Car News

Toyota Today - Auto Analysts Offer Perspective

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2011 Kia Sorento EX
Used 2011 Kia Sorento
$10,982
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2011 Toyota RAV4 Sport
Used 2011 Toyota RAV4
$13,990
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe
Used 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
$16,905
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2011 MINI Cooper Clubman S
Used 2011 MINI Cooper Clubman
$8,757
RELATED READING
See all Toyota, 2011 Lexus, 2011 articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota, 2011 cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2011

A series of recalls last year dealt Toyota some blows on the public relations front, but how has the popular manufacturer adapted since then? 

Many outward changes have occurred. Facing strong criticism, the company redoubled its efforts in the areas of safety and technology. Toyota became the first major U.S. carmaker to make high-tech safety systems standard equipment across its entire 2011 Toyota brand lineup, as well as the youth-targeted Scion and up-market Lexus brands.

The Toyota brand's Star Safety System is a combination of five key safety technologies: vehicle stability control; traction control; an anti-lock brake system; electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist. Vehicle stability control has been standard on all Toyota SUVs since the 2004 model year and on most other models since the 2010 model year.

In the light of these changes, we decided to tap some automotive analysts and get their take on the current state of Toyota safety and technology.

Jim Hall, a principal of auto consultancy 2953 Analytics, called Toyota a leader for making traction control standard across its lineup. He said all the really cool technologies would eventually trickle down from Lexus. "It's not a question of if; it's just a question of when."

Toyota's version of brake assist included in its Star Safety package is dubbed Smart Stop Technology. Brake assist, also known as brake override, automatically reduces engine power when the brake pedal and accelerator are applied at the same time, so the brake takes precedence. The brake-override technology has always been standard on all Toyota and Lexus hybrid models.

"Most (vehicle) accidents are caused by driver error, so there's a lot of gains to be made there," said Jeremy Anwyl, CEO of auto-info website Edmunds.com. Toyota is adding more active safety technology in their cars and trucks, which is an industry trend, he added.

Toyota has been "on the leading edge" of companies introducing active cruise control to its models, Anwyl said. Active, or adaptive, cruise control helps keep a safe distance between a driver and the car ahead by using laser or radar from the front of the user's car. Toyota has had its version, Dynamic Laser Cruise Control, standard on the loaded, higher-end versions of the Sienna minivan, Sequoia SUV and Avalon sedan for several years. 

Toyota first launched adaptive cruise control in the Lexus LS 460 in 2006, but that system utilized radar rather than laser technology. Toyota eventually phased out radar in favor of laser at the end of 2010. "Lexus is the starting point for all these technologies" at Toyota, said Jeremy Carlson, analyst with IHS Global Insight. Adaptive cruise control, more commonly found on premium brands like BMW, Cadillac, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz, can cost a couple of thousand dollars if added as an option.

The Prius hybrid is probably Toyota's most critically important mass-market technological hit to date, said Jesse Toprak, a vice president of TrueCar.com. "Toyota brought that idea to market and succeeded on something most other car companies couldn't – having a commercial success with new technology." Turning a profit on a new technology in the auto business is a rarity, Toprak added.

The Prius first arrived in Toyota's home market of Japan in 1997 and to the U.S. in 2000. Toyota has sold about a million Prius models here since then. The car is now in its third generation, with available features that include hands-free Advanced Guidance Parking, first offered by Lexus here in 2006.

Jack Nerad, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com, said "Toyota got pretty good marks for safety until about 14 months ago" when a series of recalls began. "So Toyota has put safety more front and center."

The government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, working with NASA, just cleared Toyota of the possibility that electronics or electromagnetic interference or a vehicle-based problem caused the unintended acceleration cases tied to the recalls after an unprecedented 10-month study. NHTSA said Toyota had already addressed the incidents in the recalls.

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2011 Kia Sorento EX
Used 2011 Kia Sorento
$10,982
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2011 Toyota RAV4 Sport
Used 2011 Toyota RAV4
$13,990
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe
Used 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
$16,905
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2011 MINI Cooper Clubman S
Used 2011 MINI Cooper Clubman
$8,757
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Toyota Today - Auto Analysts Offer Perspective - Autotrader