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Is This Me…Coming Around to Toyota?

If you’re reading this article, it might have been a search for ‘Toyota Dealership Near Me’ that brought you here. And if we’re giving credit where it’s due, it might just mean that you’re already well-aware of something that I’ve only started to figure out in recent years; that there ain’t nothing wrong with a Toyota.

Being of a certain age (early 40’s) I can still recall a time when the automaker’s stateside presence was minimal at best, a novelty even. And while the value proposition that they offered was inarguable, it would still be a few more years before they were a true mainstay with a recognizable presence across all segments. And that milestone was reached as a result of continuous innovation, the same innovation that would help them to sidestep certain perils of stagnancy.

In addition, Toyota has always excelled at recognizing the strengths within their lineup, targeting the weaknesses, and addressing them in real time. Absent is the sudden turmoil and upheaval seen in the lineups of such domestic mainstays as Ford and Chevy. No mass-culling of models that overstayed their welcome, building slow-moving inventory that no-one wanted. No forced reorganization of the manufacturing footprint leading to massive layoffs and plant closures. No emissions scandals. Fewer recalls, and a relative absence of the bad press. All in all, Toyota runs a pretty tight ship.

But the real payoff, of course, is a diverse and well-conceived lineup. And with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at why Toyota’s comprehensive 2019 offerings are so commendable.

Cars

Silver, blue, and white Toyota Corolla models

From the more diminutive Yaris to the iconic Camry, Toyota has long-validated themselves by offering a wide range of economically priced hatchbacks, coupes and sedans designed with a more modest footprint in mind. Considering the $15,450 starting point of the Yaris, it’s clear that Toyota counted accessibility among its priorities. And from there, they increased their value proposition strategically, adding features such as tech-based amenities, alternative fuel options and (in recent years) updated restyling on certain tentpoles of their lineup.

There’s even the track-inspired Toyota 86 (for those with a love of performance offerings), proving that Toyota isn’t crippled by sensibility. Powered by a 2.0-liter flat-four engine paired with a manual transmission the 205 hp car delivers 156 lb-ft of torque, and an optimized driving experience. Add in the TRD Special Edition Package, and you gain added accents like Brembo brakes and SACHS performance dampers.

Rare are the times when Toyota has had to (or felt compelled to) chase relevance. In most cases, their offerings have been slightly ahead of the curve, and that philosophy has been extended across all segments. Furthermore, Toyota’s aptitude for innovation has allowed them to conceive next-generation offerings that would lead the charge towards a more sustainable tomorrow.

Hybrid and EV 

You might remember a time when Toyota all but pioneered the Hybrid movement with the introduction of the Prius. Since then, they’ve continued to accommodate changing sensibilities among today’s car buyers by introducing hybrid variants of some of their most popular sedans and crossovers — most of which are available without breaking the bank.

The Corolla Hybrid, for example, is priced to start at $22,950 MSRP but delivers an impressive 52 mpg (combined) making it all but equal with the Prius which averages the same at roughly the same price point. This ranks as another of Toyota’s most significant successes, merging economy and ecology, making it affordable to be environmentally-conscious.

They’ve even taken it a step further with the introduction of their eye-catching Hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the 2019 Mirai. With an estimated driving range of 312 miles, the zero-emission vehicle earns the equivalent of 67 mpg (albeit at a slightly higher price point of $58,500 to start).

Crossovers & SUVs

Burgundy 2019 Toyota 4Runner in woods

In terms of crossover and SUV offerings, Toyota has distinguished themselves with a wide range of models ranging from the most accessible to the most aspirational. In terms of the former, it’s hard to diminish the enduring appeal of the RAV4, a two-row fiver-seater now available in both hybrid and traditional versions. Priced to start around $25,500 MSRP the traditional offers a respectable fuel economy of 35 highway MPG (26 city). Moving up to Hybrid offering might only mean the difference of a couple thousand dollars, but for the eco-minded, that’s a nominal price to pay for large-scale peace of mind. Simply put, it’s another indication of how well-realized Toyota’s lineup is…taking something popular in its own right, and modifying it in the interest of sustainability. But with the Highlander, 4Runner and Sequoia helping to round out the selection, there is enough diversity to appeal to the full spectrum of crossover SUV lovers out there. And that’s not all…

Atop their SUV lineup sits Toyota’s iconic Land Cruiser, which some might be surprised to learn is now approaching its 70th anniversary. A fusion of Toyota and Jeep philosophies, evolved over seven decades, today’s Land Cruiser is far more luxury-inspired than the utilitarian military vehicle that it was conceived as. But the upscale cabin experience is only complimented by its independent double-wishbone suspension, and the pairing of a 5.7-liter V8 and 8-speed ECT-i transmission, churning out 381 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. Impeccably designed and engineered, blending convenience and capable performance, it’s clear to see why the Land Cruiser has remained a favorite for so long.

Trucks

But what if you’re a truck enthusiast? Well, it goes without saying that the Toyota Tacoma was one of the first upstart offerings to chip away at market shares belonging to Ford, General Motors and (pre-RAM) Dodge. If that (and its ever-increasing popularity over nearly a quarter-of-a-century) isn’t enough to attest to its worthiness, well, maybe you ought to stick with one of the ‘Big Three’.

But no-one could claim that the Tacoma wasn’t deserving of its popularity. As of 2019, it comes served up in six trim levels including the overloading TRD Sport, Offroad and Pro trims catering to the offroader in all of us. And for 2020, the Tacoma will receive a mild facelift with a complete redesign following close behind. In other words, Toyota has delivered a powerful reminder that there’s a bright future for its midsize favorite (while acknowledging that it’s not all about staying between the lines).

White 2019 Tundra on the beach

And the full-size Tundra takes Toyota a step further by delivering a capable truck experience well-suited to challenge the domestic mainstays. Powered by a 5.7-liter V8 and overbuilt drivetrain, the Tundra (when properly equipped) can tow up to 10,000 LBS while higher trim levels like the Platinum and 1794 Edition inject a genuine sense of luxury into the ride and cabin experience. So whether you’re looking for capability, versatility or amenities, Toyota has a truck selection to fit the unique demands of your lifestyle and budget.

Is a Toyota the Right Fit for You?

Only you can decide for sure. But if you’re in the market for an accessibly-priced, well-equipped and forward-thinking vehicle (especially one with hybrid or EV capabilities) Toyota offers a wealth of options to choose from. From subcompacts and sedans, crossovers and SUVs, to some of the most confident upstarts in the truck segment, there just might be the perfect Toyota for you. So, don’t make the same mistake I made and wait too long to consider a Toyota. They certainly deserve a closer look….

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