word by designing stickers to place where college grads could use that $1000.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kelley Blue Book: New car prices have dropped from a year ago

New car prices have fallen from a year ago, primarily because the inventory shortage created by the Japanese earthquake has been entirely erased.

On average, consumers are paying $500 less for a new vehicle today compared with just one year ago, according to Kelley Blue Book, the auto price information company that operates

Kelley said the biggest year-over-year price declines are for vehicles offered by Japanese brands such as the Toyota Prius. Manufacturing of the Prius hybrid, which is built in Japan, was severely distrupted by the earthquake. Inventories in the U.S. fell to less than seven days' worth, and prices spiked. Now, however, the average transaction price for the Prius is about $2,500 less than a year ago.

 “The average Honda model is selling for nearly $1,200 less than this time last year, and a Subaru, Mazda or Toyota is approximately $700 to $800 more affordable,” said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book.  “Compare this to the average year-over-year declines of less than $500 for Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.”

The lower prices have allowed the Japanese brands to regain a portion of their lost market share in the U.S., Gutierrez said.

Some of the notable declines in one measure, the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price for new cars, include the Honda Accord and Nissan Sentra, which are both down nearly $1,500.

 “The Honda Accord and Nissan Sentra can attribute their price decline to improved inventory levels, falling fuel prices and the expectation of a redesign for each model later this year,” said Gutierrez.  “Although conditions in the global economy continue to deteriorate, consumers who are willing to pull the trigger on a new vehicle will find that there are plenty of deals available.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Avalon to Get First-Ever Hybrid

Toyota’s big new Avalon will be getting a hybrid drivetrain for the first time, the remake of the full-size sedan to share the powertrain line-up offered in the Japanese maker’s smaller Camry model.

The move underscores Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda’s goal of offering a gas-electric alternative in virtually all products sold for the Japanese giant.

Beyond the addition of a first-ever hybrid, the new Avalon is a significant departure for Toyota.  First shown at this year’s New York Auto Show, the 2013 Avalon was developed entirely in the U.S. and features a striking new shape that’s a distinctive new look that’s a striking shift away from Toyota’s traditionally plain vanilla approach to styling.

Set to go on sale late this year, the Avalon will be one of six new models or variants to get a hybrid.  The maker earlier this year unveiled the compact Prius C, as well as a plug-in version of the original Prius hatchback.

he gas-electric drivetrain in the new Avalon will be shared with the current Toyota Camry.  That means a 2.5-liter inline-four engine paired with two electric motors.  In combination they will produce 200 horsepower and the maker claims the Avalon Hybrid will be able to launch from 0 to 60 in just 8.5 seconds, reasonably quick for its class and one of the faster hybrids, in general.

Fuel economy is expected to come in at 40 City, 39 Highway and 40 Combined, though the EPA isn’t expected to make that official until closer to the launch of the 2013 Toyota Avalon line.  Like other Toyota hybrids the full-size sedan will be able to creep along in electric vehicle mode at speeds up to about 25 mph for a maximum of approximately 1 mile.

Toyota is sticking with its familiar nickel-metal hydride battery chemistry, rather than migrating to more advanced lithium-ion, as many of its competitors have been doing.  According to Avalon Chief Engineer Randy Stephens, NiMH batteries have proven their reliability and have a lower cost than lithium technology.  But they also store less energy – limiting battery-only range, for one thing – and take up more space.  In a vehicle as big as Avalon, however, space shouldn’t be much of an issue.

The Avalon Hybrid’s impressive fuel economy also reflects efforts to improve the sedans aerodynamics while also reducing its weight.  The basic sedan is about 120 pounds later than the 2012 Avalon, despite plenty of added content.  Even the Hybrid weighs about 23 pounds less than last year’s model.

The full-size sedan market has been undergoing some radical and unexpected changes in recent months.  Hyundai kicked things off with a more lavish and stylish remake of its Azera.  Chevrolet will follow for early in the 2014 model-year with an all-new Impala.  And Ford is making some notable improvements in the big Taurus sedan.

The Avalon will, however, be the only hybrid in the segment, at least for now.  That will get it a significant mileage advantage.  The closest any competitor comes in terms of space and fuel economy is the Volkswagen Passat.  Though officially designated a midsize it offers virtually as much interior space as the 2013 Toyota Avalon and, with its TDI diesel and a manual gearbox, yields 31 mpg City, 43 Highway.

Camry’s non-Hybrid XLS with a 2.5-liter I-4 will deliver 21 mpg City, 31 Highway and 25 Combined.  The bigger 3.5-liter V-6, rated at 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque, is expected to get 21/31/24 mpg – while yielding 0 to 60 times of around 7 seconds.

Toyota won’t release pricing until closer to the launch of the 2013 Avalon.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Toyota to build Yaris in France for North America

Toyota has already made it abundantly clear the company intends to scale back production in Japan in an attempt to combat the ever-strengthening Yen, and now it looks as if we know one of the ways the automaker plans to do so. Toyota has announced it will manufacture U.S. and Canadian-spec Yaris models in its Onnaing-Valenciennes facility in France. The plant has been producing the Yaris hatchback for European buyers since 2001, though this marks the first time in Toyota history that the automaker has built a vehicle in Europe and imported the model to the States.

North American-spec Yaris models differ slightly from their European counterparts. In addition to using different fascia designs front and rear, the NA model comes available with an automatic transmission and a market-specific 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. There is some differentiation in safety equipment between the two models as well.

Japanese automakers have recently revealed that building cars in Japan and exporting them around the globe is quickly becoming a money-losing proposition. Honda has made it clear the company is seeking alternatives to producing models like the Fit and CR-Z in Japan due to the high costs associated with exporting the vehicles.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

2013 Scion FR-S finds its way into Jay Leno's Garage

Jay Leno has finally gotten around to getting his hands on the Scion FR-S. The latest episode of Jay Leno's Garage is all about the new low-buck sports car from Toyota. Jack Hollis, the vice president and General Manager of Scion, stops in to give the TV personality a full walk-around of the 200-horsepower coupe. While Leno's collection includes every shade of high-horsepower machinery, the comedian is also a fan of cheap driving fun for the masses. Hollis hits the high points of the model's development, including the tie-in with Subaru and not-so-subtle nods to the ghosts of Toyota performance past.

As usual, the cameras follow Leno as he takes the FR-S onto the streets around Los Angeles for a quick sprint. He also submits the boxer four to his typical "immaturity test" with mixed results. We approve all the same. You can check out the full video by scrolling below or head over to to check out a few photos of the FR-S hanging out in the Big Dog Garage.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Car Maintenance Tips & Tricks : How to Restore Cloudy Headlights

Cloudy headlights can be restored in a very specific way. Find out how to restore cloudy headlights with help from an expert in the automotive industry in this free video clip.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Toyota displays family-oriented Camatte concept at toy show [w/video]

Toyota is out to spur a passion for cars in young families with its new Camatte Concept. Unveiled at the 2012 International Tokyo Toy Show, the vehicle features a number of interchangeable body panels that can easily be swapped for different colors or styles.

The concept seats three in a unique triangular configuration that Toyota says is designed to facilitate communication between parents behind the wheel and children in the back. But that's not the only kid-friendly aspect. The Camatte also features configurable pedals, which can allow a child to develop driving skills while a parent takes care of important tasks like steering and braking.

Clearly, this sucker isn't headed to production, and that's a shame. We love the bare-bones utilitarianism of the design, and the open-wheel front is enough to garner a smile from us as well. It's almost as if Toyota decided to bring the Volkswagen Kubelwagen into the modern age. Check out the quick breakdown video below for yourself

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

As Summer Heats Up, Toyota Sponsors Entrance into the Glamorous World of Dr. Hank Lawson Via Exclusive Video on USA Character Chatter and Viggle

USA Network, the leading network in Social TV, is transporting Royal Pains fans into a never-before-seen digital world where they can become part of the summer Hamptons fun through engaging, exclusive video content and second screen interaction. USA and partner Toyota will give fans original video content, exclusive access to show talent and the chance to win the Summer on the Set Sweepstakes. Using the new Viggle app, which rewards viewers for watching their favorite shows, fans can dive into never-before-seen videos with seamless social sharing capabilities starting with the season premiere on Wednesday, June 6, 9/8c.

“USA and Toyota are continuing their history of providing Royal Pains fans with compelling digital user experiences, and this season we are expanding that by partnering with Viggle, one of the hottest second screen applications,” said Alexandra Shapiro, executive vice president, marketing & digital, USA. “Using our ‘Created With’ approach, we bring together innovative Partners to provide our passionate fanbase with compelling digital storytelling arcs that increase their engagement with our original programming and brand sponsors."

Royal Pains fans can join in on the fun through various media, including Viggle and USA’s Character Chatter, the network's real-time Social TV Fan Participation Platform. By using their computers or smart phones fans can see behind-the-scenes video shot on location in the Hamptons, as well as exclusive cast and producer interviews, outtakes, games and more, presented by Toyota. Each week throughout the season, USA will post new content – some of it from the set, which is currently shooting new episodes for the season.

“Our partnership with USA on the Royal Pains’ digital activations enables us to give fans an experience that complements our on-air initiatives while offering exclusive content in an immersive and contextually relevant way,” said Dionne Colvin, national marketing media manager, Toyota. “We believe that interacting with consumers within both the online and mobile channels becomes an engagement that is unique to each person and allows for multiple touchpoints with the Toyota brand.”

Fans can access USA’s Character Chatter at to engage with each other or talent or log-on to Viggle via their iPhone, iPad or Android device. The ultimate prize is to win the Summer on the Set sweepstakes, a trip to the Hamptons to tour the set of Royal Pains, potentially meet with cast members, and take home memorabilia from the trip.

Royal Pains stars Mark Feuerstein as Dr. Hank Lawson, the go to “doctor for hire” in the Hamptons. The series also stars Paulo Costanzo, Reshma Shetty, Jill Flint, Campbell Scott and Brooke D’Orsay, with television royalty Henry Winkler and Christine Ebersol, who recur on the series. Hank, along with team – his brother and CEO of Hank Med, Evan (Costanzo), his physicians’ assistant, Divya (Shetty) and the head of administrator at the local hospital, Jill (Flint) – treat a variety of fascinating patients in unusual situations, for which only the exclusive Hamptons could provide the backdrop.

From Universal Cable Productions, Royal Pains is written and executive produced by Michael Rauch and Andrew Lenchewski.  Rich Frank also serves as executive producer along with Jeff Kwatinetz from Prospect Park and Connie Burge.  Co-executive producers are Carol Flint, Jon Sherman, Kerry Orent and Jack Bernstein.