Originally created 10/20/06

Toyota refines its lineup



Toyota has become the second-best-selling auto manufacturer, and No. 1 General Motors Corp. is locked firmly in its sights.

2007 just might be the year, because Toyota has refined its lineup, which starts as the youth-oriented Scion brand, moves up through Everyman's Toyotas, and tops out with the Lexus line.

Here are the details of Toyota's cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles for 2007:

LEXUS

The large flagship sedan is a new, fourth-generation model and bristling with new technology.

Now called the LS 460 - to reflect the larger displacement, 4.6-liter V-8 churning out 380 horsepower and 367 foot-pounds of torque at 4,100 rpm through a world's-first eight-speed automatic transmission - the LS even has an optional system to help in parallel parking.

A first-ever long wheelbase version, the LS 460 L, adds 4.8 inches to the wheelbase for a roomier back-seat area that can be fitted with two separate, first-class seats, separate climate control and even an ottoman.

The Lexus ES midsize sedan debuts in 2007 as a fifth-generation car with new styling, more luxurious interior, more safety features and more powerful, 272-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission. It's now called the ES 350 to reflect the larger displacement of the new engine.

The GS line adds the same 3.5-liter V-6 that's in the ES, but in the 2007 GS 350, the power plant develops 303 horses. The GS also has a new, gasoline-electric hybrid version with V-8-like horsepower of 340.

The 2007 GS 450h is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 mated to two onboard electric motors and is rated at 25 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

Last, the RX SUV gets the same 3.5-liter V-6 that's in the ES and GS. In the RX 350, it generates 270 horsepower.

SCION

No major changes are made to the xA and xB because Scion will launch new vehicles to replace the current cars next spring.

The tC coupe adds a tuner-ready Spec Package model that gives Scion's youthful buyers a lower-priced, less-equipped vehicle with a starting price of $15,540.

TOYOTA

The best-selling car in America, the five-passenger Camry sedan, bowed as an early 2007 model months ago. It's larger than its predecessor, more richly styled and has more powerful engines, including a new 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6.

The real news is the first gas-electric Camry hybrid, which has a government fuel economy rating of 40 city/38 highway mpg. (Yes, the Camry hybrid system is tuned to deliver higher fuel mileage in city driving than on the highway.)

The hybrid model, which includes a number of standard amenities, has a starting price of $26,480.

Out as an early 2007 model is the Toyota FJ Cruiser, a throwback to Toyota's early FJ SUVs of the 1960s and their rugged off-road capability. The new FJ seats five, has side clamshell doors, a 239-horsepower, 4-liter V-6, and available four-wheel-drive.

Toyota also has a new, smallest car for 2007. Sold as a five-passenger sedan and three-door Liftback model, the Yaris is Toyota's price leader starting at $11,630. Power comes from a 106-horsepower, 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that provides a fuel economy rating as high as 34/40 mpg with manual transmission.

The 2007 Tundra pickup truck won't be out until February, but is already getting attention as the largest Tundra ever and the first with such a competitive variety of configurations of bed sizes, passenger compartments and engines, creating more than 30 different trucks.

For example, the new full-size Tundra offers short and long beds as well as regular-cab, double-cab and four-door passenger compartments. Three engines are planned, including a more than 300-horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8 for a towing capacity of more than 10,000 pounds.

Noteworthy features on the new Tundra include a tailgate with dampers on its hinges so it can be opened and put down with just two fingers, and a console between the front seats that can hold hanging files.

Elsewhere, the Toyota Matrix wagon no longer is offered with all-wheel-drive, and the Camry Solara coupe and convertible are mildly restyled.