Apr 032017
 

 

Torrance, Calif. (March 31, 2017) – Los Angeles is known for a combination of tried-and-true Mexican restaurants, as well some novel, haute cuisine drawing its inspiration from South of the Border.

For one night only this week, Angelenos had the opportunity to buy elevated Mexican food at its finest—a $17,051 enchilada. Well, maybe not really. Instead, Toyota partnered with Trejo’s Tacos, the restaurant hot spot by Actor Danny Trejo, to sell the “enchilada con YarisiA” for $17,051, featuring an enchilada that comes with a 2017 Yaris iA.

Actor and restaurateur Danny Trejo.

The event, which offered $1 enchiladas, helped spread the word about the YarisiA, a vehicle that comes with pretty much everything standard, including a seven-inch touch screen, push button start, steering wheel controls, 16-in alloy wheels and remote keyless entry.

There are no packages needed—it really is the whole enchilada.

“When Toyota asked me to host the event at Trejo’s Tacos, I thought it would be a great way to have fun with all our fans, customers, and the people of LA,” said Trejo.

The event supported a digital campaign that will be in flight through May 31—‘The Full Package’ highlights the Yaris iA, which comes fully loaded with standard features, eschewing the traditional upsell mentality of additional packages.

As an alternative for those who really crave a package with their new Yaris iA, Toyota has created a cheeky range of fun, delicious, and somewhat impractical add-ons to choose from.

To view packages, which can only be purchased by new YarisiA owners, click on the below links:

The Full Trim Package
The Thank You Package
The Whole Enchilada Package
The Self Driving Package 
The Min-iA-ture Package 
The Nature Package
The Deluxe Package
The Convertible Package
The +1 Follower Package
The Great Outdoors Package 
The Collector’s Edition Package
The Memes Package

Mar 142017
 

Chevy Cruze

Available at all ends of the price spectrum, the ubiquitous sedan comes in an assortment of incarnations, from a comfortable, affordable commuter to a sumptuous performance machine. Here’s an overview of the sedans tested by Latino Traffic Report (LTR) and what makes them stand out in a crowded field.

Chevy Cruze

Redesigned in 2016, the Chevy Cruze compact sedan continues to compete in one of the toughest automotive segments by ramping up both its style and amenities.

For starters, the new version is larger and lighter, increasing its EPA estimated fuel economy to 30 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.

The new 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder turbo engine with 153 horses is matched to a six-speed manual or available six-speed automatic transmission (North America). I drove the automatic and earned an average 35 mpg. A diesel engine becomes available in the spring of 2017.

As mentioned, it comes with a healthy list of standard features including keyless entry, XM Satellite radio (three months), OnStar (six months), OnStar Basic Plan (five years), and a rearview camera. New available features include wireless phone charging, heated rear seats and heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Happily, I drove the Premier or top-of-the-line model that included the available OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot and keyless start plus all the above via the Enhanced Convenience Package ($865), as well as the Driver Convenience Package ($790) that added essentials like rear park assist, forward collision, rear cross traffic, and lane change alert with a blind zone warning. Oddly, neither a sunroof nor leather seats are available.

Still, the fit and finish inside this model was quite impressive, definitely a step up from the outgoing model.

The as-tested pricing for the Cruze Premier came to $26,045.

 

Toyota Camry

The Camry is a top seller among Latinos as well as the nation. It’s been a leader in the midsize segment for the last 14 years. So if it ain’t broke, perhaps the task for Toyota is just to make more versions? The LTR test drive featured the Camry SE Special Edition. While many manufacturers have joined the darkened trend for special editions, Toyota chose to go blue.

Powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder matched to six-speed automatic transmission, it should achieve an impressive EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 25/35 mpg. I averaged 26.3 mpg. A 3.5-liter V6 is available on other Camrys.

Toyota applied the Special Edition to the SE trim as it’s already distinguished by a sporty design, from the grille to the suspension. On the inside, the sport fabric Softex seats featured blue accent stitching and blue seat inserts. Blue accents were also included in the gauge cluster, as well as a power moonroof.

Specific technology on this trim included a Smart Key System and Qi wireless charging for compatible smart phones, enabling navigation from a smart phone.

Exclusive design features include a smoked treatment on the taillights and 18-inch alloy wheels in a machined finish and gloss black-painted accents. For a mere $525, the Camry also included a ramped up Entune premium audio with navigation, a seven-inch high-resolution touch screen with split-screen display, and a CD player.

While a redesigned 2018 version of the Camry is currently touring auto shows, there’s still time to grab the current generation.

The as-tested Camry Special Edition pricing came to $27,075.

 

 

Kia Optima

Kia ramped up the 2016 version of the Optima with a redesign, giving its top-selling nameplate a more refined exterior look, new technology, and creature comforts offered at the same starting price as the outgoing model. The 2017 model receives a few tweaks and upgraded trims.

Optima rear view camera with multiple angles.

There are three available four-cylinder engines to power the Optima, distributed among five trim levels. The test model, Optima SX Turbo, came equipped with 2.0-liter turbo-powered four-cylinder engine matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. A seven-speed dual clutch transmission is also available.

All three engines include the Active Eco System and Driver Mode Select with an Eco option to conserve gas. The EPA estimated fuel economy for the test model is 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. I averaged 31 mpg.

As a midsize sedan, Kia competes in a tough segment. It has an edge, however, with an exceptional bumper-to-bumper warranty (five years or 60,000 miles) and with a healthy list of standard features. Situated near the top of the line, second to the Optima SXL, the test model included extra technology and creature comforts. Standard features on the test model included dual-zone air conditioning, cruise control, AM/FM/MP3 audio unit with satellite radio, an eight-inch LCD rear-camera display, and Bluetooth.

Additionally, the test model added the SXT Premium Technology Package ($4,800) brought a slew of features like a panoramic sunroof, Harman Kardon Surround Sound system, heated and cooled front seats, Blind spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

The as-tested price for the Optima, built in West Point, GA, was $35,315.

Acura ILX

Considered a gateway to the Acura brand, the ILX is the most affordable Acura model available. The test model, ILX Tech Plus A-SPEC, however, included multiple packages that ramped up its appeal and price.

The sporty ILX gets its oomph from a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 201 horsepower and 180 lb.–ft. of torque. Matched to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, the powertrain should achieve an EPA city/highway estimated fuel economy of 25/36 mpg. I averaged 29.9 mpg.

Expect to feel the road with the ILX which lacks adjustable drive mode select technology to adjust ride and handling.

With refreshed looks on the outside for 2016, including restyled front and rear fasciae, front grille, and rear LED combination lights, the A-SPEC package also added sporty side sill garnishes, a trunk spoiler, front fog lights, new 18-inch, ten-spoke machined alloy wheels, sport pedals, and sport seats with suede inserts.

As the name implied, the ILX Tech Plus A-SPEC was packed with packages that brought a long list of features starting with the Premium Package that included XM Satellite radio, a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic monitor among other features. The Tech Package added navigation, multi-view rear camera, and the Acura ELS AM/FM/CD sound system. Finally, the Acura Watch Plus Package completed the picture with adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and braking among other features.

As tested pricing for the top-of-the-line ILX Tech Plus A-SPEC came to $35,810.

 

Volkswagen Passat

Passat 1.8T SE

With a base price of $23,260, the Passat is more affordable than expected for a European mid-size sedan, one that happens to be built at VW’s Chattanooga, TN plant. LTR tested two Passat trim levels, the sporty 1.8T SE with Technology and the SEL Premium.

Updated inside and out for 2016, the Passat remains understated but sophisticated in appearance.

Powered by the four-cylinder 1.8-liter turbocharged engine matched to a six-speed automatic transmission should help the Passat SE achieve an impressive EPA city/highway estimated fuel economy of 25/38 mpg. I averaged 27.4 mpg.

Passat SEL Premium

The more affordable trim level of the two I drove included important technology like the intelligent crash response system, but also comfort features like heated front seats and MIB II, the new generation of Volkswagen’s infotainment system, adaptive cruise control and a rearview camera for added convenience.

As the name implies the SEL Premium is the higher-end version of the Passat and replete with more bells and whistles that do come at a high price, nearly $10,000 more.

Powered by a 3.6-liter V6 and a six-speed transmission, it has an EPA city/highway estimated fuel economy of 20/28 mpg. I averaged 24.3 mpg.

It had heated front and rear leather seats, a Fender premium audio system, a power sunroof, parking sensor, and a blind spot monitor.

Both models had a massive truck with 15.9 cubic feet of storage and 60/40-split rear seat that easily deploys to expand cargo room inside.

As-tested pricing for the SE and SEL came to $28,195 and $37,655 respectively.

 

Audi A3

Audi A3 Sedan

Believe it or not, there’s actually an entry-level Audi and it’s called the A3. On this test for LTR, there were two models for review, the Sedan and the Cabriolet (convertible).

The Sedan offers three engine options and the Cabriolet two. Both test models shared the same one, a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produced 220 horsepower and 258 lb.–ft. of torque matched to a six-speed S tronic transmission. Both also came with quattro all-wheel drive, but the sedan should manage to achieve one more mile per gallon in the city and highway, with an EPA estimated fuel economy of 24/33 mpg. I averaged 23.7 mpg with the Sedan and 21.4 mpg with the Cabriolet.

What the Cabriolet did excel at was fun, starting with the canvas top that deployed with the push of a button at speeds of up to 31 mph and, ideally, in 18 seconds—it took 24 seconds when I tried.

Audi A3 Cabriolet

Standard safety technology on all A3s includes, a rear view camera, and parking system. To get advanced systems like Audi Side Assist (blind spot warning) requires purchasing the Technology Package ($2,700), which also adds a CD/DVD player, Audi MMI touch, and navigation, among other features.

The A3 may be considered “entry level” but it’s still an Audi, and as such, standard creature comforts include dual-zone climate control, leather seating, and SiriusXM Satellite radio. The sedan also came with a panoramic sunroof.

Both added extra packages to get features like heated front seats, Audi advanced Key, and Audi music interface with iPod cable.

As tested pricing for the Sedan came to $41,325 and $46,500 for the Cabriolet.

 

Lexus GS F

Lexus’s new design DNA, including the signature spindle grille, signaled a new focus on sportiness. The manufacturer even created a special performance lineup under the F brand. New for 2016, the GS F performance sedan leaves little doubt that it’s a Lexus, particularly with its premium appointments on the inside, but its sportiness is certainly sets it apart.

Exterior design features get bolder on F models, including the fascia with race-inspired functional air inlets, triple-beam headlamps, low-slung wide stance, large brake calipers, carbon-fiber rear spoiler, and quad exhaust rear diffuser.

To show it means business, Lexus powers the GS F with a 5.0-liter V8 with 467 horses and 389 lb.–ft. of torque. It’s matched to an eight-speed Sport Direct Shift Automatic Transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

Fuel economy will not be its strongest feature but it is respectable. The EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy is 16/24 mpg. I averaged 17.7 mpg.

For better performance and handling, the GS F sits on a double-wishbone in the front and rear multi-link suspension. Lexus adds Brembo disc brakes and Active Sound Control, to increase throatiness and rumble to the engine and exhaust notes. Drive Mode Select control further enhances performance by giving the driver the following options—NORMAL, ECO, SPORT S, SPORT S+—while Torque Vectoring Differential helps the GS F hug the road.

All new for 2016, improvements in 2017, like a new Linear Adaptive Variable Suspension, accentuate the positive, with more power and better responsiveness.

All this performance and power doesn’t come cheap. The as-tested pricing for the GS F was $87,175.

 

Oct 242016
 
2016 Lexus RX 350 F Sport

2016 Lexus RX 350 F Sport

Sport and Crossover Utility Vehicles (SUVs and CUVs) claimed family vehicle status long ago, and sales reflect that. According to statistics published by The Wall Street Journal, while car sales dropped significantly in September, year-to-date (YTD), sales of CUVs and SUVs rose more than seven percent totaling nearly five million units. Compact or full size, these vehicles help families transport themselves and their cargo with varying ease. I test-drove several models for Latino Traffic Report this year. Here are snapshot reviews of seven of them.

Crossovers

Audi Q3 2.0T quattro Tiptronic

2015-10-20-audiq3Compact CUVs comprise one of the fastest growing segments. The smaller size may mean a sacrifice in cargo and people carrying but it’s replaced with better fuel economy and maneuverability in an urban landscape. Audi’s entry in this segment adds premium appeal, from seating to technology.

The 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine and six-speed Tiptronic transmission should achieve 2015-10-20-audi-q3-dashan EPA estimated fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. I averaged 21.1 mpg.

The Audi Quattro signature all-wheel-drive (AWD) system was included on the test model, providing better grip on the road and improved handling.

All Q3s include standard heated leather front seating—on the test model, it was a delicious Chestnut Brown shade—a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors, and a rearview camera. The test model added the Prestige package ($4,900) with navigation, Audi connect in-vehicle Wi-Fi, a power tailgate, and ventilated front seats.

2015-10-20-audi-q3The five-seater comes with a 60/40-split second row that folds flat automatically with the push of a button, no need to negotiate clunky levers. With the seats folded, cargo volume reaches 48.2 cubic feet (cu.ft.). Another striking touch was the interior lighting strips that changed color, from red to white to blue.

The digital instrument cluster can be configured to display different information and a seven-inch touch screen pops up from the center of the dashboard to reveal several functions, from audio to navigation. Audi’s combination of a dial and push buttons on the center stack for programming entertainment functions is a little labor intensive.

Pricing for the 2016 Q3 starts at $32,750. The as-tested pricing came to $41,975.

Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD

2016-03-29-santafefrontCrossovers are by far the most popular segment, selling more than three million YTD. Like Baby Bear’s porridge, the segment is just right for families.

The Hyundai Santa Fe offers various configurations so that it can meet its owner’s particular needs. It can be configured to seat five, seven, or six passengers like the test model that had the captains chairs rather than a second row bench. It also included Hyundai’s active on-demand AWD system.

Powered by a 3.3-liter V6 engine and a six-speed automatic Shiftronic transmission, it had an EPA city/highway estimated fuel economy of 17/22 mpg. It also had an Eco button to enhance fuel economy further. I took full advantage of it and averaged 19.2 mpg during the week-long test drive.

2016-03-29-santafe-rearAdvanced safety features, like a blind spot monitor, tend to be included in a package or more expensive trims and the Santa Fe is no exception. It was standard on the up-level Limited that I drove. All Santa Fes include remote keyless entry, a rearview camera, a roof rack with side rails, the Driver Selectable Steering Mode, and SiriusXM activation with a three-month trial subscription.

The test model added the Ultimate Package ($4,650) with a panoramic sunroof, ventilated/cooled front seats and heated rear seats, a rear parking sensor, and a heated steering wheel.

Pricing for the 2016 Santa Fe starts at $31,295. The as-tested pricing came to $42,385.

 

Highlander Limited Platinum AWD

2016-03-14-h-lander-fr-licIf the Highlander had sliding doors, it could be a minivan. But it’s not. It’s a crossover SUV and that only increases its appeal. Regarding capability, it doesn’t pretend to have an SUV’s off-road bravado but it does offer families the versatility and convenience they’re after.

Powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine matched to a six-speed automatic transmission, the Highlander has a city/highway EPA estimated fuel economy of 18/24 mpg. I averaged 19 mpg on the test drive. A 2.7-liter four-cylinder is the base engine.2016-03-10-highl-camera

Offered in five trim levels, the Limited Platinum is the top-of-the-line model and as such, it includes a few striking features, like a panoramic sunroof with a power sunshade, heated and cooled leather front seats, heated second-row seats, the Driver Technology Package that includes a pre-collision system with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Entune cover art displays on the eight-inch entertainment touchscreen.2016-03-14-high-rear

Safety features carry particular clout on a family vehicle. The Highlander includes its signature Star Safety System with traction control, anti-lock braking, etc, plus a backup camera and Hill-start Assist Control. The Platinum test model also included a blind spot monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and rear parking sonar. It’s unfortunate that these features remain so exclusive.

The versatile SUV can seat up to eight or seven like the test vehicle, and the rear seats are split to fold flat for expanded cargo carrying space of 83.7 cu.ft.

Pricing for the 2016 Highlander starts at $31,390. The as-tested pricing came to $45,390.

Lexus RX 350 F Sport

2016-03-08-lex-rxsideWhen Lexus first introduced its RX premium CUV, some say the luxury CUV segment was born. Four generations later, Lexus redesigned the RX, now the RX 350, for 2016, in a big way. The new exterior adds style to what had been a fairly vanilla design.

Like its siblings, it bears the spindle grille, but the floating roof design is unique. On the inside, the attention to detail, enhanced further with the F Sport exclusive Rioja Red leather seats on the test model, an available 12.3”-display screen, a mouse control for selecting onboard functions like audio, navigation and others, set it apart.2016-03-08-lexusrxfrseats

It’s a five-seater but the seats are split 40/20/40 to fold flat for extra cargo room of 56.3 cu.ft.

Powered by a 3.5-liter V6 matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the test model had an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 19/26 mpg. I averaged 21.8 mpg on the test drive. Drive select modes also improve performance, allowing drivers to select among Sport, Eco, and Normal settings. The F Sport added the Sport+ mode and Adaptive Variable Suspension for better handling.

2016-03-08-lex-rxrear-licStandard safety features include a Smart Access Remote key, and Lexus Enform Safety Connect, the onboard emergency alert system. As we’ve seen, more advanced safety features tend to be grouped as a package but for a mere $500 extra, a blind spot monitor was included on the test model as a stand-alone option. Nice but at this price point, it should be standard.

Pricing for the 2016 RX 350 starts at $43,995. Equipped with AWD, the as-tested pricing came to $56,775.

 

SUVs

Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

2016-04-05-4runner-licMidsize SUVs are far and away the most popular SUV segment, more than 700,000 had sold in September YTD according to The Wall Street Journal. The 4Runner emphasizes the sporting side of an SUV and the TRD Pro is the sportiest model of all. It easily takes to off-road challenges as well as cruising on city streets.

The test model came in a unique TRD shade for 2016, Quicksand, that many seemed to find attractive, based on the comments I received.

2016-04-05-4-runner-dash3Powered by a 4.0-liter V6 matched to a five-speed automatic transmission, the TRD has a maximum tow rating of 5,000 pounds. Happily, a tow hitch is included as a standard feature. Don’t expect fuel efficiency, however. I earned 17 mpg on the test drive.

Built for off-roading, the TRD offers plenty of ground clearance, assisted by its 17-inch wheels—it did make climbing in and out of it a bid challenging for the short statured like me. Off-roading equipment on the TRD included a part-time four-wheel–drive (4WD) system with Active Trac, a locking rear differential, Multi-Terrain Select, Crawl Control, and Hill-Start Assist. Besides the TRD badging,, the package included special shocks and stamped aluminum front skid plates.2016-04-05-4-runnerrear-lic

The 4Runner offers seating for five or seven and split second and third-row seats that fold flat for a maximum cargo capacity of 89.7 cubic feet.

Pricing for the 4Runner starts at $34,750. The as-tested price came to $42,800.

 

Dodge Durango R/T

2016-09-20-durango-fr2The Dodge Durango brings a sporty option to the large SUV segment and the R/T trim level takes that sportiness to the next level. Add to that its rear-wheel-drive configuration and the Radar Red Nappa leather seating on the test model that I drove, and the Durango R/T carries unique appeal.

Improved for 2016, the Durango achieves better fuel economy with engine stop-start technology on models with a 3.6-liter V6. Powered by the available 5.7-liter HEMI V8 that delivers 360 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque, the R/T zoomed through traffic and on the highway. 2016-09-20-duranago-seatsMated to an eight-speed automatic transmission it had a maximum towing capacity of 7,400 lbs. With an EPA city/highway estimated economy of 14/22 mpg for the R/T, fuel economy does suffer a bit. I averaged better than expected, however, earning 20 mpg in the city and 24.9 on the highway.

The R/T does come with a parking sensor and backup camera but more advanced safety features like a blind spot monitor and Cross Path Detection are grouped in the Customer Preferred Package ($1,995).

2016-09-20-durangorear-lic Standard creature comforts on the top-of-the-line R/T included heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, tri-zone air conditioning, and the Beats premium audio system. Additional options on the test model included a rear DVD entertainment system ($1995), second-row captains chairs and a third row of seating ($995), and a power sunroof ($1,195).

Pricing for the Durango starts at $31,490. The as-tested pricing was $49,170.

 

GMC Yukon Denali XL

2016-07-19-yukonThe Denali name stands for luxury throughout the GMC lineup. The brand’s largest offering, the Yukon XL, also stands at the top of the lineup when it comes to capability, including seating, cargo room, and maximum towing.

The trade-off will be fuel economy. Powered by a choice of two V8 engines, I drove the 6.2-liter version with 420 hp and 460 lb.–ft. of torque and matched to an eight-speed transmission. Available with 4WD and two-wheel-drive configurations, I drove the former with a maximum towing capability of 8,100 pounds when properly equipped. It has an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 14/20 mpg. I averaged 19.2 mpg.

2016-07-19-yukon-seats2As the top-of-the-line model, the Denali includes a healthy list of standard features, including advanced safety technology like a blind-spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, and my favorite GM innovation, the safety alert seat. It buzzes on the right or left of the seat to warn of potential danger, from lane drifting to a potential collision. The test model added more than $9,000 in additional packages and options, including GM’s signature Head-Up display ($425).

2016-07-19-yukon-rear2-licOne of the roomiest SUVs on the market, the XL stretches the wheelbase even further. It has seating for nine and both the second and third row fold flat to create 121.1 cubic inches of cargo room.

Pricing for the Yukon starts at $49,510. The as-tested pricing came to $81,045.

Family vehicles need to be tough and versatile to make the grade. This list meets that criteria, and in some cases, surpasses them.

Sep 122016
 

2016-04-19-prius-fr

Some redesigns amount to a mere nip and tuck, but others achieve a true about face. The first Toyota Prius was made famous because of what it did, not how it looked. During a test drive for Latino Traffic Report of the 2016 redesigned version, I was immediately impressed with it’s new look, plus fuel efficiency and cargo room also improve.

The “Triangle Silhouette” that defined the Prius is gone, and now longer, lower, and wider than its predecessors, the new Prius bears more of a sedan silhouette, although it’s still technically a liftback.2016-04-19-17-37-07

Both the Bi-LED headlamps with automatic headlamp leveling and tail lights expand on the flame motif that the outgoing Prius hinted at. The hybrid’s new form also has a function, increasing aerodynamics that also improves fuel economy.

The new powertrain engages a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and two motor/generators through an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT). A new lithium-ion hybrid battery replaces the nickel-metal hydride battery in most models. Smaller and flatter, the new battery’s size allows it to fit under the rear seat, expanding cargo volume to 27.4 cu. ft., an increase from the previous space of 21.6 cu. ft.

2016-04-19-17-39-53New innovations under the hood also stretch gasoline. All of this technology combine to give the Prius Four Touring that I tested an estimated fuel economy of 54 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 50 mpg on the highway. That’s an increase from the city/highway estimated mileage of 51/48 mpg for the previous model. I averaged 50.9 mpg on the test drive.

On the inside a new instrument panel features a dual 4.2-inch full-color TFT (Thin Film Transistor) multi-information displays that can be configured using steering wheel controls. The driver can also enhance performance with Normal and Power driving modes option that also add ambience. The Power mode produces a red background display while Normal emits blue.2016-04-19-17-43-06

Safety advances include a standard rear backup camera and Hill Start Assist on all six trim levels. The two up-level Prius Four models, however, come with a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert and Toyota Safety Sense-P (TSS –(P)) with Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Auto High Beams and Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. TSS-(P) is available on Prius Three and Four trims but not, unfortunately, on the base models.

Standard creature comforts included heated Softex front seats, Entune Premium Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite visible on a seven-inch-high resolution touch-screen with split screen display, AM/FM CD player, auxiliary audio jack, USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition, Bluetooth wireless technology), and Siri Eyes Free, among other features.

The test model added the Premium Convenience Package ($1705) with Safety Connect that includes Emergency Assistance, a stolen vehicle locator, one-year complimentary subscription to roadside assistance and automatic collision notification, among other features.2016-04-19-prius-rear

Pricing for the 2016 Prius starts at $25,035. The as-tested pricing came to $32,540.

: The all-new Toyota Prius gets a redesign that moves the segment forward with a provocative new look.

No: Safety features like a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert should be offered on lower trim levels.

Jul 162016
 
Toyota_RuidoFest_LaSantaCecilia_B3DB8B9EF5C9795890ABF9AE9508656FA8885AA1_low

Los Angeles based band, La Santa Cecilia, perform at Ruido Fest and join Toyota at the Toyota Musica area – July 2016.

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Toyota is the exclusive automotive sponsor for Ruido Fest, one of the nation’s largest Latin alternative summer music festivals.

This year’s featured artists included:

  • Mexican indie-pop singer and composer Carla Morrison
  • Mexican pop-rock singer/songwriter Natalia Lafourcade
  • Mexican-American, L.A.-based band La Santa Cecilia.

The artists shared highlights with festivalgoers and music fans through Toyota hashtags #BoldWish and #VayamosJuntos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To support up-and-coming artists, a Toyota-sponsored stage featured some of today’s rising Latin alternative music stars.

Powered by the bold Camry, Morrison surprised one lucky fan by fulfilling their #BoldWish at Ruido Fest. Lafourcade joined Cuban actor, singer and Univision TV presenter, William Valdes, for a live karaoke session as part of their #BoldWish. In addition, social media famous photographer Bryant Eslava and Valdes created a 360-degree live video along with the other artists to share festival highlights with music fans on Toyota Latino channels.

Toyota_RuidoFest_ValdesLafourcade_3C15469A132CD6BA5EFACA6667AD86BB3439167C_low

2016 Ruido Fest – Actor and TV presenter William Valdes and singer/songwriter, Natalia Lafourcade meet up at Ruido Fest. Photo by social media photographer, Bryant Eslava before Lafourcade’s performance – July 2016.

Through the lens of “Musica y Destinos,” the Toyota Música area immersed festivalgoers in vehicle displays that engaged them through a series of virtual reality zones and shareable GIF photo opportunities starring the bold Camry, the all-new Prius, the RAV4 Hybrid, and the Corolla. A special perk for Toyota owners included exclusive access to a loyalty deck with a bird’s eye view of the festival each day.

“Music is ingrained in the lives of so many of our guests,” says Tyler McBride, Toyota’s engagement marketing manager.  “We use music to connect with our guests and Ruido Fest was the perfect setting. Whether in person or via our social channels, Toyota is committed to engaging our artist partners and giving our guests an up close and personal view of the music journey.”

As a major sponsor of music festivals, Toyota has developed a social activation to engage attendees as well as raise funds for VH1 Save the Music. Festivalgoers visit the activation space and share on social media using #ToyotaGiving to show their support, while simultaneously increasing music education awareness. The social campaign benefits VH1 Save The Music Foundation, a national nonprofit organization committed to restoring music education programs in America’s public schools. A $30K donation will go to a designated school later this year.

Mar 242016
 
Tundra.TRD(3).crop

Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

Thanks to lower gas prices, the light duty truck market has rebounded—the latest figures in the Wall Street Journal show a year-to-date increase of 9.8 percent, 4.4 percent for pickups. Last year saw many new innovations, including an all-new 5.0-liter Cummins diesel that allows the 2016 Nissan Titan XD to straddle the half-ton and heavy-duty segments in capability. Auto writers were so impressed with it that they named it the Truck of Texas for 2015.

The midsize segment also gained attention with the entry of two new models from GM and a redesigned segment leader from Toyota.

Here’s an overview of the trucks that received test drives in 2015 at Latino Traffic Report.

 

Toyota Tacoma TRD Offroad

2015-11-03 tacoma5Redesigned for 2016, the Tacoma holds the top-selling position in the midsize truck segment. The new version should help keep it there.

Available with two engines, a 2.7-liter four cylinder or a 3.5-liter V6, I drove the latter during the weeklong test drive. Producing 278 horsepower and 265 lbs.–ft. of torque, the V6 also uses Variable Valve Timing with Intelligent Wider Intake for better performance. It was matched to a six-speed automatic but both engines can be matched to manual transmissions.

2015-11-03 Tacoma.storageThe TRD is an off-road model but the Tacoma redesign as a whole emphasizes its improved capability. Maximum towing has increased to 6,800 lbs.

All Tacoma 4×4 models are equipped with 4WDemand part-time four-wheel drive (4WD) with an electronically controlled transfer case and Automatic Limited Slip Differential. The TRD Pro I tested included an off-road tuned suspension equipped with Bilstein shocks. For 2017, Toyota will build a TRD Pro version of the Tacoma.

On the inside, the sport grey heated cloth seats with orange accents also offered additional storage under the back bench that lifts up. The test model arrived in the exclusive Inferno exterior color.

2015-10-31 Tacoma.DashEquipped with the Premium and Technology Package ($2,330), the test model added creature comforts like dual-zone climate control, and safety features like a blind spot monitor.

The Tacoma is built at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing in San Antonio.

Pricing for the 2016 Tacoma starts at $24,200. The as-tested pricing came to $37,610.

GMC Canyon 4WD SLE Long Box

2014-11-19 CanyonWith three new entries, 2015 could be called the year of the midsize truck. The 2015 GMC Canyon is the higher end or premium version to its sibling, the Chevy Colorado.

The two available engines, a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder and a 3.6-liter V6, also offer the segment’s best highway fuel economy of 27 miles per gallon (mpg) for the 2.5-liter two-wheel drive (2WD) and 26 mpg for 3.6-liter 2WD, when properly equipped. I averaged 20.3 mpg with the 3.6-liter 4WD.

2014-11-19 08.49.06On the inside, the Canyon has a more refined interior, distinguished by premium materials and convenience features like air conditioning, power windows and a rearview camera.

What really makes the Canyon standout, however, is OnStar with 4G LTE and the built-in Wi-Fi hotspot mobile hub, available on all but the base model.

2014-11-19 08.53.03 The beauty of pickups is their configurability and the Canyon’s no exception with three body styles—an extended cab model with a six-foot two-inch bed, a crew cab with a five-foot two-inch bed, and a crew cab with a six-foot two-inch bed. Borrowing from the Sierra, its larger sibling, the Canyon includes the segment-first CornerStep rear bumper design, plus a dampened liftgate.

It adds versatility with thirteen configurable and four stationary tie-down locations throughout the bed for use with available, removable cargo tie-down rings

2014-11-19 08.46.00The maximum payload can reach 1,620 pounds plus it has the segment’s best trailering rating of 7,000 pounds when properly equipped. For 2016, the Canyon offers a segment first 2.8-liter Duramax turbo diesel for added capability—maximum towing climbs to 7,700 lbs. properly equipped.

Pricing for the 2016 Canyon starts at $21,880. The as-tested price that included the All-Terrain Package came to $38,915.

 

Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

2015-08-16 TundraTRDRedesigned in 2014, the Tundra lineup added an off-road model for 2015, the TRD Pro.

The package includes a suspension upgrade that raises the front of the vehicle two inches for a level ride height. While that may help on an off-road course, it makes climbing into the truck tough, especially for the vertically challenged. A grab handle on the driver’s side would help.

2015-08-16 TundraTRD.sideLarger diameter TRD-tuned Bilstein High-Performance shocks further amplify the ride and handling.

Available in three colors, the test model also arrived in the TRD-Pro exclusive shade of Inferno (like the Tacoma TRD Offroad) that begged for a photo against the backdrop of The University of Texas at Austin. It’s brighter than burnt orange but it’ll do.

Sitting on 18-inch TRD black alloy wheels, the TRD’s other unique exterior features include a blacked out grille, bed panel stamping, matte satin black badges, and black headlight bezels.2015-08-19 tundra-dash

The TRD Pro makes its presence known with a loud 5.7-liter V8 accentuated by a dual exhaust system and a maximum towing capacity of 10,000 pounds when properly equipped. The other available V8 on the Tundra is the 4.6-liter i-Force.

The TRD-Pro includes the on-demand, electronically controlled four-wheel drive system to provide 4×2, 4×4 Hi and 4×4 Lo ranges.

2015-08-16 TundraTrDdecalDesigned in Michigan and California, the Tundra’s also built in the USA at Toyota Motor Manufacturing in San Antonio.

Pricing for the 2016 Tundra starts at $31,145. As-tested pricing for the 2015 Tundra TRD Pro, with a couple extra features like a bed mat and center console storage tray, came to $43,159.

 

Sierra Denali 1500 4WD

2015-04-28 gmc.sierra2For GMC, Denali stands for luxury and the Sierra Denali 1500 has the stuff and price tag to prove it.

Technology like front and rear park assist, OnStar, and 4G LTE with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot are standard on the Sierra Denali.

2015-04-29 gmcsierradashAnother impressive standard technology, magnetic ride control, enhances ride and handling every millisecond, triggering damping changes via electronically controlled shock absorbers.

Convenience features like heated and cooled leather front seats, a heated steering wheel, Bose stereo, an eight-inch-diagonal Customizable Driver Display, and a factory-installed spray-on bed liner add to its premium status.

2015-04-28 17.59.21Design cues on the outside also distinguish the Denali. A unique chrome grille, 20-inch wheels, a polished stainless steel exhaust outlet, projector-style headlamps with LED signature daytime running lights, and body-color front and rear bumpers accentuate the exterior.

With two available V8 engines, a 5.3- and a 6.2-liter, the test model included the latter matched to the eight-speed automatic transmission, new for 2015.

2015-04-28 gmcsierrabedIt should achieve an EPA estimated combined fuel economy of 17 mpg. I managed to get 18.5 mpg. The base model Sierra comes equipped with a 4.3-liter V6 matched to a six-speed transmission.

The Denali may be luxurious but it maintains its capability with a 12,000 maximum tow rating.

Pricing for the 2016 Sierra Denali starts at $52,285. The as-tested price came to $57,820.

 

Chevrolet Silverado High Country 4WD

2015-03-11 chevy.hc.frontIn 2014, Chevrolet introduced a new luxury model to the Silverado lineup, the High Country.

2015-03-11 chevyhcseats1Standard features on Chevrolet’s first premium truck include halogen projector headlamps, along with chrome body side moldings, door handles and mirrors, a chrome grille and 20-inch chrome wheels.

For premium trucks, however, the inside is where you really feel it. The High County includes plush saddle brown leather seats with beige piping and heated and cooled perforated premium leather front bucket seats with High Country logos on the headrests.

Standard technology completes the effect with Chevrolet MyLink connectivity on an eight-inch touch screen, Bose premium audio, and front and rear park assist, an essential feature on a truck.

2015-03-11 09.Chevy.h.count.All High Countries come in a four-door or Crew Cab configuration and 4WD or 2WD, and there is a choice between two bed sizes, five feet eight inches or six feet six inches.

Powered by a choice of two V8s, a 5.3- and 6.2-liter, its capability includes a maximum payload of 2,060 pounds and a 12,000-lb. trailering capacity. I drove the powerful 6.2-liter V8 matched to an eight-speed transmission and averaged 17.5 mpg.

Pricing for the 2016 Silverado High Country starts at $50,935. The as-tested price that included options like a rear-seat entertainment system, sunroof, and Premium package with the Safety Alert Seat came to $59.035.

 

Feb 262016
 

toyota-rav4-ev

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. is conducting a safety recall of approximately 1,124,000 Model Year 2006-2012 RAV4 and Model Year 2012-2014 RAV4 EV vehicles.

The involved vehicles are equipped with lap-shoulder seatbelts in both second-row outboard seats.  There is a possibility that, in the event of a very severe frontal crash, the lap belt webbing could contact a portion of the metal seat cushion frame, become cut, and separate.  If this occurs, the seat belt may not properly restrain the occupant, which could increase the risk of injury.

rav4Owners of the involved vehicles will receive notification by first class mail.  Toyota dealers will add resin covers to the metal seat cushion frame at no cost.

Information about automotive recalls, including but not limited to the list of involved vehicles, is subject to change over time.  For the most up-to-date Safety Recall information on Lexus, Toyota and Scion customers should check their vehicle’s status by visiting http://www.toyota.com/recall and entering the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).  Safety Recall inquiry by individual VIN is also available at the NHTSA site: safercar.gov/vin.  For any additional questions, customer support is also available by calling Toyota Customer Service at 1-800-331-4331 or Lexus Customer Service at 1-800-255-3987.

Sep 282015
 

photo(2)

Proverbial wisdom says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” As the top-selling sedan in the country for more than a decade, the Toyota Camry would seem without fault, but while its reliability has been solid (the current recall notwithstanding), its looks were uninspired. On a recent test drive of the 2015 Camry XLE for Latino Traffic Report, the iconic midsize sedan sustained its expected on-road performance, but on the outside, a bolder design for the front bumper and grille and wider, sportier stance signaled change, and for Toyota, that’s a good thing.

The new Camry sits on a stiffer body structure, with additional spot welds to enhance rigidity. Better aerodynamics improve fuel economy while reducing interior noise, vibration, and harshness, i.e. it’s a quieter ride, plus a retuned suspension in all models enhances handling agility.

Digital screen in gauge cluster.

Digital screen in gauge cluster.

Toyota equips the 2015 Camry with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that produces 178 horsepower and 170 lb.–ft. of peak torque. Matched with a six-speed automatic transmission, it should achieve an EPA-estimated city/highway fuel economy of 25/35 mpg. I drove the 2.5-liter and averaged 27.3 mpg.  I also engaged the Eco mode for more fuel efficiency. The Camry also comes with a 3.5-liter V6 as well as a hybrid version.

The new 4.2-inch digital color screen located in the instrument cluster provided a wide range of vehicle functions, including my favorite, the average fuel economy calculator. It also coordinates with the multimedia system to display audio, navigation, warnings and communications. It’s standard on all but the base (LE) model. I also appreciated that the Tire Pressure Monitoring System displayed the pressure for each tire, taking the hassle out of figuring out which tire is low.

2015-02-25 Camry.interior7There’s a 6.1-inch screen at the center stack for handling the Entune entertainment system. The test vehicle was upgraded with the optional seven-inch screen. Programming radio stations was fairly effortless and I appreciated that you can choose up to 36. I only needed 24 for Satellite Radio and 12 for FM.

The 2015 Camry offers advanced safety features like the Pre-Collision System, Adaptive Cruise Control or Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. While I’d prefer that one or more of these features were standard, adding them won’t hike up the price exorbitantly. The test model included the Blind Spot Monitor for a mere $500 extra.

All Camrys do come with a backup camera, remote keyless entry, cruise control, and stability and traction control among other features.

The XLE grade I drove also included the Safety Connect telematics system (with a one-year complimentary trial subscription) that covers four safety and security features: Automatic Collision Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location, Emergency Assistance Button (SOS), and Roadside Assistance.

2015-02-25 camy.rearCreature comforts include Bluetooth for hands-free phone calls, a USB port, iPod integration, air conditioning, 60/40 split fold-down rear seat with center armrest with cup holders, tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio and hands-free phone controls, and Entune Audio that includes the 6.1-inch display screen, AM/FM CD player and MP3/WMA capability.

The XLE added dual-zone climate control, push button start, heated leather front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Built in Georgetown, Kentucky it’s available in four trim levels, the XLE being the top of the line. Pricing for the Camry starts at $23,795. The as-tested price that also included the Convenience Package ($845) and Entune premium audio with navigation ($685) came to $30,779.

Sí: New looks on the outside and nice set of standard features.

No: On the XLE, more safety technology, like the blind spot monitor, should be standard.

 

 

Aug 082015
 
Toyota_SOWG_DavidFloresWorldStageLegacy_002_B47B04CE6A43C44CF646F9AABEDFD5AB1D15EDDB_low

This mural at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was created by David Flores and is one of three commissioned by Toyota to welcome the LA2015 Special Olympics World Games, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for Toyota/AP Images)

As part of Toyota’s “Share the Journey” campaign for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, athletes’ uplifting journeys inspired three public murals, including one by David Flores. City leaders joined Toyota executives, artists and Special Olympics fans at the freshly painted Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum mural to ask for participation and a celebration of athletes’ joy and courage.

Like the original freeway murals created for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, the Special Olympics-inspired artwork is intended to stand the test of time. Working with the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, the internationally recognized muralist and original 1984 Olympics artist Kent Twitchell returned to create one of his famous realistic portraits. Twitchell’s piece and the two other murals mark the upcoming global event and build on the city’s storied history of outdoor art.

“The murals are a lasting gift to Los Angeles to celebrate the life-changing power of Special Olympics and also honor the rich, artistic history of this city that has embraced us,” said Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America. “Special Olympics is not only an important global sports movement, but also an organization that touches individuals every day around the world.  We hope everyone gets to experience the impact and help us cheer on the athletes.”

Toyota_SOWG_MuralUnveilEvent_821D4F4507323309572CF6A2001F3819D5CA7FAF_lowAll three murals are just blocks away from venues hosting Special Olympics World Games events July 25-August 2. Each weaves in the spirit of Special Olympics through the individual artist’s own iconic vision. Discover stories around each piece at sharethejourney.toyota.com

  • Located at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, World Stage Legacy by well-known muralist  Flores, pays tribute to the 2015 Special Olympics World Games and events that have taken place at the Coliseum throughout its more than 90-year history. Figures include Special Olympics athlete and World Games Global Messenger, Ramon Hooper alongside iconic figures with a connection to the site.

“Long after the 2015 Special Olympics World Games end in Los Angeles, the mural project leaves a historical monument to our athletes’ spirit, determination and courage,” said Patrick McClenahan, president and CEO of LA2015, the Games Organizing Committee for this year’s event. “Toyota’s partnership and support of the mission of Special Olympics has helped us reach further in spreading the message of acceptance and to make a lasting impact.”

The Special Olympics World Games is the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, hosting 177 countries, 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches. It is the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games.

For more information about the Special Olympics World Games, visit www.LA2015.org. For information about Toyota’s philanthropy programs, visit www.toyota.com/usa.

Jul 032015
 
Romy and Gaby Camargo open the Stay In Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center in Tampa, Fla., June 20, 2015.

Romy and Gaby Camargo open the Stay In Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center in Tampa, Fla.

TAMPA, Fl—During his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, Romy Camargo’s patrol was ambushed. A sniper’s bullet changed the life of this decorated war veteran and his family. Now, with help from Toyota, Camargo, his family and a strong team of supporters are forever changing the lives of paraplegics and quadriplegics across the country.

Camargo and his wife, Gaby, have opened the doors to Stay In Step, a new, non-profit recovery center dedicated to helping spinal-cord injury (SCI) patients take a step forward toward recovery. This groundbreaking facility offers treatment, rehabilitation and support services to veterans and civilians in Tampa, Fla.

Toyota donated $300,000 in last-mile funding to help the facility reach its $750,000 fundraising goal and open its doors. At the grand opening June 20, Toyota Motor North America Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Simon Nagata also presented Stay In Step with a wheelchair-accessible 2015 Toyota Sienna minivan.

Surrounded by friends, board members and family, Gaby and Romy Camargo cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the Stay In Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center in Tampa, Fla. Toyota donated $300,000 in last-mile funding to help the Camargos open the center. Toyota Motor North America Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Simon Nagata (far left) spoke at the opening ceremony.

Surrounded by friends, board members, and family, Gaby and Romy Camargo cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the Stay In Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center in Tampa, Fla. Toyota Motor North America Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Simon Nagata (far left) spoke at the opening ceremony.

“Supporting Stay In Step is aligned with Toyota’s corporate vision to lead the way to the future of mobility and enrich lives around the world with the safest and most responsible ways of moving people,” Nagata said. “Toyota is proud to support Stay In Step and the tremendous work of Romy and Gaby.”

By combining intense strength and conditioning workouts with a focus on the natural movements and weight of the body, Stay In Step will use emerging therapies and a “never quit” attitude to help patients and their families.

“Stay In Step is dedicated to providing cutting edge physical rehabilitation services and including the much needed tools to win the mental game,” Gaby Camargo said. “We want to create an environment for patients to support one another, share stories and give encouragement, and offer some relief from the intense daily schedule. Stay In Step provides a place of comfort, relaxation and shares a sense of family.”

That sense of family was in full force June 20, when the Camargos cut a long resistance band to open the center. They were surrounded by Nagata, Lt. Gen. Martin Steele, Lt. Col. Scott Mann and other supporters.

Toyota donates wheelchair-accessible 2015 Toyota Sienna minivan to Stay In Step non-profit recovery center dedicated to helping spinal-cord injury (SCI) patients.

Toyota donates wheelchair-accessible 2015 Toyota Sienna minivan to Stay In Step non-profit recovery center dedicated to helping spinal-cord injury (SCI) patients.

For Toyota, the support and interest in Stay In Step goes beyond the donations.

“We are applying the strength and expertise of Toyota’s engineering and robotics to the challenges faced by those injured in service to this country,” Nagata said. “Toyota’s partner robots are being developed to assist people in their everyday activities.

“By sharing this technology, we hope to serve the mobility needs of veterans and people around the world.”

The Stay In Step story began in 2008 when Romy was shot. He spent 18 months of intensive inpatient care before he was finally able to leave the hospital, in a wheelchair. Romy and Gaby drove twice a week from their Tampa home to Orlando for treatment.

Now, there is a center in Tampa that can treat Romy and other SCI patients in the community, helping them continue on their road to recovery. Tampa is home to the busiest polytrauma unit in the nation at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center. The Haley polytrauma unit treats the most severely injured veterans while they are in the hospital.

“With everyone’s support, we have built up a center that’s going to impact so many lives,” Romy Camargo said. “Gaby said that we could do this – that we could open up this center in Tampa. And now it’s a reality.”