Toyota Tacoma grows bigger and better

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Toyota has been highly successful selling small pickup trucks in the United States since it introduced the Stout in 1964. The name was changed to Hi-Lux in 1969, and by September 1977 Toyota had sold a million trucks to U.S. customers.

The pickup’s last complete makeover occurred in 1995 when the Tacoma nameplate was introduced. For a decade the Tacoma has been one of the most popular pickups in the segment with only minor modifications and a few exterior styling tweaks.

Toyota Sequoia in a game of numbers

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

With little fanfare, Toyota has endowed its biggest sport utility vehicle with more horsepower and torque.

The large Sequoia, which has done battle with the Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Tahoe since 2001 and with the Nissan Armada since 2003, needed an injection of power. And darn if they didn’t sneak some in while we weren’t looking.

Toyota Corolla XRS adds a touch of rush

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Toyota Corolla is the world’s best selling car. That may be news to some people. But for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have owned a Corolla in recent times, that won’t come as a surprise.
They know about the compact car’s build quality, reliability, excellent resale value and good gas mileage. And consequently it should come as no surprise, too, that this year, J.D. Power and Associates named the Corolla the most dependable compact car sold in America.

Toyota’s 2005 Avalon has a new look and new energy

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

We sat in a press conference in Atlanta more than 10 years ago thinking what an idiotic decision. Toyota was heralding the addition of a full-sized sedan to its lineup of small and mid-sized cars and trucks.

The Japanese automaker was announcing a new car with a front bench seat option and a shifter on the column that would give it six-passenger space and go head-to-head with Buick, Chrysler and Mercury.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid, lots of bucks for the bang

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Hybrid vehicle strategy has changed at Toyota and Honda. And the Japanese automakers are selling hybrids — vehicles with a gas engine and an electric motor — as fast as they can make them.

Honda and Toyota have made the hybrid attractive with scads of power and many upscale amenities as part of the standard equipment package.

Toyota RAV4 — from cute-ute to brute-ute

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Toyota RAV4 has grown up in 2006 and added a solid layer of muscle.

More than a decade ago, the adorable little RAV entered the marketplace igniting a new segment of small car-based fuel-efficient sport utility vehicles. Journalist pundits quickly labeled the RAV4 and a handful of other like-minded vehicles “cute-utes.”

Toyota Camry hybrid has value and performance

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

A new era of hybrid vehicles has arrived in North America thanks to Toyota, the world’s leader in hybrid technology. We see 2007 as the beginning of the third chapter in U.S. hybrid history and a turning point that may make the gas engine/electric motor automobile more mainstream than most experts now envision.

Toyota goes retro with new 2007 FJ Cruiser

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The white over blue 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser spoke to us during a week’s involvement.

It deftly said, ‘buy me only if off-road driving is in your blood. If you never leave the pavement, put your cash in one of my crossover relatives, perhaps a Toyota RAV4 or even a Highlander.’

Not many new offerings in today’s “on pavement” world are created with the primary purpose of hitting the dirt trail, taking on fallen trees, climbing over instead of around rocks and fording shallow streams.

Toyota Sienna keeps competitive and offers all-wheel drive too

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The shrinking minivan segment has been boiled down to three major players and a handful of minor participants.

The market is now dominated by Chrysler/Dodge, Honda and Toyota. More than 700,000 minivans were sold by those three companies in 2006 representing about 72 percent of a market that has shrunk from 1.37 million sales in 2000 to about 970,000 last year.
Six other companies shared the remaining 270,000 sales.

Toyota Sequoia – when big is absolutely necessary

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Toyota has become well known for its environmentally friendly vehicles.

The best example is the hybrid Prius, which has become an unqualified sales success in the 21st Century. The fuel-sipping Prius is the status symbol of the so-called environmentally correct, one of only two vehicles in 2007 that exceeded 35 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving as measured by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).