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Photographer William Woodward on capturing America in a VW Vanagon Westfalia

Ruby the Vanagon, shot by Willie Woodward. Disclaimer: Only drive where it is permitted and always stay on provided roads and paths. See owner’s manual. For the past six years, William “Willie” Woodward has been living and traveling across the United States in his 1990 Vanagon GL. A travel, adventure and commercial photographer, Willie has taken his…

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Ruby the Vanagon, shot by Willie Woodward. Disclaimer: Only drive where it is permitted and always stay on provided roads and paths. See owner’s manual.

For the past six years, William “Willie” Woodward has been living and traveling across the United States in his 1990 Vanagon GL. A travel, adventure and commercial photographer, Willie has taken his two-wheel drive, maroon companion, dubbed “Ruby,” on a series of wild adventures – from the backwoods of Montana to the rocky hills of California and slick-rock canyons of Utah.

His social media account and blog, both entitled Where to Willie, serve as a photo journal of the pair’s escapades. Willie says that embracing van life in Ruby has allowed him to recognize and capture moments in their purest form and allowed him the freedom and flexibility to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time photographer.

“Ruby is the vehicle that got me to where I am today – both figuratively and literally,” he says, laughing. “It’s become such a deep-seated part of who I am.”

The Illinois native and former mechanical engineer took a leap of faith when he moved to the West Coast and purchased Ruby in fall 2014.

“I was getting tattooed by a guy in Portland, and the artist shared with me that he owned a Vanagon, named Ruby, and he would use it to travel to the Oregon coast to surf with his son,” he says. “To me, it seemed like such a unique way to travel and reminded me a lot of my own upbringing.”

The nostalgia took hold, and Willie began actively looking for a boxy Vanagon of his own. Soon after his search began, the tattoo artist offered him the opportunity to purchase Ruby. He jumped at it and, in tribute, kept her name intact.

Ruby the Vanagon, shot by Willie Woodward. Diclaimer: Only drive where it is permitted and always stay on provided roads and paths. See owner’s manual.

It wasn’t long after purchasing Ruby that Willie made the decision to embrace van life full time, living on the road while zigzagging the country, capturing different people and places through his lens. He announced his lifestyle change on social media on April 1, 2015.

“Everybody thought it was an April Fool’s joke, but the joke was really on them,” Willie says. “Years later, we’re still going strong.”

Over time, Ruby has gone through three large makeovers to accommodate Willie’s van life needs, culminating in the recent overhaul: installing a high top, a full interior rebuild, LED headlights and floodlights, a 12-volt refrigerator, sink and stove, and additional interior seating for friends.

“Vanagons were built in a way that just makes them so much more capable than you’d ever expect,” Willie says. “I surprise people constantly with her ability to get into some of the more remote places I shoot and enjoy spending my time in.”

William “Willie” Woodward

He’s had the opportunity to work with his father, a high-school woodshop teacher, and mother, a gifted seamstress, on updates to the van.

“They’ve helped me make it feel like more of a home on wheels than a space,” Willie says. “She’s now officially part of our family forever.”

The access and affordability of the Vanagon has also provided Willie the opportunity to better know and capture the places and people he is photographing, which in turn, he says, has enriched his work.

“The van helps me feel less like a spectator and more like a neighbor in the community I’m spending time in and increased my ability to share people’s unique stories and walks of life through photographs,” says Willie. “My best work has come out of getting to know a place more deeply by being able to stay there for an extended period of time.”

The Volkswagen community has also been a key component to Willie’s success on the road. During the pandemic, he built a social bubble that consisted of eight other Vanagon owners for several months in southern Utah, right outside of Zion.

“When I bought Ruby, I didn’t really understand that I was joining a community. But I quickly realized that when you own a Vanagon, you instantly become part of a family,” Willie says. “Some of the best friends I have today are people I’ve met through the VW world, and I can’t imagine doing this adventure without them.”

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2023 Toyota Corolla reviews: the first media drives

The finishing touches are currently being applied to the 2023 Toyota Corolla, which among many other changes will debut the fifth-generation of our world-leading, full hybrid petrol-electric powertrain. Members of the national motoring press were recently invited to test pre-production prototypes in both Hatchback and Touring Sports guise, including back-to-back comparisons with current 1.8-litre models.…

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The finishing touches are currently being applied to the 2023 Toyota Corolla, which among many other changes will debut the fifth-generation of our world-leading, full hybrid petrol-electric powertrain. Members of the national motoring press were recently invited to test pre-production prototypes in both Hatchback and Touring Sports guise, including back-to-back comparisons with current 1.8-litre models. What did they think of this thoroughly refreshed model? What were their 2023 Toyota Corolla reviews?

Below is a selection of excerpts from their online reviews, which include a numerical rating where applicable. To read the full reports, simply click on the emboldened links.

2023 Toyota Corolla reviews:

“The latest refinement benefits… particularly the 1.8 Hybrid. For 2023, it’s getting a 24bhp boost to 138bhp, for a 0-62mph sprint of 9.2sec. The point of the exercise is not so much to make the entry-level Corolla a fast car, but more to improve drivability.

“Toyota has also recalibrated the drive modes. [In Eco mode] the updated car… makes better use of the increased potency of the electric motor and waits for longer before it has the engine working. That makes the car feel more relaxed without noticeably compromising performance. At anything less than full throttle, the gearbox will build in some shift points and avoid holding maximum revs wherever possible. It helps that the 1.8 engine is a refined one, so when it pipes up, it’s not grating. Economy remains impressive: at the end of our test route, the car was indicating 57.7mpg.

This is a successful update of an already well-rounded family car

“Just as valuable in daily usage… are the improvements to the brakes. The pedal is now more progressive and allows clean limo-drive stops. The new car also uses the radar for the adaptive cruise control to judge how much regenerative braking it should apply when you lift off the throttle.”

“Exterior changes include a new mesh pattern for the front grille, fresh alloy wheel designs, and on some trim grades, new bi-LED headlights. [Inside] there are embossed patterns aimed at giving trim pieces and upholstery a ‘three-dimensional depth’, a new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster (on mid-range trim and upwards) and a 10.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

“The biggest changes of all concern the powertrain. The updated Corolla’s redesigned lithium-ion battery pack is smaller yet more powerful, and the same goes for the motor unit. The 1.8-litre car… has a total system power of 138bhp, an increase of 14%. This is immediately obvious the first time you apply a generous amount of throttle. This isn’t only down to the power increase – Toyota’s hybrid and CVT tweaks have worked wonders. Toyota’s intention is for the response of the set-up to be more closely aligned with throttle inputs.

The Corolla does a remarkable job of replicating an EV-like driving experience

“At cruising speeds, the engine revs sit around 500rpm lower than before, making the Corolla more relaxing over longer distances. At lower speeds, the Corolla does a remarkable job of replicating an EV-like driving experience… making stop/start traffic a far more relaxing experience. It remains an efficient set-up – we achieved around 57mpg despite driving in an often less than sympathetic way to test the recalibrated powertrain.”

2023 Toyota Corolla reviews:

“This revised Corolla features the fifth-generation version of Toyota’s hybrid system, bringing a big boost in performance to the 1.8-litre model in particular, as well claiming improved refinement and response. The safety and infotainment tech gets an upgrade, too. Fundamentally, this remains a sharp-looking, comfort-orientated family car, with… a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain line-up that… shouldn’t be sniffed at as a stop-gap to going full EV.

“The lithium-ion battery pack has a 14% greater output, a 14% (18kg) lower weight and is more compact. The control electronics are more efficient and quieter. And the electric motors are more powerful. Put this together with a substantial amount of recalibration and the additional torque-fill now available from the gutsier e-motors… [and] the new 1.8-litre Corolla is more of a surprising transition than the overall increase might lead you to suspect.

Over a mixed driving route… the car was reporting it had been in EV mode 72% of the time. Toyota’s hybrid tech has really come of age

“The updated car is immediately more brisk. A lot of work has gone into remapping the accelerator response so it better matches driver intentions, dialling back the revs the CVT requires for a given amount of progress. It is also quieter at speed.

“The car can [also] use the adaptive cruise control gear to automatically vary the amount of deceleration you get when you lift off the throttle. This… simply means it maintains a safe distance from the car in front without you having to intervene with the friction brakes, even when slowing almost to a stop. This is so unexpectedly polished that it turns [the Corolla] into a one-pedal driving experience much of the time – something that’s usually the reserve of pure EVs.”

“Updates to the Toyota Corolla’s hybrid system mean that the latest version of the entry-level 1.8-litre engine has 138bhp at its disposal. [That’s] more than enough performance for everyday driving and getting up to motorway speeds without needing to mash the accelerator into the carpet.

“Fancy a bit of pampering? Well, forget the spa and buy yourself a Corolla instead because… it’s one of the most comfortable cars in the family car class. It has softer suspension than [some other rivals], which means it smooths off the rough edges of road ridges better and fidgets less on patchy sections of motorway.

The Toyota Corolla is a brilliant family car. It’s comfortable, well made, well equipped and remarkably frugal in real-world driving

“When you’re driving normally, you’ll find that the Corolla is a fine handling car. The steering is precise and its weight builds in a progressive manner, starting light for city driving and ending up with a heft that’s reassuring. There’s even a reasonable amount of feedback streaming to your fingertips [and] a decent feeling of composure at faster speeds.”

Learn more: 2023 Toyota Corolla revealed

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Sales, Production, and Export Results for May 2022 | Sales, Production, and Export Results | Profile | Company

Toyota Motor Corporation works to develop and manufacture innovative, safe and high-quality products and services that create happiness by providing mobility for all. We believe that true achievement comes from supporting our customers, partners, employees, and the communities in which we operate. Since our founding over 80 years ago in 1937, we have applied our…

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Toyota Motor Corporation works to develop and manufacture innovative, safe and high-quality products and services that create happiness by providing mobility for all. We believe that true achievement comes from supporting our customers, partners, employees, and the communities in which we operate. Since our founding over 80 years ago in 1937, we have applied our Guiding Principles in pursuit of a safer, greener and more inclusive society. Today, as we transform into a mobility company developing connected, automated, shared and electrified technologies, we also remain true to our Guiding Principles and many of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to help realize an ever-better world, where everyone is free to move.

SDGs Initiatives https://global.toyota/en/sustainability/sdgs/

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What insurance groups does the Aygo X sit in?

Since its launch in 2005, the Toyota Aygo has been widely regarded as our most accessible car. Affordable to buy and frugal to run, it meets the demands of urban and suburban life with a fun, youthful character. These qualities remain core strengths of the new Aygo X, enhanced further with crossover styling that stands…

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Since its launch in 2005, the Toyota Aygo has been widely regarded as our most accessible car. Affordable to buy and frugal to run, it meets the demands of urban and suburban life with a fun, youthful character. These qualities remain core strengths of the new Aygo X, enhanced further with crossover styling that stands out within the segment. But have such changes affected the model’s affordability in other areas, such as the cost of Aygo X insurance?

Aygo X insurance: What can Toyota offer me?

Toyota Insurance Services has launched a competitive fixed price insurance product for the Aygo X. It arrives at a time when cost of living expenses are rising and there is a growing demand for stability in the price of essential outgoings.

Affordable, fully comprehensive Aygo X insurance from Toyota Insurance Services is fixed for the first year. Providing customers continue to meet the eligibility criteria, the premium is then capped at a maximum of £30 per month or £360 per year for the second and third year of cover. From year four onwards, qualifying customers can continue to be covered by a capped premium, though that cap will increase by up to one percent of the retail price index measured from 2022.

This product has a specific set of eligibility criteria, plus terms and conditions that customers will need to meet in order to qualify for this product. Click here to explore this offer more closely.

Aygo X insurance: official group ratings

Depending on grade and transmission choice, the new Toyota Aygo X has been given an insurance group rating of five, six or seven out of 50. The specific insurance group for each model is itemised below.

MODEL  TRANSMISSION  INSURANCE GROUP 
Aygo X Pure  Manual 
Aygo X Pure  Automatic 
Aygo X Edge  Manual 
Aygo X Edge  Automatic 
Aygo X Exclusive  Manual 
Aygo X Exclusive  Automatic 
Aygo X Limited Edition  Manual 
Aygo X Limited Edition  Automatic 

How do car insurance groups work?

Insurance group ratings were first introduced in the 1970s to help consumers get a basic understanding of the relative cost of an insurance premium for any specific vehicle. These numbers are applied based on repair or replacement costs, the level of passive and active safety equipment, as well as the statistical likelihood of each vehicle being involved in an accident based on its power and performance. Essentially, the higher the number, the more expensive that vehicle is to insure.

Today, the number rating for insurance groups extends from a minimum of one to a maximum of 50. These insurance groups are decided by the Group Rating panel, which is an adjudicating body administered by Thatcham Research. Its members include the likes of the Association of British Insurers and Lloyds Market Association.

What else can affect your insurance premium?

Insurance providers take a wide range of additional factors into account when calculating the cost of your premium. They will ask multiple questions about you, your driving history, occupation, where you live and how you plan to use your car. This information will help them calculate your individual risk and therefore provide a figure for your insurance premium.

Learn more: Aygo X media reviews

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