Posts from ‘Sedans’
Well, maybe it doesn’t look quite like Yogi Bear, but from this angle the steering wheel with the speedometer and tachometer look like the face of an old-time cartoon character. Felix the Cat? Something. This design faux pas reminds me of the smiley face front grille on some of the Mazdas a couple years back.
Jokes aside, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class has long been one of the finest cars in the world, and the hands-down favorite of Consumer Guide Publisher Tom Appel. Today, Mercedes revealed photos of the 2014 version, the first time the car has been redesigned since 2007.
Regarding the redesign, Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche stated that “our aspirations were ‘the best or nothing’ in every respect.” Yet not surprisingly, exterior styling was only modestly changed. The S-Class is slightly wider and boasts a larger grille. The car’s driver-assistance packages include 30 features, including 11 that are new or significantly enhanced.
Keep following the Daily Drive and Consumer Guide Automotive for more details on the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. In the meantime, enjoy the photographs (and try not to giggle).
As luck would have it, the Consumer Guide test fleet contains both a 2013 Hyundai Azera and a 2013 Hyundai Sonata Limited this week. The former is Hyundai’s entry into the “near luxury” large-car segment; it competes against the Chevrolet Impala, Kia Cadenza, and Toyota Avalon. The latter is the ritziest trim level of Hyundai’s mainstream midsize car. We thought it would be enlightening to examine these stablemates side-by-side to see exactly what the Azera delivers over the Sonata.
Our Azera tester is essentially loaded. It’s equipped with the $4,000 Technology Package, which includes high-end features such as a panoramic sunroof, Infinity audio system, HID headlights, rear park assist, and power rear sunshade with manual side sunshades. The total sticker price? $37,225.
Our Sonata Limited is technically not the true top-of-the-line model—it has the 198-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, not the available 274-hp turbocharged 2.0 four. However, it is otherwise loaded. It’s equipped with the $2,900 Premium Package, which adds a panoramic sunroof, navigation system with backup camera, and Infinity audio system. Its sticker price checks in at $29,655. (The 2.0 Turbo version adds 18-inch wheels in place of 17s and tacks on another $1,750 to the bottom line.)
Bob Lutz has accomplished more in his golden years than most auto execs do in a lifetime. At age 69, Lutz became General Motors’ Vice Chairman of Product Development and helped create cars such as the Cadillac CTS, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Malibu, Buick Enclave, Buick LaCrosse, and Pontiac Solstice. He also championed the electric/gas Chevrolet Volt before withdrawing from an active roll at GM in 2009. Now at age 81, Lutz is launching a high-performance sedan, the VL Destino.
Gilbert Villarreal, a self-made millionaire in the auto components industry, decided that replacing the hybrid powertrain of a Fisker Karma with a Chevrolet Corvette engine was a great idea. Villareal turned to friend and business partner in VL (Villareal Lutz) watches, Bob Lutz, to make it happen. Lutz says he starts with a well-engineered car and adds a well-engineered drivetrain. The German engineering firm that helped bring about the Fisker Karma (as well as the Porsche Panamera) is engineering the changes needed for the engine transplant.
Transforming the Chevrolet Impala from a midsize to a large car on a new platform for the 2014 model year brought with it the opportunity (if not the need) to completely alter the exterior styling of the brand’s flagship 4-door sedan. Toward that end, designers integrated updates of current Chevy appearance cues with a few gentle nods to the nameplate’s long history.
A deliberately “retro” car was never the plan, however, according to John Cafaro, director of North American passenger-car exterior design at General Motors. The charge to the styling staff was to appreciate the Impala’s historical significance to Chevrolet while designing a modern sedan, Cafaro said.
Frontal styling is still dominated by the twin-port grille theme that has established the Chevy look in recent years. In a departure from recent practice, though, the ’14 Impala’s upper grille opening extends fully from headlight to headlight. It’s also larger than the lower opening, a reverse of the proportions found on other Chevys that use the twin-vent concept. Thick horizontal bars within the grille cavities take the place of finer meshlike textures.
After much publicity regarding the brand’s change of nomenclature, Infiniti revealed the first model to carry the “Q” designation, the 2014 Q50 sedan, at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.
As part of a new marketing effort to clarify the arrangement of the model lineup for new markets, the company will be rebadging all of its vehicles with new labels: Q for cars, QX for SUVs and crossovers.
The Q50 premium-midsize sedan will be available with two engine options: a V6 or hybrid powertrain. The V6 is a 3.7-liter unit that produces 328 horsepower. The Hybrid is composed of a 3.5-liter V6 paired with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack for a total of 354 horsepower. Both powerplants are paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission that comes with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Speaking of steering, the Q50 has a new available steering system that relies on electric motors to transmit the driver’s inputs to the front wheels. This is accomplished by interpreting the driver’s intentions and independently controlling each wheel to deliver the outcome the driver wants. A mechanical steering system is present, but works only as a backup. We assume it’s installed in case of an electrical power loss. Four different drive modes modify the effort required and steering gear ratio. Both powertrains are offered with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.
Mercedes-Benz was busy at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. Headlining the German luxury brand’s exhibit was its family of revamped E-Class cars.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class returns in 2-door coupe and convertible as well as 4-door sedan and wagon body styles. All versions receive updated interior and exterior styling as well as a host of new convenience and safety features.
Under the hood, the E-Class sedan will reprise E350 and E550 variants. The former uses a 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine while the latter has a turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 with 402 horsepower. New for 2014 is the E250 BlueTEC, which employs a 190-horsepower 2.1-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder. Similarly new is the E400 HYBRID, which uses the E350’s V6 engine paired with a 27-horsepower electric motor. The E250, E350, and E400 have rear-wheel drive. Available on the 350 and standard on the E550 is Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive. The wagon comes only in E350 form with standard all-wheel drive.
Coupes and convertibles similarly come in E350 and E550 variants, each with rear-wheel drive. An AWD E350 4MATIC coupe is part of the roster, too. The 350’s engine mirrors that of its sedan counterpart, while the 550s get a 402-horsepower 4.6-liter turbocharged V8.
The odds are against this. Against me having driven, in a row, three cars that I would either buy myself of recommend without hesitation. But so it happened. In order, I drove newly redesigned 2013 copies of the Lexus ES 350, Volkswagen Passat TDI (manual), and Honda Accord Sport.
I’m not currently in the market for a car, but if I were, the Accord and Passat would make the short list of candidates. The ES is a wee rich for my blood, and a wee staid, but were my father to call for a new-car suggestion (and if we wasn’t a staunch buy-American guy), I would eagerly direct him toward the ES.
2013 Honda Accord Sport
There’s something inherently honest about a base vehicle with nice wheels and a sport suspension. It’s that same honesty that permeates this bargain-priced wonder sedan. For under $24,000, a savvy buyer can haul in a good-looking, decent-handling, quick-enough ride with a roomy cabin and decent fuel economy.
In one of the most anticipated reveals of the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, Honda pulled the wraps off the 2013 Civic.
We won’t blame you if you think this is a bit strange, considering that Honda redesigned the Civic for the 2012 model year. Though company officials won’t admit it, the changes to the 2013 model are largely in response to some unaccustomed criticism. Most of it centered around the car’s interior materials and noise/vibration/harshness (NVH).
The 2013 Honda Civic will return in coupe and sedan body styles. Coupes get slightly updated front and rear fascias. The Sedan’s changes are a bit more dramatic, with a redesigned front and rear end. The interior layout is largely the same as the 2012, but materials quality sees noticeable improvement. All models will now come with Honda’s i-MID dashboard screen, Bluetooth wireless cell-phone link, and the ability to stream Pandora Internet Radio from a supported smartphone.
Trim levels for the Coupe and Sedan include LX, EX, EX-L, and sporty Si. Exclusive to the Sedan are a gas/electric Hybrid, a version powered by compressed natural gas, and a high-fuel-efficiency conventional model called the HF. The entry-level Civic DX is gone.
After a couple lean years, Mazda is launching a double-barreled attack on two of the auto industry’s most competitive segments for the 2014 model year. The left-hand jab comes in the form of a more-powerful version of its CX-5 compact SUV. What the company hopes will be the right haymaker is its redesigned 6 midsize sedan.
Let’s touch on the 2014 Mazda CX-5. Introduced for the 2013 model year, this compact SUV marked the brand’s first application of its SKYACTIV suite of technologies. SKYACTIV is Mazda’s holistic approach to improving fuel efficiency. Every part of the vehicle, from the engine to the transmission and body structure, has been reworked to provide better gas mileage while retaining the fun-to-drive character that’s been a brand hallmark. CX-5 delivers on these promises while returning outstanding-for-the-class fuel economy. It’s for these reasons that we named this compact SUV a Consumer Guide Best Buy.
For 2014, the entry-level CX-5 Sport will retain the 2013’s 155-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and choice of a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The volume Touring and top-line Grand Touring will receive a new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower. The sole transmission for these models is a 6-speed automatic. Despite the added power, EPA-estimated fuel economy is still impressive for the class: 25 mpg city/32 mpg highway with front-wheel drive and 24/30 with the optional all-wheel drive.
The 2014 Kia Forte sports a brand-new look, with cues inspired by the brand’s Optima midsize sedan. The car is longer, lower, and wider than the outgoing model, and it has a roomier interior and more available power.
Forte will follow Kia convention by offering base LX and uplevel EX trim levels. There was no mention of a sporty SX, though we wouldn’t be surprised to see one appear at one of the 2013 auto shows. Standard amenities include steering-wheel audio controls, satellite radio, a Bluetooth wireless cell-phone link, and the usual complement of power accessories. Cruise control and remote keyless entry are optional, as is an Eco Package that includes dual-zone automatic climate control and engine idle stop/start.
The EX adds a rearview camera, a cooled glovebox, and the next generation of Kia’s UVO infotainment system. Options include a navigation system, leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, a cooled driver seat, a sunroof, and keyless entry with pushbutton engine start.