10 automakers pioneer app integration

Automakers used to innovate slowly, but this year the race is on for integrating apps into the car, and it is moving at a whirlwind pace. Last year Ford kicked off this new era of car technology by integrating Pandora through its Sync AppLink system, and this year nine other automakers jumped on the bandwagon to some degree.

We were impressed to see both Toyota and GM, in the space of a single year, demonstrate and prepare to launch app integration in 2012 model year vehicles.

App integration means bringing services such as Pandora, Google search, and Twitter into the … Read more

Prius' artificial engine noise demonstrated, explained

The approval of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act last year essentially mandated that electric vehicles or hybrids running only on electric power--devoid of the actual engine noise that makes pedestrians (particularly the visually impaired) aware that a vehicle is approaching--must now generate some sort of artificial proximity notification noise. However, although the Act mandated that EVs must make a sound, it didn't specify exactly what sound they should make. This means that every EV and hybrid manufacturer is free to make its cars sound like anything.

Toyota has released a video that explains the vehicle proximity notification sound designed … Read more

Toyota pushes Corolla with virtual singer app

If you're shopping for a car, would a virtual 3D girl sway you?

Japanese digital pop star Hatsune Miku is appearing in an augmented reality app to promote the Toyota Corolla, and the automaker is hoping her cartoon charms will win the hearts of shoppers.

Created in 2007 by Crypton Future Media using Yamaha's Vocaloid software, Hatsune Miku allows users to create their own songs by inputting lyrics and a melody.

The anime-style mascot girl, however, has become an online sensation, generating a large fan base, performing in concerts with a live band, and recently hawking Corollas in … Read more

Electric driving in the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in

Earlier this year, I spent a week driving a preproduction Prius Plug-in hybrid, but little did I realize that Toyota was using me and the other people who got to drive the car as guinea pigs, test subjects to help further refine the car for a 2012 production model. Toyota recently put me behind the wheel of a substantially tweaked Prius Plug-in, this one the result of everything learned from the earlier drive program. Still billed as preproduction, this latest Prius Plug-in boasted enhancements over the previous car, along with a full-blown marketing strategy.

In typical Toyota fashion, this new preproduction car was not radically different than the one I drove previously. And I confess to a lack of enthusiasm over this new driving opportunity. Despite that you can plug it in, it is still just a Prius. … Read more

Plug-in Prius priced at under $30K after tax credit

Toyota detailed pricing for two new members of its hybrid Prius family, including a plug-in Prius which will cost less than $30,000 after a federal tax credit.

The base price of the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid is $32,000 and a higher-end Advanced trim will cost $39,525. The plug-in will be eligible for a $2,500 federal tax credit, which is calculated by the size of the battery.

Toyota also announced the Prius V, a larger crossover version of the Prius, will cost between $26,400 and $29,990 depending on the model. Mileage for the Prius V … Read more

Put the pedal to the metal with Drag Racing for Android

Drag Racing for Android puts you in the driver's seat of your favorite street racer. With more than 50 real cars to choose from, dozens of upgrades, and a nearly unlimited pool of opponents, don't be surprised to find yourself behind the wheel for hours at a time.

The game offers four racing modes to choose from. You can Race Offline against the computer, Quick Race one-on-one against an online opponent, join the Pro League against a group of online competitors, or race against Friends. Also, you can choose either quarter-mile or half-mile races, with the shorter distance … Read more

Toyota to show 2012 Avensis, Hilux, Yaris, and new Prius family at Frankfurt motor show

Toyota today announced the unveiling of several new and revamped models at the 2011 Frankfurt International Motor Show, which runs Sept. 13 to 25.

Toyota plans to roll out the 2012 Avensis, the updated Prius and the Prius Plug-in and Prius+, as well as the 2012 Hilux.

According to Toyota, changes to the British-built Avensis sedan will "include revised exterior styling, incorporating a frontal treatment that follows Toyota's new design language." These changes are the largest midlife investment the company has made for any model, the company said in a press release.

The new Prius family of … Read more

Toyota sets EV lap record at Nurburgring

In the U.S., cars like the Camry tend to make Toyota seem boring. But there is another side to the company, the Toyota Motorsports Group (TMG), a division focused on making cars go fast. And this group just set a record lap time on the Nürburgring Nordschleife for an electric vehicle.

TMG built its EV P001 car especially for the record attempt. At just over 2,100 pounds, the EV P001 is heavy for a race car, but 770 pounds of that weight is a lithium ion ceramic battery pack, rated at 41.5 kilowatt hours. That … Read more

Car Tech Live 230: Ford and Toyota team on car tech (podcast)

Ford and Toyota team on car tech, Audi announces plug ins & hybrids, In-car internet radio explodes, and we take you - but just one of you - for a ride in the Scion iQ.

Subscribe with iTunes (audio) Subscribe with iTunes (video) Subscribe with RSS (audio) Subscribe with RSS (video) EPISODE 230 SHOW NOTES

Ford and Toyota team on hybrids for trucks, SUVs

GM teams with LG to develop electric vehicles

Audi plug-in hybrid rumored to be coming in 2014

BMW to integrate MOG app

Cadillac drops the cloth and top on new Ciel concept

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid: Smarter, more efficient

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." That must have been Toyota's mantra when approaching the redesigned 2012 Camry, because the broad strokes haven't changed much for this generation. However, for prospective Camry owners, that's a good thing. The Camry's strong points--comfort, safety, and reliability--appear to have been left intact. But the areas in which the previous generation of the Camry could use a bit of improvement--cabin technology, fuel economy, and that awful interior design--have been massaged and tweaked.

We took a ride in the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE to get … Read more