Thursday, 25 July 2024

Just when you thought we were at SUV overload, here comes a brand new entry.
The difference though, compared to many new SUV debuts, is this one actually makes a lot of sense.

What I’m talking about is the new 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander, a larger version of the longtime favorite Toyota Highlander that aims to improves Toyota’s take-home rate vs. other popular three-row midsize SUVs such as the Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade, Mazda CX-90, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer.

Expanding on the many positive attributes of the Highlander, the Grand Highlander delivers additional cargo space as well as more room for third-row passengers. (Note: If you like of the look of the Grand Highlander and want a more upscale version, the brand new 2024 Lexus TX is another option to consider)

This vehicle is essentially an answer to folks who liked the Highlander in concept, but moved away to other brands due to it lacking the proper space for their larger families. By adding additional room, Toyota is inviting these families back into the fold.

I recently got the chance to test the 2024 Grand Highlander, and I’m back with a full report on how it measures up.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

For families shopping for an SUV that will serve their needs, the Toyota Highlander has long been on the list of vehicles to consider, in part because it can hold up to 8 passengers and lots of cargo.

This three-row midsize SUV isn’t the class-leader in all areas (some rivals are more luxurious, and have more third-row space, for example), but collectively it delivers an excellent experience that has led to it being a top seller in the segment for many years.

A full redesign of the Highlander hasn’t happened since 2020, but there was a change in the engine offerings starting with the 2023 model, which carried over to 2024. The new engine is a turbo 4-cylinder instead of the V6 offering that had been offered prior. And the new Highlander features an updated tech system that delivers an excellent user experience.

There are a ton of major vehicles in this segment — including Kia Telluride, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer and more. Read on to see how the Highlander holds up in this very popular and competitive category of three-row family haulers.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

Toyota has many vehicles with impressive popularity, but in the SUV realm their clear champion is the Toyota RAV4, a compact crossover that consistently lands at or near the top of sales charts.

In terms of variety of RAV4 models, Toyota has been smart to recognize that not everyone is eager to jump into an electric vehicle, so they offer some other more reasonable alternatives — namely a hybrid version and a plug-in hybrid version of the RAV4.

This makes lots of sense, especially considering how Toyota was a longtime pioneer in the hybrid space going back to the launch of the Prius.

The plug-in option is called the RAV4 Prime, and I recently spent some time behind the wheel of a RAV Prime. A carryover to the 2024 model from the 2023 version, the RAV4 Prime is a well-designed, user-friendly vehicle that delivers a solid drive quality plus strong fuel economy.

Read on to learn more about what the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid has to offer compared to other vehicles in this space, and who will want to take one home.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

Revisiting the past with new car name launches can be a mixed bag. On one hand it helps create more buzz since the name is recognizable. On the other, it may seem like a brand is running out of new ideas.

One new vehicle that harkens back to long-gone days is the Toyota Crown, a historic nameplate that comes back to life in 2023 to replace Toyota’s Avalon in the full-size sedan category.

And while it has nothing in common with the Toyota Crown that first came to the U.S. in 1958 and was sold through 1972, the name is a strong one, evoking royalty and leadership.

I recently tested the 2023 Toyota Crown — which is one of the few vehicles still for sale in the large sedan category — taking on rivals such as the Volkswagen Arteon, Volvo S90, Nissan Maxima and the Kia Stinger.

Toyota fans who are seeking a bit of luxury, but don’t want to step up to a Lexus sedan, will welcome the Crown as a worthy replacement for the Avalon.


Its striking looks and design are the teaser to get your attention, then the performance and tech/safety will garner even more positive feedback.

Read on for my full take on this reborn classic nameplate from Toyota.

Published in CAR REVIEWS

BROOKLYN, Mich. — When this week’s race at MIS is run (could be Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, depending on how the weather cooperates), several drivers jump to the top of the list when we think about possible winners.

The Closer

First and foremost is Kevin Harvick, who has taken home 5 of the last 7 race wins at Michigan Speedway, a difficult feat to accomplish. He also has a 6th Michigan win earlier in his career, and has taken home one Xfinity Series checkered flag and a Truck Series win on top of the 6 Cup wins.

With this being Harvick’s final season before heading into the broadcast booth, it would be fitting it he continued to add to those records with a final win at Michigan. He’ll have to work for the win, as he’s starting from the 11th row, but if you’ve watched Harvick compete for the past 25 years or so, you know that showing up to take the glory at the end of a race is one of his specialties, so I wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see him fighting for the checkered flag.

Harvick talked a bit about his secrets for success at Michigan.

“I think Michigan is one of those places where car placement and just putting yourself in the right position lap after lap after lap, and not making the mistakes that cost you a half-a-second a lap, and just making a half-a-tenth-of-a-second mistake instead of making those big mistakes and losing track position, and just doing all the little things right, is what you need to do at Michigan,” he said.

Published in NASCAR

The Toyota Corolla has long been one of America’s most popular vehicles, in part because it has multiple variants that will appeal to different people.

One such variant is its hybrid option, which is one of the few remaining affordable small cars still offered in a hybrid version.

Featuring an expanded trim lineup for 2023, as well as tech upgrades and optional all-wheel drive, the new Corolla hybrid makes a good case for its continued success.

I recently spent some time behind the wheel of a 2023 Corolla SE hybrid sedan, and I’m back with a full report on what it has to offer and who might want to pick one up.

Published in CAR REVIEWS

Going 14 years between redesigns is almost unheard of in today’s automotive landscape. In that time span, many models have come and gone, and those remaining have undergone a few major updates.

Suffice it to say that the arrival of a brand new 2023 Toyota Sequoia, last redesigned when President Barack Obama was just taking office, is a pretty big deal.

The Sequoia is Toyota’s largest vehicle sold in the U.S. and competes with other three-row heavies such as the Jeep Wagoneer, Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, and Ford Expedition.

Completely new looks inside and out, a bold new hybrid powertrain and a massive tech system featuring a 14-inch screen are among the highlights of the brand new Sequoia, whose large size and rugged capabilities set it apart in an industry heavily focused on smaller crossover vehicles.

I recently drove the 2023 Sequoia — which is based on the body-on-frame chassis used on the Toyota Tundra truck and Lexus LX SUV — and I’m back with a full report on whether the changes live up to the hype of such a lengthy wait.

 

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

FLAT ROCK, MICHIGAN — The hot streak continues for young William Sawalich, who at 16 has just won his second ARCA Menards Series East win of 2023. He’s the latest young talent driving a No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs, and continues to show he has the talent to succeed at higher levels.

Sawalich started Saturday’s race in 4th position, but was showing speed all race at the quarter-mile track, which hadn’t hosted an ARCA event since the year 2000.

The first 100 laps of the 150-lap event were dominated by Sean Hingorani, another young driver who had claimed the pole for the Flat Rock event, held in front of an enthusiastic crowd that welcomed the return of the series with open arms.

Even with a handful of cars falling out of the 16-car field for various reasons, there was still a lot of lapped traffic to negotiate, eventually taking its toll on Hingorani and allowing his competitors to catch up.

Published in NASCAR

As Toyota continues to redefine its lineup in a variety of vehicle types (ICE, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, full EV), the RAV4 crossover remains a key element in their portfolio.

One of the more popular compact SUVs on the market every year, the RAV4 comes in multiple formats, including a traditional hybrid model, plug-in hybrid and standard ICE.

The RAV4 hybrid competes directly against a handful of hybrid SUV rivals from Hyundai, Honda, Ford and Kia.

I recently spent some time in the 2023 Toyota RAV4 hybrid, which debuts a brand-new Woodland Edition trim level for 2023 with a more rugged design and off-road capabilities, and I’m back with a full report.

Published in SUV / TRUCK REVIEWS

Since debuting the Prius at the tail end of the 20th century, Toyota has long been a force in the world of hybrid vehicles, and they continue holding on to this leadership role with a large number of hybrids available for the 2023 model year.

The Camry is Toyota’s midsize sedan tour de force, so it makes sense that a hybrid version has been available for the past 15-plus years. And while some competitors have abandoned hybrids and focus exclusively on electric vehicles, there are still a few direct competitors for the Camry hybrid — including the Sonata hybrid and Accord hybrid.

I’m of the belief that Toyota is being smart by not diving fully into EVs before the infrastructure is there to support them, and still keeping a strong hybrid lineup in play for people who want fuel economy but don't want to go the EV route.

I recently spent time behind the wheel of a 2023 Toyota Camry hybrid, and I’m back with a full report.

Published in CAR REVIEWS
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