July, 2011

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TOYOTA iPHONE APP FOR KIDS: BACKSEAT DRIVER

Sunday, July 31st, 2011
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Earthquakes, tsunamis, parts shortages, that’s enough to cause most campanies to shut down. Instead, Toyota is bringing on a new line, ToyToyota, and its first product is an iPhone App for Kids called Backseat Driver.

Toyota Backseat Driver For Kids

Toyota Backseat Driver For Kids

Backseat Driver differs from other driving games by engaging the handset’s GPS and accelerometer to match game play with the direction and speed of the real-world car that the player is sitting in. It works like this; using the phone’s GPS, the app lets kids drive a “Mama Car,” following the same route driven by their parents, while a “Papa Car” ahead poops little cartoon prizes that the kids pick up. Kids that collect enough prizes earn the right to customize their game car with sparkly paint, then share their successes on Twitter. Come to think of it, things kinda work like that for the parents too…But back to the game app, those goodies are matched to nearby landmarks in the real world — so, for example, if dad drives by a burger joint, the player may be able to roll over a hamburger and gain some points.

The game is intended for the fairly young, but through the built in social layer with twitter, players can share their high scores and they can compete with others via the game’s online ranking system. And of course, players can use those accumulated points to customize their rides. Is Toyota raising the next generation for “Pimp My Ride”? Just kidding.

Backseat Driver is free to download [iTunes link] for the iPhone (3GS and 4), iPod Touch (3rd and 4th generation models), and the iPad. If you haven’t upgraded your OS in a while, you’ll need to jump to at least iOS 4.1.

Curious? Have a few minutes to waste? Here’s a video overview.
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2012 TACOMA A MINOR MAJOR UPDATE

Friday, July 29th, 2011
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With all the hype surrounding a new Camry reveal, Toyota truck folks are asking what about a new Tacoma?Possible 2012 Tacoma

Speculation has built that 2012 would be the year for a new generation Tacoma. Save that level of enthusiasm for later.What we’re hearing from Toyota insiders is that the 2012 Tacoma will have a more stylized look but will be a fresh skin update. With no pictures slipping through the cracks yet here is what we’re getting:

  • New front bumper, headlights, hood and fenders. The look will be more optimistic and stylish but not exactly like the new 4 Runner.
  • New dash and optional Entune will be available.
  • The 4.0L remains the same single VVT and the same transmission, no powertrain upgrades at this time.
  • Later in the year after initial launch, a baja edition may be introduced.
  • Trucks should arrive a Dealers by Oct but pictures are still under raps.
  • The 2012 Tacoma is considered a minor major update of sorts, not a new generation.
  • Words being used is that it might be 3 years before a new generation is introduced.

Stay tuned for further leaks and information.

ALABAMA SAFEHOUSE WINS TOYOTA CARS FOR GOOD

Thursday, July 28th, 2011
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Another Big Win in Alabama from Toyota.

Toyota USA announced on July 26th that Pelham-based SafeHouse of Shelby County, Alabama is one of 100 non-profit organizations across the country to win a Toyota through the company’s 100 Cars for Good competition.

Through Toyota 100 Cars for Good, 5,000 non-profit organizations submitted applications to Toyota in early May. The list was then narrowed to 1,000 organizations, and then the top 500.

Each day beginning May 9, Toyota selected five organizations at random and featured them on the day’s online ballot. Voters then cast their ballots for the day’s featured organizations, and the organization with the most votes at the end of the day won their choice of a Toyota vehicle.

SafeHouse was featured on the July 22 ballot, and earned more votes than the other four competing organizations.

Kathy Wells, the organization’s executive director, conveyed ecstatic excitement on behalf of the Safehouse upon learning the news from Toyota.

As a result of winning the competition, SafeHouse soon will have a new Toyota Sienna van, which Ms. Wells says is very much needed.

SafeHouse in Pelham, Alabama provides shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and provides many services for those affected by the crimes. SafeHouse employees often transport children staying at the shelter to school, and transport adults to doctors appointments, courthouses and other destinations.

Of the 500 organizations participating in the program, only nine were from Alabama. So far, SafeHouse is the only Alabama organization to win.

OPTIMISTIC TOYOTA AVALON SPORT

Monday, July 25th, 2011
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WOW!… Why not add some Optimism and a Feeling of Excitement to your new ride with the Toyota Avalon Sport.

New Toyota Avalon Sport

New Toyota Avalon Sport

The Avalon Sport Option is a Southeast Toyota package that brings a little fun and swagger to your Avalon driving experience. The package may be available in other Toyota buying regions as another configuration. However, if you live in the Southeastern U.S., near the area, or are willing to fly in and drive home, you should get one of these.

The Sport option is a $3,999 package and includes:

  • Ground Effects Kit, Lip Spoiler
  • Sports Badges, Window Tint All State Legal
  • 4-18″ BBS Wheels W/4-235/45/18 Michelin Tires(Replaces 4 Factory Installed Wheels and Tires)

My color of choice is Black as shown with charcoal leather seating. The car is stunning sitting right in front of you. The Sport Option Package is also available with other color choices.

Yea, I can just about see Sinatra exiting the back seat of this beautiful personal luxury car right now!

ALABAMA AND CONNECTICUT TEACHERS WIN TOYOTA TEEN DRIVER EDUCATORS’ CHALLENGE

Friday, July 22nd, 2011
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An Alabama teacher has recently won First Place in the Toyota Teen Driver Educators’ Challenge. Congratulations to Gina McCarley, Lawrence County Schools, Lawrence County High School, Moulton, AL  for her First Place win. Congratulations to Nick Aprea, Seymour Public Schools, Seymour High School, Seymour, CT for his Grand Prize win in the Challenge. Toyota and Discovery Education  recently announced the Grand Prize and First Place winners. 
 
 As Challenge participants, teachers across the country were tasked with developing three 90-minute safety driving lessons for high school students. The winning lessons are to function as upcoming public service announcements for the winners’ schools and communities regarding safe teen driving.
 
 
The Grand Prize winner will receive a free, in-person Toyota Driving Expectations event for their local community. Toyota Driving Expectations is a free program for teen drivers and their parents that has educated nearly 18,000 participants since 2004. The program takes teens the next step beyond driver’s education and introduces “real world” obstacles, conditions and distractions in a safe and controlled driving environment.
 
The First Place winner will receive two virtual driving simulators, provided by Virtual Driver Interactive. The simulators are programmed with One Simple Decision™ — a program designed to stop impaired and distracted driving with a first person experience that focuses on real life consequences.
 
“Discovery Education is a firm believer in not only educating students on subjects inside the classroom, but teaching important lessons outside the classroom as well,” said Mary Rollins, vice president of education partnerships, Discovery Education. “The Educators’ Challenge is an exciting and effective way to get communities involved in promoting safe teen driving habits and teaching teens the consequences of distracted driving.”
 
The Educators’ Challenge is just one part of Toyota and Discovery Education’s joint program, Toyota Teen Driver, which aims to provide resources to schools, educators, parents and teens to help educate teens and keep them safer behind the wheel. For more information on the program, visit www.toyotateendriver.com. For more information on the Toyota Driving Expectations program, visit www.toyotadrivingexpectations.com.

TOYOTA HATCHBACKS COMEBACK AND WILL RUN WHEN NOTHING ELSE WILL!

Friday, July 22nd, 2011
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Yaris Hatchback

Yaris Hatchback

Toyota has been hatching hatchback cars, those with a top-hinged rear door instead of a trunk for years. These cars sometimes labeled a wagon, liftback, 3-door, or 5-door have been in our driveways usually as the ugly duckling for 25 years. They’re making a comeback, though, and this time driven by a push for roomy, feature filled, fuel-efficient alternatives to larger crossovers or bigger cars.

My one experience owning a Toyota hatchback was purely involuntary in the beginning. From time to time beginning in the early 1970’s as a teenager I’ve bought and sold older cars for fun and profit. About thirteen years ago I bought three older Toyota trades from the mid 1980’s to clean-up and sell. Two were Camrys and the third was a Corolla Fx hatchback, blue/gray in color.

The Camrys sold faster than a speeding bullet but there was no interest for the Corolla hatchback. It was a somewhat ugly little car, not one of Toyota’s best design moments. My kids said it looked like it should be in Mexico or Cuba. Never the less since nobody wanted it at the time I decided to keep it around as a spare car. I reasoned that it would be nice to have an extra car available when one of the others failed. Such a naive idea from Pollyanna became gone with the wind as soon as my kids and wife announced they wouldn’t be caught dead in that car.

Corolla FX

Corolla FX

I began to drive that little Corolla Fx hatchback here and there and it didn’t take long for me to realize that this car had Favor with God. It always started, never failed, and consistently delivered 35 miles per gallon. I decided to have it detailed and discovered that it wasn’t blue/gray after all but silver! I promptly named it The Silver Bullet. One time I left The Silver Bullet in a parking lot in another state for seven months. I meant to get back to get it but things kept getting in the way. When I finally made it back to retrieve it I wasn’t even sure it would be there. My wife and kids were praying that it wouldn’t be. But like I said, this little car had God’s Favor and when I rounded the corner, there it sat, after seven months. I put the key in, pumped the gas pedal three times, it started right up and I drove it home. By now, all of these things led me to a spiritual moment at which time I announced, “The Silver Bullet Will Go When Nothing  Else Will!” Besides all of that I discovered I could fold the rear seat down and haul stuff. I believe it was George Carlin that said it was good for us to be able to haul our stuff!

“The Silver Bullet Will Go When Nothing Else Will!”. That statement came full circle one night with a family emergency of sorts. My youngest son, fifteen at the time, was performing in a Christmas Choral Concert and had a lead solo song in the Concert. I was meeting my wife who was bringing my son to the Concert Hall. I arrived early driving The Silver Bullet that evening looking forward to the Concert. Fifteen minutes before the concert was to begin my wife called from home telling me the battery in her car was dead. I raced home in The Silver Bullet, got my wife and son, and headed back to the Concert hall as fast as we could go. As we raced up the long hill to the Concert Hall, there was nothing but silence inside the car. There I was in The Silver Bullet going as fast as I could go up the hill carrying two people both who had vowed they wouldn’t be “caught dead” in that car. My wife rigidly crouched in the passenger seat next to me wouldn’t even look at me. My young son, nearly six foot three dressed in a tuxedo was ever so carefully folded up in the back seat, knees almost touching the roof of the car. Taking all of this in and racing to the Concert as fast as I could, I at one point looked back toward my son when our eyes suddenly locked and out of his mouth came these words, “I know Dad, The Silver Bullet Will Go When Nothing Else Will!”…

In 2008 when gas prices reached $4.00 per gallon all of a sudden everybody wanted to buy The Silver Bullet. I got cash offers of over $2,000 for this car, a 21 year old Toyota Corolla Fx hatchback. How about that! I did sell it, to a friend who is a Toyota mechanic. He drives it to work everyday, 70 miles round trip.

So hatchbacks are making a comeback. As a matter of fact hatchback sales from all brands increased 63% from the 2006 to the 2010 model years according to data from Ward’s Automotive. By comparison, total cars sales fell 21% in the same period.

Toyota offers a variety of extremely reliable hatchbacks that include the Yaris, Matrix, Scion XB, Scion XD, and the TC coupe that is also a hatchback. The upcoming Scion IQ will feature a hatchback. Let’s not forget that Prius is also a hatchback model. All of these cars are packed with features, fuel economy, and very rarely hit the used car market for years because original owners keep them around almost for ever. Toyota Hatchbacks Will Run When Nothing Else Will!