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Friday, July 22nd, 2011
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!


Friday, August 6th, 2010

The Scion xD is a quick, thrifty, nimble, small hatchback made by Toyota. It has more horsepower than its major competitors, and for 2010, it’s a Consumer Reports recommended car with a very strong reliability record.Scionxd

The five-door, five-passenger xD is ready and looking for some action… and its’ share of attention in the world of small hatchbacks. Sales are down 25.5 percent through the first seven months of 2010, and the xD is the slowest-selling of all non-luxury Toyota cars.

Part of the reason may be that with Scion, Toyota’s youth-oriented car brand, most of the attention goes to the boxy-styled Scion xB with all it’s aftermarket accessories and the sporty-looking Scion coupe, the tC. Another contributing factor could be that the Scion xD is built with the same high quality standards of luxury Toyota cars and therefore, is not the cheapest little guy on the block.

The front-wheel drive, 2010 xD has a starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $15,620 with manual transmission and 128-horsepower, 1.8-liter four cylinder. With automatic transmission, the lowest-priced 2010 xD starts at $16,420, and a recent test model with stylish alloy wheels, rear spoiler, upgraded audio and other options topped out at nearly $20,000.

The 2010 Nissan Versa, another small, four-cylinder-powered hatchback, has a starting retail price of $14,140 with manual transmission and 122 horsepower. And the 2010 Toyota Yaris hatchback, whose platform is used under the xD, starts at $13,665. The Yaris, however, gets just 103 horses from its four-cylinder engine and is a bit smaller than the xD. Even the 117-horseower, 2010 Honda Fit, whose starting retail price of $15,650 is on par with the xD, is outselling the xD by 5-to-1 this calendar year.

It’s true the xD has the lowest starting retail price of all the Scions for 2010. But the difference between the base xD and the base MSRP, including destination charge, of the larger xB is less than $1,000.

Still, the xD is a capable little car with some nifty features. The back seat slides forward and aft to help accommodate the needs of passengers and cargo. This is something not always found in this segment. Rear seatbacks also recline, Quality. The xD’s seat fabric looks pricier than buyers might expect in the segment,,,Quality again. The split, folding rear seats go down for a flat cargo space that maximizes at a decent 35.7 cubic feet.

Fuel economy in the recent test base xD with manual transmission was noteworthy at a combined 30 miles per gallon in city and highway driving. The federal government rated the test car at 27 mpg in city driving and 33 mpg on the highway, so getting 300 miles on an 11.1-gallon thankful of regular gasoline is eminently doable.

At just over 2,600 pounds and shorter in overall length than the Versa hatchback and the Honda Fit, the xD feels spunky in city driving. The gearshifter is tight. Torque peaks at 125 foot-pounds at 4,400 rpm. This compares with 127 foot-pounds of torque at 4,800 rpm from the 2010 Nissan Versa’s 1.8-liter four cylinder.

The little xD gets around without a hiccup, and parking is a breeze in almost any parking spot. Yes, the xD can be an excellent, no-fuss urban car that Scion envisioned.

The upgraded Alpine stereo put out strong, clear tunes, even if the 4.3-inch color touch panel seemed small. The Alpine system includes HD Radio technology and Alpine’s MX technology that enhances the compressed audio sound of digital music.

This is the first year that electronic stability control is standard on the xD. Other standard safety items include curtain air bags, anti-whiplash front-seat head restraints and antilock brakes with Brake Assist.

The xD earned four out of five stars for driver and front-passenger protection in frontal crash testing by the federal government. Side crash test results were better _ five out of five stars for passenger protection.

Introduced in 2007 as the replacement for the often overlooked Scion xA, the xD is still searching for an identity. Perhaps a more agressive marketing campaign is called for to make buyers more aware of the outstanding little Toyota that could…

Toyota Electric Power Steering (EPS)

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Electric Power Steering (EPS) is replacing hydraulic power steering in many new vehicles today. epss

One of the advantages of electric power steering is that it eliminates the power steering pump, which can use as much as 8 to 10 horsepower under load. This improves fuel economy while also eliminating the weight and bulk of the power steering pump and hoses. Getting rid of the hydraulics also does away with fluid leaks and the need to check the power steering fluid. Electric power steering is also quieter than hydraulic systems because there is no pump noise and no fluid flowing through hoses and valves. But the most noticeable difference is in handling and steering refinement.

Electric power steering can be fine tuned with a precision that is hard to match with hydraulic controls. By monitoring the driver’s steering inputs, vehicle speed, and other suspension dynamics, the system can provide just the right amount of steering feel and effort to match rapidly changing driving conditions. EPS can deliver extra effort when you need it, and reduce steering effort when you do not need it. It can even provide steering assist when the engine is off.

Electric Power Steering can be found on the  new Avalon, Venza, Camry, Corolla,  Prius, RAV4, New Sienna, and Scions in the Toyota product line.
Though some of the older electric power steering systems were actually “electro-hydraulic,” and used an electric motor to drive a conventional hydraulic pump, the latest generation of EPS is all electric/electronic. The steering gear itself is a manual rack with an electric motor mounted on the steering column or the rack.

When the driver turns the wheel, a steering sensor detects the position and rate of rotation of the steering wheel. This information along with input from a steering torque sensor mounted in the steering shaft is fed to the power steering control module. Other inputs such as vehicle speed and inputs from the traction control or stability control systems are factored in to determine how much steering assist is required. The control module then commands the motor to rotate a certain amount, and a sensor on the motor provides feedback to the control module so it can monitor the motor’s position.

Better yet, because an EPS system is software driven, it is possible to tap into the steering module and modify steering effort and feel. This can be done with a factory scan tool on some applications, and with aftermarket “tuner” scan tools and software.



Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Scion Owners Behave!!… A study by ISO Quality Planning identified the 10 most ticketed vehicles and the 10 least ticketed. The study puts the Hummer H2 and H3 at the top of the list, followed closely by and get this the Scion tC and two other Scion models, the xB and xA.

What are 3 Scion Models, a Toyota Matrix, and a Solara doing on a top 10 ticket list??… Analysis helps make this more explainable.

Scion tc and the other models including the Toyotas have an average customer age of 25 years old;… and with plenty of aftermarket performance accessories available out there, Scion and Matrix demographics skew to the early 30s (still feeling fearless) according to parent company, Toyota. That popularity with youthful drivers, who typically translate into a higher incidence of violations helps explain Scion and Toyota’s new notoriety.

A couple of Mercedes-Benz AMG models, the CLK63 and CLS63 also make the list, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. The 10 least ticketed cars include a healthy dose of minivans and trucks.

Most ticketed Rate                                 Least ticketed Rate
Hummer H2/H3 463%                             Jaguar XJ 11%
Scion tC 460%                                          Chevrolet Suburban 16%
Scion XB 403%                                         Chevrolet Tahoe 21%
Mercedes Benz CLK63 AMG 397%           Chevrolet 3500/2500 28%
Toyota Solara Coupe 306%                      Buick Park Avenue 32%
Mercedes Benz CLS63 AMG 276%           Mazda6 34%
Scion xA 275%                                         Buick Rainier 37%
Subaru Outback 266%                              Buick Lucerne 40%
Toyota Matrix 264%                                 GMC C1500 pickup 40%

*Violations per 100,000 miles driven, expressed as percentage of average.

The study doesn’t specify what kinds of traffic tickets, so there’s no telling if Hummers or Scions are more likely to speed or run red lights, but you could probably make some reasonable guesses. I would say Scion Owners Behave!!

The above aside, Scion and Toyota are the Highest Rated Cars you can buy for Quality, Reliability, and Longevity. And you can buy any of them with an Exclusive Lifetime Warranty. For more information, Inquire Below: