Car Review: 2014 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab V6 4X4

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The midsize truck segment has started to draw more entries as of late, but when it comes to the King of the Hill, the 2014 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab V6 4X4 is still on top. We drove a blue ribbon Tacoma recently and walked away more impressed with this truck and more convinced that this segment has a very bright future.

EXTERIOR

The 2014 Tacoma configurations are based on three cab types: Regular Cab, Access Cab with rear seating, and the four-door Double Cab as tested. The rear-opening doors on Access Cab models open to 80 degrees to give passengers easy ingress and egress. Bold overfenders distinguish PreRunner and 4×4 models. PreRunner models combine the 4×2 drivetrain with the 4×4’s raised riding stance and styling. Double Cab models offer a roof rack system with crossbars that deploy from the roof rails. The Double Cab is offered with a 60.3-inch bed on the 127.4-inch wheelbase or with the 73.5-inch-long bed on a 140.6-inch wheelbase chassis.

On all models, the composite inner bed is made from a sheet-molded composite (SMC) deck and tough, durable walls that are 10 percent lighter than steel. The bed deck features two-tier loading and an integrated deck-rail utility with four standard adjustable tie-down cleats. The rails are compatible with Genuine Toyota Accessories, including cargo bed cross bars, a fork-mount bike rack and diamond-plate storage boxes. An available 115V/400W power point further extends the bed’s utility. The 16-inch alloy wheels were thick and confident looking, as this truck means business even from the exterior!

INTERIOR

As good as the skin looks on the 2014 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab V6 4X4, the cabin space is what really leaves an impression with the toughness and refinement that reaches a heightened mark. Tacoma’s instrument gauge panel lends a sporty look in all models. The center console (standard on Access Cab and Double Cab models) flows into the instrument panel for a unified appearance. The console integrates three cup holders, two of which can accommodate extra-large containers. Tacoma’s interior provides durability and comfort with high-grade fabric and generous standard equipment. Sound absorption material in the headliner and behind the rear seats, along with insulating carpeting, help to provide a quiet cabin. All Tacoma models provide dual bottle holders in driver- and passenger-side doors. Audio controls are mounted high for easy access.

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First Drive: 2015 Toyota Camry, Yaris & Sienna

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Testing new vehicles is always an adventure, but the opportunity to test new vehicles in Hawaii is just a whole different experience. Auto journalists love cars, but we also love to drive cars in adventurous destinations featuring incredible roads with twists and turns in places so grand that you realize how spectacular other places on earth can be. The sunny Kona District stretches for about 60 miles from Kona International Airport to beyond Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii’s lava-lined western coast. Along this expansive area, we found everything from coffee farms to historic Hawaiian landmarks. Our homebase was the Fairmont Orchid, which is a luxurious Hawaiian resort on the Kohala Coast inspired by culture, well-being and genuine Aloha. To take in all of the Big Island while driving a stable of new offerings from Toyota can make for eye-opening visuals in the 2015 Camry, Yaris and Sienna. These new Toyotas are so different and compete in three distinctive segments, but all shared the same careful design and manufacturing expertise that is synonymous with a Toyota.

There is no car more important to Toyota than the Camry, and for 2015, the folks at Toyota continued their quest to be king of the midsize car market with a new 2015 Camry that ups the stakes. Yes, the best-selling car in America for the last 12 years just got better! When redesigning the Camry for 2015, Toyota went bumper to bumper and floor to roof, changing or re-engineering nearly 2,000 parts. Only the roof remains unchanged, and it caps off the boldest Camry body ever. That provides an idea of the scope of the transformation that also endows the new Camry with a stiffer body structure, enhanced aerodynamics and its quietest ride ever. The redesigned, upscale interior and advanced instrumentation with intuitive controls help keep the driver safely focused on the road. The redesigned interior also looks and feels much more upscale, featuring premium, soft-touch materials throughout. The 2015 model is easily the best-handling and most comfortable-riding Camry ever. Beneath the bolder body lines, the Camry’s body structure has been bolstered with additional spot welds to enhance rigidity. Retuned suspension systems in all models put an edge on handling agility while taking the edge off bumps.

The exterior of the Camry just keeps getting sexier and the 2015 model is like no Camry we’ve ever seen before. An aggressive looking front bumper and grille, pronounced side character lines and low-profile LED headlamps give the new Camry a far more expressive style. It’s a sleeker look that’s also slightly longer (1.8 inches / 45 mm) and features a widened track (0.4 inches / 10 mm) that communicates a dynamic stance and presence. In profile, a pronounced body line starts from the Camry’s muscular front fender and spans across the doors and rear quarter panel, conveying a sense of motion. The fun doesn’t stop there, as the new cabin takes this segment upscale and will surely have some rivals looking for the medicine cabinet! Everywhere you look and touch, the Camry presents premium materials, an overall roomier feel and enhanced amenities.

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Car Review: 2014 Toyota 4Runner SR5 Premium

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As the list of serious 4×4 SUVs dwindle away, the 2014 Toyota 4Runner SR5 Premium is just what the off-road, truck-loving folks ordered. Currently in its fifth-generation, the 4Runner continues as one of the few fully capable mid-size SUVs. The redesigned 2014 4Runner receives a rugged new exterior design and interior refinements that add comfort and convenience without sacrificing its hallmark performance capability and excellent value. We drove the 4Runner enough to realize this is one tough customer!

EXTERIOR

The refreshed 4Runner features a redesigned front fascia that conveys a more rugged and aggressive appearance. This includes a muscular front grille and edgier smoked headlamps for a more forceful look. The headlights have also been changed from halogen to projector beam and the redesigned rear combination lamps now feature LED lights. The SR5 as tested and Trail grades feature a color-keyed grille insert and front bumper that is surrounded by fog lamps set in sharply cut inlays that extend from the headlamps down to the bumper. In addition to the distinctive new grille, the premium Limited’s front design stands apart with a chrome-plated grille insert and chrome front bumper that extends to the fog-lamp bezels. The side molding, roof rack and rear bumper are also chrome trimmed.

Both the SR5 and Trail grades ride on 17-inch alloy wheels with a new and unique wheel design to both, while the Limited continues to ride on 20-inch alloy wheels, which are now painted black prior to machining to add contrast. All grades continue to come standard with a full-size spare. The look of the 2014 Toyota 4Runner SR5 Premium is very distinctive on the road, commanding attention with the aggressive front end.

INTERIOR

There are plenty of full-size pickups that would crave the cabin space of the 4Runner with the well thought out spacing, touches of refinement and made-for-work toughness. The SR5 and Trail grades add standard Soft Touch door trim and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and leather shift knob provide a premium feel and atmosphere. The SR5 receives a new bright and highly visible Optitron instrument panel that houses speedometer, tachometer, voltage, fuel and coolant temperature gauges, plus a multi-information display that offers multiple functions. An Eco-Driving feedback system allows the driver to monitor fuel consumption in real time. On the 4Runner Trail, an overhead console within easy reach organizes the off-road control switches into one location. A compass indicator and outside temperature display add functionality. A manually controlled air conditioning system is standard on SR5 and Trail grades, while the Limited features an automatic dual-zone climate-control system.

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Car Review: 2014 Toyota Highlander Limited Hybrid

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There is no doubt that Toyota has been focused on styling with new models recently, and the 2014 Toyota Highlander Limited Hybrid keeps that spirit alive and well. The all-new Highlander is a no-compromise, mid-size, three-row SUV that brings together the best in style, technology, comfort, capability and safety. Its exterior design conveys both refinement and strength, which complements a totally redesigned interior that will raise the bar in its segment. We drove the new Highlander for a week and had the chance to see exactly where Toyota is headed.

EXTERIOR

I first want to comment on the silver sky metallic paint, because so many people took notice of the color and complimented on the appearance and paint for the whole testing period. It’s a very clean color that also looks very modern and stylish. Sophisticated and dynamic, the new Highlander Hybrid features a progressive silhouette, a lower roofline for improved aerodynamics and sculptured side-door panels. The exterior has grown in length by approximately three inches, while width has increased one-half inch, conveying a sleek and strong appearance.

From the front, Highlander’s hood merges with a redesigned trapezoidal grille, wraparound headlamps and deeply chiseled fenders for a more aggressive appearance. The length of the profile, from the front fenders to the rear quarter panels, boldly stands out with sculptured wheel wells at the corners, allowing for prominently protruding wheels. The total package is capped off by a newly designed height-adjustable rear lift-gate with an available one-touch power open/close and driver selectable memory height settings, and taillights and a bumper that exude style and strength. The chromtec roofrails were also a nice touch!

INTERIOR

This is where Toyota has really stepped things up with the 2014 Toyota Highlander Limited Hybrid, delivering a luxurious cabin with more space than appears from the exterior. Toyota engineers raised the bar on interior design for the mid-size SUV segment by adding even more refinement and functionality to the new Highlander and Highlander Hybrid. The 2014 model offers a premium interior highlighted by increased spaciousness for up to eight people, and an array of standard comfort, convenience and technology features.

The new Highlander’s interior utilizes premium materials to offer an upscale experience, with most models featuring standard contrast seat stitching. All Highlanders come equipped with a soft-touch instrument panel and silver-painted, satin and chrome-plated accents that are thoughtfully placed throughout the interior. Wood-grain pattern trim can be found on the front dash and door trim. The Limited grade model we tested adds touches of elegance. Premium fabrics, available smooth and perforated leather-trim seats, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob add to Highlander’s redesigned upscale interior. The adoption of a high-quality knit roof lining and available second-row sunshades add to Highlander’s refinement and comfort.

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Car Review: 2014 Toyota Tundra 4 x 4 Platinum

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The redesigned 2014 Toyota Tundra has the opportunity to establish new markets, because from the time you see this beast, it makes an impression. For our test model, Toyota upgraded us to a Platinum 4 x 4 version, and it came in handy in the subzero snowy Ohio winter conditions.

EXTERIOR

For 2014, the Tundra sports a new chiseled exterior design that has a distinctive look for the full-size truck segment. Tundra is newly designed, inside and out, representing a major change since the 2007 model year. Each Tundra grade embodies a specific theme through distinct designs that go beyond badging, and that includes the high-end luxury Platinum series. The new front design integrates the hood and grille for a chiseled image. Designers increased the size of the front fascia and tightened up the surfaces and character lines to visually punctuate Tundra’s pulling power and wide stance. The grille has a taller, bolder look, visually connecting the upper intake to the lower bumper. The front lower bumpers are now a three-piece design, allowing for lower replacement costs. In addition, the fenders and wheel wells have been squared-off for a wide and sturdy stance.

A new exterior design helps carry the chiseled character lines all the way down the profile, leading to a rugged new bed and tailgate, with an integrated spoiler and “TUNDRA” embossed into the sheet metal, creating a one-piece forged look. Like the front bumper, the rear bumper changes from one piece to three, for lower replacement costs. Tundra offers a palette of nine exterior colors including three new colors: Attitude Black Metallic, Sunset Bronze Mica and Blue Ribbon Metallic. Popular carryover colors include Radiant Red, Super White, Silver Sky Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Black and Barcelona Red. The Magnetic Gray Metallic that our test model carried fit this truck very well.

INTERIOR

There are no boundaries in the cabin space of the 2014 Toyota Tundra 4 x 4 Platinum, as you need a separate area code for each passenger! Really, this is an awesome interior space with a luxury cap-off from the Platinum grade. Tundra features new contemporary interior styling focusing on differentiation between grades, while improving the availability of features most important to truck buyers. The new interior variations are thematic and cater to a specific customer with a specific budget. Ergonomic improvements include easier driver access to controls as the reach to the audio and HVAC controls was reduced by 2.6 inches. Overall passenger comfort was improved with a new front and rear (CrewMax) seat design and improved front seat ventilation. In addition, front seats have additional travel, and rear seats can now be folded up for additional cargo carrying capability, while maintaining a comfortable seating back angle and lowering load height by more than 11 inches.

Tundra features a number of key standard features and is the only truck in the full-size pickup segment to include a standard back-up camera (viewed from the audio display screen and standard Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming on all grades. Platinum models come with standard dual zone air conditioning with individual temperature settings for driver and front passenger. An auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and HomeLink universal transceiver is standard on Platinum grades. The Platinum and 1794 Edition come standard with a 12-way power driver’s seat with memory and a six-way power passenger’s seat, both with heat and ventilation, power moon roof, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, front and rear parking sonar, and Entune Premium JBL Audio with Navigation and App Suite. Additionally, the 2014 Tundra is the only full-size pickup with available Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert!

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