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.

A Review of the 2013 Toyota Tundra

The 2013 Toyota Tundra brings class and a stylish appearance to the work site, and durability and capability for the long haul comes with it. With extended cab options, the small workforce needed for the job can catch a ride as well.

2013 Toyota Tundra Exterior

The Tundra is available in various colors for the 2013 models. These include Barcelona Red Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Pyrite Mica, Radiant Red, Nautical Blue Mica, Spruce Mica Super White, Black and Silver Sky Metallic. Interior choices include bucket seats with limited leather in Sand Beige, Graphite or Red Rock.

Multi-reflecting halogen headlights with manual level control, daytime running lights and a chrome rear bumper are some of the exterior features that are standard with all Tundra models. Fog lights are standard for the Limited and Platinum models and available for other models. An easy lower and lift tailgate and deck rails and tailgate caps come standard, as do a windshield wiper and solar absorbing glass. Variable intermittent windshield wipers are standard for all models other than the Regular Cab and the trucks with the Work Truck Package. Heated power outside mirrors are a nice standard feature on the Regular Cab, Double Cab and CrewMax models.

Standard interior features include a choice of bucket or bench seats, cruise control, carpet flooring and fabric-trimmed fold-up rear seats in the Double Cab or CrewMax and leather trim (CrewMax) model. Power windows – including a power vertical sliding back window in the CrewMax models, a console overhead that has storage space for sunglasses and dual zone climate control are also available. Dual front 12V power outlets come standard, with a third outlet in the Double Cab and CrewMax models. A front maplight also comes standard in all Tundra models, with an additional rear maplight for the CrewMax and the Double Cab trim models. .

Entertainment in the Tundra models varies from the standard AM/FM CD Player in the Regular Cab, Double Cab and CrewMax models to a system with Display Navigation and Entune with a 6.1-in. high resolution touch screen and SiriusXM Radio compatible features in the optional entertainment system for the Double Cab and CrewMax models. The Limited Double Cab and Limited CrewMax models add voice-activated navigation, 12 speakers with subwoofer and a four-disc CD changer, while the Limited models add a six-disc CD changer. The CrewMax models have a DVD entertainment system with a 9-in. display, RCA jacks and two wireless headphones available as an option as well.

2013 Toyota Tundra Interior

The 2013 Toyota Tundra comes with three motor options: the 4.0L-V6, the 4.6L-V8 and the 5.7L-V8. Respectively, this means 16 miles per gallon for city driving and 20 for highway with the 4.0L, 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway for the 4.6L and 14 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway with the 5.7L.

2013 Toyota Tundra Engine

The 26.4-gallon fuel tank helps extend those trips between gas station visits. The towing capacity for the V8s range from 9,000 lbs for the four-wheel drive CrewMax to 16,000 for all of the available models with the additional Tow Package added.

The Tundra is available with any of the above mentioned engines in a regular cab and Double Cab with two-wheel drive, while a CrewMax comes standard with a 4.6L-V8 and is available in the 5.7L-V8. The four-wheel drive models are available with either V8 engine and in regular cab and Double Cab. The 4.6L-V8 Double Cab comes standard with a long bed but is also available with a short bed. The regular cab seats three people, while the Double Cab and CrewMax each seat 5-6 individuals total. This number depends on whether the truck offers bucket seats or bench seats.

There are numerous packages – 23 actually – available for the Tundra. The Tow Package can be added to any of the available Tundras and comes standard on the V8 regular cab, the long bed Double Cab, the Limited Double Cab with a V8 engine, the Limited CrewMax with a V8 engine and the Platinum CrewMax. Other packages include the Work Truck Package, Chrome Appearance Package, Sport Appearance Package, Memory Package, TRD Sport Package, TRD Off-Road Package, TRD Rock Warrior Package, the Convenience Package, Upgrade Package for the CrewMax and the SR5 and SR5 Upgrade Packages.

The TRD Rock Warrior Package, for example, is for the Grade four-wheel drive models and includes 17-in., split six-spoke, gunmetal color-finished alloy wheels, all-terrain tires, shock absorbers, fuel tank skid plates and TRD Rock Warrior graphics. Exterior colors for this package are Black, Super White, Radiant Red, and Magnetic Gray Metallic only. Meanwhile, the Convenience Package adds fog lights (on standard bed V8s only), a sliding back window with privacy glass and an under seat storage tray, the Memory Package adds a two-position memory function for the driver’s seat and outside mirrors and the Sport Appearance Package adds color-keyed front and rear bumpers, cruise control, grille surround, front seats featuring four-way adjustment options, , remote keyless entry and a middle console shift lever. The standard tow equipment is not available with the Sport Appearance Package, however. All of these options mean the truck of your dreams is only a short negotiation away.

Safety is, as always for Toyota, a main concern. With that in mind, the Tundra comes standard with the operator and front passenger airbags, three-point seatbelts for all seating positions, child protecting door locks in the rear door in the Double Cab and CrewMax models, a built-in alarm and an engine disabilizer and LATCH systems (on front passenger and center seat of regular cab and outboard rear seats and rear center seats on Double Cab and CrewMax). A Trailer-Sway Control and a Tire Pressure Monitor System help keep conditions optimal for long-distance or short hauls.

Front and rear parking assist sonar is standard on the Limited Double Cab V8, the Limited CrewMax V8 and the Platinum CrewMax. It is an option available for the other models of the Tundra. This adds a feeling of safety for situations where visibility might be impaired in some way.

The price tag for a 2013 Tundra starts at $25,355 for a regular cab, $27,565 for a Double Cab and $30,535 for a CrewMax.


2013 Toyota Sienna – The Ultimate Mini Van

The 2013 Toyota Sienna is a family vehicle that provides great handling and all-weather capability while providing comfortable seating for a large group or family. It is also loaded with countless comforts to keep everyone satisfied.

2013 Toyota Sienna Exterior

The Sienna comes in a variety of colors to suit most families; Shoreline Blue Pearl (available December 2012) or Super White, Silver Sky Metallic, Pre-Dawn Gray Mica, Black, Sandy Beach Metallic, Blizzard Pearl, Cypress Pearl and Salsa Red Pearl. These colors guarantee an owner a vehicle that will fade into the sea of colors in the lot or jump out at anyone looking –depending on their preference. High couture bumpers and body side moldings add to the stylish look of the Sienna, while halogen headlights have an auto-off feature. Daytime Running Lights can manually be turned on and off and an integrated color-key back spoiler featuring a center high mounted stop lamp make for increased style and increased visibility both for the driver and an increased presence for those traveling toward the Sienna.

The Sienna comes in a base model, an LE package, SE package, an XLE package, Limited Models package and the All-Wheel Drive option. The LE package adds a license plate garnish, a front grille that has ultra-stylish chrome, privacy glass and roof rails, to upgrade the aesthetics of the vehicle somewhat. The SE version, meanwhile, adds a Sport Mesh front grille with smoked chrome style surround, front and back underbody spoilers. The SE trim also has rocker panels on both sides, a power door in the back and a tow prep package – to appeal to a hardier or more work oriented geographic. The XLE has a slightly different appearance with a front grille and chrome accents, power sliding doors, a moonroof and a tow prep package. The Limited Models package adds a Satin chrome front grille; reverse-linked heated exterior power mirrors that feature a memory for more than one operator and integrated turn signal indicators. The tires for the AWD package are the notable difference.

The Sienna seats up to eight passengers, with a six-way driver’s chair and four-way front passenger chair. It has removable second row chairs with Tip Up and Long Slide features and a 60/40 Split & Stow third row seat. With 10 cupholders (12 for the eight-passenger model), power windows that has an auto down/up and jam protection, the Sienna is quite the car. With power door locks with anti-lockout, retractable assist grips at all outboard seating positions and remote Keyless Entry with lock, two-stage unlock and a panic function, the Sienna keeps passengers content in the vehicle. It also guarantees assurance for the driver that despite having several little passengers that might accidentally lock everyone out, it will be easy to gain entry regardless.

2013 Toyota Sienna Interior

The tri-zone manual climate control, AM and FM radio, CD Player with MP3 and WMA playback capabilities and SiriusXM Satellite Radio capability guarantees a great ride in comfort and complete with distraction. A six-disc CD changer is available in the Limited Models, and the LE, SE and XLE models add hands-free phone capability and music streaming via Bluetooth.

Additional luxuries that come standard include dual adjustable sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors, an overhead console with map lights, a conversation mirror, a center lower storage compartment and a floor tray. The Sienna has dual-level glove compartments featuring a lower level that locks for a secure feeling. These and seat back pockets on the captain’s chairs make for more than sufficient storage space for the entire group and plenty of little niceties that may not be essential but usually come in handy if they are present in the vehicle.

Minor additions to these niceties come in the XLE package (overhead console with side and rear door controls, wood grain-style middle console featuring lighted storage compartments) and the Limited package (wood grain, leather trim and more illumination as well as the same well-equipped overhead console). Push Button Start is another handy feature that is included in the Limited package.

The LE, SE and XLE models also offer a package with Entune and a navigation assist. An additional package at each of the aforementioned levels includes the Blind Spot Monitor. These models come equipped with a 3.5-in. multi-informational display with a back up monitor. However, the Blind Spot Monitor adds an extra level of security in those moments when vision is limited as the vehicle travels in reverse.

Another optional installation is a Dual-View Entertainment center with a 16.4-in. display, RCA jacks and 120V AC power outlets. This may be a worthwhile upgrade for parents that plan long trips with all kids in tow.

The 2013 Toyota Sienna gets an estimated 18 miles per gallon city and 25 mpg highway in the front-wheel drive model and 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway for the all-wheel drive model. Both models have a six-speed ECT-i automatic transmission, independent front struts with a stabilizer bar and a back torsion beam stabilized with a bar suspension.

2013 Toyota Sienna Engine

Electric motor assisted rack-and-pinion steering, four wheel ABS, Brake Assist and Electronic Brake-force Distribution make for great handling. In addition, all-season steel belted radial tires for the front-wheel drives and run-flat all-season tires for the all-wheel drive models improve the already great handling and feel of safety in the Sienna. A battery-saver feature, tire pressure monitor system and a windshield wiper de-icer grid are small details that add reassurance for the driver. These features come in especially handy when busy owners who may be forgetful of such important aspects of cold-weather travel.

The vehicle increases the feel and reality of a secure ride with the STAR Safety System. Along with 3-point seatbelts at every seating position, a seatbelt warning system, active headrests, seat-mounted side airbags and an advanced airbag system, the operator can feel at ease. For both the operator and front passenger a driver knee airbag, 3-row side curtain airbags, CRS Latch system, child protector sliding door locks and side impact beams in the front and sliding side doors are standard on every model.

A base price for the Toyota Sienna is $26,435. The LE package adds roughly $3,000, while the XLE and SE packages each add about $7,000 to the base price. The Limited model comes in just under $40,000.


A Look At The 2013 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Improvements are constantly being made to Hybrid cars on the market, and the 2013 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is no exception. The Highlander Hybrid has improvements outside, inside and under the hood to provide better performance and visual appeal for the consumer.

2013 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Exterior

The Highlander Hybrid has an estimated fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon. Permanent magnet motors to drive all four wheels, a sealed nickel metal hydride battery pack and an electronically maintained, continuously shifting transmission work with a 3.5-litre V-6 engine to provide a total of 280 horsepower. Toyota’s Highlander Hybrid electronically varies the torque throughout the car depending on present traction conditions. Also, with motors independently driving the front and rear axles, the need for a driveshaft connection between the two axles is negated. Also, a switch on the front middle console permits the operator to opt for operation using only the electric power in the vehicle.

The first motor generator in the Highlander Hybrid handles the generator, engine starter and transmission ratio control, with maximum voltage at 650V. The second motor generator drives the front wheels and provides 247 lb.-ft of torque, while the third rear motor generator that drives the rear wheels provides 96 lb.-ft of torque.

2013 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Synergy Drive

The Highlander Hybrid is available in both a Base package and a Limited package. The Limited package adds multiple-stage heated front seats, a Smart Key system with push button start and remote illuminated entry, a steering wheel featuring leather trim and audio, climate, phone and voice control buttons, more leather trim and a rearview mirror with auto-dimming features.

The Highlander Hybrid comes in Predawn Gray Mica, Shoreline Blue Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, Sizzling Crimson Mica, Blizzard Pearl and Black. The interior seats seven and offers fabric-trimmed seats with the ability to fold seats flat, slide to adjust as necessary and adjust headrests. The first row middle console holds up to six cups and has a storage area for the second row Center Stow seat or Center Stow center console. An overhead console includes a conversation mirror, map lights and a sunglasses holder.

In addition to attractive color schemes, the exterior of the Hybrid has a rear window with electric defogger, an in-glass antenna on the rear quarter panel window, projector-beam headlamps with an auto on/off feature that are blue-tinted, fog lamps, black roof rails and a lift-up glass hatch. Aluminum alloy wheels with all-season steel-belted radial tires add to the visual appeal and the handling of the vehicle. Color-keyed bumpers, door handles along with a rear spoiler that also has an LED center high-mount stop lamp continue the theme of style and utility. Outside mirrors are heated with a folding feature, and in the Limited package, the mirrors are also color-keyed. The Limited package adds chrome accents and bigger wheels (19-inch, 10 spoke, in contrast to the 17-inch, seven spoke alloy wheels on the Base model). A power tilt/slide moonroof with sunshade and Smart Entry, as well as a power liftgate, add additional appeal to the Limited package in terms of ease of entry.

For entertainment in the Highlander Hybrid, the 6.1-inch Display Audio is standard for the Entune, a connection to Pandora, Bing and programs to make dinner reservations or snag those last two movie tickets, all while on the move. The display also shows footage from the back-up camera, which comes standard. The Limited package adds a three-month trial subscription to the XM Select Package of Sirius Satellite Radio for additional listening options, and it also has a back-row DVD entertainment package featuring a nine-inch display, back seat audio and two headphones. This makes a great distraction for younger travelers when the miles start adding up.

2013 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Interior

Six speakers in the Base package and nine JBL speakers in the Limited package provide quality sound throughout the vehicle. Music streaming via Bluetooth is an option, as is the use of an iPod through the USB port. The Limited package also has the option of HD Radio TM with iTunes tagging. The need to find a new station numerous times throughout a family vacation or long business trip has become a distant memory.

Integrated speakers, a storage pocket and 10 cupholders and four bottle holders make the doors more than just the entry and exit points. The second row seating has reading lamps, and there is a front and rear air conditioning system that has a filter and vents for the second and third-row seats.

All Highlander models come standard with a back-up camera and Hill Start Assist Control, as well as the standard Traction Control system, electronic steering, ABS, intelligent stop system and Vehicle Stability Control. Three-point seatbelts at all seating positions, triple-row roll-sensing side curtain airbags and LATCH system locations on the 2nd row seating keeps passengers of all ages secure during transit. An Advanced Airbag System, a driver’s knee airbag and driver and passenger seat-installed sidebar airbags add to the measures intended to prevent serious injury in case of an accident. Active head rests for both driver and front passenger and a collapsible steering column also are included to contribute to passenger protection.

In addition, a Direct-type Tire Pressure Monitor System, driver and front passenger seatbelt pretensioners that feature force limiters, side impact door beams and front and back row impact-absorbing crumple zones and energy-dissipating interior trim all work toward avoiding an accident or providing the best protection available in the case that an accident occurs. Meanwhile, an anti-theft system with an alarm and engine immobilizer protect against potential theft and vehicle loss both at home and away.

The Hybrid comes with On-Demand four-wheel drive with intelligence (4WD-i), 4-wheel independent strut suspension featuring front and back stabilizer bars, Electric Power Steering and an Electronically Controlled Braking System with power-assisted ventilated front brakes and solid rear disc brakes. These features mean not only assistance for the driver but also the reassurance that traveling in electric mode won’t affect any areas of the vehicle’s performance.

The base price tag for a Highlander Hybrid begins at $39,970. This is comparable to a BMW ActiveHybrid X6 at $88,900 and a Ford Fusion Energi at $38,700.

The 2013 Toyota Tacoma

The 2013 Toyota Tacoma offers style and reliability for workers and families alike. The new concessions to entertainment and comfort on the interior, with a nod to new style on the exterior, makes Toyota’s rough and tough truck another one to reckon with in transportation competition.

2013 Toyota Tacoma Exterior

There are three choices for cab size and three options for driver preference for the 2013 Tacoma, providing consumers with nine possible options. Tacomas are available in two-wheel drive, in a PreRunner model and in four-wheel drive. Each truck is available with a regular cab, access cab or double cab (X-Runner in the case of the two-wheel drive). The PreRunner model combines two-wheel drive drivetrain with a four-wheel drive style and riding stance. The PreRunner is distinguished by the same overfenders that signify the four-wheel drive models.

With this in mind, in addition to the fact that the truck can have an automatic or manual transmission, the estimated fuel economy is quite varied. For a 5-speed manual two-wheel drive Tacoma, city driving will average out to 21 miles per gallon, while highway travel will see 25 miles per gallon. In a 5-speed automatic four-wheel drive package, however, fuel economy is expected to top at 16 miles per gallon for city driving and 21 for highway travel.

Other options for fuel economy include the 5-speed manual 4×4 (18/20 miles per gallon); the 4-speed automatic (19/24 miles per gallon) and the 4-speed automatic 4×4 (18/21 miles per gallon); the six-speed manual two-wheel drive PreRunner (16/21 miles per gallon); the six-speed manual 4×4 (15/19 miles per gallon) and the five-speed automatic (17/21 miles per gallon). A 21-gallon gas tank, however, does mean longer distances conquered, although that does little for higher numbers on the monthly fuel bill figures.

Base price tags then, understandably, vary a bit as well. The regular cab two-wheel drive models start at the following prices: regular cab – $17,525; double cab – $22,425; access cab – $20,315; PreRunner double cab – $23,075 and the PreRunner double cab with V-6 engine – $24,510. The four-wheel drive models have the following base price tags: regular cab – $21,375; double cab V-6 – $27,585; and the access cab – $24,150.

The Tacoma is available in a variety of exterior paint choices, including Magnetic Gray Metallic, Barcelona Red Metallic, Pyrite Mica, Spruce Mica, Super White, Black, Silver Streak Mica and Nautical Blue Metallic. Fabric trimmed seats are standard, with packages available to add such niceties as heated seats and different trim. Those packages include a Limited Package, offering SofTex-trimmed heated first row sporty seats, 18” chrome clad alloy wheels, a rear bumper completely in chrome, other chrome accents and mirrors with turn signal indicators, a metallic tone instrument panel trim and fog lamps. The TRD Sport Package offers cruise control, Sport seats that are engineered to have lumbar support for the driver compared to normal bucket seats, power mirrors and a sliding rear window with privacy glass. An intriguing feature of the TRD Sport Package is a tailgate-handle centric back-up camera linked to an auto-dimmin1g mirror with a monitor. The TRD Off-Road Package includes Bilstein shocks, off-road tuned suspension, Hill Start Assist Control, a tow hook, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and metallic tone trim on the instrument panel. The Off-Road Package also includes the tailgate-handle camera.

The six-cylinder Tow Package includes a Class 4 hitch, both transmission options and supplemental oil coolers, a long lasting battery and a 7-pin connector featuring a converter.

Standard exterior features for all models of the 2013 Tacoma include a deck rail system with four adjustable tie-down cleats, a bed with storage compartments, rail caps and a removable tailgate. It also has 2-speed windshield wipers (not available on the X-Runner Access), two stationary cargo bed tie-down points and the all-important regular-sized spare tire. Towing capability for this truck is 1,335 lbs for the regular cab and up to 3,500 lbs for the access cab and double cab. Bed length for the regular cab and access cab is 73.5 inches long. For a double cab, bed length choices are either 60.3 inches or 73.5 inches.

2013 Toyota Tacoma Exterior

The interior of the 2013 Tacoma can fit from three passengers in the regular cab to as many as five in the double cab. All of the truck options are fully carpeted with LED-illuminated gauges that include a speedometer, tachometer, digital clock and trip meter. Air conditioning, power windows and door locks (with the exception of the regular cab models), sculpted door trim with two bottle holders and three front cupholders, two in the bench seat models, cover basic needs and hopes. There is one 12V power outlet in addition to the cigarette lighter in all models.

2013 Toyota Tacoma Interior

For consumers on the market for a truck that leaves the work noise outside, the Tacoma is ideal. New sound absorption material in the headliner and behind the rear seats, coupled with insulating carpeting, provides a respite from the noise of the construction site or other high-volume work location.

Despite the impression of a Tacoma as a work vehicle or as a hauling machine, the entertainment aspect of the amenities is not ignored. All models come with a 6.1-in. touch-screen AM/FM CD player that also handles MP3 and WMA playback, six speakers (four in the regular cab), an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port. Entune, Toyota’s new system that offers access to Pandora, dinner reservations and movie ticket purchases for the first three years after the vehicle purchase, is available in the two-wheel drive double cab and the PreRunner double cab only, and it is only available by adding the six-cylinder package.

Safety is another area that isn’t ignored in any of the 2013 Tacoma models. The Star Safety System, a Advanced Airbag System that protects both the front passenger during a collision, seat installed side-airbags protecting the driver and front passenger and front and rear side curtain airbags and three-point seatbelts for all seating positions means safety is a priority Tacoma buyers can check off the list.

Each Tacoma has a rear spring suspension with gas shock absorbers, an automatic limited slip differential and variable assist rack & pinion steering. This makes for reliable handling regardless of the season and despite any sudden storms.

How To Start Riding

Motorcycling is a tremendous activity. It’s something I recommend to just about everyone. If riding is something you’ve been thinking about taking up there are a few things you can do to make sure you get off to a good start. Get a book on basic motorcycling, talk to riders you know. If possible, take a basic rider’s course offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF).

Motorcycle Safety Foundation

According to some studies that I’ve seen you’re actually better off teaching yourself how to ride than you are having a friend teach you. Unless off course that friend is a certified instructor. Whichever way to decide to learn how to ride, this article will give you some of the basics. I’ve written it as if I was discussing the topic with a friend who had never ridden.

Let me also suggest you read a couple of other articles here on PowerSportsTV.com, Motorcycle Safety And How To Ride Safely, 5 Things You Should Know Before You Ride and What To Look For When Buying A New Motorcycle all contain some great information for riders of any experience level.

Get To Know Your Bike

Most motorcycles have a lot in common, but each model is a little different. Once you get your new ride home spend a little time familiarizing yourself with it. Take out the owner’s manual and read it. Then take the manual with you outside to the bike. Stand on the left hand side of the motorcycle facing the seat with your left hand on the left handlebar. Throw your right leg over the seat and sit down. Grab the right handlebar with your right hand and look straight ahead. This is a view you’ll come to love.

Put your feet up on the pegs (or floorboards if that’s what’s on your motorcycle) and move around on the seat a little to get an idea of how much room you have to adjust your sitting position. Get both feet back on the ground and straighten the bike so that it’s off the kick stand. You may need to stand up to do this. Once the motorcycle is up, sit back down and rock it gently from side to side to get a feel for how heavy it is.

Now while still sitting on the bike and with it resting on the kick stand, open your owner’s manual and identify all of the controls and instruments located on the handlebars and/or tank. The grip on the right handlebar is the throttle or accelerator. You twist that toward you to increase the amount of fuel going to the engine and thereby increasing your speed. Also on the right handlebar you’ll find the lever that operates the front brake, squeeze it to get a feel for how much play it has. You’ll also see a red rocker switch on the right handlebar, that’s the kill switch. To be able to start the motorcycle that switch must be in the “on” or lower position. Directly below the kill switch is the starter button. With the key in the ignition, the kill switch in the “on” position and the clutch in or disengaged, all you have to do to start the bike is push the starter button. But we’re not there yet.

Since we mentioned the clutch, let’s move to the left handlebar. The lever over there is the clutch. Go ahead, squeeze it and then let it out slowly. That motion is one you’re going to spend a lot of time practicing. On most motorcycles you’ll also find your turn indicator switch on the left handlebar. Very few bikes have self-canceling turn signals, unlike cars. So chances are your switch has three positions, the center or “off” position, and then left and right. To signal a turn simply slide the switch to the left or the right. You’ll notice that (on most bikes) the switch will return to the center position after you’ve released it. To cancel your signal (or to turn off the blinker) you have to press in on the switch. There may be several other controls on your left handlebar. Usually you’ll find the horn button, the headlight dimmer switch and, if your bike is so equipped, the emergency hazard flasher switch.

Somewhere in the center of your field of view you’ll find an instrument cluster. Some bikes have these mounted on the tank, others on the handlebars. Common instruments include a speedometer, odometer, fuel gauge and tachometer. Not all motorcycles are going to have all of these. Many will include a digital display that allows you to select between the clock, trip meters and other readouts. There will likely also be indicator lights for neutral, high beams and turn indicators. You’ll probably also find either gauges or warning lights for oil temperature and/or pressure and the fuel injection system, if your bike is so equipped. The cap for the gas tank is located on top of the tank itself on most bikes and usually locks and unlocks with the ignition key.

You’re going to have to use both feet to control your bike. So let’s get you feet back on the pegs, with the bike still resting on the kick stand. Your right foot will operate the rear brake pedal. Go ahead and depress it. You should be able to operate the rear brake with your foot remaining on the peg. Your left foot shifts gears. Pull in the clutch with your left hand and push down on the shift pedal. If your bike was in neutral this will put it in first gear. Most bikes have a shift pattern of one down and four or five up, depending on how many gears. Between first and second gear is neutral. Neutral is usually indicated by a green light on your instrument panel, but it only lights up when the bike is running. Like the brake pedal, you should be able to operate the shift pedal with your foot remaining on the peg.

Starting Your Motorcycle

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the basic controls, let’s fire up the bike. Take your key and put it in the ignition switch. This is one of those components that doesn’t have a standardized location. Some bikes have the ignition switch on the fuel tank, others are mounted on the frame and some are under the seat. Before turning the key to the “on” position make sure that you’re in neutral. Many motorcycles will not start if the bike is in gear and the kickstand is down. And if you put the kickstand down while the bike is in gear it will, on many bikes, stop the engine.

Flip the kill switch into the “on” position and then turn the key to the “on” position. Your speedometer will probably peg and then return to zero and your warning lights will come on. Your bike is doing a self-test, making sure everything’s good to go. Once that’s compete, usually just a few seconds, squeeze in on the clutch, disengaging it and then push the starter button. If the bike doesn’t start you’re probably not in neutral. Shift up or down with your left foot until the green neutral indicator light is on and then push the starter again.

You can go ahead and let the clutch out, since we’re not going anywhere just let. If the bike’s been sitting for a while and the engine is cold you’ll want to let it up warm up for a minute. Go ahead and twist the throttle slightly and listen for how the engine responds. Now lift the bike off the kickstand and flip the kickstand up. Let go of the throttle and pull the clutch lever in all the way. Push the shift lever down into first. Now slide your toe under the shift lever and lift up to put the bike back into neutral. Do this a few times to get used to how much pressure you need to apply and to get familiar with getting your foot into position under the lever. Practice this until you can do it without looking at  your foot.

Friction Zone

If you’re still sitting on your motorcycle with the engine running and you don’t have your helmet on yet, turn the ignition key to “off”, flip up the kill switch and go get your helmet. It’d be a good idea to put on your gloves and jacket too, we’re finally ready to get the bike moving. Start your motorcycle, flip the kickstand up, pull in the clutch lever and shift into first. Put both feet firmly on the ground. Now start to let out the clutch slowly. You’ll feel the motorcycle start to move forward. You are now in the friction zone, that point where the clutch begins to send power to the rear wheel.

Your clutch is more like the slider on a dimmer switch than an on-off switch. As you let out the clutch slowly it transfers more power to the rear wheel until the clutch is fully engaged (the point where you let go of it) and all available power is now being transferred to the rear wheel. Just like the further you push a dimmer switch the brighter the lights get until you’ve moved the slider all the way open and the lights burn at full power.

As the bike begins to move you’ll need to gradually twist the throttle. Practice this while keeping both feet on the ground, walking the bike forward, as you continue to slowly let out the clutch and open the throttle. Once the clutch is fully engaged put your feet on the pegs and increase throttle gradually. This maneuver sounds pretty simple, but chances are it’s one that you’ll need to practice. I’ve seen people wash out of Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Basic Rider Courses because they couldn’t master this basic skill. Engage the clutch too quickly and your bike will lurch forward and stall. Give it too little throttle, you’ll stall.

If your bike is in the driveway or parking lot or on a lightly traveled street, practice finding the friction zone and getting your bike up to speed. If you don’t have room to turn around once you’ve reached the end of the driveway, put the bike in neutral and walk it backwards. Practice until you can get the bike up to speed 10 or 20 times in a row without stalling.

You’re going to stall the bike. Don’t let that discourage you. Keep practicing. Once you’ve gained a basic mastery try it on a slight incline. The trick to getting rolling while going up hill is to not roll backwards before you get to the friction zone and begin forward movement. You can apply enough pressure to the rear brake with your right foot to keep you from rolling backwards down hill as you slowly let out the clutch and apply throttle while keeping your left foot on the ground.

Counter Steering

So now you’re actually riding. But eventually you’re going to come to the end of your driveway or street. You can’t spend your entire time on a bike going in a straight line. To change direction, make a turn or go around a curve at speeds above about 10 mph you have to employ a method commonly called counter steering. Personally, I don’t like that term. I think it confuses many new riders. Some instructors explain counter steering as turning the handlebars in the opposite direction of a turn. But unless you’re maneuvering at parking lot speeds you never actually turn the handlebars.

Counter Steering

Press or push steering is actually a more accurate description of what you do to make your motorcycle change direction. By applying pressure downward on one of the handlebars you cause the bike to lean into a turn. The term counter steering comes from the initial motion of the tire in the opposite direction of the turn.  To turn left you apply pressure to the left handlebar, to turn right you push down on the right handlebar. The more pressure you apply the more dramatically the bike will lean and the more sharply you’ll turn.

Here’s how press or counter steering works on a motorcycle or bicycle or other single track vehicle. The spinning of the tires, above parking lot speeds, creates a gyro effect, much like a gyroscope or spinning top. The gyro effect of the spinning tires keeps the motorcycle upright and stable. Press steering exerts force against the gyro effect, causing the bike to lean. Release the pressure, or stop pushing on the handlebar and the spinning tires will cause the motorcycle to return to its original upright position. The faster you’re going the more pressure you need to exert to counteract the gyro effect and get the motorcycle to change direction.

Before making a turn or rounding a curve reduce your speed by downshifting, reducing throttle and/or braking. Look through the curve or turn to where you want the bike to go. There’s something almost magical about how a motorcycle will follow the rider’s nose. So to maintain control and keep your bike on the road look at where you want to go, not where you are going. Next, press on the handlebar in the direction of the turn or curve. As you enter the turn maintain or slightly increase throttle to keep the bike stable.

Find an empty parking lot to practice your press steering. As you get more proficient and confident try increasing your speed. Remember, you need to be traveling at speeds about 10 mph for press or counter steering to work.

Start Slow

With these basic skills under your belt you’re ready to ride in traffic. But take your time here, don’t jump right onto the Interstate. Plan out a few rides that will include gradually more challenging elements. For you first ride stick to lightly traveled two lane roads with minimal stop signs and traffic signals. Once you’re comfortable with this route incorporate a short stretch on road with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction.

After you’re confident riding in heavier traffic you’re ready to try the Interstate, but let’s keep to stretches of Interstate that don’t take your through major metropolitan areas and ride during non-peak hours. The longer you ride and the more challenging your rides become the more confidence and experience you’ll gain.

Common Mistakes

You can help ensure that your first motorcycling experiences are fun, safe and not your final motorcycling experiences by avoiding a few common mistakes. First, don’t buy more motorcycle than you’re able to handle. The bigger the engine the more powerful and heavier the motorcycle, and the more difficult it will be control. There’s nothing wrong with starting with a mid sized bike, in the 500 cc to 1000 cc engine range and then, if you absolutely feel it necessary, moving up to a bigger motorcycle once you’ve gained some experience.

Even if you’ve taken an MSF course, you’ll want to build up your skills and experience by riding lightly traveled roads at first. Work up to more complex situations as you gain confidence. And be sure you’re comfortable riding by yourself before you attempt to travel with a passenger or with a group. Both of these activities change the dynamics of operating your motorcycle, so make sure you have adequate solo time on the bike before attempting either.

And remember to cancel to your turn signal once you’ve completed a turn. There’s nothing that screams “I’m a new rider” louder than a motorcycle traveling for miles with it’s left hand blinker flashing.

Get Out And Ride

Nothing can make you a better rider than actually getting out on the road on your bike. So ride, whenever you get the chance. Talk to other bikers and read all you can, but ride. You many just surprise yourself at how quickly your skills improve and how natural it feels to travel on two wheels.

Get Out And Ride…

New Models Added – November 29, 2012

- Motorcycle / Scooter

- 2013 Ducati Hypermotard 1100 EVO SP

- 2013 Ducati Hypermotard 796

- 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200

- 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Granturismo

- 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Pikes Peak

- 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring

- 2013 Ducati Panigale 1199

- 2013 Ducati Panigale 1199 S

- 2013 Ducati Panigale 1199 S Tricolore

- 2013 Ducati Streetfighter 848

- Utility Vehicle

- 2013 Can-Am™ Maverick 1000 X rs

- 2013 Can-Am™ Maverick 1000R

Motorcycle Safety And How To Ride Safely

Life is a risky business. You can minimize risk, manage risk, anticipate and have a plan for dealing with risk, but you can never totally eliminate risk. There is risk associated with riding a motorcycle. You can ride safely and do things, employ strategies to help ensure your safety, but, as the U.S. Supreme Court said in a workplace safety related case in 1980, “safety is not the equivalent of risk free.”

Motorcycle Safety

There are two major areas of motorcycle safety or risk management that I’ll look at here; avoiding getting into an accident in the first place and minimizing your risk of injury if you do have an accident.

Before You Get On The Bike

If you drive a car there are probably a few things you do before pulling into traffic. You fasten your seat belt. Check your mirrors, maybe you use your blinkers to signal your intention to pull away from the curb. And then you drive away. All of the safety equipment you need is contained in the vehicle itself; air bags, steel body and chassis, crumple zones. Not so much with your motorcycle.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety says, “Motorcycles continue to offer no significant protection to their users in a crash, a fact that horrifies some people used to being enclosed in a steel cage and cushioned by airbags. The very fact that a motorcycle at rest won’t remain upright without its rider or some external method of support seems ominous to some.”

Largely due to what most attracts us to riding, the unfettered freedom of riding in the open air, we bikers are at greater risk of injury if we have an accident. The NHTSA says that 80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death to the rider compared with 20 percent for occupants of a passenger car involved in an accident. There are several common factors that contribute to the severity of the results of being in an motorcycle accident. If you’re aware of these factors you can take steps to minimize your risk of being involved in an accident and of being seriously injured if you do have a wreck.

Get Licensed And Trained: I’ve said this before here at PowerSportsTV. And I’ll likely say it again. Before you ride get your motorcycle license and take a rider safety course. About 25 percent of riders involved in an accident are not properly licensed. A safety course will introduce you to or refresh you on some basic safety strategies and give you the opportunity to practice them in a controlled environment.

Motorcycle Training

Gear Up: You’re hanging out there in the open on your bike, that’s the beauty of riding. It’s also why your risk of being injured if you have an accident is so high. There are no seat belts, no cage-like body, no roof, no airbags (unless you ride the top-of-the-line Honda Gold Wing). So invest in some safety gear and wear it every time you ride. The NHTSA puts the percentage of riders involved in a crash who are not wearing helmets at 42 percent. So strap on that lid.

Drop your bike, even at parking lot speeds and you’ll find out just how hard and abrasive the road is. Motorcycle specific jacket, gloves, boots and pants will protect you against road rash and lessen the likelihood of broken bones thanks to the body armor included in many jackets and pants. Brightly colored or florescent gear will also make you more visible to other motorists, reducing your chance of getting into an accident in the first place.

Ride Sober: Riders with a blood alcohol level at or above the legal limit account for 34 percent of all motorcycle accidents and, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), 29 percent of all motorcycle related fatalities. Even if you somehow manage to ride after drinking without having a wreck you risk a stiff fine, possible impounding of your bike or even jail time if you’re caught. Drinking and riding is just not worth the risk.

Do A Pre-Ride Bike Check: A motorcycle is not totally void of safety features. But if they’re not working they’re not going to do you any good. Before every ride do a quick visual inspection of your bike. Look at all the cables and hoses to make sure none are fraying, cracked, kinked or leaking. Check your tires for tread depth, cracks or bubbles. It’s a good idea to regularly check the air pressure in the tires.

Once you start the motorcycle make sure all your lights are working; high beams, turn indicators, brake lights and, if your bike is so equipped, emergency flashers. Sound the horn. Yeah, those bike horns are pretty wimpy, but it’s still loud enough to get the attention of a motorist who’s about to pull out in front of you, so be sure it works. Check and, if necessary, adjust your mirrors. It is possible to get most motorcycle mirrors positioned so that you’ll get a clear view of what’s coming up behind you, so take the time to set them so they work for you.

On The Road

Sitting in the driveway, all geared up, the motor running. That’s a pretty low-risk environment. It’s also a pretty low-fun experience. Funny how those two factors, risk and fun, so often seem to be related. If you’re wearing the proper gear, done your pre-ride check and you’re sober you’ve gone a long way in reducing your risk of injury if you have an accident. Once you get into traffic there are a number of strategies you can employ to keep from having an accident in the first place. So let’s get you out on the road.

Lane Position: A car or truck will take up an entire lane of traffic. But our bikes are much smaller, so we have three options for positioning ourselves; the far left, the center, or the far right of a lane. I usually opt for the far left. This gives me the best view of oncoming traffic and puts me about equidistant from the shoulders on both sides of the road, giving me the maximum amount of time to react to a critter or pedestrian who might dart out in front of me. I do move around in the lane though, as circumstances require.

Position yourself where you have the best view of what’s ahead. If you’re coming up on an intersection and there’s a truck or high profile SUV or van in front of you, look for oncoming traffic that may be turning left and traffic preparing to enter the intersection from the left cross street. Then you’ll want to shift to the far right to check traffic coming into the intersection from the right cross street and to make it easier for that driver to see you. Choose the lane position that gives you the best view of the road and makes it easiest for others to see you.

If you’re riding in a stiff cross wind you can ride on the side of the lane that the wind is coming from to minimize the chances of your bike being pushed into the oncoming lane. Big trucks can cause a pretty strong windblast, so when you see one coming in the other direction, move to the center or far right portion of the lane.

On multi-lane roads choose a lane position that keeps you out of the blind spot of vehicles in front of you. If you can see the driver’s face in the mirror then you know you’re not in his blind spot. If a vehicle starts to pass you it’s a good idea to move to the center position of your lane. Staying in the far left puts you too close to the other vehicle, especially if the driver swerves into your lane too quickly. And riding in the far right of the lane may encourage the driver of the passing vehicle to jump into your lane without giving you adequate space.

Anticipate Hazards: When you ride, play a little game. Try to guess which other vehicle on the road is trying to kill you. Here’s a hint: they all are. Or at least it can seem that way. A good dose of paranoia is a healthy thing when you’re on your bike. And are you really paranoid if they ARE out to get you? Watch people as they drive. They’re eating, drinking, talking on the phone, texting, checking email, putting on makeup, singing along with the radio. No wonder they don’t see you and your comparatively small motorcycle. It’s actually pretty amazing that any of them ever make it to their destination.

Be keenly aware of your environment when riding. Pay special attention to intersections. According to the NHTSA that’s where 70 percent of collisions between motorcycles and other vehicles happen. Get a good view of traffic around and in the intersection. Anticipate what they’re going to do and have a plan to deal with it. Don’t expect other drivers to signal before they make a turn through an intersection. Always signal before you make a turn through an intersection.

Look as far down the road as you can. Watch for entrances to the roadway, driveways, parking lots, on ramps and position yourself in the lane to give you the best view and the best chance of being seen by other motorists. If you live in an area with a large deer or other wildlife population (which would be about anywhere except for maybe Antarctica) watch the sides of the road for animals that may dart out in front of you.

The roadway itself sometimes presents hazards. Debris, road kill, potholes, oil and other fluids left on the roadway, especially around intersections where vehicles have to sit idling waiting for a light to change, are all things you want to see long before you reach them so that you can safely avoid them. Different road surfaces will provide different levels of traction. Approach railroad tracks, manhole covers and the steel surfaces of some bridges and overpasses with caution, especially in wet conditions.

Establish A Space Cushion: Empty space is one of your best friends when you ride. The more space there is between you and other vehicles the more time and room you have to react and maneuver when faced with a hazard. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Keep at least two seconds of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. More at highway speeds. This gives you ample time to stop or swerve to avoid a vehicle that stops suddenly in front of you. To determine how close you are to the vehicle in front of you look for a stationary object up ahead, such as a mile marker sign or phone pole. As the rear end of the vehicle in front of you passes the object begin counting; one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two. If you pass the object before you get to one-thousand-two you need to slow down.

Motorcycle Space Cushion

It’s a little tougher to command the space between you and vehicle behind you. If you’re being followed too closely tap your brake lightly a few times to cause your brake lights to flash. If the other vehicle doesn’t slow down then you should slow down a little. Still too close? If you’re on a multi-lane road or a two-lane road with a passing zone slow down even further so the other vehicle will pass you. He won’t pass you? If possible, and safe, pull off the road and wait for the other vehicle to get a good distance down the road before you continue. If you can’t pull off the road and the other motorist can’t or won’t pass, reduce your speed to the safest slowest rate you can. At least that way if you have to brake suddenly the other vehicle will the maximum amount of time to stop, reducing the likelihood that you’ll be rear ended.

We bikers don’t always need to use the brakes to scrub off a little speed. We can roll off the throttle or down shift to control our speed. But motorists behind us won’t always recognize that we’re slowing down. Be aware of what’s going on behind you and if you’re slowing down a little or coming to a complete stop tap your brakes three or four times a few seconds before you actually begin slowing. This will cause your brake lights to flash and alert the driver behind you that you’re preparing to alter your speed, provided of course that he’s not reading his email.

Whenever possible allow yourself enough space for an escape route, especially at intersections. Don’t pull up so close to the vehicle stopped at a traffic light in front of you that you can’t quickly move to safety if another vehicle comes up behind you too quickly or closely. On multi-lane roads don’t allow yourself to get boxed in. Alter your speed, slow down or move faster, to keep some open space on at least one side.

Recognize Your Own Limitations: Nothing compares to zipping along the open road on a motorcycle. And it can be tempting to open the throttle a little more than is prudent, especially on a nice long stretch of straightaway when there are no other vehicles around. Don’t allow yourself to over ride your limitations or the limitations of your bike or the road. Research by the GHSA shows that 35 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents involved excessive speed. And half of those fatal accidents were single vehicle wrecks. Let’s not add ourselves to that list of people who are out to kill us. Slow down and ride at a speed that’s within your ability to control your motorcycle.

You can ride safely if you recognize the inherent risks associated with motorcycling. Wear safety gear. Be aware of other traffic and potential hazards. Keep as much space between you and other vehicles as possible. Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll be riding safely for years to come.


The 2013 Toyota Avalon – What you need to know before you buy…

The 2013 Toyota Avalon is a visually attractive and comfortable answer to the family transportation experience. With improvements to style, performance and interior comforts, as well as a price cut for this model, its appeal has increased roughly $2,000-fold.

2013 Toyota Avalon Exterior

The Avalon is available in four trim packages; the XLE, the XLE Premium, the XLE Touring and the Limited. The Limited has an additional tech package option that adds passive high beams, active cruise control and a Pre-Collision System. The array of colors available for the 2013 models are Blizzard Pearl, Champagne Mica, Moulin Rouge Mica, Classic Silver Metallic, Magnetic Grey Metallic, Attitude Black Metallic, Sizzling Crimson Mica, Cypress Pearl and Nautical Blue Metallic.

In addition to its color appeal, the exterior features of the Avalon draw attention from all angles. The XLE and XLE Premium are fitted with 17-in. silver-painted alloy wheels, while the XLE Touring and the Limited packages have 18-in. silver painted alloy wheels. All four packages come standard with LED taillights, color-keyed heated power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, an acoustic noise-reducing windshield and a dual chrome-tipped integrated exhaust. The Limited has High Density Discharge Quadrabeam headlights with an auto on/off feature and LED Daytime Running Lights. The XLE package is equipped with Quadrabeam halogen headlights that also are equipped with the auto on/off feature. The XLE Touring and Limited add wide-angle fog lights to help with lower visibility situations.

The interior of the Avalon is comparable to a comfortable evening at home. The dash is covered with hand-stitched material that is soft to the touch. The aesthetic appeal of the dash set up is also notable, as the layered and sculpted surface of the dash creates a sense of seclusion for the driver while opening up the area the passenger overlooks. All packages of the Avalon have a leather trim, wood-grain style interior with smoked chrome accents and door handles.

2013 Toyota Avalon Interior

Comparable to a favorite armchair, the driver’s seat in the XLE package is eight-way power adjustable with power lumbar support. The driver’s seat in the Limited is 10-way adjustable with multi-staged heat and ventilation, as well as having power lumbar support and a power cushion extension. The front passenger seat in the XLE package has four power adjustment options, while the Limited’s front passenger seat is eight-way power adjustable. Seat comfort is not withheld from rear passengers either, as the rear seat has a center armrest with cupholders and folds down with a trunk passthrough for excursions with bigger cargo and fewer passengers.

The XLE and XLE Premium offer dual zone automatic climate controls, display audio with a 6.1-in. touch screen, have an AM/FM CD player with MP3 and WMA playback capability and features eight speakers to reach all passengers equally. A USB port and auxiliary audio jack allow for music input from other sources, as does the music streaming option using Bluetooth wireless technology. The inclusion of multi-information displays, Bluetooth hands-free controls, Optitron instrumentation, navigation with turn-by-turn directions and an ECO Drive Level Indicator make the car current in technological advances, keeping the consumer on the leading edge of vehicle technologies.

2013 Toyota Avalon Optitron

The XLE Touring adds Sirius XM satellite radio capability, an HD Radio and iTunes tagging for additional entertainment opportunities. The Limited package adds Entune and JBL to the mix, as well as a 7-in. high resolution touch-screen with split screen capability. The Limited also comes standard with 11 speakers in 9 locations, including a subwoofer and amplifier. Passengers will enjoy the ride in style amidst audio perfection. Entune access is complimentary with each vehicle for three years from purchase.

The 2013 models of the Avalon also have a covered center console with two front cupholders and eBin – a sliding electronic device holder with wire management and illuminated interior storage. There are three 12V auxiliary power outlets, two located in the eBin and one in the center console of the vehicle.

As is expected with a Toyota product, the Avalon is equipped with a wide variety of safety features. These include the Star Safety System, Whiplash-Injury Lessening seats, three-point seatbelts, 10 airbags and both the LATCH system and child protector door locks. In terms of support and exterior protection, the steering column is made to be energy absorbing and collapsible. The front and rear each has energy absorbing crumple zones. There is an anti-theft system with an alarm and engine immobilizer to deter today’s criminal element from targeting your vehicle.

The Avalon gets 25 miles per gallon combined in projected fuel economy. This translates to 21 miles per gallon in city driving and 31 mpg when hitting the highway. With a 17-gallon tank, this means less fuel stops on those family vacations, although pit stops will remain necessary for all the other typical reasons.

In terms of safety and handling, the Avalon boasts an impressive 268 horsepower and 248 lb.-ft of torque in a front-wheel drive car with a six-speed ECT-i automatic transmission. Electrically assisted rack-and-pinion steering, ventilated disc front brakes, solid disc rear brakes and standard ABS enhance the control and confidence for the individual behind the wheel. Blind Spot Monitors and a Rear Cross Traffic Alert eliminate the dangers of a second’s distraction in a family neighborhood, something no one would ever want to experience.

The Blind Spot Monitor uses radar to warn of vehicles in adjacent lanes that might be out of view, while the Rear Cross Traffic Alert is enabled when the vehicle is in reverse and detects moving objects that enter the warning radius. All packages above the XLE also come equipped with a backup camera standard that shows a view of the area not easily monitored from the driver’s seat.

The price tag for the 2013 begins at $31,785, a $2,205 cut from the price for the 2012 model. This price is also cheaper than rivals in the midsize sedan category, such as the Buick LaCrosse or Nissan Maxima. It is, however, slightly undercut by the Ford Taurus, which is available with a base price tag of just over $27,000.