The Toyota 86 Gets Tough

Toyota 86 sports carAny model by any manufacturer can handle normal town and country driving … at least it should be able to. And you can always tart them up and slap on some fancy graphics and call them a race car.

But if you really want to prove how tough a car really is you take them rallying. Getting airborne over a few speed humps on a street circuit is nothing compared to taking flight on a rally course and that’s where the Toyota 86 sports car is headed.

Unfortunately we’re not going to see a Toyota works team in action in the World Rally Championship but Toyota Motorsport in Germany is taking the Toyota 86 sports car and turning it into a full-blown rally car for any private customer who wants one.

The car will be known as the TMG GT86 CS-R3 and under R3 regulations it must have a six-speed sequential gearbox, limited slip dif, modified engine, adapted brakes and other modifications.

The first rally version of the Toyota 86 will be available for the 2015 rally season and, with rear-wheel drive, it’s going to be an exciting car to watch.

By | November 14th, 2013|Toyota|0 Comments

Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R

Toyota Yaris Hybrid-RI don’t know about you but when I see the word Yaris I begin to think of little old ladies … little old men … Sunday drivers …. and before long I’m yawning and nodding off for a Grandpa nap. But if I ever get to see this little monster … the Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R in the flesh … there’ll be no Grandpa naps for me.

Oh no … there’ll be nothing like that … just a burning desire to get into the driver’s seat and put the pedal to the metal and let the 1.6-litre 4-cylinder turbo combine with the two electric motors to lay rubber down the street.

Unfortunately, while I may get to see the Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R … and I might even be allowed to touch it … it’s unlikely that I’ll ever get to drive the thing because it’s a concept car and no manufacturer wants to see their concept car in the sweaty palms of a scribbler like me.

But I can dream and if this hybrid ever makes it into production then the only thing standing between me and a red-hot go would be my wife.

Ok so let’s put dreams aside and let’s look at the reality of the technical details.

Under the bonnet
To produce the Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R Toyota have combined their very popular Yaris hatch with high-performance engineering and advanced hybrid technology that Toyota developed for their Le Mans racing programme.

The direct-injection turbo has been adapted to racing conditions and ,when combined with the 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine, it develops 224kW (300hp) of power and 420Nm of torque. Then when you hook that up to those two electric motors you get 313kW (420hp) of power.

The petrol engine powers the front wheels while the two electric motors power the rear wheels and just so a driver has some hope of staying below the legal speed limit in the Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R Toyota has thoughtfully given the car two driving modes.

These modes are controlled from a button on the steering wheel and with a push of that button the driver can select either “road” or “track” mode and in ‘track’ mode the rear electric motors can reach their combined maximum peak power.

Toyota Yaris concept

There’s also a third, smaller, electric motor located between the engine and the six-speed manual transmission that can operate as an advanced traction-control system.

At low speeds, or in a curve, when the engine power and torque exceed the grip potential of the front wheels, the motor can convert torque from the petrol engine into electric energy and direct it to the rear wheels.

The twin rear electric motors can also enhance handling characteristics during cornering by altering the distribution of torque between the left and right rear wheels, achieving the same effect as an intelligent torque vectoring differential.

Depending on the radius of the curve, the system can send more torque to the outside rear wheel, apply more braking force to the inside wheel or even brake and accelerate each wheel independently to promote a better driving line and to limit understeer.

If there is sufficient charge in the battery the Yaris Hybrid-R can even be operated in full electric mode for short distances.

2013 Toyota Yaris concept

On the outside
New headlights, a wider front grille and details picked out in black and blue are highlights of the Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R concept as are the BIG air intakes that direct the airflow onto the brakes for cooling.

The brakes themselves are grooved and perforated with six-piston callipers on the front and four-piston callipers on the rear.

If you happen to be at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week you’ll get to see the first showing of this hot little Yaris.



By | September 4th, 2013|Featured, Toyota|Comments Off on Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R

Toyota Camatte57s Concept

Toyota Camatte57s concept carWell here’s a concept car with a difference. While many concept cars tend to end up looking like kiddie’s cars the Toyota Camatte57s Concept was designed to be exactly that.

This concept was built with the idea of providing an opportunity for parents and children to experience the fun of driving and car customisation together.

The body is made up of57 lightweight panels that are all detachable to allow for quick colour and design customisation and a roadster design was chosen to give better all-round visibility and to let kids of all ages to enjoy the feeling the wind in their hair.

Seating is in the form of a triangle and Toyota have used that arrangement to allow children to be supervised more closely as they drive the vehicle.

Yes, Toyota has designed this concept to be operated by children as well as adults and both the accelerator and the brake pedal can be adjusted so that children can reach them. Any adult sitting in the rear-right seat will also have access to the brake and to the steering wheel.


Power for the Toyota Camatte57s Concept is supplied by an electric motor.


Don’t expect to see this car on Australian roads any time soon but do expect to see more examples of cars that their owners can customise. Toyota already has the Rukus in the showrooms and that’s been designed for customisation.


By | June 11th, 2013|Toyota|0 Comments

2013 Toyota RAV4

new 2013 toyota rav4There’s a new Toyota RAV4 on its way to Australia in the first quarter of 2013 and it’s bringing three new engines with it.

Actually it’s about time Toyota did something about the engine in the RAV4 … the current petrol engine has always seemed to be a little heavy on fuel for a vehicle of the RAV4′ size and the lack of a diesel has been a little hard to understand.

New Engines
However all that is about to change with a new range of engines that includes a 2.2-litre 4 cylinder turbo-charged common-rail diesel, a 2.5-litre 133kW 4 cylinder petrol engine similar to the engine currently fitted to the Camry Altise and a 2.0-litre 102kW petrol engine similar to the engine fitted to the Corolla Ultima sedan.

Toyota haven’t yet said what the fuel consumption figures will be for the petrol versions but they say that fuel consumption figures for the diesel version will  dip ” below 6.0 litres/100km”.

The standard transmission for all three engines will be a 6 speed manual box.

A 6 speed auto is available for the diesel and the 2.5-litre petrol version and the 2.0-litre petrol version is available with Toyota’s MultiDrive Sport CVT 7 speed sequential manual box.

the new toyota rav4

Body changes
A look at the accompanying photos will show any body changes that Toyota has planned but one that may not be so apparent, even though it’s glaringly obvious once it’s pointed out is the change to the rear of the Toyota RAV4. The spare wheel has disappeared … it has been moved to under the cargo floor and a one-piece tailgate that hinges at the roof has been added.

The new Toyota RAV4 will come with seven airbags, an improved driving position, better all-round vision and an advanced all-wheel drive system.

the rear of the new 2013 toyota rav4

Premium features
Top of the range variants of the new Toyota RAV4 will get a power-operated tailgate, blind-spot monitor, rain-sensing wipers and an electro-chromatic rear vision mirror.

It’s hard to believe that the Toyota RAV4 has been around since 1994 but it has and almost 200,000 of them have been sold in Australia since then. If looks are anything to go by the new RAV4 will certainly be just as popular as all the models that have gone before it.


By | December 3rd, 2012|Toyota|Comments Off on 2013 Toyota RAV4

Toyota Dual Cab Landcruiser

There’s no doubt that demand for a dual cab Landcruiser has been around for years and it seems strange that, despite the popularity of dual cab 4×4 utes and growing demand for something similar in the their bigger 4WD range , Toyota left a dual cab out of the 70-Series lineup.

But now Toyota has finally got its act together and given in to demand from the mining industry and produced a dual cab 70-Series Landcruiser and Australia is going the first market in the world to  get the model.

The new Toyota dual cab 70-Series Landcruiser … designated the L79 … will come in two grades … the Workmate and the GXL.

Both the dual cab Workmate and the dual cab GXL will be powered by the same 4.5-litre turbo-diesel V8 that is standard across the L70 range. This engine features common-rail direct injection and an intercooler and it develops 151kW of power at 3,400rpm.

The diesel V8 is coupled to a five-speed manual box. As with others in the 70-Series the dual cab version will have part-time 4WD and a two-speed transfer case.

The Toyota dual cab Landcruiser will carry 5 adults and a one-tonne payload

Anti-skid braking is available on both versions and other refinements include BluetoothTM , audio streaming and voice-recognition phone and audio.

The dual cab Workmate will ride on 16-inch steel rims and be fitted with aluminium side steps, vinyl upholstery and floor mats. Diff locs will be an optional extra.

Prices for the Workmate will start at $63,990.

The Toyota dual cab Landcruiser GXL will ride on 16-inch alloy wheels and wheel-flares, remote central locking, diff locks, fog lamps, power windows, carpent and cloth seats will be standard.

Prices for the GXL will start at $67,990.

By | August 5th, 2012|Toyota|Comments Off on Toyota Dual Cab Landcruiser

Toyota Prius c

Toyota Prius cIt may have taken a while but in the last year or so a light bulb must have finally come on inside the head of someone in Toyota’s head office marketing department.

Until that light bulb came on the Toyota Prius was just what we saw … a technologically advanced by rather dull looking sedan loved by greenies and taxi drivers … but since someone had that light bulb experience we’re starting to see the Prius start to blossom.

First came the Prius v … the people mover version that will go on sale in Australia in the second quarter of this year … and now we have the economy version of the Prius.

Toyota has named it the Prius c and when it goes on sale here in Australia late next month it’s going to have a recommended retail price that will be “thousands of dollars” below the $29,990 recommended retail price of the best-priced rival hybrid car.

Toyota Australia still expects the Prius c to sell in large numbers but supply may be a problem … at least during 2012. In Japan Toyota currently has orders for more than 120,000 of this version and that’s 10 times more than Toyota’s monthly sales target for this vehicle.

Toyota's latest hybrid - the Prius c

The Prius c comes with a 1.5-litre petrol engine and the Hybrid Synergy Drive technology that has been used in previous models. The battery and fuel tank are now located under the rear seat to allow more legroom and luggage space and the Prius c is a little taller to allow more headroom for occupants in the front and rear seats.

The turning circle has also been improved and that’s sure to make it even more appealing to city drivers and those who spend a lot of time getting in and out of tight car parking spaces.

By | February 19th, 2012|Toyota|Comments Off on Toyota Prius c

Toyota Prius V Seven-Seater

toyota prius V seven-seaterAustralians seem to be more than a little reluctant to embrace hybrid technology in their motor vehicles but that hasn’t stopped Toyota from chancing their arm with yet another hybrid vehicle and this time Toyota is after the larger family with the Toyota Prius V.

Although it’s obviously a member of Toyota’s Prius family the Prius V sees a change the technology used in the Prius … and the Hybrid Camry too. Instead of being fitted with the nickel-metal hydride battery used in the standard Prius the Prius V will come fitted with a new lithium-ion battery.

This new battery is smaller and lighter than the nickel-metal hydride battery but has similar storage capabilities. By using a smaller battery pack in the Prius V Toyota was able to maintain the roomy interior needed in a seven-seat wagon.

In the Prius V the battery pack has been moved from the boot area … obviously something that’s already somewhat cramped by the very design of the vehicle … to the space under the centre console between the driver and the front-seat passenger.

Toyota Prius V

The Toyota Prius V has obviously been designed from the ground up

Moving the battery and tossing in an extra set of seats is not what Toyota has done to arrive at the Prius V you see here. Instead the Prius V is a totally new design from the ground up and it shares no body panels with the standard Prius we see on the streets today.

The new Prius V is 135mm longer, 30mm wider, 100mm higher and has a wheelbase that’s 80mm longer than the Prius hatch. It’s powered by a 1.8-litre Atkinson Cycle petrol engine that produces 73kW combined with a 60kW electric motor.

toyota prius v

Toyota has sold 17,000 Prius models in Australia so far and perhaps the Prius V should add quite a few more. Larger families seem to be a little more environmentally aware than most groups but I guess all will depend on price.

Expect to see the Toyota Prius V in the showrooms in May this year.

By | February 6th, 2012|Toyota|Comments Off on Toyota Prius V Seven-Seater

2012 Toyota Camry

If you live in the bush you may be forgiven if you missed the news that Toyota have released a new Camry for 2012 because out here there’s not been a whole lot said about it.

That’s rather sad really because the 2012 Toyota Camry has appeared with a new 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine coupled to a six-speed auto transmission in all models and that’s definitely worth talking about. It’s especially worth talking about when you see the fuel consumption figures that Toyota is promising.

There’s also a blind-spot monitor that’s available in the top of the range Atara SL and that’s going to be a precursor for something similar appearing in cars with more modest price tags. It may be a couple of years but we will begin to see that interesting little gizmo appearing in cars with modest price tags and that’s also worth talking about.

The 2012 Toyota Camry has been in the planning stage since 2006 and Australian engineers have been involved right from the start and anywhere the Camry is sold you’ll find engineers from Toyota Australia working towards making the Camry compatible with the local conditions.

The 2012 Toyota Camry Altise

The range
There are four models in the 2012 Toyota range. For the fleet buyer and the household that just wants a basic vehicle there is the base model … the Camry Altise. It comes with the new engine and transmission combo tuned to provide 133kW of power and 231Nm of torque and to do that the Altise needs just 7.8L/100km of fuel.

The standard fittings include seven airbags, new seat design with greater height adjustment, trip computer and Eco indicator, seat belt warning lights for all occupants, a six-speaker sound system, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, audio controls on the steering wheel, 16-inch alloy wheels and a full-size steel spare.

The new 2.5-litre four-cylinder Toyota Camry engine

A touch-screen display is not standard but can be fitted as an option along with a reverse camera.

Atara S
Next in the range is the Atara S and this is the first time the Atara name has appeared in the Camry range. Toyota have aimed this model at private buyers and those who get to choose their own works cars thanks to salary sacrifice or novated leases.

With the Atara S you get some body-styling changes, more goodies and even a little more power. Toyota have found an extra 2kW of power and more torque simply by fitting a dual exhaust system and there’s keyless entry and start, fog lamps, reverse camera, dual zone air-conditioning, a touch-screen audio display, an electric driver’s seat and more.

Leather interior and moonroof are options for the Camry Atara S

Dashboard of the Camry SX

Atara SX
Above the Atara S is the sports version … the Camry Atara SX … with sports suspension, rear spoiler, some additional body features and leather-accented interior. The only option for the SX is a moonroof.

Atara SL (Grande)
And at the top of the 2012 Toyota Camry range is the Atara SL and it comes with lots of goodies including a premium audio system with 10 speakers, 7-inch touch-screen display that includes sat-nav.

Paddle shifts for the auto transmission in the Camry SL

Digital radio makes its appearance in the Toyota range with its inclusion as standard in the Camry Atara SL and live traffic updates are included. The reversing camera includes a back guide monitor and there’s automatic high beam, rain-sensing wipers, electric rear sunshade, rear parking sensors, exterior mirrors that dip when you select reverse and the blind spot monitor that I mentioned before.

Other good points for the new 2012 Toyota Camry include increased leg room for those stuck in the back seat and the interior has a little more width too. The front pillar has been reshaped to make it a little thinner and that means better vision for the driver and the centre pillar is slimmer too.

The warning light lights when there's a vehicle in the blind spot on either side.

Blind spot monitor
This comes as standard on the 2012 Camry Atara SL and it warns drivers if there’s a vehicle in the blind spot on either side of the car. Sub-millimetre radar is used to detect other vehicles and when a vehicle is detected a light appears in the relevant side mirror and stays illuminated as long as the vehicle remains hidden in the blind spot.

And that’s the new 2012 Toyota Camry … around 100,000 will be built at the Toyota plant in Victoria this year and 70% of them will be exported but that still leaves a lot for us here in Australia.

By | January 4th, 2012|Toyota|1 Comment

Toyota 86

… it’s Toyota’s new sports car

Toyota has just unveiled its latest sports car – the Toyota 86 – a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive car that is all about what the Japanese call “waku doki” or enough excitement to get your heart racing.

The Toyota 86 is powered by a horizontally opposed D-4S engine that combines Subaru’s boxer engine technology with Toyota’s cutting edge direct injection technology. This is the world’s only horizontally opposed engine with rear-wheel drive.

The D-4S engine comes with separate twin injectors for both direct and port injection and has a high compression ratio of 12.5:1. This compression ratio provides high torque over a wide range of engine speeds.

The engine redlines at 7,500rpm with a maximum output of 147kW of power and will be available with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission

The compact and light-weight platform combined with rear-wheel drive and the mid- positioning of the engine gives the Toyota 86 outstanding handling characteristics.

Inside the Toyota 86 there is seating for four and the rear seats can be folded down to increase the luggage space. The seats themselves are designed to provide support during acceleration and cornering and the front seats have been specially designed to prevent elbows from getting in the way when the driver wants to change gears.

The steering wheel on the Toyota 86 is the smallest in any Toyota and the surface of the steering wheel has been refined to give extra grip for the driver.

The dashboard has been kept nice and simple with easy-to-read markings that are clearly visible … when you’re travelling at high speed you need relevant information delivered fast.

And in a nice touch that is a clear indication that Toyota wants people to understand that the 86 really is a sports car all information dials have been built around the tacho.

There’s no word yet on when we might see the Toyota 86 in Australia but I would expect that this will be a very popular car and demand will probably always exceed supply.

By | November 28th, 2011|Toyota|Comments Off on Toyota 86

We Drive the 2011 Toyota Yaris

The new Toyota Yaris … breaking out of the mould

Melbourne’s Yarra Ranges was the scene for the release of the 3rd generation Toyota Yaris.  Produced in Japan for the Australian Market the vehicle has been a top selling light car in the European market.

Under the earlier banner of the Echo and re-badged as Yaris from 2005, over 206,000 units have been sold into the Australian market to date and that puts the Yaris up among the top sellers in what is a very competitive part of the market.

The Yaris has long laboured under the label of being a “P” platers or “chicks” vehicle.  After today’s launch by Toyota Australia’s  Executive Director of Sales & Marketing, Matthew Callachor, I’m left in no doubt that Toyota has responded well to extensive market testing and consumer feedback.

This latest iteration is attempting to appeal to a broader market audience.  With its bolder exterior styling and a revamped interior I think they’ve gone a long way to achieving this.

Toyota states that ride and handling for the new Yaris was developed by European and Australian engineers to meet the demands of local tastes and conditions.  Cleary they have succeeded as the new Yaris package delivers a more agile car with greater driving enjoyment and stability due to increased body rigidity, a larger footprint and more responsive steering.

By re-designing key body sections and through greater use of high-tensile steel Toyota has increased the body rigidity and durability of the vehicle while reducing noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) as well as providing a more stable platform for the suspension.  The new body structure has reduced vehicle weight and improved passive and pedestrian safety.

Certainly first glance at the vehicle exterior reveals a more sporty, edgy look.  Sharper lines give a stronger appearance in line with many competitor offerings in the light vehicle sector.  The front air intake is deeper and wider than the previous model and emphasises the cars wide stance and low centre of gravity.

The panelling retains the distinctive sloping belt line but it is more distinct and sharper. A lengthened wheel base has reduced front and rear overhangs extenuating the look of stability.  Front and rear bumpers have sharp edges that contribute to a more efficient airflow.

Toyota has also introduced a sporty ZR grade for the three door model with a full body kit that includes unique bumpers, grille, auto headlamps with dark surrounds, side skirts, rear roof spoiler and tailpipe diffuser.

Yaris is offered in 10 colours, three of which are new to Yaris – Celestial Blue, Glacier and Green Potion most probably in an attempt to appeal to the younger demographic.  While a certain quirkiness associated with earlier models may have gone, the vehicle is by no means bland and maintains an eye catching appeal.

The new interior is where the vehicle shines.  The entire cockpit is more driver-orientated with a driver’s side instrument cluster replacing the old centre mounted unit.  The shift away from a centre mount is a good thing in my book improving the ergonomic  comfort and functionality for the driver as well as the overall safety of the vehicle with driver focus drawn directly ahead rather than to the middle of the vehicle.

The Instrument cluster has a 120 mm speedometer incorporating a liquid crystal display with constant display of time and outside temperature.  It also provides the odometer reading for the Multi Information Display (MDI).

The MDI allows the driver to flick between the odometer and dual trip meters, average speed, instantaneous fuel consumption, average fuel consumption and vehicle range.  An eco light on the auto models encourages economical driving.

The cockpit has straight horizontal lines to create an impression of space.  Seating has been redesigned to provide more leg room in the rear, whiplash protection and improved ergonomics through raised edge bolsters which increases body contact area and support.

Sensibly, a centre console has been added to the vehicle to add to the usual assortment of storage areas, cup holders and door panels.  The interior looks and feels stylish and solid … gone is that cheap plastic feel of old.

Forward visibility is excellent through a steeply raked windscreen.  This wide dash area has provided one of the few negatives to the interior layout namely a high level of dash reflection onto the windscreen in sunny conditions.

Placement of anything on the dash area reflects directly onto the glass as brightly as a heads-up display in some cases.  This can be a distraction at best and directly affect visibility at worst.

The new Yaris has a full suite of passive and active safety equipment that Toyota expects to achieve a 5 star ANCAP safety rating.  Every model has seven “dual-chamber” airbags as standard equipment including a driver’s knee airbag.

Active safety equipment including vehicle stability control and traction control are standard equipment on every Yaris model, as are anti-skid brakes that feature the latest brake assist system and electronic brake-force distribution.  Yaris also has a brake override system that prioritises braking and suppresses engine output if the brake and accelerator pedals are pressed simultaneously.

As a new safety feature Yaris has a buzzer that will sound if the vehicle starts moving while any of the doors are partly open.

Toyota claims to have significantly reduced noise vibration and harshness through redesign and inclusion of noise suppression materials in the floor panel, transmission tunnel and firewall.  Foam-based sound insulation material has been placed inside the frame channels further reducing external vehicle noise.  Sound-insulation and sound-absorbing materials have been added to the instrument panel and centre console.

Yaris is offered in Australia with the choice of 1.3-litre and 1.5-litre engines and a five-speed manual or four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. Toyota has refined the two Yaris VVT-i engines and the automatic transmission on the 1.5-litre models for improved driveability and increased fuel efficiency.

While fuel efficiency has been improved by up to six per cent across the full model range, the two VVT-i engine options produce 63Kw and 121 Nm and 80kw and 141 Nm respectively.

Out on the road the vehicle impressed me.  Over 130 kilometres of both city and country roads the vehicle proved to be agile and responsive.

The 5 speed manual ZR 3 door was a particular favourite with the zippy 1.5 litre motor providing plenty of power.  Despite its modest on road weight of just over 1100 kgs the Yaris sat firmly on the road.

The suspension system provided great ride comfort and effortlessly soaked up bumps and handling of all road conditions.  On dirt it handled minor corrugations and potholes with ease.  Steering was direct with no feedback.  The electronic assist power steering actually adjusts levels of steering assistance to the speed of the vehicle.

Interior noise levels were extremely low and vehicle occupants could comfortably carry on a conversation even on the unpaved roads.  The 1.3 litre auto options proved more sluggish than their manual counterparts but still acquitted themselves well in the hilly terrain of the Yarra Ranges.

The on-board navigation system performed well and came into its own when we were forced off the Western Ring Road after a 3 car pile-up.

Intense competitive pressure in many sectors of the automotive industry has seen consumers benefiting over recent years.  It comes as no surprise that Toyota have delivered a well priced range of vehicles to attract consumer attention.

Yaris pricing starts at $14,990 for the entry level YR three-door hatch with a 1.3-litre petrol engine and manual transmission – unchanged from the release of the previous YR model in 2005. The five-door YR is available for a further $700 at $15,690

All new Yaris hatches are well equipped and feature upgraded audio systems with controls on the steering wheel spokes, a multi-information display that includes a trip computer, air-conditioning, electric power steering, power windows and mirrors and a 12-Volt accessory socket.

YRS Yaris offers a larger 1.5-litre engine and a higher level of features including cruise control (optional on the YR), touch-screen display audio with six speakers, 15-inch wheels and premium steering wheel and shift lever.


3-door hatch

ZR$18,990(New model)

5-door hatch



Toyota has spent a lot of time and money on delivering a vehicle that will widen its appeal within the tough light vehicle segment.  They have succeeded in producing a high quality compact car that will sit comfortably amongst its rivals.

The Yaris is no longer just a “chick-mobile” but a stylish and credible offering for a wider audience looking to downsize or provide a second vehicle for the family.   With its standard safety features, quality accessories and highly competitive pricing structure it remains just the type of car you’d like to see your teen wrapped in as they begin their solo efforts on the roads and more importantly, I think it’s a car your teen would like to drive as well!

By | October 30th, 2011|Toyota|4 Comments

2011 Toyota Yaris – a first look

Toyota have released the all-new 2011 Yaris and it’s different. The quirky little car with the big speedo set in the middle of the dashboard has gone and it’s been replaced by something that manages to be both more middle-of-the-road and at the same time more sporty.

The 2011 Toyota Yaris is bigger, stronger, better equipped and some variants are even a little cheaper than previous models.

The models
Basically there are two models in the 2011 Yaris lineup … a 3-door hatch and a 5-door hatch that come in several different equipment levels. The entry level in both models is the YR with a choice of 5-speed manual as standard or a 4-speed auto for and extra $1,600.00 coupled to a 1.3-litre engine.

The top of the range Yaris is the YRX that’s only available as a 5-door hatch fitted with a 4-speed auto box

The Yaris YR is available as either a 3-door or 5-door hatch. Even though we’re talking about an entry level mode the YR comes with an extensive range of standard equipment including stability control, anti-skid braking, electric power steering, 7 airbags, whiplash-injury lessening front seats, a 4 speaker audio system with voice control and MP3 input and Bluetooth compatibility, 60/40 split rear seats and the option of cruise control for an additional $650.00.

Prices for YR start at $14,990 (plus dealer and government charges) for the 3-door version and $15,690 (plus dealer and government charges) for the 5-door version.

The Yaris YRS comes as either a 3-door or five door hatch with a 1.5-litre engine. It’s also available as either the standard 5-speed manual or the 4-speed auto for an additional $1,600.00.

In the Yaris YRS you get all the features of the YR plus a premium steering wheel, premium shift lever knob, cruise control, and an upgraded audio system with 6 speakers.

Prices for YRS start at $16,890 (plus dealer and government charges) for the 3-door version and $17,390 (plus dealer and government charges) for the 5-door version

The Yaris YRX is only available as a 5-door hatch with a 1.5-litre engine coupled to a 4-speed auto box. The YRX comes with all the features of the YRS plus 15-inch alloy wheels, auto headlamps, front fog lamps, automatic climate control air conditioning and an even more up-market audio system that features satellite navigation.

Prices for YRX start at $21,390 (plus dealer and government charges).

The Yaris ZR is the top-of-the range variant in the 2011 Toyota Yaris lineup. It’s the sports version of the Yaris so it’s only available as a 3-door hatch with a 1.5-litre engine coupled to a 5-speed manual box.

The Yaris ZR comes with all the features of the YRX plus sports bumpers front and rear, sports grille and headlamps, rear spoiler, side skirts, sports front seats and an exhaust pipe diffuser.

Prices for ZR start at $21,390 (plus dealer and government charges).

The engines
The new Yaris comes with a choice of two engines. The 1.3-litre 2NZ-FE produces 63lW of power at 6,000 rpm and 121Nm of torque at 4,400 rpm. It has a minimum fuel octane rating of 91RON and it meets Euro IV emission standards.

The manual version will return 5.7L/100km on a combined cycle while the automatic version is slightly less economical returning figures of 6.3L/100km.

The 1.5-litre 1NZ-FE engine produces 80kW of power at 6,000 rpm and 141Nm of torque at 4,200 rpm. This engine also runs on 91 RON fuel and meets Euro IV emission standards.

Fuel consumption figures are 5.8L/100km for the manual version and 6.3L/100km for the automatic.

The body
The 2011 Yaris is slightly longer than previous versions and most of that increase in length has been used to improve space in the cabin. The backs of the front seats have been re-shaped to improve leg-room for rear-seat passengers and the spare-tyre has been downsized to increase useable space in the boot.

For the driver
Obviously the dash has been totally re-designed and when our Mick Olsen did the Yaris test drive he thought that improved dash was a major improvement.

But the dash isn’t the only change for the driver … the shape of the steering wheel has also been changed and it shows that not all the quirkiness has gone out of the Yaris. The new steering wheel is D-shaped to allow easier entry and exit for the driver and audio switches have been added to the steering wheel.

Will it sell?
It’s a Toyota … it’s sure to sell in large quantities.

Look here for more images of the new Toyota Yaris and a report on Aussie Motoring’s first test drive

By | October 30th, 2011|Toyota|Comments Off on 2011 Toyota Yaris – a first look

2011 Toyota Hilux – First Drive

Last week I attended the press release of the new Toyota Hilux up in Townsville and I got to spend a fair amount of time both behind the wheel and in the front passenger seat as Toyota kindly let a bunch of us put the new Hilux through its paces.

We also got a chance to have several glimpses of how the company perceives its market place and I’m not entirely sure that I liked what I saw in those little peeks.

Remember back when Toyota was having all that trouble with sticking throttles? There were suggestions then that Toyota couldn’t accept that they were anything but perfect back then and maybe that same attitude still prevails in the Toyota headquarters back in Japan.

The Toyota Australia PR guys gave us one glimpse into the workings of Toyota back in Japan when they mentioned that they were really trying to encourage Toyota to increase the recommended carrying capacity of the Hilux to bring inline with some of its competitors but Toyota Japan just didn’t seem to see any need to do that.

Then the vehicles themselves gave us another glimpse into the way Toyota sees the market place. This was a new Toyota Hilux … a chance to really stick it to the opposition … but apart from some changes in pricing most of the variants across the Hilux range were lacking and the flagship SR5 was just plain disappointing.

When you’re spending over $51,000 for a ute you might expect it to at least have a tub liner as standard equipment … after all the very bottom-of-the-range Holden ute comes with a tub liner as standard equipment … but evidently Toyota doesn’t see the need for anything like that.

So apparently Toyota feels that it can deliver less for more and people will still buy their products. Sure, the Toyota Hilux has been a big seller in the past but unless Toyota changes its attitude it may not remain such a big seller.

Can you tell that I was basically under whelmed by the new Hilux?

The 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine

The engines and transmissions
There are three different engines in the Toyota Hilux range. A four-cylinder petrol, a four-cylinder diesel and a six cylinder petrol. There were no four-cylinder petrol models in the test fleet but I did get to drive the four-cylinder diesel and six-cylinder petrol with both four-speed auto and five-speed manual transmissions.

Now I have to admit that I’m a fan of diesels … they’re economical and powerful … and I haven’t driven a diesel that I didn’t like … but I got pretty close to disliking the one in the Hilux.

The 3.0-litre turbo diesel that is in the new Hilux range has been around for quite some time and it looks good in the engine bay. There’s plenty of room to work on it and Toyota haven’t tried to hide it under a mountain of plastic shrouding.

I can also say … after watching the fuel gauge on several Hilux models that I drove … that it’s very economical and it’s probably got a lot of pulling power although we didn’t actually get to tow anything during the press drives.

What I can say with some certainty is that it’s noisy and almost sluggish. Part of the test drive programme took us up a long long climb through numerous hairpin bends and in places the auto transmission was down into second and I would have had a bank up of traffic behind me if there had been anyone else on the road other than more slow diesel Hilux utes.

I could actually get the SR5 I was driving to accelerate on that climb hill but you could not have described the performance as anything but very ordinary.

In discussions with the other writer that I was sharing the vehicle with we wondered if Toyota is shipping their diesel Hilux models with the air/fuel mixture wound right down because it certainly seemed like it.

It also makes you wonder why Toyota are persisting with a four-speed auto in the Hilux range when they have a great five-speed auto in the Prado range.

Perhaps it was jumping straight from a noisy diesel into the petrol version that made me think that the 4.0-litre six-cylinder petrol Hilux was very quiet … or maybe it just was … but the reduction in noise levels was much appreciated.

There was even some improvement in performance … but not as much as you would expect. At times when we accelerated hard to overtake the petrol Hilux would make all the right noises but didn’t get us past the slower vehicle particularly quickly.

Where the petrol version really failed in my estimation was in fuel consumption. There’s no doubt that we were driving the vehicles quite hard at times but even after taking that into account I have to say that the fuel gauge seemed to drop like a stone.

Ride and Handling
The Toyota PR guys thoughtfully placed hefty weights in the back of each of the test vehicles so the ride was good … even over corrugation there was little or no bounce from the rear suspension.

Steering was precise and on the dirt you pointed the vehicle where you wanted it to go and that’s where it went even if you were pushing along at a fair pace. On some heavy corrugation on one of the dirt roads we traveled over the Hilux I was in kept a straight line and didn’t want to change direction at all.

Off road … well you’re always going to get tossed around a bit as you navigate your way through ruts and washouts and the Hilux was no better or worse than you would expect.

The interior
The seats were very comfortable and I can say that despite having a disc in my back pressing on my sciatic nerve the whole time I was away. There’s also plenty of legroom for the driver and front seat passenger but I’m not sure I would want to be in the rear seat if someone as tall as I am was driving.

The dashboard layout was fine … the instruments were easy to read and all the controls were within easy reach … but the dashboard itself looked cheap and nasty for a flagship model.

I was also surprised to find that the Hilux still comes with a manual gear lever if you want to shift between the two and four-wheel drive options. Not only was the gear lever tucked away behind the main gearstick and awkward to reach but knowing whether you had completely engaged four-wheel drive was a hit and miss affair and you only found out for sure when you hit the accelerator and didn’t move while a grinding noise came from the transmission.

The exterior
As I mentioned earlier, a tub liner isn’t standard equipment in any of the Hilux range which seems a little strange to me.

The sidesteps that you see in the photos are a nice touch but if you’re going to take the Hilux off then I’d skip the sidesteps. By the end of four days of road testing the sidesteps on some of the vehicles were looking a little out of shape and someone … possibly me … managed to almost rip a sidestep clean off.

The NRMA and the RACV ponder the need for such a big air cleaner before we headed out on the second day's drive programme

The bottom line
Once again it really comes down to a matter of preference and I’m sure that Toyota has enough loyal followers to make this Hilux as big a success as its predecessors but personally if I wanted a 4×4 ute I’d be spending some serious time looking for something other than a Hilux.

I might end up coming back to Toyota after doing that looking but I wouldn’t be rushing down to the Toyota dealer until I had spent some time looking at the alternatives.

By | September 15th, 2011|Toyota|2 Comments

2011 Toyota Hilux

The new Toyota Hilux is here and it comes with new body panels, new audio systems, anti-skid brakes as standard across the range … and best of all, some price reductions on on SR and SR5 variants.

Oh and in a vehicle that already had 32 variants Toyota has added three more to the range but at the same time they cut four V6 petrol variants from the range … so there’s a wider range to choose from but not as wide as it could have been.

It would be easy to get bogged down in the technical details of all those 35 variants so instead we’ll just look at the three basic models in the new Toyota Hilux range.

Toyota Hilux WorkMate
The Hilux Workmate is the entry level model in the Hilux range and it comes in 4×2 and 4×4 variants in single or dual-cab versions. The WorkMate has new heater controls, a new audio system that includes Bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition for the audio and phone.

Upholstery in the WorkMate is basic vinyl with plastic door trim because the WorkMate is the workhorse of the Hilux range. There’s driver and passenger airbags along with anti-skid brakes and 15-inch steel wheels on the 4×2 variant.

If you step up to the 4×4 WorkMate you get extra instrumentation in the form of a tacho, shift-position indicator and cruise control in the auto model, dual-range transmission, limited-slip diff and 16-inch steel wheels.

New variants in the WorkMate range include single and double-cab 4×4 diesels

Prices for the WorkMate start at $18,990 (plus dealer and government charges) for the 4-cylinder petrol version with manual transmission and peak at $40,990 (plus dealer and government charges) for the 4×4 double-cab WorkMate diesel auto

Toyota Hilux SR
Somewhere between the basic workhorse and the top of the range recreational vehicle is the Hilux SR. The Hilux SR is available in 4×2 and 4×4 versions with your choice of single, Xtra or double-cab.

Obviously you get more in the SR than you do in the basic WorkMate and on the 4×2 version of the Hilux SR those extras include fabric seat and door trim, silver-accented steering wheel with audio controls, power windows, cruise control, remote central locking, limited-slip diff on the V6 models, body-coloured front bumpers an illuminated entry system.

If you opt for the 4×4 Hilux SR you also get sports-style seats, upgraded fabric trim for the seats and doors, side steps and side seat and curtain airbags.

If you buy the double cab SR there’s an option pack that you can access as well. Included in the option pack are over-fender flares, better dash lighting, 17-in steel wheels and added safety features that include VSC, TRC, EBD and BA.

Prices for the Toyota Hilux SR start at $24,990 (plus dealer and government charges) for the single-cab manual V6 petrol 4×2 and peak $44,490 (plus dealer and government charges) for the auto V6 and the auto diesel double cab.

Toyota Hilux SR5
At the top of the Hilux range is the SR5 4×2 and 4×4 and while many may think of the SR5 as being something of a show pony because it appeals to people who may not necessarily need a fashion statement rather than a ute the SR5 is definitely just as much a workhorse as the less-well equipped versions of the Hilux.

Unlike the WorkMate and the Hilux SR the SR5 is not available in a single cab version and you can’t even get a manual version of the SR5 Xtra cab with a petrol engine … that was one of the variants in the Hilux range that Toyota discontinued. If you want a manual version of the SR5 your entry point is the Xtra cab SR5 diesel.

In addition to all the features you get in the WorkMate and the SR the 4×2 SR5 adds dusk-sensing headlights, single-zone auto air-conditioning, 6-speaker sound system that incorporates navigation and Bluetooth, a premium steering wheel with audio and phone controls, 15-inch alloy wheels and a polished alloy sports bar.

And for the double cab version of the Hilux SR5 you can add side and rear privacy glass, a silver surround shift-lever … only on the auto … and safety features that include VSC, TRC, EBD and BA.

Prices for the Hilux SR5 start at $46,990 (plus dealer and government charges) for the Xtra cab manual diesel and reach a top of $53,490 (plus dealer and government charges) for the automatic SR5 diesel.

Engine and transmission
The new Toyota Hilux comes with a choice of three engines ranging from an inline four-cylinder and V6 petrol engine to a four-cylinder common-rail turbo-diesel.

The four-cylinder petrol engine is Toyota’s 2.7-litre 2TR-FE that comes with variable valve technology and twin counter-rotating balancing shafts along with a torsional rubber damper in the crankshaft pulley to reduce noise and vibration.

Maximum power from this engine is 116kW at 5,200rpm and maximum torque is 240Nm at 3,800rpm. Toyota has matched this engine to a five-speed manual or four-speed auto transmission and that combination gives 11.0L/100km for the manual and 11.5L/100km for the auto for the combined cycle

The V6 petrol engine is Toyota’s 4.0-litre 1GR-FE that comes with variable valve technology. Maximum power for this engine is 175kW at 5,200rpm and maximum torque is 343Nm at 2,400rpm for the manual version and 376Nm at 3,800rpm for the five-speed automatic. Fuel consumption is 12.6L/100km for the manual and 11.8L/100km for the auto.

The diesel engine is Toyota’s 1KD-FYV DOHC 16-valve unit that’s turbocharged and intercooled. It delivers 126kW of power at 3,600rpm and 343Nm of torque between 1,400 and 3,400rpm.

Fuel consumption is as low as 8.1L/100km for the combined cycle.

Toyota has worked on the suspension for the 4×2 Hilux models to give an improved ride. Toyota has also changed the damping valves on all models to improve the ride on rough roads.

But remember, this is basically a working ute so it’s not going to have the same ride characteristics as a soft-road SUV.

Will it sell?
Hilux has been Toyota’s major success story in Australia for many years and it has been the one vehicle that has given Toyota the top sales spot in Australia for a very long time. But these days there are some serious contenders out there that just might take the gloss off the Hilux and Toyota’s sales figures and at least one of those contenders seems to offer a much better ride for those who are looking for a bit more comfort from their 4×4 utes.

Will the new Toyota Hilux fend off that competition? It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months.

*All of the above photos are of the Toyota Hilux SR5. More photos of all three models appear below.

Hilux WorkMate

Hilux SR

Hilux SR5


By | September 6th, 2011|Toyota|1 Comment

2011 Toyota Camry

Today Toyota unveiled the next-generation Toyota Camry … and it’s a completely new car.

Every body panel is new … the engine is new … the driving dynamics have been improved and the 2011 Toyota Camry provides an even quieter ride for passengers.

The 2011 Toyota Camry will be powered by a new 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that delivers the perfect combination of improved performance and better fuel economy.

The new engine will be coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission that replaced the current five-speed transmission.

On the inside passengers have more room … especially for rear-seat passengers. All new Camry models will be equipped with vehicle stability control, traction control, anti-skid brakes, brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution.

Here in Australia Toyota expects that the safety features in the new Camry will attract a five-star ANCAP rating.

While the unveiling was for the new Camry worldwide Toyota Australia took the opportunity to announce that the Australian Camry will come with an extra model in the range. It will be known as the Atara and be aimed at private rather than fleet buyers.

The Atara has an interesting connection with a much earlier Toyota sedan because Atara is a Hebrew word that means “crown” and the Toyota Crown was quite popular in Australia last century.

The Toyota Camry and the Atara variant that will be sold in Australia will be built at Toyota’s Victorian plant and we can expect to see them on the showroom floors in November and the Hybrid variant will appear early in 2012.

By | August 24th, 2011|Toyota|Comments Off on 2011 Toyota Camry

The New Toyota Hilux

2011-toyota-hiluxAfter 30 years and 700,000 vehicles sold in Australia it’s obvious that the Toyota Hilux is one very popular ute and now there’s a new Hilux coming in September.

To get you interested in what’s coming Toyota have released a couple of images of the top of the range Hilux SR5 4×4 turbo-diesel double-cab. (By the way, did you know that the 4×4 Toyota Hilux has outsold the 4×2 version by 40,000 units?)

As you can see from the photos what we’re getting with the new Toyota Hilux is a styling upgrade from the previous model with most of the changes happening forward of the A-pillar.

On the SR5 there’s a new front bumper, revised fender flares and a restyled bonnet that incorporates a relocated air scoop for the diesel version.

A new grill with wrap-around headlights completes the changes at the front and at the rear there’s a new sports bar and taillight lenses. Towing capacity for the 4×4 version has been increased to 2.5 tonnes.

Inside there are changes to the seat and door trim.


The new Hilux will also see the more entry-level models with new Workmate variants and that’s sure to make the Hilux even more popular with tradies and those who want a vehicle that can handle being a workhorse through the week and something entirely different on the weekends.

By | July 15th, 2011|Toyota|Comments Off on The New Toyota Hilux

New Toyota Yaris

2011-toyota-yarisThe new Toyota Yaris is set to arrive in Australia towards the end of the year but Toyota has already released the first photo and we’ll see the first new Toyota Yaris at the Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne in July.

The first thing that you’ll notice about the new Toyota Yaris is that it has gone through a complete redesign and there’s obviously a substantial increase in cabin space. The wheelbase has been extended by 50mm, the length has been extended by 100mm while the height has been reduced by 15mm.

Another noticeable feature of the new Toyota Yaris is the single windscreen wiper. This wiper has an integrated washer nozzle for better cleaning. If you haven’t driven a car with this type of wiper/washer integration before then you’ll have to take my word for it … it does seem to clean a lot better than the system that we have lived with for so many years.

Last year Toyota sold 21,452 Yaris models and the new design is sure to attract even more sales.

By | June 8th, 2011|Toyota|Comments Off on New Toyota Yaris

Toyota Aurion

toyota-aurionSo in the latest NRMA survey the Toyota Aurion is the most economical car in the large family car class with running costs of just 79.68 cents per kilometre That’s pretty impressive for a car that’s powered by a 3.5-litre V6 engine producing 200kW of power but if you’re wondering what exactly a Toyota Aurion looks like then you’re probably not alone.

The Toyota Aurion has been around for a few years now and despite the fact that it’s built here in Australia it’s not exactly filling up the parking lots. However that doesn’t mean that the Toyota Aurion is not all that successful for even though it may not be filling the local parking lots it is filling car transporters as they said for the Middle East.

So what do you actually get in a Toyota Aurion?

The Aurion is 4,825mm long and 1,820mm wide. The wheelbase is 2,775mm and the ground clearance is 105mm. It will seat five adults.

All models in the range ride on MacPherson struts at the front and dual link struts at the rear.

The fuel tank holds 70 litres and the recommended fuel is 91 RON unleaded.

The Aurion Sportivo SX6

The Aurion Sportivo SX6

The engine
The Toyota Aurion is powered by a Dual VVT-i (variable valve timing with fuel injection) alloy V6 engine combined with a six-speed auto box that is standard across the range. That’s a combination that delivers fuel economy of 9.9L/100km on a combined cycle along with 200kW of power at 6,200rpm and 336Nm of torque at 4,700rpm.

The range
There are seven different models in the Aurion range starting at the AT-X … a car that features a lot of gear as standard equipment.

Interior of the base model Aurion AT-X

Interior of the base model Aurion AT-X

Electric mirrors, dusk-sensing headlights, air conditioning with rear outlets (climate control on all but the AT-X), six-speaker sound system with MP3 compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity, electrically adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, remote central locking are just some of the features that are standard on the base model.

Standard safety features across the range include ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, 6 airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners and force limiters for the driver and front-seat passenger. A reversing camera is an option on the AT-X and standard on all other models in the range.

The interior of the Toyota Aurion Sportivo ZR6

The interior of the Toyota Aurion Sportivo ZR6

If luxury is your thing then there are three levels in the Aurion range starting with the Prodigy and moving up to the Presara and finishing at the top-of-the-range Aurion White LE.

There are also two Sportivo models in the Aurion range … the Sportivo SX6 and the Sportivo ZR6.

While the basics are the same across the range the differences appear when you begin to look at trim levels and some exterior features and as you would expect. Leather accented interiors don’t appear until you get to the Prodigy and surprisingly the sound system seems to remain the same across the range although you do get a CD stacker in every model but the AT-X and a satellite navigation system isn’t standard until you reach the Presara.

A touch of luxury in the interior of the Aurion Presara

A touch of luxury in the interior of the Aurion Presara

Prices start at a recommended retail price (this does not include government and dealer delivery charges) of $35,990 for the AT-X. The first model in the Sportivo Range has a recommended retail price of $40,490 while the Prodigy’s recommended retail price is $41,490 and at the very top of the range you’re looking at a recommended retail price of $44,990

Toyota’s approach to the Aurion is interesting. You will see some advertising in various forms of media but other Toyota products get more exposure. Even finding suitable photos of the Aurion in Toyota’s press area isn’t all that easy and the photos you see here are all from 2009.

Perhaps that’s why the Toyota Aurion isn’t filling up the local carparks.


By | May 20th, 2011|Toyota|Comments Off on Toyota Aurion

Toyota FJ Cruiser

Toyota-fj-cruiserThe Toyota FJ Cruiser is on the showroom floors as you read this and there’s no chance that you will ever confuse it with anything else. The FJ Cruiser definitely has unique looks and it comes in a range of bright colours that only make it stand out even more.

Toyotoa Australia’s senior executive director of sales and marketing describes the FJ Cruiser as a steel-and-glass statement of Toyota’s commitment to great design and … well … it is a statement … but whether buyers think that it has a great design is something that only time will tell.

Unfortunately time may not be all that kind to the FJ Cruiser … not because of its design but because world events that Toyota has no control over may reduce its market appeal.

The Toyota FJ Cruiser is not something completely new either. It made its first appearance at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show and it went into production soon after. Toyota describe that production model as being “affordable” and having “a low price”.


What the Toyota FJ Cruiser isn’t
Despite its unusual lines and it’s bright colours (there are more subdued colours in the range) and the marketing hype that seems to have concentrated on the younger market the Toyota FJ Cruiser is not a toy. It is a very serious four-wheel drive that will take you places that some SUVs that want to pretend that they’re off-road vehicles will never be able to access.

The FJ Cruiser has one of the best departure and break-over angles of any Toyota 4WD … the departure angle is 31 degrees, the arrival angle is 36 degrees and the break-over angle is 29 degrees.

The minimum ground clearance for the Toyota FJ Cruiser is 224mm and the overhangs are just 865mm at the front and 1115mm at the rear and with genuine 4WD this vehicle will take you just about anywhere you want to go.


The body
As with many vehicles these days the FJ Cruiser has a high waistline that seems to add to its unusual looks and in a throwback to the vehicle that it’s named after the FJ Cruiser has wrap-around rear windows.

The general appearance is of a two-door vehicle but there are a second, smaller set of doors on each side that give increased access to the rear seats. The back door has a glass hatch that can be opened without actually opening the whole door.

The rear door also incorporates the spare wheel and it’s hinged on the passenger side so getting your shopping into the luggage area could be awkward but then there reasons why hinging a door on the driver’s side is just as awkward.

The bumpers are perhaps a weak link in an otherwise apparently sturdy vehicle. They’re made of light-weight resin and fog lamps are integrated into the front bumper while turn signals are built into the rear bumper.


The interior
If you thought that the dashboards of the latest crop of 4WDs were becoming girly and not what a real man would want then you’re going to love the dashboard on the FJ Cruiser. Toyota suggests that the FJ Cruiser’s dashboard radiates “a strong, precise mechanical appearance” and they’re right … it does.

The layout of the gauges is simple and the main controls are clearly visible and simple to use and some are located on the steering wheel. There are some technical aids for the off-road driver too including an inclinometer and a compass.

The inclusion of a compass may sound rather dated if you never take your vehicle off-road but I’ve been in situations where a compass was very handy … in fact it was more use than the map I had with me.

This is a vehicle that you’re not going to be afraid to get dirty. There’s no carpet to ruin with muddy boots in the Toyota FJ Cruiser … just rubber flooring that you can turn the hose on. Even the seats are covered with a urethane film to protect the fabric and the stitching has been treated with water repellant to ensure nothing leaks into the fabric when you use the hose to wash out the accumulated mud and associated crud.

The FJ Crujiser will seat five adults and there’s just under a cubic metre of cargo space available when the rear seats are in the upright position.

The driver’s seat has eight-way manual adjustment and the front passenger seat has four-way adjustment and tilts forward to give even more access to the rear seats. Those rear seats have the usual 60/40 split fold to give you even more cargo space.

While this vehicle is definitely built for going off-road it’s not entirely what a Neanderthal might want to drive. There’s a six CD audio unit with a 4.3-inch LCD display and speakers built into the roof lining. You can hook up your iPod or other MP3 players and there’s Bluetooth connectivity as well.

There’s also air conditioning but it’s definitely manual … no girly automatic air conditioning and climate control in this beast.

The suspension
While the FJ Cruiser was built for the American market the version that you will see on the roads here in Australia has suspension that has been specifically developed for our condisitons.

The shock absorber calibration has been stiffened by around 10 per cent for our roads and trails, tyre specifications were upgraded and the wheel diameter was increased from 16-inch to 17-inch and modifications have been made to reduce noise and vibration.

Overall the ride and handling in the FJ Cruiser has been brought up to be inline with the Landcruiser Prado and some of the modifications will be applied to the FJ Cruiser regardless of which country it will be sold in.


The engine
This is where word events may cause Toyota Australia some grief because the rising cost of petrol will make quite a few people think before they buy an FJ Cruiser.

The Toyota FJ Cruiser is powered by a 4.0-litre quad-cam V6 petrol engine that produces 200kW of power at 5,600rpm and 310Nm of torque from 1200rpm. The engine comes with dual variable valve timing with intelligence, camshaft timing that varies depending on revs, throttle position, crankshaft angle, coolant temperature and air flow through the intake.

The FJ Cruiser also has direct ignition, intelligent electronic throttle and sequential multi-point fuel injection.

Power is transferred to the wheels via a five-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission and compared to some bigger diesels in the Toyota range the FJ Cruiser is a thirsty beast that runs on a rich diet.

Toyota recommends that the minimum fuel used in the FJ Cruiser is 95 RON fuel but they say it will run on 91 Octane unleaded fuel and they claim a combined fuel cycle of 11.4L/100km. Imagine what it will do to your wallet if most of your running is around town and you have to fill the 72-litre tank at $2.00 a litre.

Active safety features in the FJ Cruiser include Vehicle Stability Control, ABS with EBD and Brake Assist. There’s also Active Traction Control … a feature that mimics a limited slip diff but uses the brakes to do so.

The FJ Cruiser also has six airbags including full-length curtain airbags, active head rests that incorporate a Whiplash Injury Lessening system. There are also three child restraint anchoring points.

A reversing camera and parking sensor are also included and the front windscreen has quite an unusual windscreen wiper setup … there are three wipers to cover the large expanse of glass.

The bottom line
Remember what Toyota said about this when it was launched in the United States? It would be “affordable” and “have a low price”.

Well if you live in Sydney and want the Toyota FJ Cruiser in Hornet Yellow and you’re going to register it for private use then today you can drive it away for $49,343.96 and if you live in Queensland it’s about $6.00 less.

Regardless of where you live the RRP that excludes dealer and government charges is $44,990.

It looks like a great vehicle and I’m sure that the Toyota FJ Cruiser will interest a lot of people but the rising price of petrol may dampen a lot of people’s interest.

By | April 5th, 2011|Toyota|Comments Off on Toyota FJ Cruiser

Toyota FT-86 II

toyota-ft86If you want to know what Toyota’s next sports car is going to look like then look no further than the Toyota FT-86 II. Even Toyota wants you to know that this is a preview of the next generation of Toyota sports car and with hints like this I can’t wait to see the production model.

This is the car that Toyota sees as following in the footsteps of classics suc as the Toyota Celica Twin-Cam Turbo, the Celica GT-Four, the Toyota Supra and others.

The Toyota FT-86 II has a wheelbase measuring 2,570mm and a total length of 4,235mm. It’s 1,795mm wide and only 1,270mm high.


For power for the FT-86 II Toyota is looking to a free-revving boxer petrol engine and a six-speed manual transmission with compact dimensions, light weight and a low centre of gravity for the best possible power-to-weight ratio. This combination delivers the power to the rear wheels

Both the engine/gearbox and the driving position have been set back as far as possible and as low as possible to enhance the FT-86 II’s low centre of gravity.

By | March 4th, 2011|Toyota|1 Comment

Toyota Recalls Two Million Vehicles

toyota-logo… but not in Australia.

If you were a Toyota fan owner then the news that appeared on Thursday Toyota was about to recall two million would have been horrible. Two million vehicles … that’s a HUGE number … and it was spread across a range of models including Toyota’s premium Lexus brand.

761,000 RAV4 spread across five year models, 603,000 4Runners spread across seven year models, 17,000 Lexus LX570 vehicles not to mention 372,000 2006-2007 Lexus RX330, RX 350 and RX400h models as well as 397,000 Highlander and Highland Hybrid vehicles … all to have their carpets fixed so that there would be no chance of the carpet causing the accelerator pedal to jam open.

But the news wasn’t all bad … at least not for Toyota owners here in Australia. According to Toyota the sticking accelerator problem was caused by the carpet, the plastic pad and the all-weather floor mat that was designed specifically for left-hand drive vehicles.

Toyota Australia and Lexus Australia have inspected local vehicles and confirmed that the conditions do not affect right hand drive vehicles sold in Australia.

So if you’re here in Australia and wondering if your Toyota is safe to drive then the answer is definitely yes. None of those left-hand drive components that are causing the problem have made it to Australia.

By | February 26th, 2011|News, Toyota|Comments Off on Toyota Recalls Two Million Vehicles