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Selecting the Century’s Best Super Bowl Car Commercial

The tables are set for Sunday’s Super Bowl LVIIII (Super Bowl 58, if you skipped class the day they taught Roman numerals). The Kansas City Chiefs, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, are aiming to become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the 2004 Patriots. But the San Francisco 49ers seek to avenge their loss to Kansas City in Super Bowl LIV (54) and are itching to take home the Lombardi Trophy for the first time since the 1994 season.

And as usual, in between the pigskin pageantry, we have the commercials.

Super Bowl commercials have long occupied their own sphere in our pop culture landscape. Many Americans claim they look forward to the commercials more than the game itself, though that mentality has dropped off in recent years. That’s due in part to the game itself becoming generally more competitive than it used to be, but also because of the commercials becoming available for viewing well before kickoff. If you want to see this year’s crop of Super Bowl commercials, chances are you can hop online now and knock them out a week in advance.

For the first 30-40 years of the Super Bowl, auto brands admittedly didn’t leave a significant cultural impact with their ads. From “Mean Joe Greene” (Coke) to “1984” (Apple), the most iconic commercials came courtesy of other industries. But as the century turned and our cars became more tech-integrated, their corresponding commercials became more ambitious. Some modern Super Bowl spots are downright cinematic.

We’ve selected a handful of worthy finalists for the title of best Super Bowl car commercial of the century. Before declaring a winner, here are some of the nominees we considered.

Disqualified: Honda – “Yearbook” (2017), Toyota – “Jessica Long” (2021)

In 2017, Honda maxed out their celebrity Rolodex, enlisting A-listers from Jimmy Kimmel to Missy Elliott to dispense life advice straight from the pages of their old high school yearbooks. It’s a fun concept, even as it sticks to the unfortunate trend of celebrity overreliance that Super Bowl ads have succumbed to recently. The larger issue is that it has little (if anything) to do with Honda – or cars in general. The same goes for Toyota’s 2021’s submission, which showcased swimmer Jessica Long’s inspiring leap from adoption to the Olympic stage.

We’re all for car companies pushing the boundaries with creativity. But to be considered among the industry’s top car ad, there needs to be at least the hint of a car involved.

The Nominees:

Audi – “The Chase” (2009) / Kia – “The Truth” (2014)

Hollywood and the auto industry have long maintained a successful working relationship. This dates back to the days of Steve McQueen racing his Ford Mustang through the streets of San Francisco in 1969’s Bullit. For their 2009 Super Bowl commercial, Audi celebrated of the art of the car chase. It placed rising action star Jason Statham – best known for the Transporter and Crank film franchises at the time – behind the wheel of an Audi, unleashing the English enforcer on various locales in a chase sequence medley.

Speaking of action movies, 2014 felt like the sweet spot for Matrix nostalgia. We were just over a decade removed from the generally disappointing, trilogy capper Matrix Revolutions and nearly that far away from the more divisive comeback Matrix Resurrections. Kia correctly wagered that audiences were ready to return to the world of dark glasses and leather jackets. They recruited Laurence Fisburne for their 2014 Super Bowl commercial, in which his Morpheus character reveals the hidden world of luxury cars. Gravity-defying visuals (and opera music) ensue.

Ultimately, Kia and Audi both arrived at the same conclusion: it’s hard to go wrong with the surefire combination of cars and action films.

Hyundai – “First Date” (2016)

Is it that much of a stretch to call this one of Kevin Hart’s most convincing performances? The comedian is endearingly determined as an overprotective father in this 2016 ad. When his daughter is picked up for date night, Hart utilizes Hyundai’s Car Finder technology to essentially stalk the young couple throughout the evening. (Not to worry: its escalating absurdity puts it firmly in the realm of Dad Fantasy). It hasn’t proven memorable enough to be crowned our winner, but it does raise intriguing questions about the state of privacy in a tech-first society. Maybe they could have explored that idea more – if each 30-second block of Super Bowl ad time didn’t cost an average of seven-million dollars.

Hyundai – “Smaht Pahk” (2020)

Is making fun of Boston accents low-hanging fruit? Of course. Is it also an entirely justifiable American tradition? Absolutely. In another inspired Hyundai commercial, native Bostonians Chris Evans and Rachel Dratch break out their best bad regional dialects. Fellow Bay Stater John Krasinski then joins the party to showcase the Sonata’s new Remote Smart Parking Assist feature. Red Sox legend David Ortiz pops up at the end – because of course he does – and even Big Papi finds himself impressed by the Sonata’s self-pahking capability.

Kia – “Robo Dog” (2022)

Kia’s spot for its all-electric EV6, centered around a robot dog, deserves a nomination for being centered around a robot dog. The circuital canine itself hits all the right beats, but did we need another commercial soundtracked to Bonnie Taylor’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”?

Honorable Mention: Walmart – “Famous Cars” (2019)

This 2019 ad brings together famous pop culture cars – from the Batmobile to Jurassic Park‘s tour vehicles – in the world’s most chaotic Walmart parking lot. It’s a colorful piece of nostalgia bait, and it all comes courtesy of… not an auto manufacturer, but Walmart. Given that our IP-driven culture is so oversaturated with these types of multiversal crossovers these days, we’re saving the gold medal for a more creative (though still IP-based) selection.

The Winner: Volkswagen – “The Force” (2011)

For better or worse, Volkswagen’s landmark 2011 commercial changed the way we watch Super Bowl commercials. A week ahead of the big event, Volkswagen opted to launch their Star Wars-themed advertisement on the web. By kickoff, it had already racked up millions of views on YouTube. Since then, nearly every Super Bowl advertiser has followed the same tactic.

Still, Volkswagen’s marketing approach shouldn’t overshadow the charm of the ad, which still captivates 13 years later. The commercial features a mini Darth Vader in action, trying to manipulate everyday objects with The Force, sans any dialogue. The endearing little Sith Lord manages to seemingly influence a 2012 Passat parked in their driveway… albeit with an inconspicuous assist from Dad’s key fob.

Accompanied by John Williams’ legendary score, the ad achieves a classic feel as our little Vader grapples with his unexpected power. In an age where cutting-edge technology began weaving its way deeper into our vehicles, Volkswagen confidently suggested that our cars could truly spark a sense of wonder.

We Are the Champions

Here in Abilene, we’ll have to wait another off-season to see if the Cowboys made the right move in bringing back head coach Mike McCarthy. But regardless of whether you have a rooting interest in this year’s Super Bowl – or are just tuning in to see if Taylor Swift can make it back from Tokyo in time for kickoff – know that Lithia Toyota of Abilene is working tirelessly on a winning game plan. If you’re even entertaining the thought of another dealership, audible instead into an exciting new Toyota, such as the 2024 Camry Hybrid or the new Corolla Hatchback. Let the winning team have Disney World; more lasting rewards await you at Lithia Toyota of Abilene.

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4 Modern Auto Innovations To Be Thankful For

Turkey Day is nearly here, a time for food, family, and the endless struggle between the fourth quarter of the Cowboys game and tryptophan-induced drowsiness.

It’s a season that calls for renewed appreciation of the things that make life worthwhile. Whether you’re on your way to stock up on ingredients at the Abilene Farmer’s Market or driving the family back from Grandma’s house, it’s a good time to reflect on the importance of a reliable vehicle.

Today’s automobiles have much to be thankful for, thanks to a plethora of modern features that have made driving safer and more comfortable than ever. Here’s a four-course meal of recent and semi-recent automotive innovations we should give thanks to: 

Collision Avoidance Technology 

The invention of the airbag was clearly a revolutionary step in automobile safety, providing a life-saving layer of protection in the wake of an accident. But in today’s world, automakers’ priorities have shifted to avoiding such incidents altogether. Enter collision avoidance systems, or CAS.

The first (extremely rudimentary) rearview backup camera was introduced with the 1956 Buick Centurion. Today, that feature comes standard in most contemporary vehicles. But automakers’ ambitions have expanded to full driver assist systems, which do everything from alert drivers when another vehicle is in their proximity to completely takeover the vehicle’s systems when a collision appears imminent. With CAS, it’s like you’re always traveling with a co-pilot, and every day its presence saves lives. 

Mobile App Interconnectivity 

The world is more connected than ever, and your car is now getting in on the party. Though Bluetooth connectivity and similar means of interfacing your phone to your vehicle have been around for over a decade, recently we’ve seen a surge in connected mobile apps. 

For many automakers, it’s become an elevated priority for their vehicles to connect with as many compatible apps as possible, making the transition from your home or office to your new 2024 Toyota Camry feel seamless. Assuming this trend continues, an updated version of this blog a decade from now may be more focused on what your vehicle can’t do.

LED Headlights 

Since bursting onto the scene in 2004, LED (short for “Light-Emitting Diode”) headlights have become the preferred choice of many manufacturers – specifically luxury brands. They offer numerous advantages over more traditional halogen and tungsten lighting, as they have longer lifespans, provide more visibility, and use less electricity – all of which combine to reduce maintenance costs. 

And on a purely aesthetic level, LED lights provide more color options than halogen’s various shades of yellow. We may not have the capability to fully replicate daylight driving during our evening commutes just yet, but LED is illuminating the way forward.

EcoBoost Engines 

Every technological upgrade in the world is for nought if we don’t have a world to begin with. Conceived as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional gas and diesel engines, the Ford-produced EcoBoost is a turbocharged direct-injection gas engine that aims to match its more traditional rivals in both power and torque without sacrificing efficiency. In doing so, EcoBoost engines achieve 20% better fuel efficiency while giving off 15% fewer greenhouse emissions.

As we peer deeper into our automotive crystal ball, electric vehicles and green-first options appear only more ubiquitous. Less costly and more versatile than normally aspirated engines, EcoBoost engines should continue to gain popularity as we move forward.

The Rest is Gravy 

Here at Lithia Toyota of Abilene, we’re thankful for our loyal customers and our vibrant community. As vehicular technology continues to evolve and expand, we remain committed to providing you with Toyota’s newest models. Our entire inventory of new and used vehicles is like an elegant Thanksgiving spread – plentiful, variable, and there for your fulfillment. Bon Appétit, and have a wonderful holiday!

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5 Easy Ways to Extend Your Battery’s Lifespan This Fall

As the autumn winds sweep in and the weather turns colder, there’s nothing more frustrating than abandoning the warmth of your bed, only to find that your car refuses to start. This problem can often be attributed to a drained battery, which becomes more vulnerable to power loss as temperatures decrease, potentially leaving you stranded in the chill.

To address this issue, here are five simple and affordable strategies to help ensure that your battery remains in good health until the relief of spring warmth arrives:

1. Avoid Short Drives

Contrary to popular belief, frequently running your engine for brief periods can exhaust your battery faster than taking it on a lengthy journey. In essence, short bursts of driving do not allow ample time for your battery to recharge properly, as the process of starting your car puts a strain on it. If you turn off your car just five to ten minutes later, the battery won’t have sufficient time to recuperate, leading to rapid discharge.

It is therefore advisable to plan for extended trips, particularly on the highway, when possible. This strategy allows your battery an extended opportunity to recharge. Opting for a slightly farther grocery store could add a few extra miles to your trip, but the marginal increase in fuel cost is considerably less than the expense of buying a new battery.

2. Don’t Remain Parked in One Spot Too Long

Despite their modern conveniences and innovative technologies, current vehicles are equipped with a plethora of electronic devices that could unwittingly deplete your battery. Even when your vehicle is not in use, features like security systems and keyless entry continue to draw a minimal yet constant current, a phenomenon known as parasitic drain.

If you foresee your vehicle being idle for an extended period, such as when you park at an airport to depart on a holiday vacation, try to minimize parasitic drain by deactivating as many of these features as feasible. Moreover, if you plan to stay home for several consecutive winter days, consider making the journey to your car and running the engine for about 20 minutes daily. In doing so, your battery can stick to its regular charging cycle.

3. Don’t Leave Electronics On with the Engine Off

It’s never a good idea to leave your dashboard active after switching off your car engine, regardless of the season. However, this act poses a greater risk to your battery during the colder months. Always ensure that all electronic devices, including your heater, radio, and headlights, are switched off when you turn off your car. If you happen to be sitting in your car for an extended period of time, it’s more beneficial for your battery to just keep the engine running.

4. Have a Pair of Jumper Cables Handy

We know that your trunk space is precious, but donate at least part of it to a pair of jumper cables. When you find yourself stuck on the side of a wintry road, there’s no guarantee that the first driver to happen upon you will have cables of their own.

At minimum, make sure each time you leave the house that your phone is charged. Hopefully you’re able to jump your car and avoid making a call for a tow, but it’s best to keep every available option open.

5. Monitor Your Battery More Frequently

If you still find yourself frequently worried about the condition of your car battery this Fall, it might be wise to purchase a car battery tester. Regular voltage monitoring can alert you to any impending signs of drain. After each examination, confirm that your battery is securely anchored to avoid potential internal damage caused by vibrations, especially in uneven, rural terrains. If you observe any corrosion, gently clean the battery terminals with cold water and dry them thoroughly with a cloth.

And if all else fails, remember that Toyota of Abilene is here for all your battery service needs. Our comprehensive diagnostic tests will leave no doubt as to what’s ailing your battery and what steps need to be taken next.

Throughout the Fall, stop by our showroom and check out our new and used inventory. And don’t neglect the rest of your vehicle just because your battery is now humming comfortably! From oil changes to parts and more, Toyota of Abilene has everything you need to stay on the road this holiday season.

 

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Toyota of Abilene’s Top 5 Tips for New Drivers 

Driving is an exciting milestone in life, but it can also be intimidating, especially for new drivers. Navigating the roads as a beginner involves a lot of responsibility, but with proper guidance, it can be a lot easier and more secure. In this blog, we will focus on five tips that can help new drivers stay safe and confident on the road. 

Tip 1: Master the Basics 

Before hitting the road, it is essential to understand the fundamental rules of driving. Start by reviewing your state’s driver’s manual or take an approved driver’s education course. This will help you learn the rules of the road and gain a better understanding of road signs, speed limits, and traffic laws. Knowing the basics ensures that you can navigate the roads with confidence and safety.  

To further master the basics and gain a strong foundation in driving, it is important to practice frequently in various conditions. Make sure to drive in different weather conditions, such as rain or snow, and during different times of day. Additionally, practice on roads with varying speed limits and traffic levels. This will help you become comfortable behind the wheel and stay safe on the road. 

Tip 2: Keep Your Car Maintained 

Regular car maintenance is crucial for a vehicle’s safe operation. Keeping up with oil changes, brakes, and tire rotations are necessary for ensuring that the car is in proper working order. Having a reliable vehicle also means reducing the chance of costly and dangerous breakdowns.  

Having a reliable car is also essential for avoiding any unwanted incidents on the road. Be sure to check your fluids (oil, coolant, brake, and transmission) regularly and top them off if needed. Make sure to have your brakes inspected occasionally, as well as inspect the car’s tires for proper inflation levels and tread wear. 

Tip 3: Avoid Distractions 

Distractions while driving are dangerous, irresponsible, and can lead to accidents. Keep your phone on silent and out of reach while driving. If you need to use your phone, pull over to a safe spot to take the call or reply to a text message. Additionally, avoid eating, smoking, grooming, or engaging in other distracting activities while behind the wheel. 

In order to reduce distractions while driving, it is important to minimize the number of passengers in the car. Having fewer passengers in the vehicle reduces the chances of conversations or other interactions that could take your focus away from driving. Additionally, avoid programming GPS devices or changing radio stations while driving, as these activities require visual and mental attention. 

Tip 4: Don’t Tailgate 

Maintaining a safe distance between your car and the vehicle in front is crucial for a driver’s safety. The recommended following distance is three to four seconds between cars. This ample time will allow you to avoid a collision if the vehicle in front makes any sudden stops or turns. 

Tailgating can be dangerous and should always be avoided. Not only can it lead to rear-end collisions, but it can also cause road rage from the driver in front. Additionally, tailgating restricts vision and forces drivers to make quick decisions in order to avoid a collision.  

Tip 5: Obey All Traffic Rules 

Driving safely and responsibly involves obeying all traffic rules and laws, including stop signs, traffic signals, and posted speed limits. Remember, breaking the rules puts not only your safety but also the safety of other road users at risk.  

When driving, always be aware of the speed limit and the posted signs to ensure that you stay within the laws. Following the speed limit helps prevent speeding tickets and keeps you from putting yourself and other drivers at risk. Additionally, be mindful of intersections and obey any traffic signals, such as stop lights or yield signs. These traffic signals are there to keep you and other drivers safe on the road.  

Get Out and Drive — Safely! 

In conclusion, as a new driver, it is crucial to remain vigilant, patient, and adhere to basic traffic rules. Regular maintenance of your car, avoiding distractions, and maintaining a safe following distance are all essential practices to help ensure safe driving. Remember to never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, always wear your seatbelt, and enjoy the ride. Following these five tips will make you a more confident and responsible driver. 

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Five Great Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching, and if you’re still looking for the perfect date idea, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re looking for something traditional or something a little more unique, we’ve compiled a list of five great ideas to make your Valentine’s Day extra special. So check out our list and get planning!

Love is in the Air — literally!

Valentine’s Day is all about doing something romantic and a romantic hike with a picnic lunch at the top is the perfect way to make it special. It’s the perfect non-traditional date idea that won’t break the bank, and you still get to show your partner how much they mean to you! A romantic hike gives you time to admire nature, check out scenic views, and have real conversations over a romantic picnic lunch. A romantic hike can give your Valentine’s Day a unique twist that will be remembered for years to come!

Paint. Sip. Love.

Looking to spice up your romantic Valentine’s Day? A trendy watercolor paint and sip class might be the perfect choice. Paint your own masterpiece while sipping on some wine – it’s the perfect balance of relaxation and entertainment. No experience is necessary! Let your creativity flow, open a bottle of wine, and make great memories with your beloved this Valentine’s Day.

Bring the Restaurant Home

If you’re looking to make this Valentine’s Day extra special, why not fancy it up with a home-cooked dinner? Instead of splurging on an expensive dinner out, you and your significant other can whip up something fancy together at home. Try cooking a new recipe, or look to recreate one of your favorite dishes – with your own cozy twist. Not only is this intimate way to celebrate more affordable and memorable, but it can also provide a great opportunity for meaningful conversation by the dinner table. So what better way to show how much you care than cooking dinner together from the comfort and privacy of your own home?

Looking for Love

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to plan a fun, non-traditional date night, so why not surprise your significant other with a fun and off-beat love-themed scavenger hunt? Whether you set it up around town or in your own backyard, you can personalize the items on your scavenger hunt list to make it as unique as your relationship. Plus, when the two of you complete all of the tasks, you’ll get to end the evening with a fun reward! Planning a love-themed scavenger hunt for Valentine’s Day is sure to create some fun memories for both of you this year for sure.

The Love Above

Looking for a magical experience to share with your special someone this Valentine’s Day? Why not take them out stargazing! Watching shooting stars together is a romantic journey that creates memories to last a lifetime. Stargazing is time-old practice of appreciating nature, and the night sky can be an escape from the hustle of everyday life. Set up blankets in your own backyard or find a local park nearby – the adventure of uncovering constellations and shooting stars will be worth it.

Date Night Awaits

If you and your partner are looking for a fun and unique way to spend Valentine’s Day this year, look no further! These five date ideas are sure to please. From stargazing to cooking dinner together, you’ll create lasting memories with the one you love. So get planning – your perfect Valentine’s Day awaits!