Monthly Archives: October 2014

2014 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4×4 V6

Susan Frissell

tacomaThe most popular of the midsize/compact pickups, the Toyota Tacoma is one of the few left in this category. Other competitors are now members of the midsize category, rather than being labeled “compact.” Named “Most Dependable Midsize Pickup” by J.D. Power & Associates in its 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study, and Intellichoice’s “2011 Best Overall Value” in the compact pickup segment,.

Tacoma is available in many iterations Toyota Tacoma can be had in these versions: Regular Cab 2.7-liter L4 5-speed manual with 4-speed automatic; Access Cab 5M with 4A; Double Cab 4A, PreRunner Access Cab 4A; PreRunner V6 Access Cab with 5A; X-Runner V6 Access Cab 6M; PreRunner L4 Double Cab 4A; PreRunner V6 Double Cab 5A; PreRunner Long Bed V6 Double Cab 5A; 4WD Regular Cab L4 5M; 4WD Regular Cab L4 4A; 4WD Access Cab L4 5M; 4WD Access Cab L4 4A; 4WD V6 Access Cab 6M; 4WD V6 Access Cab 5A; 4WD V6 Double Cab 6M; 4WD V6 Double Cab 5A; 4WD V6 Long Bed Double Cab 5A.  Tacoma offers many amenities and is a desirable truck to have around as a daily driver. One not familiar with 21st century pickups would be surprised to hear this, but these vehicles are picking up speed with buyers due to their comfortable cabs, refined ride and quality construction. This writer did not have the opportunity to take the 2014 Tacoma off-road but know it would not disappoint. What we did appreciate is the cab’s generous rear seating, good quality materials in its interior, and the fact that it can tow up to 6,500 lbs.

It is reported that Toyota sells more than 100,000 Tacomas a year. Because of this fact, no doubt, other manufacturers have left the small pickup market in the U.S. Lack of demand killed the Dodge Dakota, Suzuki models and Ford Ranger. Soon to be gone, probably, will be the likes of the Nissan Frontier, Chevy Colorado, and GMC Canyon Redesigned in 2005, Tacoma was also given a new interior and on the outside in 2012.

The pickup also received a Limited Package, with 18-inch chrome alloy wheels, chrome grille and rear bumper, metallic instrument panel, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, HomeLink transceiver, rearview camera display and outside temperature gauge, among other things. Many more configurations were added in the 2013 model year, each offering a lot of durability and reliability.

Standard on all models of the Tacoma are A/C, audio systems with six-speakers, AM/FM/CD, USB Port, aux input and Bluetooth. One can opt for JBL GreenEdge with navigation and Toyota’s Entune which our 4×4 Double Cab V6 version. Safety equipment is plentiful on the Tacoma and includes the Star Safety System, which includes anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TC), Automatic Limited-Slip Differential (Auto-LSD), which uses brake intervention. Our V6 came equipped with Toyota’s TRD Off-Road packages, with separate locking differential ($3,860).  TRD or Toyota Racing Development offers several accessories to further improve on-road performance or off-road capability. BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO tires, sports exhaust and special graphics are part of the package. 

The Tacoma’s base engine is a 2.7-liter inline four-cylinder mated to a five-speed manual transmission; a four-speed automatic is optional. A 4.0-liter V6 is standard on X-Runners and 4WD Double Cabs, and optional on some, but not all, other models, sporting 236 horsepower.  The Tacoma double cab models add more standard features, including bucket seats and functional consoles for the floor and ceiling. 

Double Cabs have six-speaker audio systems, and the V6 models offer a premium JBL system with amplified subwoofer, Bluetooth, XM, and Toyota Entune. The audio upgrade includes steering wheel controls. An option on our Double Cab version, the Entune Premium includes the JBL audio with navigation and App Suite, Entune multimedia bundle, high resolution touch-screen w/split screen display, AM/FM/CD player with MPE /WMA playbook capability, subwoofer, auxuiliary audio Jack, SUB, 2.0 port with iPod connectivity and control, Advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phone book access, music streaming via Bluetooth wireless, HD radio, predictive traffic/dopplar weather overlay, AM/FM/Cache radio, SiriusXM radio, gracenotes album cover art, integrated backup camera display ($2,330).

Four-wheel-drive is available throughout the line and our test vehicle came so equipped. Four-cylinder and V6 engines, along with manual and automatic transmissions are available, including a 5-speed manual and 6-speed manual, or 4-speed automatic and 5-speed automatic.  Safety features are numerous and come on all models; they include anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control with Traction Control, and the Automatic Limited-slip Differential. Models with automatic transmission also include Hill-start Assist Control, and TRD Off-Road models add Downhill Assist Control. 

In addition, front airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, and side-curtain airbags are standard on all models.  Tacoma not only looks like a Toyota, it also gives the impression and feel of being tough and rugged, but not without good clean lines and nice looks. Tacoma’s overall length varies by body style: Regular Cabs are the shortest and most maneuverable, measuring 190.4 inches overall on a 109.6-inch wheelbase. Access Cab and Double Cab short-bed models have a 127.4-inch wheelbase and 208.1-inch overall length. Double Cab long-bed models are quite long at 221.3 inches overall on a 140.6-inch wheelbase. A

All models have six-foot beds except the Double Cab short-bed, which has a five-foot bed.  Feel free to load up Tacoma’s composite inner bed with just about anything. Lighter than steel, the composite bed is still tough and durable; not to mention good looking. The bed features two-tier loading and an integrated deck rail utility system with four adjustable tie-down cleats. The rails are compatible with numerous Genuine Toyota Accessories, including cargo-bed cross bars, a fork-mount bike rack, and other useful items. 

The Toyota Tacoma climate and audio controls are very small and seem almost old-style; Larger ones would probably fit most men’s fingers better and be easier for all drivers to operate. The display screen is almost on the small side, but adequate. All-in-all, Tacoma’s IP is simple, functional and attractive, but not fancy or necessarily the latest in interior trim and design.   The steering wheel, however, is more modern and features a rectangular hub, dark-colored spokes, and brushed-metal-look spokes. The audio can be operated from the wheel, as in most vehicles today. Our Double Cabs 4×4 V-6 model sported a somewhat more high-tech display audio system with the latest in digital technology, much of it beyond this writer’s knowledge. Nonetheless, fairly simple to understand, the Entune services, XM Satellite Radio (with 90-day trial subscription), and nav were easily figured out.


Our TRD model came with water-resistant seat fabric, which was attractively presented in two tones. Available in all Access and Double Cabs is also heavy-duty all-weather flooring. The lower dash and console are a lighter color than the main upper dash. The driver can adjust his/her seat height, manually. Overall, the Tacoma provides the driver with a good driving position, and has large mirrors.  For rear seats, those in the Tacoma Double Cab are comfortable (for a pickup, should we say?); leg room is adequate and headroom can accommodate tall passengers.

One can also tote cargo in the rear seats when they fold down. We also like the center window that opens for air. The Toyota Tacoma drives well and cruises nicely. It offers plenty of power from the V6. It handles well and feels relatively refined. We really enjoyed driving the new 2014 Tacoma Double Cab all week and hated to relinquish it. The automatic V-6 engine still deliver only a combined 18 mpg., but then that isn’t surprising with the trucks’ weight and large tires.

Handling is good on most roads, coming off highway ramps, as well. The Tacoma feels steady and not too top heavy. Size can affect parking but then one has to remember he/she is driving a ‘pickup’ truck, not a sedan. The Toyota Tacoma is a very enjoyable midsize pickup, with lots of creature comforts. The 4WD models offer crisp handling, a nicely balanced ride quality.


MSRP: $27, 885; total vehicle price $36,254; destination $885; value package discount $435

Engine: 4.0-l, DOHC V-6, 24-valve, VVT, 236 hp.

Transmission: 5-speed ECT-I automatic

Wheelbase: 140.6 in.

Height: 70.1 in.

Length: 221.3 in.

Width: 74.6 in.

Weight: 4,285 lbs. curb

EPA fuel economy: 16/21 mpg., avg. 18 mpg.

Warranty: 3 yrs./36,000-mile basic Tires: P245/75R16 Wheels: 16-inch styled steel

Assembled: California

Global SUV Momentum Expected to Continue Through End of Decade; Best-Selling Ford Utilities Poised for More Gains

2015 Ford F-150

2015 Ford F-150

Ready to announce the new 2016 Ford F-150 SUV spurs global demand for SUVs: worldwide demand has increased 88 percent since 2008, making utility vehicles the fastest-growing segment around the world (IHS Automotive), now comprising 19 percent of the global vehicle market. Utility vehicles accounted for 23 percent of global sales for the Ford brand in 2013, up from 17 percent a year earlier. It is expected that utility vehicle sales will grow to 29 percent by 2020. Ford has been the best-selling utility vehicle in the U.S. Since 2011, Ford has been the best-selling utility brand in the U.S., with strong sales of Ford Escape, Edge, Explorer and Expedition. In addition to the introduction of the 2015 F-150, Ford will reveal a new version of the Ford Explorer and the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show.



Consumer Test Drive Tour of All-new Ford F-150

Consumer Test Drive Tour of All-New Ford F-150 Coming to the Chicago area

  • Consumers can test drive the all-new 2015 Ford F-150 before the truck is available in showrooms
  • Tour visits 38 markets across the United States; Chicago stop is scheduled for Oct. 21-26
  • Consumers can register and schedule their test drive at

CHICAGO, OCT. 16, 2014 – Consumers in the Chicago-area wanting to drive the future of trucks can get behind the wheel of the all-new 2015 Ford F-150 Oct. 21-26, as one of 38 tour stops for the toughest, smartest, most capable F-150 ever.   Retail stores and office campuses across the country will host the drives, which take place between Oct. 13 and Dec. 21. Consumers can drive 2015 F-150 trucks on a short route with product experts along for the ride to explain the new innovations and answer questions.   The tour will stop in Chicago from October 21-26 at:  Olson’s Ace Hardware 10135 Grand Ave Franklin Park, IL 60131   Consumers can register and schedule their test drive at Walk-up participation is encouraged. “The new F-150 is a game changer,” said Doug Scott, Ford Truck group marketing manager. “Truck customers are going to learn about and experience the F-150’s new features and improved performance from the best place possible – the driver’s seat.” Tour vehicles will feature the all-new 2.7-liter EcoBoost® V6 that produces 325 horsepower and 375 lb.-ft. of torque and includes Auto Start-Stop designed to enhance fuel economy in stop-and-go driving. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost that produces 365 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque will be available to test drive as well. Participants registered online or in attendance at the event can enter for a chance to win an all-new 2015 Ford F-150.* The tour also will feature interactive displays to help consumers gain a better understanding of the technical aspects of the all-new F-150, including its high-strength steel frame construction and high-strength, military-grade, aluminum-alloy body panels. Drive events will take place in the parking lots of large retailers and office parks. Details can be found “This is the most anticipated truck in Ford history,” said Scott. “Consumers will see for themselves how Ford reinvented the pickup, and experience how the all-new F-150 is a more capable and efficient tool that can make their daily lives easier and more productive.” Consumers can visit to find the tour stop nearest them. Here is a list of tour stops by route:

Week of West West Central East Central East
Oct. 13 Seattle Minneapolis Buffalo, N.Y. Boston
Oct. 20 Portland, Ore. Chicago Cleveland New York
Oct. 27 Sacramento, Calif. St. Louis Pittsburgh Philadelphia
Nov. 3 San Francisco Kansas City, Kan. Columbus, Ohio;Indianapolis Washington, D.C.
Nov. 10 Salt Lake City Tulsa, Okla. Nashville, Tenn. Raleigh, N.C.
Nov. 17 Denver Oklahoma City, Okla. Little Rock, Ark. Atlanta
Dec. 1 Phoenix Dallas Baton Rouge, La. Orlando, Fla.
Dec. 8 Riverside, Calif. Austin, Texas New Orleans Tampa, Fla.
Dec. 15 Los Angeles San Antonio Houston Miami


2014 Toyota 4Runner SR5 Premium 4×4 V6

Susan Frissell


What one sees when eyeing Toyota’s ever faithful off-road SUV the 4Runner is a vehicle that is ‘dated’ in styling. Built with body-on-frame construction, the 4Runner is a great off-road driver for those wanting to try their hand at driving through deep mud, rutted trails or up/down steep inclines. This writer is not aware of 4Runner sales in 2014, however, it’s safe to say they are largely outsold by the ever-popular crossovers, such as Toyota’s own RAV4 and Venza.

Much like other off-road vehicles (think FJ Cruiser, Xterra), short on styling, but who have a loyal following, the 4Runner retains a small following that praises its ability to do things the more popular CUVS can’t or don’t. With its ease of handling and four doors, the 4Runner is a very comfortable, large SUV that can be a daily driver. It navigates city streets well and doesn’t give off a feeling of harshness.

The 4Runner is fairly quiet and comes equipped with most modern amenities required today, such as Bluetooth, AM/FM/CD/Satellite audio with USB input. The 4Runner dropped its truck-based hardware and took on a wagon body, but remained with similar styling. Apparently, Toyota doesn’t see the need to update its look or keep it up-to-date to attract new customers. The 4Runner doesn’t make any statements that it does other than what it has always done, so no need to dress it differently.

The 2014 4Runner interior isn’t anything to write home about, but it is functional and pleasing. Knobs and controls are large and are outlined with metallic trim. For 2014, the 4Runner base (SR5, Trail) models receive more soft-touch trim and bright Optitron gauges. The 4Runner sports Toyota’s 4.0-liter V-6 engine, with 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. It doesn’t feel sluggish when entering traffic or traveling on highways. Fuel economy is estimated at 17/23 mpg for rear-drive models, and 17/22 mpg for four-wheel-drive versions, which isn’t the best, but fairly respectable for an over 4,000-pound vehicle. Our test vehicle, the SR5 model came equipped with Toyota’s part-time 4WD system (Rear-wheel-drive available) The Trail versions are only offered with that 4WD system, with overhead controls.

Limited models get a separate full-time four-wheel-drive system and rides on standard 20-inch wheels and tires. Standard tires on other models are 70R/17 inch. Other expected amenities include Hill Start Assist/Downhill Assist control, heated, power mirrors, and tilt-telescoping steering wheel, six-way power driver’s seat, reclining, floor-flat second row seating, rearview camera and power door locks. The 4Runner’s sound system, with 8 speakers is good. US-FR14-434-A

Two options came on our test SR5: Carpet floor mat/cargo mat ($225) and rigid running boards ($345). Although nothjng really special, the 4Runner doesn’t disappoint. It remains a specific-type of vehicle, aimed at a specific customer base. It steers and maneuvers and despite its size, is not a difficult vehicle to handle. Visibility is decent. This driver couldn’t come up with anything really distasteful about the 4Runner, just that it seems dated.


MSRP: $37,615; total vehicle price $39,045; destination $860

Engine: 4.0-liter V6 DOHC, 24-valve, 270 hp., 278 lb. ft. torque

Transmission: 5-speed Electronically controlled automatic w/ ECT-I and sequential,

Wheelbase: 109.8 in.

Length: 190.2 in.

Width: 75.8 in.

Height: 71.5 in.

Tires: 70R/17-inch mud/snow; full size spare, mounted underbody

Wheels: 17-inch alloy

Towing capacity: 4,700

Fuel tank capacity: 23 gallons

EPA fuel economy: 17/23 mpg.

Weight: 4,400 lbs (SR5); 4,750 lbs (Trail); 4,525 lbs (Limited)

Warranty: 3 yr./36,000-mile basic; 2 yr/25,000-mile free maintenance; 5 yr/60,000-mile drivetrain; 2 yr/25,000-mile roadside assistance.    

Courtney Force Riding Hard on her Father’s Tail for NHRA Championship

The Driving Range

Dani Ben-Ari

Legendary funny car champion John Force now finds himself in the unique position of battling his daughter Courtney for the NHRA championship. While John, who has won the honor 16 times so far remains 30 points ahead of Courtney, standings of the NHRA’s premier Mello Yello Series there are still 3 events left to run before the season finale Nov. 13-16 in Pomona, and she could still turn it around to claim her first NHRA championship. This is the first time in time in funny car history that a father and daughter are 1st and 2nd second in the point standings. Both race for John Force’s Yorba Linda, California-based team.

Courtney Force, 26, became the first woman to win back-to-back funny car races on Sunday when she defeated former Champ Matt Hagan in the NHRA Midwest Nationals at St. Louis this past Sunday. The victory also made her the first female driver to garner 4 funny car wins in one season.

She now has 7 funny car wins overall (also a record for a woman) in just her second year in the series. “We got things turned around at the right time. Right here at the start of the Countdown to the Championship is when we need to have a consistent race car, and I think that’s what we’ve got so far. To have back-to-back wins and make a move in the Countdown is just huge for us. We need to create a gap between us and everyone behind us and climb our way up to catch dad if we want to win this championship. That’s what we have our eyes set on right now.” John Force, 65, is patriarch of a family racing team, that also includes daughters Brittany (now #10 in points in the Top Fuel Category), Ashley (retired) and son-in-law Robert Hight (husband of another daughter Adria Force), and president of John Force Racing.

Note: The following is a list of Female NHRA event winners:

WINS DRIVER CATEGORY FIRST WIN LAST WIN 41 Angelle Sampey Pro Stock Motorcycle Reading 1996 Houston 2007 18 Shirley Muldowney Top Fuel Columbus 1976 Phoenix 1989 10 Erica Enders-Stevens Pro Stock Chicago 2012 Norwalk 2014 7 Courtney Force Funny Car Seattle 2012 St. Louis 2014 6 Karen Stoffer Pro Stock Motorcycle Houston 2004 Denver 2011 5 Melanie Troxel Top Fuel-Funny Car b Pomona 2006 (TF) Bristol 2008 (FC) 4 Shelly Payne Top Fuel Reading 1993 Seattle 1996 4 Lori Johns Top Fuel Pomona 1990 Memphis 1991 4 Ashley Force Hood Funny Car Atlanta 2008 Indianapolis 2010 3 Alexis DeJoria Funny Car Phoenix 2014 Indianapolis 2014 1 Lucille Lee Top Fuel Atlanta 1982 — 1 Cristen Powell Top Fuel Englishtown 1997 — 1 Peggy Llewellyn Pro Stock Motorcycle Dallas 2007 — 1 Hillary Will Top Fuel Topeka 2008 —