Jim Dunne, who is widely recognized as the pioneer of automotive spy photography, died this Monday at age 87. We run a lot of spy photography stories here at Autoblog from photographers who have followed in Dunne's path, but the late Dunne essentially invented the art back in the 1960s. There may have been the stray photo of a prototype run in some publications previous to him, but Dunne created the spy photography game as it is today. Dunne is going to be missed by many. Brian Williams, a fellow spy photographer and close friend of Dunne's gave us a snapshot into Dunne himself and his relationship with him. "To be honest he was like a grandfather to me. He was a good man. He was a mentor. He was just a really good person," Williams says. Getting inside Dunne's inner circle wasn't always the easiest thing to do, though. "He was a tough one," Williams told us. "He wouldn't let everybody in. He was one of those ones where you had to gain his friendship, you had to work for it. But once you got it … it couldn't be touched. He will be truly missed." Williams may not have known Dunne when he was starting out in the early days of spy photography, but he's come up in the business with Dunne by his side on many occasions. "I've known him for about 10 years," Williams continues. "I've seen him out in Death Valley. We'd get our lunches together. If I saw him in Dearborn or Milford I'd flag him down, and we'd sit and talk. I'd hop in his GMC Envoy and just sit and talk about stuff. Even phone calls if I had some kind of issue in my life or something." Dunne started his spy photography work when he was with Popular Science, followed by Popular Mechanics. His photos have appeared in numerous publications and websites since. If you aren't completely up to speed with spy photography, know that it's photographers taking photos the manufacturers typically don't want taken. A lot of the time these photographers have to brave horrific conditions and endless hours of waiting just to get that one pivotal shot of the next Corvette, Mustang or whatever new vehicle it is they're hunting that day. Dunne would expose new models and prototypes before the car companies wanted the public to see them. Why do the manufacturers want the cars kept secret? Because if folks see there's a newer and better model coming out, they may be less likely to go buy the car that's sitting on the dealer lot today. It's widely known that car companies jokingly hung up "Wanted" posters of Dunne in their offices, as they all knew he was out there waiting to photograph the next new model to roll out. His legacy lives on through the many spy photographers that follow in his footsteps. Those that were friends with him, loved him. It's clear that we'll forever be missing Jim Dunne.
It seems like we've been writing "the Toyota Sienna enters yet another year without a full redesign" forever at this point. The current generation dates back to 2011 and is continuing into year 10 as we detail in our 2020 Toyota Sienna review. Now, there was a substantial overhaul of its interior and structure for 2015, while the powertrain was replaced two years later, and other important updates to its feature content made thereafter. In the meantime, though, the Kia Sedona and Honda Odyssey were completely redesigned and the Chrysler Pacifica became a thing. The Nissan Quest was reborn and died again. Nobody seemed to notice. Anyway, the Toyota Sienna is extremely long in the tooth, but these fresh spy photos would indicate it's finally going to see the dentist. That's how that metaphor works, right? Though covered in copious black plastic, this is most definitely not yet another warmed over version of the current van. Note the door mirrors migrating to the doors and the little quarter window above it now residing adjacent to the main front side window rather than within the A pillar. The rear quarter also appears quite different, possibly indicating some sort of rising element not unlike the Lexus RX. Of course, that bit of camouflage could also be a leftover from an old RX test vehicle being used to throw us off, but it seems likely that Toyota would try to make that area more interesting given its recent over-the-top styling as well as what was done with the past two Honda Odysseys. The big wheels, lower grille mesh and flared rocker panels suggest that this particular next-generation Sienna is an SE, the "sportier" trim level that boasts tighter suspension and steering tuning (current version shown above). Much like it did with the recently redesign Camry and Avalon, it seems reasonable to assume that the dynamic gap between the Sienna's LE and SE trim levels would narrow given the handling improvements inherent to Toyota's TNG platform that assuredly underpins its new minivan. Despite the new platform, we expect the current powertrain to carry over mostly unchanged apart from perhaps a minor power bump. We also wouldn't be surprised to see a new Sienna Hybrid, as most TNG cars are available as hybrids. Would it be a plug-in as the Chrysler Pacifica hybrid is? That's questionable. Given how comprehensively wrapped this test vehicle is, it seems like the next-generation Sienna is awfully close to completion. We wouldn't be surprised to see it shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November or even earlier. Sales probably wouldn't be too long after. That would certainly help explain why the 2020 Sienna was announced so early.
Here's our first look at what we think is the next-gen Nissan Rogue, and it looks like Nissan is shaking it up this time. The swoopy and swept-back design on the current Rogue's front end is nowhere to be found, as it's replaced by a blocky, straight up and down look. If not for the semi-visible V-Motion grille seen through the wrappings, it would be rather difficult to I.D. this car.
Much of that is due to the rather generic crossover shape seen through the camouflage. The closest thing to a Rogue-like concept car we've seen from Nissan as of late is the Xmotion, and this doesn't exactly take much inspiration from the wild concept. That particular car is much more rugged in appearance, while this one remains a staid crossover, making sure it doesn't rock the boat. One specific design element we can pick out is a separate headlight/driving light setup. Similar to cars like the Hyundai Santa Fe or Chevrolet Blazer, the Rogue appears to be splitting up the DRL from the main headlight. The size of the gap between the two visible headlight fixtures is just too large for it all to be one massive headlight unit. With headlights getting smaller all the time, and this design trend starting to take off, it's no big surprise to see it here.
One of our spy photographers caught a Toyota Tundra prototype truck out testing, and we were tempted to write it off as another light refresh of a truck with roots in 2007, especially since the cab is unchanged. But then we noticed that Toyota went to great pains to make sure no one could see the rear axle and suspension. Vinyl coverings lurk in the wheel wells, and bristles line the edges of the bed. So we suspect Toyota has done something interesting with the rear end.
What could it be? Well, based on the shock mounts, it looks like it will retain a solid rear axle, which makes sense considering full-size truck buyers might frown on independent rear suspension. We think Toyota may be working on a coil-sprung rear suspension similar to what the Ram 1500 uses. Air springs could be another possibility. This is speculation, but our theory is supported by what looks like a locating link in one of the images, which would be necessary with coil springs or air springs as neither provide natural fore and aft positioning the way leaf packs do.
Although we've seen most of the production Toyota Supra, albeit in race car form, we still haven't seen the final interior. And most of the time, the prototype test drivers keep the interior well-covered. These new spy shots help give us a more complete picture of the interior, providing us a look at the instrument panel.
Unsurprisingly, the gauge cluster features big screens for vehicle information and for speed. It does appear to have a nice big analog tachometer square in the middle, though. That tachometer is also augmented by a digital readout of the rpm at the base of the cluster. To the right and left are more conventional illuminated gauges for fuel and temperature.
SupraMkV.com has been on a roll this week with info about the new Toyota Supra. The forum shared images and specifications that leaked in a Japanese car magazine of the race-ready model that Toyota teased. Now the forum has shared an up-close photo of a Supra in the thinnest camouflage we've seen yet. Because of this, we can tell that the leaked photos from the car magazine appear to be spot-on.
Although the front bumper is partly obscured, we can see that the Supra does indeed have that tall center grille inlet seen in the leaked images. The line dividing it from the flanking grilles clearly extends a bit higher than the side grilles. We can also just barely make out the outline of the headlights, which narrow down significantly as they stretch to the middle. Basically, it looks like what we saw in the leaked images. Other details that match up with those photos are the little air inlets under the headlights and the vent in the rear fender. The design of the wheels matches, too.
The Toyota Corolla is, if you count all the different vehicles sold under that nameplate together, a wildly successful car. The current Corolla is also an excellent commuter, practical and inoffensive, which returns decent economy with simple hardware. That's no backhanded compliment: a great many consumers seek simple, affordable, worry-free transportation and that's the Corolla's jam.
And if you consider the 2020 Toyota Corolla, it should be that sedan's jam too. The big deal is that it'll move to the Toyota New Global Architecture, although we already heard rumors of that and it makes perfect sense. After all, the original Prius' platform underpinned a wide variety of Corolla-sized cars all over the world, up to and including our current one (in revised form). Switching to the TNGA platform already under the Prius, C-HR and 2018 Camry just makes sense.
The redesigned 2019 Honda Pilot has been spied by a CarScoops reader in Mojave, California.
While the third-generation model is only a couple of years old, it appears the company is preparing to give its three-row crossover a facelift to keep it competitive with newer rivals such as the Chevrolet Traverse.