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 Dodge Durango is a full-size SUV with stable handling and impressive good looks. Inside is a quiet, roomy, and comfortable cabin.
Available with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive the Durango includes a 290-hp 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 as standard and has an available 360-hp Hemi 5.7-liter V8 engine. The Hemi includes the Multiple Displacement System (MDS) for better fuel economy. The R/T trim comes standard with the Hemi engine. A 5-speed automatic transmission is matched with the 3.6-liter V6, a 6-speed transmission is included with the 5.7-liter V8. The Durango is offered in four models: SXT, Crew, Citadel, and R/T. The Durango seats seven passengers with its folding third-row seat. Standard safety features include electronic stability control, six airbags, and active head restraints. Available features include HID headlamps, a premium radio with Garmin navigation and DVD, a rear seat entertainment system, leather upholstery, and a trailer tow package.
The 2014 Chevrolet Suburban retains the same maximum-size virtues that have made it a bestseller for so many years. It remains the first choice for anyone who needs to haul six or more people plus their cargo.
The Suburban 1500 is available in LS, LT, and LTZ trims in both two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. It can seat up to nine passengers in its three rows of seats. The standard engine is a 320-hp 5.3-liter flexible-fuel V8 with Active Fuel Management technology, and is matched with a six-speed automatic transmission. All-disc anti-lock brakes, traction control, side curtain airbags and GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability system with rollover mitigation are standard.
For 2014, the Chevrolet Suburban 1500 is carried over. Power adjustable pedals, a rear parking camera, and remote engine start are now standard on the LS trim.
All-wheel drive makes the Subaru Legacy an excellent choice for anyone who wants a midsize sedan capable of handling the worst weather. These cars are particularly enjoyable to drive through the mountains where winding roads may be dry, wet, icy or covered with snow. However, responsive handling, respectable performance and handsome styling make the Legacy enjoyable to own even when the sun is shining and the roads are dry.
All Legacy models are sedans. If you want a wagon, check out the Outback. Among midsize sedans, the Legacy doesn't seem overly large, thanks to relatively short overhangs front and rear and a coupe-like roofline. Distinctive styling helps the Legacy stand apart from other midsize sedans. Aggressive wheel arches are complemented with edged flares.
The 2012 Legacy offers a choice of three powertrains: Legacy 2.5i comes with a 2.5-liter single-overhead cam four-cylinder, Legacy 2.5GT features a turbocharged double overhead-cam four-cylinder, while the Legacy 3.6R has a 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine. All are Subaru's signature horizontally opposed engines, two flat-4s and a flat-6, which keep the center of gravity low for improved handling.
The Subaru Legacy 2.5i gets good fuel economy and we found it effortless to drive, especially with the optional continuously variable transmission: put it in Drive and go. The Legacy 2.5GT is sporty and fun to drive with its turbocharged engine and manual gearbox. The Legacy 3.6R has strong low-rpm power from its big six-cylinder engine for excellent drivability; it's powerful and luxurious. All of them are enjoyable to drive and offer good handling, the benefits of all-wheel drive, a low center of gravity and nicely tuned suspensions.
Inside, the Legacy is wonderfully comfortable, with high-quality interior trim. We particularly liked the perforated leather on the Limited models. These aren't luxury cars, but they are premium cars in terms of the quality of materials and the engineering that goes into them. Front- and rear-seat legroom is adequate. Trunk space measures 14.7 cubic feet, average for the segment.