LTR’s SUV Sampler

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Dec 312020
 
Toyota Highlander

The Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) segment remains so viable that not even the COVID-19 pandemic could hurt its sales. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association: “Despite a decline for all car segments, sales of pickups, SUVs and crossovers all posted gains relative to this time last year. In the first three quarters or 2020, three out of every four vehicles sold were light trucks.”

Responding to the trend, domestic automakers killed off most of their car models, opting to focus on SUVs and trucks, while import brands just kept expanding their lineups further with more and more models, from crossover compacts to full-size SUVs. Here’s a sampling of the models Latino Traffic Report (LTR) got to drive in 2020. 

Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD

First introduced in 2001 the Toyota Highlander joined the lineup as the first midsize crossover SUV offered by the brand. Over time, the Highlander not only grew in size, it gained a third row and became the best-selling retail model in the segment since 2016.

Redesigned in 2020, the fourth-generation Highlander is still growing, which has translated into greater cargo volume, for a total of 84.3 cu. ft. with the second and third rows folded flat. It also gains more versatility with a second row that slides up an extra 1.2 inches, a handy shelf under the dash for extra storage, and maximum towing of 5,000-pounds.

While Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard on all models, more advanced safety technology, like the blind spot monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, comes standard on four of the five available grades. There is a recall on the 2020 Highlander due to a concern over seat trim covers.

LTR got to drive the top-of-the-line Platinum trim with all-wheel drive (AWD). Equipped with multiple drive modes, from Eco to Snow, maximized the performance from the AWD system.

A 3.5-liter V6 engine with 295 horsepower and 263 lb.–ft. of torque matched to a Direct Shift eight-speed automatic transmission powered the test model. It had an EPA estimated fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. It averaged 19.7 mpg on the test drive. The standard Stop and Start Engine System should have increase fuel economy although it fell short on the week-long test drive. Still, it engaged with minimal clunkiness.

All grades come standard with Apple Car Play, Android Auto, Alexa In-Car compatibility, Waze, SiriusXM, and WiFi connectivity.

Added features like the 12.3-inch touchscreen display rather than the standard eight-inch display helped the test model live up to its up level trim. The Platinum grade also comes with a Captain’s Chair second row with seating for seven.

The test model added heated and ventilated front seats and a heated second row, adaptive LED projector headlights, and a panoramic moonroof.

Pricing for the 2020 Highlander starts at $35,720. The as-tested price came to $51,112.

Hyundai Santa Fe Limited 2.0T FWD

Redesigned in 2019, the fourth-generation Hyundai Santa Fe became the brand’s best-selling SUV in America that year, with sales of more than 1.6 million units.

It will receive a freshened look for 2021, accentuated by a new grille more in line with Hyundai’s current DNA, but the 2020 model tested by LTR also included some refinements.

The Limited 2.0T front-wheel drive (FWD) test model was one away from the top-of-the-line trim, exceeded only by the AWD version of the Limited. That changes in 2021 when the Calligraphy trim will be top-of-the line.

While not standard on all trims, Smart Sense safety technologies like the blind spot monitor with a camera view displayed in the instrument cluster, forward-collision warning, and rear cross-traffic alert were included on the test model. It also had the optional Ultrasonic Rear Occupant Alert that reminds drivers to check the back seat for precious cargo before exiting.

Inside, the Santa Fe offers more cargo room behind the second-row seats and expands space behind the first row of seats with rear seats folded flat to 71.3 cubic feet. For added convenience, the second-row on the test model dropped down with the push of a button,

Hyundai offers two four-cylinder engine options on the Santa Fe. The test model came with the latter, producing 235 horses and 260 lb.–ft. of torque. It has an EPA city/highway estimated fuel economy of 20/27 mpg. It averaged 31.1 mpg on the test drive with a slight turbo lag. All engines are mated to a brand-new eight-speed automatic transmission. The test model also came with three drive modes, Normal, Sport, and Smart, for improved performance.

For owners of an Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone X as well as compatible Android devices, there’s an available Qi wireless charger.

During this test drive there was also a chance to test Hyundai’s 24-hour roadside assistance when the test model developed a flat. While the service was timely and did put on the spare, which was a temporary tire or donut.

Pricing for the 2020 Santa Fe starts at $27,415. The as-tested price came to $38.730.

Lexus RX 450hL Luxury AWD

Lexus ventured into the luxury hybrid SUV market with its RX model more than a decade ago. Refreshed in 2020, the RX 450hL tested by LTR included three rows of seating, improved performance, an updated Lexus Multimedia System, additional standard safety features, and a refreshed exterior design.

As a hybrid, it’s not only the top-of-the-line RX, it’s also the most fuel-efficient. Lexus pairs the fuel injected 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine with two high-torque electric drive motor-generators for strong acceleration and passing performance. The standard AWD system, or “all-weather” according to Lexus, employs a second, independent electric motor to drive the rear wheels when needed for optimal traction.

It has an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 29/28 mpg. It averaged 25 mpg on the test drive. A stiffer suspension design helped enhance its performance by reducing the noise and vibration from the road while four drive modes, from Sport to EV, should enhance fuel economy at slow speeds though that wasn’t reflected in the test drive.

Updates to the Lexus Multimedia System now include Apple CarPlay integration for an iPhone accessed through the RX’s standard eight-inch touchscreen dashboard display. The RX is also the first Lexus model to offer Android Auto integration.

Other standard luxury features on the test model included heated and ventilated front seats, as well as heated seats in the rear while the third row folded flat electronically.

While it’s the top-of-the-line model as a hybrid, many features remain optional, like the 12.3 touchscreen that comes with the Navigation Package ($3,365). The display was bright and engaging, especially when the navigation system was on view. The instrument cluster, however, was less vivacious.

New safety technology added to the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 includes daytime bicyclist detection and low-light pedestrian detection along with Road Sign Assist and Lane Tracing Assist.

The standard blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert was also upgraded on the test model to include Intuitive Parking Assist.

Pricing for the 2020 RX 450h starts at $48,845. The as-tested price came to $65,340.

Toyota and Hispanic Scholarship Fund Renew Parnership

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Dec 282020
 

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Toyota, an Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) partner of 22 years, renewed its commitment of $900,000 for the organization’s 2020-2021 fiscal year. Allocations will fund Scholar Support Services, the Toyota/HSF Scholarship Program, and the Toyota West Dallas Scholarship.

The program’s value is reflected in employees like Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas (TMMTX) engineer Nazul Rivera. The youngest of five and raised by a single mother, Rivera gained confidence with an HSF scholarship. “The HSF scholarship gave me a newfound sense of responsibility. It made me feel like somebody believes in me, and that I could go further in school than I ever imagined possible,” said Rivera.

Whether it’s Rivera’s story or one of the thousands of others made possible through HSF grants, the core mission is a commitment to helping Latinos navigate the college track—many for the first time. “Toyota’s generous support will enable HSF to provide scholarships to deserving scholars and support services to students, parents, and alumni across our country. We are grateful and proud of our long-standing partnership with Toyota and look forward to working together to continue empowering families to successfully complete a higher education,” said Fidel A. Vargas, president and CEO, HSF.

Applications for 2021 HSF scholarships must be received by February 15, 2021. To apply, go to https://www.hsf.net/scholarship.

Familia is everything, and recognizing, celebrating, and driving educational opportunities to Latinos is crucial within the Toyota family, and to the communities we serve, and especially to today’s scholars,” said Peggy Turner, vice president, Lexus Guest Relations, and member of HSF’s Board of Directors.

Toyota Issues 2020 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid Recall

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Oct 302020
 
2020 Toyota Highlander

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (Toyota) is recalling certain 2020 Highlander and Highlander hybrid vehicles. Incorrect seat trim covers on one or both of the front seats can prevent the seat-mounted side air bag from deploying properly.

2020 Highlander Hybrid

Toyota will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the front seats and replace the seat trim covers as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin December 13, 2020. Owners may contact Toyota customer service at 1-800-442-8696. Toyota’s number for this recall is 20TB14 / 20TA14.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Sports Car Review: 2020 Toyota GR Supra

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Oct 022020
 

After more than 20 years, Toyota opted to bring back one of its most relished models, the Supra. Latino Traffic Report recently got to test the fifth generation of the sports car, the 2020 GR Supra. From its exterior to its performance, the test model lived up to the Supra’s reputation and its fans’ expectations. Sharing much of its chassis with the BMW Z4 doesn’t hurt either.

Its uniqueness starts with its curb appeal. Its twin-scroll turbo charged in-line six, rear-wheel-drive design, low center of gravity, and optimal weight balance set it apart in the Toyota lineup. However, getting in and out of it can be a challenge.

Under the hood, the 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbo charged in-line six-cylinder engine produces 335 horses with 365 lb.–ft. of torque. For 2021, that power is expected to grow to 382 hp. It’s matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and accelerates from zero–60 miles per hour in 4.1 seconds. Unlike its predecessor, however, there is no manual transmission option.

 It has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 24 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Switching to Sport mode will enhance its performance and engine rumble while sacrificing a bit of fuel economy. It averaged 23.2 mpg during the weeklong test drive.

The test model came in Renaissance Red on the outside with a black leather-trimmed interior, including black sport seats, a black steering wheel and black center console with carbon-fiber accents. The instrument panel was a bit plain, though it did include a four-color Head-up Display.

The infotainment system on the test model included an 8.8-inch touchscreen, the JBL audio system with an amplifier, and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Programming presets, however, was less intuitive than other infotainment systems tested on Toyota products.

Standard safety features on both grades, as well as the Launch Edition, include the pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assist, and automatic high beams. 

On the test model, adding the blind spot monitor required an extra $1,195 as part of the Driver Assist Package that also included Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Parking Sensors with an emergency braking function. These were particularly handy for protecting the Supra’s front bumper lip.

Pricing for the Supra 3.0 starts at $50,920.  Available in three trim levels, the as-tested price on the mid-range 3.0 Premium came to $58,280.

Si: The GR Supra has the sporty looks and performance that fans have long anticipated. Young men were especially inquisitive during the test drive.

No: Any sports car should offer a manual transmission and while fun to drive, it’s pretty pricey.

Used Cars and Repairs

 Used Car Diary  Comments Off on Used Cars and Repairs
May 302020
 

January 4

ODO 184,684

It’s generally understood that buying a used car carries some risk, but for many, it’s the most affordable option. Tools like CARFAX that tell a buyer what repairs have been made on a certain vehicle can help as well as the car’s total mileage (10,000 miles per year is recommended). Some even spend money to take a the car to a mechanic to give it a good once over. I didn’t do that, nor did I remember to request the CARFAX on the 2007 Toyota Yaris, a.k.a. the Bunny, that I eventually bought. I knew the mileage was high and the tires would need replacing but it drove well and seemed solid, so I bought it.

Six months later it was indeed equipped with four new tires, but on the way back from work, luckily less than three miles from home, I noticed that the hot engine light came on. When I got home, I checked under the hood and found that liquid had spilled inside the engine compartment and on the floor of the garage. What could it be? I had no clue but I knew I couldn’t drive it.

One thing I did invest in as a used car owner was roadside assistance, namely AAA. I knew the Bunny needed to see a mechanic but also that a car this old may need to go to the source to get a proper diagnosis as well as parts, so after I called AAA to get the Bunny towed, I also set up an appointment with Charles Maund Toyota. It may cost more to get your car serviced at a dealership, even with the 10 percent discount they offer and free shuttle to and from the dealership, but I saw it as an investment in my peace of mind.

It took less than an hour to find out that the water pump had broken. After replacing that and the drive belt—I was told that it might start slipping since it had gotten wet—and the rear wiper blade—I thought I’d throw that in for good measure—I was out $481.96.

No car repair is welcome news but as a used car owner, it helps to have a back-up plan, e.g. mechanic and insurance, that makes the process a little less painful. For now, I’m sticking with AAA and Charles Maund Toyota.

Sedan Appeal: New Models Help Sustain the Segment

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Apr 292020
 
Volvo S60

Sedan sales may be down, but the segment is definitely not out. While domestic carmakers abandoned them, import carmakers continued to build them, including redesigns of existing nameplates. Latino Traffic Report (LTR) recently test-drove four very elegant 2020 models—the Kia K900, Toyota Avalon Hybrid, Volvo S60, and Lexus LS 500—that offered ample legroom and plenty of bells and whistles.

Toyota Avalon Hybrid XSE

Toyota Avalon Hybrid

Redesigned for 2019, the fifth-generation Avalon marked its twenty-fifth anniversary this year. As Toyota’s top-of-the-line sedan, it naturally elicits great expectations for its comfort and luxury but as a hybrid, the text model set hopes even higher for standard features and fuel economy.

Its interior roominess belied its midsize sedan designation. Toyota extended the rear cabin further by another seven inches so that rear legroom and trunk space measure 40.3 inches and 16.09 cu. ft., respectively and included numerous cubbies for storage.

At the heart of this hybrid is the 2.5-liter four-cylinder Toyota Hybrid System II with a 650-volt electric motor and Continuously-Variable Transmission (CVT). These elements combine to produce 176 horsepower and 163 lb.–ft. of torque. They also give the Avalon Hybrid an EPA estimated fuel efficiency of 43 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and on the highway. Utilizing the Eco and EV modes (Normal and Sport are also included) it achieved an average rating of 38.9 mpg during the weeklong test drive.

Standard safety features in the Toyota Safety Sense package include pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, and range dynamic cruise control among other features. The blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic detection and Safety Connect roadside assistance are also standard.

Creature comforts on all hybrids include dual-zone climate control, the Entune infotainment system with a nine-inch touch screen, access to Amazon Alexa and Apple Car Play, and a seven-inch display in the gauge cluster. For $1,720 more, the test model upgraded the stereo to the JBL Premium audio system with navigation.

On the plus side, the test model came loaded with standard features but on the downside, its exterior design may be polarizing. The blackened grille and rims helped a bit.

Pricing for the 2020 Avalon starts at $36,830. The as-tested price came to $42,259.

Volvo S60 T6 Inscription

According to AAA, Americans on average spend nearly an hour behind the wheel each day. Spending that time surrounded by a luxurious but functional interior can make time fly. Volvo has set the bar when it comes to design, inside and out, and its redesigned S60 is no exception.

LTR recently tested the S60 T6 AWD Inscription, a top-of-the-line trim, and while it included a healthy list of standard features, additional packages did escalate the price dramatically.

Bearing Volvo’s latest design DNA, the S60 sports a unique version of the Thor’s Hammer headlamp on the outside that first appeared on the redesigned XC90.

The S60’s 12.3″ digital driver display.

Inside, Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system sets off the interior design. Its tablet shape and function via the nine-inch touchscreen deliver a fairly intuitive interface for controlling multiple car functions from navigation to in-car entertainment applications (hint, go to Library to save radio presets). Less intuitive, however, was the adaptive cruise control. It increased speed by five miles per hour (mph) at each click rather than just one mph and it wasn’t clear how to reprogram it.

Wood inlays, leather seating with a backrest massage in the front seats (via the Luxury Seating Package $2,200), and a panoramic moonroof on the test model elevated the drive experience even further.

But the brand’s reputation stands on safety and the test model came equipped with several Volvo game changers like the blind spot information system with steer assist, cross traffic alert and autobraking, and low and hi-speed collision mitigation with cyclist, large animal, vehicle, and pedestrian detection, among other features.

In a bold move, Volvo bases its powertrain technology on turbocharged and twin engine super and turbocharged four-cylinders. The 2.0-liter version of the latter with 316 horsepower and 295 lb.–ft. of torque matched to an eight-speed Geartronic transmission powered the test model. It had an EPA city/highway estimated fuel economy of 21/32 mpg. It averaged 24.7 mpg during the weeklong test drive.

The 2020 S60 has a starting price of $37,045. With the extra packaging, the test model’s price came to $58,890.

Kia K900 Luxury

Equipped with suspensions that float like a boat, full-size sedans tend to get the “flagship” moniker. Redesigned for 2019 and with new technology, safety features, and premium touches, the Kia K900 easily lives up to that label. LTR recently test-drove the K900 Luxury, the only available trim.

Blind Spot View Monitor with camera image in the gauge cluster.

The second-generation K900 immediately scores points with its new streamlined exterior. It’s somewhat derivative of its competitors, especially on the inside, but still maintains enough Kia DNA, e.g. the tiger-nose grille with a Quadric pattern, to make it distinctive.

As the name implies, flagships should offer a suspension that fairly floats. Torsional stiffness on the new model, however, increased by 33 percent, gives the K900 a more solid and premium on-road feel. There are also four drive modes—Comfort, Sport, Eco, and Custom—to fine-tune the ride further.

The full-time rear biased and electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system adds to its sure-footedness.

It’s also slightly longer and wider than the outgoing model for rear legroom and trunk space that measure 36.6 inches and 15.3 cu. ft. respectively. For added convenience, the trunk comes with a button to close automatically.

Metal veneers (first spotted by LTR on the Volvo S90) combined with a choice of four matte wood options and quilted Nappa leather enrich the interior. The test model also included a surround sound stereo, a 12.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, wireless charging (for Qi compatible mobile phones, e.g. iPhone 8, Samsung S7), a blindspot monitor with collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and a parking sensor, among other features. The VIP package ($4,400) added a 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster, tri-zone climate control, power adjustable and ventilated rear seats, and a rear phone charger.

The K900 shares the same engine that powers the sporty Kia Stinger, a 3.3-liter twin turbo V6 with 365 hp and 376 lb.–ft. of torque matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It should achieve a city/highway fuel economy of 18/25 mpg. It achieved 21.8 mpg during the test drive.

Pricing for the 2020 K900 starts at $60,935. The as-tested pricing came to $64,895.

Lexus LS 500

Considered a flagship by Lexus, this four-door sedan, redesigned in 2018, bears a striking exterior design and comes stocked with bells and whistles. The Lexus LS 500 recently tested by LTR, used additional pricey packages to elevate those features.

LS 500 sliding gauge cluster.

It’s powered by an all-new 3.5-liter, twin turbocharged V6 that delivers 416 horsepower and 442 lb.–ft. of torque, matched to a ten-speed automatic transmission. It has an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 19/30 mpg. It averaged 22.6 mpg during the weeklong test drive.

The chrome grille and 20-inch alloy spoke wheels with Vapor Chrome finish accentuated the LS’s premium look, while wood panels, a rear power sunshade, and its twelve-inch touchscreen as part of the Enform infotainment system made the experience inside visibly plush. The Enform system was less intuitive to program than similar systems, however.

Many features like a blind spot monitor and pre-collision system were standard but Lexus added packages to enhance these features, like the Safety System +A ($3,000) that gave the pre-collision system active braking and steering, pedestrian alert, front cross traffic alert, and lane change assist. The Interior Upgrade Package ($3,730) added a massage function in the front seats as well as quilted and perforated leather seating and heated rear seats. Even the trunk received an upgrade with a carpeted mat ($105).

With 38.9 inches of legroom and 16.95 cu. ft. of truck space, the full-size sedan managed to fit in the garage with about an inch to spare.

Finally, run-flat tires on the LS were put to good use during the test drive when the right front tire took on a screw and didn’t flatten until after returning home. Enform Safety Connect with roadside assistance, complimentary for ten years, came to the rescue, loading the LS on a flatbed and delivering it to a Lexus dealership for a replacement tire.

Pricing for the 2020 LS 500 starts at $76,475. The as-tested price came to $94,075.

Toyota Partners With Latino Nonprofits For COVID-19 Response

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Apr 242020
 

Latino Traffic Report has learned that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the United States, Toyota Motor North America announced today a range of initiatives with longstanding national nonprofit partners to serve the U.S. Latino community.

More than $1 million in previously awarded funding to the Hispanic Federation (HF), Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), The East Los Angeles Community Union (TELACU) Education Foundation, UnidosUS and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) was reallocated to their COVID-19 response efforts.

Funding supports emergency assistance, information dissemination, small business support and academic assistance for the U.S. Hispanic community.

“Together, we can help reach more people with the critical information and resources they need,” said Al Smith, group vice president and Chief Social Innovation Officer, Toyota Motor North America. “We want our partners and communities to know that we are here for them now and beyond the crisis.”

Toyota’s efforts with its partners on behalf of the Hispanic community include:

Academics

  • Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF):
    • Funding to provide support to K-12 students, parents and scholars
    • Emergency relief for families struggling with food, housing, and tuition payments, as well as support for distance learning.
  • The East Los Angeles Community Union (TELACU):
    • Funding to provide comprehensive services to scholars.

Emergency Assistance

  • Hispanic Federation:
    • Funding for the COVID-19 Latino Nonprofit Emergency Assistance Fund.
    • Emergency food relief to seniors, children, and families in New York.

Information Dissemination

  • League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC):
    • Funding to create resources in Spanish about COVID-19, and distribute them via community network platforms.
  • UnidosUS:
    • Funding to ensure accurate information and resources to slow the spread of COVID-19 are reaching the Latino community in English and Spanish.

Small Business Support

  • United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC):
    • Funding to provide economic relief resources and technical assistance to Hispanic and Minority-Owned Small Businesses that are heavily impacted by this COVID-19 crisis.
    • Direct 24/7 bilingual technical assistance support on the CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Impact Disaster Loan applications, banking/loan/liquidity questions, and other questions about general support.
    • Connecting Hispanic-owned suppliers in the U.S. to buyers who quickly need supplies including gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and other items.

For more information on Toyota’s COVID-19 response, please visit: www.toyota.com/toyota-covid-19-response/

Sporty by Nature

 Features  Comments Off on Sporty by Nature
Sep 012019
 

Daily Drives that Perform

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

Sports cars attract a singular buyer because that level of performance comes at a high price, but what about the rest of us? Happily, nearly every automotive brand offers at least one sporty option in their lineup that won’t break the bank. For those who’d like a little more performance in their daily drives, Latino Traffic Report (LTR) recently tested the following options.

Toyota Corolla Hatchback

Originally called a liftback, the Corolla Hatchback is back as an official member of the lineup for 2019. LTR recently tested the 2019 Corolla XSE (above), one of two available trims and the sportiest with standard 18-inch wheels, LED fog lights, and a chrome front grille surround. The test model also came in a special Blue Flame exterior paint.

A 2.0-liter Dynamic-Force direct-injection inline four-cylinder engine with 168 horsepower and 151 lb.­­–ft. of torque powers all Corolla Hatchbacks. While a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is available, the test model came with the six-speed manual transmission combined with a multi-link suspension with a stabilizer bar, and updated shock absorbers and springs that added sportiness and lots of fun to the drive.

The EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy was 28/37 miles per gallon (mpg). The test model averaged 31.5 mpg.

Sitting in the hatchback, it felt finished and a bit upscale, that’s because the XSE grade added fancy standard features, including dual-zone climate control, two-tone combination leather seating, and heated front seats. Unique stitching on its instrument panel and doors, the multifunction steering wheel and a seven-inch TFT Multi-Information Display (MID) that showed vehicle information like turn-by-turn navigation and a new feature, Road Sign Assist, set it even further apart.

Toyota’s infotainment system, the Entune 3.0 Audio Plus, is standard on the XSE and features Sirius/XM satellite radio and a high-resolution eight-inch multimedia touchscreen. Apple Car Play is standard on all Corolla Hatchbacks.

Standard semi-autonomous features included Lane Departure Alert, Lane Tracing Assist, a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, and adaptive cruise control. My favorite safety feature, the Blind Spot Monitor, was also standard on the XSE.

Pricing for the 2019 Corolla Hatchback starts at $20,910. The as-tested price came to $23,910.

Mazda Miata MX-5

MX-5 Miata Thirtieth Anniversary edition.

Since its introduction 30 years ago, the Mazda Miata combined a striking design, nimble performance, and a drop top with a surprisingly affordable price. LTR recently tested the 2019 Miata MX-5 Grand Touring soft top and happily, not much has changed to lessen its appeal. Indeed, when the thirtieth anniversary edition was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show this year, the 500 anniversary models set aside for sales in the United States sold out in four hours.

The modern Miata is sleeker but its agility will still make its owners smile. A sport-tuned suspension and Bilstein shock absorbers enhanced handling further on the test model.

Formerly the top-of-the-line trim out of three until the anniversary edition was introduced this year, the Grand Touring trim comes equipped with posh features like, heated leather seats, automatic air conditioning, and Mazda navigation with traffic sign recognition. The blind spot monitor becomes a standard feature on the Club trim, one below the Grand Touring, so it was included as well.

All Miatas are powered by 2.0-liter four-cylinder Skyactiv engine with 181 horsepower and 151 of lb.–ft. of torque. While an automatic transmission is available, thankfully the test model came with a six-speed manual transmission that elevated the driving experience. Fuel economy is also an added plus with an EPA estimated city/highway rating of 26 mpg and 34 mpg respectively. It earned an average of 34.1 mpg on the test drive.

The canvas top remains manually operated but it can literally be done while siting in the car with one hand. A retractable hardtop version is also available.

Pricing for the 2019 Miata MX-5 starts at $26,625. The as tested price came to $33,050.

Subaru Crosstrek

In the car world “sporty” almost always describes a performance or sports car. But for this list, we broadened the definition of sporty to include off-road performers as well. With its symmetrical all-wheel drive (AWD), the Subaru Crosstrek can handle the outdoors for owners who want to take it there, but it also has sporty qualities that set it apart in its segment.

The tested model was the Crostrek 2.0i Limited with EyeSight Driver Assist Technology (right)—a suite of autonomous safety features, from pre-collision braking to adaptive cruise control. For 2019, it’s now available on all 2019 Crosstrek trim levels.

All Crosstreks are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder Subaru Boxer engine that delivers 152-hp and 145 lb.–ft. of torque. Transmissions do vary, however, starting with a six-speed manual. The tested model, however, included a CVT with a seven-speed manual mode function and steering wheel paddle shifters for those who want the performance of a manual transmission but without the clutch. Not only did the CVT offer the better fuel economy, with an average of 29 mpg, it added muscle as well with an X-MODE and Hill Descent Control for better traction off-road. The test model also included 18-inch alloy wheels in black with a machine finish.

Some call it a wagon, others a compact SUV but either way, the Crosstrek offers the convenience of both with a rear seat that folds to expose 55.3 cubic feet of cargo room.

As the top-of-the-line trim, the test model also included convenience features like an eight-inch touchscreen with voice-activated controls, Keyless Access with Push-Button Start, Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Pricing for the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek starts at $22,870. The as-tested price came to $28,170.

Lexus IS 300

For its entry-level offering, Lexus introduced the 2001 IS compact sport sedan in 2000, allowing more buyers to step up to the brand with the added plus of performance.

The test model on this drive was the IS 300, the most affordable IS, powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine with 241 horsepower and 258 lb.–ft. of torque.  In 2018, the entire lineup received a five horsepower increase.

It was matched to an eight-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission with paddle shifters on the steering wheel and Eco, Normal, Snow, and Sport drive modes to customize the ride and handling further. The city/highway EPA estimated fuel economy for the test model was 22/32 mpg. It averaged 24 mpg on the test drive, mostly in Eco mode.

Available with all-wheel-drive (AWD), the test model stuck to its sporty intentions with rear-wheel-drive, improved for 2019 for better performance. Ramping up performance further, the test model included the F-Sport package ($3,195) with a unique bumper and spindle grill, 18-inch split five-spoke wheels, a sport suspension, and aluminum pedals.

As a Lexus, luxury features like NuLuxe trimmed seating, ten-way power front sport seats, a dual-zone automatic climate control system with touch-sensitive controls, a power moonroof, SmartAccess with push button start and adaptive cruise control come standard.  The available blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, was also included on the test model for no charge. While a seven-inch touch screen is standard, the test model included the available 10.3-inch display for entertainment and climate control interplay, heated and cooled leather seats, and a leather steering wheel.

Pricing for the 2019 IS 300 starts at $39,585. The as-tested price came to $46,395.

Ford Edge ST

Combining functionality with versatility, the midsize SUV market shows no sign of slowing in popularity, so it behooves automakers to forward products that stand out. Ford added the first performance SUV to its lineup for 2019, the Edge ST. LTR recently tested the sportier Edge equipped with standard AWD.

At first glance, the Edge ST signals its performance nature with design cues like a wide mesh grille for optimal cooling, deep side skirts and dual-exhaust outlets. The test model also included the available 21-inch wheels with darkened rims that come with the Performance Brake Package ($2,695). Interior design cues included badging on the steering wheel, seat backs, and scuff plates.

Tuned by the Ford Performance team, the Edge ST gains a sport suspension, Sport Mode, a new quick-shifting eight-speed transmission, and a powerful V6 engine with 335 horsepower and 380 lb.­–ft. of torque.

Where there’s power, there’s less fuel economy, however, even with the standard Auto Start-Stop technology to help save gas at idle that managed to fade the air conditioning at times. The EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy for the Edge ST is 19/26 mpg. It averaged 22.4 mpg on the test drive.

The Edge ST also maintains the standard for convenience expected of SUVs in this class by offering seating for five and a 60/40-split folding rear seat. It deploys easily with the push of a button to expose 73.4 cu. ft. of cargo space. For a modern touch, the Edge ST includes a Wi-Fi hotspot for Internet access via FordPass Connect, standard on all 2019 Edges.

Pricing for the 2019 Edge ST starts at $31,090. The as-tested price came to $52,325.

Toyota Dealership Gifts Rav4 to Latina Student

 Noticias  Comments Off on Toyota Dealership Gifts Rav4 to Latina Student
Aug 112019
 
Palm Beach State College student Marisol Reyes.

Marisol Reyes, a student at Palm Beach State College who took time off from her studies to work and help support her family, was shopping for her first car. She visited multiple dealerships looking for a reliable car that would fit her budget. When Reyes was finally able to save enough for a pre-owned 2017 Toyota RAV4 from Palm Beach Toyota, she found herself at the right place at the right time.

To celebrate the purchase of the six millionth Toyota Certified Used Vehicle (TCUV), Toyota Motor North America presented Reyes with a check for the value of the RAV4. The automaker, along with Southeast Toyota Distributors, a subsidiary of locally owned automotive corporation JM Family Enterprises, and Palm Beach Toyota, also each made a $5,000 donation in her name to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a nonpartisan organization committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the United States. In addition, Sirius XM provided one year of complimentary streaming service and CarFax donated a gas gift card valued at $1,000.

Ron Cooney, manager of TCUV operations at Toyota presents Marisol Reyes with a check for the value of a pre-owned 2017 Rav4.

“I come from a hardworking family and had to leave school to help pay for some of our everyday expenses and bills, but this incredible gift from Toyota will allow me to complete my bachelor’s degree sooner than expected,” said Reyes. “My family has owned several Toyotas in the past but my new RAV4 is already the best one yet!”

This major TCUV sales milestone comes more than 23 years after Toyota’s entrance into the Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) industry. TCUV now ranks as the highest volume CPO program in the industry. In an effort to continue its leadership, Toyota recently launched significant changes to the TCUV program, including new branding and an enhanced limited powertrain warranty. This warranty extends coverage to seven years following the TCUV purchase date or 100,000 total vehicle miles.

“Hitting the six millionth certified used vehicle milestone is a testament to not only the great warranty and coverage we offer, but, more importantly, to our customers who appreciate good value and reliability,” said Ron Cooney, manager of TCUV operations at Toyota. “We hope Toyota’s enhanced warranty coverage will continue to attract loyal customers like Marisol and her family, who rely on our vehicles for their livelihood.”

Recalls Made Simple

 Used Car Diary  Comments Off on Recalls Made Simple
Mar 302019
 

September 25

ODO 179421

When buying a used vehicle, there’s always a little anxiety about its past history. Recalls are a way of finding out what may have gone wrong from the get-go with the good news that a fix is available at no cost to the new owner, well, except for sacrificing a little time.

The Takata airbag recall has been felt industry wide, affecting 19 manufacturers and an estimated 34 million vehicles in the United States alone. Kudos to Toyota for its persistent search for me and my 2007 Yaris, a.k.a. the Bunny. I was sent several letters and notices and received multiple phone calls and when Toyota did connect with me, they made it easy as pie, contacting a local dealership and setting up the appointment. I’m lucky to have a dealership like Charles Maund Toyota that offered a free shuttle service to take me to and from work and a waiting room in the service center with free WiFi, coffee, and donuts (while they lasted) that allowed me to stay onsite while I waited for an assessment from service advisor Walter Ortiz.

Charles Maund Toyota service advisor Walter Ortiz.

I was there for an airbag recall, but Ortiz did his due diligence and found three other recalls—there was a fourth on the power window switch but the Bunny has manual crank handles so it didn’t apply. The total process took one day—I opted to take a shuttle back to the office so no loss of work time—and at the end left me with a safer vehicle than when I bought it.

Recalls are essential, common, and free so there’s no excuse for avoiding them. When a manufacturer does its due diligence to make things right, it’s a gift and we should all respond in kind. Putting a safer vehicle on the road is best for you and other drivers who could be effected by a faulty part on your vehicle. Thanks to Toyota and Charles Maund for making my Bunny a safer vehicle, eleven years after rolling off the assembly line.