For its fifth generation, Avalon received an all-encompassing makeover by Toyota’s U.S.-based design, engineering, and manufacturing entities at Calty Design Research Inc. (Calty) in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Toyota Motor North America Research and Development (TMNA R&D) in Saline, Michigan; and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) in Georgetown, Kentucky, respectively. Spearheaded by Chief Engineer, Randy Stephens, and Calty President, Kevin Hunter, the brain trust masterminded an Avalon that represents multilateral progressiveness – for itself, its diverse group of drivers, and, for Toyota.
The teams minded two keywords throughout their development paradigm: Authenticity and Exhilaration. Both were applied in every area of Avalon’s sophisticated essence, and throughout the four available grades: the athletic XSE (all-new) and Touring, as well as the more opulent XLE and Limited. HV grades include XLE, Limited, and XSE.
TestDriveNow Overview: Honda Insight 2019 Quick Takes. The 2019 Honda Insight offers class-leading power and passenger space, universally appealing styling, and received a 55 mpg2 city from the EPA (LX/EX), while simultaneously bringing a new level of driving sophistication and style to the compact hybrid market. The 2019 Insight joins an expanding lineup of electrified Honda vehicles that includes the Clarity series – Clarity Fuel Cell, Clarity Electric and Clarity Plug-In Hybrid – and the recently introduced Accord Hybrid. These models represent the next generation of Honda vehicles as the company advances toward its global initiative to grow electrified vehicle sales to two-thirds by 2030
TestDriveNow Overview: Mazda Mazda6 2018 Quick Takes. Signature trim level positions Mazda’s midsize sedan against premium competitors.
Adorned with authentic materials like our Japanese Sen Wood and Nappa leather, the 2018 Mazda6 elevates its premium positioning above the mainstream fray and into a higher class of competition.
New technologies and refinements complement Mazda6’s stellar reputation for driving dynamics and design.
Thoroughly re-engineered for 2018, Mazda6 is quieter, more comfortable, carries more standard and available features and even comes with a newly available engine option, the torquey, turbocharged SKYACTIV-G 2.5T.
Every detail has been rethought to polish and elevate Mazda6. Yet, Mazda6 doesn’t betray its roots, still available with its six-speed SKYACTIV-MT manual transmission in the entry Mazda6 Sport model as well as an available, quick-shifting SKYACTIV-DRIVE six-speed automatic transmission with Sport Mode that recalibrates the transmission for more spirited driving.
After nearly thirty years of success, the seventh-generation Lexus ES is set to redefine its status among entry-level executive sedans. Long known for its unparalleled comfort, refinement and luxury appointments, the 2019 Lexus ES builds on its strengths with an all-new chassis that allows for a more dynamic exterior design and the introduction of the first ES F SPORT. The introduction of the new Lexus ES continues the brand’s commitment to crafting vehicles with heightened excitement, emotion and passion. Traditional buyers will find the new ES more spacious and quieter while a new generation of customers will be introduced to a sedan with sharpened performance, advanced active safety technology and a level of craftsmanship rarely found in this segment. A new, fourth-generation Hybrid Drive System is used in the ES 300h. In addition to delivering stronger performance and exemplary fuel economy, the latest Hybrid Drive System has been designed to help eliminate the rubber band feeling associated with some hybrid systems.
An all-new 2.5-liter, four-cylinder gas engine (A25A-FXS) running on the Atkinson cycle is coupled with a smaller, more power dense electric motor and an all-new hybrid transaxle. The preliminary internal results are a combined 215 total system horsepower and a manufacturer estimated 44 combined mpg. The new aluminum-intensive gas engine delivers exceptional efficiency by combining a high-speed combustion design with several variable systems designed to conserve energy. The result is an engine that has a nearly identical displacement to its predecessor, yet delivers approximately 20 additional horsepower and 12 additional pound feet of torque. High-speed combustion is a core element of the new engine’s ability to provide the most efficient use of energy. To achieve this, the cylinder bores have been narrowed slightly (3.54 in. to 3.44 in.) and the stroke lengthened (3.86 in. to 4.07) to create an optimal 1:1.2 bore-to-stroke ratio as well as reducing the distance the fuel must travel to reach the edges of the cylinder. The angle between the valves was also increased to create a more direct path for the incoming air while the intake valve seats use a laser cladding process that allows for a larger valve seat area, reduced seat face temperatures and a smoother transition from the intake port to the combustion chamber. The result is an optimized swirl pattern and the ability to run more ignition advance in lean conditions without approaching knock limits.The new transaxle is over an inch (1.2) shorter than its predecessor thanks to a new arrangement of the electric motors that places them in a multi-axle configuration instead of the previous coaxial setup. The traditional planetary gear set has been replaced by a parallel shaft gear and a multi-function gear that incorporates a power split planetary ring gear, parking gear and counter drive gear into one compact unit.
The nickel-metal hydride battery that powers the electric motor has been relocated from the trunk to underneath the back seat. This was made possible by a 4.7-inch reduction in the height of the battery and the adoption of a more compact cooling system. Moving the battery under the seat not only frees up trunk space, it also improves the front-to-rear weight distribution of the ES for better handling.
LEXUS ES 2019 REVIEW BY AUTO CRITIC STEVE HAMMES Whether they realize it or not, the ES is the car most people think of when they hear the name Lexus. For nearly 3 decades, it has been the go-to sedan…