Introduced in 2004, the Toyota Tundra Double Cab offered truck owners a new choice in the ever-competitive fullsize segment. Combining the success of the Tundra Regular and Access Cab configurations, Toyota engineered the Double Cab to seat five adults comfortably, drive much smaller than the large truck it is, and provide the reliability and ruggedness Toyota is famous for. New for 2005, the Tundra Double Cab's 4.7L DOHC V-8 now has 271 hp at an impressive 5,400 rpm-an increase of 31 hp over last year's model. The increase in ponies isn't over powering until the rpm get above 3,500, and then the 140-1/2-inch wheelbase gets moving with a more rapid pace. Our tester was a 4x4 SR5 model with push-button traction control and a limited-slip differential equipped with 3.92:1 gears. Equipped with the optional towing package, a Class IV hitch, a seven-pin connector, and a heavy-duty 130-amp alternator the Double Cab has all the requisite goodies for towing that 6,500-pound toy home safely.

Driving the largest truck in Toyota's lineup is a unique experience. The feeling of control-a sure-footedness uncommon in four-door 1/2-ton trucks-boosts driver confidence. Looking at the interior layout, everything is in its logical position and is easy to use. Ergonomics, always a Toyota specialty, is exemplified in the Double Cab as the 4WD controls are an arm's reach away, and intuitive radio controls were installed on the steering wheel. Another trick up the Double Cab's sleeve is the power rear-privacy window, which provides occupants with an open-air driving experience.

Driving the truck on one of Santa Barbara, California's, many off-road mountain trails, the Double Cab performed flawlessly. Traction control did provide the safety it was intended to supply, but with some loose dirt under the tires, we turned it off and had the Tundra spinning in every direction. Even though this 4WD truck was not equipped with the preferred TRD package, it did handle whoops, large rocks, and mud with no problems. Mounted on each of the 17-inch five-spoke wheels were Dunlop 265/65R17 all-terrain tires that provided excellent grip both on- and off-road.

Coming in at a value-priced $34,000, this well-equipped Tundra Double Cab is making the other fullsize truck manufacturers sweat bullets, and rebates and incentives are a testament to that truth. Solid build quality, improved power, and a ride matched only by the new F-150 prove that Toyota will continue to eat away at this market. - Dan Ward.

Future Of DesignFuture car designs may be influenced by video games, or so says Richard Rogers president of the College for Creative Studies. "The esthetics of video games will have an impact on car designs," he says. "We'll start seeing that five to ten years from now with edgy and futuristic auto designs."

The need to make an emotional connection with consumers is what's spurring this development. But the automakers' attempts to stimulate aren't limited to the imaginary video game world's. They also try to hint at the attributes they think speak to a buyer's sense of self. Five automotive design trends make the point: muscular and athletic (Ford F-150 and Cadillac CTS), aggressive and intimidating (Hummer, Dodge Magnum), blocks (Honda Element and Scion xB), nature (Toyota Prius and Mercedes-Benz CLS), and cultural identity (Ford Mustang).

A J.D. Power poll indicates the top 10 vehicles bought based on their looks:

1. Chevrolet SSR
2. Chrysler Crossfire
3. Dodge Magnum
4. Chrysler PT Cruiser
5. Mini Cooper
6. Chrysler 300
7. Volkswagen Beetle
8. Ford Thunderbird
9. Mitsubishi Eclipse
10. Cadillac XLR

More than half of these are retro-styled. To contrast, the following are the top 10 "ugliest" vehicles according to the poll:

1. Honda Element
2. Infiniti Q45
3. Pontiac Aztek
4. Mazda RX-8
5. Chevrolet Avalanche
6. Scion xB
7. Toyota Celica
8. Lexus LS 430
9. Infiniti QX56
10. Mitsubishi Diamante

The SSR almost made the ugly list. Cars like the Camry are bought based on reliability and not visual appeal, illustrating the murky challenges faced by automotive designers as they try to draw up the next blockbuster. - information originally appeared in an August 3 article on wardsauto.com.

Number Crunch
90 mph
The top speed of Nissan's X-Trail FCV five-passenger, hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered vehicle.

$250,000
The total prize offered by NASA's Personal Air Vehicle Challenge for technologies that foster the development of flying cars. Contest open to all.

$30,000
The amount awarded to the developers of the lobotomy upon winning the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1949.

10%
The percentage of the 500,000 lobotomized people who actually benefited from the surgery, according to Associated Press.

39.2%
The amount by which light truck sales have increased annually since 1996, according to SEMA.

$2,250
The average amount consumers spend on aftermarket upgrades, according to a SEMA survey.

97%
The percentage of those respondents who were male, according to SEMA.

100%
The percentage of those respondents who thought these upgrades would attract models with "aftermarket upgrades" at truck shows.

Cost Of Sales
Here are the average sales incentives offered by the top automakers in July.

Automaker Average Incentive
General Motors $4,135
Ford $3,876
Chrysler $3,623
Volkswagen $2,299
Nissan $1,948
Hyundai $1,945
Toyota $1,001
Honda $942
Model Incentive
Cadillac DeVille $11,253
Jaguar XKR $8,855
Volvo S80 $8,637
Saab 9-5 $7,823
Cadillac Escalade ESV $7,760
Jaguar S-Type R $7,615
Cadillac SRX $7,444
Volvo XC70 $7,443
Cadillac Escalade $7,417
Cadillac Escalade EXT $7,131
SOURCE
Aim