(Toyota recall article updated with additional analysis of Toyota Motors recall and updated stock prices.)

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Toyota's ( TM) president Akio Toyoda -- who is also the grandson of the company's founder -- ended an exhausting week in tears. And the market seemed pleased bythat.

After a harrowing week of being grilled and probed by lawmakers in Washington, Toyota execs watched company stock rise 2% over the week to end Friday's trading session at $74.80. (Monday morning was a different story, with the stock slipping 1.6% to close at $73.64.)

The stock had also shot up 4.2% last Wednesday, the day of president Akio Toyoda's testimony, even though he expressed doubt on CNN's Larry King Live over how well his sincerity was conveyed.

For many, it seemed sincere enough. Toyota's media-shy president on Wednesday broke down in tears as he spoke in front of dealers at the National Press Club after the testimony.

"At the hearing, I was not alone. You and your colleagues, across America, around the world, were there with me," he told them. They responded with applause, as shown in a video on CNN.com.

During the last week of February, Toyoda; James Lentz, president of Toyota U.S. Sales; and Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota North America, were grilled by lawmakers in Washington over its recall of more than 8.5 million vehicles, due to sudden acceleration concerns.

Questions over whether the company had been hiding the true cause of the recalls were especially heated; while the automaker said that sticky accelerators and problematic floor mats caused the unintended accelerations, lawmakers suspect that the real issue lies with the vehicles' electronic throttle control systems, which would be much more troublesome and expensive to fix.

Lawmakers also took the opportunity to chastise Toyota executives for apparently saving massive quantities of money by negotiating recall limits and auto safety rules with government regulators -- earlier uncovered in an internal company document.

Traumatic driver testimony was also offered during the week, vividly demonstrating the human impact of these sudden acceleration problems.

Toyoda tried to address consumer fears during his testimony by describing how the company would approach auto-safety measures going forward and explaining why all this happened.

"Quite frankly, I fear the pace at which we have grown may have been too quick," Toyoda said to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He said the company's priorities has always been "first; safety, second; quality, and third; volume," but that "these priorities became confused, and we were not able to stop, think, and make improvements as much as we were able to before." He was trying to convey that growth had outpaced human resources development at the company.

Later on Larry King Live, Toyoda even went on to say, through a translator, that "another factor is that Toyota is a manufacturing company, but sometimes people say we are manufacturing money. And we must say there may have been a factor or that element within our organization."

Language and cultural barriers might have created challenges for Toyoda as he tried to placate the angry lawmakers who sat before him, but he tried his best to express his condolences in English on Wednesday.

"As you well know, I am the grandson of the founder, and all the Toyota vehicles bear my name," he said in a prepared testimony. "For me, when the cars are damaged, it is as though I am as well." This, after he extended his apologies to the Saylor family, who had lost four family members in a car crash in San Diego.

Subsequently, Toyoda outlined a plan for better quality-control management going forward, including recruiting outside experts, improving response times to customer concerns, establishing an automotive center of quality excellence and creating a new product-safety executive position.

"Even more importantly, I will ensure that members of the management team actually drive the cars," he said.

Toyota recently announced that it would extend additional repair services to all U.S. Toyota and Lexus customers affected by the recent recalls, just days after the automaker said it was hit by subpoenas over the sudden acceleration problems.

Due to the worsening Toyota news, S&P Equity Research says that it recently downgraded Toyota stock to hold from buy. S&P previously thought that the recall news was already mostly reflected in the Toyota share price, but modified its opinion as the press climate worsened amid news of the upcoming congressional hearings and flaws in the hybrid Prius' antilock brake system.

"Toyota is facing a difficult situation with a steep learning curve, because until now it has not really had to deal with such difficult issues," S&P Equity autos analyst Efraim Levy notes. "We now believe the negative news flow will likely continue for some time and could weigh on the shares, despite our favorable long-term view of Toyota's prospects."

S&P believes the strong brand reputation Toyota built up over decades will persist despite its current situation. In fact, it expects to see continued long-term growth in both the U.S. and overseas, especially in the emerging markets, led by China.

On Mar. 1, Toyoda made a special trip to Beijing to publicly apologize to Chinese consumers about Toyota's massive recalls and reassure them about the safety of the vehicles being sold in China.

S&P believes that Toyota should see volumes rise in the U.S. starting in 2010, with a rebound in industry demand. This rebound should compensate for any of its market share losses. S&P adds that Toyota's strong balance sheet and ample cash arms the company with the ability to win back consumers through improved warranty guarantees and cash incentives.

"So despite near-term costs, we expect overall sales and profits to grow during the next few years," Levy says.

In light of all this, we now ask you, readers of TheStreet, how are you feeling about Toyota now, in light of its president's testimony?

What is your opinion of Toyota, in light of its president Akio Toyoda's testimony last week?

I'm less trusting of Toyota cars now.
I trust Toyota cars as much as I did before.
I trust Toyota cars even more than before.
My impression of Ford has, by comparsion, improved.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York


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