Toyota’s TRD Pro Challenge

Kudos to the marketing and PR folks at Toyota USA for creating this cool ad series for their TRD models. The most recent episode sees Canadian veteran off-road racer Andy Bell take his two famous motorcycling friends Jamie Bestwick and Roland Sands across Vietnam behind the wheels of three beautiful Toyota Tacoma, Toyota Tundra and Toyota 4Runner models. Having traveled to Vietnam myself, I can attest that it truly is one of the most beautiful and rugged countries in the world. Vietnam’s back-country really is the perfect test ground for Toyota’s incredible off-road TRD models.

Advertisements

Toyota Reimagines Marty McFly’s Dream Truck with 2016 Tacoma

Growing up as a kid in the 1980s the Back to the Future film franchise is part of your DNA. So it should be no surprise that we were interested in seeing what Toyota would do to capitalize on the 30th anniversary of the blockbuster film. Well, good on them for letting our imaginations go wild and for a brief moment let us dream of going to a dealer to order a 2016 Toyota Tacoma with the “1985” Marty McFly 4×4 look.

"Marty McFly" Toyota Tacoma

“Marty McFly” Toyota Tacoma

Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely this beauty will ever see production, as it will likely end up in some auto museum along with all those other concepts that never come to life. Nevertheless, how cool would it be if they made a “Back to the Future” anniversary model with the 2016 Tacoma?  I would totally park it beside my “Fall Guy” GMC 2500 series…..

“Marty McFly” Toyota Tacoma

“Marty McFly” Toyota Tacoma

“Marty McFly” Toyota Tacoma

“Marty McFly” Toyota Tacoma

Photos courtesy of Toyota.

Toyota Canada’s Tacoma Tour 2016

We recently had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the 2016 Toyota Tacoma at Toyota Canada’s cross-country tour titled #TacomaTour2016. Toyota Canada created the national tour as a way to promote its all new, long-awaited Tacoma truck which is arriving in showrooms this Fall. We recently caught up with the tour at the Vaughn Mills shopping area just north of Toronto.

Toyota Tacoma event

#TacomaTour2016

During the event, we had the opportunity to discuss trucks with esteemed truck editor Howard Elmer and he had nothing but good things to say about the new Tacoma. He described how the new Tacoma builds on its rich heritage while taking us through the “ins and the outs” of the new truck. Along the way we also swapped our personal truck stories which was very cool for me as an owner of a 2006 Tacoma.

You literally could not miss the new Tacoma as it was painted in Toyota’s new “inferno” orange colour making it stand out dramatically from the other vehicles at the event. Toyota also had a range of other vehicles at the event. We ended up briefly test driving the new 4Runner model as well which was very impressive on first impression.

2016 Toyota Tacoma

2016 Toyota Tacoma

With the Tacoma only seeing minor updates since its last major facelift back in 2006, it was time to update this iconic mid-sized truck. Toyota has delivered on their promise to reinvigorate the Tacoma model with its new design as it boosts angular bold lines with a contoured rugged exterior while also providing an ultra modern, comfortable interior. The demo on hand was the double cab TRD sport model which is near the top end trim level. Unfortunately, it was the only model in Canada so we were not allowed to test it on the road…for obvious reasons!

The Tacoma’s exterior has sharper more modern lines with added stamping and a new bold front face. The new interior is sharp and a huge upgrade from the current design. With the addition of all the modern bells and whistles… like wireless charging, bluetooth, sunroof, and a GoPro camera mount, this TRD sport version really does dress up nicely.

The seats seem stiffer and a little higher off the floor which should please some people who have complained about the “low ride” style of the old seats. Not only does the new stamped tailgate look rugged it now comes with a much beefier tailgate.

New stamped tailgate

New stamped “beefy” tailgate

The old tailgate was much thinner and very light while the new stronger tailgate has been added to improve its usability for cottage toys such as four-wheelers and heavily stocked coolers. Although beefier overall, the new tailgate is still light to use thanks to a very innovative lift assist system. In addition, the new tailgate has a much-needed lock which integrates seamlessly with the factory tri-fold tonneau cover which will surely keep your tools and gear safe in the country as well as the city. The sport model also comes with a slick factory tow hitch.

Toyota Tacoma Tailgate

Toyota Tacoma Tailgate

This limited version of the Tacoma also has a bed lamp above the box over the cab access window. This is a great feature to illuminate your truck bed when you need the light most when out camping in the wilderness.

2016 Toyota Tacoma

New bed lamp

As for under the hood: Gone is the old four litre V6, replaced by either a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine or the brand new 3.5-liter Atkinson V6. The V6 features optimized fuel injection and an Atkinson power cycle (similar to a hybrid) for improved efficiency. This new engine should be one of the winners in today’s V6 fuel economy. A six-speed automatic transmission is available with both engines, while a six-speed manual will be available for the V6 only. Toyota has not announced any power specifications or fuel economy estimates yet.  However, if we get 19-20 mpg with our 2006 Tacoma with 225,000 KMs…we’re sure this new model will leave our truck in the dust fuel efficiency wise.

Tacoma TRD models will also offer a multi-terrain system that allows the driver to adjust a rotary dial that optimizes various systems for surfaces including mud, sand and rocks. A driver-selectable “crawl mode” also takes care of the throttle and brakes during low-speed maneuvers. A limited-slip differential and locking rear differential will also be available for the 4×4 off-road versions for increased capability on the trail.  A rear differential lock is nothing short of a life saver when caught in the thick mud or snow.

No official Canadian pricing has been announced, but expect the 2016 Toyota Tacoma to cost roughly the same as the current model when it goes on sale this fall.  We are really looking forward to the Tacoma to hit showrooms as it is a much needed addition to the already hot mid-size truck segment which includes the new GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado. The redesigned 2016 Toyota Tacoma should remain a top-pick for buyers looking for a fuel-efficient truck with interior refinements, updated technology while still having the off-road prowess the Tacoma has always been known for.

Toyota Motor Corp’s epic $1.2 billion settlement

Most of the time we stay out of the politics of the auto industry but as a legit auto blog we need to talk about today’s big story. Yes, I’m talking about Toyota Motor Corp’s epic $1.2 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding its four-year criminal investigation focused on whether Toyota was up front in reporting problems related to unintended acceleration troubles.

Toyota

Logo credit: Toyota UK

Under today’s agreement, the company will admit that it misled U.S. consumers by making deceptive statements about two safety issues affecting its vehicles. As a result, Toyota will pay a $1.2-billion financial penalty under a “deferred prosecution agreement.”

Many insiders are saying this deal could serve as a template for how U.S. authorities approach a similar investigation into General Motors Co.

Sources: Reuters and CBC

Vice Chronicles Okinawa’s Illegal Street Racing Scene

Here in Canada we have very strict street racing laws and they are a good thing don’t get us wrong. However, that does not mean the allure of racing on public roads among enthusiasts is fully extinguished. Autoblog Canada has posted a very cool video from Vice Japan that profiles illegal racer Eikichi Nagayoshi of Japan’s southern island Okinawa. Having spent a year in the “Land of the Rising Sun” and travelling to Okinawa I can honestly say it is one of the most unique places in the world so it’s no surprise its car culture is 100% authentic.

The video focuses around Nagayoshi’s admiration of his customized 1,000 horsepower Toyota Aristo (better known to us as a first-generation Lexus GS) that he claims can hit 330 km/h (205 miles per hour).  In typical Vice style the video is shot in a documentary view providing a close-up encounter with Japan’s enigmatic underground racing scene. Scroll down to check out the video, but make sure you have the “CC” button clicked, because several portions are subtitled.

Superbowl Car Commercials

This past Sunday’s Super Bowl was not the best of games that’s for sure as it looked like the Broncos may have thrown the game.  As for the Seahawks I congratulate you as your team deserved the win and winning your first Superbowl is a very big deal.
Super-Bowl-commercials-2014
As a car guy, the best part of the big game is seeing the new car commercials of which there were 15 this year, the same number as last year. Audi, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota, VW, GM, Ford, Chrysler, Jaguar, Maserati, Jeep and Honda all splurged and spent the huge cash required for airtime during the big game. To check out all the ads see Autoblog Canada’s feature on the Top 10 Best Car Commercials from this year’s Super Bowl.  You can vote for your favourite one too.

Toyota MR2

Today we profile a short video from Petrolicious Productions featuring the Toyota MR2. The MR2 was a two seater, mid-engine sports car introduced by Toyota in 1984 and discontinued in 2007. There are three different generations of the MR2.  The first generation was from 1984-1989, second 1990 – 1999, and the third generation lasted from 2000 -2007.

Over its lifespan the MR2 received a number of accolades in the press including being named to the ten best lists of Road &Track and Car and Driver as well as being name Import Car of the year in 1985 by Motor Trend.

The video profiles a member of the Texas MR2 owner’s club as he discusses his love for the vehicle.

Source: Wikipedia

Japan’s car culture

Until 2004 in Japan, all domestic autos were required to have less than 280 HP.  This legislation was set up by the Japan Automotive Manufactures Association as an environmental and safety measure. However, the reality was there were some ways around this restrictive policy. In fact, the main way was the Japanese aftermarket tuner scene since enthusiasts would often purchase a domestic model and then have it modified at a local speed shop right at purchase time if they wanted more horsepower. One of the models which was commonly used was Nissan’s Skyline model, now considered one of the best Japanese sport coupes ever built. It’s legacy and technology can be seen in today’s supercar the Nissan GT-R.

2002 Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R

2002 Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R

In addition, imported cars were not subject to the legislation so many enthusiasts purchased European or North American cars as an open loophole. The interesting thing that resulted from the legislation was Japan became a car focused culture where horsepower was truly appreciated.

Many of these imported foreign models were purchased by the tattooed class of Yakuza gangsters or Japanese mafia who could be seen driving around Japan’s cities in their Italian suits and imported cars like this one below.

Typically modified imported Yakuza style car

Typical modified imported Yakuza style car

As Japan is considered the birthplace of the auto racing sport “drifting” it is a good time as any to profile a story we wrote last year on the history of drifting.  Many of the famous drifting cars are now iconic Japanese models which are sought after by enthusiasts all over the world.

Nissan Silva

Nissan Silva

Today in North America, you can easily purchase an older right hand drive model from Japan as a result of all the drifting hype of the last 15 years.

1993 Toyota Supra RWD

1993 Toyota Supra RWD

Superbowl Ad Previews

As auto companies are one of the top creators of television commercials it’s a good time now since many of the year’s best commercials will air during this Sunday’s Superbowl. For Canadians it has always been a challenge to view the US commercials so hopefully you can see them come Sunday.  To help out with this, we have put together a few previews of the coolest auto ads set to air Sunday.  We hope you like it.

Go Ravens!!!!

Mercedes-Benz 2013 Super Bowl Commercial (Extended Cut): “Soul”

Volkswagen Super Bowl 2013 Game Day Commercial | Get In. Get Happy.

Toyota RAV4 2013 Big Game Commercial “Wish Granted”

Toyota GT 86, Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ

Over the past six months, there has been so much buzz from the local tuner community over the arrival of the Toyota GT 86 model here in North America.  Well, we get it since it has been a while since Toyota sold a cool and sporty coupe here.  However, has irony has it, in the US and Canada it is actually badged under Toyota’s Scion nameplate as the Scion FR-S.  Whereas, outside North America it goes by the name Toyota 86 and in Europe it is called Toyota GT 86. Developed as a joint project between Subaru and Toyota it features a 2.0 liter boxer engine, 6 speed manual or automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive and 2+2 seating.

The Subaru version is called the Subaru BRZ and mainly differs in its front end, where the grille has a hexagonal shape versus an inverted trapezoid in the Toyota and Scion. The name of the Scion model of “FR-S” refers to the following Front-engine, Rear-wheel drive and Sport. The “86” number refers to the Toyota AE86, an infamously regarded model series among car enthusiasts of rear-wheel drive sports coupes and hatchbacks. Badged and sold as the Toyota Sprinter Trueno and Toyota Corolla Levin from 1983 to 1987 these models were the last rear-wheel drive sports coupes built by Toyota until the release of the new 86.

A great deal of the hype around these new model comes from the immense global marketing push of both Toyota and Subaru and as always here at RedlineNorth we like to observe how products are marketed in different regions.  Well, take a look at this online video ad that has garnered a ton of viral traffic both good and bad – it shows one perspective of how your wife may react to you the purchase of the new Scion FR-S.  Not sure it is going to win any political correctness awards but it sure gets the message across.

We really appreciate the ad folks pushing the boundaries as it makes for great entertainment and we hope the car can live up to all this hype. Time will tell.