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Toyota of Abilene Listicles

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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Toyota of Abilene Maintenance Tips

Five Early Warning Signs You Need New Brakes

It’s a new year, which unfortunately means your car is officially one model year older. That also means your brakes have amassed another year of wear and tear.

Gaging the the state of your brakes can be tricky, but by staying vigilant for the subtle signals they send you, you can get ahead of any costly estimates your vehicle stands to inherit this year. Recognizing these signs and moving quickly to address them can also greatly extend your vehicle’s lifespan. 

Courtesy of the service technicians at Lithia Toyota of Abilene, here are five warning signs that suggest it’s time to replace your brake pads or rotors.

High-Pitched Screeching 

Often, you hear brake problems before you see or feel them. That’s thanks to the high-pitched screeching sound that emits from your brake pads when they’re wearing thin. Interestingly, the screeching isn’t a direct result of wearing brakes; manufacturers intentionally insert a piece of metal into the brake pads in order to alert you when a replacement is imminent.

If the grating sounds continue despite new brake pads, there’s a chance that your rotors may be glazed. This occurs when metal heats up and burns due to excessive braking. Check your rotors for blue marks for a dark ring; either could indicate that the rotors also need replacement. 

If the squealing is replaced by a grinding, metallic noise, that means your brake pads have completely worn down past the point where replacing them is possible. Take it to us for brake service immediately if this sound emerges, as it could lead to larger safety issues. 

The Eye Test 

Sometimes it’s easier not to overthink things. If your brake pads look like they have a problem, they likely do. You can find them wedged between the wheels’ spokes, pressed up against the rotors. Measure the pads, and if you find they’re less than a quarter of an inch thick, it may be time to schedule a service appointment with us.

Performance Anomalies 

When your brakes stop responding as quickly as they should, it may be a sign of a leak in your braking system. If your brakes are sending out vibrations (the kind that causes your steering wheel to quake, not the Beach Boys kind), either the brake pads or rotors are in need of replacement.

Your brakes are always sending messages like these to alert you to their condition. The more in tune you are with your vehicle, the better you’ll become at assessing when and why your vehicle is behaving abnormally. 

Extreme Sensitivity 

Perhaps you started your Camry today only to find your brakes acting unusually sensitive, jerking you to a halt at the slightest tap of the brake pad. This could be due to either the rotors wearing down unevenly or the brake fluid needing replacement. 

Alternately, you might have a problem when your brakes prove too insensitive and only engage when you apply excessive pressure. This could be a symptom of low brake fluid, thin brake pads, or even a sign that something is amiss with your car’s hydraulic system.

Puddle of Doom 

The last thing you want to see on a bright, sunny day is a puddle formed beneath your idle car. Unless it’s residue from an overnight shower, it’s most likely your brake fluid dripping out of your car due to a leak. You should be able to tell the difference between regular motor oil and brake fluid, which is notably thinner. 

Give Me a Brake

Life may be full of stops and starts… but you should have as much autonomy over them as possible. Don’t leave your fate to the whims of worn-out brake pads, glazed rotors, or a faulty hydraulic system. We’re here to assist you with all your brake needs, along with battery service, oil changes, and more.

Visit us at Lithia Toyota of Abilene today, where we never put the brakes on a good deal. With our extensive inventory of new and certified pre-owned vehicles at your disposal, your dream car is just a stop away.

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New Toyota Vehicle

The Toyota Tacoma Levels Up for 2024

The Toyota Tacoma has long been regarded as one of the sturdiest midsize pickup trucks on the market. However, it seems the Tacoma is no longer content with resting on the laurels of its reliability. Enter the 2024 Toyota Tacoma, which has received a notable glow-up, emerging as a faster, stronger vehicle by every measure.

At first glance, it may appear that little has changed with this year’s Tacoma. But while its cosmetic upgrades are subtle, this Tacoma is an feat of engineering ambition. In terms of comfort, performance, and technology, the 2024 Tacoma is a complete evolution from previous models. 

Overhauled and Ready to Haul 

The changes in the latest Tacoma may not be fully apparent when you see it, but you’ll detect them once you get behind the wheel. It sports a new i-Force turbocharged four-cylinder engine. With the same 278 horsepower, this 2.4-liter engine replicates the power output of the 3.5-liter V-6 it’s replacing. Additionally, the i-Force engine redistributes the torque dramatically, as the Tacoma is now able to hit 317 lb.-ft. from as low as 1,700 rpm. For the first time, the Tacoma feels nimble.

Most impressively, the midsize truck doesn’t sacrifice its hauling and towing numbers for the sake of its enhanced performance. If anything, the Tacoma’s payload ratings have also been elevated, now up to 1,447 – a 300-lb. improvement from the 2023 model. Towing, meanwhile, remains consistent with previous numbers at 6,400 pounds. 

And the Tacoma TRD Off-Road excels when it comes to off-road adventuring, as it’s able to easily traverse any terrain. From sand dunes to deep mud to uneven, rocky surfaces, there isn’t a challenge the newest Tacoma isn’t equipped to face. 

A Brand New Beast 

The cosmetic and interior changes to the new Tacoma may be less apparent than its performance enhancements… but that doesn’t mean they aren’t significant. For one, it marks the debut of Toyota’s new Audio Multimedia System, which runs alongside standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The high-mounted, 14-inch touchscreen features conveniently large app icons, perfect for on-the-move tapping.

The interior is noticeably more spacious than past models, with more lenient headspace for taller drivers. For a more decadent experience, consider the Premium package, which includes additional interior features such as:

  • Heated power front seats. 
  • A heated steering wheel. 
  • A sunroof. 
  • Surround-view camera system. 
  • 10-speaker JBL audio system. 

Drive a New Ride Into 2024

The Toyota Tacoma will continue to be known for its world-class reliability – but that’s no longer its sole, defining feature. By addressing and upgrading the Tacoma’s performance, driving dynamics, hauling, technology, and interior cabin, Toyota has created an evolved truck that looks like the 2023 Tacoma… but feels like the future.

Here at Lithia Toyota of Abilene, an evolutionary driving experience awaits you regardless of the type of vehicle you prefer, from the sporty 2024 GR Supra to the family-friendly 2024 Sienna. Abilene’s preeminent Toyota dealership also has you covered when it comes to servicing your current vehicle. Whether you need tires, brakes, batteries, or an oil change, we’ll keep you on the road until you’re ready for your next new car-buying adventure. 

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New Toyota Vehicle

Checking in on the Toyota Corolla Cross

When Toyota unveiled their compact crossover SUV the Corolla Cross hybrid in 2020, it seemed to fill a logical hole in Toyota’s SUV lineup. Longer and wider than the subcompact C-HR and taller than the Corolla hatchback, the Cross was more akin to a hybrid version of the RAV4.

The Corolla Cross rolled out alongside a new Toyota motto: “everyday, reinvented.” Taken at face value, the slogan seems to promise excitement; here is a vehicle so dynamic that it has the capacity to change the very fabric of virtually any day.

But with nearly a half decade of hindsight, it’s easy to look at that motto another way. The Corolla Cross was never designed to reinvent life itself. Rather, it was meant to literally reinvent your everyday routine, offering a sustained measure of practicality that took all that was burdensome about life’s day-to-day trials and streamlined it.

Recently, MotorTrend completed their yearlong test review of the 2022 Corolla Cross. In the end, they also arrived at the same descriptor: practicality. Let’s look at where the Corolla Cross stands and where it figures to go from here.

The Year-Long Findings

Although the Corolla series launched way back in 1966, the Corolla Cross was the very first hybrid crossover introduced to Toyota’s lineup. Initially, it was powered by a standard 1.8-liter inline-four with 138 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque.

After spending a year with the 2022 Corolla Cross, MotorTrend kept coming back to the little details that coalesced into a practical whole: the enormous trunk and cargo capacity, the rubber floor mats, the wireless charger-storing cubby beneath the HVAC controls.

The magazine also praised the Corolla Cross’s lifetime fuel economy of 29 mpg, citing minimal spending at the pump and low maintenance costs. In terms of fuel economy, the Corolla Cross comfortably outpaced rivals such as the CX-30, Soul, and Mazda 3.

And while the Corolla Cross admittedly offered little in the way of surprises, MotorTrend deemed it a great fit for daily commutes and errands, as its slight frame made parking in tight spots painless.

Crossing Into 2024

Toyota has been a key part of the global movement towards electrification since its outset, and the latest edition of its crossover hybrid continues their green effort.

Since the 2022 model, the Corolla Cross has added standard all-wheel drive. Its engine has been upgraded to a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, with three electric motors combining for 196 horsepower. For the 2024 model, the Corolla Cross SE and XSE trims receive updated wireless smartphone charging pads.

Though changes to the Cross have been incremental, its foundation has held solid. You’ll still find the same affordable starting price, the same level of fuel efficiency, and the same level of dependability.

Sometimes it’s better to know what to expect when tackling everyday life. The overtly practical Corolla Cross hybrid is peace of mind on four wheels. And as we get an early look at the redesigned 2025 model, it doesn’t appear as though that core philosophy is changing, regardless of how sleek the Cross becomes.

Your Next Toyota Experience Awaits

The new year is upon us, and that means it’s time for resolutions. In 2024, resolve to get behind the wheel of a new or used Toyota vehicle. Whether you’re interested in the Cross, new models such as the 2024 Toyota Tundra, or just in need of an oil change, Lithia Toyota of Abilene is here to keep for all your practical – and occasionally indulgent – auto needs.

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Awards

The 2024 Toyota Prius is MotorTrend’s Car of the Year

For the first time in two decades, the Toyota Prius has been named MotorTrend’s Car of the Year. Toyota claims the coveted Golden Calipers award for the first time since the 2007 Toyota Camry, and 20 years after the trailblazing 2004 Toyota Prius earned the title. 

The magazine has a set of six specific criteria it uses to judge its Car of the Year finalists, so it speaks to the complete, well-rounded nature of the 2024 Prius that it was able to take home this year’s top honors. It also does so in a year that marks the 75th anniversary of Cadillac claiming MotorTrend’s inaugural Car of the Year award in 1949. 

To commemorate the moment, Lithia Toyota of Abilene looks back at 2004’s winner and where the Prius stands today.

2004 

When Toyota initially developed the Prius, their vision was to create the “car of the 21st century.” The fully realized version of the Prius arrived four years after the turn of the century, ready to claim that mantle. The 2004 Prius was a complete redesign of the previous generations of Kia, replacing the Toyota Hybrid System (THS) with the superior Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD). 

The 2004 Prius became the first hybrid vehicle to claim MotorTrend’s year-end award – a bold choice at the time, and the magazine knew it. Then-editor-in-chief, Kevin Smith, wrote in 2004, “We realize the selection of a hybrid vehicle is going to stir controversy, but we believe the performance, engineering advancements, and overall significance of the Toyota Prius merits the distinction of Motor Trend’s Car of the Year.” 

In presenting the 2023 award, MotorTrend notes, “It’s remarkable how much we wrote about that game-changing 2004 Prius that still applies to its Car of the Year-winning successor two decades later.” They’re not wrong; just as it was in 2004, the Prius remains the gold standard for the combination of fuel efficiency, ultra-low emissions, safety, and riveting performance. 

2024

MotorTrend is quick to point out that it in winning Car of the Year, the 2024 Prius “has made a cultural impact far greater than its carbon footprint.” As we enter 2024, Prius drivers have certainly become associated with more than Toyota’s green-first initiatives: nerds, ride-hail drivers, virtue-signalers… even music snobs celebrated when the hybrid car got a shout-out in a certified Charli XCX banger from 2019. 

But if your primary criticism of the hybrid is that it’s an entryway to chique hipsterdom, that means the vehicle itself is probably doing a lot of things right. MotorTrend praises the 2024 Prius for its design, boosted efficiency, and perhaps most importantly, the way it’s helped advance “the automotive state of the art without forcing drivers to change their deeply ingrained habits.” 

It was the 2024 model’s newfound mesh of style and performance, however, that may have separated it from all-electric competitors like the Hyundai Ioniq 6 and the Tesla Model 3 Highland. For the first time since the 2004 model, Toyota designers and engineers had total freedom to completely reimagine the Prius, which led to a modern 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, larger motors and batteries, and all-wheel drive available at launch. 

In claiming top honors, the 2024 Prius emerged from a competitive group of finalists: the 2023 BMW 7 Series, the 2023 BMW M2, the 2024 Lucid Air, and the aforementioned 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 6 and 2024 Tesla Model 3. 

Get Behind the Wheel of a Prius Today 

Clearly, there’s never been a better time to be a Prius owner. Lithia Toyota is Abilene’s number one dealership when you’re making the switch to hybrid or all-electric. Check out more info on the 2023 Toyota Prius and other hybrid/plug-in/electric vehicles, as well as our entire inventory of new and used Toyotas.

The Prius could very well take home its third pair of Golden Calipers 20 years from now, but for the time being, it’s established itself as the model of consistency in the automotive world. The only question remaining is how high the Prius’s ceiling can possibly rise. This New Year’s, make it your resolution to roll into 2024 with the best car on the market, the Toyota Prius.