Super Bowl LIV

Toyota brings aliens, outlaws to its Super Bowl commercial starring Cobie Smulders

Actress Cobie Smulders starts in the new Toyota commercial.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

As Agent Maria Hill in the Marvel Comic Universe, across Cobie Smulders is familiar with strategizing against all kinds of foes. This year's Super Bowl advertisement pairs her up with the redesigned 2020 Toyota Highlander as she rescues a cast of characters from some of cinema's favorite films.

"This commercial truly highlights the all-new Highlander's incredible array of features, even greater capabilities and spacious interior," said Ed Laukes, group vice president, Toyota Marketing, Toyota Motor North America. "The spot's message of 'go wherever they need you' speaks to the adventurous spirit of Highlander and its ability to help drivers tap into their inner hero."

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The spot features movie trailer-like intense music that was composed for the commercial and proves most memorable for the line, "That's not its mouth."

The spot, called "Heroes", which will appear in the first ad break of the fourth quarter, features the Highlander Platinum grade. It serves as the launching point of Toyota's new Highlander campaign.

"When Toyota approached me, I felt very flattered getting to play the hero in my first-ever Big Game commercial," said actress Cobie Smulders. "I'm a mom, and I love that I'm playing a mom in this ad. When I think of heroes, I think of women and moms – the toughest people out there – and to be able to represent that is a wonderful thing."

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New minivan

Honda announces new Odyssey Sport

Sport is a new trim for the Odyssey minivan.

Honda

The Honda Odyssey may not be the most exciting vehicle in the world, but it's getting a new Sport model that at least makes it look the part. Honda will release the model for the 2023 model year, and the Odyssey line overall will be offered with a new Honda Service Pass, which includes two years of complimentary scheduled maintenance.

The Odyssey Sport slots into the Honda catalog between the EX-L and Touring trims. It comes with gloss-black exterior trim and black 19-inch wheels outside, and black leather with red stitching inside. The cabin comes with red accent lighting on the dash and in the footwells, and the roof pillars and headliner are both black. Under the hood, the Odyssey Sport gets the same 3.5-liter V6 from years past. It makes 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, and comes paired with a ten=speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.

2023 Honda Odyssey SportThe Sport comes with dark exterior trim and unique leather upholstery with red stitching inside. Honda

All Odyssey models come with Honda Sensing safety equipment, which includes adaptive cruise control and pedestrian detection. The 2023 van hasn't been crash-tested yet, but the 2022 model earned a Top Safety Pick + award, so it's likely the new model will be rated similarly.

Honda Service Pass is a new program for 2023+ Honda vehicles. It covers routine scheduled maintenance for up to two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. Under the program, buyers get free oil changes, tire rotations, and multi-point inspections.

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The IIHS may increase the speeds it uses to test advanced driver aids.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently announced that it is considering changing the speeds it uses to test vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention systems. The agency currently tests the systems at 12 and 25 mph, but says that the speeds don't accurately represent the types of crashes the safety tech is meant to prevent.

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Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is designed to notify of a possible collision and help respond with automatic application of braking. Just like a human using the brake pedal, it can stop the car, but higher speeds make it difficult to stop in time. The new tests would be conducted at 35 to 45 mph, which is the range where a large number of rear-end crashes occur. As Automotive News noted, an IIHS study showed 43 percent of rear-end crashes occur at speeds of 45 mph or less, so it's important to have a test that shows how well the tech performs at those levels.

A whopping 85 percent of 2022 vehicles earned a "Superior" rating in the current testing regime, so the IIHS will remove it from 2023 testing and Top Safety Pick award evaluations. Their view is that, since the majority of vehicles meet the criteria, it's no longer an accurate way of evaluating performance. In its place, the agency introduced a night test for automatic emergency braking systems that will begin next year.

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