All posts by Toyota Cars

New Toyota Telematics System to use SmartDeviceLink

The next-generation Toyota telematics system will implement SmartDeviceLink (SDL). SDL is a platform for smartphone apps and car connectivity that makes it easier for customers to use to apps in their car whether through voice recognition or through the touchscreen panel.

At the 2016 CES conference in Las Vegas, Toyota demonstrated how SDL integration would work in a future telematics system.

Toyota and Ford have already committed to using this platform in the future and hope it becomes an industry-wide standard. If this happens, app developers will be able to quickly make apps that would compatible across the industry, meaning more apps in less time.

Shigeki Terashi, Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Corporation, said, in a statement, “Developing a safer and more secure in-car smartphone connectivity service which better matches individual vehicle features is exactly the value and advantage an automaker can offer customers. We expect that many companies share our view and will participate in the industry SDL collaboration.”

Toyota has been testing the SDL platform since 2011 and found it to be the best option for a new telematics system. Toyota hasn’t said when SDL will first be incorporated into a production vehicle.

How to Drive through Snowy Weather

Here in northern Illinois, winter can be a pretty unforgiving time, especially if you need to do any driving. Here are a few tips on how to drive through snowy weather to help get you through this long, cold season.

  • Get snow tires. Snow tires are specifically designed to cut through snow and slush and give your wheels more traction. If you do make the switch, make sure you swap out all four tires.
  • AWD does not equal invincibility. Just because your vehicle has all-wheel or four-wheel-drive, that does not mean your car can tackle any road condition. It may help you start moving and stay moving through snow, but when it comes to stopping power, it won’t help you at all. Continue to drive cautiously even with the added traction.
  • Stay home. When the roughest winter weather hits, stay home if you can. If you head out anyway and skid off the road you will, at the very least, be late; but things could end up being much worse.
  • Practice. If you find yourself driving through heavy winter conditions year after year, find a way to practice your driving skills. Head to a large empty parking lot that and drive no faster than 25 mph to feel how your car reacts to a skid and practice controlling it. Or, you can spend some money on a professional driving school to learn some real skills.

Do you have any winter driving tips to share?

Toyota’s Buckle Up for Life Program: Staying Safe During the Holidays

Because this time of year is one of the busiest travel seasons, Toyota is teaming with Cincinnati Children’s for “Buckle Up for life,” a national injury prevention program. New Holiday Traditions for Child Passenger Safety is one aspect of the program, aiming to keep kids safe this holiday season.

According to Toyota, nearly 42 million Americans are taking road trips this time of year. Despite recent innovations to safety, there are still few things safer than buckling up. Car seats are also important, capable of greatly reducing risk of injury for children under 12 years old.

“Whether you’re traveling far this holiday season or staying local, no trip with small children is complete without a properly installed car seat,” said Gloria Del Castillo, child passenger safety expert at Cincinnati Children’s and senior outreach specialist for Buckle Up for Life. “Our goal with these traditions is to offer simple ways to make child passenger safety a part of every family’s routine – during the holidays and throughout the year.”

As part of the new program, check out these new “holiday traditions”:

  • Get the whole family involved
  • Don’t re-gift child safety seats. Wear and tear can compromise safety.
  • Car seats do expire; check the date on the side.

These are just a handful of ways to keep you and your family safer as the holidays approach.

Continuously Variable Transmissions: What Are They and How Do They Work?

If you’ve been shopping for a new car recently, you’ve probably noticed the surge in continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) on the market. This innovative transmission technology is capable of perfect gear ratios and upping fuel economy.

According to Autoguide, a CVT doesn’t use gears, in the traditional sense. Instead, this transmission works by using a pair of variable-diameter pulleys (which look like cones) and a special high strength belt. Instead of shifting in and out of gears through a complex clutch and hydraulic system like a normal transmission, a CVT uses a system of cone-like pulleys (with one end thicker than the other) to eliminate unnecessary steps.

Jim Paris, director for Continental in the NAFTA region, explains: “By varying their dimensions the belt itself rides higher or lower on the pulleys and changes the ratio between the drive and the driven pulley.”

What’s different? Drivers will notice that CVTs don’t shift like normal cars; instead, you’re offered one smooth ride. Although this takes some getting used to, you’re always in the right “gear” when you’re using a CVT. This boosts fuel economy and optimizes power transfer. Though this technology was actually found in small engines, like some mowers, the belts were not strong enough for cars. Thanks to recent breakthroughs, the CVT is quickly becoming the ideal transmission option.

2016 Toyota Prius c Is Perfect for the Modern Driver

Today, cars are so much better than they used to be. They can simultaneously be more powerful and more efficient than their predecessors. Cars are also much safer and much more tech-friendly. One of the best new cars that is perfect for the modern driver is the 2016 Toyota Prius c.

This compact hybrid packs a punch when it comes to fuel efficiency, safety, design, and technology. For starters, it boasts the highest fuel efficiency in its segment with an EPA-estimated 53 mpg in the city.

If you want your Prius c to have a personality all its own, choose the new Persona Series Special Edition. This model will be limited to 1,500 units. It will come exclusively in black with the choice of two color accents that run along the grille, under the side windows, and cover the side mirrors. Choose between Electric Lime and Cherry Pearl.

No matter which trim you choose, the Prius c is built on a frame comprised of lightweight, high-strength steel. This simultaneously makes the Prius c more efficient and safer. The Prius c is also equipped with nine standard airbags and the Star Safety System, which includes Vehicle Stability Control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Brake Assist, and Smart Stop.

The 2016 Toyota Prius c will be coming to Bill Walsh Toyota soon. Let us know you’re interested and we’ll let you know when they arrive.

November Is Native American Heritage Month

Illinois has a rich history that is based on the Native American population that lived and still lives here today. In fact, the name “Illinois” comes from an Algonquian word Illiniwek, which means “the people.” To celebrate the history and remember these native people, November is recognized as Native American Heritage month.

The Illinois tribe was a large and powerful nation that occupied much of the Mississippi River valley. In colonial times, they became allies with French fur traders and other colonists who lived among them. Over time, the Illinois tribes were forced to leave and move to reservations in Oklahoma. Today, many Illinois Native Americans are part of the Peoria Indian Tribe of Oklahoma.

To learn more about the Native Americans that lived here and in other parts of the country, try a few new things.

  • Read a book. There are hundreds of books that document that history of Native Americans, like 1491: New Revelations of the Americans Before Columbus, written by Charles C. Mann.
  • Watch a lacrosse game. Lacrosse may be the true American sport, as it was developed by Native Americans as early as the 12th It was played as a celebration of spiritual life and games could last for days with people rotating in and out of teams.
  • Try a new recipe. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, which also celebrates our ties to Native Americans, try a few new recipes that use native foods grown right here.

An Accident Checklist Can Help Reduce Stress

Automobile accidents are challenging enough. Being unprepared, without a clue about what to do, can only add to the trauma. That’s why it’s a good idea to put together an accident checklist that includes the following:

Am I safe?

  • Your first priority is ensuring your own safety. Before anything else happens, make sure you are out of harm’s way. Attend to others if they are in danger.

Gather information

  • Record the names and addresses of everyone involved in the accident (including passengers). Note the make, model, year, and license plate number of every vehicle involved. Write down the insurance policy number and driver’s license number of every driver involved.

Record damage

  • Using your cell phone, take photos of the damage. If it helps, take photos of the entire scene. Write down the details.

File a claim

  • Report the accident to your insurance company.

Write down this checklist and keep in your glove box or save in your phone. Then, in the unfortunate event that you are involved in an accident, you can simply work your way down the list.

Toyota Launches Programs to Address Teen Driving Safety

When it comes to driving safety, the stakes are high. In 2011, seven teenagers aged from 16 to 19 died everyday from motor vehicle injuries (CDC).

Toyota has long taken up the flag of teen driving safety. Just recently, the automaker launched two defensive driving campaigns aimed at encouraging teens to be better drivers.

TeenDrive365 Video Challenge

This is the fifth year that Toyota has offered this challenge in which high school students are asked to make a short film that inspires other teenagers to minimize driving distractions. The submissions are judged by a panel consisting of “community leaders, educators, communications experts, and Toyota representatives.” The winner will receive $15,000 and work with a bona fide film crew to re-shoot their film as a TV-ready PSA.

Toyota Driving Coach

The number one factor influencing how a teen will drive is their parents’ behavior behind the wheel. Armed with this data, Toyota created a program with DoSomething.org in which teens can help their parents become better drivers (making the teens better in the process). Teens will receive texts from DoSomething.org describing unsafe driving behaviors and then help the teens decide how to address those behaviors if they see them in their parents.

For more information on both programs, click here!

Participate in Pollution Prevention Week by Buying a Hybrid

September 20th through the 26th this year is recognized as Pollution Prevention Week. There are many ways we can try to prevent pollution, but we all know that one of the biggest causes of pollution is cars. That is why hybrids were invented.

If you’re feeling like you want to make your carbon footprint a little smaller and save some money on fuel at the same time, you should consider driving a hybrid, and nobody does hybrids better than Toyota.

Toyota has a full line-up of hybrids, including the Prius—the first mass-market hybrid vehicle. Today the Prius is available in four different models: the original Prius, Prius c, Prius v, and Prius Plug-in Hybrid.

In addition to the Prius models, Toyota also offers a hybrid version of the Camry, Avalon, and even the Highlander crossover. Starting with the 2016 model year, there will also be a RAV4 hybrid.

The most fuel-efficient of Toyota’s hybrids is the Prius Plug-in Hybrid. It gets an EPA-estimated 95 MPGe in electric mode and 50 mpg in hybrid mode. The compact Prius c is right behind its plug-in cousin with an EPA-estimated 53 mpg in the city.

If you want to make the switch to a hybrid, stop by Bill Walsh Toyota today and we’ll help you find the perfect hybrid to fit your lifestyle.

Toyota Funds Technical Programs Across the Country

Toyota knows the value of having well-trained associates, especially in the manufacturing industry. That is why the Toyota USA Foundation is working to support technical programs across the country for both high school students and adults.

In total, Toyota will provide $5.8 million in grants to help create and expand these programs.

“The Toyota USA Foundation is committed to supporting the American manufacturing sector to strengthen our economy,” said Michael Rouse, Toyota USA Foundation President, in a statement. “By helping students discover their interests in manufacturing careers now, we can cultivate their talents and passions to bolster this critical field for the future.”

Grant recipients include Project Lead the Way in Indianapolis, Indiana, which will introduce a hands-on Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) program in 40 different high schools. They will receive $1 million over two years.

Here at Bill Walsh Toyota, we are proud to be a part of a company that is working hard to help create valuable learning opportunities for students all across the country.