Advanced Riding Techniques: Emergency Braking

There are two main factors that separate a beginning rider from an advanced rider; experience and confidence. My guess is that there are some people who have ridden for years but who are still at a beginning skill level because they don’t ride that often or don’t have a wide range of riding experience. An advanced rider hasn’t been endowed with any magical powers; he simply has ridden a lot, in a wide range of circumstances. Advanced riders realize the importance of the basics, many of which I outlined in “Motorcycle Safety And How To Ride Safely.”

They anticipate potential hazards, manage risk and maintain as much control over their situation as is possible. They also understand that not everything on the road is within their ability to control. So they practice the skills that could save their lives, such as emergency braking.


Straight Line Braking

There will be times when you need to stop quickly, like when a car turns in front of you at an intersection or an animal darts into the road. The first time this happens to you your initial reaction may be to slam on both brakes. But doing that may cause more problems for you. It’s important to understand the dynamics of your motorcycle and how they change under hard braking. The goal is to apply both brakes to the maximum without losing traction or locking up one or both wheels, causing you to skid. When you first apply the brakes the weight of the motorcycle shifts to the front. This means your rear tire will have less traction available while the traction available to your front tire is increasing. Take advantage of that increasing traction by increasing the pressure on your front brake. I’ve seen this theory referred to as “brake staging” or “progressive braking.” What it really means is that you keep squeezing the front brake lever with increasing pressure as the weight of the motorcycle shifts forward.

Motorcycle Braking

Because your rear tire has less traction available under hard braking, you should apply the rear brake a little more gradually than the front brake. The rear wheel is more likely to lock up and skid, causing it to slide out of line. If this happens, steer or lean slightly into the direction of the skid. But don’t release the rear brake if it locks up. This can cause a high-side. And that’s very bad. A high-side usually happens when the rear tire loses traction and then suddenly regains traction, like when you lock up the rear wheel by over braking and then let go of the brake pedal when you notice the skid. When this happens the bike will violently begin to straighten, so much so that it throws you off the bike on the high side, or the side of the motorcycle furthest from the ground.

Now your bike is riderless, but still in motion and heading in the same direction that you are. Pretty soon your motorcycle is riding you. The easiest way to avoid this scenario is to not lock up the rear tire in the first place. But in an emergency situation it’s easy to slam on the brakes a little too forcibly. If that happens and your rear wheel starts skidding and fishtailing on you, get the bike straight as quickly as you can, but do not release pressure on the rear brake pedal.

If you lock up the front tire by over braking your response should be the opposite. Release the brake. Once the tire begins to roll again you can reapply the brake, but do it a little more gradually this time so you don’t lock it up again. When you lose traction and begin to skid, and you can’t regain traction, you’re in for a low-side. This can happen when you lock up your front wheel or go too fast around a curve. The tire, or tires, begins to slip out from under you and you lay the bike down on its side. While this is bad, it’s not nearly as hazardous as a high-side.

Braking In A Curve

We’ve already seen that when you brake, the weight of your bike shifts frontwards. As the weight shifts the front suspension will compress and both of these events will affect your ability to steer. For this reason, whenever possible, get your bike perfectly upright before braking. If you happen to be leaned over into a curve and suddenly need to brake hard you have to apply the brakes more gradually. As you brake in a curve get the bike upright as quickly as possible and then apply full pressure to both brakes.

Braking in a Curve

Because some of the traction available to your tires is being used to turn your bike into the curve, it’s not available for braking. So with less traction available you’re more likely to experience a skid when braking hard in a curve. For that reason you need to apply the brakes more gradually, while getting the bike straight as quickly as you can. It’s also a good reason to slow down before you enter a curve. Curves present all kinds of opportunities for mishaps. Having less traction available for braking is one. Another is that on some curves your sight distance is limited. You need to enter a curve slow enough that you have time to stop within the distance you can see.

Downshift While Braking

Let’s say you’re riding along and suddenly a car pulls out of a driveway in front of you. You apply both brakes to the maximum without losing traction or skidding and come to a complete stop with a couple of feet to spare. What about the guy in the car behind you? Was he paying as much attention as you? Can he bring his much heavier vehicle to a full stop as quickly as you? If you’ve managed to downshift into first gear while bringing your bike to a stop you can quickly accelerate to safety. But if you’re in neutral or second you may have just traded a front collision for being rear ended. Always shift into first gear when you’re coming to a stop, whether it’s for a stop sign or in an emergency. Always. If you make it a habit then you’re much more likely to do it in an emergency, and that could save your bike and your life.

Downshift While Braking

Let’s recap. To get your motorcycle stopped in the shortest amount of time and distance you apply both brakes. To take advantage of the increasing traction available to the front tire, thanks to the forward shifting of the weight of your bike, you apply more pressure on the front brake. You do this gradually, though in reality it’s only going to take a few seconds. Your application of pressure on the rear brake should be more gradual, to compensate for the smaller amount of traction available to the rear tire. Keep the bike straight, or if you’re in a curve, straighten it as quickly as possible to give your tires more available braking traction. You squeeze the clutch lever and downshift until you’re in first gear. The only difference between performing an emergency stop and a normal stop is how much pressure you apply to the brakes and how quickly you apply that pressure.

Practice Exercises 

To be sure that you’re able to successfully execute an emergency stop when you absolutely have to, it’s a good idea to practice. And practice often. I’ve read studies that show that once you learn or practice a skill it’s good for about six months and then it begins to deteriorate. So if it’s been awhile since you last practiced emergency braking, it’s time to head to a nice big parking lot.

If you can, use a parking lot with lines outlining the parking spaces. Most parking spaces are about 10 feet wide and provide a wonderful set up for practicing. If you can’t find a lot with marked spaces bring a tape measure and some chalk. You’ll also want to bring a few objects to use as markers. Two-liter bottles with some sand in the bottom work well, as do those bright neon colored tennis balls cut in half.

For the first exercise set one marker at the beginning of one parking space and another marker at the end of the third space, or at 30 feet. Get on your bike six parking spots, or 60 feet, away from the first marker. Ride across the lot toward the first marker, getting your speed up enough to shift into second gear, say 15 to 20 mph. Keep looking straight ahead and keep the bike heading in a straight line. As you pass the first marker begin applying both brakes, squeeze the clutch lever and downshift. The goal is to come to a complete stop by the time you reach the second maker. If you overshoot the second marker try a little more pressure on the brakes next time. If you lock up the rear tire keep the rear brake engaged until you come to a stop, but on the next pass try a little less pressure on the rear brake. Run this exercise until you can stop right at the second marker five times in a row.

Next we’ll move that second marker a little closer to the first one, say to 25 feet or the middle of that third parking space, and gradually increase the speed of your approach. Start off from the same place, 60 feet from the first marker, and get your speed up just high enough to shift into second gear, say about 10 mph. As you pass the first marker begin braking and downshift to first. The goal on this exercise is to come to a complete stop before you reach the second marker. Once you’ve accomplished this at 10 mph five times in a row, go back and increase your speed to 15 mph. Then do it at 20 mph.

The final exercise will be stopping in a curve. It’ll be helpful if you can use a portion of the parking lot where there are two rows of parking spaces where cars would park head-to-head. Put your first marker on the outside edge of one of the parking space lines. Put another marker, we’ll call this one number three, on the opposite end of the same line, or the end of the parking space that abuts the first space. Place another marker; we’ll call this one number two, on the line that separates the two rows of spaces, two spaces or 20 feet away. Start about six spaces, or 60 feet, away from the first marker. Get going fast enough to shift into second gear, about 10 mph for the first couple of attempts. Position yourself so that you’ll ride on the outside of the markers, or that you’ll ride by them with the markers on your left. As you pass the first marker begin to lean into a curve, so that you’ll ride past the second and third marker as tightly as you can. Once you’ve got the curve down try it again, but as you pass marker number two begin to straighten the bike, apply the brakes and downshift to first. See how wide of the third marker you are? This is why it’s so vital not to enter a curve going too fast. Try this exercise at 10 mph until you can get the bike stopped close enough to the last marker that you wouldn’t be going off the road if you were actually out in traffic.

The key to being able to successfully execute an emergency braking procedure is knowing the limits of your bike, being aware of road conditions and remaining vigilant the entire time you’re riding. Practice is big factor. The longer you ride, the better you’ll get. And you’ll be able to minimize your chances of needing to use this skill. But it sure will make you feel more confident knowing you can do it if you ever need to.

New Models Added – December 28, 2012

– Motorcycle / Scooter
– 2013 Piaggio BV 350
– 2013 Piaggio Fly 150
– 2013 Piaggio Fly 50 4V
– 2013 Piaggio Typhoon 125
– 2013 Piaggio Typhoon 50
– 2013 Triumph America Base
– 2013 Triumph Bonneville Base
– 2013 Triumph Bonneville T100
– 2013 Triumph Daytona 675
– 2013 Triumph Daytona 675R
– 2013 Triumph Rocket III Roadster
– 2013 Triumph Scrambler Base
– 2013 Triumph Speed Triple ABS
– 2013 Triumph Speed Triple R ABS
– 2013 Triumph Speedmaster Base
– 2013 Triumph Thruxton 900
– 2013 Triumph Thunderbird ABS
– 2013 Triumph Thunderbird Storm ABS
– 2013 Triumph Tiger 800 ABS
– 2013 Triumph Tiger 800 XC ABS
– 2013 Triumph Tiger Explorer
– 2013 Triumph Tiger Explorer XC
– 2013 Vespa GTS 300 i.e.
– 2013 Vespa GTS 300 i.e. Super
– 2013 Vespa GTS 300 i.e. Super SE
– 2013 Vespa GTV 300 i.e.
– 2013 Vespa LX 150 i.e.
– 2013 Vespa LX 50 4V
– 2013 Vespa LXV 150 i.e.
– 2013 Vespa S 150 i.e.
– 2013 Vespa S 150 i.e. Sport SE
– 2013 Vespa S 50 4V
– 2013 Vespa S 50 4V Sport SE

2013 Las Vegas Antique Motorcycle Auction

January 10, 11, & 12, 2013

  • South Point Casino and Exhibit Hall
  • 9777 Las Vegas Blvd S
  • Las Vegas, Nevada

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The pinnacle of the industry! Six hundred (600) motorcycles in three days! See motorcycles you may never see again. Meet friends in a city built for fun. Talk to experts and owners of the motorcycles you have dreamed of for years. Take home that motorcycle! For twenty-one years MidAmerica buyers and sellers have looked forward and saved the dates for the LAS VEGAS MOTORCYCLE AUCTION. This is the legacy of a company dedicated to its customers and grateful acknowledgement to that “network family” that made it possible. It is our hope you will join our family.

Tesla S Test Drive

I test drove a Tesla S today.  Clearly the Tesla retail experience is better from traditional auto shopping and this car is the way of the future!  Tesla has stores where the other Auto Manufacturers have Dealerships.  Tesla owns their stores where other auto manufacturers have franchises.

First impressions are this is a “with it”, 21st century car.  Electronics and controls reminded me more of an iphone or ipad than a car.  The other auto manufacturers are far behind in this area.

Pros are this car is FAST!  With no transmission or gears the power continuum is smooth and consistent -what a pleasure this is!  I started thinking about saving $5,000 a year because I’d no longer need to purchase gasoline.  I also was thinking there aren’t a lot of moving parts in this car to service compared to a traditional car with an engine, transmission, differential, etc.

Cons are flat (not contoured) seat pans, headroom in the rear seats, and stepping out of the rear seats situations over the rear axle (but this has become common is many other cars).

On my test drive I accelerated onto the highway then aggressively switched out of the on ramp into one of the primary highway lanes.  When I squared the car with the new lane I felt an instability in the front steering.  The Associate with me assured me it was the alignment and tires on this particular car but I’m not sure.  I’d like to spend more time with an S to better understand this issue.  This actually became my #1 issue with the car.


New Models Added – December 14, 2012

– Motorcycle / Scooter
– 2013 BETA Evo 125
– 2013 BETA Evo 200
– 2013 BETA Evo 250
– 2013 BETA Evo 250 4-Stroke
– 2013 BETA Evo 300
– 2013 BETA Evo 300 4-Stroke
– 2013 BETA Evo 300 SS
– 2013 BETA Evo 80 Jr
– 2013 BETA Evo 80 Sr
– 2013 BETA RR 250 2-Stroke
– 2013 BETA RR 300 2-Stroke
– 2013 BETA RR 350
– 2013 BETA RR 400
– 2013 BETA RR 450
– 2013 BETA RR 498
– 2013 BETA RS 400
– 2013 BETA RS 450
– 2013 BETA RS 520
– 2013 Ducati 848 EVO Base
– 2013 Ducati 848 EVO Corse SE
– 2013 Ducati Diavel AMG
– 2013 Ducati Diavel Base
– 2013 Ducati Diavel Carbon
– 2013 Ducati Diavel Cromo
– 2013 Ducati Diavel Dark
– 2013 Ducati Diavel Strada
– 2013 Ducati Monster 1100 EVO
– 2013 Ducati Monster 696
– 2013 Ducati Monster 796
– 2013 Ducati Monster Diesel
– 2013 Ducati Panigale 1199 R
– 2013 Genuine Scooter Co. Blur SS 220i
– 2013 Genuine Scooter Co. Buddy 125
– 2013 Genuine Scooter Co. Buddy 170i
– 2013 Genuine Scooter Co. Buddy 50
– 2013 Genuine Scooter Co. Buddy Psycho
– 2013 Genuine Scooter Co. Buddy Little International Italia 50
– 2013 Genuine Scooter Co. Buddy Little International Pamplona 50
– 2013 Genuine Scooter Co. Roughhouse R50
– 2013 Genuine Scooter Co. Stella 4-Stroke
– 2013 Honda CB 1000R
– 2013 Honda CB 1100
– 2013 Honda CB 1100 ABS
– 2013 Honda CB 500F
– 2013 Honda CB 500F ABS
– 2013 Honda CB 500X
– 2013 Honda CB 500X ABS
– 2013 Honda CBR® 1000RR
– 2013 Honda CBR® 1000RR ABS
– 2013 Honda CBR® 500R
– 2013 Honda CBR® 500R ABS
– 2013 Honda CBR® 600RR
– 2013 Honda CBR® 600RR ABS
– 2013 Honda CRF® 250X
– 2013 Honda CRF® 450X
– 2013 Honda Gold Wing® F6B
– 2013 Honda Gold Wing® F6B Deluxe
– 2013 Honda VFR 1200F
– 2013 Honda VFR 1200F DCT
– 2013 Honda XR™ 650L
– 2013 Hyosung GT 250
– 2013 Hyosung GT 250R
– 2013 Hyosung GT 650
– 2013 Hyosung GT 650R
– 2013 Hyosung GV 250
– 2013 Hyosung GV 650
– 2013 Hyosung ST7 Base
– 2013 Hyosung ST7 Deluxe
– 2013 Indian Chief Classic
– 2013 Indian Chief Dark Horse
– 2013 Indian Chief Vintage
– 2013 Indian Chief Vintage LE
– 2013 Lance Cali Classic 125
– 2013 Lance Havana Classic 125
– 2013 SYM Citycom 300i
– 2013 SYM Fiddle II 125
– 2013 SYM HD 200 EVO
– 2013 SYM Mio 50
– 2013 SYM Symba 100
– 2013 SYM SymWolf Classic 150

A Sneak Peek of the 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser

The 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser offers comfort, safety and full-time four-wheel drive for a quality package. This vehicle has found a reliable market in over 180 countries worldwide. This vehicle comes standard with numerous amenities that guarantee comfort and style satisfaction for the most particular owner.

2013 Toyota Land Cruiser Exterior

The Land Cruiser is available in several attractive colors, including Classic Silver Metallic, Sonora Gold Pearl, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Amazon Green Metallic, Salsa Red Pearl, Blizzard Pearl and Black. Interior colors are available in black and sandstone.

Standard exterior features include High Intensity Discharge headlights featuring automatic level control, automatic on/off, headlight cleaners and an integrated Land Cruiser logo to give them style. It also has fog lights, LED tail and stoplights with an integrated logo, heated automatic dimming exterior mirrors with memory features, 18-in. five-spoke alloy wheels, rain-sensing aerodynamic windshield wipers and an intermittent rear wiper. Other features include a windshield wiper de-icer, tinted glass on the back end, quarter and liftgate windows. A roof rack, back spoiler, front and back frame-mounted tow hooks and skid plates are installed. The vehicle’s transfer case add more storage capability, style and protection to an already quality package.

Interior standard features also scream luxury. These include a 4-zone auto front and back climate control that has an air filter with allergen filtration mode. Also, the driver, front passenger and rear-seat passengers can choose separate temperatures to ride in their own personal ideal comfort. A premium HD Navigation system that includes Toyota’s Entune system, an 8-in. touch-screen, 14 speakers (including a subwoofer) and SiriusXM Satellite Radio capability are just the start of the interior luxury features.

The Entune system provides access to Bing and iheartradio for the ability to purchase tickets for a movie or make dinner reservations. This entertainment system also gives occupants the chance to listen to Pandora, while the XM Data services included in the Land Cruiser package provides access to traffic, weather, stocks and fuel cost information. With a 24.6 gallon fuel tank and a projected 13 miles per gallon for city driving and 18 mpg for highway travel, some forethought to fuel purchases can be a worthwhile endeavor.

Other features that make the Land Cruiser a truly admirable cruising machine are the multi-terrain monitor, with the choice of front, side or rear views. The perforated leather trim on all eight vehicle seating positions, multi-stage heated and ventilated front seats, a 10-way adjustable driver’s seat, 8-way adjustable passenger seat and the two-level center console with a cooler box make this a comfortable ride. There are also 12 cup and container holders throughout the vehicle, front and backsub door storage pockets and maplights in both the front and second rows. Three 12V cigarette power outlets, two in the front and one in the back cargo area, keep all necessary electronics able to access power when required.

The multi-information display in the Land Cruiser includes the ability to select multiple terrains, view the shifter’s position, present and mean fuel economy information, average speed, steering wheel orientation and information from the parking assist sonar.

The standard entertainment system in the Land Cruiser boasts 14-speakers featuring a subwoofer, along with SiriusXM Satellite Radio with a 3-month complementary subscription, High Definition Radio with iTunes, and a USB port featuring iPod compatibility. This vehicle also features a cutting edge voice recognition system and the ability to stream music through built-in Bluetooth technology. The eight-inch touch-screen with split screen capacity and integrated backup camera display increases the standards for visuals in the Toyota models. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system keeps back seat passengers happy with a nine-inch display, while a remote and two wireless headphones keep other passengers out of the loop as necessary.

2013 Toyota Land Cruiser Interior

The 5.7-litre DOHC V-8 engine has two independent variable valve trimmings with intelligence, and the six-speed electronically maintained auto transmission also has intelligence. These features help optimize fuel use and vehicle performance without additional effort from the driver.

2013 Toyota Land Cruiser Engine

The full-time four-wheel drive with Active Traction Control and Torsen limited-slip differential with a locking feature begin the impressive list of performance and safety features included in the Land Cruiser repertoire. Other safety features include the Star Safety System, drive and front passenger active headrests and an active seatbelt pretensioning system. 3-point seatbelts at all seating positions and an automatic/emergency locking retractor on ever occupants’ belts are standard on every model. The driver’s seat has an emergency locking retractor as well. There are movable front and middle-row outboard seatbelt anchors, child protector rear doorlocks and a power window lockout. The vehicle includes the driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System, operator and front passenger seat-installed side airbags, knee airbags and all-row Roll-Sensing side curtain airbags.

A tire pressure monitor system, front and back parking assist sonar, a collision warning system, an off-road turning assist system, a trailer-centering system, and a Hill Start Assist Control up the ante slightly to provide comfort for drivers and passengers of the Land Cruiser. Ventilated disc brakes and a multi-terrain four-wheel drive ABS with Electronic Braking Distribution and brake assist also make for safer driving in all conceivable conditions. The mud-and-snow-rated, steel-belted radial Blackwall tires don’t hurt either when it comes to inclement weather or tortuous winter conditions in some notable countries.

Its advanced suspension system, with independent double-wishbone front suspension and four-link rear suspension, both with coil springs and a stabilizer bar, create a great base for off-road experience. That, coupled with the Crawl Control and aforementioned Off-Road Turn Assist, guarantee the adventures where the path is left behind are manageable and memorable at the same time.

Cargo volume in the Land Cruiser is also a notable factor when considering a purchase. Behind the third row alone, there is 16.1 cu. ft. of space. With the third row folded, that area increases to 43 cu. ft., while folding the second row and removing the third row altogether allows for an impressive 81.7 cu. ft. This means a great area for the camping gear or luggage for simple trips and a great amount of space for any major excursions that require a significant amount of paraphernalia.

Base price for the Land Cruiser is $78,255.  For the best savings, search for used cars.

A Review of the 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser

The 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser has the elements the public is looking for in an off-road focused vehicle. Add appealing color choices and some engaging interior features, and the FJ Cruiser comes out a winner to many potential buyers. This distinctive looking vehicle may steal the hearts of the unsuspecting consumer with its mix of rugged looks and inspired off-road handling.

2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser Exterior

The FJ Cruiser is available in the natural occurrence-inspired colors of Black, Magma, Iceberg, Quicksand, Cavalry Blue, Army Green, Magma Orange and Cement Gray. Interior colors stick to subdued black or gray with some color-keyed elements.

Exterior features that catch attention include 17-inch tires on black steel wheels that give the FJ Cruiser a distinctive look in any group of off-roaders. Ailver painted exterior rearview mirrors, a 2-tone-exterior color (with the exception of Iceberg), black bumpers featuring metallic trim, Daytime Running Lights and power exterior mirrors with illuminated markers make this car a looker. Its 2 full doors and 2 access doors, all featuring silver accented door handles add to visual appeal. Black overfenders featuring built-in integrated mudguards add to the unique visual appeal of the Cruiser, while multi-reflector headlamps, a back window defogger featuring an intelligent timer, give this car a great look. Power exterior mirrors featuring lighted markers and washer-linked variable intermittent windshield wipers appeal to the practical side of any off-road enthusiast tired of the minute details losing out on attention.

Interior features appeal to any passenger who prefers comfort but is along for the ride nonetheless. These features include air conditioning that has an internal air filter and middle row vents, 4 cupholders in the center console and 2 bottle holders in the access doors. Door locks and power windows, 4 assist grips, 4 map pockets, and a key cylinder light are more great features. Long-lasting flooring and water resistant seat fabric are no-nonsense and acknowledge the fact that some days will require a good hosing down for both the exterior and interior of a well-run FJ Cruiser.

The all-important entertainment aspect of the FJ Cruiser does not disappoint, although it lacks in bells and whistles. The CD player with AM/FM radio reception has capability to play both MP3/WMA media. It also has six speakers, a USB outlet featuring iPod connectivity, along with hands-free capability for a cellphone and the ability to stream music over Bluetooth technology, as well as control audio and Bluetooth via steering wheel controls.

2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser Interior

The FJ Cruiser cranks out 260 horsepower with 271 lb-ft. of torque. A five-speed ECT automatic and a six-speed manual transmission are each available for the 2013 models. A 4.0-liter, 6-cylinder engine with a four-valve valvetrain and a maximum towing capacity of 4,7000 lbs are some other intriguing statistics for the FJ Cruiser’s player card. The vehicle is available in two-wheel drive, part-time four-wheel drive and full-time four wheel drive.

2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser Engine

There are also packages that can be added to the standard; the convenience package, the upgrade package, the Off-Road package, the TRD package and the Trail Teams Special Edition package. This optional package offers features including cruise control, a keyless entry system and a spare tire cover. The upgrade package adds 17-in. wheels, a traction control system for the four-wheel drive models, an electronically controlled locking back differential, a six entry -disc CD changer and eleven speakers in 7 locations (which includes a subwoofer). Other options include a leather-trimmed steering wheel along with a rear parking system with sonar to detect unseen objects behind your car.

The Off-Road package adds expertly engineered Bilstein shock absorbers, a floating-ball Multi-information display, a traction control system, a compass and an outside temperature display. The TRD package, meanwhile, adds TRD 16-in., six-spoke wheels with tires for any terrain, tires, high-speed-tuned Bilstein shock absorbers and TRD decals.

The Trail Teams Special Edition Package, which is available in Cement Gray (outside color not available otherwise), boasts black bumpers, grille and door handles. The package includes TRD 16-in., six-spoke Special Edition wheels, wheel locks, cruise control, a remote keyless entry system, a traction control system and Bilstein shock absorbers.

The projected fuel economy regarding the FJ Cruiser is 16 miles per gallon for travel in the city and 20 mpg once the tires hit the highway for longer stretches. This is the average, with the two-wheel drive model expected to record 17 mpg city and 22 highway, the MT to record 15/19 mpg city/highway and the AT to rack up 17/21 mpg city/highway. A 19-gallon tank means significant time between stops for gas if the adventurer is on his game in terms of planning.

Safety features on the FJ Cruiser are up to Toyota standards, as the Cruiser has the industry’s cutting edge airbag system, active headrests, seat-mounted side airbags, seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters – all for the driver and front passenger. Other safety features include 3-point seatbelts for all five passengers that optimally fit in the FJ Cruiser, a seatbelt warning with buzzer for both the driver and front passenger, an engine immobilizer and a Tire Pressure Monitor System.

It has gear rack-and-pinion steering, paired with ventilated disc front brakes, solid disc rear brakes and a high-mounted suspension in a double wishbone design. The suspension is built with lateral rods, coil springs and built-in stabilizers, making for a positive review in the performance aspect of the CJ Cruiser evaluation. Mud-and-snow-rated, steel-belted radial blackwalls and a full size spare tire mean inclement weather is handled with ease. In the case of a blowout, the driver doesn’t need to scramble to find a replacement the moment the spare is on the vehicle.

Cargo volume in the FJ Cruiser is a spacious 27.9 cu. ft behind the rear seat and 66.8 cu. ft. with the rear seats folded. This makes storage of any gear needed for those off-roading adventures more than manageable.

Warranties for the FJ Cruiser show Toyota’s pride in their product. A three-year, 36,000 mile comprehensive warranty is available, along with a five-year/60,000-mile power train warranty, a five-year Corrosion Perforation warranty that has no mile limit and the two-year/25,000 mile complimentary Toyota Care warranty that comes with each new Toyota purchase. This provides coverage for all normal scheduled service and 24/7 roadside assistance.

The FJ Cruiser has a base price tag of $26,880 for the two-wheel drive model. The four-wheel drive MT comes with a price tag of $28,060, while the four-wheel drive AT is $28,470.

A Look At The 2013 Toyota 4Runner

The 2013 Toyota 4Runner, the fifth generation of 4Runner, is ready for the off-road adventure of a lifetime – or for a lifetime of off-road adventures. You decide which sounds better.

2013 Toyota 4Runner Exterior

The 4Runner comes in a variety of colors, such as Black, Magnetic Grey Metallic, Shoreline Blue Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, Salsa Red Pearl and Blizzard Pearl. The interior sticks to the simple options of Sand Beige and Graphite. The 4Runner comes in three trims; the SR5, the Trail and the Limited. The SR5 and Limited are available in two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, while the Trail is only available as a four-wheel drive model.

The 4Runner can carry five passengers maximum, or this number can be increased to seven with an optional third row of seating. The vehicle similarly is capable of towing up to 5,000 lbs and storing between 46.3 and 47.2 cu. ft. with the rear seats up (depending on the inclusion of a slide deck or not) and 88.8 or 89.7 cu. ft. with rear seats folded (again, dependent on slide deck). For those who choose to include a third row of seating, with all seats up, there is 9 cu. ft. of cargo space, while with the third row seats folded, there is 46.3 cu. ft. of storage area.

2013 Toyota 4Runner Towing

When taking a look at the overall picture for the 4Runner, exterior features worthy of a mention for the 2013 model are the front and back bumpers featuring chrome inserts, chrome door handles, heated exterior mirrors that feature easily visible turn signals, puddle lamps and chrome roof rails with highly detailed silver end caps. Other features include remote keyless entry, privacy glass, aerodynamic variable windshield wipers with a fully adjustable mist cycle and plates to prevent skidding on the engine and front suspension. Other notable features include a generous fuel tank and transfer case. The SR5 and Trail both have 6-spoke alloy wheels and a full size steel spare tire. The Trail package has black accents rather than chrome, while the Limited has 20-inch split 6-spoke wheels and a full size alloy spare.

The 4Runner comes equipped with a 4.0-liter, six-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic transmission with ECT that puts out 270 horsepower and 278 lb.-ft of torque. The double-wishbone suspension that is constructed with a stabilizer bar in the front and coil springs in the rear, along with variable rack-and-pinion steering and ventilated disc brakes in front and rear enhance performance and handling during off-road excursions, make it the bread and butter of a 4Runner’s existence.

Standard ABS, Brake Assist and Vehicle Stability Control contribute equally to the off-road success of any 2013 4Runner. Mud and snow radial tires don’t hurt in this case either.

The projected fuel economy for the SR5 and the Limited is 17 miles per gallon for city driving and 22 mpg for highway driving, while the Trail looses 1 mpg for highway travel (17/21 city/highway). With a 23.0 gallon fuel tank, trips to the gas station can be semi-regular.

Interior comforts for the 4Runner include air conditioning, Toyota’s own sound optimization technology that is ideal for a tailgating, a second-row middle armrest featuring cupholders, and a keyless remote entry system. Other notable features include a power sliding back liftgate window featuring an automatic up/down button and jam protection, power door locks, a HomeLink universal transceiver, two front and one back 12VDC cigarette power outlets, a middle-console storage area for money, tissues and pens, and a parking brake that is easily engaged with the press of a foot.

The Trail adds additional benefits like water-resistant fabric-trimmed seat material and a backup camera linked to an electrochomic mirror.  More features include Active Traction Control, VSC cutoff, a Crawl Control switch and – the piece de resistance, a sliding back cargo storage area capable of supporting up to 440 lbs. This is an ideal addition for those tailgate parties. The Limited, meanwhile, adds leather trim, cruise control, audio, Bluetooth hands-free controls and a push button start. Both the Trail and Limited boast 400W standard household power outlets as well.

The SR5 has a standard audio system with AM, FM and MP3 capabilities along with a CD player for its eight speaker system. Other entertainment features include a USB port with iPod connectivity and a hands-free voice calling option. The hands-free phone option, along with its streaming music, is available through its integrated Bluetooth technology. The Limited package adds a navigation system with Entune on a 6.1-inch touch-screen that has display technology and a built-in backup camera, Hight Definition Radio with iTunes and text-to-voice with customizable text responses.

2013 Toyota 4Runner Interior

Safety with the 4Runner, as with all Toyotas, is impressive. In addition to its own safety system – which includes many braking, stopping, traction and engine supporting systems, the 4Runner most notably has the Advanced Airbag System. This system protects the driver’s and passengers’ thorax, abdomen and pelvis through front seat-mounted side airbags, knee airbags, active headrests and seatbelt pretensioners with force limiters. There are three-point seat belts for all seating positions, the LATCH system, child-protector door locks and power window lockout for younger passengers. It has an anti-theft alarm system with engine immobilizer (Trail and Limited only) and Rear Parking Assist Sonar on models without a backup camera installed. The Limited has an option for Safety Connect also, which provides Emergency Assistance.

Featuring both an acceleration and deceleration system, through its traction system (4×4 models SR5 and Limited only) and an integrated weight carrying Tow Hitch Receiver, the 4Runner won’t be going anywhere the driver doesn’t want it going. These features can be helpful in a variety of ways.

There are various packages that can be added to the SR5, Trail or Limited. These include a voice-activated touch-screen DVD navigation system with an integrated backup camera for the Limited, as well as the sliding rear cargo deck with a sub-floor storage area and auto running boards. For the Trail, additions include the 6.1-inch touch-screen with integrated backup camera display, Navigation and Entune and the ability to have a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System installed.

The Premium Package for the SR5 includes leather trim, heated seats, a moonroof, the 120V AC power outlets the other packages come with standard, the 6.1-inch touch screen with Entune and Navigation. The text-to-voice option and music streaming via Bluetooth features are standard in the Trail package.

The 2013 Toyota 4Runner has a starting price tag of $31,340 for the SR5, $37,005 for the Trail and $38,845 for the Limited.

2013 Toyota Yaris

The 2013 Toyota Yaris holds true with the advertising campaign introduced for 2012 – It’s a Car! The front-wheel drive subcompact can transport up to five passengers and still fit into the smallest parking space. It is a viable option for buyers seeking excellent fuel economy and a reasonable price with a smaller vehicle that handles well.

2013 Toyota Yaris Exterior

The 2013 Toyota Yaris is available in the eye-catching colors of Absolutely Red, Blazing Blue Pearl, Magnetic Gray Metallic and Wave Line Pearl. Interior color choices are subdued to counteract the magnitude of the outer color and include Dark Gray or Ash. Trim packages for the Yaris are the L, LE and SE. The LE and SE each have a three-door or five-door option.

Exterior features to note include multi-reflector headlights, a chrome license plate garnish in the back, color keyed exterior foldable mirrors, color-keyed exterior handles on the door, intermittent single-pantograph windshield wipers and a rear window wiper. A rear bumper protector, alloy wheel locks, a paint protection film and a rear spoiler are all additional enhancements available for the Yaris. However, these features do not come standard. Front fog lights do come standard on an SE model, while they are a $300 investment for the other two packages.

The lines and appearance of the 2013 Yaris continue the look introduced in 2012. This car looks more like a car and less like a toy to the discerning consumer. Angular lines and a sharp slope, along with a sporty aura, add to the overall appeal of the Yaris.

Interior comforts include air conditioning, an AM/FM CD player with MP3 sound enhancement, 6-speakers, SiriusXM Radio capability (with the purchase of additional hardware and a subscription), three USB ports and an iPod interface. Fabric trimmed front seats adjust four ways, it has fold-down rear seats, a metallic interior trim with black interior door handles and analog instrumentation that keeps the driver informed when driving. Instrumentation includes an odometer, trip-meters, a clock, an outside temperature gauge and an ECO driving indicator, among other warnings and informational gauges. Additional features available as options include cargo floor mats, tote or a net envelope, all-weather floor mats, door sill enhancements and emergency assistance kits.

2013 Toyota Yaris Interior

Auto sound leveling, hands-free phone capability, phonebook access and the ability to stream music using the Bluetooth wireless technology also add appeal to the subcompact with an attractive price tag. A tilt three-spoke steering wheel, fold-down rear seat, rear window defogger and a cargo area light are small but notable amenities included standard in the Yaris packages. With a low price and great fuel economy wrapped into one, noting the amenities that come with the price can make a difference to buyers that are on the fence regarding a Yaris purchase.

2013 Toyota Yaris Interior

Power door locks, a rear window defogger, liftback tonneau cover, four front and two rear cupholders and dual extendable sun visors with vanity mirrors allow this subcompact to offer a lot of amenities in a small package. With 15.3 cubic feet of cargo room, the Yaris can transport a small group and all related luggage with no hassle.

Available with a 1.5L engine that boasts 106 horsepower and 103 lb.-ft of torque, the Yaris averages 30 miles per gallon for trips through city traffic and 36 when taking to the highway for longer jaunts. An 11.1 gallon fuel tank means average time between stops for refueling. A five-speed manual transmission also means better control of shift patterns and timing. The manual transmission also helps the driver feel the car has sufficient power to get from point a to point b, something the automatic transmission – which is available – fails to do.

The Yaris is equipped with ABS, electronic brake distribution, Vehicle Stability Control, a suspension with independent front struts and a stabilizer bar. It also features coil springs and semi-independent back torsion beam suspension, also with coil springs. Electronic traction control via ABS and engine management also adds to the efficient handling the car exudes while out and about.

The Star Safety System, nine airbags, driver and front passenger whiplash-injury-lessening seats, front seatbelt pretensioners with force limiters and the LATCH system are among the safety features any Yaris buyer can expect with their purchase. These features adequately deal with any unforeseen accidents. Included among the nine airbags are rollover-sensing, side curtain airbags for both front and rear rows along with a knee airbag for the driver. Without crash tests, it is hard to say, but consumers may feel much more protected in this subcompact thanks to Toyota’s meticulous attention to safety throughout their various vehicle lines.

One other notable mention before the dollar signs begin is the standard warranties for the Yaris. Included on all three trim packages are the following: a 24 month or 25,000 mile roadside assistance coverage, 60 months corrosion perforation warranty, a 60 months or 60,000 miles powertrain warranty, a 36-month basic warranty and a 24-month or 25,000 mile maintenance warranty. These warranties cover the What ifs and how did that happen scenarios car purchasers run through prior to signing the bottom line. This adds reassurance to a purchase that is steadily gaining momentum for someone seeking a subcompact that happens to be reasonably priced, visually appealing and also can reasonably handle a small group of passengers.

The 2013 Toyota Yaris starts with a price of $14,370 for the 3-door L, $15,955 for the 3-Door LE, $15,395 for the 5-Door L, $16,430 for the 5-Door LE and $16,480 for the 5-Door SE. The top price for a Yaris is $18,040.

These prices make the Yaris a contender in the market with fellow five-door subcompacts. However, features and style put the Yaris in the middle of a group when looking at comparisons. The style in particular seems to appeal to a specific age group (i.e. 20-somethings) and put off older generations that might be searching out a new car for a work vehicle or other solitary purpose. Taking into consideration the fuel economy of the Yaris and the size of the backseat for those times when additional passengers want leg room, the Yaris did come out ahead of such vehicles as the Honda Fit, Mazda2 and Kia Rio.