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Saturday, April 07, 2007

 

Has Toyota jumped the shark?

Toyota's built some very cool cars before. However, they don't have much for sale right now besides maybe a mini-truck that interests me - many of their great models, from the MR2 to the old rear wheel drive Corollas to the Supra, have disappeared with no successors. This recent LA Times review checks out a new Yaris, and the reviewer, Dan Neil isn't impressed. Neil goes on to speculate on what this bodes for Toyota, including this interesting quote:


Do you think Toyota's execs, engineers and workers are somehow smarter than those of GM? They aren't. Given time, the dialectics of decline will take hold at Toyota just as they have in Detroit. The unraveling has to start somewhere.


One of my favorite car magazines, Grassroots Motorsports, also happened to review the Yaris, and their quoes were less provocative but more amusing. Some gems included "Unprecedented body roll ruins otherwise decent handling," and "Ugh, I wish this had more horsepower, a better suspension, and looked less like a toaster."


It does sometimes make me wonder if Toyota's heading down an all-too-recognizable path. They've made questionable calls with their enthusiast cars (leaving the 180 hp motor out of the newest MR2 even though it dropped in, or what about their Scion concept that attempted to make the xB look like an off roader with the stock suspension?), concentrated heavily on volume, and given their bread and butter cars a reputation for a soft ride at the expense of handling. Now they've started to spread out with a new division using cars that share the same underpinnings as their others but trying to attract buyers with different styling and bodywork. Is Toyota trying to immitate General Motors?

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