Toyota Matrix — More than a movie

By Al Vinikour

Mention matrix to someone under 30 and chances are they’ll equate it to the series of hit movies starring Keanu Reeves. Mention matrix to a mathematician and he’ll get all wild in the eyes and start to hyperventilate. Mention matrix to a car guy and he’ll think Toyota Matrix, a compact hatchback developed off the Corolla platform (and often referred to as the Corolla Matrix).

Toyota Venza — five doors, no waiting

By Al Vinikour
Special to MotorwayAmerica

Full discloser: I’ve been a Toyota Camry fan since they were first introduced in North America as a relatively ugly compact car called the Celica. Over the years the vehicle grew into a mid-sized family car and in 1988, production for North American vehicles began at Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant. For more than a decade – with few exceptions – Camry has been the best-selling car in the United States. The mere sight of a Camry doesn’t pose a threat to those with high blood pressure but Camry’s reputation for quality and reliability has been one of its strongest selling points.

Toyota 4Runner — Breathing life into a classic

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

A combination of uncertain gas prices, the severe economic downturn, and a flood of competing crossovers sent the once wildly popular mid-sized Toyota 4Runner over a cliff.

Only 19,675 4Runners were sold in the U.S. in 2009, a far cry from four straight years of 100,000 sales or better earlier in the decade.

Toyota Prius — Gains in size, efficiency and applications

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Toyota brought us a Japanese spec right-hand-drive first-generation Prius hybrid not long before the turn of the century. It was a unique experience. Driving from the right side in a left side country was strange enough. But stopping for the first time on a busy street was even more interesting. The engine cut off. We were told this would occur, but as we waited for the light to turn green, we couldn’t help but wonder if we would be holding up a long line of honking traffic.