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2017 Toyota Sampling

Frank Washington | 12/28/2016, 10 a.m.
OJAI, Calif., – W came here to test a bevy of 2017 Toyota products. We had the Prius Prime, the ...

After waiting most the afternoon to get into the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, we took it on a long loop that included U.S. HWY 101. The hybrid system produced 301 total horsepower so there was plenty of oomph to deal with the speeding traffic here. It got 30 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg combined. And all the automaker’s hybrids are equipped with Toyota’s on demand all-wheel-drive system that employed a second, independent electric motor to drive the rear wheels when needed for optimal traction.

The 2017 Toyota Highlander was bristling with safety technology that is available across the model lineup. It included: enhanced vehicle stability control, traction control, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, anti-lock braking system, and smart stop technology. All Highlanders also come equipped with a standard backup camera and hill-start assist control. AWD gas models feature standard downhill assist control.

The automaker has also packaged a suite of safety features and branded it Toyota Safety Sense P or TSS-P. It was comprised of pre-collision with pedestrian detection function featuring forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, lane departure alert with steering assist function, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control.

There are five Highlander models; the LE, XLE, Limited, Limited Platinum and the Hybrid. Prices range from about $33,000 to $50,000.

2017 Toyota Corolla

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2017 toyota Corolla

photo credit: motortrend.com

photo credit: motortrend.com

If not for the Corolla, it’s probable that Toyota would not have survived in this market. The compact car was small, it was cheap and it was a much needed gas sipper when the price of petrol was a sky-high 25 cents per gallon. What’s more the Corolla was dependable.

Since it was first built in 1966, 43 million have been sold across the globe. The car was introduced in the U.S. market in 1968. To mark its 50th anniversary, a special edition model was created with special paint and trim color in the SE model with moonroof, smart key and Entune Audio Plus app suite. Alas, the automaker didn’t bring any here either.

Still for 2017, the regular Toyota Corolla was restyled. It got a new front grille and LED headlamps. The L, LE and LE Eco models gained Bi-LED headlamps, while they are standard on the SE, XSE and XLE models. The base L model gained a back-up camera. That feature is now standard across the Corolla line.

Upgraded fabric was added to the interior. There was a choice in interior schemes in the LE between Almond, Ash/Dark Gray or Black/Brown color schemes, or bold sportiness with Softex-trimmed sport seats with Vivid Blue, Orange Zest, and Black premium fabric inserts in the SE. A redesigned climate control panel and circular air vents added a sophisticated touch.

Power was derived from either a 1.8-liter four cylinder engine with variable valve timing, or a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with what Toyota called Valvematic technology. The VVT engine made 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque while the valvematic four-cylinder made 140 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque.

The VVT engine can be mated to a six-speed manual transmission that was rated at 27 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway and 30 mpg combined. The CVT equipped engine with the VVT got 28 mpg in the city, 36 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg combined. With larger tires, the highway and combined mileage dropped by one mile per gallon on the CVT.