It's no secret that Lexus is a division of Toyota and that many of its vehicles are based on more plebian Toyota products. So it stands to reason that when a new Toyota model bows, its Lexus equivalent will soon follow suit. Such is the case with the new ES 350. Based on the new Toyota Camry introduced last year, the all-new 2013 ES builds on this proven platform with oodles of luxury features and the refinement you'd expect from a Lexus. Now in its sixth generation, the new ES features edgier styling outside and standard NuLuxe synthetic leather inside. The real stuff is also available, as are a number of luxury option packages. Feeling green? Then go for the new Lexus ES 300h hybrid, for an EPA estimated 40 mpg city/39 mpg highway.
Lexus pulled the veil off its new ES today at the New York International Auto Show. There will be two models offered, the ES 350 and ES 300h. The ES 350 is powered by a gasoline 3.5-liter V6 engine with Dual VVT-i that produces 268 bhp. It comes mated to Lexus’ electronically controlled transmission with intelligence (ECT-i) that’s been designed to deliver good performance, smoother shifts and improved fuel efficiency through use of low friction materials. The ES 300h is a hybrid version of the sedan that features a new low-friction VVT-i-equipped 2.5-liter inline-4 Atkinson-cycle engine that utilizes a sophisticated power management system and has a 12.5:1 compression ratio. This engine, combined with a beltless electric motor, is designed to improve fuel economy and durability, and a near zero evaporative fuel system helps reduce emissions. Power will be 200 hp combined. The ES 300h hybrid offers four driving modes: Normal, Sport, Eco and EV, the last allowing short drives at reduced speed, using only the power from the hybrid battery pack. Normal mode provides a blend of performance and efficiency that is suited to everyday driving, while Eco mode favors fuel economy. Sport mode increases performance and responsiveness. Lexus says the ES 300h will get 39/40 mpg city/highway.
The new ES ought to handle better than its predecessor, thanks to suspension and steering changes and a stiffer body. Opposite-wound coil springs on the front suspension enhance straight-line stability, while revised rear suspension geometry and improved shock absorber damping characteristics enhance ride comfort. A reduction in the steering gear ratio delivers better steering feel. Increased body rigidity is achieved through lightweight, high tensile strength steel, added bracing and additional spot welds. Despite the car’s larger size, the weight of the new ES is reduced by almost 90 pounds.
The ES will be equipped with standard 215/55R-17 low rolling resistance tires on 17-inch alloy wheels, and for the first time, available 18-inch high-gloss alloy wheels.
The car’s exterior design adopts the new Lexus signature “spindle” grille, making it look remarkably similar to the new GS sedan, but this isn’t a bad thing. The new ES features a lower, progressive profile and clean, continuous styling lines from front to rear. The wheelbase of the new ES has been lengthened by 1.8 inches, while the overall length of the vehicle has grown by just one inch, resulting in a more spacious interior. Look for the new ES to reach dealer showrooms in August of this year.
The Chevrolet Malibu emphasizes civilized road manners, quality construction and practicality, with clean, contemporary styling.
The 2014 Malibu is available in LS, LT, LTZ and Eco trims and with a choice of three engines, each backed by a six-speed automatic transmission. The base engine is a direct-injected 196-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that for 2014 features auto stop/start. Available engines include a 259-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and for the Eco trim a 182-hp 2.4-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine with an eAssist system that enables regenerative braking, start-stop functionality, and electric power assistance. Standard safety features include 10 airbags, stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, and OnStar with RemoteLink and Turn-by-Turn navigation. Available features include a seven-inch touchscreen radio display and Chevrolet MyLink Touch with streaming audio.
For 2014 the Malibu carries over with minor interior and exterior styling changes and some upgrades to the list of standard features for the Eco trim.
Those who live life large and want a coupe to match would do well to consider the Mercedes CL-Class. Loaded with luxury and charisma, the CL550 sports a 4.7-liter bi-turbo direct-injection V-8 with 429 bhp and 4Matic all-wheel drive. The C63 AMG ups the ante with a 536-bhp 5.5-liter V-8, Eco stop-start technology, 7-speed multiclutch automatic transmission, sport suspension and unique styling cues. Moving up to the CL600 nets a 5.5-liter V-12 with 510 bhp. The range-topping CL65 AMG boosts 6.0-liter V-12 output to 621 bhp. A new spotlight function for the Night View Assist Plus safety feature coordinates infrared headlights and a night-vision camera to identify and warn roadside pedestrians while alerting the driver on a display screen.
Taller, wider and longer the Toyota 4Runner is a sport utility vehicle that combines true off-road competence with everyday driving comfort, refinement and safety. Refreshed and updated inside and out for 2014 the mid-size 4Runner is a distinctive choice in the SUV market.
The SR5 and Limited trims are available in rear- or four-wheel drive. A Trail Edition with rear locking differential, crawl control, rock rails and moonroof is only available in four-wheel drive. Each trim has a five-speed automatic transmission and a 270-hp 4.0-liter V6 engine. An optional third-row seat expands passenger capacity to seven. Stability control, traction control, 12 airbags and roll-over sensors are standard. The 4Runner now includes Toyotas' Entune Audio Plus infotainment system and a rearview camera as standard equipment. Premium audio with navigation, SmartKey keyless entry with pushbutton start, front and rear sonar system, and a power moonroof are all available features.