i-Road EV Trials Begin in Tokyo

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In delightfully fun-sized vehicles news, Toyota Motor Corporation will begin running limited trials of their fully electric personal transporter, the “i-Road,” next week. 2.3 meters long and not quite a meter wide, this 3-wheeled, covered vehicle gives drivers the experience of driving a golf-cart without the polyester and a motorcycle without the helmet hair. Toyota will loan one of these extremely unique vehicles to 20 lucky people over a two week period to evaluate the i-Road experience in everyday city driving.

 

You might remember something similar to the i-Road shown as a Toyota concept at the 43rd Tokyo Motor Show last year, but the i-Road model going on trial has been modified with features to increase drivability and is now available in five spunky colors. Undeniable spunkiness aside, the i-Road solves a critical dilemma of automakers who want to offer buyers zero-emissions mobility while circumventing the bulkiness and high cost issues of four-wheeled EVs.Like a motorbike, the i-Road utilizes a gyroscope and allows the driver to lean into turns while offering the comfort and stability of a car. Unlike a motorcycle, however, the vehicle won’t get much faster than 38 mph, which makes it best for those who need to get around more efficiently in an urban environment.

The trial is also experimenting with the revolutionary Ha:mo system, which combines GPS and an itinerary calculator to evaluate the most efficient way of traveling to your destination using an eco-friendly and time-sensitive combination of the i-Road, rental bikes, public transportation, and legs.  The Ha:mo is not just created for the benefit of the driver, but for the benefit of the city itself. Efforts to incorporate walking and public transportation are a part of the Toyota effort to strive towards a low-carbon urban society equipped with advanced technological mobility.

 

If you want a detailed breakdown on the i-Road specs and technology, you can find it here. However, we’ve provided a stripped-down version of the details below:

    • The i-Road seats two passengers (in tandem to keep body narrow)
    • The i-Road has a fully enclosed body that protects rider and driver from the elements.
    • The i-Road does not require a helmet because it is fully enclosed.
    • The i-Road stays upright when at rest because of a trick front-wheel setup.
    • The i-Road is steered using a “squircle”-shaped steering wheel.
    • The i-Road has front-wheel drive and gets no power from the rear wheel.
    • The i-Road lithium-iron battery claims to last for 30 miles.
    • The i-Road lithium iron battery top-offs take three hours (but Toyota doesn’t indicate whether this is on Janpanese, European, or U.S. power standards.)
    • The i-Road price has not been announced or estimated. Neither has when and where the vehicle will be for sale.

 

Unfortunately for us, and for many of our readers and customers, these trials are only happening in Tokyo. Would these vehicles be beneficial to the St. Louis or Riverbend areas? Those who don’t drive long distances on an everyday basis might find this a cost effective option for daily errands. Alternatively, those who do drive long distances daily might still find this vehicle to be a fun alternative for their shorter trips. What do you think? Let us know! Post a response on our blog here, or find us on Facebook and join the conversation.

 

 

Source:  Toyota USA

Scion Announces Details Surrounding Limited Production ‘10 Series’ Models

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Today, Scion released pricing and more specific information on all of the forthcoming Scion10 Series models to commemorate the brand’s 10th anniversary.  Each example will come standard with   In all, only 10,000 Scion to Series vehicles will be produced and will arrive in dealerships in June.

Scion 10 Series 2014 tC – Comes with premium stitching on the steering wheel and seats, projector headlights, LED accent lighting, 18-inch gloss dark gray allow wheels, an electroluminescent panel about the radio, and front and rear locator badges (which illuminate once the vehicle is unlocked).  The tC also comes with the all-new Scion Standard Display Audio, featuring a 6.1-inch LCD touchscreen, Bluetooth® compatibility, HD Radio™ technology and steering wheel-mounted controls.  Other exclusive features include logo-stamped Scion side skirts, illuminated shift knob, and Scion floor mats.

Scion 10 Series 2014 iQ – Comes with projector-beam headlights, 16-inch graphite gray alloy wheels, two electroluminescent panels on the center console, front and rear illuminated locater badges, illuminated shift knob and logo floor mats.

Scion 10 Series 2013 FR-S – Comes with dual zone automatic climate control, HID headlights, LED DRL accent lights, 17-inch wheels (the same ones that come on the standard car), a frameless rearview mirror, a dashboard electroluminescent panel, front and rear locator badges, illuminated shift knob (A/T models only), and Scion-logo cargo mat.

Scion 10 Series 2013 xB – Comes with projector beam halogen headlights, LED accent lighting, 16-inch graphite alloy wheels, a dashboard electroluminescent panel, front and rear locator badges, illuminated shift knob and Scion floor mats.

Scion 10 Series 2013 xD – Comes with premium stitching on the seats, halogen headlights, 16-inch graphite gray alloy wheels, electroluminescent panel above the radio, a rear locator badge, illuminated shift knob and Scion logo floor and cargo mats.

All Scion 10 Series models will be painted in a premium color, Silver Ignition, with silver seat belts to match.

 

Source: Scion Newsroom

Review – 2013 Toyota RAV4

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As Toyota continues their product blitz, let’s take a moment to discuss what making “Fun to drive, again” means for the RAV4.  Originally created to bridge the gap between compacts and midsize SUVs, the Toyota RAV4 was the market’s first true compact crossover when it debuted in the late 1990’s. Since then, a lot has changed – not only is the market flooded with competition, Toyota’s “little ute that could” is no longer leading the sales pack.  Something needed to be done to turn the nameplate around, and they’ve done it.  The 2013 Toyota RAV4 not only gives consumers more of what they want at a price they can afford, it’s elegantly packaged in a stylish design that will stand the test of time.

Completely redesigned for the 2013 model year, gone are many of the oddities found on features unique to its predecessor, including a swing-style rear door with posterior-mounted spare tire and available third-row seating.  Given the size of the vehicle and the way that market trends have progressed, none of those attributes made the previous RAV4 particularly appealing to consumers as the years went on.  Not to worry: All has been addressed, and even more valuable features have been added, including a Standard Display Audio System, standard rear backup camera, available power liftgate (on Limited models), available rear cross-traffic alert, and available blind spot monitoring.

RAV4 only comes available with a single engine choice this year – a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 173 horsepower.  Toyota has added two more cogs to the transmission for a total of six forward ratios versus the outgoing model’s four.  Although a number of customers chose the previous RAV4 because of its available V6, it’s notable to point out that for every five four-cylinder models Toyota sold, they only sold one V6-equipped model.  Buyers of the new RAV4 shouldn’t be disappointed with power delivery – it builds evenly and smoothly, due in part both to the light chassis and the silky-smooth six-speed automatic transmission.  AWD is also available.  And if that’s not enough, there’s even a “Sport” button for a more spirited driving characteristic, adjusting both the steering ratio and throttle response for when you want it.  Likewise, there’s an “Eco” button that delays throttle response ever so lightly (you’ll probably never even know) along with tuning the climate control to give you the best mileage possible.

The RAV4’s cabin beautifully crafted and is among the most quiet in the segment – almost Lexus-like, especially at cruising speeds.  The front seats are very supportive, even on longer journeys and the rear 60/40-split folding seatbacks are adjustable and can partially recline.  Overall, the RAV4’s taut suspension delivers a comfortable ride without sacrificing handling.  There’s less body-roll than expected and it turns like a champ.

Check out our walkaround video featuring the all-new Toyota RAV4:

Toyota Reigns Supreme in 2012 Reliability Rankings

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Credit: Toyota

Japanese automakers have been known for years for producing vehicles exhibiting overall superior reliability and below-average cost to repair, and this year, Toyota, Scion, and Lexus have earned the top three spots among “Most Reliable Automakers.”  The highest ranked vehicle of all is the all-new Toyota Prius c.

This year’s report was compiled using data comprised of nearly 1.2 million surveys that show how many issues were reported among vehicles out of a scale of 0-100 per model.  The fewer issues per 100 vehicles-per-model in the survey, the higher the model’s reliability ranking – impacting the manufacturer’s score across an entire vehicle lineup.

Source – Autoblog

Next Toyota Corolla to Share Global Auris Styling?

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Last week, Toyota revealed their new 2013 Auris five-door hatchback aimed at global (read: not for the U.S.) markets and it’s quite a looker, not to mention all of the research and development time and money going into creating a new model.  That said, the styling of the JDM (Japan Domestic Market) Corolla Fielder/Axio is rather mute, bulbous, and places an emphasis on luxury, features, and overall interior volume rather than competitive styling.  It certainly wouldn’t work here in North America.  The Auris, on the other hand, would look great on our roads, except for one thing: It’s a hatchback.  Although there are more and more hatches returning to the land of the free, yanks have not completely warmed up to them enough to warrant Toyota executing a full profile change from sedan to hatchback on the Corolla we get here in the States.  Nevertheless, the Corolla we will see here in North America may end up looking very similar to the Auris in profile and overall styling, more or less from the vehicle’s B-pillar on forward.  How can we tell?  Pictures speak a thousand words.

Firstly, take a look at the front fascia.  Now, it’s not the spitting image of the Auris, but from what we can tell from the spy shots, we’re looking at foglights, possible HID headlamps, and a prominent nose with the proportions of the JDM Auris model.

Similarities in side profile are nearly spot-on as well, especially when you look at the mirrors.  Not only is the mirror shape identical, so are the aero fins (the same kind we’ve seen on many new Lexus models lately).  Proportionally, the front fenders seem to share the same overall shape and proportion on each side of the wheel well, and the similarities between both cars don’t seem to stop until you get behind the B-pillar.  Again, this is because the vehicle shown in the spy photos is a Corolla sedan, and with the departure of the Matrix in Toyota’s lineup, it would make sense for Toyota to bring back the Corolla five-door – possibly leaving the door wide open for Toyota to slap a Corolla badge on the back of an Auris and put it on a boat bound for Long Beach.  Although that whole situation is purely speculative, it makes perfect sense.

So, what do you think?  Would you like to see the new Auris (or something closely resembling it) in the United States soon?

Photo Credit: Autoblog

 

 

 

 

Mungenast Alton Toyota Celebrates 25 Incredible Years

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For most, the year 1987 means something special – the birth of a child, or perhaps high school graduation.  For us, not only was it the year the Supra Turbo was introduced, but it was most importantly the year we opened our doors for business in beautiful, historic Alton, Illinois.  The Riverbend community has been very great to us, and we’re proud to have served and done business in this area over the last 25 years, and look forward to the next 25!

Photo Credit – Mungenast Alton Toyota-Scion

Mississippi Earthtones Festival – September 15th, 2012

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Mungenast Alton Toyota-Scion is a very proud sponsor of the Mississippi Earthtones Festival, where patrons gather to celebrate the Mississippi River through art, music, and conservation. There wil kinds of things to do!

-Kids Activites
-Climbing Wall
-Great Food and Beer
-Live Concerts
-Recycling, and Earth-Friendly Vendors

We encourage you to join our Facebook event page, found here: http://www.facebook.com/events/499522040075187/

For more information regarding the Mississippi Earthtones Festival, please visit www.RiverfrontAmphitheater.com/Earthtones.

 

Toyota Developing Electric Sports Car With Manual Transmission [w/Video]

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Looks like all of those coins we’ve been throwing into the wishing well by the handful are starting to pay off.  Part of the commitment that Toyota has outlined as it “rebrands” itself as a car company that produces vehicles that are fun to drive means actually building and developing such cars – which Toyota is not only actually doing, but they’re pushing the envelope in terms of defining the sports car itself and what it takes to propel one.  With years of hybrid technology experience, Toyota has always found themselves on the leading edge of drivetrain technology.

As of late, car companies have been exploring ways to bring electric vehicles to market.  While the mass-market EV has become a reality, the one thing that today’s EVs lack is that raw, fun-to-drive factor.  Sure, you can throw an electric motor under the hood and bolt on a CVT, charge it up, and call it a day – but for Toyota’s development team, that’s less than ideal, and know that for driving enthusiasts, CVT transmissions provide a driving experience that is far less than satisfactory.

Thus, the only real solution to curing the lethargy induced by the CVT transmission is to do something radical – and something that is actually far more revolutionary than it may seem – and that’s introducing an electric sports car equipped with a real manual transmission – three pedals and all.  If it sounds impossible, it’s not.  This technology is currently under development by means of the 2000GT SEV (Solar Electric Vehicle), a skunkworks project by Toyota and GAZOO Racing that blends the old with the new.  The 2000GT is one of the most iconic Toyota sports cars, so what better platform to use to explore cutting edge technology?

Recently, a couple members of Toyota’s development team went on record to confirm that not only did they feel that a CVT would detract from the overall driving experience, but that an electric powertrain paired with a manual gearbox was not only under exploratory development, but that we can expect to find a manual transmission available in a Toyota hybrid or EV product within the next three years.

Below, you can watch a video released by Toyota that illustrates what the 2000GT SEV project is about. [Japanese]

Source – Autocar, YouTube

Toyota Announces 2013 Avalon Hybrid

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Back in April when Toyota unveiled the newly redesigned 2013 Avalon, not much except the overall design was really talked about, until now.  For the first time ever, Toyota customers can now opt for a hybrid powertrain on their Avalon sedan.  While the fact that Toyota is adding Hybrid Synergy Drive to any of its product offerings comes as absolutely no surprise (except maybe if they offered a hybrid FJ Cruiser), what’s surprising is the fuel economy – 40 MPG City / 39 MPG Highway – which is incredible for such a large sedan to achieve.  Also substantiating the availability of a hybrid powertrain on the Avalon is the fact that the new 2013 Lexus ES 300h uses the same system and the same platform.

As with all Toyota vehicles equipped with Hybrid Synergy Drive, the Avalon features EV, ECO, and SPORT modes.  Under ideal conditions, the Avalon can travel at speeds up to 25 mph for up to approximately one mile under battery power alone.  With a total system output of 200 horsepower, the Avalon Hybrid offers plenty of power to make any commute a breeze without any drawbacks.

The Avalon and Avalon Hybrid are expected in showrooms by the end of 2012.

Source – Toyota USA Newsroom
Photo Credit – Toyota USA Newsroom

Automotive Summer Survival Guide

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Summer is in full swing, and if it’s one thing we know about Midwestern summers, it’s that they’re unpredictable!  Whether you find yourself under a scorching hot sun, or under a monsoon – here’s five things you can keep handy in your vehicle for when you’re ready to have fun in the sun!

Sunscreen:   With all the scientific evidence out there regarding sun damage and skin cancer, keeping a spare bottle of sunscreen in the glove box is an easy way to keep you and your family safe this summer.  Pay close attention that the lotion you’re using will protect you from harmful UV-A and UV-B rays.

Umbrella:  You never know when a storm might pop up, so you really can’t go wrong by keeping an umbrella inside the vehicle (and somewhere within reach).  Why not go the extra mile and keep a couple rain ponchos in the car, too?

Beach Towels:  These handy items just aren’t for poolside lounging – they’re actually great for a couple of different things.  Keeping a towel draped across your seats will not only protect you and your kids from the sting of a hot leather seat, but it will also help protect your upholstery from wet and muddy kids and pets.

Insect Repellent:  The mild winter we had means that insects have come back with a vengeance this summer.  Keep a can of insect repellent handy so that you don’t get eaten alive!

First-Aid Kit:  Not just for those of us with kids – keeping some bandages and antibiotic ointment on hand is a must, especially if you enjoy keeping active through running, hiking, biking, skateboarding, etc.

Is there anything else you would suggest keeping in your car this summer?  Tell us in the comment section below!