Tag Archives: luxury sedan

2023 Volvo S60 Recharge AWD Ultimate (Black Edition)

High-horse plug-in hybrid rekindles joy of driving a sedan …

Sedans are such a rarity now that it’s a special treat to drive one, especially when it’s a sophisticated looking, high-horse plug-in hybrid from Volvo.

You may recall a time when Volvos were boxy and boring, but safe as the vault at Fort Knox, assuming it still has one.

This week’s thriller was the Volvo S60 Recharge AWD Ultimate Black Edition, which is a long way of saying a sporty luxury sedan with AWD, and Recharge is Volvo’s shorthand for saying it has an electrical component. This one is a plug-in, which currently (pun intended) is the way to go for practical powertrains.

What that means is that not only do you get a sleek Swedish design, but massive power, a 36-mile electric range great for city drives without adding to air pollution, and AWD for the occasion when winter delivers road slop. Meanwhile, the interior of this black beauty is one of the most comfortable I’ve experienced in the past year. More on that in a bit.

First, let’s look at the S60 from the outside. Since it’s a sedan the ride-height is low enough to crawl in and out without a step ladder or threatening a groin pull. The profile is lean and low with a long hood and short rear end. Lights are thin T-shaped “Thor’s Hammer” numbers that wrap from nose to the front fenders.

The grille, while large is not garish and this being the Black Edition the grille and logo are blacked out, as are the trunk’s logos and the snazzy wheels tucked inside R19 rubber. Taillights are typical Volvo snazzy, sort of a laid down J shape. It’s all as sophisticated as a James Bond tuxedo.

But the power, handling and ride make this Recharge Ultimate a blast to drive.

Get this, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder is supercharged and turbocharged, something Volvo does in several models, plus is enhanced by a 143-horse electric motor powering the rear wheels. That’s the plug-in hybrid portion that helps pump up horsepower here to 455, with a torque rating of 523. Wild child!

And you can adjust via the 12-inch info screen, whether you want hybrid power, Pure electric, or Power modes, along with full-time AWD. Any way you go the power will push you back into the plush seats while planting a smile on your face. This car was the fastest on a highway entry ramp, clocking a triple-digit speedometer reading, of anything I’ve driven that costs less than $80 grand.

Wow, this power is awesome and just so darned incredibly smooth aided by an 8–speed automatic. You feel like you’re on a bullet train as torque is instant.

Watch Mark’s video: 2023 Volvo S60 Recharge AWD Ultimate Black Edition review by Mark Savage – YouTube

Handling is sporty too with quick steering and a firm, precise feel. A few other makes feel racier, but this is a perfect blend of responsiveness and luxury. Likewise the ride is well controlled yet firm without being punishing. I drove this to downtown Chicago and back and some of the streets I was on made the moon appear silky. Never hit a bump that jarred the interior.

More on that hybrid system, which charges either via a plug-in, or via regenerative braking and engine backup. So an overnight charge gave me 36 miles of all-electric range, or I could let the system choose to mix and match gas and electric power for best performance and efficiency. Around town a driver could just use electric mode to reduce emissions.

Yet a button on the info screen allows the driver to go hybrid and charge at the same time. Here the braking and engine recharge the batteries to use electric power as needed. I used 20 miles of charge getting from my house to a highway stent heading to Chicago, then switched on the charging and had regained about 15 miles of charge while cruising the freeway. Awesome!

The shifter also can either be put in Drive and feel like any gas-powered car would, or put in B, for Battery. This is one-pedal driving that more rapidly slows the vehicle and recharges the batteries. If you’ve ever driven a golf cart or snowmobile it sort of feels like that. I love this setting as you rarely need to touch the brake pedal, so less wear and tear on brake discs.

Fuel mileage depends, of course, on how much battery you use for electric power. I averaged 32 mpg on the Chicago roundtrip, but more like 50 around town when I was using mostly electric power. The EPA rates the S60 Recharge at 31 mpg on gas and 74 mpge on electric. Sadly this horsey engine prefers premium fuel, but then you won’t be filling up  frequently, if you keep it charged.

Again, running errands around town you can boost your numbers by putting the Volvo purely in electric mode.

Now originally when I climbed in the S60 I thought I was gonna be miserable for the week as the seats were so tight and had a bevy of buttons and controls for adjustment. But the info screen lights up to show you the bottom cushion leg extender and lumber support adjustments, so within a few minutes I was set. Long-legged drivers will love that bottom cushion extension.

On the highway drive and around town these charcoal leather and Nappa leather trimmed Black Edition seats were absolutely perfectly shaped and soothingly supportive. The front and rear seats also are heated, the rear seat heat and steering wheel heat are part of a $750 winter package that also includes headlight washers. That’s a European thing, but one that US makers should consider. Nice to clean the lights of road grime in winter.

Everything looks great inside too, from the soft leather-like dash and door panels to those seats that include gray accent stitching. Design is Scandinavian minimalist, yet the dash features textured metal trim while air vents and door releases are chrome as are the stereo speakers in the doors. Volvo’s console is gloss black, and for the life of me, I couldn’t find a wireless phone charger. Odd! But there are plugs in the center armrest to accommodate a charger.

The screen is a touchscreen that slides for additional layers of adjustment. I’m getting used to these Volvo screens, but it does take a while to master them and sometimes can be awkward to use while driving. Note this is now a Google-based infotainment system.

I’d love to see a flat-bottom wheel here to reflect the sporty nature of this luxury sedan, plus it’s not a power tilt/telescope wheel, but at least it’s heated. Better yet, you can set the seat and steering wheel heat quickly on the screen and it remembers the setting, even when you turn the ignition off and return. Bravo, many vehicles require resetting everything, a first-world annoyance in winter when running errands and hopping in and out of the car.

Volvo also includes a head-up display, along with a full bevy of safety equipment, not surprising for a Volvo as it earned its safety reputation ages ago. Standard are lane departure (which can be switched off via the info screen), blind-spot warning, parking sensors, collision avoidance, smart cruise control, automatic braking and more.

Overhead is a dual sunroof with power shade. That and the roof are controlled via a sensor overhead that you can just slide your finger over to retract the shade, and then the roof.

The optional Bowers & Wilkins stereo deserves mention too as it’s a monster with amazing sound, but adds $3,200 to the cost. Maybe save that for a home stereo unit. A fine harman/kardon premium sound system is standard.

The sparkly black paint job is gorgeous and only adds $695 to the price, but is sharper than most black paint schemes. Your call.

Rear seat room is good, plus those seats fold down to increase cargo room while also including a center pass-through for long items, something most European makes include that others do not. Rear seat headrests also can be folded down with the push of a rear-seat button, making for better rear visibility for the driver if there are no passengers riding in row two.

Trunk space is sufficient, but smaller than in some sedans at 11.6 cubic feet. Certainly it will hold 4-5 suitcases.

Finally, there’s the price, and this may surprise you. The S60 starts at a modest $41,300 for its front-drive version with a still generous 247 horsepower engine, and is a standard hybrid. AWD is a $2,300 option on lower trim levels. It was standard on the Recharge Ultimate.

Move up to the better-equipped Plus model and the price is $44,000, while the lowest cost Core plug-in hybrid lists at $51,250. The tested Ultimate was $59,045 to start, and $63,690 as tested. All prices include delivery fees.

That’s luxury sedan level pricing for sure, but if you consider its competitors, such as the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Genesis G70, Cadillac CT4, Lexus IS, or Mercedes C Class, they can approach that price too. Yet the Volvo melds luxury with power, styling and a plug-in hybrid system that is second to none.

FAST STATS: 2023 Volvo S60 Recharge AWD Ultimate

Hits: Sharp looking sedan, excellent power, ride and handling. Big sunroof, heated wheel, heated front and rear seats, supper supportive multi-adjust seats, big screen, awesome stereo, a stylish luxury interior, plus head-up display and a full bevy of safety equipment.

Misses: Infotainment screen can be distracting to use while driving and no power tilt/telescope steering wheel. Pricy stereo upgrade. Prefers premium fuel.

Made in: Ridgeville, S.C.

Engine: 2.0-liter turbo & supercharged I4 w/plug-in hybrid electric motor, 455 hp/523 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 4,450 lbs.

Wheelbase: 113.1 in.

Length: 187.4 in.

Cargo: 11.6 cu.ft. (rear seats in place)

Tow: 2,000 lbs.

MPG: 74 elect./31 gas

MPG: 32.0 (tested)

Base Price: $59,045 (includes delivery)

Invoice: N.A.

Major Options:

Climate package (headlamp washers, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel), $750

Black metallic paint, $695

Bowers & Wilkins premium audio, $3,200

Test vehicle: $63,690

Sources: Volvo, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

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2023 Genesis G90 3.5T E-Supercharger AWD

Trust me, Santa wants this new luxo-liner for his sleigh …

Stumped about what to get me (or anyone) as a gift for the holidays? Look no further than the new bauble-laden Genesis luxury sedan, the G90. Santa may want to trade in his sleigh!

G90 is simply a show stopper, maybe a traffic stopper too as several pedestrians inquired about its origins. Easy to understand the confusion as it doesn’t look at all like its two main competitors, the pricier BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S Class. They’re sharp, but the elegance of the G90’s lines, its horizontal twin headlight and taillight design that marks all Genesis luxury rides, exudes class. The Genesis logo looking much like that of Bentley and Aston Martin also can befuddle.

Yet there’s so much to gush about, even beyond looks.

A summary? G90’s ride is sublime, the power potent, the handling responsive, the braking superb. Inside, I simply don’t recall a finer interior, ever. That’s a pretty strong gush!

Start with power and you will not be disappointed.

The tested top-level G90 3.5T E-Supercharger AWD model packs a silky 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 with an electric supercharger. Output is 409 horses and 405 pound-feet of torque. The slightly lower tier 3.5T model without the supercharging creates 375 horses, still generous.

I could say the G90 blasts to 75 or so mph in a blink, but really it’s so smooth and quiet that you barely notice that triple digits are appearing on the giant digital instrument screen. An 8-speed automatic handles all that power and puts it to all four wheels as this is AWD, good for traction and steady grip.

Handling is quick, easy and smooth too, aided by rear-wheel steering to help the car corner efficiently and with little disturbance to driver or passengers. I’ve used the slot-car metaphor before, but it’s again apt.

Eco, Comfort, and Sport drive modes allow the power, handling, and suspension to adjust to the driver’s whims. Comfort is fine, while Sport firms wheel tension and pumps up the power driver’s seat’s side bolsters air bladders to accommodate the more spirited handling.

There’s air in the suspension system too. It cushions tushies and coddles passengers thanks to its multi-chamber configuration. Ah! Amazing how comforting this can be without wallowing. Such refined control!

Braking is smooth and steady and exceptional. Four-wheel discs of course, with 14.2-inchers up front and 13.6-inchers in back.

Watch Mark’s review: 2023 Genesis G90 3.5T E-Supercharger AWD

All this and we haven’t even gotten to the spectacular interior that is bathed in supple brown quilted Nappa leather stitched in a diamond pattern and as comfy as your grandfather’s recliner. Speaking of which, the powered rear seats both recline partially (enough for a snooze), and the rear passenger’s side seat has a small footrest that powers up for added comfort in dreamland. Headrests in back are basically fluffy suede pillows. I’d like one for my couch.

The roof’s headliner is a contrasting brown suede and the dash and door tops a dark brown (nearly black) soft leather-like material. Dash and door trim is a camo-like pattern that looks sort of like wood with a bit of inlay design. Trim around the trim is a thin chrome while all buttons, toggles and knobs are satin chrome. Classy!

Quiet? Yep, the cockpit is as quiet as Marcel Marceau arguing with himself. That is to say it’s perfect for listening to the incredible Bang & Olufsen 3D premium audio system, easily the best I’ve heard yet in a vehicle. Then again, there are 26 speakers.

Other premium touches. Start with two sunroofs overhead, one normal size and a smaller one in back, with its own power sunshade. The rear side door windows also host power sunshades and there’s another for the rear window, which either the driver or rear passengers can deploy.

Back seat folks have oodles of controls on a fold-down armrest that features its own digital control screen for heated and cooled rear seats, radio and climate controls. That’s right, both front and rear seats are heated and cooled and, get this, will deliver a stimulating massage, which is good for comfort and for keeping a driver awake on a long haul. A variety of massage speeds are offered via one button control on the front doors for the highfalutin front seaters.

Hyundai/Kia/Genesis designers are excellent at designing interiors and controls so they wisely put the 3-level seat heating/cooling on console buttons. Many makes now insist on embedding these essential functions in a multi-level info screen. Only the heated steering wheel is on the wide, but thin screen here, along with a button to spray a scented air freshener. The test car wasn’t loaded, but that’s ok, I know what the North Woods smells like.

Can this dreamy luxury liner get any better?

Well, there’s more, much more.

Staring with what Genesis calls its Mood Curator, settings that allow for various comfort modes (Vitality, Delight, Care, and Comfort). Engage these and the car presets music, scent, lighting, side sun shades and massaging features. There are nature sounds that can be emitted by the sound system too. I like the rainy forest as the crunch of the snowshoes in winter mode can be a bit much after a few minutes.

The G90 works on your emotional space too with its 3D surround system that can reenact the sound characteristics of famous theaters and other interesting environments. Hmm, would like this at home!

How about cutting the emotional stress of closing my own door?

Yes, the G90’s doors will open and close automatically. Press a button on the door (ala Tesla) and it unlatches and opens about a foot, then you must push the rather heavy door the rest of the way. But, press that button once you’re in the car, or another button on the console, and the door shuts itself. Genesis calls it the Easyclose system. Think of it as a power hatch/trunk for doors.

Outside door handles are flush when the car is locked, but like a Tesla, pop out for passengers to raise for entry. Posh!

Then there are the expected pluses from a luxury sedan, the wireless charger easily reached in the console where your phone inserts nearly vertically.

Safety equipment? You get the full load standard, no add-ons, so smart cruise, lane-keeping, blind-spot, collision avoidance, even something called Remote Smart Parking to squeeze the lengthy luxury liner into a tight spot.

The only misses here are the price and mpg, and neither are surprising.

In fact, the base 3.5T model’s $89,495 sticker with delivery only seems high if you haven’t priced the main competition, BMW’s 7 Series or Mercedes’ S Class. The Genesis G90 starts $5,000 less than the BMW and $13,000 less than the Benz. Where I come from that’s real money.

Of course, this AWD version with the e-supercharger pushes that envelope higher to $99,795 and the test car was $101,295 after adding just its snazzy semi-gloss Verbier (a town in Switzerland) White paint. It’s sort of glossy and sort of matte, but with a pearl base that could make Martha Stewart blush.

Even the wheels are fabulously styled!

Either of the German makes will hit $115,000 to $120k for their high-horse and AWD versions. Save your cash for a Danube cruise.

Time and experience tell me a luxury vehicle buyer rarely considers mpg ratings, and this one is a middler at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, still beating non-hybrid SUVs. I managed 20.5 mpg in about 60% city and 40% highway driving. Preferred fuel is premium, natch!

A few other points to consider. You can download a Digital Key app to your smartphone to allow you to go keyless, avoiding fob-in-pocket syndrome. There’s also a fingerprint authentication system on the console. That allows you to quickly be identified as the driver and recall your driver profile settings, such as seats, mirrors and radio presets. The memory button on the door also allows this.

Everything is artfully and beautifully packed into the G90, and standard, except the kitchen sink. But give Genesis a year, they may offer that as an option!

Think this looks a bit like a Bentley or Aston Martin logo? It does!

FAST STATS: 2023 Genesis G90 3.5T E-Supercharger AWD

Hits: Elegant looks, excellent power, responsive handling, stellar ride, multi-drive modes, AWD and rear-wheel steering. Stylish, quiet leather interior, with heated/cooled seats, heated wheel, two sunroofs, wireless charger, full load of safety equipment, massaging front and rear seats, reclining rear seats, rear pillow headrests, 26 speaker-B&O system, push-button power doors, big digital instrument panel and info screens, side and rear window shades.

Misses: Price and mpg.

Made in: Ulsan, So. Korea

Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbo, e-supercharged, V6, 409 hp/ 405 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 4,861 lbs.

Wheelbase: 125.2 in.

Length: 207.7 in.

Cargo: 10.6 cu.ft.

MPG: 17/24

MPG: 20.5 (tested)

Base Price: $99,795 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $94,861

Major Options: Verbier white paint, $1,500

Test vehicle: $101,295

Sources: Genesis, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

#Genesis

2021 Lexus LS 500 AWD

A high-lux sedan even a CEO could love, and afford …

Rarely do the options on a test car add up to even more than a modestly priced car or crossover itself, but that’s what happened with this week’s high-lux Lexus LS 500 AWD.

            The sumptuous near limo added roughly $30,000 in options (14 to be exact) to crest $110,000. Now don’t take that as a criticism because let’s face it neither you nor I can afford a luxury sedan dripping with such opulent style and oozing electronic gadgets and gizmos that one might imagine sending Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson into outer space.

            This is a CEO-mobile and competes with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi’s long stretchy sedans that feature the same sort of goodies and enough interior leather to make a cattle farmer blush.

            Everyone can appreciate such plushness. My 12-year-old grandson quickly declared “this is the type of car I want.”

            Certainly there’s plenty to like, starting with the dynamic exterior styling that continues inside with cool dark wood trim with silver etched patterns that blend with the spiffy satin chrome streaks across the dash and air vents.

            Some declare the expansive Lexus spindle grille “too much,” but it has grown on me as all luxury makes have expanded their grilles and nose-mounted logos like a fairgoer’s waistline after wolfing down an entire box of cream puffs.

Is this grille too much? Or does it blend beautifully with the hood lines and lights?

            The way the hood and lights meld into the highly creased nose and grille is brilliant. Likewise the taillights are artistic expressions rarely found in today’s auto designs. And as I have mentioned, the interior is equally pizzazzy. This one featured bright white leather seats with stitching and quilting to set it way apart from the competition while overhead is a white ultra-suede headliner to brighten the interior that otherwise has a black dash and door tops.

            So, not surprisingly, the interior coddles while the undercarriage excites, starting with a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 hooked up to a silky 10-speed automatic. Smooth is exactly what you’d expect, but how about 416 horsepower along with a torque rating of 442 pound-feet?

            Watch Mark’s video: 2021 Lexus 500 AWD review by Mark Savage

            A romp down a highway entry ramp easily puts the Lexus at 100+ mph and there are six drive modes to help you get there. Eco won’t, but Normal, Comfort, Custom, Sport, and Sport+ can, especially the sportier settings that firm the steering and adjust shift points to emphasize power, something any CEO could appreciate.

            The older and wiser ones may also like the LS’s velvety ride and easy handling too. No racer on the handling front, the Lexus’s steering effort is mild and easy in all but the Sport settings, thus easy to park while still being super stable on a highway romp.

Inside, again, the LS is board room quiet (active noise control) and the leather seats so soft you’d swear that you were parking your keister atop baby butts, an odd picture, but you get it. These are super soft.

White leather all around could make even a cattle rancher blush!

Adaptive variable air suspension ($1,400 option) here soften things too along with adjusting car ride height. Lexus says this also allows the driver to raise or lower the car a bit for comfortable entry and exit.

            Beyond style the LS has loaded the interior with so much extra it’s hard to wrap up in a paragraph or two, but the $17,580 (that’s right) Executive Package adds that soft semi-aniline leather, and 28-way (crazy) front seats with a Shiatsu-inspired massaging feature. Five quick choices there and all can be tweaked for more specific functions and at various massage pressure levels.

            Oh, and the rear seat gets the same treatment with a 7-inch display screen that adjusts everything, plus allows the passenger-side rear seat to be reclined nearly fully while extending a footrest for a special rear seat passenger. Those seats in back are “only” 22-way adjustable, but front and rear both feature stylish butterfly headrests.

Rear seats recline and massage, need I say more?

            Naturally all seats are heated and cooled and the steering wheel is heated, although I could find no wireless charger here, an odd thing to be missing. There are plenty of plug-in ports though.

            That mega-package also adds the ultra-suede head liner, four-zone climate controls and spiffy power rear sunshades, two for each side window and one big one for the rear window. It retracts automatically if the car is put in reverse, allowing for better rear visibility.

            One could argue that’s plenty of luxury, but wait, there’s more!

            A 24-inch heads-up display adds $1,200, a panoramic glass sunroof another $1,000 (there’s a second stationary sunroof over the back seat with a power sun shade), and a panoramic view monitor for $800.

            The premium wood trim mentioned earlier (above) costs $800, the heated leather and wood-trimmed steering wheel is $410, and illuminated door sills run $450.

            Almost forgot, the test car also packed a Mark Levinson 23-speaker audio system that costs more than a monthly mortgage payment at $1,940. Wow!

            Good news too because Lexus has added a 12.3-inch touchscreen for the info screen and to control that radio. It works fine, negating the need, mostly, for the console’s awkward touchpad. Get this, a CD player is included too. Bravo, us oldsters thank you. Plus much of the fancy seat gyrations, heat and cool are adjusted via the screen. Screen visuals are fine too.

Large twin pipes aid the twin-turbo V6’s exhaust note.

Other pluses include a power tilt/telescope steering wheel, power trunk release and closure, and all the safety equipment you’d expect. Although oddly Lexus charges $3,000 extra for its Lexus Safety System+, which includes pre-collision warning with active braking, active steering assist, pedestrian alert, front cross-traffic alert and lane-change assist. I would expect all that on my luxury car starting at $80,275, including delivery.

The test car also included AWD, a major boon in these northern climes as the car is rear-drive otherwise. That is included in this model’s base price, or is $3,250 extra if you order it on the base $77,025 RWD LS 500. A hybrid model also is available, starting at $84,000.

The closer you look, the cooler these taillights are!

Not that fueling costs will likely worry potential LS owners, but the car uses premium fuel and is rated 17 mpg city and 27 mpg highway by the EPA. I got an even 20 mpg in about a 60/40 mix that was heavier on highway driving.

On the more practical side its 16.9 cubic foot trunk is generous and will easily hold a couple bags of golf clubs.

Bottom line? CEOs and others with $100 grand car budgets, or companies that will lease them such cars, can get everything they want in an LS 500, plus maybe a few things they didn’t even know they wanted, or needed. LS equals Luxury Sedan!

FAST STATS: 2021 Lexus LS 500 AWD

Hits: Beautiful styling inside and out, smooth power, velvety ride, easy handling, 6 drive modes and AWD. Hush quiet interior, big screen, wide HUD, massaging heated/cooled seats, heated wheel, power rear sunshades, two sunroofs, full safety lineup, 23-speaker stereo, plus CD player.

Misses: No wireless charger, touchpad still backup for touchscreen and some would say giant grille is a bit much.

Made in: Tahara, Aichi, Japan

Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, 416 hp

Snazzy headlights perfectly blend with grille and hood!

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Weight: 4,696 lbs.

Wheelbase: 123.0 in.

Length: 206.1 in.

Cargo: 16.9 cu.ft.

MPG: 17/27

MPG: 20.0 (tested)

Base Price: $80,275 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $73,936

Major Options:

Lexus Safety System+ (pre-collision w/active braking, active steering assist, pedestrian alert, front cross-traffic alert, lane change assist), $3,000

Adaptive variable air suspension w/rapid height adjustment, $1,400

Executive package (semi-aniline leather trim interior, 28-way power driver/passenger seats w/massage, ultra-suede headliner, power front seat buckles, butterfly headrests, 22-way power rear seats w/butterfly headrests & memory, message, heat, and 7-inch touchscreen controller, right-rear power recliner w/ottoman, 4-zone climate controls, power rear sunshades), $17,580

Digital rearview mirror, $200

20-inch split 10-spoke alloy wheels w/gloss black & machined finish, $920

24-inch heads-up display, $1,200

Mark Levinson 23-speaker audio system, $1,940

Panoramic glass roof, $1,000

Panoramic view monitor, $800

Premium wood trim, $800

Heated wood/leather trimmed steering wheel, $410

Illuminated door sills, $450

Rear bumper applique, $95

Door edge guards, $155

Test vehicle: $110,225

Sources: Lexus, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport

2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport

Low-end Lexus ES just keeps getting longer, wider …

The new Lexus ES 350 is longer, lower and wider than its predecessor, a formula that sounds a lot like that offered by Pontiac for years. Remember Pontiac’s wide-track marketing?

Well, even if you don’t, the Lexus ES is a substantial luxury sedan that for 2019 is infused with a sportier nature with its F Sport model. Sports sedan? Not really, but the sportiness is notched up a bit to add a bit more testosterone to its luxury leanings.

Continue reading 2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport

2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

Avalon Hybrid  put premium on quiet, comfy and mpg … 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

Comfort, beauty, interior quiet, and room coupled with great gas mileage arrives in the form of Toyota’s new Avalon Hybrid sedan.

Gone are the days where funky looking hatchbacks reminiscent of Woody Allen’s pod in Sleeper are the only vehicles available as hybrids. For the 2019 model year Toyota relaunches its full-size sedan, the Avalon, in hybrid mode. The result is noteworthy. Continue reading 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

2018 Mazda6 Signature

2018 Mazda6 SignatureMazda6 Signature adds turbo power to the mix …

Mazda has long had one of the better looking midsize sedans, its Mazda6. But if there was anything to slow its sales it may have been its somewhat modest horsepower.

Mazda’s efficient 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G I4 isn’t a weakling, it pumps out 184 horsepower, but there are competitors in this super competitive market segment with engines delivering 200+ horsepower. Continue reading 2018 Mazda6 Signature

Genesis G80 RWD 3.3T Sport

Genesis G80 Sport stirs comments, all good … 2018 Genesis G80 Sport

I’m used to getting questions about the test cars I drive, but few get as many comments as the Genesis G80 3.3T Sport I just drove.

Dressed in Caspian black, a deeply layered sparkling metallic black, the G80 oozes luxury and authority on the road. Old and young folks alike asked what it was, guessing everything from a new unmarked police car to a Bentley. What it is, is fantastic, and Bentley-like, but without the horrible price tag.

If you’re not a car geek you may be unfamiliar with Genesis, as were several of the questioners. It’s Hyundai’s new luxury brand. Think Toyota’s Lexus or Honda’s Acura.

Like those makes, it has invaded the luxury sedan market with a generously equipped model at a price that seriously undercuts the existing luxury brands. Its looks are a mix of BMW and Audi, and the badge on its nose and tail resembles the spread wings of a Bentley. Hyundai did its homework!

2018 Genesis G80 Sport
Hmmm, this sure looks like a Bentley logo to me!

I consider this the best looking luxury sedan today, with the exception of Audi’s sleek A7 fastback.

A little more history. For 2018 the G80 line adds a Sport model with a new engine, a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 that cranks an amazing 365 horsepower with a torque rating of 376 lb.-ft. Some offer more, some less, but even weighing in at a solid 4,519 lbs., this new G80 will move. Continue reading Genesis G80 RWD 3.3T Sport

2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

Kia’s Cadenza delivers luxury economically … 2017 Kia Cadenza

Back when I was kid in the 1960s and ‘70s a large luxury sedan meant a Buick, Lincoln, or certainly a Cadillac.

Today, nearly every car maker has a large luxury model, some on the sporty side, but more favoring the luxury end, emphasizing smoothness and quietness. As us Boomers age, both sound pretty good. But we’ve been smitten with SUVs and crossovers, so the big sedan market has languished, shrunk like cotton elephant bell jeans that went through the wash too many times.

Into this market Kia re-introduces its Cadenza, a large luxury sedan that falls between its even larger K900 and its popular mid-size Optima. Competitors include the likes of Chevy’s Impala, Toyota’s Avalon, Ford’s Taurus and Dodge’s Charger, one that definitely falls more in the sport sedan category.

I praised the first gen Cadenza for nearly everything but its ride. Consumers met it with a yawn. The revamped 2017 model should receive cheers from Boomers who like soft leather seats, a supple ride, excellent power and all the electronics we’ve grown to expect in a car, especially one starting north of $40 grand.2017 Kia Cadenza

Before that figure scares you off, consider the base Premium model (see what they did there with naming?) starts at a reasonable $32,890 and the Technology model at $39,890. Both include delivery and both have all the same mechanicals as the tested top-level Limited, which lists at $45,290 with only a pittance of options even available beyond that. Continue reading 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum

Stylish Nissan Maxima breaks cookie-cutter sedan moldmaxima

Back in the automotive heydays, car stylists were intent on giving their cars distinctive grilles, fins, headlights, taillights, profiles, you name it. Today we must satisfy ourselves with whatever styling cues designers can muster in a cookie-cutter marketplace.

Happily, Nissan designers have fashioned a swanky looking 2016 Maxima that’s svelte in profile and features sculpted taillights similar to those on its sexy sports car, the 370Z. This is as close to pizazz in a sedan as I’ve seen in a sedan of late.

Nissan also blends sports sedan with luxury sedan, a strong mix that comes in an attractive price range of $32,125 to $40,685. My test car was a dark metallic red Platinum version, the model atop that price list. It was a dandy.

maxima4At its base, the mid-size Maxima is a stylish sedan that will haul five adults in comfort and not blend in with the car-pool lane crowd. Even the base S model features Nissan’s 3.5-liter V6 that creates 300 horsepower and a torque rating of 261. Throughout the five trim levels that engine is well paired with Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission that shifts smoothly and yet gives the sedan well above average oomph. Nissan uses D-step shift logic to simulate gear changes and it feels convincingly like a standard automatic, but smoother. Nissan and Subaru seem to have best mastered CVTs to this point. Continue reading 2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum

2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited

Subaru’s new Outback epitomizes luxury AWD wagonoutback1

Subaru could be credited for starting the crossover craze as an early adopter of AWD on all its vehicles, including its wagons. Jeep could argue, but Jeeps are unique unto themselves, at least in their original form.

The Legacy wagon comes to mind from the Subaru camp and that morphed into the Outback years ago. Basically it’s a tall wagon with AWD, good cargo room and an interior that easily seats five. Yet it wasn’t, and isn’t an SUV. Oh, it has 8.7 inches of ground clearance to help it straddle snow piles and the stray large rocks if it goes off-roading.

But this is a luxury wagon in the best sense of both words.

The new 2015 Outback is slightly longer and larger than its predecessor, with a bit more cargo room, better gas mileage and a quiet comfortable cabin that encourages conversation, not the thrum of road noise.

My dark blue Subaru test car was the Limited, with an impressive $2,990 option package that added virtually everything, except a heated steering wheel, that most folks might want. Its base price is $30,295 and with delivery fee, this one hit the turnstiles at $34,207. Cheap? No, but a high value crossover that nearly perfectly blends luxury sedan with crossover usefulness.

outback2Here’s what I like. Continue reading 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited