Displaying items by tag: Toyota
Back on the road, and a run to the track for some revealing numbers.
As travel restrictions lifted, we hit the road in our 2020 Toyota Supra, and we've added more than 5,000 city and highway miles since the first update. As a result, our once-empty-road fuel economy (27 mpg average) is now more representative of real-world driving at 25 mpg. The EPA estimates 26 combined, so we're close. A couple long drives that nearly drained the tank proved the Supra can be quite miserly, returning 30 to 31 mpg.
Not only are we driving more, we had an opportunity to run to our test facility to see how this 3.0 Premium measures up against two "Launch Editions" we tested last year. There's no difference in hardware, only a 21-pound weight difference, so we didn't expect a difference in performance.
We were right; identical 0-60 mph times (3.9 seconds), the same quarter-mile times (12.5 seconds) and trap speeds were all within a half mph of one another. The three are separated by 7 feet braking from 60 mph, with ours in the middle at 103 feet. Lateral acceleration on the skidpad was a dead heat with all three posting an average of 1.01 g. On our "race track in a bottle" figure-eight test, they were separated by 0.4 second, ours bringing up the rear with a 24.3-second lap.
Supra Testing Notes
During the quarter-mile acceleration runs, the test driver commented, "It really doesn't matter if TC [traction control] is on or off, there's a just-right amount of wheelspin regardless. Launch control does the same thing, as well. Very consistent, but it can feel a little dicey until the shift to second gear. Sounds great as it upshifts at redline."
Regarding the braking test, he said, "Brakes (and tires) like a little heat as the distances grew shorter. Firm pedal, very little dive, and no squirm to speak of. Highly controlled, even from 100 mph. In order: 106, 106, 103, 104 feet." For sports cars, we do at least one stop from 100 mph to ascertain a theoretical 0-100-0 mph time. Our Supra earned a highly respectable 13.9-second time.
All things considered, the Supra is living up to its lineage, convoluted as it may be with this generation.
We get behind the wheel of a prototype version of the second-generation Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car
Disregarding the fuel cells beneath its bonnet, the Mirai is up there with ‘normal’ luxury saloons for the suave way it goes down the road. More than that, it’s a fantastic showcase for Toyota’s increasingly efficient and affordable hydrogen tech. Sadly it’s still teeth-suckingly expensive next to ICE alternatives, and is likely to remain a niche corporate purchase for a while yet. But with hydrogen cars this good on the market, the infrastructure surely can’t be far behind.
The development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HEVs) has been stuck in a chicken and egg debacle for many years now. Which comes first – the cars or the infrastructure?
Given that there are currently 14 hydrogen filling stations in the UK, despite the fact that there have been two hydrogen fuel cell vehicles available (albeit at prohibitive cost) on sale over here in the shape of the Hyundai Nexo and Toyota Mirai, it looks like the car is going to have to come first.
So here is Toyota’s latest effort to further the hydrogen cause; the all-new, second generation Mirai. This is an early pre-production model but, with the car now based loosely on a Lexus LS platform, the Mirai has become rather suave and dashing in an understated kind of way.
Unless you were looking for the tell-tale badges on the outside, you’d never know that a fuel-cell stack sits beneath its bonnet, which in turn drives a 180bhp electric motor mounted on the rear axle. In the middle of all that sits three T-shaped hydrogen tanks that can take 5.6kg of hydrogen – the equivalent of 142.2 litres, giving an estimated driving range of around 500 miles between fill-ups (which take no longer than in a petrol or diesel car).
In practice, the serene-feeling new Mirai is a revolution to drive compared to its predecessor. The steering is light and, while far from precise, feels direct and predictable. Ride comfort is truly exceptional, too. There’s quite a bit of pitch and heave as the sizeable body (which roughly splits the difference between a BMW 5 Series and 7 Series) shifts about, but it’s well controlled and unobtrusive, not to mention worth living with for the pillowy way the Mirai rolls over scruffy surfaces.
This comfort, and the near silent, seamless power delivery are the defining characteristics of the Mirai’s newfound luxury ambience. A hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is still driven by an electric motor so you get the same continuous, uninterrupted stream of acceleration that is becoming familiar with normal battery EVs. There’s no discernible noise at all from the fuel cells as they putter away mixing hydrogen from the fuel tanks and oxygen from the atmosphere, to create electricity for power, and a small amount of water as the only bi-product, which you can purge by pressing a tempting ‘h2o’ button just next to steering wheel.
This powertrain is quiet and refined by its very nature, then, and in the Mirai it’s cosseted in a car that’s been given all the refinement treatment you’d expect of a top-notch Lexus. But for a distant burr of wind and tyre rush, noise and vibration in the Mirai is virtually indiscernible.
Even the interior, which is stuffed with high quality leather, chunky armchair-like seats, a huge touchscreen resplendent with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as factory-fit nav, feels befitting of a limo-class car despite the odd cheaper-feeling switch and panel finish. There’s luxurious amounts of room to stretch out in the back seats, too.
The only thing about the Mirai that isn’t luxurious is the performance. It doesn’t feel as lazy as the 0-62mph time of 9.2 seconds suggests; there’s decent pick up even from middling speeds to motorway speeds, but for a big, plush car – environmentally minded or not – it’d be reasonable to expect better performance. Toyota maintains that it can put a more powerful motor in fairly easily, but with efficiency and range the chief priority with the Mirai, engineers stuck with stately rather than sporty performance.
As it is, it’s really rather lovely to drive in a big, wafty, almost eerily quiet fashion. But more importantly it represents a host of incremental gains that could help to make hydrogen a feasible solution for mainstream vehicles.
The fuel cells are now lighter and more efficient, and the fuel tanks aren’t just bigger, they’re made of a new, lighter and more affordable carbon fibre. More than that, with these gains factored in and Toyota’s increasingly refined hydrogen fuel cell production line, the company can now punch out a hydrogen fuel cell in a matter of seconds - and for usefully less money than before.
Having said that, the Mirai still may not even be available as a normal retail purchase. List prices are yet to be confirmed, and while it’s expected to be more affordable than before, you’ll probably still have to find around £65,000 – or a monthly lease payment (the previous generation cost £750 per month) is also a likely option.
That’s cheaper, yet a million miles from cheap. Even without the extreme limitations of the hydrogen charging infrastructure, being able to get an Audi A6, BMW 5 Series or otherwise for some £20,000 less makes the Mirai, well… Let’s just say it’s hard to recommend. Even so, that shouldn’t detract from the fact that it is, by any measure, lovely to drive and – most importantly – a superb showcase for hydrogen fuel cell technology.
The verdict: The 2020 Toyota C-HR uses its funky styling (mostly) to its advantage, with a generous helping of standard safety features.
Versus the competition: The class of faux SUVs — lifted hatchbacks with SUV-like styling and cargo space that don’t even offer all-wheel drive — is growing, but the C-HR still stands out among the crowd thanks to its driving experience and safety features, not just its styling.
Though we usually let the images represent what a vehicle looks like, it’s hard to talk about the C-HR without at least acknowledging its styling. I called it ugly before it even went on sale, but I’ve actually mellowed in the years since. The sharp angles may not be for everyone, but at least it isn’t a generic blob or a traditional-looking SUV. The C-HR’s funky looks may even make it more appealing — at least to buyers looking to stand out in a sea of blah vehicles.
The 2020 C-HR has revised front styling, including new headlamps, but you’d be hard-pressed to discern what’s different without putting the two side by side. There are also new wheel designs to choose from.
Besides that, this is still the small, lifted hatchback that Toyota — and Cars.com, perhaps grudgingly — calls an SUV, despite its being exclusively front-wheel drive. It competes with similar FWD-only tall cars like the Hyundai Venue, Kia Soul and Nissan Kicks (see them compared).
Interior and Cargo
The C-HR’s interior, particularly in the Limited trim I tested, has some hits and misses — not unexpected in a car costing less than $30,000. There’s decent leather upholstery on the Limited, and most of the hard surfaces don’t feel overly cheap, if not very upscale. Like on the exterior, there are fun aesthetic touches inside, such as textured plastic inserts in the door panels and oval designs scooped out of the headliner. Neither adds function or feels high-end, but they do add a touch of whimsy that I appreciate.
Another hit is the 8-inch touchscreen, which is flanked by physical buttons that control various functions, as well as volume and tuning knobs. The system operates quickly and the graphics are clear, if a bit dated. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto — the latter new for 2020 — are standard. Below the screen and central air vents are the climate controls, which are simple and easy to use.
Not so easy to use were the menus in the gauge cluster, which could display a variety of information (including the G-forces the C-HR was experiencing while driving) but not a digital tire pressure readout. Toyota buried the C-HR’s drive modes in there, too, making it a pain to switch modes. I accidentally stumbled across the modes the first time I drove the C-HR, but the next time I got in, I had to pull over and read the owner’s manual to figure out how to change them. Just give me a physical button or switch, please.
Another miss is in the rear. Surprisingly, I had ample legroom and a decent amount of headroom in spite of the C-HR’s compact size and sloping roofline, but its high beltline and tiny rear window contributed to a very enclosed feeling overall. It reminded me of sitting in the window seat on a plane when the window doesn’t line up with the row of seats and you have an obscured view the whole flight. ([Seinfeld voice] What’s the deal with that?) It’s not ideal, and it’s a direct consequence of the C-HR’s styling.
As for the cargo area, with the backseat upright, Toyota estimates the space at 19.1 cubic feet. In practice, it was enough for a pretty significant grocery run and would probably suffice for two adults’ luggage for a weeklong trip (though some stacking may be involved). With the backseat folded, the C-HR takes advantage of its extra length better than the rest of the faux SUV class — it’s more than a foot longer than the Venue, half a foot longer than the Soul and a few inches longer than the Kicks — to offset its low roof and increase cargo volume to 37 cubic feet (again, according to Toyota; we’ve found manufacturers to be inconsistent with such measurements).
What’s It Like to Drive the C-HR?
The “C” in C-HR stands for “coupe,” so you’d be right to expect a sporty — or at least sportier — driving experience. (“HR” is for “High Rider,” because it sits a little higher.) And there is some of that sportiness there, with direct, communicative steering and nimble handling that make the C-HR feel like it can be pushed harder than the Venue or Kicks.
The 144-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine also makes more horsepower than the Venue or Kicks, but it needs to; the CH-R outweighs those models by a substantial 743 and 609 pounds, respectively (comparing base trim levels). The Toyota has a continuously variable automatic transmission that leads to a great deal of droning noise at higher speeds or under aggressive acceleration. It also does a poor job of mimicking a traditional automatic transmission, leading to a noticeable rubber-band feeling when you hit the gas. That makes highway driving a bit of a chore, with a noticeable wait for passing power and added engine noise.
The 2020 C-HR’s gas mileage is at the bottom of this subclass, rated by the EPA at 27/31/29 mpg city/highway/combined with its standard four-cylinder engine. That’s a lower combined rating than the Kicks, Venue or Soul with its standard four-cylinder engine. If you get the 201-hp, 1.6-liter turbo four in the Soul, the combined ratings are the same, but the Soul Turbo is rated at 32 mpg on the highway.
The sportiness also makes for a firm-feeling ride — not uncommon for a small car, but the 18-inch wheels on my test car likely didn’t help. The LE gets 17-inch wheels, while the mid-range XLE also rides on 18s. Despite the harsher ride, the C-HR remained composed over broken pavement and expansion joints.
Visibility is another casualty of the C-HR’s styling, with the raked windshield putting the A-pillars in the way of traffic and pedestrians approaching from the sides, and the small rear windows and door windows make it more difficult to see what’s around you.
Fortunately, Toyota includes a full complement of standard safety tech on all C-HRs as part of its Safety Sense suite, helping mitigate its limited visibility. Those features include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. Adaptive cruise control is a nice touch for the class, particularly as a standard feature. Only the Soul Turbo offers it as an option; it’s not available on the Kicks or Venue.
A welcome change since the C-HR’s debut? A backup camera image that appears on the infotainment screen instead of in the rearview mirror. It debuted in the 2019 model.
The C-HR aced the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s crashworthiness tests and its vehicle-to-vehicle front crash-avoidance tests. The LED headlights that come standard on the Limited also earned the highest possible rating of good, but the set that comes on the LE and XLE rated poor, IIHS’ lowest rating. (For perspective, mixed ratings — and poor ones — are common for headlights in the institute’s Small SUV class.) The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the C-HR a five-star overall rating, with five stars for front and side impacts and four for rollover resistance.
Our last Car Seat Check, in which the C-HR earned mixed scores, was on a 2018 model. Results should apply to the 2020 C-HR, as well.
Within its class of FWD-only SUVs, the C-HR is one of the most expensive choices, particularly in the Limited trim — our test vehicle approached $30,000. Top trims of the Venue and Kicks, meanwhile, have sub-$25,000 prices, and the Soul Turbo offers more performance for a similar price. While the C-HR is more expensive, though, it does have more standard safety features and one of the more engaging driving experiences.
Expand the choices into small SUVs that do offer all-wheel drive and things get even murkier: The 2021 Kia Seltos, which just won our affordable small SUV comparison, costs only a few hundred dollars more than the C-HR Limited and brings AWD and a more traditional SUV silhouette. More expensive choices include the Mazda CX-30, which is much more enjoyable to drive and has a premium interior but a much less user-friendly infotainment system. The Subaru Crosstrek has a similar lineup of standard safety features and standard AWD, but it can cost more, particularly if you want the new optional 2.5-liter four-cylinder.
What may make the C-HR most appealing in an increasingly crowded field of both front- and all-wheel-drive small SUVs is its combination of unique exterior styling, safety features and sub-$30,000 pricing, particularly if shoppers are considering choices with all-wheel drive.
"Go anywhere looks for faux off-road Corolla wagon"
Take the recently introduced Corolla Touring Sports estate, elevate the ride height, add some cladding to the bodywork and the result is this – the Toyota Corolla Trek.
Those of you with longer memories will recall the Toyota Tercel – a rugged-yet-compact four-wheel drive estate from the mid-1980s. This is not quite the same thing remixed for a modern audience, primarily because the Corolla Trek is front-wheel drive only, with no sign of a 4x4 model on the horizon.
In an admittedly small market sector where two of its key rivals – the Skoda Octavia Scout and Volkswagen’s Golf Alltrack – are available with four-wheel drive, that may be a limiting factor, but closer in spirit to the Toyota is the Ford Focus Active Estate, also an exclusively front-wheel drive model.
Unlike the Ford, there’s no Trek based on the Corolla hatchback body, but that would be a relatively straightforward addition if the market demand is there.
Will the Toyota Corolla Trek be good off-road?
It doesn’t look like it. While it does appear to be aimed at those with more adventurous lifestyles, it won’t be able to compete with more focused SUVs, such as Toyota’s own RAV4 and Land Cruiser.
Toyota Corolla Trek rear three-quarter
The Trek name comes from the bicycle brand Toyota has partnered with, a move which clearly highlights their intended market for this variant – keen mountain adventurers should take note. Compared with the regular Corolla Touring Sports estate, the Trek enjoys a 20mm increase in ride height, which isn’t going to take you very far off road, so a bike mounted on the roof would prove useful.
Toyota Corolla Trek: limited changes for an SUV look
Clearly the Corolla Trek is not a crossover, but a halfway house between a regular estate and an SUV, so visual changes from the Touring Sports are limited.
Outside, stylistic changes are restricted to chunkier bumpers complete with skid plates front and rear to lend an air of off-roading authenticity.
We’ve yet to see images of the interior, but Toyota’s referenced two-tone seat trim and wooden decorative panels. Whether this ‘wood’ is actually related to anything that was once a tree remains to be seen.
Toyota Corolla Trek: exclusively hybrid power
Cars with genuine off-road capability have long been most popular with diesel engines, but as Toyota’s ditching these kind of motors for its mainstream models, the Corolla Trek will be petrol-electric hybrid-only.
However, there’s a choice of two powerplants seen in the regular Corolla models: a 122hp 1.8-litre, which lacks low-range torque, but a much more powerful 180hp 2.0-litre should provide a considerably more pulling power when required.
Precise performance, economy and emissions figures will be released in due course
The verdict: The redesigned 2021 Sienna is Toyota’s gambit to avoid a cookie-cutter minivan at all costs. It’s refreshing in some ways, but other aspects will make you wish the automaker had stuck to a more conventional approach.
Versus the competition: As you might expect for any redesigned minivan, the new Sienna has more family-friendly features than you can shake a pogo stick at. Less characteristic of the class, it boasts a risk-taking interior and a hybrid-only powertrain — qualities that could turn away as many shoppers as they attract.
With styling inspired by Japan’s bullet trains, the Sienna courts minor controversy by way of a gaping lower grille, but Toyota’s been pushing a big grille since it refreshed the minivan late in the prior generation. On sale in November, the 2021 Sienna model comes in five trim levels: LE, XLE, XSE, Limited and Platinum, all with a four-cylinder hybrid powertrain and front- or all-wheel drive. We evaluated two preproduction AWD examples: an LE and XSE.
Toyota’s decision to offer the Sienna as a gas-electric hybrid comes as little surprise given the automaker announced plans in 2017 to offer electrified variants across its entire lineup by roughly 2025. More curious is the decision to offer the Sienna only as a hybrid, in this case with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder plus an electric drive motor. Total output is 245 horsepower, with another electric motor at the rear axle facilitating AWD if equipped. Toyota claims the same 3,500-pound towing capacity as before, plus EPA-estimated combined mileage of 36 mpg (FWD) or 35 mpg (AWD). The agency has yet to publish figures, but it’s safe to say the 2021 Sienna’s fuel efficiency will smoke that of the outgoing Sienna, which in its final years offered only a non-hybrid V-6.
What’s also clear: The new Sienna loses a step to the outgoing model, which made 296 hp, though the deficit isn’t as bad as it looks on paper. Step on the gas, and the hybrid drivetrain’s electric motors lend immediate oomph from a stop, but engine power then raises revs noisily and a little out of sync with your right foot. Power comes soon enough, but maximum acceleration is a bit slower than the old Sienna. The new drivetrain seems optimized for power transitions when you’re already in motion; go from some pedal to more pedal, and power comes with little delay.
Ride and Handling: Base Is Best
Ride quality depends largely on what you get. Equipped with 17-inch wheels with P235/65R17 tires, the Sienna LE absorbs bumps with clean, high-quality composure, though some roads can produce slight, lateral body movement. The XSE AWD pairs a sport-tuned suspension with 18-inch wheels and P235/60R18 tires, meanwhile, and the result is firm. Shock absorption feels altogether less sophisticated, with harsh impacts and more jittery body movement. Front-drive XSEs have 20-inch wheels with even lower-profile tires (P235/50R20s) that may be even more harsh.
Little payoff comes on the handling front, as the LE’s dynamics seem just as good as the XSE’s without the undue firmness. With the battery pack behind the front axle, under the front seats, the Sienna maintains steadfast balance hustling around sweeping corners. It steers with light effort and direct response, though feedback is numb enough to allow excessive wandering on center — especially in the LE, which lacks the XSE’s sport-tuned steering. The XSE’s sport suspension allows slightly less body roll, but the regular setup still corners reasonably flat for what this is. And the tires on both minivans (Bridgestone Turanzas on the XSE and Falken Ziex on the LE, both all-seasons) exhibit good lateral grip.
Draped with hulking shelves and a wide bridge-style center console, this Sienna sports the most left-field interior for a Toyota minivan in the U.S. since the Previa. Gone is the old Sienna’s drop-down center console and floor-level space to throw a medium-size purse, a layout still offered in the rival Honda Odyssey and certain variants of Chrysler’s Voyager and Pacifica siblings. In its place is a massive flow-through console that bridges the dashboard and center armrest. Underneath it is a large storage area with … enough space to throw a medium-size purse. It’s a wide setup overall, but so is the driver’s berth; even for long-legged adults, the console shouldn’t clip your knees. If it does, Toyota pads the outboard section to minimize discomfort.
Cabin quality in our preproduction test cars was all over the map, with harsh, cheap-looking finishes over much of the dashboard and insufficient padding in areas like the upper doors. The LE has a decent grade of cloth upholstery, but the XLE and XSE have SofTex vinyl, which (at least in our XSE example) imparts a rubbery industrial feel; Limited and Platinum models get leather. Toyota routed hardware for the mechanical gear selector down the front side of the console bin — a nice bit of packaging enabling the bridge-style console that usually requires the electronic selectors we universally dislike — but the selector’s rickety operation feels like it’s falling apart. Some of that might improve by production time, but this isn’t the first Toyota we’ve driven to have a shaky gear selector.
Among the console compartments, dashboard shelves and umpteen door pockets, the Sienna still has plentiful storage space. It also boasts decent forward visibility thanks to door-mounted mirrors and thin A-pillars. Rear visibility is less ideal, with bulky second-row head restraints blocking over-the-shoulder sightlines and a backup camera in dire need of better resolution. Higher trim levels offer a camera-based rearview mirror and 360-degree camera system, which we did not evaluate.
A 4.2-inch gauge display and 9-inch touchscreen, the latter with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, are standard. Although wireless smartphone charging is optional, both smartphone integrations still require physical cords, not the wireless connectivity gaining traction industrywide. Spaced across all three rows are seven standard USB ports, including three of the newer USB-C variety. Options include a 7-inch gauge display, two household-style AC outlets, an 11.6-inch rear entertainment system and head-up display.
Winsome Seating …
LE and XLE models seat eight courtesy of a three-position bench with a removable middle seat in the second row. Optional on the XLE and standard on higher trims are second-row captain’s chairs, which reduce capacity to seven. In any case, space is plentiful all around, though accessing the third row from either side remains a cumbersome, multistep process. Fortunately, the second-row seats have exceptional sliding range — about a foot (in a seated position, farther for access) in base models or roughly double that with an optional extended-slide feature — to find a position that lends adult-friendly legroom in both rows.
Typical of a minivan, the Sienna’s third row folds backward into a floor cavity. Stow it there, and the available extended-slide captain’s chairs go nearly as far back as the third row once sat, with enough legroom ahead to host a soccer match. Like the outgoing Sienna, the 2021 model offers pop-up leg rests for passengers to lounge while the van is stopped, but these seats slide 10 inches farther than before, Toyota officials told us.
… Lose Some Cargo
Alas, the versatile seating arrangement comes at significant expense to cargo space. Regardless of configuration, the second-row seats neither fold down nor come out, provisions the Odyssey and Pacifica offer. Toyota says that’s because of new airbags mounted in the second-row seats. Curtain airbags are also standard, and the second row in plenty of cars — including the outgoing Sienna — fared well in side impact crash tests with curtains alone. For the 2021 Sienna, Toyota says the extended-slide seats necessitated the extra pair of airbags.
“Adding airbags to the seats allowed us to include the super-long slide,” said Nicky Hamila, a spokesperson for the automaker. “That would only be possible with airbags in the seats that travel with the seat and [protect] the occupant in every position.”
Still, the explanation doesn’t justify why chairs without the extended-slide feature still have the extra airbags and no removability. In any case, maximizing cargo room requires locking the second-row chairs into a collapsed forward position, similar to a provision in the old Sienna. But for maximum room, the old chairs were fully removable. These are not, and the seatbacks lean forward but don’t fold horizontal to maximize usable cargo depth. Toyota says the new Sienna can still fit 4-by-8-foot sheets of plywood at an angle from floor to seatback, but the setup nonetheless reduces roughly 8 feet of potential cargo depth at floor level down to about 6 feet with the seats collapsed forward, by our measuring tape. In other words, if you need to transport bulky furniture, the non-removable seats reduce maximum cargo room by about a quarter.
Behind the second row, cargo specs are relatively more competitive. With the XSE’s third row folded into the floor and its extended-slide second row at the midpoint of its sliding range — a realistic comparison with other three-row vehicles, which universally have much less sliding range — we measured 44.6 cubic feet of cargo room behind it. (We also measured the space with the chairs positioned all the way back, and the volume behind them was 32.6 cubic feet.) The first figure is competitive: We logged 41.6 cubic feet behind the second row in a 2021 Honda Odyssey, for example. It also underlines the sheer packaging efficiency of minivans at large. We measured 41.8 cubic feet behind the second row of a 2021 Chevrolet Suburban, a full-size SUV that’s nearly 2 feet longer.
Behind the third row, we measured 21.7 cubic feet of volume in the Sienna. That’s competitive with our measurements for the Odyssey (21.1 cubic feet) and, for that matter, the Suburban (23.0 cubic feet). Of note, our Sienna XLE lacked an optional spare tire; getting one would eliminate a wall cubby in back, subtracting about 1 cubic foot from our measurement.
Third-party crash tests have yet to be published for the 2021 Sienna as of this writing. Besides the aforementioned airbags — which make for 10 in total — the Sienna has an impressive roster of crash-avoidance technology, including full-spectrum automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist and a blind spot warning system. On the driver-assist front, hands-on lane-centering steering and adaptive cruise control work all the way down to a stop; both are also standard. For parents with smaller children, a rear-seat reminder employs door sequencing logic, while the second and third rows have two or three sets of Latch anchors apiece, depending on trim.
Features and Pricing
The Sienna’s base price jumps some $3,000, but that’s because the outgoing model offered a budget-priced L grade that’s now discontinued. The LE starts just north of $35,500 with destination — a little steep for the class — but comes well equipped. Standard features include dual power sliding doors, tri-zone automatic climate control, one-touch power windows all around, a power driver’s seat, cloth upholstery, second-row sunshades and the full-fledged multimedia system.
At the other end, a loaded Sienna Platinum AWD tops out in the mid-$50,000s. That’s a few thousand more than the outgoing Sienna, though it’s a competitive — if eye-watering — price for an AWD minivan. Additional features en route to that price include vinyl or leather upholstery, a hands-free power liftgate, the rear entertainment system, JBL premium audio, heated and ventilated seats with dual power adjustments (though no height adjustment for the passenger), and heated second-row seats. Options uncommon to the class include quad-zone climate control and a power-adjustable steering column. On the flip side, there are no immediate plans to offer a panoramic moonroof or camera system to monitor passengers, two features offered by some rivals.
Toyota also plans to offer an onboard vacuum cleaner and refrigerator at some point. Officials said both features won’t be available at launch but are coming later on; however, they declined to provide a timeframe beyond that.
Should You Buy One?
Minivans have long thrown a smorgasbord of features at family shoppers, and the 2021 Sienna serves up as much as the rest of them. But its qualities feel a little more niche than before. If anything, the fourth-gen Sienna seems ready for a contingent of fastidious fans, even if other audiences shrug it off as something not mainstream enough. Minivan shoppers should add it to the list, at minimum because that list is so short. Whether you buy one will depend on whether you find Toyota’s new direction welcome or just plain odd.
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While it still won't raise your blood pressure, the new Camry has a fresh face, an updated infotainment system, and a lower price.
Unlike the rest of the Toyota Camry lineup, which purports to be infused with sportiness, the 2021 Toyota Camry XLE hybrid is a sedan after more traditional Camry traits such as a supple ride, impressive fuel economy, and a handsome interior. The updates to the hybrid are focused on areas that either needed attention or, in the case of last year's front-end design, less attention.
That new front fascia swaps out the old snowplow-like lower grille with a less-in-your-face design. The look is sleeker and more mature and attractive than before. Inside, the Camry swaps out hard plastic for the soft-touch kind on the door panels. There's a choice of two new more touch-responsive screens. Measuring 7.0 or 9.0 inches, each offers volume and tuning knobs flanking either side of the screen, like an old radio. Upgrading to the larger touchscreen with navigation, Apple Car Play, Android Auto, and the nine-speaker JBL audio system is definitely recommended, even with the $1,760 price. Despite switching to a new layout, a larger screen, and a better organized menu structure, much of the old infotainment system lingers behind with outdated graphics and clunky software that isn't as intuitive and easy to use as competitors. The Camry faithful may notice that the XLE has a slick new herringbone pattern on the leather seats.
Powering the most fuel-frugal Camry is the same Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter inline-four and electric motor combination as before. The two power systems put out a combined 208 horsepower to the front wheels. While acceleration around town is adequate, it's not the same story at higher speeds. When pressed into duty in a passing maneuver or sustained acceleration, the powertrain emits an unpleasantly gritty engine note during passing maneuvers. Toyota's 2.5-liter four is a bit loud, a trait made more apparent by the continuously variable automatic transmission's propensity to keep the engine at one rpm.
The powertrain does transition smoothly from electric to gas and electric, and the ride is soft and quiet. EPA ratings remain where they were last year: 46 mpg combined, 44 mpg city, and 47 mpg highway. Buyers who might have skipped the hybrid last year because of its lack of sportiness might be interested in the first-ever Camry XSE hybrid, which promises to combine the sporting looks of the XSE with the fuel economy of the hybrid.
Our fully loaded Camry hybrid XLE exists at the top of the Camry food chain with a price of $33,165. Surprisingly, that price is $560 less than it was for 2020. Compare base prices, and the hybrid Camry is a big $3000 or so less than the Honda Accord hybrid and the Hyundai Sonata hybrid. Even with every available option, the Camry is only about $1,500 more than the base Accord and Sonata hybrids. The Camry hybrid is apparently about more than saving gas, it's about saving money and saving face.
The Toyota RAV4 is a practical family SUV that has a roomy cabin, plenty of standard equipment and an economical hybrid system, but alternatives have tech that’s easier to use.
No one really thinks of the Toyota RAV4 as a trailblazer, but that’s what it is, because back in 1994 it was the first of the small ‘leisure SUVs’ that preceded the tsunami of such vehicles we see today.
One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is the fact that the RAV4 remains an affordable family SUV with a spacious cabin, a big boot and a clever hybrid system.
These days the RAV4 has a wide range of alternatives, such as the Honda CR-V and VW Tiguan, but in its latest form stands out from these cars thanks to its super-aggressive looks.
The Toyota RAV4 is a mishmash of creases, angular shapes and blunt surfaces whichever angle you approach from. Its gaping octagonal grille looks more like it belongs on a menacing sports saloon than a practical family runabout. You might like it, but your neighbour might not, or vice-versa. In any case, it’s certainly striking.
Sadly (or not, depending on your view) the Toyota RAV4 is less daring inside. It combines simple surfaces, clean lines and posh-looking metal-effect trims that look pretty understated and rather classy and most of the surfaces you’ll touch regularly feel plush and sturdy. It’s not quite as solid-feeling as a VW Tiguan, but it looks much more exciting than a Honda CR-V.
One area of improvement is the infotainment system, which now features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system is much quicker to respond than systems of old.
The seats are very supportive; in mid-range models, you get lumbar support and plenty of electric adjustment that means even taller folk will find space to stretch out.
If you’re designated driver for a burly five-a-side football team then everyone will fit in just fine and even entry-level cars will allow you to recline the seat backs by a few degrees.
You won’t break a sweat fitting a child seat either – the Isofix points are easy to find – and a wide opening and flat floor means sliding things into the Toyota RAV4’s boot is an easy task.
There is more room than the boot in the Honda CR-V and, even though there are no levers in the boot to do so, you can flip the back seats down flat to carry really big stuff – such as a bike.
The simplicity extends to the engine range and driving experience, too. The only engine option is a hybrid system and this lets you cruise almost silently around town using just the power of its electric motor. You get an automatic gearbox as standard, too, which means you can cruise around town without constantly reaching for the gear lever.
The downside of the auto ‘box is that it makes the 2.5-litre petrol engine rev loudly every time you put your foot down. It’s reasonably quiet when you’re cruising at motorway speeds, though, and the RAV4 irons out bumps pretty well, too. As an added bonus, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting close to Toyota’s top claimed fuel economy figure of 50.4mpg.
The relaxation stakes are further upped by the driver assistance features that make the Toyota RAV4 relaxing to drive for long periods and help prevent avoidable accidents – perfect if you’re looking for a safe family SUV that’s easy to live with every day. If you are after something that offers a touch of entertainment then the SEAT Ateca is more fun to drive, though.
By going hybrid the RAV4 has taken a few more small steps for mankind and if it sounds like your next car, take a look at the latest Toyota RAV4 deals or get offers from our favourite model – the hybrid model in Design spec – by clicking the button below.
The Toyota RAV4’s interior might be laid out in a simple and sensible style but it certainly looks more modern than the rather plain look of the VW Tiguan’s cabin. The Toyota gets swathes of soft, squidgy plastics across the dashboard and doors, and plenty of aluminium-effect trims on the steering wheel, door handles and around the air vents.
The infotainment display is a freestanding affair that sits high up on the dashboard rather than built-in lower down so it’s easy to glance at while you’re driving. It manages to look rather more integrated than other similarly high-riding screens (like the one on the Ford Kuga for example) thanks to some surrounding chrome trim that extends down onto the lower part of the dash.
The cabin features a few hard, brittle plastics – most notably on the grab handles, around the glovebox and below the central armrest – but, generally speaking, the RAV4’s cabin feels pretty plush and suitably solid. The chunky air conditioning knobs are easy to use too, but the heated seat switches are tucked away under the dashboard.
Icon and Design models get black cloth seats while Excel versions get black leather seats and suede-like Alcantara door trims. Top-level Dynamic cars get a faux-leather seat covering with contrasting blue stitching but there is a variety of different leather colour options available on all the trims.
Every Toyota RAV4 comes with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system as standard, although what that system can do differs depending on which model you go for.
Regardless, the screen is bright and relatively easy to read in direct sunlight, but it isn’t as sharp as the screen you get in a VW Tiguan and isn’t as easy to use quickly while on the move.
The array of physical shortcut buttons are a bonus, though, and they will help you switch between the features you’ll use most often. There are also two easily reached physical dials for the stereo volume and radio tuning.
Turn attention back to the screen and the home menu is very difficult to decipher. It displays a window for the sat-nav, one for the stereo and a third showing you the status of the hybrid system, but they’re so jumbled together you’ll have real trouble reading them or following directions.
If you want the aforementioned satellite navigation then you get it as standard so long as you avoid the entry-level Icon model. It’s relatively easy to pop in an address and add a waypoint, but the maps themselves aren’t particularly clear.
Sure, the graphics are nice and bright, but the system defaults to a very wide zoom which makes spotting upcoming turns rather tricky. You can zoom in manually, but only using the on-screen buttons. Using a pinching motion, which you would on a smartphone, means that the map stops following your progress and stays in a fixed position.
However, if you would rather use one of the navigation apps on your phone then you get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard on all models. You can also use the standard Bluetooth connection to play music from your phone through the car’s stereo, or there’s an aux-in socket if you want to link up using a cable.
Speaking of stereos, you get a fairly nondescript six-speaker system as standard but Excel and Dynamic cars come with the option of an upgraded nine-speaker JBL unit with subwoofer in the boot to deliver clearer, punchier bass notes. It certainly sounds better, but alternatives come with even more impressive stereo upgrades.