I am not a huge Toyota fan, despite my love for the quirky 1970s models. But despite it all, the current lineup does have a certain appeal. Nice family cars like the Camry, rugged SUVs like the Four Runner and retro FJ Cruiser, and oh-so-modern hybrids like the Prius, Prius C and Prius wagon, led me to visit the local purveyor of all things Toyota one fine Sunday.
My initial draw was the Scion FR-S, so hyped in the press months, nay, years prior to its availability. There was no shortage of the model at my local dealer, with no less than five on the lot, if you counted the chili-pepper red one sitting in the showroom.
These silver-gray and gunmetal-gray examples were sitting out back. Though I am loathe towards a silver anything, the dark gray example looked pretty nice.
The interiors were suitably purposeful, albeit with tasteful red accents to the black upholstery. As befitting a true 2+2, the back seats were unsuitable for anything save short-distance travel.
I am happy to see that Toyota is trying to get a bit of the sports coupe market back. While not directly aping any particular styling element, the FR-S did remind me a little bit of the current Skyline sports coupe, in a smaller and less dear package.
Since the departure of the Celica, Supra and MR-S Spyder, there really hasn’t been anything to stir the blood of the lively set. With its 200-hp and light sub-3,000-lb. curb weight, I hope the FR-S will bring a bit of Toyota’s sporting pedigree back.
Out front was a much more traffic-friendly version, with black paint and bigger wheels.
This one obviously has the upgraded interior as well, with leather buckets. I miss the red accents on the cloth-seat version, however…
And I had never seen these wheels on an FR-S before. A factory accessory, I assume.
These are really nicely styled sports cars, both the Toyota and the Subaru variants. I especially like the slight Coke-bottle flanks. They are quite tidily-sized as well. I know not everyone will agree with me, but I like the looks of the new Camaro, although I don’t care for the limited visibility. I wish they had been sized more like this car; it would have been truer to classic Camaros of the past.
While both the Soobie and Toyota versions are very similar, I must confess that I prefer the Subaru version. Maybe it’s that lovely metallic blue they come in…
…although I like the Subaru’s nose better, too. The Toyota’s flared parking lamps and side intakes look a little too ’70s Trans Am for my tastes.
This was originally going to just be a “Future CC” on the FR-S, but I saw several other interesting new “Toys” on the lot. Like this tangerine-orange Prius C. I do not know too much about hybrids, but I liked this little hatchback. Nice to see one in a real color!
Also refreshing was an interior not done entirely in monotone dark gray. The two-tone cabin, though done in shades of gray, looked quite pleasant.
Another thing that struck me about the Prius C was its resemblance to the entry-level Yaris (seen to its right). Here’s a question for Len and any other Toyota fans: is there any structural commonality between the Yaris and the Prius C? They looked very, very similar.
Just down the line from the
Prius Vitamin C were several examples of the Prius V, which should have been called the Prius wagon in my opinion. It has more room than the sedan, it is not four- or all-wheel drive, so let’s just call it a station wagon already!
As a current “Vovlo” wagon owner, I must admit I have a thing for the Prius wagon. Most of the ones I’ve seen in traffic are silver or white, but this one looked better in ice-blue metallic.
I happen to think that a full line of Prius models is a no-brainer, as not everyone wants the Citroën-looking standard model. Personally, I really like the wagon. If I ever move to hybrid ownership, this is the one I want, though I would prefer one in fire engine red with tan leather. And it will take some doing to wrest this biased Volvo owner into another marque, though it is a possibility. I am nothing if not practical.
I also like the “neon” Toyota logo on the hybrids, which has a bit of a blue glow. A subtle but cool touch.
But really, the one car that appealed most to me on the lot was this bright-blue Camry XLE. Most of the Camrys running about are LEs in silver or trademark metallic beige, but this one was much more appealing.
I had not looked at an XLE for several years, and was particularly impressed with the tri-tone leather upholstery: light gray, white and dark gray. Classy, but not overdone.
This treatment extended to the rear compartment. I also appreciated the bright aluminum-effect trim and cubbys for miscellaneous items. I could actually envision trading in the venerable V50 for one of these babies.
Much of it was helped by the bright blue paint-not the usual old-man’s Grand Marquis blue, but quite a bit brighter. And the alloys look so much nicer than the usual LE plastic wheel covers.
The upside-down-L taillamps are also very attractive. While I know the current Camry is but a refresh of the 2007 model, the 2012-13 model has taken the unattractive lines of the ’07 and remade them into an inoffensive design in LE form, and downright attractive as a flossier XLE.
As I was heading back to the car, I noticed this ’13 RAV4. I was unaware that a new model had been introduced, and had to pause for a few more pictures.
Despite clearly being a base model (black cladding, plastic wheel covers, etc.) it had a very hospitable interior, with stitched vinyl on the dash and two-tone cloth on the seats.
This is the first 2013 RAV4 I’ve seen, as I was unable to attend the 2013 Chicago Auto Show. I wanted to go, but my brother had to work and I wasn’t about to drive solo; it wouldn’t have been any fun. I kinda liked this one though, despite my aversion to SUVs and crossovers.
In closing, let me part with this shot of a pearl-gray Scion tC. While not a huge fan of these cars (they seem to hold the place that triple-white VW Cabriolets held in the ’80s), I did like this pearl-concrete color. It may look a bit drab in the photo, but I much preferred it to the ubiquitous silver gracing far too many of today’s cars.