Friday, September 12, 2014

New Toyota FT-1 Concept, Vision Gran Turismo Join GT6 Lineup

While Supra fanatics will have to keep waiting in the wings, the hungry sports-car masses can feast on two new Toyota FT-1 concept cars which will be featured as playable vehicles in Gran Turismo 6. One of the concepts is a real-life reimagined, premium-flavored version of the first Toyota FT-1 concept which premiered at the most recent Detroit auto show; the second is a track-focused racing FT-1 Vision Gran Turismo virtual concept car. The first Toyota FT-1 concept, in its attempt to impress upon the automotive world Toyota’s return to sports car design and engineering after years of boring cars, bore a flashy red paintjob and a performance-minded interior when it debuted at the 2014 Detroit auto show. This second, graphite-painted Toyota FT-1 is more understated in its character, adopting a premium natural-grain leather interior in place of the red FT-1’s black-and-red theme replete with exposed raw metal. The cockpit takes on a softer and more refined atmosphere, but the road-focused driver’s seat, flat-bottom steering wheel, and heads-up color display carry over. The concept exists both as a real-life vehicle as well as a virtual, playable option in Gran Turismo 6. The car debuts publicly this weekend at the festivities on the Monterey Peninsula in southern California. Otherwise, this graphite Toyota FT-1 is identical to its predecessor. We’re still left in the dark about what powers the enticing FT-1, but we do know that it is a high-output, naturally aspirated combustion engine delivering its power to the rear wheels. Many hope that the FT-1 design will birth a resurrected Toyota Supra, which enthusiasts fondly remember as a highly tunable sports coupe. Others predict that the next Supra will fall under the umbrella of the joint Toyota-BMW Silk Road hybrid sports car project which will also give rise to the upcoming BMW Z5. Toyota’s interpretation of a Vision Gran Turismo concept uses the Toyota FT-1 as its foundation, but the track-focused model looks to be very much transformed for ultimate performance. Designers were given carte blanche to envision the FT-1 as a proper track monster. “The design brief for this car was very simple,” Toyota Calty Design Research president Kevin Hunter explained in a video promotion for the concept, “Take the FT-1 concept car and turn it into the most kick-ass, bad-ass, super race car you can imagine.” Upgrades such as larger racing tires with accommodating wheel arches, exaggerated air intakes, a more aggressive rear wing, front aero fins, revised side mirrors, and an extended rear diffuser make for major performance upgrades. The result is better grip, increased cooling, more downforce, and reduced drag. Both the Toyota FT-1 Vision Gran Turismo and graphite FT-1 will be available as playable models in Gran Turismo 6, beginning in September. Previous Vision GT cars include the Mercedes-Benz Vision GT, BMW Vision GT, Nissan Concept 2020 Vision GT, and Volkswagen GTI Roadster Vision concept.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New 2015 Toyota Camry – The Best Just Got Better

The dynasty rolls on! For 12 consecutive years, and 16 of the past 17, the Toyota Camry mid-size sedan has worn the crown of “best-selling car in America.” One creates such a juggernaut by never resting on its laurels and the new 2015 Camry is a prime example of this philosophy.
Going on sale in late September, the 2015 Camry and Camry Hybrid has been remade with a bold new exterior design, improved dynamic performance, a premium and upscale interior, and offering new and innovative safety technologies.  All of this has been accomplished while retaining its excellent value through affordable pricing.

Making the Grades with Power and MPG
The 2015 Camry will be available in four models, the value-driven LE, the sporty SE, the new XSE and the premium XLE.  The new XSE builds on the success of the SE with an edgier look, enthusiastic driving dynamics and luxurious amenities, making it the sportiest Camry yet.

All Camry gas models will be powered by the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 178 horsepower and 170 lb.-ft. of peak torque.  It’s teamed with a standard six-speed automatic transmission with the combination offering EPA-estimated 25 MPG city/ 35 MPG highway/ 28 MPG combined fuel economy.  The XSE and XLE will also offer a 3.5-liter V6 with the six-speed automatic, generating 268 horsepower.

More For Your Money
The two most popular Camry models, LE and SE, receive pricing that is virtually unchanged from the 2014.5 model.  Both models are equipped with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder.  Each is each heavily equipped with standard convenience features and for 2015 add 8-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, shift lever boot with contrast stitching, satin chrome interior accents, passenger window auto up-down, chrome front upper grille and rear trunk garnish (smoked chrome on SE), and  heated outside mirrors.  The SE gas model also adds a standard 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display and direct tire pressure monitor system.

Camry XSE and XLE models equipped with the four-cylinder engine each add more standard features over the LE and SE, including leather-trimmed seating with multi-stage heated front seats and four-way power passenger seat on the XLE or leather-trimmed seating with Ultrasuede® inserts and multi-stage heated front seats and 4-way power passenger seat on the XSE.  Additional standard features include Entune Audio Plus multimedia system, LED daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels with a super chrome finish on the XLE and 18-inch alloy wheels with machined face and black paint for the XSE.  In all, there is nearly $1,200 worth of added standard equipment for the XLE but an MSRP increase of only $340.

Camry V6 versions of the XSE and XLE add standard LED high and low headlights, Smart Key entry, Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite including a 7-inch High-Resolution Touch-Screen Display, power tilt/slide moonroof, Qi wireless charging capability and much more.

THE Camry Hybrid
Camry Hybrid will be available in three grades, the value driven LE, sporty SE and the premium XLE.  Each grade is equipped with more standard equipment than ever before.  Among the features now standard on the Camry Hybrid LE are 8-way power driver’s seat including power lumbar, and the 4.2-inch TFT multi information display.

The Camry Hybrid SE adds Sport fabric SofTex®-trimmed front seats with seatback pockets; 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar support; Leather-trimmed tilt/telescopic three-spoke steering wheel with Bluetooth® hands-free phone and audio controls; and silver interior trim.

The Hybrid XLE grade adds standard leather-trimmed seating with multi-stage heated front seats and 4-way power passenger seat, LED daytime running lights, direct tire pressure monitor system and 17-inch alloy wheels with super chrome finish.

Safety First
All 2015 Camry models will come standard with best-in-class 10 airbags.  Like all current Toyota vehicles, the 2015 Camry comes standard with the STAR Safety System, which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. It also features the Smart Stop Technology brake-override system.

The 2015 Camry also offers advanced safety features including Pre-Collision System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Auto High Beam, and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

The Camry LE receives a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $22,970 while the SE will carry a base price of $23,840.  The XSE and XLE models will carry identical MSRP’s of $26,150 for models equipped with the four-cylinder and $31,370 for the V6 versions.

Pricing for the Camry Hybrid will start at $26,790 for the LE model, $27,995 for the SE, and $29,980 for the premium XLE.

The MSRP for the 2015 Camry does not include the delivery, processing, and handling (DPH) fee of $825.  The DPH fee for vehicles distributed by Southeast Toyota (SET) and Gulf States Toyota (GST) may vary.