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.
Like its big brother the X5, the raked-roof X6 enters 2012 with little change, but the expectation of a freshening for 2013. Separating itself from the slightly less expensive X5, the X6 gives up practicality for its swoopy styling. This unfortunately, limits rear seating to only two, making the X6 positively inefficient. The X5 gets identical fuel economy numbers and is larger. What's more, the X6 doesn't offer a diesel. Instead, there's an ActiveHyrbid model that combines its twin-turbo V-8 with dual-electric motors to produce 575 lb.-ft. of torque while still retaining a respectable 17/19 mpg. When it comes to sitting behind the wheel of a sporting behemoth, no vehicle defies physics as well as the X6 M.
The modern Nissan 370Z falls in line with the Z cars of the past. Designed with performance, style and value in mind, it's a pure two-seater sports car in every respect.
The 370Z is offered in both coupe and roadster body styles, with three trim levels: Base, Touring, and the track-inspired NISMO edition (coupe only). The Base and Touring models are powered by a 332-hp 3.7-liter V6 engine, paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed automatic with manual mode and paddle shifters. The performance-oriented NISMO boasts a 350-hp 3.7-liter V6, mated to a six-speed manual transmission with SyncroRev Match, providing smooth and seamless transitions from gear to gear. The Base trim is equipped with bi-xenon HID headlamps, 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, a CD player and the Nissan Intelligent Key passive entry system with push-button start; Touring trims are further outfitted with heated leather-appointed seats, satellite radio and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. An available Sport package for Base and Touring trims adds items that are standard on the NISMO, including 19-inch forged alloy wheels, spoilers, a limited slip differential, larger sport brakes and SynchroRev Match with the manual transmission. Safety features found on every 370Z include six airbags, electronic stability and traction control systems, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, active anti-whiplash head restraints, LED tail lights and a tire pressure monitoring system.
For those looking to recapture the spirit of a 1960s ponycar but prefer to leave the old-school mannerisms behind, consider the Dodge Challenger. Regarding style, the 2011 Challenger is on the same page as its predecessor, particularly when dressed with the SE Rallye or R/T Classic package. Inside, the Challenger offers the quality you’d expect from a modern-day interpretation of the original, plus more spacious accommodations for rear seat passengers and luggage than its contemporaries. The V-6 model can’t maximize the Challenger’s ambitions, but add the 5.7-liter Hemi and many sins are forgiven. Better yet, tap the mighty 6.1-liter Hemi SRT8 and you’ve got a road ripper that combines top ride quality (for a true musclecar), legacy styling and sheer brawn.