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 Honda Fit distinguishes itself from all other subcompacts with its impressive practicality thanks to four-door hatchback versatility and ingenious interior packaging.
The Fit offers five-passenger seating and a unique second-row "Magic Seat" that either folds flat with the cargo floor, or flips up to carry tall items behind the first row of seats. The Fit is available in two trim levels, base and Sport, both are powered by a 117-hp 1.5-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder engine with front-wheel drive and a choice of a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic. The Sport gets steering wheel mounted paddle shifters when equipped with the automatic transmission. Standard safety features include six airbags, security system, four-wheel anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution. The Sport adds many niceties such as alloy wheels, fog lights, leather steering wheel, and keyless entry. A navigation system is optional on the Sport.
The 2013 Audi A6 offers two powertrains, a 2.0 turbo and a newer 3.0 supercharged V6. The new S6 features a 420-hp twin-turbocharged V8 that replaces the old naturally aspirated V10. It's all about efficiency, now.
Audi's 2.0-liter turbo engine found in the A6 2.0T is certifiably smooth and relaxed at 80 mph, and is a fine choice if you're content with 211 horsepower. The CVT might not perform as well as the Quattro version with the 8-speed automatic transmission, but it's the best choice for fuel economy. And it costs about $8000 less.
The supercharged V6 in the 3.0T feels like the perfect midsize luxury car engine. All the speed you need, smooth acceleration and a nearly seamless 8-speed transmission. Fuel economy isn't bad, either with an EPA-estimated 19/28 mpg City/Highway, although we got a spectacular 31.6 mpg running with the cruise control set at 72 mph, on premium fuel. Puttering around town, we dropped as low as 16 mpg.
You can drive the A6 in a racy manner without holding back, assuming you know what you're doing and are doing it safely. The unibody chassis is stiffer and lighter, with aluminum hood, front fenders, and suspension bits; and things like laser welds between the roof and side panels make a difference in rigidity. The Servotronic steering is electromechanical and speed sensitive, meaning it gets more precise as the car goes faster.
The versatile suspension stays flat and with you all the way. Our A6 was equipped with the optional Sport Package, including 19-inch wheels with summer performance tires and firmer suspension tuning. Over speed bumps and sharp edges at slower speeds, the ride can surprise you with a small shot now and then, but over unsmooth pavement at 50 mph there's no discomfort.
Quattro all-wheel drive seamlessly shifts power between the front and rear wheels according to the available grip. While cruising on the highway, the front/rear power distribution is split 40/60, but depending on traction demands it can vary from 15/85 to 70/30.
The BMW 5-series puts an emphasis on the driving experience. Now starting its sixth generation, this mid-size luxury car remains a true sports sedan by delivering aggressive styling, precise handling and outstanding safety.
Available in rear- or xDrive all-wheel drive, the 550i features a 400-hp 4.4-liter, twin-turbo, V8 engine, with the choice of an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. Standard features include leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control with active micro-filtration, a 16-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system, HD radio, Bluetooth, 18-inch alloy wheels, voice-activated hard-drive based navigation system, and iDrive control system with integrated owner's manual. Safety is provided by six airbags, active anti-whiplash front head restraints, electronic traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, tire pressure monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, BMW Assist telematics, and bi-xenon adaptive headlights. An optional Park Assistant system will steer the car into a parallel parking space.
For 2013, the split fold-down rear seat is now standard equipment