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Driving a Toyota trio along the beaches of North Florida

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By Russ Heaps
Clanging Bell

(October 30, 2014)  I'm not the kind of guy who is often overwhelmed by sensory overload. I can multitask with the best of them. Well, I'd much rather attack one thing at a time, but, when push comes to shove, I've been known to keep a few balls in the air. All of my juggling skills came into play at the recent Toyota media event for the 2015 Sienna, Camry and Yaris in Ponte Vedra, just outside Jacksonville, Fla.

2015 Toyota Camry



PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Has Toyota been hearing giant footsteps gaining on them, feeling the hot breath of segment competitors as they rapidly close the gap on the perennial best-selling mid-size Camry sedan? The segment is, indeed, now filled with excellent, compelling choices and even as the Camry continues to maintain an edge in overall sales on the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion, it has been criticized for falling behind in styling, performance and personality.

2015 Honda CR-V



HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — Did you know that the Honda CR-V is the world’s most popular SUV? It’s also the top seller in Honda’s lineup of vehicles worldwide. It’s easy to understand why the CR-V is the most popular SUV in this country where SUVs reign, but many people in the rest of the world like “cars” far more than SUVs or trucks. Perhaps Honda’s success is attributed to the CR-V being just the right size — not too big or too small — and it behaves more like a car than a rugged sport utility or conventional truck.

2015 Ford Mustang



LOS ANGELES — West Hollywood traffic at 9 a.m. moves as quickly as molasses on a cold day, especially when you have the promise of a run up the Angeles Crest Highway ahead of you. Yet here we were stuck behind half a dozen other 2015 Mustangs and a city bus, attempting to make a left turn against bumper-to-bumper traffic that refused to make any openings. Far from taxing my patience, it became an unexpected opportunity to see how far Ford’s revamp of the Mustang extended.

Vehicle of the Week

2015 Acura TLX — A rewarding marriage



By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Our favorite Acura sedan up to now was the third-generation TL (2003-2008), which caught our imagination with just-right styling, a perfect size, excellent handling traits and a hearty V-6 engine. It was a mature interpretation of what we thought a luxury sports sedan should be. Then Acura seemed to lose focus, producing softer more mainstream sedans with questionable styling features.

Here's the Thing

TrueCar sees political and vehicle choice aligning ahead of midterms

(October 30, 2014) SANTA MONICA, Calif. — TrueCar, Inc. finds some correlation between popular vehicle choices across U.S. states and recent voting patterns as the contest between Republicans and Democrats comes down to the wire with next week’s midterm election.

Don't fear the check engine light

(October 29, 2014) BETHESDA, Md. — Although the check engine light may look scary lit up on the dashboard, there is nothing to fear. A glowing check engine light doesn't mean you have to immediately pull the car to the side of the road, but it does mean you should get the car checked out as soon as possible, says the Car Care Council.

New research shows automotive recalls impact purchase decisions

(October 28, 2014) RHINEBECK, N.Y. — Phoenix Marketing International, a global marketing services firm, has released findings around the unprecedented volume of automobile recalls revealing that the more than 60% awareness of vehicle recalls negatively affects the perception that consumers have on safety and brands.

Additionally, awareness of the recalls was somewhat higher among consumers who were in the market for luxury vehicles, when compared to those in the non-luxury segment. Truck shoppers were least aware of the recalls.

Inside the Industry

Sixth annual Collector Car Appreciation Day to be celebrated July 10

(October 30, 2014) The SEMA Action Network (SAN) announced that the next Collector Car Appreciation Day will be celebrated on July 10, 2015. The date will mark the sixth consecutive commemoration in what is now an annual event to raise awareness of the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society.
 

2016 Ford Explorer to debut at 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show

(October 30, 2014) DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford has confirmed it will reveal its new 2016 Ford Explorer at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The new Ford Explorer goes on sale next year in North America, arriving in time to celebrate 25 years as the best-selling midsize SUV in the United States.

Nearly 7 million Explorers have been sold here since the vehicle debuted in 1990 and popularized the SUV.

BMW to reveal new X5 M and X6 M performance crossovers in L.A.

(October 30, 2014) WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. — BMW has revealed details on its all-new  high-performance crossovers, the 2015 BMW X5 M and X6 M. Both models will officially debut at the L.A. Auto Show in November.

When the previous generation of the two vehicles arrived in 2009, it was the first time the high-performance character distilled by BMW M GmbH had been transplanted into an all-wheel-drive BMW X model. The result was class-leading dynamics. The new BMW X5 M and BMW X6 M pull no punches in writing the next chapter in this success story with another significant step forward in dynamic excellence, distinct M design and outstanding efficiency.

Abandoned Car of the Week

Kaiser and Frazer live side-by-side



This rare find of a 1947 Kaiser (left) and Frazer were found in a yard in Wayne, Alberta, Canada. The Kaiser-Frazer car company was founded on July 25, 1945, and displayed prototypes of their two new cars in New York in 1946. Kaiser and Frazer shared bodies and powertrains. The cars, the first all-new sedans in the U.S. following the end of World War II, were powered by a 226-cubic-inch L-head six making 100 horsepower mated to a three-speed transmission with optional overdrive.
(Photo by Charles Skaggs)