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2007 Detroit Auto Show: Toyota FT-HS, the 21st Century Sports Car

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Toyota Tests Viability of New-Generation Sports Car
The concept developed for Toyota‘s 2007 North American International Auto Show stand had both Supra and green-car enthusiasts drooling. Since Toyota dropped the Supra in 1997, rumors and dreams of its revival have repeatedly resurfaced. Supra enthusiasts reacted like Chevrolet Camaro fans; there weren’t enough of them buying the product to keep it around, but they still keep looking for a successor. It is not surprising that Toyota’s 2007 North American International Auto Show star concept, the FT-HS, was most often called a Supra successor.

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Though many of those enthusiast dreams for a new Supra were dreams, ten years later the possibility remains for Toyota to again tackle the sports car segment. Is this truly a Supra successor? No. A production FT-HS would be in response to the market of today and where the company sees it going tomorrow. Toyota’s image might benefit from a halo car, to go along with the image of bulletproof reliability. And if Toyota does go for it, a hybrid powertrain is a good bet.
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2007 Detroit Auto Show – 2008 Honda Accord Coupe – Accord to Pass Camry?

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There are two Mid-Size Cars that every buyer of a Mid-Size Car has to consider before selecting one of them, or moving on to another – the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry. These cars are in the consideration set of almost all Mid-Size Car buyers. On a rigid 5-year schedule, Honda is to introduce its all new 2008 Accord in Fall 2007. Honda used the 2007 North American International Auto Show to tip its hand about styling cues for the next generation Accord. it used the Accord Coupe Concept to do this.

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Unveiling the Honda Accord Coupe concept did more than ‘wow’ those in attendance at the Detroit Show, it put Toyota on notice. The Accord Coupe Concept telegraphs cues that will be found on the upcoming Honda Accord Sedan.
Accord Has Been Top Selling Car As Recently As 2001, But Not In the Cards Now
The current Toyota Camry, which has been the top-selling passenger car in the USA for several years now and in its latest iteration is Motor Trend’s Car of the Year, will again have a worthy competitor offering consumers a distinctive alternative. In the last 25 years the Accord has sat atop Car and Driver’s 10 Best list all but 4 times. Accord was the top selling car in the USA from 1989 through 1991 and in 2001. The Camry has been the top-seller since it wrested the title away from the 1992 through 1996 king – the Ford Taurus for every year except 2001. Will the 2008 Accord again set the sales benchmark in its segment?
The answer to that question is NO. Accord will not become the sales leader until there is more production capacity added for Accord. At the present time, Toyota can out-produce Accord with its Camry and this is especially true since it began assembling Camrys at Subaru Indiana Automotive.
But back to the Accord Coupe Concept…
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Ward's 10 Best Engines of 2007

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WardsAuto.com has announced its 10 Best Engines for 2007. Let’s see how VehicleVoice agrees with the Wards’ results… they are presented in alphabetical order:

Audi AG 2.0L turbocharged DOHC I4 – Audi A3 –
We agree wholeheartedly with this engine selection, but Ward’s gives it short shrift by identifying only the Audi A3 as having this engine. It is also found in the Audi A4, Volkswagen Eos, Volkswagen GTi, Volkswagen Jetta and even the Volkswagen Passat. A real nice driving 4-cylinder turbo that is the workhorse of the spirited Volkswagen/Audi lineups.
BMW AG 3.0L DOHC I6 – BMW Z4 3.0si – BMW in-line sixes are always works of art. Smooth, effortless, always feel that they are putting out more horsepower than their ratings. Ward’s has selected the higher horsepower version found in the Z4 3.0si – it puts out 255-horsepower and has 220 pound-feet of torque. This engine is also found in the BMW 530 sedan.
BMW AG 3.0L turbocharged DOHC I6 – BMW 335i – We don’t really go with turbocharged engines much. There is usually no replacement for displacement. But the 3.0L Turbo in the 335i is a sweet piece. Turns the 335i into a Q-ship with near M3-levels of performance.
DaimlerChrysler AG 3.0L DOHC V6 turbodiesel -Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec/Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD – We appreciate the sentiment, but until a diesel can be sold in all 50 states, we won’t agree that it is one of the best engines. Diesels deserve a significant place in the USA automotive landscape, but regulations, technology, fuel costs, fuel availability have all conspired against widespread diesel acceptance.
DaimlerChrysler AG 5.7L OHV Hemi V8 – Chrysler 300C – Chrysler Group has built a franchise around the HEMI. The low cost, Mexican-produced, overhead valve, high output engine almost singlehandedly resurrected Chrysler from its early 21st Century doldrums. Don’t forget the HEMI can be found in all large, rear wheel drive Chrysler, Dodge products as well as the two largest Jeep entries.
Ford Motor Co. Duratec 35 3.5L DOHC V6 – Ford Edge/Lincoln MKX – Ward’s specifies the Ford/Lincoln Crossover Sport Utility Vehicles as the vehicles where the new Duratec 35 is found, but don’t forget the Lincoln MKZ (Zephyr) and the Mazda CX-9. While this higher output V6 is sorely needed by Ford and will eventually find its way through the Ford lineup, somehow the horses feel weaker than its 263-horsepower output suggests. We’ll reserve judgment on this one.
Ford Motor Co. 4.6L SOHC V8 – Mustang GT/Mustang Shelby GT – The 4.6L is the workhorse V8 for Ford’s rear wheel drive platforms. A very reliable, bulletproof powerplant, the 4.6L has proven to be very flexible up and down the horsepower scales. Driving the higher horsepower versions in the Mustang is a delight.
Mazda Motor Corp. 2.3L DISI turbocharged DOHC I4 – MazdaSpeed3 – A very willing and berserk powerplant in the MazdaSpeed3, the 2.3L Turbo provides more than enough power to generate nutso torque-steer in the MazdaSpeed3. Torque steer has always been a bugaboo in high output front wheel drive Mazdas and the combination of power and chassis dynamics in the MazdaSpeed3 may have set a new high (or low).
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. 3.5L DOHC V6 -Infiniti G35 – We assume that Ward’s is referring to the higher output VQ found only in the Infiniti vehicles for 2007/2008. A significant upgrade from previous VQ V6s, the Infiniti has been finessed to new levels of power, smoothness and “engine music”. Still a bit of a lump in the fuel efficiency category, however. And the VQ’s refinement has pretty much been sub-par compared to the Audi, BMW and Lexus (Toyota) sixes against which it competes.
Toyota Motor Corp. 3.5L DOHC V6 -Lexus IS 350 – Another Japanese V6 putting out over 300-horsepower from 3.5-liters. Sweet, quick revving, quick. But unlike the Nissan VQ in the Infiniti, the Lexus 3.5L seems to lack the passion that really stirs the senses. Maybe it is the “engine music” thing. But it’s far more likely the effect of the Toyota engine’s astonishing refinement.


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LA Auto Show – 2007 Toyota Tundra

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The 2007 Toyota Tundra is already in production but won’t be on sale until February 2008. Still a 2007 model year full-size pickup truck, Tundra’s intro is awaiting availability of its 5.7L V8 engine. While we brought you the reveal in February 2006 at the Chicago Auto Show (click here), Toyota later showed the truck at the Texas state fair and again used much of its exhibit space at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show II to showcase the truck in advance of public sale.
A photo collage without many comments seems appropriate…

Toyota Tundra “Street Concept” – Regular Cab Design Study

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Motor Trend Selects 2007 Toyota Camry as Car of the Year

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Toyota Wins with “America’s Mainstream Car”

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Motor Trend part of PRIMEDIA’s (NYSE: PRM) Consumer Automotive Group, announced today that the redesigned Toyota Camry, the sixth edition of America’s best-selling car, is Motor Trend’s 2007 Car of the Year. The award goes to the entire Camry range, including the Camry Hybrid. The complete report on Motor Trend’s 2007 Car of the Year will be published in the January issue, available on newsstands December 5, 2006.
“Creating an innovative, engaging automobile with broad mainstream appeal is one of the toughest tasks facing any automaker,” said Angus MacKenzie, editor in chief of Motor Trend. “The Camry is the one car rival automakers all wish they could build. It offers something for nearly everyone–performance, efficiency, and roominess–at a price point most Americans can afford.”
MacKenzie added, “Toyota offers the Camry with a regular four cylinder engine, or a sporty V-6 that enables it to hit 60mph in just six seconds – that’s about as fast as a V-8 musclecar from the 60s and 70s. Buyers looking for ultimate fuel economy can choose the Camry Hybrid, which uses the same innovative hybrid powertrain technology as Toyota’s Prius to save gas.”


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Blowing Off the Lot – the Hot Sellers

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Since we have identified the vehicles that have the longest days supply, we have been asked to show which vehicles have the shortest days supply. Which vehicles are so hot they just blow off the dealer’s lot? As with the slower moving vehicles where we arbitrarily cut off the days supply at 150 days, here we are using 50 days as the cut off point. The details are shown “below the fold”


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Toyota FJ Cruiser – Ubiquitous at SEMA 2006

Yes, SEMA wanted to salute American Muscle this year and they were successful. In front of the North Hall and inside the lobby rows of Muscle Cars both past and present lined up to receive their deserving accolades. The big block Chevys, Fords, and Dodges pulled at my heartstrings. I could hear the gurgling exhaust notes, feel the rumbling deep in my chest, and smell the high octane burning through four barrel carbs, down high rise manifolds, across forged pistons, and out the dual exhaust with an irregular lope. I kept reaching for that Hurst® shifter and mashing down with my right foot, adrenaline pumping hard through my veins. But it was time to stop daydreaming! Today I would be walkin’… a lot.

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In my quest to see most if not all of SEMA I found it interesting that on the front lines there may have been blown Camaros, tweaked Challengers, and race-ready Mustangs but in the trenches Toyota’s FJ Cruiser was chosen by many exhibitors to strut their aftermarket stuff. From Toyota’s own exhibit flaunting TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and an off-road prepped FJs, the latter with a twin-stick Atlas® t-case, to those companies supplying aftermarket bumpers, stereo equipment, and creating convertibles; the FJ’s were everywhere.


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2007 Nissan Sentra – Sentra in the City

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AutoPacific and VehicleVoice had the opportunity to evaluate the all new 2007 Nissan Sentra on the roads East of San Francisco Bay. The all new Sentra competes with the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cobalt. For 2007, every major dimension has been expanded to meet American tastes.

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For the Record
Global development effort between Nissan and Renault. Delayed by about a year after bombing in USA product clinics. Went back to the drawing board to get it right.
Built at Nissan’s Aguascalientes Plant in Mexico: Plant underwent a $800 million upgrade to accommodate all new Sentra and all new Versa. 350,000 units per year capacity.
On sale October 12, 2006.
Target Customer: Echo Boomers – Generation Y between the ages of 18 and 29. Sentra needs to serve many purposes – going out with friends, carrying a bike, taking road trips, buying furniture at IKEA.
Strives to be Compact Class Benchmark
No longer a compact car aimed at the lowest common denominator customer, the new Sentra strives to be the benchmark of its class when it goes on sale October 12, 2006. While the Sentra slots into the Nissan car lineup above the all new Versa (which actually is larger in some dimensions) and below the all new Altima, the Sentra has grown over its predecessor in wheelbase (+5.9-inches), overall length (+2.3-inches), overall width (+3.2-inches) and overall height (+4.0-inches). Now the “compact” Sentra nudges the Mainstream Mid-Size Car in basic dimensions.
The Sentra has substantially more passenger volume than Civic, Corolla, Mazda3 and Cobalt. Similarly, it has a large cargo volume only slightly topped by Corolla and Cobalt.
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Scion xB – Wins Motorist's Choice Small Wagon

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AutoPacific Take on win by Scion xB –
Scion xB owners’ satisfaction ratings for its size and package strongly contribute to its class-leading performance in the Motorist’s Choice Awards’® Small Wagon category. The xB “rolling box” design makes it very easy to get into and out of and easy for the driver to see out of. These are important factors to the xB owner. While xB is small on the outside, it is huge on the inside with its limousine-like rear seat getting rave reviews.
IntelliChoice Analysis – The Scion xB is a true Motorist’s Choice ‘no-brainer’. We at IntelliChoice named the xB as a Best Overall Value of the Year winner in 2006 thanks to its amazing resale value and low expected maintenance and fuel costs. And when you factor in the low entry price, the xB shines. The amazing thing is that it came to the U.S. market to attract younger drivers, but it seems to be a bit hit across all ages. With a Cost of Ownership of just $23,500 vs. $27,000 for it competitors, can you blame them?


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Toyota Avalon – Wins Motorist's Choice Large Car

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AutoPacific Take on Win by Avalon – The all new Toyota Avalon is targeted squarely at the leading edge of the Baby Boomer generation. It wins the Motorist’s Choice Award® for the Large Car category with a combination of image, package and dynamic characteristics. Owners’ satisfaction ratings strongly support the reputation of the Avalon and Toyota for high quality. Seating capacity is a strong satisfaction characteristic and owners tell us Avalon is no slouch in the performance department. They give it strong ratings for power and acceleration, handling and braking. These driving dynamics make the Avalon feel like a very safe vehicle.
IntelliChoice Analysis – Just like the LS430 is the leader for Lexus, the Toyota Avalon is a true flagship. Not just for Toyota, but for the inaugural Motorist’s Choice award winners as well. The Avalon has established itself as a no-compromise and rewarding vehicle to it’s owners, but it’s role as multiple Best Overall Value of the Year winner in Large Car class also confirms it’s amazing value. With a 5 year Cost of Ownership over $4000 less than the amazing Chrysler 300, Chevrolet Impala, and others, it is a true Motorist’s Choice.


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