Toyota Unveils 2013 Camry Stock Car For NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

For years now, the Toyota Camry has long been the best-selling sedan in North America, with thanks in no small part to its dependability, excellent fuel efficiency, and optimal comfort. But the Camry’s success also feeds off another element: motorsports. And just recently, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS) and TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development) formally introduced its new 2013 Camry stock car that will compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) beginning next season at TRD’s Salisbury, N.C. facility.

The introduction of the new 2013 Camry for NASCAR competition marked the culmination of an aggressive redesign to provide the 2013 Camry with an updated and more-unique identity. TRD worked together with Calty Design, part of Toyota’s global network design team, to create an on-track Camry that incorporates design elements which give the best-selling car its distinct character, and the design clearly channels with the road car, which starts at $24,615 at Toyota Town.

“We’re thrilled to finally unveil our new 2013 Camry and we think NASCAR fans will really appreciate that our new on-track Camry looks like the one in their driveways,” said Ed Laukes, TMS vice president of marketing communications and motorsports. “Our 2013 Camry looks more like the production vehicle than ever before, and we hope this helps revitalize the long-standing relationship between fans and manufacturers in NASCAR. Never before have we had a Camry competing in NASCAR that looked so similar to its production counterpart.”

A new front grill-area that matches the production model, distinct character lines down the side of the vehicle and an updated rear bumper make the redesigned 2013 Camry stock car more relevant than ever before to its showroom sibling.

“We’re extremely proud of the new Camry and the development of the car was truly a unique process,” said Lee White, president and general manager of TRD. “NASCAR and all four manufacturers were brought together to guide the direction of the new cars. We all worked together to put the ‘S’ back in NASCAR — we all wanted race cars that look more like our stock, production models — and together we accomplished that. Our new Camry for 2013 is a great looking race car. Everyone at Toyota is eager to have our drivers in a race car that more resembles the street Camry.”

For 10 straight years, and 14 of the past 15 years, the Toyota Camry has been the best-selling car in America. Built at Toyota manufacturing facilities in Georgetown, Kentucky and Lafayette, Indiana, the 2012 Toyota Camry was recently named the ‘Best Redesigned Vehicle’ by Kelley Blue Book. In addition, the Camry has been named the ‘Most American Car’ by Cars.com’s American-Made Index for three consecutive years.

In an effort to create more distinct and stock vehicles for the race track, NASCAR worked together with the four series manufacturers to determine what areas were either ‘locked in’ or ‘open’ for unique design. NASCAR also allowed for the exchange of glass for solid body pieces.

“When everyone at Toyota first saw the design of the 2013 Camry, the first reaction was, ‘They’re actually going to let you race a car that looks like that’,” said Andy Graves, TRD’s vice president of chassis engineering. “That just demonstrates how excited everyone was about the new design of the Camry stock car.”

The new 2013 Toyota Camry will make its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at Daytona International Speedway’s ‘Speedweeks’ in February.

2013 Scion FR-S: Freaking Really Sweet!

On a bright sunny day in Parump, Nevada at Spring Valley Motorsport Park we got the opportunity to take the highly anticipated 2013 Scion FR-S out for a spin and boy did it deliver. Also known as the Toyota GT-86 elsewhere in the world, Toyota/Scion have built a car that goes back to the basics and provides enormous fun at a very reasonable price.

Toyota’s main goal in choosing a powerplant for their new FR-Sports car was obtaining efficient, reliable performance. The development concept of the FR-S was to build a sports car built around the driver and making the car fun to drive took more of a priority than pursuing pure speed.

Everyone knows that the Scion FR-S isn’t the most powerful car out on the market, so the horsepower figures will sound rather unimpressive to many. However, according to the engineers, it was far more important for the car to feel responsive and have linear power delivery all the way up to redline speeds.

Led by Toyota GT86/Scion FR-S Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada, the joint Toyota and Subaru engineering team code named “Team 86” certainly lived up to its goals. Working together, they developed the Subaru FA20 2.0 liter 4-cylinder boxer engine, marking the first time that Toyota’s D-4S direct injection technology had ever been incorporated into a boxer motor.

The result of Team 86′s hard work was a light weight, 200hp naturally aspirated DOHC 16 valve engine with dual variable valve timing (VVTi). The 4UGSE engine redlines at 7400rpm, and responds quickly to accelerator inputs, with easy powerband control.

Usage of the 4UGSE boxer engine gives the Scion FR-S the benefit of amazing handling, due to a low center of gravity. The Scion FR-S has a lower center of gravity than the Porsche Cayman, Nissan R35 GTR, Subaru Impreza STi, and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. In fact, only the LFA and the Ferrari 360 have a lower center of gravity than the FR-S at 18.9 inches.

“Super low center of gravity, better than a GTR, better than a Porsche Cayman, in fact comparable to some of the Ferrari models, but basically this car is about bringing passion back to driving. An authentic rear wheel drive car, that produces 200 hp out of a 2.0L engine,” said Jack Hollis, Vice President and General Manager of Scion. “The 100 hp per liter is a key number for us. You see just the right amount, not over, not under, right amount of power, great balance and great handling.”

Hollis also adds, “What it does is this car answers a concern in the industry today, that the vehicles have just become so electronic, so technology-based, not just true driver-based. That’s what this car does. We think it’s going to excite the whole industry not just Scion and Toyota so we are really excited about the Scion FR-S.”

What the low center of gravity does for you is make you feel very connected to the road when you are pushing the car to the limits. The center of gravity is in line with your hips, so, as the car moves around you truly feel the dynamics of the car in the seat of your pants, rather than the car feeling as though it has a much higher pivot point that most people are used to.

What is also obvious is that the Scion FR-S pays homage to it’s heritage, particularly to the 1985-’87 Corolla GT-S – or AE86 as it is known by enthusiasts. The 86 theme is prevalent throughout the vehicle. Mechanically, the two cars share nothing. Spiritually, however, their similarities run deep. There are powerful reason why the humble AE86 remains a highly coveted machine nearly 30 years after entering production. These reasons have nothing to do with the car’s speed, its amenities or its complexity. Rather, it’s the 86’s fundamentally sound design, low cost, and massive potential that give it profound desirability as its third decade approaches. It’s these simple, potent core values on which Scion intend to capitalize with the Scion FR-S.

The 86 Boxer badge on the fender shows pistons on opposing sides of the 86, to signify that it’s boxer engine under the hood. The number 86 is also symbolic of the engine’s square 86×86 bore and stroke ratio. Most Toyota aficionados may not even know this but this square ratio keeps the 4UGSE engine faithful to some of the other engines in Toyota’s 2.0 liter sports engine history. Also, an additional homage to the 86 theme, the inner diameter of the car’s exhaust tips are 86 mm!

The engine has Toyota D-4S fuel-injection system which is both port fuel injection and direct fuel injection at the same time. This allows are really high compression ratio of 12.5:1 which means the FR-S requires premium fuel but that’s a small price to pay.

If there’s one disappointment about this car, it is with torque. The 2.0 liter engine only produces 151 torques at a very high 6400 rpm. Now very few people talk about torque. It’s important because when you get into some slow corners, and you really need a drive out especially if you’re not popping it off the rev…, torque is what will propel you at that point. Though, on the road track, the lack of torque was not really a factor.

On the inside, the FR-S interior is definitely minimalistic. Sitting inside, it’s impossible not to notice the sporty seats and steering wheel. They are comfortable and the substantial side bolstering helps keep the driver in place on a spirited drive. The tach is right front and center, dominating the instrument cluster.

Steering input is good. However, a wish would be for a bit more feedback and communication. It is electric steering, though one of the better electric steerings that we’ve experienced. We must say that it’s very direct. If you turn the wheel, that’s where the car is going and it points really, really well.

Toyota is planning to produce 10,000 units of the Scion FR-S for the 2012 calendar year and plans on 20,000 units for 2013. If you’re writing a wish list or a spec sheet of what you want in a car, the Scion FR-S pretty much does it all. What we like most about the car is that you can have the fun at under triple digit speeds. It doesn’t have 500 hp and it’s not going to do 1.05 Gs around a skid pad, and we don’t care! With the Scion FR-S, you actually have to drive! The FR-S being very analog will not cover up your inability to drive with electronics like so many modern cars. If you make a mistake, it will be obvious, however, the car being perfectly balanced makes it easy to get it all back under control, if you know what you are doing.

Bottom line, the Scion FR-S is a drivers car, period!

Toyota Hybrids Flying Off Dealer Lots


With the month of April 2012 in the log books, Toyota Motor Corp has noted that its hybrid sales jumped an amazing 125 percent for the month, selling 32,593 units. Of that total, Toyota-branded hybrids accounted for 30,126 and most of those carried the increasingly popular Prius family.

With the ever-expanding Prius hybrid family now including the small Prius c, versatile Prius V, and advanced Prius-plug-in total Prius sales in April reached 25,168, up 102 percent from a year ago. Notably, the Prius C is one of the lowest-priced hybrids on the market and has been a hit since day one, and has caused Toyota to increase the production rate.

The Prius c, which starts at $20,950, is graced with an updated version of Toyota’s venerable 1.5 liter inline four cylinder engine. The enhancements help improve fuel efficiency with lighter weight valve springs, lighter tension weight piston rings, along with a few other items like the elimination of an accessory belt. In doing so, the power steering, air conditioning and water pump are all driven via electric motors to reduce drag and friction and improve fuel economy. This is paired with a Ni-MH battery pack that is about 2/3rds the size of the one found in the larger Prius, and provides an additional 25.9 horsepower to the c’s 73 horsepower engine. The transaxle in the Prius c is an all electric unit that has no belts.

Additionally, Cars.com filtered through loads of sales data through April and found some loud-speaking numbers. The Toyota Prius Plug-In managed to walk away as the third quickest-selling car in the large United States market, spending just five days on dealer lots in April of 2012. Likewise, the turnover rate for the all-new Prius c is just seven days.

There are currently 18 hybrid vehicles in Toyota’s worldwide lineup, sales of which account for 15 percent of Toyota Motor Corporation’s overall vehicle sales this year. And with the Prius being far and away the most popular hybrid in the world, Toyota Motor Corp. has sold 4 million hybrid vehicles since 1997 when it introduced its first gas-electric car in Japan. Toyota calculates that the hybrids it has sold globally since 1997 have resulted in a reduction of about 26 million tons in carbon dioxide emissions, compared to a scenario where these hybrids would have been similarly sized gas-only models.

Demand For New Toyota Prius c Is Soaring

Back in December, when the Toyota Prius c first went on sale in Japan, the company received 120,000 orders in the first five days it was on sale. That’s pretty amazing, and the love for the Prius c has found its way to North America, selling 1,200 units in the first three days it was on sale in the United States, and has become the fastest selling vehicle in the market. Because demand is so high, production of the little Prius c has increased.

The Prius c, which starts at $20,950, is graced with an updated version of Toyota’s venerable 1.5 liter inline four cylinder engine. The enhancements help improve fuel efficiency with lighter weight valve springs, lighter tension weight piston rings, along with a few other items like the elimination of an accessory belt. In doing so, the power steering, air conditioning and water pump are all driven via electric motors to reduce drag and friction and improve fuel economy. This is paired with a Ni-MH battery pack that is about 2/3rds the size of the one found in the larger Prius, and provides an additional 25.9 horsepower to the c’s 73 horsepower engine. The transaxle in the Prius c is an all electric unit that has no belts.

The Toyota Prius c also carries on the family tradition of being incredibly fuel efficient. Rated by the American EPA at 3.5l/100km in the city,  4.0l/100km on the highway, and 3.7l/100km combined. For those that worry that this B-segment car is cramped inside, it is not. Front seat passengers have plenty of room, no fear of rubbing shoulders with your passenger. For back seat passengers, two normal sized adults will be able to ride comfortably. We had the drivers seat set for us at 5’11”, then jumped in the back seat behind and were able to get in and out with no problem, and our knees were not touching the back of the driver seat either.

The rear seats do fold in a 60/40 arrangement allowing for good load flexibility, bicycles and snowboards will have no problem fitting inside. With the seats up there is 484.2 liters of space in the hatch area, which should be more than enough room for day to day items, or runs to the grocery store.