Getting the Corolla right is of utmost importance to Toyota, which has moved nearly 40 million units over 10 different body styles since the nameplate debuted in 1966. Last night, Autosavant was invited to witness the unveiling of the 11th-generation, 2014 Corolla at its North American debut, in Santa Monica, Calif., and to see if the newest, more style-driven model is worthy of the Corolla name.
The Lexus ES, the brand’s popular entry-level luxury sedan since its introduction nearly 23 years ago, is all-new for the 2013 model year, following the introduction of the latest Toyota Camry last year. Equally as important for the sixth-generation ES is the introduction of a hybrid option for the first time: the ES 300h. For Lexus, the brand that made the hybrid luxury vehicle a green commodity, some of its recent efforts (see: the recent fate of the HS250h) did not bear copious fruit. Is the market clamoring for an ES hybrid? Lexus recently invited Autosavant to sample both models at a regional event in northern New Jersey. Continue Reading →
By Charles Krome
To say the all-new 2012 VW Passat is having a successful launch could be the understatement of the year: Volkswagen’s all-American mid-size sedan reaped a tidy 986.2 percent increase in sales last month, and although that’s partially because VW only sold 464 of them in October 2010, the bottom line here—5,040 deliveries—is a fairly strong achievement. To put that into context, that total is higher than the October sales for cars like the Ford Mustang, Hyundai Accent or Nissan Maxima. Then, just a few days ago, the new Passat added to the sales excitement by being named Motor Trend 2012 Car of the Year.
On the odd chance anyone missed it, Toyota has now unveiled the 2012 Camry, which is obviously a rather big deal for the automaker—and the U.S. market, of course. Toyota’s mid-size sedan has been the best-selling car in the U.S. for nine straight years, and 13 of the last 14; what’s even more amazing is that it also was back at the top of the heap in July, despite the production challenges poised by this spring’s disasters in Japan and any lingering effects of the Great Toyota Recallathon.
By Roger Boylan
The world is divided into two kinds of drivers: real drivers—let’s call them “real drivers”–and the rest. Usually, I’m the first kind, a “real driver,” who, even on the way to the supermarket, or on a boring commute, is aware of what he’s driving, how it looks, and what it’s capable of. Occasionally, however, when I’m fed up, hungover or ill, I’m one of the rest. I care as little as possible about the shell around me and the mechanics underfoot and just want the sight of home and bed. Most drivers fall into the latter category all the time; they’re the ones driving the old Buicks with masking tape on their windows and the oxidized Honda Civics with Obamanos bumper stickers: the “just get me from A to B” types.
By Charles Krome
First, let me acknowledge that I’ve been on a bit of a streak with Ford coverage, but that’s just synchronicity—I’m not really working undercover for the Blue Oval. Of course, my review of the Lincoln MKS should be enough proof of that.
Okay, now on to the Ford Fusion, which, as is always the case, was provided to me with a full tank of gas by its automaker.
By Charles Krome
When fellow Savant Roger Boylan reviewed the 2011 Toyota Camry at the beginning of March, he kicked things off with a relatively controversial point: That Toyota’s midsize sedan suffered from a sort of reverse snobbism, with customers (and critics) automatically complaining about how bland and un-engaging it is based solely on the badge it wears. Well, not only do I think he’s spot on with his analysis, but I’m also going to extend it to what’s often considered the epitome of Toyota’s soulless creations, the 2011 Avalon—which I recently drove for a week courtesy of the fine folks at Toyota.
The Avalon is aimed at buyers who prefer what’s loosely termed “traditional American luxury.” That means vehicles that offer a relatively large footprint, strong straight-line acceleration, restrained styling and presence, and a boatload of comfort and convenience features. It’s a shrinking niche, but the number of potential cars that fit the bill is shrinking even faster, so volume does remain for the automakers that continue to reach out to these customers.
By Chris Haak
Thanks to the likes of the Mazda3 (and MazdaSpeed3), MX5 Miata, and the diminutive Mazda2 subcompact, Mazda has staked out its claim as the “Zoom-Zoom” car company for years. It’s not exactly “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” but it has perhaps more meaning than “We Build Excitement” did against a backdrop of the Pontiac 6000 and Daewoo-builtLeMans did.
We now find the Mazda6 in the middle of its life cycle, and its competitors are not slowing down their pace of improvement. During the week that I spent evaluating the Mazda6 S, I found that the car had plenty of zoom from its big 3.7 liter V6 (which produces a class-leading 272 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque), but that the car lost a bit of its handling prowess into its transition from a lithe midsizer into a super-sized Americanized midsize sedan.
By Charles Krome
While the 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Limited came to my driveway loaded up with goodies, the most important thing the car brought with it wasn’t on the spec sheet. I’m talking here about expectations. As the car that nearly singlehandedly pulled Hyundai into the mainstream, the 2011 Sonata came with a strong reputation for satisfying customers, and I was particularly looking forward to seeing how it lived up to that rep. Of course, first I had to get used to seeing the vehicle itself.
I’d always been surprised that a car with such a relatively radical design was attracting so many customers, but after living with the Sonata for just a few days, most of its exterior design cues began to grow on me. The sedan’s silhouette is much sleeker than you might think at first glance, and it takes a nice stance on the road, with a surprisingly aggressive look that’s well enhanced by the character line flowing through its door handles. That character line blends backward into the Sonata’s tail-lights nicely, too, and the way the D-pillar flows down into the trunk area almost pulls off an Audi-esque feel. If I never had to look at the front of the car, I would have given the Sonata’s exterior a definite “thumbs up.”
By Roger Boylan
“What’s in a name?” famously asked the Bard in Romeo and Juliet, his meaning plain: not much (“…a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet”). But he wasn’t talking about cars, was he? The automotive snob value that inheres in having a Lexus nameplate on your daily wheels instead of a Toyota one, or an Infiniti badge instead of Nissan, is partly what keeps those luxury marques afloat. So, knowing that a new test vehicle of modest marque was arriving last Wednesday, but not wanting to be influenced by that fact, I played a game with myself. I pretended I had no idea what make or model it was, just that it was a… car.
Hello, car! I said, when the mysterious stranger rolled up. I was impressed. What a handsome machine. Muscular and aerodynamic; jet black, with sculpted flanks, bright alloy wheels, tinted windows, foglights embedded in restrained but eye-catching forward spoiler, snazzy side rocker panels. Just enough chrome to offset the ebony, but not enough to be garish. A muscular stance, like a Charger. An elegant black-out grille, reminiscent of some Mercedes designs; a handsome rear wing atop a rear end à la post-Bangle BMW. Truly, a fine-looking car, one you’d be proud to cruise around in. A real head-turner.
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