September, 2010

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HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU SPEND ON A CAR OR TRUCK?

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
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Someone recenty asked Dave Ramsey a great question about buying a Car, Truck, or Recreational Vehicle…

tips-buying-a-new-car“What’s your rule of thumb about how much your car should be worth in comparison with your Income?”

Dave’s Answer:

Great question! My rule of thumb is that all of your vehicles—I’m talking about cars, trucks, boats and their Sea-Doo sisters, motorcycles, and anything else like this—should not total more than Half Your Annual Income

Why? It’s because all of these kinds of things go down in value. You never want half of your income going into things whose value is dropping like a rock. You don’t need a $20,000 car if you’re making $30,000 a year. That’s just stupid. Think about it this way. If you’re making wanna_buy_a_carthat kind of money, and I walk up and tell you I’ve got an investment opportunity that will turn $20,000 of your hard-earned income into $12,000 in just three or four years, are you going to take me up on the offer? If you’ve got a brain in your head, the answer’s no!

Now, I’m okay with it if you make $300,000 a year and buy a $20,000 car if you pay cash. That’s like most people running out and buying a Happy Meal. It’s just not a big deal!

TOYOTA FUTURE CARS AND TRUCKS

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
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Toyota plans new products over the next 18 months and redesign several core models. What Toyota does next is very important.

2012 CAMRY PROTOToyota by spring of 2012 will have an all new Camry, Yaris, Tacoma and RAV4. The new FT-86 sport coupe, developed with Subaru, should arrive on these shores by that time; And, in the wings are a plug-in version Prius and a Prius coupe.

Below are summaries of product development plans for Toyota at this time.

Yaris: A redesign is scheduled for 2012. Japan may get a hybrid version, but the strong yen will prevent the hybrid from coming to the United States. Expect for the U.S. a six-speed automatic transmission with short lower gears and tall upper gears to improve acceleration and fuel economy. A newly engineered 1.5-liter engine is probable.

Corolla: Toyota extended the Corolla’s run to six years for its last redesign and, with all the engineering challenges currently, probably will do so again. That will make its 2012 model year restyling more extensive like a reskin, with a redesign in spring 2014.

Matrix: Expect it to continue until the spring of 2014, when the Corolla is redesigned. But with the strong yen pushing Toyota to build more Corollas in North America–and with the Fremont, Calif., assembly plant now closed–the ratio of Corollas to Matrixes built in Cambridge, Ontario, is likely to swing away from the Matrix.

Camry: The Camry was being redesigned as Congress was setting stricter corporate average fuel economy standards, delaying development a few months. Expect the next Camry to arrive in late 2011 or early 2012 as a 2012 model. Toyota will maintain the Camry’s current footprint, although it may be wider. The fascia may follow the styling of the Venza. We always thought those 19″ and 20″ wheels were a sign of things to come. There also may be updates to the V6.

Camry Solara: It’s dead. The Convertible was nice.

Prius: A plug-in version is expected in the 2012 model year. Current prototypes have a 14-mile battery-only range, but that may be extended with a larger battery pack. The prototypes also have a lithium ion battery pack, which may be added as part of a 2013 model year midcycle change and give the hybrid 50 mpg in the combined city/highway cycle. A full redesign slated for the 2015 model year will have the lithium pack. A “plain clothes” version code-named “Package Zero”–meant to undercut Honda’s Insight–is planned once U.S. production starts.

Prius coupe: Using Prius underpinnings but with more dramatic styling, the coupe would be built at Toyota’s new plant in Mississippi. It’s meant to be a Honda CR-Z competitor. Toyota already has conducted a design competition involving the company’s four global design studios and a couple of outside coachbuilders. The global vehicle could be built in Japan in 2012 as a 2013 model.

Prius pickup: The A-BAT concept could see action as both a Toyota and a Scion. The Toyota version will be based on the Prius, making it more of a parcel carrier than a cargo hauler. The big obstacle: It must be built in the United States because of the “chicken tax” from 1963, 2007-toyota-a-bat-concept_100224103_simposed on imported pickups. Toyota also plans a Prius wagon, but it will not come to America.

Avalon: A thorough midcycle freshening spring 2010  has pushed back the redesign to mid-2013 as a 2014 model. The Avalon preceded the Camry during the last model change-over but will follow in the upcoming redesign. Avalon is on a stretched cycle–perhaps seven years long. Toyota is wrestling with what to do with the segment. The vehicle could go sporty like the Nissan Maxima rather than plush like a Buick.

FT-86: The on-again, off-again sporty coupe, developed with Subaru, was shown in concept form at the 2009 Tokyo auto show. Styling of the 2009 show car was conservative, so Toyota subsidiary Gazoo Racing sharpened it up at the 2010 Tokyo Auto Salon in January. The FT-86 engine is rumored to be a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, 200-hp boxer-four borrowed from Subaru, while Subaru will get a higher-performance–and higher-priced–version. Toyota gets rear-wheel drive, while the Subaru is equipped with all-wheel drive. Toyota is shooting for a late  2011 launch. Pricing is expected to be $25,000 to $30,000.

RAV4: The compact crossover will be redesigned for the 2012 model year. Having been thrashed by the new Honda CR-V, the next RAV4 is expected to get an upgraded interior and bolder design. A new 2.5-liter four-cylinder was introduced as part of the 2009 freshening, so don’t expect major changes there. But Toyota looks to be dumping the V6 and replacing it with a hybrid-four because of CAFE fears. Engineering simplification is another factor. It’s easier to fit a hybrid pack in the engine bay than two more cylinders. Toyota and Tesla Motors are working on an electric version of the RAV4 that should debut in 2012.

Highlander: A freshening is the plan for 2011, with a full redesign of the crossover for the 2013 model year if the vehicle stays on a five-year change. The Highlander has a high order rate on V6 engines, which makes for CAFE complications. Toyota wants a higher order rate for the hybrid over the V6 as few four-cylinder versions of the Highlander are sold.

Venza: No major changes are expected–although if the Camry V6 gets re-engineered, the Venza will get the same engine in 2012.

Sienna: The minivan was redesigned this year. Sales began in the spring.

FJ Cruiser: The FJ Cruiser, launched in the spring of 2006, is a one-generation vehicle. The strong yen creates a pricing problem for the Japan-built SUV. Expect a quiet sell-down in 2012.

4Runner: No major changes are expected.

Sequoia: A company source said Toyota considered moving the SUV to a passenger-car platform, but the current Tundra platform is inexpensive to build. So for the 2014 model year, expect the restyled and re-engineered Sequoia to remain on the Tundra platform and use even more component commonality. The current model is the same as the Tundra from the B-pillar forward. The 2014 version probably will share most of the Tundra CrewMax cabin structure, which makes sense.

Land Cruiser: No major changes are expected in the SUV for a few years.

Tacoma: A restyling and re-engineering of the small pickup is expected for the 2012 model year. Much of the styling seen in the 2010 4Runner will carry over to the Tacoma in 2012.  Expect model variants to decline on the new model.

Tundra: No major changes are expected until the 2014 model year redesign, although the regular cab gets a long bed in 4×2 trim this year. The next Tundra will evolve from the current platform, with more money put into the interior styling. At its reduced volume, Toyota doesn’t need two V8 engines, so expect maybe one V8 that splits the difference between the current 4.6-liter and the 5.7-liter.

TOYOTA TO OFFER MINICARS IN JAPAN, MINI-YOTAS?

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
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Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, will enter the minicar market. The company plans to expand its product line to include mini vehicles made by subsidiary Daihatsu Motors starting in stages from autumn 2011 in Japan. There are no plans for any similar venture for the American market at this time.2009-Daihatsu-e-S-Concept-Front-Side-View-588x365

Mini vehicles are defined by specifications unique to Japan: maximum length of 11.15 feet, width of 4.86 feet, height of 6.56 feet and engine displacement of less than 660 cc.

The minimarket has been expanding in Japan and under the agreement, Daihatsu will produce three models for Toyota, which will sell them through its dealerships. The companies said they expect annual sales of about 60,000 mini vehicles once all three models hit showrooms.

Such deals are called an OEM, or “original equipment manufacture,” agreement in the auto industry. That means one automaker — Daihatsu in this case — supplies products to another company to sell under its own brand.

The category is popular in Japan for its money-saving potential, including lower fuel costs and taxes. They currently comprise about a third of Japan’s annual vehicle sales.

Automakers have sold 1.22 million mini vehicles in Japan this year through August, a rise of about 8%, according to the Japan Mini Vehicles Association. Daihatsu,  51% owned by Toyota, holds top share of Japan’s competitive mini vehicle market.

TOYOTA REMAINS TOP AUTO BRAND WORLDWIDE

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
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Toyota remains the Top Auto Brand Worldwide according to Interbrand, the world’s leader for brand consultancy.ToyotaRange

Interbrand uses a number of criteria to rank the world’s top global, profitable, publicly-held brands – “global” meaning they operate on at least three continents, derive at least 30% of their income outside of their home market and no single market accounts for more than 50% of their income. Some of those stipulations are why you won’t find companies like Mars or The BBC or even Wal-Mart on the list.

But you will find Toyota, which remains the top automotive brand, even with its recent recall and safety woes. The cynic’s view might be to wonder how it can still remain so, with Interbrand’s 10 principles of strong brands including commitment, clarity and responsiveness. But the company had built so much room that it could fall some ways and still be on top, sliding from eight to 11, just ahead of Mercedes at number 12. Interbrand said that while Toyota’s problems were exacerbated by the way the company is set up, it hasn’t been hurt as much as some would have thought and it has proven its resilience over the decades.

Oddly, although Ford was cited for having been “extremely innovative with product designs” and having “excelled at marketing its vehicles,” lauded for its resilience, its closing of Mercury and its coming sustainability efforts, it falls one spot from 49 to 50.  Elsewhere on the list, Volkswagen gains two places to settle at 53, Audi gains two places to reach 63, Hyundai jumps four spots to 65, Porsche gains two spots to 73, and Ferrari loses three spots to end up at 91.

TOYOTA CAR COLORS,MOON ROOFS,BACK-UP CAMERAS AND OTHER CAR TRENDS

Monday, September 20th, 2010
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Toyota Buyers,…Are sunroofs and heated and cooled seats preferred only by drivers in the sunny states?SUPRA

Well, as it turns out, probably not…Seattle, Washington may be rainy and cool, but its drivers are the most likely to get moon roofs and air-conditioned seats in their cars.

That’s one of several unexpected trends in an automotive report  recently released  about automotive customer preferences in various regions. The report is designed to look at the colors and features that buyers favor and uses the data to ensure dealers have the right mix of cars to match local tastes.

In addition to moon roofs and cooled seats, Seattle has the highest percentage of buyers who opt for rearview cameras and blind-spot warning systems. Seattle is also second to San Francisco in the popularity of navigation systems.

Seattle-area buyers are well-heeled, well-educated and tech savvy according to a dealership general manager in Kent, Wash. They drive in the mountains and on the coast — that explains the moon roofs and navigation systems — and they like to equip their vehicles with the latest technology.

These are more than just factoids for automakers, who are obsessive collectors of data. Customers who don’t find the exact car they want on a lot might go to another dealership, so it’s critical to supply the right mix.

Many of these kinds of results aren’t surprising. Hybrid cars like Toyota Prius are most popular in eco-friendly San Francisco. Drivers in pickup territory — Dallas and Houston and other southern cities— are most likely to opt for towing features, like a hitch and wiring for trailer lights. Buyers in Alabama — home of the Crimson Tide, national College Champs — like red cars.

But there are plenty of quirks. Drivers in San Francisco, Atlanta and Charlotte — not those in snowier climates — are the most likely to get heated seats. Maybe they’re more sensitive to cold. Drivers in New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas are most likely to opt for rear-seat DVD systems. Those are motorists who face long drives outside their sprawling cities for their weekend getaways.

As for colors, people in the nation’s capital are most likely to get blue cars, while flashier folks in Miami like gold. Green cars don’t seem to be popular outside of the East Coast. The top markets for them are Boston — home of the Celtics — followed by Philadelphia.

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Color Cities

Black Boston, Detroit, New York, Miami, Chicago

Blue Washington, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Chicago, Detroit

Gold Miami, Memphis, Orlando, Phoenix, Houston     

Gray Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Philadelphia

Green Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Pittsburgh, New York

Orange Phoenix, Los Angeles, Miami, Denver, Seattle

Red Cincinnati, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Chicago, Pittsburgh

Silver Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, Orlando, Boston

White San Francisco, Memphis, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas

TOYOTA TOUCH TRACER,HOT SAFETY, CONVENIENCE FEATURE

Friday, September 10th, 2010
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We can all Agree that anything that prevents a driver from looking away from the road is a big plus, and that’s why Toyota steering-wheel mounted audio and cruise controls that make it easy toToyotaPriusSteeringWheel change the radio station or pump up the volume without fumbling around with the middle console have become staple features for many Toyota models.

Still, auto engineers have observed that drivers often look down even when using steering-wheel buttons. Toyota has developed Touch Tracer technology that helps keep eyes looking at the road and it works well.

So what is Toyota Touch Tracer technology? When a steering-wheel mounted control is activated, a holographic image appears over the speedometer. Two blue circles appear, mimicking the shape of the controls on the steering wheel and highlighting the button being pushed in orange. Once the adjustment is complete, the circles fade away.

It’s a very simple concept but the execution is brilliant.

In testing, I was able to see with my peripheral vision what I had pushed, and even in instances where I had selected the wrong button, I was able to make the correction without taking my eyes off the road.

Currently, the feature is only available on the Toyota Prius, although Lexus offers a similar option called Remote Touch. This feature may be added to the rest of the Toyota line in the near future.

TUNDRA 2011, WHAT’S NEW

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010
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For 2011 Toyota has simplified the Tundra line-up featuring a new V6 engine & standard electronic trailer sway control that  aligns more evenly with competitive products.2011-TOYOTA-TUNDRA-Pictures

Here are Key changes for 2011 Tundra

  • New 4.0-liter V6 base engine, replacing previous 4.0-liter V6
  • Exterior color choices down from 11 to 9; more paint sharing with Tacoma
  • 10 models deleted, including 9 with 4.6-liter V8 engine
  • Trailer sway control now standard on all models

4.0-liter V6 now has advanced technology similar to Tundra 5.7L and 4.6L V8 engines

  • Improvements designed to improve fuel efficiency, increase and broaden torque range
  • Dual Independent Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (Dual VVT-i) added
  • Allows independent adjustment of intake and exhaust cam timing to achieve maximum power at different RPM
    o        270 HP@ 5600 RPM
    o        278 lb-ft @ 4400 RPM  

Tundra now shares five colors with Tacoma

  • Tacoma production moving to Tundra plant in San Antonio, Texas
  • Paint sharing streamlines manufacturing, gives truck line consistent family identification
  • Dropped Colors: Tundra dropping Slate Metallic (1F9), Salsa Red Pearl (3Q3), Blue Streak (8T7) and Sandy Beach (4T8)
  • Added Colors: adding Tacoma colors Grey Metallic (1G3) and Tacoma Red Pearl (3R3)

Tundra eliminates following Tundra Grade models:

  • Regular Cab/Standard Bed 4×2 w/ 5.7L
  • Regular Cab/Long Bed 4×2 and 4×4 w/ 4.6L
  • Regular Cab/Standard Bed 4×4 w/ 4.6L
  • Double Cab/Long Bed 4×2 and 4×4 w/ 4.6L

Tundra eliminates following Limited models:

  • Double Cab/Standard Bed 4×2 and 4×4 w/ 4.6L
  • CrewMax/Short Bed 4×2 and 4×4 w/ 4.6L

Tundra adds Trailer Sway Control

  • Additional programming built upon the already standard Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system
  • If system detects trailer yaw or fishtailing, it takes counter measures such as activating the truck’s individual brakes and possibly reducing engine power
  • Trailer Sway Control is standard on all models, even those without factory tow package
  • Tundra’s standard Trailer Sway Control regains standard tow feature parity to Ford F150