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Toyota FJ Cruiser Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Compact SUV/Off-Road Vehicle

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Toyota FJ Cruiser Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Compact SUV/Off-Road Vehicle:
“The all-new Toyota FJ Cruiser is one of the most personality-driven, distinctively-styled vehicles introduced for 2007. But styling isn’t the only thing FJ Cruiser has going for it,” says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Toyota FJ Cruiser owners rated the new FJ highly for Quality, Reliability and Durability. Power/Acceleration was also highly rated. The only area of significant dissatisfaction was Visibility from the Driver’s Seat, a well known FJ characteristic”.


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Toyota 4Runner Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Mid-Size Sport Utility

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Toyota 4Runner Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicles:
“The Toyota 4Runner is a relatively traditional Mid-Size SUV with body-on-frame construction capable of heavy duty towing and off-roading,” says AutoPacific president George Peterson. ?Owner ratings suggest that the 4Runner has a lot of strengths, and few weaknesses. It was rated highly for Quality, Reliability and Durability, but it also rated well for both Power/Acceleration and Fuel Economy. In none of the 46 attributes studied was the 4Runner below segment average. Pretty impressive!”


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Scion tC Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Sporty Car

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Scion tC Wins AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Sporty Car:
“The sporty car entry from Toyota’s Scion brand turns in a class-winning performance in its second year in our VSA research,” says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Scion tC buyers rated their vehicle highly for Seating Capacity, Rear Seat Comfort, Operating Costs in general, and Fuel Economy specifically”.


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Hyundai Azera and Toyota Avalon Win AutoPacific 2007 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Large Car

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Hyundai Azera and Toyota Avalon Tied for AutoPacific 2007 Large Car Vehicle Satisfaction Award:
“The then all-new Hyundai Azera was the top rated vehicle overall in AutoPacific’s 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. Again this year, Hyundai Azera owners gave the Azera class winning ratings,” said AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Azera owners rated their vehicle highly for Power/Acceleration, Innovative Technology, Value and especially Warranty. Tied for a win in this segment was the Toyota Avalon, the Toyota Division flagship, which scored well for Ride, and such traditional Toyota strengths as Quality, Reliability, Durability and Anticipated Resale Value”.


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Toyota Global Sales Top GM in 1st Quarter 2007

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Toyota sold more cars and trucks globally during 1st Quarter 2007 than General Motors. For the first time in 79 years General Motors’ global sales have been topped by a major competitor.
GM’s Global Sales Leadership Crown in Jeopardy
During the 1st Quarter Toyota sold 2.35 million vehicles compared with 2.26 million vehicles for General Motors. This shift had been forecast to occur during the 2007 calendar year, but not as early as the 1st Quarter.
Toyota sells Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles in the USA. Major stakes in Daihatsu and Subaru are not included in the global sales totals. General Motors sales includes Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Saturn, HUMMER, Saab, Opel, and Vauxhall.

VehicleVoice Research Indicates Toyota will Continue to Gain on General Motors in USA

In VehicleVoice brand image and consideration research reported on April 16, 2007, positive consideration for Toyota in the USA was 54% compared with 42% for General Motors as a whole. Consideration for Ford Motor Company products was 44% and Honda products was 53% in the same study. While Toyota continues to be a distant second or third to General Motors in the USA, this continuing level of strong positive consideration indicates that Toyota should be able to continue to close the gap year-by-year.
New Products in USA Bolster Toyota’s Position
In 2006 and early 2007 Toyota launched or renewed a slew of vehicles in the USA. The new Yaris small car replaced the under-performing and unfortunately styled Echo. The FJ Cruiser was launched to rave reviews and strong sales. The Camry was all new and earned the Motor Trend 2007 Car of the Year Award. The all new Lexus LS460 has arguably established a new luxury car benchmark in the premium luxury car market in the USA. And we can’t forget the launch of the all-new Toyota Tundra full size pickup. Tundra finally becomes a fully-competitive half-ton pickup for 2007. While still lacking 3/4 and 1 Ton models, the Tundra should give its half ton competition a run for the money.
Can GM Hold off Toyota?
While the annual global sales figures are still months away, Toyota may, indeed, be able to wrest the global sales crown from GM this year. General Motors is moving aggressively to add capacity and sales in China. If this comes on stream quickly enough, GM may be able to parry the threat.
Stay tuned.


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VehicleVoice Panelists' Opinion of Manufacturers

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During the last week of March 2007, 1,254 VehicleVoice panelists responded to an Internet survey concerning their opinion of major automakers in the USA. VehicleVoice asked these questions because the opinion of buyers and their attitudes towards various aspects of a manufacturer’s image are critically important. Managing image and opinion plus understanding what is driving that opinion can influence whether a person will positively consider or reject a brand next time they are in the market.
The key question in the VehicleVoice survey was whether the respondent’s opinion of a manufacturer had changed since this time last year. If their opinion had changed, the panel member was given the chance to explain why their opinion had changed. We received over 5,000 comments concerning these manufacturers. Some were as short one word. Some were as long as a page of 10-point type. Folks really had a lot to say and their comments were fascinating.

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Discussion for each of the brands is below the fold.


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Playboy Awards 2007 Cars of the Year

You could tell from the smiles on the faces of the suits from Cadillac that they had just come from something special. The Cadillac Escalade had just won the Playboy 2007 Car of the Year Award. Jim Taylor, Cadillac General Manager was lugging around a golden trophy with a totally blinged-out Playboy bunny glued to it and a discreet plaque proclaiming Escalade’s win.

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Playboy Magazine has just named their 2007 Cars of the Year. Included in this year’s list were:
Playboy 2007 Car of the Year – BMW Z4 M
Best SUV – Cadillac Escalade
Best Sports Coupe – Porsche 911 Carrera
Best Bang for the Buck – Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500
The Al Gore Special – Lexus GS450h
Best Two-Way Player – Volkswagen Eos
Best Pickup – Toyota Tundra
Best Cross Dresser – Mazda CX-7
Best Roadster – Saturn Sky Red Line
Oh yeah, about the presentations. Apparently, a hostess Playmate gave the executives a tour around the Playboy Mansion. A former Playmate, the young lady was extremely well spoken, knew her stuff and presented Playboy in a very favorable light. What I’m saying is that she wasn’t the airhead blonde bimbette that may have been expected at Playboy.


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VehicleVoice#62 – The 2007 Toyota Tundra and the Future of Minivans

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Most of you already know that Jim Hossack is AutoPacific’s expert on a lot of things – fuel prices, powertrains, trucks. But did you know that he’s also an expert in minivans? For the past several years, when we’re covering the big auto shows, Jim’s assignments have always been about the new truck models and minivan breakthroughs. But recently, there hasn’t been a lot of news surrounding minivans. Ford and GM have been clear that they think the segment is dying, and their exit strategy is uncomplicated. They’re just getting out. But Jim was in the Chrysler booth to check out the new 2007 Town & Country, aka Dodge Caravan, and he says, “not so fast” Ford and GM. There’s still a healthy segment here.
In this podcast, we’ve got Jim doing double duty at the Toyota booth. The Japanese manufacturer is taking it’s (first, second, third) fourth carefully planned step into the full-sized truck market with the new 2007 Tundra. And according to Jim, Toyota’s latest try is right on the money.
New Vehicle Reviews –
Dodge Caravan
Toyota Tundra

Show Runtime – 6:02


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2007 Chicago Auto Show: 2008 Toyota Highlander

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Highlander Evolves with More Size and Power
Ahead of sales in July 2007, Toyota used its traditional opening press conference of the 2007 Chicago auto show to launch the 2008 Highlander. Toyota’s new Highlander keeps its personality as a car-based crossover SUV, updated to the latest Camry/Avalon platform. The new Highlander is bigger and heavier, but Toyota gives it more power, with both the Hybrid and new standard 3.5L V6 estimated to deliver 270HP. The Hybrid goes on sale shortly after the standard model.

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Highlander already offered a third-row seat, but the extra three inches in wheelbase and four inches in length should make for a more comfortable interior. The new size is a bit bigger than the Honda Pilot and the same length as the Chevrolet Equinox. It is bigger than the Mazda CX-7 and Ford Edge, but smaller than Mazda’s CX-9 or the newly renamed Ford Taurus X (the XSUV formerly known as the Ford Freestyle). Highlander is better sized for those using the third row as occasional-use seating, instead of emergency seats.
So, the question is whether or not the new 2008 out-Pilots the excellent Honda Pilot?
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2007 Chicago Auto Show: Scion's 2008 xB and xD

Introduction Simulcast on SecondLife.com
While Scion Vice President, Mark Templin, was presenting the new xB and xD to media at the Chicago auto show, his alter-personality at secondlife.com (called an avatar) was doing the same. SecondLife.com is an online world that started in 2003 and is now “inhabited” by 3.4 million people globally, and this is the first vehicle introduction simulcast in this online world. Secondlife.com is another way to communicate with people who need transportation once they return to the physical world and automotive manufacturers are taking notice. This is especially relevant for Scion, a brand with an average buyer at only 30 years old and an owner base that is probably the most plugged in of all.

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2008 xB and xD Take Over from First xB and xA
Scion was first envisioned as a line of cars with single lifecycles, though a box is expected to be a staple of the brand. Following this plan, the second-generation xB and the new xD were introduced at the 2007 Chicago auto show. xD takes the showroom space previously occupied by the xA. The xB arrives in dealers in April 2007 and the xD in August.
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