Tag Archives: TRD

2023 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid

Camry Hybrid may just be the perfect family sedan …

This may surprise you, but it’s exceedingly rare that I long for a test car that has been returned, but this week even I was surprised at my disappointment when of all things a 2023 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid left the Savage abode.

You might suspect I’d have saved my tears for a Nissan Z, a Genesis GV60, or a new Corvette. Those too can tug at the tear ducts.

Several people even poo-pooed my fortunes for having to test the “dullest” car in America, but I quickly corrected them. Maybe they were thinking of the Prius.

There are reasons why Toyota’s Camry has been the top-selling sedan in the US market for roughly 20 years. It’s becoming the Ford F-150 of sedans via its longevity atop the market.

Camry is a champ and rocks on so many fronts I’ll try to be brief in my summary, but there’s a lot to unpack.

Start with looks, something I bet you’d never suspect I’d say. But a couple years back Toyota chose wisely and drank from the better styling cup. Ever since the once blah Camry has turned edgier with a sleek, beautiful nose that makes its Lexus luxury brand look downright gaudy. The headlights are slim and wonderfully blended with the grille and hood. The profile is slim and elegant, and the tail, well, just fine.

Bathe the handsome, sophisticated Camry in Supersonic Red (just $425 extra) and the sedan becomes Lady Gaga in a sequined gown.

Love engine choices? For internal combustion (gas) engine lovers there are two choices, including a powerful V6, but for families on a budget and with even a smidgen of social consciousness the Camry Hybrid is a rock star.

Camry’s 2.5-liter I4 combined with Toyota’s proven (20+ years) hybrid system nets a 44 mpg rating city and 47 mpg highway from the EPA, yet still delivers 208 horsepower. And get this, in about 80% highway driving I got a stellar 48.2 mpg. For more than 450 miles of driving I spent $25. Your weekly commute gas budget just giggled.

“Parental unit, can we stop for frozen custard on the way home from soccer practice?”

“Yes, my children.”

Watch Mark’s video: Mark Savage reviews the 2023 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid – YouTube

But if this were an econobox that was cramped and had no digital doodads or safety gear … Well, it’s not.

Camry is a mid-size sedan but rides on a 111.2-inch wheelbase to give it an excellent ride, coupled with good, easy, well-controlled handling. Comfort reigns, but is never grandma’s plastic-covered living room dowdy.

The power from the hybrid system that gets its electric charge from regenerative braking is quickly delivered, but acceleration is smooth, mild, but steady. An electronically adjusted CVT (continuously variable transmission) is partially responsible for that and for the excellent MPG.

There’s a Sport mode on the console to kick up the acceleration some, and is handy for highway entry. Still, this will not resemble a sport sedan’s quickness. Normal and Eco mode also are available. Normal is what you’ll stick with 90% of the time.

Finally, a good-sized touchscreen with buttons all around and is easy to use.

Interior comfort is guaranteed too with the XLE being Camry’s luxury-leaning trim level that provides 8-way power leather seats with the front ones being heated. Seats are mildly contoured so pleasant on a long drive and there is plenty of room in back for three adults. XLE also upgrades the standard 8-inch info screen to 9 inches.

But it’s the design of the touchscreen that impresses beyond its size. Instead of a silly knob on the console or a mix of onscreen and dash buttons, there are 8 key buttons around the screen (4 to a side) clearly labeled Home, Menu, Audio, Map, Seek, Track, Phone and Apps. Smartly there also are volume and tuning knobs.

All this makes the info screen and JBL sound system (standard on XLE) a breeze to engage while driving. Take that you tech-for-tech’s-sake luxury brands.

Camry delivers a good-looking interior with everything logically located.

Another plus, Camry’s interior is sharp looking in addition to being functional.

This bright red car’s leather was a cream color and the seats perforated for better airflow from its heated and cooled seats. Heat is standard while the cooling is part of a $1,430 package that includes a 10-inch color HUD, panoramic view monitor, front/rear parking assist with automatic braking.

Elegant streamlined designed, even in the door panels.

The dash and door tops are black to create a two-tone interior, pretty common these days among the sharper vehicles. Trim is a graphite gray around the air vents and other dash trim, plus the armrest trim by the power window controls and the console’s top. There is a bit of gloss black trim on the stack, but not enough to create reflection woes.

Overhead is a sunroof ($860 extra) and for a modest $150 the leather-wrapped steering wheel is heated, a Wisconsin necessity.

Standard features include a wireless phone charger under the center stack, smart cruise control and a bevy of other safety equipment, all part of Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.5. That includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian and cyclist recognition, a lane departure system with steering assist, automatic high beams, lane tracing assist and road sign assist.

Toyota also allows a driver to override the lane departure system, so if you’re in a congested and construction-heavy city or highway driving situation you can punch a button and not have the system beeping or trying to keep you centered in your lane. Bravo. Having this choice often is a safety concern these days.

Assuming you have five adults on board, which again IS possible here without amputations or forcing anyone into a socially embarrassing position, there’s oodles of trunk space for luggage. At 15.1 cubic feet the deep trunk will hold luggage for the entire crew, even several sets of golf clubs.

The only thing I missed, the only negative here, is large map pockets in the doors. These were tiny and tight to get at, so of limited use.

Pricing is amazing, a bargain throughout the lineup and should push more dollar-conscious buyers toward a sedan and away from mid-size crossovers and gas gulping SUVs.

The base Camry Hybrid, the LE, starts at $29,105 including delivery. There are five trim levels with the XLE being mid-level luxury at $34,065 including delivery. The sportier XSE is just about $500 more. The SE and SE Nightshade (featuring blacks and dark blues) also are available in the hybrid model.

Adding 11 options pushed the test car to $40,232, still an average new car price, so certainly one could be had mid-$30k range. No AWD feature is available, same as its main competitor, Honda’s Accord.

Gas-powered Camrys are available in that same price range, topping out with the TRD model featuring the 308-horse V6.

Stylish lights and nose help keep Camry atop the sedan market.

But for families on a budget, yet not wanting to look like it, the Camry Hybrid in any form is a bargain to buy, and operate, but with a luxury look, feel and all the digital goodies one actually needs.

Camry remains king of the sedans.

FAST STATS: 2023 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid

Hits: Sharp styling, great mpg, excellent ride, good handling, decent power in comfy family sedan. Good rear seat and trunk room, sunroof, heated steering wheel, heated/cooled front seats, super info screen and buttons, wireless charger, smart cruise control and on/off lane departure, plus 3 drive modes, JBL sound system, comfy power seats. Bargain pricing!

Misses: Small door map pockets

Made in: Georgetown, Ky.

Engine: 2.5-liter I4 hybrid, 208 hp/163 torque

Transmission: ECVT automatic

Weight: 3,565 lbs.

Wheelbase: 111.2 in.

Length: 192.1 in.

Cargo: 15.1 cu.ft.

MPG: 44/47

MPG: 48.2 (tested)

Base Price: $34,065 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $31,358

Major Options:

Driver assist pkg. (10-inch color HUD, panoramic view monitor, front/rear parking assist w/auto braking, multi-stage cooled front seats), $1,430

Heated steering wheel, $150

Adaptive headlights, $615

Nav pkg. (premium audio, 9-inch touchscreen w/nav, 9 JBL speaker w/subwoofer & amplifier, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay compatible, satellite radio for 3 months), $1,760

Power sunroof, $860

Supersonic Red paint, $425

Trunk LED bulb, $25

Mud guards, $129

Illuminated door sills, $345

Door edge guards, $129

Carpet floor mats/cargo mat, $299

Test vehicle: $40,232

Sources: Toyota, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Toyota

#Toyota Camry hybrid

2018 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4X4

4Runner is old school and that’s OK …2018 Toyota 4Runner

Technophobes and off-roaders have a rare opportunity to live life large aboard Toyota’s rough trail loving 2018 4Runner. That’s because this off-roader has not yet been updated to include all the electronic gee-whiz gadgets that fill most others in the segment.

Some might say the 4Runner is long in the tooth, others may just say thank you. Continue reading 2018 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4X4

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road 4×4 Double Cab, long bed

Toyota’s Tacoma TRD a big mid-size pickup for off-roading …  2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD

            There was a day, not all that long ago, when Toyota’s Tacoma, along with the likes of Ford’s Ranger and Chevy’s S-10, was a small, personal-sized pickup.

These were young guy “first cars” because they were inexpensive wheels, macho enough to get the young girls to pay some attention, plus useful enough to help other young friends move into their first apartments, houses, whatever.

Today the Tacoma, along with other compact pickups, have grown up into bigger mid-sized models that some could almost mistake for full-size trucks. Certainly when you add a double cab (a full back seat and second set of doors), and a long bed (6 feet in the Tacoma’s case), and 4-wheel-drive, you’ve got a vehicle that’s big, long and tall.2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD

Then make it a TRD version, which stands for Toyota Racing Development, and you’ve pretty much “machoed” the thing out to the max.

This week’s test truck though went with what Toyota calls a Quicksand color, which is a tan that screams utility service truck. Not a great color for a personal truck. But then the test truck did feature the TRD 4×4 Off-Road decals on the bed’s rear side panels. Tough!

How big has the long-bed Tacoma double-cab become? Well, it rides on a 140.6-inch wheelbase and is 225.5 inches long. Weight is 4,425 lbs. Compare that with a comparable Nissan Frontier SL 4WD Crew Cab, which has a 139.9-inch wheelbase, is 219.4 inches long and weighs about 170 lbs. more. Continue reading 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road 4×4 Double Cab, long bed

2017 Toyota 4Runner 4×4 TRD Off-Road Premium

Tough Toyota 4Runner is anything but a TRD  …2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD

Let’s face it, you’d better have a pretty strong, competent vehicle if you’re going to give one of its models the TRD moniker.

We all know what that sounds like, but in Toyota’s case it means Toyota tough, as in Toyota Racing Development. And that’s why the new 4Runner proudly touts TRD in its name and on its haunches.

The test truck was the mid-level TRD Off-Road Premium edition with four-wheel drive and a sparkling Barcelona Red Metallic paint job. It also features a tough-looking exterior with distinctive nose and a hood air scoop that not all models have, not to mention few of its competitors.2017 Toyota 4Runner TRD

4Runner is a big ute, rolling on a 109.8-inch wheelbase it’s a sizeable 191.3 inches long and weighs a hefty 4,750 lbs. So move over mid-size crossovers and SUV pretenders, 4Runner is ready to go rock-climbing, and the TRD version thumbs its nose at rough terrain. Continue reading 2017 Toyota 4Runner 4×4 TRD Off-Road Premium

2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4×4 Double Cab

Dominant Toyota Tacoma a stylish, muscular pickup tacoma2

Trucks are macho, always have been. But as our society becomes more confrontational and in-your-face attitudes more commonplace it’s only natural truck styling sheet metal follows suit.

Today’s Toyota Tacoma will go toe-to-toe with any pickup in the attitudinal Olympics. Its fenders bulge like a body builder’s abs and its hood bulges like pecs gone wild. Muscular doesn’t begin to describe it.

That’s to be expected from the new, restyled 2016 Tacoma, the leading mid-size pickup in the U.S. market, the pickup that has been kicking sand in the faces of its competition for years. Market reports say Tacoma owns more than half of the truck sales in its segment.

And now, as if it weren’t already dominant enough, Tacoma is marking its territory with increased horsepower, better gas mileage and a quieter interior. Take that Nissan Frontier, Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. Never mind that a few of those will tow more or still get better gas mileage, Tacoma is ready to rumble.

Let’s start with power, as that’s what most pickup owners are looking for, whether to tow, haul or simply impress their buddies and significant others.

tacoma1Tacoma features a 278-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 that uses the Atkinson cycle, technology that burns fuel more efficiently than a standard V6. Several Mazda engines use the Atkinson design. Tacoma’s torque is 265 foot-pounds and tow capacity is 6,400 lbs. Continue reading 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4×4 Double Cab

2014 Scion tC

Scion’s tC edges out some competitors with style, quickness … a fun drive

I know the street racers out there, and many of my media colleagues, will disagree, but I like the Scion tC sports coupe better than Scion’s base FR-S, for a couple reasons.scion

I think its styling is edgier and more fun, and despite it being a front-drive coupe compared with the rear-drive FR-S, it handles extremely well. Plus, with its easy shifting 6-speed manual and more than sufficient 2.5-liter VVT-I 4-cylinder engine, it’s quick and fun to drive.

Then there’s the base tC’s starting price of just $19,200, with a $795 delivery fee. That’s affordable, and my bright “absolutely red” test car managed 27 mpg in about 60% highway driving. Quite respectable! The EPA rates this t 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.

The tC is bare bones fun without a totally bare bones feel. It’s great for first-time buyers needing value and valuing style and fun behind the wheel. The coupe doesn’t feel cheap and looks spectacular. For 2014 the nose is restyled with a wide-mouth grille, more attractive lightning-bolt-shaped headlights with LED running lights and I like its flat roofline that gives it a distinctive profile compared with the plethora of round roof sports coupes.
You already know some of what I like, but the heart of my appreciation for the coupe starts with its performance.

Slip into the well-shaped sports seats and the car delivers a straightforward no nonsense dash, albeit a blah gray plastic trim that looks a little too value minded. But turn the key, yes it still has a key, and the test car fired up with a throaty roar that would make most drift car pilots envious. This is a big can that really stirs up the 4-cylinder’s exhaust tone. All that is due to a TRD (Toyota Racing Development) performance exhaust that costs $699 extra. You’ll love the sound, so if you can spare the cash, go for it. Continue reading 2014 Scion tC

2013 Toyota Corolla S

 New Corolla  S a family sedan, with sporty look

corollaMy family owned a Toyota Corolla back in the early 1980s. That’s family as in me, my wife and two small kids. So, take note young families, you CAN survive without a minivan, crossover or sport-utility truck.

That’s even easier now as the current Corolla, the 10th generation, is nearly as large as a Camry was a decade ago. Call it dimensional creep.

The 2013 Corolla rides on a 102.4-inch wheelbase and is 179.3 inches long. But it still weighs a seemingly svelte 2,767 lbs. and is rated at 26 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. I got 28.3 mpg in a fairly even mix of city and highway driving. That’s good for a young family’s budget.

My tested magnetic gray metallic (dark metallic gray) test car was the top-level S model that offers sportier looks, but not much in the way of sporty performance. This one came with an automatic transmission and even with that it remains a solid choice for youngsters needing just a step up from basic wheels. But don’t confuse this with a sports sedan. Continue reading 2013 Toyota Corolla S