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.
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.
The Hyundai Santa Fe is a stylish crossover vehicle. Families will appreciate the utility, safety, and refinement of this vehicle.
The Santa Fe is available in two configurations; a five-passenger, short wheelbase Sport, and a six- or seven-passenger long-wheelbase. Each can be ordered with front- or all-wheel drive, the Santa Fe Sport is powered by a 190-hp 2.4-liter four cylinder engine, or a 264-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder. The larger Santa Fe uses a 290-hp 3.3-liter V6. A six-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC sends power to the wheels. Standard safety features include seven airbags, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, electronic stability control with traction control, and a tire pressure monitoring system. Available features include Blue Link telematics, 19-inch alloy wheels, power heated and ventilated leather seats, heated steering wheel, navigation system, and a panoramic sunroof.
R&T Overview:New on the thrifty Volt for 2012 is GM's MyLink system that pairs a smartphone with its audio system and voice control. The standard navigation system is now optional, shaving a few hundred dollars off the price of the compact. On the road with its large lithium battery charged, the innovative 4-seater will run up to 50 miles using only electricity, and beyond that distance a small 1.4-liter engine starts and turns a generator that powers the electric motor. A 9-gal. gasoline tank allows the car to run an additional 300 miles. The complex graphic gauges let the driver know what the electric and gasoline systems are doing, although some potential buyers we spoke with said that it takes a long learning curve to figure out how it all works.
R&T Overview:It's hard to stand out in a class defined by Mercedes-Benz and BMW, but the 2011 Audi A6/S6 sedans and wagon soldier on. Fortunately, they are exemplary soldiers, and prime examples of Audi’s ability to combine design, engineering and luxury. From the elegant, aggressive Audi front grille and sumptuous interior to the power and poise offered up by the lineup of V-6 and V-8 engines, every A6 earns its first-class reputation. Real wood, leather and brushed aluminum are not scarce. The superb handling advantages of Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive bless all but the front-drive base A6 model. And at the performance peak, the 435-bhp V-10 and Nappa leather sport seats in the Audi S6 just about provide the dictionary definition of “sports sedan.”