Tag Archives: Toyota

Diecast: Autoart Suzuki Jimny

Jimny (JB64) is a cute, well-detailed Jeep wanna-be …

Suzuki’s Jimny is a fun little runabout, and even cuter as a 1/18 scale diecast model from the hot shot designers at Autoart.

There’s no doubt this Jeep-like two-door sport-utility is useful and nimble. It has sold like Pocky sticks in its home market, Japan and has been a hit for Suzuki all around the world, with the exception of the United States where Suzuki stopped selling vehicles at the end of 2012.

But Suzuki’s low-cost small vehicles could well be considered something akin to the Beetle of Japan, economical and fun. And lest you think Suzuki is a small-time carmaker, well, it’s the fourth best-selling brand in Japan, behind the giants Toyota, Honda and Nissan, not bad company.

The History

Suzuki launched the Jimny in 1970, so it has had a long run and according to Wikipedia, Suzuki had sold 2.85 million of the little gems across 194 countries as of the fall of 2018. There’s an interesting history behind Jimny too.

It started as the HopeStar ON360. Say what?

Yes, it was originally designed by the Hope Motor Co., a small Japanese manufacturer that Suzuki bought in 1968. So, Suzuki re-introduced the vehicle as its LJ10 (Light Jeep) in 1970 with an air-cooled, two-stroke, two-cylinder engine. It had nowhere to go but up.

From there the engine grew and grew, becoming liquid-cooled as the vehicle began gaining popularity and was shipped off to Australia and then was Suzuki’s first vehicle sold in the U.S. market as a Samurai in 1986. Along the way the Jimny name became its moniker in Japan, and Jimny Sierra elsewhere.

Lest you think it incapable off-road, in 2007 a modified version set the high-altitude record for a 4-wheel-drive vehicle on a mountain at the Chile-Argentina border. It climbed to 21,942 feet, beating a Jeep Wrangler’s mark at the time.

This JB64 version is the fourth generation Jimny, launched in 2018 and the model reflects the styling of Japanese-market models, with no added plastic fender flares, whereas in other markets the black flares are much more pronounced. Jimny remains a body-on-frame vehicle, like a Jeep Wrangler and most of today’s trucks.

The engine is a turbo 3-cylinder that makes about 100 horsepower, rides on a short 88.6-inch wheelbase and weighs less than 2,300 pounds. So it may be appropriate to still consider it a Light Jeep, as it was originally.

The Model

               I’ve grown to love many boxy Jeep-like vehicles over the past 50 years of driving and testing new vehicles. So this Jimny strikes me as a fun, cheap Jeep wanna-be. It’ll certainly stand out in your collection and being an Autoart model you can be sure the design and build quality is high.

               Autoart offers several color combos, but the sample was an earthy Chiffon Ivory Metallic (shiny tan) with a black roof. It appears ready to wander off down a dirt road to bang some ditches.

               The doors fit nice and flat to the body, those wheel wells just showing a slight bulge and the front and rear bumpers are a sturdy black. The nose features running lights in the bumper, black mesh grille work there and in the upper grille featuring what looks like a Superman (Suzuki) logo at its center. Headlights, as with Jeeps and now Ford Broncos, are round, these adding an amber turn signal just above the light and toward each side’s fenders.

               Mirrors are black with white turn signal lamps embedded and the windows are all trimmed in gloss black with a couple black wipers extending from the cowling just behind the hood.

               A small black antenna extends from the rear driver’s side (right drive) roof and a big spare tire hangs on the tail, just as with a Jeep. The tailgate opens out like a door and includes a high-mount brake light atop its frame, black hinge covers and the words Suzuki and Jimny in silver low on the gate. The three-lens red and clear taillights sunk into the black rear bumper look sharp too. Below is a Jimny license plate too.

               Tires are all branded Bridgestone in black, so hard to read, but typical of the real vehicle. Wheels are sort of a matte silver/gray with black Suzuki-logoed caps.

               Naturally the hood, doors and hatch open on this Autoart model, with a nicely detailed engine compartment and fine metal hinges to hold that hood up for display. There’s a tiny hood rod there too, but don’t try to use it, it’s just for decoration.

Engine wiring and plumbing look appropriate with a sharp-looking battery including labels on top. There’s also a white washer-fluid reservoir, a steering master cylinder with white fluid container and other appropriate hoses and filters. The hood’s underside detailing is handsomely molded too.

               Not much to see inside the rear tailgate, except seatbacks and headrests, but the front cockpit looks realistically detailed, and with the wide-opening doors this interior is simple to see. Black interior here with bucket seats, a center console-mounted shift lever, 3-spoke steering wheel with Suzuki logo, and nicely detailed gauges across the dash, including a reflective screen in the dash’s center. Air vents are trimmed in silver.

               U.S. collectors have a rare opportunity with the Jimny to add a popular world vehicle to their collections, and it’s so darned cute they may want a couple in varying colors.

               For the record Autoart offers Jimnys in Pure White, Jungle Green, Bluish Black, Brisk Blue, Kinetic Yellow, most, except the white models, with black or body-colored. Also, the world market models, known as Jimny Sierras (JB74), are available in the same colors, but with the bulging black fender flares that give Jimny a slightly more muscular look.

               Either way this is a cute ute.        

Vital Stats: Suzuki Jimny

Maker: Autoart
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: 78500 (Chiffon Ivory Metallic/Black roof)

MSRP: $190

Link: Autoartmodels.com

2021 Genesis G80 2.5T RWD

Entry-level luxury never looked this good ….

Genesis continues to impress, even if few car buyers yet know what it is.

Hyundai is still on an uphill climb. The South Korean automaker launched the Genesis luxury brand five years ago, much as Toyota launched Lexus, Honda launched Acura, and Nissan launched Infiniti, in the 1990s. These Japanese brands established a strong foothold in the U.S. market with their low-cost, high-reliability models, then moved upscale, where the profits are.

Hyundai is doing the same thing. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

In fact, the tested Uyuni White G80 that I just tested is already the second iteration of its mid-level full-size luxury sedan. That’s how much effort Genesis is putting into getting its own foothold.

This G80 is another winner, and more affordable than most entry-level luxury cars. My tester was the G80 2.5T RWD model, the base (if one can use that word) model with a starting price of $48,725, including delivery. The sparkling white paint job cost $400 extra so this G80 ended up at $49,125. That undercuts the German luxury market by quite a bit, and the Japanese market by a bit too.

In short the G80 is beautiful, whisper quiet inside, features good power, handles effortlessly and touts a luxury ride that in olden days we called a boulevard ride, but without the floating feel of yesteryear.

How so? G80 rides on a lengthy 118.8-inch wheelbase to spread the bumps and its multi-link front and rear suspensions, with a self-leveling feature in back, creates that luxury ride. I can’t recall a sedan I’ve driven in the past year or so that rides any better. Maybe the G90, but that was five years ago.

See Mark’s video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpODcpkOz7c

Like most cars, and all luxury models, Genesis includes multiple drive modes engaged via a button on the console. So one can tool along in Eco to save fuel, Comfort for daily driving or Sport to up the kick you get when accelerating and to stiffen steering effort. Even then the steering wheel isn’t tiresomely heavy, but there’s certainly more low-end power.

That actually helps this 2.5T model because it has the entry-level 2.5-liter turbocharged I4 that makes 300 horsepower via 311 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s substantial, but not monster power. It’s quick and sounds horsey though. This G80 reportedly will do 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and darned near 100 on a highway entry ramp. Top speed is about 130 mph, if you need that for cruising your neighborhood.

Don’t worry though, there’s more power available in the 3.5T. That model packs a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 creating 375 horsepower and a torque rating of 391. Both models also are available with all-wheel-drive, which adds $3,150 to the price and may be a wise addition in Wisconsin. While on price, the base 3.5T starts at $60,145.

Handling is moderately light, easy and effortless, but the car corners well at speed. That Sport mode of course firms steering feel.

Braking is impressive too, with 13.6-inch vented front discs and 12.8-inch rear discs doing the job.

Shifts are handled via a mostly smooth 8-speed automatic that includes paddle shifters behind the wheel. Unless you’re a fanatic for such things you’ll likely never use those. I did notice there is some hesitation coming off a stop, but that’s less noticeable in Sport mode. Also, the Stop/Start feature aimed at saving gas is a little less refined here than in many luxury makes.

Outside, the G80 is gorgeous from its wide pentagonal grille to the dual thin-line headlights on either side. The layout seems to reflect the winged Genesis logo on the nose, which I’ll say, again, looks a lot like Bentley’s.

Those thin twin headlights are reflected in similar taillight styling giving the car incredible stylistic balance. That’s aided by silky smooth shoulder lines that blend well nose to tail and a somewhat fastback roofline. Think Audi A7. Finally G80 uses a couple strakes for styling behind the front wheel wells. Those strakes include lights in the lower portions of each to give the sedan a unique nighttime appearance.

A chrome rocker panel trim line gracefully sweeps up through the rear wheel well to the car’s rear, making the car look as if it’s in motion while standing still. On the practical side, the A pillars have been thinned too. All combined, that’s a perfect 10 on my styling scorecard!

Inside, you’ll immediately know you’re in an upscale make as the styling is simple and elegant. Seats are tan leather and the dash and doors feature brown leather tops and creamy tan leather lower panels. Likewise the wheel is dark leather with a tan hub with satin chrome controls.

I like the slim, streamlined dash layout too and the black gloss on the center stack and console with satin chrome controls looks classy. However, the sun reflects off the console frequently and I was surprised there was no wireless phone charger here. Likewise the rotary gear shift lever is not the most intuitive design, but seems to be the way carmakers are going.

The clean design means it’s easy to figure out the buttons and controls and the 12.3-inch infotainment screen is eye-friendly and simple to use. There is a ring on the console that controls many of the functions, but unlike many such units it’s intuitive. Turn the outer ring and it easily scrolls through your radio’s favorite channels. Move your finger on the center portion of the disc and it allows selection of various functions on screen.

Seats feature a relatively flat bottom cushion that made my tailbone ache a bit after about an hour’s drive. Seat backs are well formed and comfortable and the leather is sufficiently soft for the price. Rear seats are roomy with a large fold-down armrest and trunk space is reasonable too.

G80 includes a power lumbar support for the driver and two seat memory settings on the door. Front seats also are heated, but not those in back. Plus there are no cooled seats or heated wheel here either.

You’ll need to move up to the Advance model for cooled seats, a panoramic sunroof (none here), three-zone climate controls, a power trunk, 19-inch wheels and a 21-speaker (I only have 2 ears) Lexicon stereo. The 2.5T Advance model lists at $53,325 and an even more luxurious Prestige model at $57,625.

The base tested model does come already equipped with a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, adjustable interior ambient lighting, puddle lights in the side mirrors that also power flat to the car when the ignition is off. Plus there are the usual safety electros, such as smart cruise, lane-departure and assist, blind-spot warning, and automatic braking. Nice too that the lane-departure warning system can be turned off with the push of a button to allow for easier city driving during construction season when a driver is often dodging cones and errant pavement lane markers.

Still not sure Genesis is luxurious enough for you, or has the cache of a European make. Well, on the practical side there’s an excellent warranty so your long-term investment may be much less too. First, there’s a limited 5-year, 60,000-mile warranty and 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Genesis also provides free 3-year or 36,000-mile maintenance, including oil changes.

Gas mileage is good on this 2.5T too. I got 24.9 mpg in a mix of city and highway and the EPA rates the G80 at 23 mpg city and 32 highway.

Any sedan that looks this gorgeous, yet is underpriced for its market, deserves a strong look and test drive if you’re a luxury car intender.

FAST STATS: 2021 Genesis G80 2.5T RWD

Hits: Beautiful exterior styling grille to tail, good power, effortless handling, luxury ride and AWD available. Clean stylish dash, 12.3-inch info screen, heated seats, multiple drive mode, solid safety systems, good stereo, ring on console selects radio stations, power tilt/telescope wheel. Impressive pricing.

Misses: No wireless charger, gloss and metal console trim too reflective, rotary shifter, no sunroof or cooled seats or heated steering wheel.

Made in: Ulsan, So. Korea

Engine: 2.5-liter turbo I4, 300 hp

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 4,143 lbs.

Wheelbase: 118.5 in.

Length: 196.7 in.

Cargo: 13.1 cu.ft.

MPG: 23/32

MPG: 24.9 (tested)

Base Price: $48,725 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $45,674

Major Options: Uyuni White paint, $400

Test vehicle: $49,125

Sources: Genesis, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

2020 Ford Expedition Max Platinum 4×4

Expedition Max redefines big luxury truck …

There’s big, and then there’s Max. In this case Max is Ford’s new Expedition Max, as if the original Expedition weren’t large enough. Apparently it was not.

The Max is nearly a full foot longer than the original’s 210 inches and this special Burgundy Velvet Metallic ($395) test SUV was the Platinum edition with 4-wheel-drive, the tippy top of Ford’s SUV lineup.

And let’s get this out of the way right up front, it’s priced like the Platinum edition it is, starting at $81,505 with delivery and checking in at $84,065 as equipped. That’s way up there and competes well with its cousin, the Lincoln Navigator, which with 4WD lists at $76,185. Note too that Navigator’s twin-turbo V6 creates 450 horsepower, while the tested Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 delivers a healthy 400 hp. Continue reading 2020 Ford Expedition Max Platinum 4×4

2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible

Lexus LC 500 drop-top redefines beauty … 

It is not sufficient to see and to know the beauty of a work. We must feel and be affected by it. – Voltaire

Beauty, thy name is Lexus LC 500.

OK, the name isn’t beautiful, but Toyota’s luxury brand understands beauty and sure as heck knows how to affect us … mix beauty, power and luxury, then drop the top.

If you’ve seen the bodacious LC 500 coupe since its 2018 debut you know it’s a looker. Sleek lines, stylish corseted nose and sexy rear end. For 2021 Lexus creates a drop-top version that exudes even more beauty. Continue reading 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible

2016 Scion iA

 

Scion iA a snazzy low-cost small sedan

Scion iA, Mazda2, hatchbacks, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Chevy Sonic, entry-level sedansRarely has so little felt like so much.

Scion delivers possibly the highest value car for the entry-level market and does it with a good looking small sedan that is value priced and yet looks and feels much more like a mid-priced compact sedan.

The new iA, and we could quibble about the name, is a delight. Based on the Mazda2 platform, the iA delivers much more than the Mazda, which is a small hatchback. While I love hatchbacks for their usefulness, this sedan simply feels like it can take on and beat the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent and Chevy Sonic, to name a few competitors. Continue reading 2016 Scion iA

2014 Lexus GX460 Luxury

Robust GX460 boasts V8, 4-wheel-drive, luxurious interior

lex2SUVs have become as commonplace as spring potholes, and large luxury SUVs, at least by appearance, fill a sizeable spot in this pricey segment.

This week’s Lexus “tungsten pearl,” silver, GX460 Luxury, certainly fits the bill. This is the top-level luxury version of Toyota’s 4Runner, not the biggest, baddest big-boy ute, but robust to say the least.

Start with the mechanical muscle under its hood, a 4.6-liter V8 with variable valve timing and 301 horsepower. That’s plenty of grunt to push the full-time 4-wheel-drive ute’s 5,179 lbs. up to highway speeds. Naturally linked with a 6-speed automatic tranny the power is delivered smoothly and effectively so getting up to full gallop is easy. All three GX460 models come with the same powertrain.

Steering effort is moderate, so not as heavy as one might predict when you see its girth and know its heft. Actually the GX460 handles well, with little lean in high-speed turns and it’s easy to fit into a grocery parking lot space. In fact, its turning radius is a moderate 38.1 feet, about the same as some compact utes.

While this is a body on frame truck, which sometimes means a bouncier truck ride, Lexus tames even our current asphalt moonscape with the GX460. Coil springs and gas shocks up front and rear air springs and gas shocks absorb anything that comes their way. The ride is well controlled and luxurious and sound deadening material keeps the interior extremely quiet.Lex1

Continue reading 2014 Lexus GX460 Luxury

Braking News: Automotive Bowl Ads

Car ads in the Super Bowl

Super_Bowl_XLVIII_logoThey pay a crapfull of money to buy ads in the Super Bowl so at 4 million bucks and have one, maybe two shots to grab viewers’ attention. This year Audi, CarMax, Jaguar, Kia, Hyundia, Toyota, and VW are all swinging for the fence. Check them out ahead of time. My faves:

Audi – Doberhuahua: Who doesn’t love dogs?

Kia – The Truth: Laurence Fishburne reprises his role as Morpheus from The Matrix

Toyota Highlander: Nice cross-promotion with the Muppets. I like the second one the best.

VW: Both ads are kind of cute.

 

2013 Lexus LS 600h L

Hybrid Lexus LS delivers high-end luxury with a price to match

Where to begin?

Let’s just put the price tag out there to clear the air. My silver Lexus LS 600h L listed for $119,910 and settled at $135,029 after adding copious high-end options.lexus1

As way of background, the LS is THE Lexus flagship, its full-size sedan and an absolute dreamboat of a car to drive and ride in. Its ride is air-suspension smooth, its interior a mansion library’s leathery quiet, its V8 powerful yet quiet, its adaptive 8-speed automatic transmission as creamery smooth through the gears as any car I’ve ever driven.

Oh, and this handsome sedan is a big boy too. That L means it has a longer wheelbase than the standard LS. That translates into a roomy interior, but just for four adults as the back seat’s middle section houses a Starship Enterprise sized console of buttons and knobs that could confuse even Captain Kirk. Where’s Spock when you need him?

But beyond the car’s exquisite drive and ride abilities the star here is the price tag. That’s all ANYONE wants to talk about once they get their sticker shock. Or maybe we should call it sticker Envy!

Their question was always the same, or similar – What do you get for $135 grand, AND is it worth that much? Continue reading 2013 Lexus LS 600h L

2012 Toyota Prius C Two

Smaller hybrid easy on gas, hard to get out of its own way

The new Toyota Prius C is what most folks think of when they imagine a hybrid car.

Toyota Prius CThey think of an extremely small car that gets great gas mileage, but has a hard time getting out of its own way. But unlike many hybrids, the original Prius’s smaller cousin also comes with a smaller, more entry-level price, the base C One starting at $18,950 and the tested C Two starting at $19,900. That’s about $4,000 less than many hybrids, including the Prius II that is about 19 inches longer too.

The C looks more like a Honda Fit, which is to say it’s sort of pointy-nosed cute with a lot of glass and bathed in a bright red paint job, the test car looked fun and spritely. Certainly its handling is light and accurate enough to be rated spritely, but its power, its acceleration skews toward methodical. And that’s after Prius C dropped about 500 lbs. from that of the original hybrid. Continue reading 2012 Toyota Prius C Two

2013 Scion FR-S

Spiffy sportster rekindles Toyota’s sport coupe tradition

Finally, a new sports coupe from Toyota, albeit offered through its entry-level youngster brand, Scion.

2013 Scion FR-SI’ve missed the Toyota Celica for years now, and I’m not alone, so with the 2013 Scion FR-S, Toyota again has a low-cost sports coupe that looks great and will provide much entertainment for those of us who prefer cars to look sporty and handle likewise. Plus this is a near identical cousin (if that were possible) to Subaru’s new BRZ. They both even have three letters as their name.

Toyota and Subaru worked together on this sports coupe, with really only the sheet metal reflecting their differing visions of what a cool coupe should look like. Both look pretty sexy and I can assure you even some Audi owners were gawking at the Scion, trying to guess its heritage. Continue reading 2013 Scion FR-S