Tag: Toyota

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium

Toyota C-HR
Toyota C-HR

The 2018 Toyota C-HR coulda, woulda, shoulda. They say shortly before it appeared in dealerships as a Porsche, the 924 was set to arrive in Volkswagen dealer showrooms. The 2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium follows that same path, in that it was to be introduced as a Scion instead.

No matter though as it now seemingly fits into the edgier family that Toyota has become. One of the smaller Crossovers in the Toyota lineup, it’s a sharply creased, curvy round, futuristic-styled turn on a high-riding (well maybe not very high) hatchback that can answer several needs that maybe you might not have realized to this point.

Limited Power.

Toyota C-HR
Toyota C-HR

The 2018 Toyota C-HR is powered by a singular 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 144 hp and 139 lb-ft of torque. Power is delivered to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). There is no all-wheel-drive option.

Eighteen-inch wheels are standard offerings for this model, with automatic headlights, auto high-beams, and LED daylight running lights. Our two-tone, radiant green and iceberg-painted (turquoise and white?) C-HR is relatively well equipped, although for just a few more shekels, you can have the C-HR XLE Premium instead, which added fog lights, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats (a great idea in Florida!) and driver’s side two-way power lumbar support. Finally, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert complete the package which we think is a better, more complete offering than the base C-HR XLE model.

The interior is a hodge-podge of textures and features that work for the most part. It’s nothing that we haven’t seen before, and features a bit of hard plastic combined with fabric seats and a rather straightforward gear shift selector. This Toyota C-HR has a nice shape and continuity to the dashboard orienting itself towards the driver, although we have a bone to pick with the audio head unit that seems as though it was taken off the shelf from a soon to be out of business car audio installer.

And yes, we know how all you millennial’s like apps. But that doesn’t mean we like to see apps on our in-car entertainment. Instead of burying navigation and other functions within the menu, why not just have a button on the face of the unit that says Navi? Or Maps. You managed to put an icon of a telephone handset on the face of the unit, why not some other shortcuts? Speaking of apps and telephones, at this point in time, the C-HR is still lacking Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

Buyers will likely also check out the Buick Encore, Nissan Juke, and Hyundai Kicks when shopping this segment.

The rear seat is somewhat cavern-like in that shorties will likely fall deep into the seats and not be able to see out the windows. It can comfortably carry two and in a pinch squeeze a third person into the second row but for all intents and purposes we consider the C-HR more of an urban lifestyle vehicle than a suburban kid hauler and utility vehicle. So instead why not just fold down the rear seats and use it as a medium-sized crossover vehicle instead.

Toyota C-HR
Toyota C-HR

The C-HR includes a standard 7.0-inch audio display screen, adaptive cruise control, 10 airbags, dual zone climate control 18-inch wheels and Bluetooth. Step up a few dollars more and get the Premium model with push-button start, keyless entry, a blind spot monitoring system, folding mirrors and heated seats.

Drive Time.

We liked the way the 2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium looks and handles, but not so much how it moves. That is our big fall down in the car overall. We actually like the way the Toyota C-HR handled. It doesn’t have much power, especially when you consider that this non-turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine only produces 144 hp and 139 lb-ft of torque. It sends its traction to the front-wheel-drive transaxle via a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which, when judged by a strictly seat-of-the-pants feel, gives the impression that it is both noisy, and slow. Particular moves, while in traffic, need to be planned deliberately, unless you’ve had designs all along on being the hood ornament of the big 18-wheeler that is rapidly filling up your rear-view mirror.

We find there’s an excessively high amount of noise that works its way into the cabin. It’s not that it’s unexpected, but it’s something that seems to be lacking in some of the C-HR’s competition.

Drive with ease and you will all be ok.


2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium.

Story and photos by Mark Elias

Cylinders:                                   I4

Displacement:                          2.0-liters

Power:                                        144 hp @ 6100 rpm

Torque:                                      139 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpm

Fuel:                                           Regular

Drive Type                                FWD

Gearbox:                                  CVT

Tire Size:                                  225/50R18

Unladen Weight:                   3,300-pounds

Length:                                    171.2-inches

Width:                                     70.7-inches

Height:                                     61.6-inches

Wheelbase:                              103.9-inches

Cargo Volume:                      19.0 cubic feet rear seat up

36.4 cubic feet rear seat folded

City:                                           27

Highway:                                  31

Combined:                               29

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”117″ gal_title=”2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium”]


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2018 Ford F150 First Drive

2018 Ford F150 First Drive

With its predecessor already an award-winning vehicle, what does Ford do for an encore? The 2018 Ford F150 holds tough with a new, bolder grille, bringing it closer in line with its bigger Super Duty brethren. But is that enough to keep this aluminum wonder relevant into the new model year?

With the aluminum bodied F150 already well received, Ford revisits engine configurations and choices, adds more design cues, more safety features, more payload, more, uh, more. Are pickup trucks still sexy? Let’s find out.

What’s New?

Ford flew us to their backyard, in Ann Arbor Michigan, where they displayed a beautifully ancient Model TT truck and a 1950s-era Ford F1 pickup, following the axiom that you need to see where you’ve come from in order to see where you are going.  Even though the brand has been successful with over 26 million F-Series pickups sold to date, the company still tries to push the envelope. Not content with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” ethos, Ford designers and engineers, following their successful redesign in 2015, decided to tweak a few outside appearance items and then go whole hog on the powertrain. That, and the fact they are constantly aware of what is happening with their around-town rivals, the RamTruck Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado / GMC Sierra twins, and the Texas-bred Toyota Tundra.

New on the 2018 Ford F150 are revised C-Clamp headlamps with available LED lighting that help to add some swagger to the twin bar grille. As a result, there’s no mistaking what another driver sees in their rearview mirror. Returning: Ford’s trademark “drop down” side glass is back for an easier sideview of the road. New design cues on XL, XLT and Lariat series trucks mimic that of Ford Super Duty models, while the premium King Ranch, Platinum and Limited series up the ante even more.

Ford F150
Ford F150

New for 2018 is the base 3.3-liter V6 engine, which is smaller, but puts out eight more horsepower and an additional 12 lb-ft of torque than the base 3.5-liter V6 it replaces. In current trim, it’s good for 290 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque.

That engine is joined by a revised second-generation 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. It includes port and direct-injection, and now features 325 horsepower and an additional 25 lb-ft of torque, up to 400 lb-ft.

Finally, a revised Five-Point-Oh (5.0-liter) V8 is offered, which like the 2.7-liter V6, now includes port and direct-injection, along with friction-reducing enhancements that boost it up an additional 10 ponies to 395-horsepower and 13 more lb-ft of torque to 400 lb-ft.

Ford F150
Ford F150

Ford, in an effort to keep the entry price low, mates the 3.3-liter exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission, while the 2.7- and 5.0-liter receive a 10-speed automatic gearbox. These and other enhancements help the F150 achieve a maximum gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 18,400-pounds, with a 1,000-pound increase in towing capacity to 13,200 lbs. As far as rocks in the box, you can haul up to 3,270-pounds of cargo in the 5.5-, 6.5-, or 8-foot boxes. Cab configurations start with a regular cab setup, a SuperCab and a SuperCrew cabin for the full E-ticket ride.

Safety First.

The Blue Oval reportedly included a new 12-corner front crush horn to throw off energy in a frontal impact. Ford has determined that it helps to increase occupant safety in such a shunt.

Adaptive cruise control is also in the mix with stop and go measures for truck applications, including towing. According to Ford, the system operates by using radar to bring the F150 down to a complete stop, depending on following distance.

An available Pro Trailer Backup Assist guides drivers in backing up with trailers to boat ramps or driveways. Also on board: an optional Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) which works with trailers up to 33-feet long, causing the system to add in the extra towing length when considering the blind spot. Combine that with the available 360-degree camera system for a total view around your ride.

Behind the Wheel.

Always a competent runner, we found the new 2018 Ford F150 only improving on its legendary abilities. Sufficiently quiet on Michigan back roads, we found normal conversations possible, even from the back seat. When we were in a mood for tuneage, the Bang & Olufsen audio system provided clear and crisp dBs of sound, despite what was emanating from under the hood.

Ford F150
Ford F150

Power from the 5.0-liter V8 was flawless even at high speeds, which saw the new 10 speed automatic transmission trying to get to its top cog in an effort to achieve fuel sipping nirvana. Lower speed jaunts around town found it skipping a gear or two for added efficiency. No matter, as it is probably very easy to get lost within 10 gear sets.

On an impromptu off-road course, the F150 admirably displayed added functionality from such features as the 360-degree Around Vehicle camera system and vehicle sensors. When cresting up a hill, all it took was a flick of the switch to turn on the front-view camera, to see what lie below before descending on the other side.

Plowing through the water hazard was just plain fun and a good indicator of how the F150 will perform under trying conditions. Slip it into 4-low and the powertrain supplied all the grunt needed to pull us up and away from a simulated shallow river crossing.

Add that to the thoughtfully designed tailgate step and other around-truck features, and it’s easy to see why the 2018 Ford F150 will likely continue its dominance in the half-ton pickup truck segment.

2018 Ford F150

Story and Photos by Mark Elias. Additional pics by Sam Varnhagen/Ford.

F150 Specs:

Base prices:

XL: $28,675; XLT, $34,265; Lariat, $41,980; King Ranch, $52,895; Platinum, $55,450; Limited, $61,815.


3.3-liter Naturally Aspirated V6

2.7-liter EcoBoost Turbocharged V6

3.5-liter EcoBoost Turbocharged V6

5.0-liter Naturally Aspirated V8



Six-speed Automatic with manual shift mode

10-speed Automatic with manual shift mode



Wheelbase: 122.4-163.7 inches

Length: 209.3-250.5 inches

Width: 79.9 inches

Height: 75-77.5 inches

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”42″ gal_title=”2018 Ford F150″]












2018 Toyota Camry First Drive

2018 Toyota Camry First Drive

It’s a car beloved and loathed at the same time. Long Toyota’s bread and butter sedan there is no denying the Camry is a best seller, despite the fact it exists in a market awash with Sport- and Crossover Utility Vehicles. But recently, others have been stealing market share. That’s why the company that Goes Places really went places with their 2018 Toyota Camry.

Now into its eighth edition, it includes more crisp folds than an Origami swan. But is it enough to keep the buyers coming back for more?

More Than An Appliance.

The Toyota Camry has had a reputation for bulletproof transportation since originally appearing on these shores back in 1983. Eventually though, it fell into that slot where those who didn’t really care about cars as anything more than basic transportation began to take it for granted. They were the appliance buyers. The ones who treat cars as a necessity, much like a refrigerator, and were as passionate about them as they were of their side-by-side Frigidaire. (Extra points if it had water and crushed ice through the freezer door.)

Although sales of all those appliances represented positive cash flow to the company and helped to reinforce a strong bottom line, it troubled Toyota scion Akio Toyoda. The grandson of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda found that the vehicles made by his namesake company had become bland, homogenized and passionless. Realizing this, he proclaimed a change was coming. “If it’s not fun to drive, it’s not a car,” he said.

The 2018 Toyota Camry is just one result of that change.

2018 Toyota Camry
2018 Toyota Camry

Perfect Imbalance.

There are many contenders in the market including such luminaries as the Hyundai Sonata and the Kia Optima. The company claims the 2018 Toyota Camry is inspired by the perfect imbalance of a ballet dancer. We suppose that means that while they stand on spindly legs, placing all their weight on pointed toe, they still appear balanced when viewed in toto. To a large degree, the same thing occurs with the new Camry.

Although continuing with a variation of the Camry’s winged grille appearance, it hits the market with not one, not two, not three, but four individual designs for greater grade differentiation. Starting with a basic black look in the lower L, LE, and Hybrid LE models, the Camry’s front-end graduates with the addition of sports mesh inserts, bright metallics, and a gloss black grill with mesh inserts on the highline XSE and XSE V6 versions.

The hood is now lowered 1.6-inches and features stamped-in character lines, that help to define the Camry’s new wider stance that now features a lower hip point, roofline and hood height for what Toyota claims is the appearance of a new, lower center of gravity. That’s probably true, as the new 2018 Camry rides 1-inch lower than the outgoing model.

Character lines run the length and width of the new Camry, adding a sense of complexity to the stamping process, as well as new points of interest from every view. The most distinctive of those would have to be the creases on the C-pillar, that in addition to drawing visual attention, help to taper airflow towards the rear spoiler, as well as being an accent point for the paint and roof of the new black XSE sport version. We understand the idea of differentiating a halo performance-style vehicle, but find the black accent a bit over done. It’s kind of like when painting a model car, you over-paint more than you intended, so you decide to continue further. In my experience, such model car paint jobs never ended well. While the lower trim levels continue with single exhaust pipes, the XSE four-cylinder, XLE and XSE V6 versions all utilize a dual exhaust system with quad chrome tips at the lower rear fascia.

2018 Toyota Camry
2018 Toyota Camry

If I was to put a tag on it, we’d say the new Camry has a European look that reminds me of the continental stylings found on the late Saab 9-3. Yes, that’s a compliment.

Motivating Forces.

Power for the 2018 Camry comes from a choice of three engines including the 2.5-liter Dynamic Force 4-cylinder engine with 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Second is the 3.5 liter V6 that manages 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. Both use dual fuel injection, which combines direct cylinder injection and port fuel injection depending on engine load for the most efficient fueling at any point.

The four and six-cylinder engines are both mated to a new Direct Shift 8AT (eight-speed) automatic transmission with paddle shifters. They feature direct lockup gearing from gears two through eight for what Toyota claims is the performance of an automated manual gearbox.

2018 Toyota Camry
2018 Toyota Camry

The Hybrid Camry features power from a detuned version of the 2.5-liter Dynamic Force 4-cylinder dual injection engine, that puts out 176 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. It combines with a Toyota Hybrid Electric motor for a combined net power rating of 208 horsepower. Gearbox duty is performed by a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a top fuel estimate of 51 city / 53 highway / 52 mpg combined for the HV LE model, which incidentally is in the range of the Hybrid Camry’s Prius little brother.

The petrol-powered versions ride on a new-for-Camry suspension that includes a standard MacPherson strut front end with gas-filled shocks, a stabilizer bar and tower strut bracing. An electric power assisted rack-and-pinion steering system keeps things pointed in the right direction. At the rear you’ll find a new double-wishbone kit with gas filled shocks and stabilizer bar for advanced handling and comfort.

All the bits are part of the new Toyota New Global Architecture platform (TNGA) which focuses on factors that improve, via a lower center of gravity, increased visibility, improved structure and reduced noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).

Interior Decorating.

The interior of the new Camry, while much more refined, still includes many of the same bits found in the previous generation. Most improvements occur in the area of the dashboard, which is bisected by a new character line that flow-controls downward to the center console.

Depending on trim level, both front seat passengers will take advantage of the eight-way power seat adjustments. Rear seating has been improved with more legroom and improved ergonomics. A new panoramic glass roof is standard on V6 models, and available on XLE and XSE four-cylinder models as an added cost option. Technology offerings are also new, featuring Toyota’s Entune 3.0 Audio, with Siri Eyes Free, and Scout GPS Navigation. Currently, Toyota is staying away from Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality because they are still in the negotiation stages as to how much data they want to allow Apple and Google to aggregate.

2018 Toyota Camry
2018 Toyota Camry

Our highline XSE tester included the upgraded Entune 3.0 premium audio system with dynamic navigation, nine JBL speakers and Harman’s Clari-Fi software to restore music that is typically lost in the digital compression process.


While quiet and docile, the 2.5-liter Dynamic Force four-cylinder engine provided plenty of pulling power from start, even displaying a bit of a throaty growl when driven in anger. We found in most situations that the eight-speed automatic transmission did not hunt for any particular gear, instead settling for the most efficient of the eight cogs while underway. Handling was greatly improved over the outgoing ninth-generation model, even displaying (can we say it?) a bit of an enthusiastic inflection to its driving manners.

Power from the 3.5-liter V6 engine was even more so. While we found most of the grunt from the 2.5-liter came on at the top of the power band, the V6 seemed intent on delivering it in the low, and mid ranges of the engine’s power band. We know it is counter intuitive, but we did end up with better road feel and handling while behind the wheel of the decidedly heavier six-cylinder XSE version. In either case though, the rigidity found in the TNGA contributed to greatly improved chassis handling dynamics.

Here’s the pitch.

In this unrestrained battle for market share, Toyota needs to hit a grand slam. With the 2018 Toyota Camry, the bases are loaded, the bat has struck the ball, and it’s heading towards the fences.

2018 Toyota Camry

L $23,495

LE $24,000

SE $25,200

XLE $28,450

XSE $29,000

XLE V6 $34,400

XSE V6 $34,950


2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid

HV LE $27,800

HV SE $29,500

HV XLE $32,250


Destination $     885


EPA Mileage Estimates

L 29 city /41 highway/34 combined

L, SE, XLE, XSE   28 city/39 highway /32 combined

XLE V6 22 city/33 highway /26 combined

XSE V6 22 city/32 highway /26 combined


HV LE (Hybrid) 51 city/53 highway /52 combined


[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”30″ gal_title=”2018 Toyota Camry”]