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Archive for the ‘luxury cars’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Polestar 2 to Launch in 2020, Not to Kill Tesla, but to Compete with it

Up to 93 miles in EV mode

Polestar’s status as a standalone brand may still be fresh in a lot of people’s eyes, but that hasn’t stopped the company from already making big plans for the future. According to reports, that “future” will now include a pair of new models, including the Tesla Model 3-rivaling Polestar 2 saloon and the Polestar 3 SUV. Both models are expected to debut in the coming years, though the Polestar 2 will arrive sooner in 2020 than the Polestar 3, which is set for a 2022 debut.


Polestar 2 to Launch in 2020, Not to Kill Tesla, but to Compete with it - image 738867
“The two new models not only help build the company’s legitimacy, they also provide a better perspective of what we can expect from Volvo’s new performance brand”

This is big news for Polestar as it tries to build its brand from the ground up. The two new models not only help build the company’s legitimacy, they also provide a better perspective of what we can expect from Volvo’s new performance brand. The Polestar 2 will arrive sooner, and it’s taking the form of an all-electric saloon that will compete against the Tesla Model 3. “Polestar 2 will join the competition with Tesla Model 3, so people should have an understanding of the size and the price tag as well. It will start around €40,000 (£35,000),” Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath told Auto Express.

Ingenlath added that Polestar plans to unveil the Polestar 2 in the second half of 2019, ahead of the planned launch that will “begin around the start of 2020.”

Once the Polestar 2 is out on the market, the company will shift its focus on the Polestar 3, which Ingenlath describes as “an SUV with a low, aerodynamic silhouette.” Details are still scarce on both models, but the segments they’re being slotted in paints a clear picture of what we can expect from the Polestar in the coming years. The Polestar 1, for example, will occupy the premium segment. The Polestar 2 will be the “volume” model of the brand and the Polestar 3 will be its resident SUV.


Polestar 2 to Launch in 2020, Not to Kill Tesla, but to Compete with it - image 738873
“Once the models become available, potential buyers will be presented with a number of purchase options, including through a subscription service”

In that vein, the Polestar 1 and 3 will share the same production facility in Chengdu, China. The Polestar 2, on the other hand, will be built in another facility by virtue of the planned production volume of the model. According to Auto Express, the Polestar 2 will require a production facility that can accommodate the production of 50,000 units annually.

Once the models become available, potential buyers will be presented with a number of purchase options, including through a subscription service. This option allows buyers to pay flat monthly fees for the car over a period of two or three years. Once that contract is up, the car is returned to Polestar. “The way you own a Polestar, we believe is an appealing to people, as you have a much more precise idea of what it actually costs to own,” Ingenlath said, referring to the subscription service. “It is a very clear and committed price per month and is hassle-free.”

References

Polestar 1


Polestar 2 to Launch in 2020, Not to Kill Tesla, but to Compete with it - image 739271

Read our full review on the 2018 Polestar 1.

PostHeaderIcon Mercedes-AMG A35 Sedan

After four years with the Audi A3 Sedan being the only four-door on the premium compact market, Mercedes-Benz decided its time to jump in with a three-box version of the popular A-Class. The company’s smallest sedan made its debut in concept form at the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show and the Germans were quick to confirm that a production version is in the making. With the fourth-generation hatchback just unveiled for 2018, the sedan is only months away from an official unveiling. And alongside the standard model, we’ll also get the potent AMG A45, and according to recent spy shots, a milder AMG variant too. The latter is rumored to be called the AMG A35 and it will take on the Audi S3 Sedan.

While the new A-Class is spectacular in just about every department and sports the most beautiful interior in the compact market, the really big news about the A-Class Sedan is that it will be a global vehicle. When the unveiling took place in Shanghai, I was almost certain that the German sedan will follow in the footsteps of the BMW 1 Series Sedan, which is only available in China as of 2018. But Merc has big plans for the A-Class and has already confirmed that the sedan will be sold in the U.S. The regular model should be followed by both AMG versions, including this one. Before we dig in, I want to stress that the A35 nameplate is by no means official. Last year, the less potent AMG was rumored to get an A40 badge, so it could be anything at this point.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mercedes-AMG A35.

Exterior

  • CLS-Inspired Front End
  • Sportier Nose
  • Aggressive Bumper
  • 19-Inch Wheels
  • Coupe-Style roof
  • A Proper Decklid
  • Optional Multibeam LED Lights

2019 Mercedes-AMG A35 Sedan - image 765516
“The aggressive design of the headlamps will make the A-Class Sedan looks like a shrunken CLS up front”

The sporty sedan is hidden under a lot of camo, but having already seen the hatchback model, the exterior design isn’t much of a mystery. The Concept A Sedan also provides a few solid hints as far as the profile and the rear section goes. As for the front fascia, it should be identical to the standard hatchback model, save for the AMG-style add-ons.

The new, aggressive design of the headlamps will make the A-Class Sedan looks like a shrunken CLS up front (expect the next CLA to get similar cues). The main grille will also be based on the CLS in terms of shape and size. The spy shots confirm that it will be wider toward the bottom and take inspiration from the AMG GT’s Panamericana grille. But while the standard A-Class uses the diamond radiator layout with silver horizontal bars on each side of the tri-star emblem, the AMG A35 will probably get a black mesh.

The bumper shouldn’t be significantly more aggressive than the regular A-Class. I’m actually pretty sure that the intakes will keep their original size, with the extra sportiness to come from a slightly bigger splitter and mildly revised side bumper elements.


2019 Mercedes-AMG A35 Sedan - image 765513
“The most noticeable change will occur onto the sides, as the A-Class will gain a sedan body style”

The most noticeable change will occur onto the sides, as the A-Class will gain a sedan body style for the very first time. The car will remain familiar from the nose to the C-pillar, but rear section will be longer due to the three-box style layout. But instead of a boxy, traditional shape, the A-Class sedan will have a coupe-style roofline and a sloping decklid. In other words, it will be very similar to the CLA. Both the decklid and the rear overhang will be kept short, so the sedan won’t be significantly longer than the hatchback.

Around back, the camouflaged taillights seem to be similar to the hatchback model, as in large onto the fenders and thinner into the trunklid. However, due to the tailgate being transformed into a conventional trunklid, the taillights won’t be as long as the hatchback’s. And of course, they will be placed a tad lower in the fascia. The bumper appears to be slightly different, but it’s too early to draw a conclusion here as the sedan still sports prototype tailpipes.

Interior

  • Modern Interior Design
  • All-Digital Instrument Cluster
  • 10.5-Inch Infotainment Display
  • 64-Color Ambient Lighting
  • New MBUX Infotainment System
  • Revised Trunk Section

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class - image 764940

Note: Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback pictured here.

“The A-Class sedan will have the most appealing interior of the compact market”

The Concept A Sedan didn’t provide any hints about the production model’s interior, but it’s safe to assume that the cabin will be identical to the new-generation hatchback. And this is great news, as the new A-Class is not only a gorgeous place to spend time in, but it’s also packed with the latest technology out there.

The big news is that it borrows some features from the bigger Mercedes models, setting a new standard in the premium compact segment. The wing-shaped, multi-tier dashboard comes in a two-tone finish and includes turbine-style A/C vents at each corner. More vents can be seen on the center stack, which has a clean, high-tech design.


2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class - image 764997
“Highlights will also include a brand-new MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system”

The instrument cluster and infotainment display have the same layout as in the larger S-Class and CLS models. Although not placed under a big hood, they’re connected to each other creating the impression of a really long screen that stretches over the driver’s side half of the dashboard. Display options should be similar to the hatchback, with the range-topping model to get two 10.25-inch screens. It remains to be seen if this layout will be standard in the AMG A35 model though.

Highlights will also include a unique ambient lighting system with 64 colors and the brand-new MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system. MBUX has ability to learn thanks to artificial intelligence and it can also be customized through augmented reality technology and intelligent voice control with natural speech recognition.


2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class - image 764962
“The sedan will also benefit from the extra room that comes with the fourth-generation hatchback”

The sedan will also benefit from the extra legroom, shoulder room, and headroom that comes with the fourth-generation hatchback. The layout in the rear section will remain unchanged for the sedan, although headroom might decrease a bit due to the sloping roof. Also expect it to get the optional seat climate control and the Multicontour Seat package with massage function for the front seats (a first in this segment).

Now that we’ve recapped the features of the new-generation A-Class, it’s time to take a look at what will set the AMG A35 model apart. To be honest, it won’t get that many special features. At least not as many as the range-topping AMG A45. A flat-bottom steering wheel and sportier seats are on the table, but don’t expect the leather upholstery to be standard. There won’t be any carbon-fiber trim either, as this option will be offered on the AMG A45 model only. Also look for a few AMG badges, special contrast stitching, and maybe a unique upholstery color.

Drivetrain

  • New 4-Cylinder Engine
  • Possible EQ Boost System
  • Up To 300 Horsepower
  • Automatic Transmission
  • All-Wheel Drive
  • Retuned Suspension and Chassis

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class - image 765040
“The AMG A35 will probably get around 300 horsepower”

As the name suggests, the AMG A35 will slot below the beefed-up A45 and above the A250 model. The A45 is predicted to have close to 400 horsepower, while the new A250 features a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 224 horsepower, so it’s safe to assume that the AMG A35 will get around 300 horses. The engine that will deliver it is still a mystery though. While the 2.0-liter unit in the A250 would be able to send 300 horsepower to the wheels with an updated turbocharging system, Merc could go with a brand-new unit.

The German firm recently introduced a new engine with hybrid EQ Boost technology for the E53 and CLS53 range, so it makes sense for the A-Class model placed just below the hardcore A45 to use something similar. So Mercedes is probably already working to combine the new 2.0-liter four-cylinder with the company’s new EQ Boost starter-alternator.

“A hybrid system with EQ Boost similar to the AMG CLS53 is very likely”

The starter motor and alternator are combined in an electric unit that’s fitted between the engine and the transmission and turns the vehicle into a hybrid. The E53 and CLS53 models also have an electric auxiliary compressor that builds up a high charge pressure without any delay, which provides a faster increase in torque for acceleration until the large exhaust gas turbocharger kicks in.

In the aforementioned models, the EQ Boost delivers an extra 22 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. These figures could change for a four-cylinder model, but it should still provide at least 15 horses and 150 pound-feet. The gasoline engine should crank out around 280 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, so the AMG A35 could end up with a cool 300 horses and at least 450 pound-feet under the hood.

The AMG badge should also come with a tweaked transmission and a bespoke suspension setup, but it won’t be as aggressive as the AMG A45’s.

Safety

  • State-Of-The-Art Safety Systems
  • Improved Camera And Radar System
  • Active Distance Assist
  • Active Brake Assist
  • Pre-Safe Plus Package
  • Airbags Front and Rear

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class - image 765475
“The AMG A35 will be one of the most modern vehicle in its class in terms of safety features”

As it is the case with all Mercs, the AMG A35 will be one of the most modern vehicle in its class in terms of safety features. The impressive array of active and passive systems from the A-Class hatchback will most definitely make it into the sedan, starting with the car’s ability to keep a close eye on the traffic with an improved camera and radar systems that allow it to see up to 500 meters (0.3 miles) ahead. In conjunction with navigation data and Active Distance Assist Distronic, the sedan will be pretty close to a semi-autonomous vehicle.

Other features will include Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, and Active Brake Assist as standard. The Pre-Safe Plus, found on larger models, will be offered as an option.

Passive features will include airbags for the driver and front passenger, a driver’s kneebag, and windowbags on both sides as standard. The latter also covers the A-pillar, a first in this segment. Thorax-pelvis sidebags are standard in the front and available as optional equipment for the rear passenger compartment.

Prices

With pricing for the new A-Class not available, it’s difficult to estimate a sticker for the sedan version, but it’s safe to assume that it won’t be significantly more expensive. My best guess is that the base model will come in at around €25,000, while the A250 wil start from around €38,000. The AMG A45 version is likely to come in at around €53,000, so I expect the AMG A35 to fetch about €44,000 before options. In the U.S., it will be probably cost a tad more than the Audi S3 Sedan, so look for a sticker of around $44,000 to $46,000.

Competition

Audi S3 Sedan


2017 - 2018 Audi A3 Sedan - image 671840

Much like the Audi A3 was the first premium hatchback, the A3 Sedan was the first three-box vehicle to enter the premium segment. It happened in 2013 and it took more than four years to get a proper competitor. With the A-Class Sedan and the upcoming AMG A45 Sedan set to go against the regular A3 and RS3 respectively, the AMG A35 will take on the S3 Sedan version. Available since 2013 and updated in 2017, the S3 badge adds a handful of sporty features on the outside and extra equipment inside the cabin. But it’s the drivetrain that makes the S3 an appealing four-door, as the turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine cranks out an impressive 310 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. This output is available for U.S. cars with the seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission. In Europe, the manual version delivers 280 pound-feet. Sprinting from 0 to 60 mph takes less than five seconds, while top speed is limited to 155 mph. Pricing starts from $43,650.

Read our full review of the 2018 Audi S3 Sedan.

BMW 1 Series Sedan


2017 BMW 1 Series Sedan - image 707261

After years of rumors, BMW finally introduced a three-box body style for the 1 Series hatchback. Unfortunately, the German sedan comes with two issues. For starters, it was designed for the Chinese market only. This could change in the future, but for the time being, you can’t buy it anywhere else in the world, not even in Europe. Second, it has yet to receive a higher performance variant, so even if it comes to the U.S., it won’t be able to match the power of the Audi S3 and the Mercedes-AMG A35. Its most potent iteration is the 125i, which uses the familiar 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 231 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It’s not exactly a slouch, but it’s a full two seconds slower from 0 to 60 mph.

Read our full story on the BMW 1 Series Sedan.

Conclusion


2019 Mercedes-AMG A35 Sedan - image 765517

Although I’m not a big fan of the current industry trends with all sorts of niche models, I’m actually glad that Mercedes is building a sedan version of the A-Class. The new hatchback is definitely hot and a four-door variant will enable drivers that can’t afford a big Merc (or not even a CLA) to surge into dealerships. A new AMG model placed between the A250 and the AMG A45 also makes sense given the 150+ horsepower gap between the two. An EQ Boost system would only make things better as the brand’s new hybrid technology will find its way into a more affordable model. Solid performance and good fuel economy, who would say no to such a package?

  • Leave it
    • * Not yet confirmed for production
    • * Will it come to the U.S.?

References

Mercedes A-Class


2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class - image 764946

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class.


maker logos - image 743625

Read more Mercedes-Benz news.

PostHeaderIcon Maserati’s Chicago Booth Is as Boring as it Gets

Today’s automotive market is based on clearly defined rules that are known to have worked for decades (for the most part at least), but some carmakers take the unbeaten path from time to time. For instance, a few companies, usually from the luxury market, opt to unveil their new cars at private event or happenings that take place between major auto shows. That’s simply because they don’t really need an auto show to advertise their cars. This is the kind of attitude that brand’s like Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Rolls-Royce have, and it’s perfectly understandable. But it doesn’t always happen like that and that’s when the automotive business become weird and confusing. And the latest example is Maserati’s decision to bring its entire lineup to the Chicago Auto Show.


Maserati's Chicago Booth Is as Boring as it Gets - image 766544
“There's nothing wrong with doing that, but the issue is that Maserati has nothing to show for at this point”

The Italian manufacturer has five vehicles on display in the “Windy City,” including a Ghibli S4 Q4, Quattroporte S Q4, Quattroporte GTS, two Levante S, and a GranTurismo MC, whih covers its entire offering as of 2018. There’s nothing wrong with doing that, but the issue is that Maserati has nothing to show for at this point. Sure, the Ghibli, Quattroporte, and GranTurismo gained small updates for 2018, but the new features are barely noticeable. So why is Maserati attending a small event that likely doesn’t help with marketing in the absence of a brand-new or special-edition model? I don’t have an answer to this question, but it’s a strange attitude coming from a carmaker that usually only goes to big auto shows and self-made fancy events.

Granted, some people will probably be happy to see some Maseratis on the show’s floor, but I still don’t see how the company’s presence here is good for business. Stranger things have happened though…

References


2018 Maserati GranTurismo - image 721837

Read our full review on the 2018 Maserati Granturismo.


2016 Maserati Levante - image 668580

Read our full review on the 2018 Maserati Levante.


maker logos - image 762150

Read more Chicago Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Ferrari Looks To Double Earnings By 2022 By Jumping On The SUV And EV Bandwagons

Ferrari is looking pretty good at the moment, posting solid numbers across the board. However, the brand hopes to pull down substantially higher earnings in the next four years, and will look to previously taboo segments to do so.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story


2014 Ferrari LaFerrari - image 496584
“One approach would be an increase in volume, but a move like that would damage the brand's exclusive image. Instead, Ferrari will step into uncharted territory with new technology and new segments.”

Ferrari shoved off from mothership Fiat Chrysler about two years ago with an IPO that ended up performing extremely well for the automaker. Sales are up and the money is pouring in, with the brand posting adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) in 2017 at 1.04 billion euros ($1.3 billion at current exchange rates), which is more or less in line with expectations. However, that isn’t stopping the brand from reaching for more, as the Prancing Horse recently announced its intentions to achieve 2 billion euros (roughly $2.49 billion at current exchange rates) in core earnings by at least 2022, giving it just four years to double the numbers from its current figures. It also hopes to become debt-free a year prior.

Models like the 812 Superfast and GTC4Lusso helped contribute mightily to Ferrari’s success this year, and it’s looking like continued demand for the brand’s supercars will help pad the bottom. However, in order to achieve the goal of doubling its earnings, it’s gonna need something more.

One approach would be an increase in volume, but a move like that would damage the brand’s exclusive image. Instead, Ferrari will step into uncharted territory with new technology and new segments.


2020 Ferrari SUV - image 665966
“There was a time when Ferrari said it would never create an SUV, but then again, there was a time Enzo said that aerodynamics were for those who couldn't build a proper engine, and look where we're at now.”

First up is a Ferrari SUV, which is due out in the next few years. While the purists will consider such a monster to be blatant sacrilege, it’s looking like an inevitability at this point. There was a time when Ferrari said it would never create an SUV, but then again, there was a time Enzo said that aerodynamics were for those who couldn’t build a proper engine, and look where we’re at now.

Hybrids and all-electrics are also a distinct possibility. Ferrari already crossed the line of the former with the LaFerrari, and with high-end performance models powered by batteries already flooding the market, an EV Prancing Horse is a distinct (and probable) possibility.


2021 Ferrari LaFerrari Successor - image 721738
““Whenever Ferrari does express itself in a fully electric vehicle, it will do so by making sure that both sound and handling are reflective of Ferrari's heritage,” Marchionne explained.”

Of course, each of these possibilities would require the right touch to pull of. In a conference call to analysts, Ferrari’s CEO, Sergio Marchionne, says any SUV from the brand would maintain the essential Ferrari sensibilities, as opposed to boasting about “being able to climb rocks.” It would also be highly exclusive, and only be offered to “the selected few.”

The same is true for a possible all-electric supercar. “Whenever Ferrari does express itself in a fully electric vehicle, it will do so by making sure that both sound and handling are reflective of Ferrari’s heritage,” Marchionne explained.

Either way, expect all Ferrari’s to still be built in Maranello, although extra shifts will be added to help bolster production.

In addition to the new segments already mentioned, Ferrari will continue to offer a plethora of special edition models, while also offering more in-depth customization services.

What do you think? Should Ferrari step into the all-electric and SUV segments? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

References


2020 Ferrari SUV - image 665967

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Ferrari SUV.


Ferrari Looks To Double Earnings By 2022 By Jumping On The SUV And EV Bandwagons - image 722850

Read our full speculative review on the 2021 Ferrari All-Electric LaFerrari Successor.


maker logos - image 742470

Read more Ferrari news.

PostHeaderIcon Lexus GS F 10th Anniversary Special Edition

The Lexus GS F has been around in one form or another since 1991, offered as a mid-size four-door with a solid dose of opulence in the cabin. The latest fourth-gen model dropped in 2011, giving the lineup a little extra sportiness when the mood is right. Now, Lexus is using the platform to pay homage to it’s F-branded trim levels. In case you weren’t aware, Lexus’ F models make up the quickest of the automaker’s stable, with the singular letter tacked to the trunk added as a nod to Japan’s world-famous Fuji Speedway. Lexus first started making F models back in 2008, and now, a full decade later, it’s offering up two special edition F’s to celebrate the anniversary.

The limited-run duo consists of the 2018 Lexus GS F 10th Anniversary edition and the 2018 Lexus RC F 10th Anniversary edition, both of which will make their first stateside appearance at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show. Both also initially dropped at the Tokyo Motor Show last year, but now they head to Chi Town for their big U.S. debut. Both will also arrive in dealers this summer, and bring customers a slick blue and grey color scheme. Interested? Then read on for the low-down on this upgraded go-faster GS F.

Continue reading to learn more about the Lexus GS F 10th Anniversary Special Edition.

What Makes The Lexus GS F 10th Anniversary Special Edition


2018 Lexus GS F 10th Anniversary Special Edition - image 765261
“While the GS F 10th Anniversary Special Edition doesn't bring anything new in the mechanical department, it does get a well-rounded aesthetics upgrade outside and in the cabin.”

While the GS F 10th Anniversary Special Edition doesn’t bring anything new in the mechanical department, it does get a well-rounded aesthetics upgrade outside and in the cabin. Let’s start with the exterior, where we find the GS F finished in a matte Nebula Gray paint scheme. Lexus says these 10th Anniversary Special Edition models are the very first time the brand has used a matte-finish paint on a production car since it offered the top-dog LFA supercar.

In the corners is a standard set of polished black multi-spoke wheels measuring in at 19 inches in diameter. Just behind the wheels, there are blue brake calipers, which are sure to turn a few heads against the grey and black around them. The tires are the usual high-performance Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 compound, which should do well to complement the high-tech suspension components (more on that in a bit).

Take a peek inside the cabin, and you’ll find a good deal more of that blue color added throughout. There’s carbon fiber with a blue tint added to the switch panel and dashboard, as well as blue carbon for the center console. The front seats were designed to look like the sitters you get in the Lexus RC, and blue leather accents were added to spice up their appearance, plus there’s blue leather added to the side bolsters in the rear bench. Blue suede was added to the dash trim and seat belt straps, and there’s extra blue leather added to the steering wheel and shift knob. Rounding it off are the requisite plaques declaring the model’s limited edition status.


2018 Lexus GS F 10th Anniversary Special Edition - image 765264
“Take a peek inside the cabin, and you'll find a good deal more of that blue color added throughout. There's carbon fiber with a blue tint added to the switch panel and dashboard, plus there's blue carbon for the center console.”

Like I said earlier, the oily bits go unchanged compared to the standard Lexus RC F. Under the hood is 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque thanks to a thumping 5.0-liter V-8. Output is sent through an eight-speed automatic transmission to reach the ground through the rear axle. Extra traction is made by a torque vectoring rear diff as standard, a piece normally offered as an option for the non-special edition models. Put your foot down, and the GS F will do the 0-to-60 mph sprint in about 4.5 seconds. Keep your foot off it, and it’ll return upwards of 24 mpg on the highway.

There’s also a set of variable dampers that offer multiple drive modes for whatever the occasion may be, including cruising and corner carving.

Lexus is planning on producing just 100 units of the 10th anniversary GS F. There’s no official pricing as of yet, but the standard Lexus GS F starts at $84,350, so expect a number above that mark.

References

Lexus GS F


2016 Lexus GS F - image 650855

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus GS F.


2016 Lexus GS F – Driven - image 681132

Read our full driven review on the2016 Lexus GS F.


2018 Lexus RC F 10th Anniversary Special Edition - image 765613

Read our full review on the 2018 Lexus RC F 10th Anniversary Special Edition.


maker logos - image 762150

Read more Chicago Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon The Four-Door Mercedes-AMG GT was Spied looking Sexy as Hell in Red

The Mercedes-AMG GT4 is coming, and it’s looking more and more likely that we’re going to see the performance sedan in full presentation mode at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. But, ahead of its banner unveiling, the AMG GT4 was spotted yet again doing some test runs. This time, AMG left little to the imagination when it sent out the GT4 wearing nothing but a thin red camouflage. If the GT4 is headed to Geneva as many of us expect, consider these new spy photos as the start of the sedan’s countdown towards Geneva.

#SPY La AMG GT4 si mostra su strada senza veli.
La nuova berlina-coupé della stella rimane fedele alla concept…

Posted by Salento V12 on Friday, February 2, 2018

There’s a long list of people who have been waiting a long time for the AMG GT4 to arrive. We’re going to have to wait a little while longer, but these new spy photos of the performance sedan are making the wait a little more bearable. There are a number of things that we’re noticing now about the GT4 that we couldn’t make out from previous photos. Blame the swirly camo for that. This time, the thin red camouflage the sedan’s wearing reveals a lot more of the car’s design.

Posted by Salento V12 on Friday, February 2, 2018

For instance, the front section revealed more than what we expected. The Panamericana front grille is there for the world to see. The headlights reveal themselves too, even with the cam strips preventing us from seeing the complete picture. From the looks of it, AMG designed the configuration of the lights so that LED running lights run along the top of the main projector. It’s unclear if that sliver of red camo separating the running lights is covering a blank space or if the configuration rests on one block. My guess is it’s the latter because separate LED projectors really don’t look good on any car, let alone a Mercedes-AMG.

Other pertinent details in the front are the three large inlets that have become synonymous with the overall look of AMG’s GT family. The GT4’s hood also reveals four dramatic creases, exuding a sporty and stylish look that fits its personality.

Posted by Salento V12 on Friday, February 2, 2018

The rear section doesn’t reveal much, but we finally get validation of the shapely AMG GT-esque rear end of the sedan. The taillights are still narrow in this new spy photo. Some people like how it looks on the AMG GT4, but I’m not as convinced that it fits stylistically with the car’s four-door profile. We’ll see how that turns out in a month’s time.

I do like the flowing roof of the GT4 and how it manages to slide that way without cutting its side profile too short. The result is a fastback silhouette that looks very promising. You might notice too that this new batch of spy photos reveal four square-tip exhausts. It’s a different configuration from the round exhausts we saw from previous spy photos, but this could be an indication that the AMG GT4 that we’re seeing here is closer to what the production model is going to look like.

Needless to say, I’m expecting big things out of the AMG GT4 when it officially makes its debut. Unless AMG has a surprise for us in the end, I’m confident that this is what the GT4 is going to look like as a production model. I wouldn’t change anything about it. I think it looks incredible. More importantly, it should be able to make good use of its 4.0-liter, biturbo, V-8 engine. Neither Mercedes nor AMG have said anything about the car’s power numbers but, if the sedan is as potent as it is attractive, I’d be confident in the GT4’s ability to challenge an established titan like the Porsche Panamera.

References


2019 Mercedes-AMG GT4 - image 715262

Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT4.


2017 Mercedes-AMG GT Concept - image 708191

Read our full review on the 2017 Mercedes-AMG GT Concept.


maker logos - image 763348

Read more Geneva Motor Show news.


maker logos - image 743625

Read more Mercedes-Benz news.

PostHeaderIcon Toyota Sequoia – Driven

The Toyota Sequoia is alive and kicking. You’re forgiven if you’ve forgotten, even despite Toyota giving the full-size SUV a slight update for 2018. The Sequoia’s sales pale in comparison to its rivals, and as such, there are simply fewer on the road. But that doesn’t mean the Sequoia is a bad SUV, right? We decided to have a look.

Our tester came decked out with all the extra goodies thanks to the range-topping Platinum trim. Of course, it also carried all the update Toyota gave it for the 2018 model year, including a new nose, a revised gauge cluster, and the now-standard Toyota Safety Sense-P active safety system. Beyond that, however, the 2018 Sequoia looks and feels nearly identically to the 2008 version.

It’s hard to believe the Sequoia’s second-generation is now a decade old. It harks back to Toyota’s major revamp of the Tundra pickup. It changed to a full-size truck for the 2007 model year and the Sequoia followed suit the next year. The Sequoia shares plenty with the Tundra, including its drivetrain and interior. Toyota did cater the Sequoia towards family usage with an independent rear suspension with available air ride rather than the Tundra’s solid axle and leaf springs. Yet despite the differences, the Sequoia still felt like a truck. In practice though, many full-size SUV customers were into that sort of thing. It fosters a sense of invincibility and a go-anywhere attitude.
Well, so long as there’s a gas station close by.

Continue reading for our full review.

Exterior

  • New grille design
  • New LED headlights with DRLs
  • LED fog lights
  • Roll-down rear window
  • Standard trailering equipment
  • Available aluminum front skid plate

2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764296
“The Toyota Sequoia’s 2018 refresh is about as mild as a refresh can get”

The Toyota Sequoia’s 2018 refresh is about as mild as a refresh can get. The grille has a slightly sharper appearance with new horizontal slats and accents that help incorporate the new headlights. Those headlights are new, too, with both low and high beams getting LED bulbs and new LED daytime running lights. More LEDs are found in the reshaped fog lights, too. The fog light surrounds are new, as is the black panel in the center of the bumper for the adaptive cruise control and pre-collision with pedestrian detection and automatic braking systems.

Around to the sides, the Sequoia carries the same appearance as before. Sadly, Toyota didn’t give the Sequoia the same updates it gave the 2014 Tundra. The pickup went from a bulbous, plump design to a more cut and muscular appearance. The Sequoia still looks bloated and overweight. The story continues out back, too. The same roundish taillights, the tacky reflectors in the bumper, and overall design carries over from a decade ago.


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764293
“Of course, looks aren’t everything. Objectively, the Sequoia offers plenty to be proud of”

Of course, looks aren’t everything. Objectively, the Sequoia offers plenty to be proud of. Up front are easily accessible tow hooks protected by an optional $425 aluminum skid plate. Side steps make it easy for smaller kids to climb inside. A two-inch receiver hitch makes towing easy, aided by both four- and seven-pin wiring connectors. And perhaps the coolest feature is the roll-down rear window. A button on the dash sends the rear glass into the tailgate for a completely open-air driving experience. Both the Tundra and 4Runner have this feature, too. Why other SUVs lack this trick is beyond us. It really adds to the experience when driving with the windows down. The Sequoia also enjoys a healthy ground clearance, making it actually capable of doing more than “mall crawling.”

Interior

  • Updated gauge cluster
  • New monotone dash color
  • Seating for seven
  • Rear seat DVD player
  • Heated, reclining second-row captain’s chairs
  • Heated, vented front seats
  • 19 cubic feet of cargo space behind third row
  • 120 cubic feet of cargo space behind first row

2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764325
“Toyota did very little to bring the Sequoia into modern times”

As little as the exterior changed, so too did the Sequoia’s interior. Toyota did very little to bring the Sequoia into modern times. There is no big infotainment screen or in-dash technologies like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or Wi-Fi hotspot. There is no wireless phone charger or bank of USB ports. Rather, the Sequoia is stuck with a low-resolution 6.1-inch touchscreen, a 4.2-inch TFT display in the gauge cluster, one USB port on the dash, and a design that literally dates back a decade. Yep, this is the same split-style dash found in the 2007 – 2013 Toyota Tundra and in every Sequoia since 2008.

Laughably, the 4.2-inch screen is part of the “upgraded” tech for 2018. The screen offers the bare bones of what other premium full-size SUVs come with. The Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon, Cadillac Escalade, and Ford Expedition all have 8.0-inch configurable displays in their gauge clusters. Only the Nissan Armada has a less impressive screen.


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764329
“The infotainment screen is also far away, making it hard to use without leaning forward and stretching out”

Aside from the dated appearance, the dashboard’s layout leads to some odd ergonomics. The HVAC controls are spread out, making adjustments rather difficult for short-armed people. The infotainment screen is also far away, making it hard to use without leaning forward and stretching out. Adjusting the radio tuning feels like holding a crunch at the gym. Perhaps a core workout isn’t a terrible idea for most Americans, but doing so behind the wheel isn’t ideal.

Harping aside, the Sequoia’s interior does provide plenty of room for seven people. Drop the number to six with only two people in the third row, and the comfort level improves even more. Legroom in all seating positions is extremely impressive, as is hip, shoulder, and headroom. Make no mistake, the Sequoia is big and its occupants reap the benefits.


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764317
“The Platinum trim makes the second-row bench seat turn into captain’s chairs with a large center console”

The Platinum trim makes the second-row bench seat turn into captain’s chairs with a large center console. The console offers cup holders down low, buttons for the seat heaters, and a storage compartment up top. What’s more, the console’s lid will flip forward to allow for a flat load floor with all the seats folded. In this position, a plastic tray can be lifted up, revealing even more storage in the bottom of the console. Adding to the comfort levels of the second row are reclinable seatbacks.

Another bonus to the Sequoia’s cavernous interior is its cargo volume. There are 18.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. At the push of a button, the third row folds flat, pushing the cargo area up to 66.6 cubic feet. With the second-row bucket seats folded flat and the center console’s lid flipped forward, the Sequoia will swallow an impressive 120.1 cubic feet of cargo. That’s extremely impressive considering the Sequoia is shorter than the Chevy Suburban, but only has 1.6 cubic feet less than the ‘burb.

Drivetrain

  • 5.7-liter V-8
  • Six-speed automatic transmission
  • Part-time 4WD
  • Lockable Torsen limited center differential
  • Four-wheel independent suspension
  • Adaptive shock absorbers
  • Adjustable rear air ride suspension
  • 381 horsepower & 401 pound-feet of torque
  • EPA-estimated 13 city, 17 hwy, 14 comb.

2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764340
“The SUV still uses the same engine, transmission, and suspension setup as it did in 2008”

If you’re paying attention, you’ll probably spot a trend with the 2018 Toyota Sequoia: noting major changes, including the drivetrain. The SUV still uses the same engine, transmission, and suspension setup as it did in 2008. It’s also the same engine and transmission found in the 2007 – 2018 Tundra, too.

Despite its age, the 5.7-liter iForce V-8 makes 381 horsepower 5,600 rpm and 401 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. Toyota says the engine reaches 90 percent of peak torque before 2,200 rpm, meaning it doesn’t need to be revved out to make power. Impressively, the V-8 doesn’t mind revving, though. It has dual overhead cams that use variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust sides. When pushed, the V-8 wakes up and moves.


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764337
“Power is managed by a six-speed automatic transmission that gives surprisingly smooth shifts and seamlessly fades into the background when driving”

Power is managed by a six-speed automatic transmission that gives surprisingly smooth shifts and seamlessly fades into the background when driving. A part-time transfer case on 4WD models handles the power distribution between the front and rear wheels. The Sequoia is rear-wheel drive during normal driving but can be shifted into 4WD while underway. Shifting into 4WD Low range does require a full stop and shifting the transmission into neutral, but the process still happens pretty quickly.

Of course, low range is best used for climbing over steep terrain, blasting through sand or mud, and pulling heavy loads at walking-pace speeds. Towing a boat up a slippery ramp is a perfect example. If the going gets really slippery, the Torsen center differential can be locked into providing a 50/50 power split between the front and rear axles.


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764290
“The EPA estimates the 2018 Toyota Sequoia Platinum in 4WD to get 13 mpg in the city, 17 mpg on the highway, and 14 mpg combined”

Toyota does give the Sequoia some electronic traction aids, too. The A-TRAC system is activated by pressing the traction control button shorter than three seconds. The system then uses individual brake controls to stop a wheel from spinning and therefore sending power to the opposite wheel. It’s basically an electronic form of locking differentials. Even the Jeep Wrangler uses a similar system. The result is a surprisingly capable SUV, despite its size and weight.

The downside to this old-school form of powertrain is fuel economy. The EPA estimates the 2018 Toyota Sequoia Platinum in 4WD to get 13 mpg in the city, 17 mpg on the highway, and 14 mpg combined. During our week of testing, we managed between 13 and 15.5 mpg, depending on how much highway driving we did.

And while the 5.7-liter does have dual overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, and variable valve timing, it lacks several of the fuel-saving features found on the competition. It does not have cylinder deactivation, direct fuel injection, or an automatic start/stop system. We are glad it foregoes that last system, though. The Sequoia also uses an insanely stout 4.30:1 rear axle ratio. That’s more gearing than most heavy-duty pickups use.

Suspension System


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764345
“The Toyota Sequoia rides on a four-wheel independent suspension system and boasts driver-adjustable dampers and an auto-leveling rear air suspension with a manual override”

The Toyota Sequoia rides on a four-wheel independent suspension system and boasts driver-adjustable dampers and an auto-leveling rear air suspension with a manual override. The shocks have three settings to choose from: Sport, Normal, and Comfort. Surprisingly, the different modes actually make a big difference in the Sequoia’s feel. Comfort mode has a smooth, floaty ride that is best enjoyed over rough roads and in off-road situations. Around corners, Comfort mode is too soft and allows noticeable levels of body roll. Turn the dash-mounted knob to Sport mode, and the suspension firms up nicely. Interstate on-ramps can be taken at a brisk pace without feeling top heavy as the big Sequoia remains impressively flat. The suspension becomes firmer over rough pavement, but not so much as to loosen grandma’s fillings. Normal mode does a good job of splitting the difference.

As for the rear air suspension, the system can be raised or lowered, with the normal position being between the two extremes. The system does take a minute or so to adjust to a new ride height, so don’t expect Range Rover levels of suspension adjustment speed. Hitching up a heavy trailer or carrying heavy cargo results in adjustment from the airbags, too. This allows the Sequoia to remain balanced under load rather than having a noise-up appearance, which also decreases safety.

Behind the Wheel


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764306
“The Toyota Sequoia is the oldest body-on-frame, three-row SUV on the market today, and it drives just as you’d imagine”

The Toyota Sequoia is the oldest body-on-frame, three-row SUV on the market today, and it drives just as you’d imagine. Honestly, though, as an automotive enthusiast, feeling all the traditional SUV vibes, tall stance on the road, and big V-8 under the hood is rather lovable. The V-8 pulls hard at lower revs but isn’t afraid to swing its tachometer towards 6,000 rpm. As mentioned, the transmission does its job rather well without being noticed. Too bad it needs at least two more gears to be competitive in the premium SUV segment.

Adjust the suspension into Sport mode, and the Sequoia is actually pretty fun to drive. Its tall ride height gives a fantastic view over the road and its large windows make seeing out easy. Better still, the large side mirrors combine with the tall ride to make the wide Sequoia feel narrower than it is. We never felt uncomfortable driving on two-lane roads. About the only downsides to outward visibility is the second-row DVD system blocks the rearview mirror when in use and the absence of a 360-degree camera system – or even a forward camera. A rearview camera and parking sensors are all Toyota supplies.

The Sequoia’s sweet spot is highway cruising. Set the adaptive cruise control, turn the adaptive dampers to Normal, and sit back and enjoy the ride. The Sequoia can make speed deceptive, too, so it’s best to rely on the cruise control if you have a heavy right foot.

Pricing


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764299

Toyota has increased prices for the 2018 Sequoia due to the updates it has. The 2017 model started at $45,560 and the 2018 starts at $48,300 – a $2,740 difference. Four trim levels are available for 2018: the SR5, TRD Sport, Limited, and Platinum.

The new-for-2018 TRD Sport starts at $54,240 and includes a monochromatic exterior treatment, seven-passenger seating, 20-inch wheels, LED exterior lighting, and the option to get Toyota’s Entune navigation system.

As for the range-topping Platinum model, it starts at $67,235 and includes the rear-seat Blu-ray DVD player, Blind Spot Monitoring with Lane Change Assist, Entune with navigation and an upgraded JBL audio system, and heated and vented front seats.

Our tester came with four options. The carpeted floor mats and door sill protectors cost a whopping $335; the cargo cover costs $245, the front skid plate costs $425, and the clear paint protection film on the Sequoia’s nose costs $395. Add on the $1,295 destination price, and our 2018 Toyota Sequoia costs $69,930.

The Competition

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe


2015 Chevrolet Tahoe - image 523435

Like the Toyota Sequoia, the Chevy Tahoe is a body-on-frame, full-size SUV based on a half-ton pickup truck. In the Tahoe’s case, it’s the Chevy Silverado 1500. The two share a similar frame, the same V-8 powertrain, and many of the same buttons, screens, menus, and smaller details. The Tahoe seats up to eight people – seven with the second-row buckets. Chevy keeps the area between the captain’s chairs clear to make access to the third row much easier. The Tahoe’s top trim level, the Premiere, comes with all the bells and whistles like heated and vented front seats, a nice 8.0-inch MyLink infotainment system (with a hidden storage compartment behind the screen) tri-zone climate controls, and a slew of active safety features. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless phone charging are all present.

The Chevy Tahoe comes standard with the 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8 making 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic does the shifting and a part-time 4WD system with an auto mode is available. (It’s worth noting the GMC Yukon is available with and the Cadillac Escalade comes standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission.) The Tahoe is available with GM’s swanky Magnetic Ride Control and uses a solid rear axle with a multi-link coil spring suspension.

Pricing for the 2018 Chevy Tahoe starts at $48,510 with the LS trim. The mid-grade LT starts at $53,750 and the range-topping Premier starts at $63,435.

Read our full review on the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe.

2018 Ford Expedition


2018 Ford Expedition - image 704776

The Ford Expedition is the newest member of this bunch, having been completely redesigned for 2018. The SUV adopts Ford’s aluminum body panels and a similar high-strength steel frame that underpins the 2018 F-150. The interior also borrows from the F-150 by using its dashboard and in-dash technology. SYNC 3 includes features like a 360-degree camera system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wi-Fi, and new features like FordPass and Ford+Alexa.

Power comes from Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 making an impressive 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels, or to all four wheels with the optional 4WD system. Fuel economy is EPA-estimated at 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined with RWD versions and 17/22/19 on 4WD models. Like the Sequoia, the Expedition uses a four-wheel independent suspension system. Optional adaptive dampers can be had.

Prices for the Ford reach into the high-end segment of the SUV market. The “base” XLT trim starts at $51,695; the Limited starts T 462,585; and the swanky Platinum starts at $72,710.

Read our full review on the 2018 Ford Expedition.

Conclusion


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764291

The 2018 Toyota Sequoia might not be the newest or most sophisticated SUV on the market, but it still offers an impressive level of interior comfort and vast amounts of space. Its powerful V-8 and ladder frame backbone allows it to pull 7,400 pounds on its hitch while the optional 4WD system allows it to explore more than just the mall parking lot.

For all the Sequoia’s shortcomings (and there are plenty), the SUV has an endearing quality that – when driven without comparison to the other SUVs in the segment – makes for a loveable experience behind the wheel. For parents with a lot of kids, the Sequoia offers tons of space while older passengers will enjoy the comforts brought on thanks to the generous legroom in all three rows.

Sadly, most car shoppers aren’t buying in a vacuum; compared to the others, the Sequoia is simply outdated. It’s a shame, really, why Toyota refuses to truly update the Sequoia (and the Tundra, for that matter) to make it more competitive. It seems the company’s full attention is focused on the Corolla, Camry, Avalon, RAV4, and Highlander rather than the other vehicles in its lineup. Granted, those vehicles garner the most sales, but perhaps the Sequoia would too if not a decade old. Just look at the first generation Sequoia – the first generation sold more than 70,000 examples in its first year back in 2002. Now, this petrified redwood only found 12,156 homes in 2017.

We simply can’t see spending nearly $70,000 on an SUV that’s so far behind and averages only 14 mpg combined. There are simply too many competitors with more to offer.

  • Leave it
    • * Outdated despite 2018 refresh
    • * Gets very expensive
    • * Too many competitors with modern features

References

Toyota Sequoia


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764290

What it’s Like to Daily Drive the 2018 Toyota Sequoia


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Inside the 2018 Toyota Sequoia Platinum


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What’s New on the 2018 Toyota Sequoia


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The 2018 Toyota Sequoia is Thirsty


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The Toyota Sequoia is Old-School Cool


2008 Toyota Sequoia - image 213843

Read our full review on the 2017 Toyota Sequoia.


maker logos - image 741755

Read more Toyota news.

PostHeaderIcon Toyota Sequoia – Driven

The Toyota Sequoia is alive and kicking. You’re forgiven if you’ve forgotten, even despite Toyota giving the full-size SUV a slight update for 2018. The Sequoia’s sales pale in comparison to its rivals, and as such, there are simply fewer on the road. But that doesn’t mean the Sequoia is a bad SUV, right? We decided to have a look.

Our tester came decked out with all the extra goodies thanks to the range-topping Platinum trim. Of course, it also carried all the update Toyota gave it for the 2018 model year, including a new nose, a revised gauge cluster, and the now-standard Toyota Safety Sense-P active safety system. Beyond that, however, the 2018 Sequoia looks and feels nearly identically to the 2008 version.

It’s hard to believe the Sequoia’s second-generation is now a decade old. It harks back to Toyota’s major revamp of the Tundra pickup. It changed to a full-size truck for the 2007 model year and the Sequoia followed suit the next year. The Sequoia shares plenty with the Tundra, including its drivetrain and interior. Toyota did cater the Sequoia towards family usage with an independent rear suspension with available air ride rather than the Tundra’s solid axle and leaf springs. Yet despite the differences, the Sequoia still felt like a truck. In practice though, many full-size SUV customers were into that sort of thing. It fosters a sense of invincibility and a go-anywhere attitude.
Well, so long as there’s a gas station close by.

Continue reading for our full review.

Exterior

  • New grille design
  • New LED headlights with DRLs
  • LED fog lights
  • Roll-down rear window
  • Standard trailering equipment
  • Available aluminum front skid plate

2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764296
“The Toyota Sequoia’s 2018 refresh is about as mild as a refresh can get”

The Toyota Sequoia’s 2018 refresh is about as mild as a refresh can get. The grille has a slightly sharper appearance with new horizontal slats and accents that help incorporate the new headlights. Those headlights are new, too, with both low and high beams getting LED bulbs and new LED daytime running lights. More LEDs are found in the reshaped fog lights, too. The fog light surrounds are new, as is the black panel in the center of the bumper for the adaptive cruise control and pre-collision with pedestrian detection and automatic braking systems.

Around to the sides, the Sequoia carries the same appearance as before. Sadly, Toyota didn’t give the Sequoia the same updates it gave the 2014 Tundra. The pickup went from a bulbous, plump design to a more cut and muscular appearance. The Sequoia still looks bloated and overweight. The story continues out back, too. The same roundish taillights, the tacky reflectors in the bumper, and overall design carries over from a decade ago.


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764293
“Of course, looks aren’t everything. Objectively, the Sequoia offers plenty to be proud of”

Of course, looks aren’t everything. Objectively, the Sequoia offers plenty to be proud of. Up front are easily accessible tow hooks protected by an optional $425 aluminum skid plate. Side steps make it easy for smaller kids to climb inside. A two-inch receiver hitch makes towing easy, aided by both four- and seven-pin wiring connectors. And perhaps the coolest feature is the roll-down rear window. A button on the dash sends the rear glass into the tailgate for a completely open-air driving experience. Both the Tundra and 4Runner have this feature, too. Why other SUVs lack this trick is beyond us. It really adds to the experience when driving with the windows down. The Sequoia also enjoys a healthy ground clearance, making it actually capable of doing more than “mall crawling.”

Interior

  • Updated gauge cluster
  • New monotone dash color
  • Seating for seven
  • Rear seat DVD player
  • Heated, reclining second-row captain’s chairs
  • Heated, vented front seats
  • 19 cubic feet of cargo space behind third row
  • 120 cubic feet of cargo space behind first row

2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764325
“Toyota did very little to bring the Sequoia into modern times”

As little as the exterior changed, so too did the Sequoia’s interior. Toyota did very little to bring the Sequoia into modern times. There is no big infotainment screen or in-dash technologies like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or Wi-Fi hotspot. There is no wireless phone charger or bank of USB ports. Rather, the Sequoia is stuck with a low-resolution 6.1-inch touchscreen, a 4.2-inch TFT display in the gauge cluster, one USB port on the dash, and a design that literally dates back a decade. Yep, this is the same split-style dash found in the 2007 – 2013 Toyota Tundra and in every Sequoia since 2008.

Laughably, the 4.2-inch screen is part of the “upgraded” tech for 2018. The screen offers the bare bones of what other premium full-size SUVs come with. The Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon, Cadillac Escalade, and Ford Expedition all have 8.0-inch configurable displays in their gauge clusters. Only the Nissan Armada has a less impressive screen.


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764329
“The infotainment screen is also far away, making it hard to use without leaning forward and stretching out”

Aside from the dated appearance, the dashboard’s layout leads to some odd ergonomics. The HVAC controls are spread out, making adjustments rather difficult for short-armed people. The infotainment screen is also far away, making it hard to use without leaning forward and stretching out. Adjusting the radio tuning feels like holding a crunch at the gym. Perhaps a core workout isn’t a terrible idea for most Americans, but doing so behind the wheel isn’t ideal.

Harping aside, the Sequoia’s interior does provide plenty of room for seven people. Drop the number to six with only two people in the third row, and the comfort level improves even more. Legroom in all seating positions is extremely impressive, as is hip, shoulder, and headroom. Make no mistake, the Sequoia is big and its occupants reap the benefits.


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764317
“The Platinum trim makes the second-row bench seat turn into captain’s chairs with a large center console”

The Platinum trim makes the second-row bench seat turn into captain’s chairs with a large center console. The console offers cup holders down low, buttons for the seat heaters, and a storage compartment up top. What’s more, the console’s lid will flip forward to allow for a flat load floor with all the seats folded. In this position, a plastic tray can be lifted up, revealing even more storage in the bottom of the console. Adding to the comfort levels of the second row are reclinable seatbacks.

Another bonus to the Sequoia’s cavernous interior is its cargo volume. There are 18.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. At the push of a button, the third row folds flat, pushing the cargo area up to 66.6 cubic feet. With the second-row bucket seats folded flat and the center console’s lid flipped forward, the Sequoia will swallow an impressive 120.1 cubic feet of cargo. That’s extremely impressive considering the Sequoia is shorter than the Chevy Suburban, but only has 1.6 cubic feet less than the ‘burb.

Drivetrain

  • 5.7-liter V-8
  • Six-speed automatic transmission
  • Part-time 4WD
  • Lockable Torsen limited center differential
  • Four-wheel independent suspension
  • Adaptive shock absorbers
  • Adjustable rear air ride suspension
  • 381 horsepower & 401 pound-feet of torque
  • EPA-estimated 13 city, 17 hwy, 14 comb.

2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764340
“The SUV still uses the same engine, transmission, and suspension setup as it did in 2008”

If you’re paying attention, you’ll probably spot a trend with the 2018 Toyota Sequoia: noting major changes, including the drivetrain. The SUV still uses the same engine, transmission, and suspension setup as it did in 2008. It’s also the same engine and transmission found in the 2007 – 2018 Tundra, too.

Despite its age, the 5.7-liter iForce V-8 makes 381 horsepower 5,600 rpm and 401 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. Toyota says the engine reaches 90 percent of peak torque before 2,200 rpm, meaning it doesn’t need to be revved out to make power. Impressively, the V-8 doesn’t mind revving, though. It has dual overhead cams that use variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust sides. When pushed, the V-8 wakes up and moves.


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764337
“Power is managed by a six-speed automatic transmission that gives surprisingly smooth shifts and seamlessly fades into the background when driving”

Power is managed by a six-speed automatic transmission that gives surprisingly smooth shifts and seamlessly fades into the background when driving. A part-time transfer case on 4WD models handles the power distribution between the front and rear wheels. The Sequoia is rear-wheel drive during normal driving but can be shifted into 4WD while underway. Shifting into 4WD Low range does require a full stop and shifting the transmission into neutral, but the process still happens pretty quickly.

Of course, low range is best used for climbing over steep terrain, blasting through sand or mud, and pulling heavy loads at walking-pace speeds. Towing a boat up a slippery ramp is a perfect example. If the going gets really slippery, the Torsen center differential can be locked into providing a 50/50 power split between the front and rear axles.


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764290
“The EPA estimates the 2018 Toyota Sequoia Platinum in 4WD to get 13 mpg in the city, 17 mpg on the highway, and 14 mpg combined”

Toyota does give the Sequoia some electronic traction aids, too. The A-TRAC system is activated by pressing the traction control button shorter than three seconds. The system then uses individual brake controls to stop a wheel from spinning and therefore sending power to the opposite wheel. It’s basically an electronic form of locking differentials. Even the Jeep Wrangler uses a similar system. The result is a surprisingly capable SUV, despite its size and weight.

The downside to this old-school form of powertrain is fuel economy. The EPA estimates the 2018 Toyota Sequoia Platinum in 4WD to get 13 mpg in the city, 17 mpg on the highway, and 14 mpg combined. During our week of testing, we managed between 13 and 15.5 mpg, depending on how much highway driving we did.

And while the 5.7-liter does have dual overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, and variable valve timing, it lacks several of the fuel-saving features found on the competition. It does not have cylinder deactivation, direct fuel injection, or an automatic start/stop system. We are glad it foregoes that last system, though. The Sequoia also uses an insanely stout 4.30:1 rear axle ratio. That’s more gearing than most heavy-duty pickups use.

Suspension System


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764345
“The Toyota Sequoia rides on a four-wheel independent suspension system and boasts driver-adjustable dampers and an auto-leveling rear air suspension with a manual override”

The Toyota Sequoia rides on a four-wheel independent suspension system and boasts driver-adjustable dampers and an auto-leveling rear air suspension with a manual override. The shocks have three settings to choose from: Sport, Normal, and Comfort. Surprisingly, the different modes actually make a big difference in the Sequoia’s feel. Comfort mode has a smooth, floaty ride that is best enjoyed over rough roads and in off-road situations. Around corners, Comfort mode is too soft and allows noticeable levels of body roll. Turn the dash-mounted knob to Sport mode, and the suspension firms up nicely. Interstate on-ramps can be taken at a brisk pace without feeling top heavy as the big Sequoia remains impressively flat. The suspension becomes firmer over rough pavement, but not so much as to loosen grandma’s fillings. Normal mode does a good job of splitting the difference.

As for the rear air suspension, the system can be raised or lowered, with the normal position being between the two extremes. The system does take a minute or so to adjust to a new ride height, so don’t expect Range Rover levels of suspension adjustment speed. Hitching up a heavy trailer or carrying heavy cargo results in adjustment from the airbags, too. This allows the Sequoia to remain balanced under load rather than having a noise-up appearance, which also decreases safety.

Behind the Wheel


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764306
“The Toyota Sequoia is the oldest body-on-frame, three-row SUV on the market today, and it drives just as you’d imagine”

The Toyota Sequoia is the oldest body-on-frame, three-row SUV on the market today, and it drives just as you’d imagine. Honestly, though, as an automotive enthusiast, feeling all the traditional SUV vibes, tall stance on the road, and big V-8 under the hood is rather lovable. The V-8 pulls hard at lower revs but isn’t afraid to swing its tachometer towards 6,000 rpm. As mentioned, the transmission does its job rather well without being noticed. Too bad it needs at least two more gears to be competitive in the premium SUV segment.

Adjust the suspension into Sport mode, and the Sequoia is actually pretty fun to drive. Its tall ride height gives a fantastic view over the road and its large windows make seeing out easy. Better still, the large side mirrors combine with the tall ride to make the wide Sequoia feel narrower than it is. We never felt uncomfortable driving on two-lane roads. About the only downsides to outward visibility is the second-row DVD system blocks the rearview mirror when in use and the absence of a 360-degree camera system – or even a forward camera. A rearview camera and parking sensors are all Toyota supplies.

The Sequoia’s sweet spot is highway cruising. Set the adaptive cruise control, turn the adaptive dampers to Normal, and sit back and enjoy the ride. The Sequoia can make speed deceptive, too, so it’s best to rely on the cruise control if you have a heavy right foot.

Pricing


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764299

Toyota has increased prices for the 2018 Sequoia due to the updates it has. The 2017 model started at $45,560 and the 2018 starts at $48,300 – a $2,740 difference. Four trim levels are available for 2018: the SR5, TRD Sport, Limited, and Platinum.

The new-for-2018 TRD Sport starts at $54,240 and includes a monochromatic exterior treatment, seven-passenger seating, 20-inch wheels, LED exterior lighting, and the option to get Toyota’s Entune navigation system.

As for the range-topping Platinum model, it starts at $67,235 and includes the rear-seat Blu-ray DVD player, Blind Spot Monitoring with Lane Change Assist, Entune with navigation and an upgraded JBL audio system, and heated and vented front seats.

Our tester came with four options. The carpeted floor mats and door sill protectors cost a whopping $335; the cargo cover costs $245, the front skid plate costs $425, and the clear paint protection film on the Sequoia’s nose costs $395. Add on the $1,295 destination price, and our 2018 Toyota Sequoia costs $69,930.

The Competition

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe


2015 Chevrolet Tahoe - image 523435

Like the Toyota Sequoia, the Chevy Tahoe is a body-on-frame, full-size SUV based on a half-ton pickup truck. In the Tahoe’s case, it’s the Chevy Silverado 1500. The two share a similar frame, the same V-8 powertrain, and many of the same buttons, screens, menus, and smaller details. The Tahoe seats up to eight people – seven with the second-row buckets. Chevy keeps the area between the captain’s chairs clear to make access to the third row much easier. The Tahoe’s top trim level, the Premiere, comes with all the bells and whistles like heated and vented front seats, a nice 8.0-inch MyLink infotainment system (with a hidden storage compartment behind the screen) tri-zone climate controls, and a slew of active safety features. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless phone charging are all present.

The Chevy Tahoe comes standard with the 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8 making 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic does the shifting and a part-time 4WD system with an auto mode is available. (It’s worth noting the GMC Yukon is available with and the Cadillac Escalade comes standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission.) The Tahoe is available with GM’s swanky Magnetic Ride Control and uses a solid rear axle with a multi-link coil spring suspension.

Pricing for the 2018 Chevy Tahoe starts at $48,510 with the LS trim. The mid-grade LT starts at $53,750 and the range-topping Premier starts at $63,435.

Read our full review on the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe.

2018 Ford Expedition


2018 Ford Expedition - image 704776

The Ford Expedition is the newest member of this bunch, having been completely redesigned for 2018. The SUV adopts Ford’s aluminum body panels and a similar high-strength steel frame that underpins the 2018 F-150. The interior also borrows from the F-150 by using its dashboard and in-dash technology. SYNC 3 includes features like a 360-degree camera system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wi-Fi, and new features like FordPass and Ford+Alexa.

Power comes from Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 making an impressive 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels, or to all four wheels with the optional 4WD system. Fuel economy is EPA-estimated at 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined with RWD versions and 17/22/19 on 4WD models. Like the Sequoia, the Expedition uses a four-wheel independent suspension system. Optional adaptive dampers can be had.

Prices for the Ford reach into the high-end segment of the SUV market. The “base” XLT trim starts at $51,695; the Limited starts T 462,585; and the swanky Platinum starts at $72,710.

Read our full review on the 2018 Ford Expedition.

Conclusion


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The 2018 Toyota Sequoia might not be the newest or most sophisticated SUV on the market, but it still offers an impressive level of interior comfort and vast amounts of space. Its powerful V-8 and ladder frame backbone allows it to pull 7,400 pounds on its hitch while the optional 4WD system allows it to explore more than just the mall parking lot.

For all the Sequoia’s shortcomings (and there are plenty), the SUV has an endearing quality that – when driven without comparison to the other SUVs in the segment – makes for a loveable experience behind the wheel. For parents with a lot of kids, the Sequoia offers tons of space while older passengers will enjoy the comforts brought on thanks to the generous legroom in all three rows.

Sadly, most car shoppers aren’t buying in a vacuum; compared to the others, the Sequoia is simply outdated. It’s a shame, really, why Toyota refuses to truly update the Sequoia (and the Tundra, for that matter) to make it more competitive. It seems the company’s full attention is focused on the Corolla, Camry, Avalon, RAV4, and Highlander rather than the other vehicles in its lineup. Granted, those vehicles garner the most sales, but perhaps the Sequoia would too if not a decade old. Just look at the first generation Sequoia – the first generation sold more than 70,000 examples in its first year back in 2002. Now, this petrified redwood only found 12,156 homes in 2017.

We simply can’t see spending nearly $70,000 on an SUV that’s so far behind and averages only 14 mpg combined. There are simply too many competitors with more to offer.

  • Leave it
    • * Outdated despite 2018 refresh
    • * Gets very expensive
    • * Too many competitors with modern features

References

Toyota Sequoia


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764290

What it’s Like to Daily Drive the 2018 Toyota Sequoia


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764305

Inside the 2018 Toyota Sequoia Platinum


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764295

What’s New on the 2018 Toyota Sequoia


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764340

The 2018 Toyota Sequoia is Thirsty


2018 Toyota Sequoia - Driven - image 764296

The Toyota Sequoia is Old-School Cool


2008 Toyota Sequoia - image 213843

Read our full review on the 2017 Toyota Sequoia.


maker logos - image 741755

Read more Toyota news.

PostHeaderIcon Mercedes Files Trademark for a New Naming Scheme

Mercedes has filed trademarks in Canada and other counties for a new two-digit naming scheme for its vehicles. This comes after the automaker revamped its nomenclature just a few years ago. The proposed new system dumps the three-digit system that corresponded to non-AMG models. Now all Mercedes models will have a two-digit name. Mercedes will use numeric names ending in 0 as markers for standard vehicles, while Mercedes-AMG models will end in 3.

As an example, the CLA-Class would have the Mercedes-Benz CLA 40 and the Mercedes-AMG CLA 53. Making the new nomenclature more confusion is the fact the numeric identifiers don’t actually mean anything; they don’t correspond to engine displacement or horsepower.

Mercedes’ patent filing in Canada includes the A 40, CLA 40, SLC 40, SLC 50, and GLE 50 for the “standard models” and CLA 53, G73, and S73 for those high-performance models with an AMG badge. Perhaps even more important than the new nomenclature is that S73 name. The 73 is new and, according to Auto Guide, likely signals the rumored performance hybrid variant of the S-Class is happening. The super saloon is expected to boast 805 horsepower from a 4.0-liter V-8 backed by an electric motor.

Auto Guide continues to speculate about Mercedes’ last Canadian filing of “Turbo 48.” The website theorizes the new name is a drivetrain variant that will combine turbocharging with a 48-volt mild hybrid system and be available in a wide range of Mercedes models. Apparently, the Turbo 48 designation won’t be constrained to specific engines, but rather just signifies their forced induction and mild hybrid system.

As for the G73 model, that would be the Mercedes-AMG version of the new G-Class. Mercedes has promised a new AMG-ified G-Wagen would arrive for the 2019 model year, so the patent filing makes perfect sense. AG speculates Mercedes will debut the new high-performance SUV at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show come March.

References


maker logos - image 743625

Read more Mercedes-Benz news.

PostHeaderIcon Genesis To Get Its Own U.S. Dealership Network

Genesis is looking to separate itself from parent company Hyundai by establishing its own dealership network in the U.S. The move is seen as a way for Genesis to create its own luxury identity, something that it could struggle doing if it remains in the shadow of Hyundai. The Korean luxury brand is putting together a multi-year business roadmap that will create as many as 100 retailers all over the country, covering all of the company’s important luxury markets. In the meantime, the new network will conduct its business in temporary stores or shared facilities.


2017 Genesis G80 - image 683387
“The Korean luxury brand is putting together a multi-year business roadmap that will create as many as 100 retailers all over the country”

If you’ve been following Genesis’ exploits, you know that this was coming. Hyundai’s new luxury brand can’t rely on the parent company if it wants to become a force in the luxury car segment. There’s a significant difference in demographic between the two brands that could be disadvantageous for Genesis. It’s why Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura have their own networks. Genesis needs to do the same if it wants to make the same impact as its rivals.

At Genesis, we believe in putting our customers first and giving them a proper ownership experience,” said Erwin Raphael, General Manager of Genesis Motor America said in a statement. “To ensure that happens, we need to take this next step in the separation of the Genesis brand from our parent company.”

Part of the need of having its own dealership network means that Genesis can cater its consumer experience to fit its specific market. Luxury brands are more geared to offer upscale amenities to its consumers. Lincoln, for example, has a concierge service that can assist with roadside assistance. Other luxury automakers offer something similar, to go with pick-up and delivery options for vehicle services.


2017 Genesis G90 - image 661892
“Part of the need of having its own dealership network means that Genesis can cater its consumer experience to fit its specific market”

Genesis needs to offer something similar because its potential customers expect to get treated the same way. These retail networks will go a long way in helping the company gain the kind of luxury status it needs to compete in its segment. It’s important to do it soon, too, because the Genesis brand is growing. Last year, the automaker sold 20,584 units of the G80, G80 Sport, and G90. With the arrival of other models like the G70, Genesis will need to grow out of its Hyundai bubble and become the luxury brand it’s meant to be.

“Establishing a right-sized Genesis retailer network, as our product portfolio grows, will ensure the Genesis brand can succeed and thrive long-term within the luxury automotive market,” Raphael said.

Truer words have never been spoken.

References

Genesis G80


2017 Genesis G80 - image 683424

Read our full review on the 2018 Genesis G80.

Genesis G90


2017 Genesis G90 - image 661893

Read our full review on the 2018 Genesis G90.

Genesis G70


2018 Genesis G70 - image 731674

Read our full review on the 2018 Genesis G70.

PostHeaderIcon Mercedes-Benz Debuts 2018 A-Class And Wants You To Feel All Warm And Gooey

Mercedes-Benz just dropped the camo on its latest A-Class model, showing the fresh four-door hatch in a special live-streamed debut event in Amsterdam. In addition to crisper lines outside and a totally new interior, the A-Class also comes packing with a huge number of new and updated technology features.

Continue reading for the full story.


The Full Story


Mercedes-Benz Debuts 2018 A-Class And Wants You To Feel All Warm And Gooey - image 764854
“Inside, the A-Class seeks to offer customers a top-tier luxury experience, similar to what you get in Merc's more-expensive models.”

Mercedes sold over 620,000 compact cars worldwide in 2017, so it’s not gonna be shy when it comes to keeping its entry-level segment feeling as fresh as possible. To that end, the new A-Class comes with a restyled exterior draped in the brand’s very latest design language. Up front, the fascia gains sharper headlight housings, a large bisected grille and diamond insert, plus a sleek profile. In back, there are triangular taillights and a diffuser element between a duo of trapezoidal exhaust tips.

Inside, the A-Class seeks to offer customers a top-tier luxury experience, similar to what you get in Merc’s more-expensive models. The extra refinement starts with better driveability and ride comfort courtesy of the increased torsional rigidity, which enables the suspension to do its work more efficiently.

Customers will also flock to the all-new interior design, which is dominated by two large screens on the dash. The latest infotainment features from Merc’s MBUX infotainment suite give it a smartphone-esque operation, as well as digital assistant voice command functions.

Mercedes says it’s the same tech that you’d get in Merc’s range-topping S-Class, which is surely a big selling point among younger buyers. Additional features include augmented reality, which uses screen overlays to show navigation instructions and other helpful info overlaid on a live camera feed (think big arrows pointing where to go).


Mercedes-Benz Debuts 2018 A-Class And Wants You To Feel All Warm And Gooey - image 764833
“Additional features include augmented reality, which uses screen overlays to show navigation instructions and other helpful info overlaid on a live camera feed (think big arrows pointing where to go).”

Two new features include expanded blind spot assist, which will remain active for three minutes after parking to help you keep an eye out for dangers, such as approaching cyclists. There’s also casual private car sharing, which lets you leave the key in the car for select friends and family, who then use an app to access the vehicle for a certain amount of time.

There will be three models offered to European buyers, starting with the A180d, which comes with 114 horsepower and a 1.5-liter diesel powerplant. Next is the A200, which gets a 1.4-liter gas engine making 160 horsepower, and finally the 2.0-liter A250 with 221 horsepower. We also fully expect an AMG iteration pumping out around 400 ponies sometime in the next year or so.

No word on stateside availability, but odds are Merc will simply lift it and sell it as a compact SUV.

References

Mercedes-Benz A-Class


Mercedes-Benz Debuts 2018 A-Class And Wants You To Feel All Warm And Gooey - image 764835

Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class.


maker logos - image 743625

Read more Mercedes-Benz news.

PostHeaderIcon Mercedes-Benz Debuts 2018 A-Class And Wants You To Feel All Warm And Gooey

Mercedes-Benz just dropped the camo on its latest A-Class model, showing the fresh four-door hatch in a special live-streamed debut event in Amsterdam. In addition to crisper lines outside and a totally new interior, the A-Class also comes packing with a huge number of new and updated technology features.

Continue reading for the full story.


The Full Story


Mercedes-Benz Debuts 2018 A-Class And Wants You To Feel All Warm And Gooey - image 764854
“Inside, the A-Class seeks to offer customers a top-tier luxury experience, similar to what you get in Merc's more-expensive models.”

Mercedes sold over 620,000 compact cars worldwide in 2017, so it’s not gonna be shy when it comes to keeping its entry-level segment feeling as fresh as possible. To that end, the new A-Class comes with a restyled exterior draped in the brand’s very latest design language. Up front, the fascia gains sharper headlight housings, a large bisected grille and diamond insert, plus a sleek profile. In back, there are triangular taillights and a diffuser element between a duo of trapezoidal exhaust tips.

Inside, the A-Class seeks to offer customers a top-tier luxury experience, similar to what you get in Merc’s more-expensive models. The extra refinement starts with better driveability and ride comfort courtesy of the increased torsional rigidity, which enables the suspension to do its work more efficiently.

Customers will also flock to the all-new interior design, which is dominated by two large screens on the dash. The latest infotainment features from Merc’s MBUX infotainment suite give it a smartphone-esque operation, as well as digital assistant voice command functions.

Mercedes says it’s the same tech that you’d get in Merc’s range-topping S-Class, which is surely a big selling point among younger buyers. Additional features include augmented reality, which uses screen overlays to show navigation instructions and other helpful info overlaid on a live camera feed (think big arrows pointing where to go).


Mercedes-Benz Debuts 2018 A-Class And Wants You To Feel All Warm And Gooey - image 764833
“Additional features include augmented reality, which uses screen overlays to show navigation instructions and other helpful info overlaid on a live camera feed (think big arrows pointing where to go).”

Two new features include expanded blind spot assist, which will remain active for three minutes after parking to help you keep an eye out for dangers, such as approaching cyclists. There’s also casual private car sharing, which lets you leave the key in the car for select friends and family, who then use an app to access the vehicle for a certain amount of time.

There will be three models offered to European buyers, starting with the A180d, which comes with 114 horsepower and a 1.5-liter diesel powerplant. Next is the A200, which gets a 1.4-liter gas engine making 160 horsepower, and finally the 2.0-liter A250 with 221 horsepower. We also fully expect an AMG iteration pumping out around 400 ponies sometime in the next year or so.

No word on stateside availability, but odds are Merc will simply lift it and sell it as a compact SUV.

References

Mercedes-Benz A-Class


Mercedes-Benz Debuts 2018 A-Class And Wants You To Feel All Warm And Gooey - image 764835

Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class.


maker logos - image 743625

Read more Mercedes-Benz news.

PostHeaderIcon Mercedes-Benz Debuts 2018 A-Class And Wants You To Feel All Warm And Gooey

Mercedes-Benz just dropped the camo on its latest A-Class model, showing the fresh four-door hatch in a special live-streamed debut event in Amsterdam. In addition to crisper lines outside and a totally new interior, the A-Class also comes packing with a huge number of new and updated technology features.

Continue reading for the full story.


The Full Story


Mercedes-Benz Debuts 2018 A-Class And Wants You To Feel All Warm And Gooey - image 764854
“Inside, the A-Class seeks to offer customers a top-tier luxury experience, similar to what you get in Merc's more-expensive models.”

Mercedes sold over 620,000 compact cars worldwide in 2017, so it’s not gonna be shy when it comes to keeping its entry-level segment feeling as fresh as possible. To that end, the new A-Class comes with a restyled exterior draped in the brand’s very latest design language. Up front, the fascia gains sharper headlight housings, a large bisected grille and diamond insert, plus a sleek profile. In back, there are triangular taillights and a diffuser element between a duo of trapezoidal exhaust tips.

Inside, the A-Class seeks to offer customers a top-tier luxury experience, similar to what you get in Merc’s more-expensive models. The extra refinement starts with better driveability and ride comfort courtesy of the increased torsional rigidity, which enables the suspension to do its work more efficiently.

Customers will also flock to the all-new interior design, which is dominated by two large screens on the dash. The latest infotainment features from Merc’s MBUX infotainment suite give it a smartphone-esque operation, as well as digital assistant voice command functions.

Mercedes says it’s the same tech that you’d get in Merc’s range-topping S-Class, which is surely a big selling point among younger buyers. Additional features include augmented reality, which uses screen overlays to show navigation instructions and other helpful info overlaid on a live camera feed (think big arrows pointing where to go).


Mercedes-Benz Debuts 2018 A-Class And Wants You To Feel All Warm And Gooey - image 764833
“Additional features include augmented reality, which uses screen overlays to show navigation instructions and other helpful info overlaid on a live camera feed (think big arrows pointing where to go).”

Two new features include expanded blind spot assist, which will remain active for three minutes after parking to help you keep an eye out for dangers, such as approaching cyclists. There’s also casual private car sharing, which lets you leave the key in the car for select friends and family, who then use an app to access the vehicle for a certain amount of time.

There will be three models offered to European buyers, starting with the A180d, which comes with 114 horsepower and a 1.5-liter diesel powerplant. Next is the A200, which gets a 1.4-liter gas engine making 160 horsepower, and finally the 2.0-liter A250 with 221 horsepower. We also fully expect an AMG iteration pumping out around 400 ponies sometime in the next year or so.

No word on stateside availability, but odds are Merc will simply lift it and sell it as a compact SUV.

References

Mercedes-Benz A-Class


Mercedes-Benz Debuts 2018 A-Class And Wants You To Feel All Warm And Gooey - image 764835

Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class.


maker logos - image 743625

Read more Mercedes-Benz news.

PostHeaderIcon Lincoln Aviator

It seems Ford is busy developing new vehicles these days. We’ve seen spy shots of a refreshed Explorer, a new Focus hatchback, and this, which is a long-wheelbase SUV that is much larger than the Explorer yet smaller than the Expedition. Upon closer inspection, this test mule rides on reused Lincoln Navigator wheels, has a large vertical pillar in the center of its grille, and has taillights that somewhat recall the shape of the current Navigator’s rear lights. Could it be that Lincoln is preparing a second-generation Aviator? It seems to be happening.

This isn’t the first we’ve heard of the Aviator name getting a reprise. Several articles suggest Lincoln is working on the mid-size SUV. Looking holistically at Lincoln’s lineup, the Aviator would fit perfectly between the larger Navigator and smaller (and recently renamed from MKX) Nautilus. That means Lincoln would have three crossovers with seating for five in the Nautilus, seven in the Aviator, and seven in the Navigator. Of course, the Navigator would remain the flagship SUV with the Aviator targeting luxury-minded yet slightly more budget-conscious families needing three rows of seating. The two-row Nautilus would target small families and empty nesters.

Continue reading for more information and speculation.

Spy Video


Exterior


2020 Lincoln Aviator - image 763791
“The Lincoln Aviator is definitely longer and lower-slung than the current Ford Explorer yet smaller than the new Navigator”

While we can’t be completely certain this is the Lincoln Aviator, it is definitely longer and lower-slung than the current Ford Explorer yet smaller than the new Navigator. It also wouldn’t make any sense for Lincoln to have a camouflaged Navigator at this point since it is already in showrooms.

Nevertheless, this SUV is clearly a three-row model with what appears to be generous amounts of second-row legroom and a smaller third-row seat – at least by judging from the wheelbase, rear door placement, and the roofline.

The grille and headlights are pretty well covered, but we’re still able to make out the vehicle’s overall proportions. A low-hanging air dam is present for aerodynamics and the bumper’s center section appears to have a large opening for cooling. The upper grille can’t be seen, but the camo has a rather pronounced vertical line, which hints at this being a Lincoln.


2020 Lincoln Aviator - image 763790

Further adding suspension that this test mule is a Lincoln are the taillights. Their overall shape looks nothing like a Ford Explorer’s taillights, but rather connect across the tailgate like all of Lincoln’s current vehicles. The rear bumper also features dual exhaust cut-outs, further pointing to its upscale nature.

Of course, it’s hard to know anything for sure at this point, but we will certainly keep an eye out for what transpires.

Interior


The New Lincoln Navigator is Here, and You're Going to Want One - image 712895
“We expect a cabin much like the one seen in the new 2018 Lincoln Navigator.”

Neither our spy photographer nor the guys at TFL Car were able to grab photos of this vehicle’s interior. Should it actually be the new Lincoln Aviator, we expect a cabin much like the one seen in the new 2018 Lincoln Navigator.

A Navigator-inspired interior would include a low, horizontal dashboard with a floating center infotainment screen and a digital gauge cluster. A push-button gear shifter would be present, along with high-end materials like wood, metal, and full-grain leather. Its really up to Lincoln to set the tone for the Aviator. The SUV could carry the same level of refinement and luxury as the Navigator, but be more family-friendly thanks to its smaller size, or it could use less expensive interior finishings and cater to lower price bracket. We’re hoping for the former. After all, Lincoln should leave the budget-friendly vehicles to Ford.

The rear seats will likely come in a 3+2 configuration, meaning the second row is a three-person bench seat and the third row has seating for two. We’d bet on an optional second-row captain’s chairs, allowing for walking space between the chairs for easier entry and exit from the third row. Expect cargo space to be less than Navigator but larger than the current Explorer.

Drivetrain


In Depth: 2017 Ford F-150 Buyer's Guide - image 699526
“Given Ford’s current obsession with twin-turbocharging V-6 engines in the EcoBoost line, we’d bet big money the Aviator will also make use of an EcoBoost engine”

Given Ford’s current obsession with twin-turbocharging V-6 engines in the EcoBoost line, we’d bet big money the Aviator will also make use of an EcoBoost engine. While the full-size, body-on-frame Navigator uses the 3.5-liter EcoBoost with an impressive 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque, we suspect Lincoln will use the standard-output version of the 3.5-liter that’s used in the F-150. In that application, it makes a still-respectable 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. That would give the Aviator the “premium” advantage over the Ford Explorer’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost and its output of 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque.

We suspect the second-generation Lincoln Aviator will take after the first-generation model and share its platform with the Ford Explorer. If that’s the case, the Aviator will use a unibody platform, a transversely mounted engine, and come with front-wheel drive as standard. If that’s the case, Lincoln will likely use the same automatic transmission used in the Explorer. The current 2018 model makes do with a six-speed gearbox, but we’d bet on either a new eight-speed or for Ford to develop a transverse mounting application for its new 10-speed automatic.

Regardless of engine or transmission offerings, an optional AWD system will be offered.

Pricing


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Given the Lincoln MKX (updated and renamed Nautilus for 2019) starts around $40,000 and the 2018 Navigator starts at $72,000, Lincoln has plenty of room to play with pricing. Conversely, the Ford Explorer’s range-topping trim, the Platinum, starts at $53,940. Lincoln could very well price the Aviator at $55,000. Of course, that is nothing more than conjecture.

The Competition

Audi Q7


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The Audi Q7 is completely new for 2018 and it boasts a sharpened appearance, a more technologically advanced in just about every way. Hinted by its name, the Q7 seats seven people in a 2+3+2 configuration. The dash features Audi’s swanky Virtual Cockpit and updated MMI infotainment system

The Q7 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Optionally, a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 is offered and makes 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. Regardless of engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission sends power to all four wheels via the Quattro AWD system.

Pricing for the 2018 Audi Q7 starts at $49,900 for the “base” Premium trim with the 2.0-liter. The range-topping Prestige trim with its standard V-6 starts at $65,400.

Read our full review on the 2018 Audi Q7.

Volvo XC90


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The Volvo charts its own course in the luxury SUV segment with a reserved, clean-cut appearance that isn’t overly ostentatious. It offers seating for seven in a 2+3+2 arrangement and boasts features like built-in child booster seats in the second row and four-zone climate controls. Other niceties is Volvo’s massive touchscreen infotainment system.

Volvo gives XC90 shoppers a choice between three engine options. The first is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque in the T5. The mid-range engine is the same 2.0-liter but with both a turbo and supercharger. The result is 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque in the T6. The third option is the T8 and it includes the T6’s engine mated with an 87-horse hybrid electric system that kicks out a final output to 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque while getting 25 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined.

Prices for the XC90 start at $45,900 with the T5 Momentum trim. The T6 Momentum starts at $54,350 and the T8 eAWD Momentum starts at $64,950.

Read our full review on the 2018 Volvo XC90.

Jeep Wagoneer


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An honorable mention is the upcoming Jeep Wagoneer. Little is known about this vehicle other than it will ride on a modified version of the Ram 1500’s ladder frame and will offer three rows of seating. It will be targeted toward the upper-middle-class range of vehicles, while its more luxurious brother, the Grand Wagoneer, will compete with vehicles like the Range Rover, Cadillac Escalade, and Lincoln Navigator.

Read our full speculative review on the 2018 Jeep Wagoneer

Conclusion


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Lincoln is fighting its way back into relevancy thanks to vehicles like the Navigator and Continental. New models with actual names, like the Nautilus, will further help the brand compete on the world’s stage. Adding a three-row crossover slotted between the two-row Nautilus and the full-size, three-row Navigator would give Lincoln a very strong lineup.

Only time will tell if we’re right about the Aviator – provide that’s even what we’re looking at. Obviously TFL Car seems to think this is the next-generation Ford Explorer, and they are not alone. However, due to its longer wheelbase, low-slung stance, and Lincoln-like features, we’re leaning towards this being the Aviator. Add to that we’ve seen at least one Ford Explorer running around in camouflage, suggesting it will only be receiving an update in the coming years. It could also be the rumored high-performance Explorer ST.

  • Leave it
    • * No real confirmation on identity
    • * Could actually be new Ford Explorer
    • * No official word for Ford/Lincoln

References


The New Lincoln Navigator is Here, and You're Going to Want One - image 712920

Read our full review on the 2018 Lincoln Navigator.


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Read more Lincoln news.

PostHeaderIcon Video: Mercedes S-Class With “Digital Light” Headlights Caught Testing In The Wild

Mercedes’ up-and-coming four-door limo is hitting the streets early, this time to test out the German brand’s latest headlight technology. The large-and-in-charge luxury sedan was recently caught prowling the public streets emblazoned with a set of side graphics proudly declaring “Digital Light,” so it’s not exactly a secret Merc is pushing to get this tech into the hands of customers as soon as possible.

The “Digital Light” system first broke cover early last month, with Mercedes proclaiming a litany of benefits to safety. For example, the headlights can project road signs directly onto the road, like a stop sign at an intersection, providing an extra reminder to the driver and others. The headlights also provide the usual adaptive features, identifying other cars on the road and changing the beam pattern to refrain from dazzling oncoming motorists. The system will even modify the beam to keep it out of the eyes of pedestrians.

To accomplish this, each headlight in the S-Class will use more than a million “micro mirrors,” each of which helps to refine the headlight beam as needed, while a system of outboard cameras and radar systems scan the road for traffic signs, cars, and pedestrians. In addition to the updates to the new HD headlights, the S-Class will also get a pair of new taillights, although they won’t be nearly as tech-heavy as the lights up front.

Unfortunately, it’s uncertain whether or not the Digital Light tech will make it stateside, as outdated legislation could prevent it from being sold here, much like old adaptive headlight technology. Either way, look for it to hit dealers in Europe as soon as 2020.


References

Mercedes-Benz S-Class


2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - image 713883

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.


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Read more Mercedes-Benz news.

PostHeaderIcon You Can Rent A Tesla In Minneapolis For Super Bowl Week

Normally, if you wanna drive around in a new Tesla for a little while, you gotta have a trusting friend with one already parked in his or her driveway. Now, one rental company in Minnesota is offering folks a shot at experiencing a Tesla first-hand by renting them out during Super Bowl week.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story


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Thanks to its silent-running motors and low-end all-electron torque shove, driving a Tesla is most definitely an interesting and unique experience. The badge carries quite a bit of clout, which has prompted a variety of rental companies to offer the California-sourced EVs as their exclusive brand. Trevls is one such company, and now the Minneapolis-based firm is setting up shop at the Mall of America to push its 20-Tesla strong fleet out to visitors in town for the Big Game.

Pricing ranges between $195 per day for the Model S sedan, while the Model X sport utility vehicle is $350 per day. Funny enough, Trevls is even offering rental by the hour, which is perfect for anyone looking to take a Tesla for a test drive.


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“Finding a Model S parked inside the Mall of America is a bit of a windfall for Tesla, as the company has been vying to get a location there to tempt potential buyers.”

Finding a Model S parked inside the Mall of America is a bit of a windfall for Tesla, as the company has been vying to get a location there to tempt potential buyers. However, state law stipulates car sales must be done through a dealer, which is a sales model Tesla refuses to adopt, instead preferring direct sales. However, a rental company offering hour-long rates circumvents the issue entirely.

As a reminder, the current Tesla Model S comes in three different flavors, including the 275-mile 75D, the 351-mile 100D, and the top-trim 337-mile P100D. That last model manages an incredible run to 60 mph in just 2.3 seconds. Meanwhile, the Model X features seating for up to seven passengers, Falcon Wing doors, and 295 miles per charge.

References

Tesla Model S


2017 Tesla Model S - image 672438

Read our full review on the 2017 Tesla Model S.

Tesla Model X


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Read our full review on the 2017 Tesla Model X.


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Read more Tesla news.

PostHeaderIcon Porsche Claims The Mission E is its Make-or-Break Model

The Porsche Mission E electric car is an important model for Porsche. It’s so important, actually, that Porsche CEO Oliver Blume describes at as the company’s make-or-break model. There might be some hyperbole attached to that statement, but the all-electric sedan’s importance to the automaker’s electrification effort cannot be understated. At worst, it could short-circuit Porsche’s dreams of an electrified future. At best, it could jolt that future to life.


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“he German automaker has invested more than $1 billion on these new technologies, and the Mission-E sits at the heart of that investment”

The industry is trending towards an electrified future, and almost all automakers are getting on board with that shift. Porsche is in on it, too. The German automaker has invested more than $1 billion on these new technologies, and the Mission-E sits at the heart of that investment. That’s a lot of money tied to the potential of one model to live up to expectations.

The good news is that Porsche has a good track record of innovation. It was one of the first companies to really strike gold in the luxury SUV market. It’s decision to build a four-door saloon — the Panamera — has opened plenty of doors, including the hybrid and plug-in hybrid markets. According to Porsche, the Panamera plug-in hybrid is now the best-selling variant of the sedan, accounting for around 60 percent of the Panamera’s sales volume. Countries like Norway and Belgium have even reported 90 percent sales of the plug-in hybrid, a staggering percentage even by today’s standards.


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“The goal now is to put the electric sedan in the best possible position to succeed”

The kind of success Porsche has had in the hybrid, and plug-in hybrid segments, is what the company’s hoping to replicate with the Mission-E. Albrecht Reimold, member of the Executive Board for Production and Logistic, called the Mission E the company’s “most ambitious project.” The resources Porsche put into developing the car, and the technology that comes with it adds weight to the statement.

The goal now is to put the electric sedan in the best possible position to succeed. Porsche is doing its part with the nine-figure investment. Of that sum, $870 million went to the production facilities near its headquarters in Zuffenhausen. There’s a new paint shop, a dedicated assembly area, and long conveyor bridge that will be used to transport the painted bodies and drive units to the final assembly area.

If the Mission E becomes a successful model, Porsche’s investments in electrification will spur the creation of a new line of pure electric models. If the Mission E is not a success, then Porsche will likely lose all the momentum it has generated in recent years.

No pressure, right?

References

Porsche Mission E


Porsche Claims The Mission E is its Make-or-Break Model - image 750706

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Porsche Mission E.


2021 Porsche Mission E GTS - image 743227

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Porsche Mission E GTS.


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Read more Porsche news.

PostHeaderIcon Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic

Merc has been making the CLS-Class since the early 2000’s, dropping the first-gen with a debut at the 2004 New York International Auto Show. Framed as a sleek sedan packing top-shelf luxury, a sporty exterior, and no shortage of power under the hood, Merc quickly ushered in the go-faster AMG iteration at the 2004 Paris Motor Show. The second-generation CLS arrived in 2011, with a hot-to-trot AMG 63 hot on its heels. Now, there’s a third-gen model on the table, with the latest CLS dropping at the 2017 Los Angeles Show. As is tradition, Mercedes brought along a new AMG iteration as well, introducing the new 53-Series model alongside two other high-powered luxury rides from the boffins at AMG, including the 53-Series AMG E-Class Coupe and the
E-Class Cabriolet, all of which arrived in style at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. All told, the latest AMG CLS 53 4Matic comes packing with superlative Mercedes-Benz styling, the latest technology in the cabin, a high-performance attitude, and all the requisite power to back it.

The new four-door coupe also comes a supplementary electric system that adds a good deal of low-end torque on demand, a feature that makes the heavy-hitting luxury cruiser even more frisky when you dig into the skinny pedal. “With the new 53-series models we are extending our portfolio in a first step towards a hybridised future with a leading-edge combination of sporty design, performance and efficiency,” says Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management at Mercedes-AMG GmbH. Sounds good. But how good is it, really? Read on for all the details.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4MATIC.

Exterior

  • Looks elegant and refined, yet aggressive
  • Four-door coupe body style
  • Wide and low stance
  • Graceful roof line
  • Pumped-up AMG cues front to back
  • Tweaked styling in the nose
  • Extended and rounded rear end
  • Polished metal and carbon fiber trim
  • Subtle yet effective rear trunk spoiler
  • Standard 19-inch wheels
  • Optional 20-inch wheels

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“When it comes to the underlying philosophy driving the CLS-Series, there seems to be two main schools of thought – elegance and power.”

When it comes to the underlying philosophy driving the CLS-Series, there seems to be two main schools of thought – the first is elegance and refinement, which is to be expected considering the three-pointed star badge fixed to the nose. The other half of the equation is power and performance, both traits that get triple underlined when dealing with something from AMG.

As such, the AMG CLS 53 4Matic looks like a powerful, low-swept grand touring machine. The wheelbase is long, as is the hood line, while the stance is wide and close to the ground. The headlight housings pull back into the fenders with a triangular shape and check-mark daytime running lights, while the roof line is rounded, falling back into an equally rounded rear end with a graceful, unbroken arc. The tail section is square in its proportions and rounded at the edges, enhancing the car’s visual length with an extended overhang.

Updated features for the latest 2018 model year are numerous. Let’s start in front, where we find a twin-blade radiator grille, a design once relegated exclusively for the V-8 models (this one’s got a ’six under the hood, by the way). The main intake is complemented by black mesh insert, as is the lower horizontal intake. A dividing middle character bar stretches from side to side and comes finished in shiny metal. There’s also an A-wing front apron that incorporates black flics, while a front splitter juts out from the lower bumper section and comes finished with chrome detailing. Further horizontal elements in the outer intakes also add to the car’s visual width, while additional air curtains specific to the model help to reduce drag.


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“The AMG CLS 53 4Matic looks like a powerful, low-swept grand touring machine. The wheelbase is long, as is the hood line, while the stance is wide and close to the ground. New features include a restyled grille and extra aero efficiency.”

Moving over to the car’s profile, we find AMG-specific side sills that bring the car just a little closer to the ground. Higher up, there’s a set of side-view mirrors that are positioned further back on the body in a manner that’s reminiscent of the AMG GT sports car. We also love how that roof line naturally draws the eye rearwards into the well-proportioned rear end.

Speaking of the rear, the tail of the machine sports mud flaps that were redesigned to be more aerodynamically efficient, moving air around the wheel arches. The rear apron comes with a diffuser insert that completes the car’s squarish rear profile, plus there’s a quartet of round exhaust tips finished in a high-gloss chrome that do well to enhance the car’s sporting demeanor. Up top is a body-colored trunk lid spoiler, a feature that’s also offered in an optional carbon-fiber finish. At the sides are two-section taillights, which Mercedes says allow for a bigger trunk opening. Their shape also gives the car a wide and low stance that looks great with its wider track.


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Finally, the AMG CLS 53 4Matic comes standard with 19-inch wheels made with an alloy construction, but buyers can also get theirs with the optional 20-inch wheels if preferred.

Interior

  • Horizontal layout dripping with opulence
  • Large infotainment screen connects with the driver’s screen
  • Several options for upholstery materials and colors
  • Multiple display modes for the screens
  • Carbon fiber trim material dominates throughout
  • Sport seats keep limbs in place
  • Brushed metal adds extra bling
  • Voice control and touch pad for inputs
  • Energizing comfort control provides synergy
  • Latest safety tech included

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“Horizontal cues appear to be the predominant style here, with a broad, sweeping dash that wraps its way fully around the cabin in an almost unbroken slab.”

Like its exterior appearance, the interior of the AMG CLS 53 4Matic looks to combine elegance with sportiness. However, this go-faster four-door definitely leans heavily towards the sporting side of things thanks to its copious AMG-specific equipment and trim bits.

But before we get into all that, though, let’s first examine the layout and design. Horizontal cues appear to be the predominant style here, with a broad, sweeping dash that wraps its way fully around the cabin in an almost unbroken slab. Air vents are placed in the corners, while a quartet of vents are mounted in the middle, all coming with a rounded shape and exaggerated rifling inserts. The center console is equally large and wide, as is the infotainment and gauge cluster screens (more on those in a little bit).

In back, we find a wave design seating arrangement, which Mercedes says was tweaked this time around to provide more comfort. There’s a new shape, new colors, and
new materials, with an overarching focus on providing the utmost in comfort, ergonomics, sportiness, and safety. There’s also an adjustable head rest height. There’s seating for three in the rear, which in addition to the two up front, brings passenger capacity to five. Additional practicality is offered with the 40:20:40 split in the bench, making the most of the available space in the trunk.

Now let’s talk about all that AMG gear, shall we? The CLS 53 comes standard with an AMG steering wheel wrapped in nappa leather, offering a flat bottom, four spokes, red contrast stitching, and a red top center mark. The wheel is also optional with wood inserts in piano lacquer, or a Dinamica microfiber, if preferred. There’s highly bolstered sport seats up front as well, with an AMG-specific upholstery appointment, plus more of that red contrast stitching. AMG badges are added in numerous places, and there are red seat belts to keep you in place. Carbon fiber trim is the dominant material of choice, but you can also get it with glass fiber in matte silver. Brushed metal and aluminum add extra bling.


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“The CLS 53 comes standard with an AMG steering wheel wrapped in nappa leather, highly bolstered sport seats, AMG-specific upholstery appointment, AMG badges, and red seat belts to keep you in place. Carbon fiber trim dominates.”

The top-shelf materials don’t stop there. Options include Artico leatherette and Dinamicra microfiber, nappa leather, and designo interior gear. Meanwhile, the color combos include macchiato beige with magma grey, black with bengal red, and espresso brown with magma grey. Several colors are also added to the rim of the steering wheel and the rear seating.

High-end materials and slick upholstery appointment are great, but no modern luxury mobile worth its animal hide would be complete without a modern infotainment system to keep passengers entertained and properly informed. As such, the AMG CLS 53 gets a new “control and display concept,” plus an optional 12.3-inch diagonal screen. This unit combines to create a Widescreen Cockpit view, stretching across the dash to join up with the digital gauges behind the wheel. Users can adjust this to suit their taste using a lineup of display styles, which include “Classic,” “Sporty,” and “Progressive.” It’s also configurable to view parameters such as the engine oil temperature, the transmission oil temperature, lateral and longitudinal acceleration, engine output, torque levels, boost pressure, tire temperatures, tire pressure, and other info, plus the current vehicle system settings (and yeah, there’s a lot of them).

User inputs are made via touch-sensitive buttons placed on the steering wheel, enabling swiping motions akin to what you’d use on a smartphone or mobile device. There’s also a touch pad controller in the center console, and a new Linguatronic voice control system, the latter of which can be used for additional functions and features, such as the air conditioning, seat heat and ventilation, interior lights, and the optional heads-up display.


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“One of the more interesting features is the optional “Energizing comfort control,” which connects a variety of different systems for a holistic cabin experience.”

One of the more interesting features is the optional “Energizing comfort control,” which connects a variety of different systems (air conditioning, seat heating/ventilation/massage, surface heating, steering wheel heating, lighting, and “music moods”). With all these systems properly connected, the comfort control will generate “a special wellness set-up to enhance well-being and performance,” depending on the driver’s moods and requirements. While the description is a little vague, we see it as a bit like a holistic climate control, encompassing more than just the temperature of the air coming through the vents to more accurately fulfill the needs of the passenger.

The AMG CLS 53 4Matic also pulls tech from the Mercedes S-Class for the safety gear. Standard spec throws in features like Active Braking Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Attention Assist, Speed Limit Assist, and the Pre-Safe system, while the optional gear includes Active Distance Assist, Active Steering Assist, Active Speed Limit Assist, Active Braking Assist (plus Cross-Traffic Function), Evasive Steering Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, and Pre-Safe Plus. Making it all work is the onboard camera and radar systems, which also throw in navigation data “to calculate vehicle behavior.”

Drivetrain

  • 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine
  • Twin turbochargers pump up the output
  • EQ Boost adds electric efficiency and low-end shove
  • Peak output rated at 435 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque.
  • 0-to-62 mph done in 4.5 seconds
  • Top speed rated at 168 mph with optional Driver’s package
  • Nine-speed automatic transmission and 4Matic AWD
  • Multiple drive modes

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“The big news in this department is the new EQ Boost starter-alternator, which can “momentarily” provide another 21.5 horsepower and a remarkable 184.4 pound-feet of torque.”

Pop the hood on this four-door, and you’ll first find a big plastic engine cover, as is tradition these days. However, under all that plastic, Mercedes is hiding an electrified 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine, which gets pumped up by a twin-turbo set-up that includes one turbo spun by exhaust gases and a second turbo spun by an electric auxiliary compressor.

Of course, the big news in this department is the new EQ Boost starter-alternator, which can “momentarily” provide another 16 kW (21.5 horsepower) and a remarkable 250 Nm (184.4 pound-feet) of torque. The added muscle is great, but in addition to the extra go, the EQ Boost will also provide juice to the 48-volt onboard electrics.

This feature manages to combine a starter and alternator into a single electric motor, which Merc then mounted between the engine and transmission. According to the automaker, “This innovation as well as the intelligent charging via an electric auxiliary compressor and an exhaust gas turbocharger all have the same goal: to enhance the hallmark AMG performance and driving dynamics, while at the same time reducing fuel consumption and emissions.” We’re all for that first bit, but if Merc can one-up the output while also decreasing the fuel consumption, we’re all for it.


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“A system like this should provide a really solid whomp way down low in the rpm range, and once the engine is spinning fast enough, the gas-driven turbo will kick in for even more peak power.”

Indeed, a system like this should provide a really solid whomp way down low in the rpm range, and once the engine is spinning fast enough, the gas-driven turbo will kick in for even more peak power. That means that despite the high-boost applications, there’s no turbo lag, thus offering more refinement (less turbo thrash) and a super-sharp throttle response as well. Very nice.

All told, look out for this system to make into future hybrid applications from AMG. Even with a shift in priorities to higher efficiency, systems like this will keep the brand in the high-performance game. “Thanks to the 48 V battery, the overall battery capacity in the vehicle is increased, enabling more electrical energy to be made available – and therefore also allowing innovative functions to be introduced, for example,” Mercedes says. “The 48 V on-board electrical system is therefore paving the way for further hybridisation.”

While we’re on the subject, we might as well mention the fuel and energy savings that come with the 2018 model year. These include the previously mentioned 48-volt electric system, an energy recuperation system, and an engine start/stop system now offering smoother transitions between engine on and engine off. There’s also a glide mode that’ll let you coast when most appropriate. With all those systems combined, the AMG CLS 53 4Matic manages 8.4 liters per 100 km (28 mpg), as well as 200 grams per km in CO2 emissions.

More importantly, though, is output, which is rated at 435 horsepower and 520 Nm (384 pound-feet) of torque. All that muscle makes it quick, with the 0-to-100 km/h (62 mph) test done in only 4.5 seconds – solid sports car territory. Toss in the Driver’s package, and top speed looks like 270 km/h (168 mph), also impressive for such a large luxury four-door.

It’s also worth mentioning that the engine is shorter this time around, as Mercedes deleted the ancillary component belt drive. As a result, Merc was able to install the exhaust gas after-treatment system closer to the engine, yielding even higher levels of efficiency.


2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic - image 761032
“Output is rated at 435 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. All that muscle makes it quick, with the 0-to-62 mph test done in only 4.5 seconds – solid sports car territory.”

Making the connection with the engine is an AMG Speedshift 9G automatic transmission. Merc prides itself on the nine-speed’s short shift times, and the quick-response you get from the shift paddles behind the steering wheel. Stand out features for the transmission include a double-declutching function, plus the ability to execute multiple downshifts at a time. Sport+ is the mode of choice for the most crispiest shifts possible, while the box also offers a fully manual mode for a more hands-on approach to the cog swaps.

After the transmission, power is fed into a fully variable all-wheel drive AMG Performance 4Matic+ system as standard. This comes with an electro-mechanically controlled clutch, as well as variable torque transfer between the front and rear axles. That means it can go full RWD when needed. Of course, we wouldn’t expect Mercedes to offer a “drift” button to smoke the rear meats on demand – it’s more about optimal grip, rather than burnouts. Pity.

Finally, there are multiple drive modes offered, which can be selected via the Dynamic Select knob in the cabin. The drive modes include names like Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Individual, and the modes affect a variety of systems, branching out into the engine, the transmission, the suspension, and the steering.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine 3.0-litre 6-cylinder in-line engine with exhaust gas turbocharger and electric auxiliary compressor
Displacement 2,999 cc
Output 435 HP @ 6,100 RPM
Add. output with EQ Boost 22 HP
Peak torque 384 LB-FT @ 1,800-5,800 RPM
Add. torque with EQ Boost 184 LB-FT
Drive system AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive with fully variable torque distribution
Transmission AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9G
Fuel consumption – combined 8.5 l/100 km
CO2 emissions – combined 201 g/km
Acceleration 0-100 km/h 4.5 s
Top speed 250 km/h (155 mph)

Chassis And Handling

  • Independent air ride suspension components
  • Continuously variable dampers
  • Enormous brakes as standard
  • Self-leveling ride height
  • One-touch nose raise for steeply angled drives
  • Variable-ratio steering

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“The AMG CLS 53 4Matic uses an advanced AMG Ride Control+ system, which offers multi-chamber air dampers to keep it all shiny side up. The damping is adjusted by way of two separate valves for the rebound and compression, and AMG matched it with spring tuning that keeps it feeling appropriately sporty.”

To keep this heavy luxury barge feeling as sprightly as physically possible, Mercedes utilizes a fully independent suspension layout with a multi-link set-up in the rear. The headline in this area is the advanced AMG Ride Control+ equipment, which offers multi-chamber air dampers to keep it all shiny side up. The damping is adjusted by way of two separate valves for the rebound and compression, and AMG matched it with spring tuning that keeps it feeling appropriately sporty. It’s also continuously adjustable for the damping, offering harder settings while cruising through the corners to help reduce the car’s inherent body roll.

The air suspension also offers a self-leveling feature for a consistent ride height “regardless of vehicle load.” Another perk is that the driver can raise the front end on demand to help maneuver up highly angled driveways or whatever else might be in the way. Just hit it with one button touch, and you’ll be good to go. The car will then automatically lower back to the normal ride height as you drive along.

Merc also mentions that there are special steering knuckles in front and new load-bearing joints as well, while extra negative camber was added this time around for crisper turn-in characteristics. Speaking of
turning, there’s an AMG speed-sensitive steering on board as well, offering a variable steering rack ratio and more feedback with the sportier drive modes.

Finally, the brakes are appropriately large for the application, measuring in with 370 mm (14.6-inch) by 36 mm (1.4-inch) discs in front, clamped by four-pot calipers. In back, there are 360 mm (14.2-inch) by 26 mm (1-inch) discs, clamped by single-pot calipers.

Prices


2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic - image 761047

Official pricing was not announced as of this writing, but it’s probably safe to assume it’ll be around the $80,000 mark, considering the current V-8 powered 550 4Matic starts at $77,650 and the fire-breathing CLS 63 S starts at $108,900.

If so inclined, buyers can act early and get into the Exclusive Edition 1 version. The big ticket item here is the Copper Art interior, which adds the color to various interior bits, with copper-colored contrast stitching for the black nappa leather, plus more added to the instrument panel, armrests, center console, door panels, and floor mats. The center console is also done up with carbon fiber, while a Performance steering wheel, a number of “Edition” badges, 64-color ambient lighting, the Memory and Mirror package, and an IWC analogue clock round it out.

Competition

Audi S7


2015 Audi S7 - image 553149

Truth be told, Mercedes isn’t alone in offering four-door sports machines with coupe-like roof lines. Audi’s take on the formula is the S7, which comes with a handsome exterior that’s rather understated considering what it’s got in store under the hood – namely a 450-horsepower twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8, which sends power to the ground by way of a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and permanent all-wheel drive system. Properly motivated, the S7 can hit 60 mph in a scant 4.5 seconds, all while coddling passengers in the utmost luxury. Pricing starts at $81,200.

Read our full review on the 2017 Audi S7.

Porsche Panamera


2018 Porsche Panamera - image 681041

Despite a rather questionable take on the four-door coupe styling aesthetic, the Porsche Panamera has plenty in reserve when it comes to performance. Buyers get a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 sending power exclusively to the rear axle in the base model, but theAWD and twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6 in the mid-range model would be a better fit for the AMG CLS. There’s even a hybrid model, if you’re so inclined. If performance and speed are at the top of your priority list, then the Panamera is likely the better buy.

Read our full review on the 2018 Porsche Panamera.

Conclusion


2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic - image 761052

The latest Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic is a great example of one of those niche vehicle segments that’s so popular these days. It’s elegant and luxurious, with four doors to get in and out and a well-appointed interior dripping with premium touches. At the same time, it’s sporty and performance-oriented, with loads of go available with every stab of the right pedal and a svelte coupe roof line to boot.

Now, it looks like Merc is stepping down a third path with the model, one that leads towards extra efficiency. Posting a 28-mpg fuel return figure for a machine like this is impressive, and we have no doubt the German brand will look to expand that number in the future.

All told, the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic is a great choice for those looking for something that can do it all. If the price is right, it’s definitely worth a drive.

  • Leave it
    • * Faster options already on the table
    • * More comfortable options already on the table
    • * No V-8 grumble from the exhaust pipes

References

Mercedes-Benz CLS


2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS - image 748196

Read our full review on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS.


maker logos - image 743625

Read more Mercedes-Benz news.


maker logos - image 753286

Read more Detroit Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Lexus RX350 – Driven

The Lexus RX has been around since 1998 and basically invented the luxury crossover segment. It’s even appropriate to credit the RX with the boom in popularity for all crossover niches. But things have changed, of course, and the competition is fierce. Lexus brought its latest RX iteration to life for 2015, complete with the aggressive styling seen elsewhere in Lexus’ lineup.

Now as 2018 rolls on, the Lexus RX gets a new three-row version called the RX L. it’s available in the RX350 and RX450 configurations, meaning you can haul seven people with a standard V-6 or one connected to a hybrid system. If that’s not enough choice, Lexus will also let you have the F Sport package – and that’s all before getting into the optional features available within the cabin. Needleless to say, the RX offers customers plenty of choices.

But we’re testing the old standard – the RX350 in FWD without the appearance package or hybrid powertrain. This is the type of RX you’d find at any Lexus dealership without having to special order something. Let’s have a look.

Continue reading for more information.

Exterior

  • Aggressively designed
  • 20-inch wheels
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Hands-free tailgate

2018 Lexus RX350 - Driven
- image 763138
“Lexus’ current design language is nearly as polarizing as politics”

Lexus’ current design language is nearly as polarizing as politics. Some love the aggressive design while others thing the Spindle Grille should have been left in the Predator movies. Subjectively, I like it. It’s different and exciting without being overly flashy. It’s not elegant, but it’s hardly ugly, either. Looks are a matter of personal taste, so you’ll have to come to your own conclusion.

On the more objective side, the Lexus RX offers some great features. The front includes triple-beam LED headlights and LED fog lights. 20-inch alloy wheels fill the fenders and black plastic helps give the RX a more SUV-like appearance. All four door handles include passive entry sensors, including the tailgate. Rain-sensing wipers and headlight washers keep forward vision intact.

Around back, the taillights are LED, too, and have an aggressive light signature at night. The tailgate has a cool hands-free feature that responds to a hand or elbow being held over the Lexus emblem for a couple seconds. The tailgate’s push-to-close button also doubles as a door lock button, making it easy to walk away after closing the tailgate without having to touch a door handle or fumble for the key fob.


2018 Lexus RX350 - Driven
- image 763139

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase 109.8 in.
Overall Length 192.5 in.
Overall Width 74.6 in.
Overall Height (unloaded) 67.7 in. (without roof rack)
Tread Width Front/Rear 64.4/64.0 in.
Ground Clearance 8.2 in.
Approach Angle 17.0 deg.
Departure Angle 24.9 deg.
Breakover Angle 16.8 deg.

Interior

  • Seating for five, respectable room for four
  • 12.3-inch Enform infotainment system
  • 10-way power front seats
  • Reclining second-row seatbacks
  • Nine-speaker audio system
  • 18.4 cubic feet of storage in cargo area
  • 56.3 cubic feet of storage with seats folded

2018 Lexus RX350 - Driven
- image 763170
“Lexus is fantastic at making comfortable, ergonomic interiors and the RX 350 is no different”

Lexus is fantastic at making comfortable, ergonomic interiors and the RX 350 is no different. The buttons and controls are logically placed and comfy leather seats aid in long road trips. The Enform infotainment system has plenty of features and the 12.3-inch screen is pleasant to look at.

The RX has room for five people, though adults in the back seat will be more comfortable without a middle passenger. They enjoy an impressive 38 inches of legroom and enough headroom for someone over six-foot. A folding center armrest and reclining seatbacks pump up the RX’s comfort game.

The front seats are even more comfortable with 10-way power adjustment. The driver’s seat also has a three-position memory feature that remembers the positions of the power tilt and telescoping steering column and power-adjustable side mirrors.

The Lexus Enform infotainment includes all the standard barrage of features, including satellite radio, GPS navigation, a backup camera, traffic and weather information, gas prices, and vehicle maintenance scheduling. It does not, however, have Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or any Wi-Fi connectivity system. That puts the Lexus at a disadvantage to many of its competitors.


2018 Lexus RX350 - Driven
- image 763176
“I’m not a fan of Enform’s joystick controller.”

I’m not a fan of Enform’s joystick controller. It works, but its learning curve is steep and it requires extra attention than the driver should be dividing from driving. As I wrote in my close look at the Lexus Enform system, moving away from the joystick and adopting a touchscreen would serve Lexus well.

Another downside of the RX is cargo space. Compared to crossovers like the Audi Q5, Cadillac XT5, and Lincoln MKX, the RX falls way short. However, for those not needed to move massive amounts of cargo, the RX’s 18.4 cubic feet in the cargo area and 56.3 cubic feet with seats folded should be plenty.

All told, the Lexus RX’s interior is a wonderful place to spend time and affords a great view of the road and surrounding scenery. That’s especially true with the optional panoramic moonroof.


2018 Lexus RX350 - Driven
- image 763168

Interior Dimensions

Seating Capacity 5
Headroom – Front (with moonroof)/Rear 39.4/39.1 in.
Legroom – Front/Rear 44.1/38.0 in.
Shoulder Room – Front/Rear 57.8/57.6 in.
Hip Room – Front/Rear 56.6/56.1 in.
Total Interior Volume 139.7 cu. ft.
Cargo Volume – Cargo area/ Rear seats folded down 18.4/56.3 cu. ft.

Drivetrain

  • 3.5-liter V-6
  • 295 horsepower & 267 pound-feet of torque
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission
  • 20 mpg city, 27 mpg hwy, 23 mpg comb
  • FWD & available AWD
  • Available hybrid powertrain

2018 Lexus RX350 - Driven
- image 763157
“Behind that Spindle Grille is Lexus’ familiar 3.5-liter V-6”

Behind that Spindle Grille is Lexus’ familiar 3.5-liter V-6. The all-aluminum engine features dual overhead camshafts with variable valve timing. Unlike Toyota’s latest technology, this engine still relies on port fuel injection. It will, however, switch between the fuel-sipping Atkinson combustion cycle and the power-production Otto cycle. Power is rated at 295 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque.

An eight-speed automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels. AWD is an option on all RX variants. Fuel economy on the FWD model is a relatively respectable 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined.

The V-6 and eight-speed combo do a great job moving the RX. The sprint to 60 mph takes only 7.7 seconds and the top speed maxes out at 124 mph. Of course, the RX is far more adept at comfortable cruising than autobahn burning. The suspension utilizes MacPherson struts up front and an independent coil spring arrangement in back, but it’s tuned for comfort over performance. Bumps are soaked up with ease and send very little harshness into the cabin.


2018 Lexus RX350 - Driven
- image 763154
“The downside to the soft ride is body roll in the corners and nosedive during hard braking.”

The downside to the soft ride is body roll in the corners and nosedive during hard braking. It’s not terrible, but the RX is no sports car. For those wanting a more athletic driving experience, the RX F Sport is a great choice. Its suspension is firmer in the twisties thanks to adaptive dampers that coordinate with the drive modes.

Drive modes are also present in the standard RX. They include Eco, Normal, and Sport. Each provides different tuning to the engine and transmission computers, making the driving experience very different in each mode. I’ve expounded more on the driving experience here.


2018 Lexus RX350 - Driven
- image 763159

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine Type, Materials V6, aluminum block and heads
Designation 2GR-FKS
Valvetrain DOHC 24-valve with VVT-iW
Displacement 3.5 liter
Bore x Stroke 3.70 in. x 3.27 in.
Compression Ratio 11.8:1
Horsepower 295 HP @ 6,300 RPM
Torque 267 LB-FT@ 4,700 RPM
Maximum Engine Speed (redline) 6,300 rpm
Fuel System Sequential Multiport Fuel Injection (EFI, D-4S)
Fuel Requirement Performance Numbers achieved with 87-octane Unleaded fuel
Layout Front engine, full-time all-weather drive (AWD), or front engine, front-wheel drive (FWD)
Transmission Type 8-speed Automatic Electronically Controlled Transmission (ECT)
0-60 mph Acceleration (mfg. results) 7.9 sec. (AWD) 7.7 sec. (FWD)
Top Track Speed 124 mph – electronically limited
Estimated Fuel Economy (City/Hwy/Combined) 19/26/22(AWD) 20/28/23(FWD)
Coefficient of Drag (Cd) 0.34

Pricing


2018 Lexus RX350 - Driven
- image 763148

Though my tester is a 2017 model, most consumers will find dealership lots filled with 2018 models by this time. That doesn’t make much difference, though, prices haven’t changed between the years.

My RX350 boasts a slew of optional extras that add a whopping $10,254 to the base price of $43,020. In reality, the RX isn’t offered in dedicated trim levels with set prices and lists of included features. Rather, Lexus allows customers to pick what option packages and stand-alone features they want. It could make the shopping experience potentially more frustrating with trying to refine search results by options rather than a well-defined trim level.


2018 Lexus RX350 - Driven
- image 763172

Options on my tester include:

Blind Spot Monitoring w/ Intuitive Parking Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, & Auto Braking $1,065
Matte Linear Dark Mocha Interior Trim $400
20-inch Gray Alloy wheels $1,170
Touch Free Power Rear Door $200
Triple-Beam LED Headlights $1,615
Panorama Moonroof $1,600
Enform w/ Navigation & 12.3-inch display 2,120
Premium Package w/ Leather seats, folding mirrors, driver memory $960
Heated Matte Linear Dark Mocha Wood Steering Wheel $450
Illuminated Door Sill $375
Cargo Net, Cargo Mat, Wheel Locks & Key Glove $299

2018 Lexus RX

RX 350 FWD $43,270
RX 350 AWD $44,670
RX 350L FWD $47,670
RX 350L AWD $49,070
RX 350 F SPORT FWD $48,920
RX 350 F SPORT AWD $50,320
RX 450h AWD $45,695
RX 450h F SPORT AWD $51,055

The Competition

2018 Cadillac XT5


2017 Cadillac XT5 – Driven - image 745026

The XT5 is Cadillac’s newest vehicle and a replacement for the SRX. It rides on the same C1XX platform as the GMC Acadia but shares no exterior or interior components. The interior is lined with leather and suede with room for five people, the CUE infotainment system is improved over other iterations in Caddy’ older models, and it includes welcomed features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and 4G LTE Wi-FI hotspot.

Power comes from GM’s familiar 3.6-liter V-6. Here it makes 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque sent to an eight-speed automatic transmission. FWD is standard, but the optional AWD is worth every penny since it has active torque vectoring for more control in both wet and dry driving.

Pricing for the 2018 XT5 starts at $41,590. Cadillac thankfully has trim levels to choose from, with the Luxury costing $47,590; the Premium Luxury costing $54,090; and the Platinum starting at $64,390.

Read our full review on the 2018 Cadillac XT5.

2018 Audi Q5


2017 Audi Q5 - image 690295

The Q5 just underwent a massive update for 2018 and sports a sharpened, fresh appearance and a more high-tech interior. The dash now includes Audi’s lovely Digital Cockpit with Google Maps and various reconfigurable screens. The updated MMI system operates through a laptop-like mouse pad or via the touchscreen. High-end materials abound and the Audi’s German flair remains a big part of the Q5’s nature.

Under the hood of the Q5 resides a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Thanks to torque arriving at only 1,600 rpm, the Q5 feels very quick. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic turns all four wheels via Audi’s legendary Quattro AWD system.

Prices for the 2018 Q5 start at $41,500 for the Premium trim. The Premium Plus starts at $45,500 and the range-topping Prestige at $50,800. Check all the option boxes and the Q5 will nearly reach $60,000.

Read our full review on the 2018 Audi Q5.

Conclusion


2018 Lexus RX350 - Driven
- image 763140

The Lexus RX350 might not be perfect, but it is an incredibly smooth and comfortable luxury crossover that’s completely competent doing daily life and fully able to hit the road on a cross-country road trip. Add to that Lexus and Toyota’s legacy of reliability, and it’s easy to see why the RX finds nearly 110,000 homes in the U.S. every year.

Improvements to the Enform infotainment system and standard heated and vented front seats would make me appreciate the RX even more, but even still, it’s hard to complain about Lexus’ all-star crossover.

  • Leave it
    • * Frustrating infotainment system
    • * Pricy Options
    • * Super competitive segment

References

Lexus RX


2018 Lexus RX350 - Driven
- image 763146

What it’s Like to Daily Drive the Lexus RX350


2016 Lexus RX - image 624726

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus RX.


maker logos - image 746643

Read more Lexus news.

PostHeaderIcon What it’s Like to Daily Drive the Lexus RX350

This week we’re evaluating the Lexus RX350 in FWD and without all the extra stuff like the F Sport package and hybrid drivetrain. This is the RX in its purest form. It’s also the least-expensive way to have an RX and a build configuration that you’ll likely find stacked like cordwood at the local Lexus dealer.

It probably comes as no surprise to hear the Lexus RX 350 rides like a cloud on stilts. Lexus has always done a fantastic job building smooth-riding suspension systems for its sedans. That expertise carries over into the RX, along with the 20 years of experience Lexus has with build the luxury crossover. It’s almost hard to believe the RX nameplate is 20 years old in 2018.

Continue reading for our driving impressions.

Everyday Usability


What it's Like to Daily Drive the Lexus RX350 - image 763376
“Not surprisingly, the Lexus RX handles these daily challenges with a snap – mostly”

A major part of owning a vehicle is its performance when not driving. How easy is it getting in? Can young kids open the door and climb in without help? How comfortable are the seats? These are questions that have to be asked.

Not surprisingly, the Lexus RX handles these daily challenges with a snap – mostly. All four doors have passive entry exterior handles, so grabbing one with the key in your pocket will result in an unlocked door. Handy. The same is true for the rear tailgate.

Getting in does require a high leg lift. The doorsills are somewhat tall and take some getting used to. Once in, the seats cuddle backsides with very soft leather and cushy padding. The seats are old-school Lincoln Town Car soft where it’s hard to move, but they provide plenty of comfort regardless of time or distance. Sadly, Lexus hides its heated and vented front seat option behind a hefty price barrier, making customers shell out $640 for the option on top of requiring the $4,180 Luxury Package and the $1,350 Moonroof Package. That’s $6,170 added to the RX’s base price of $43,270 just to have heated and vented seats. Oh Vey! Oh, and then you’ll have to pay another $150 for a heated steering wheel.

Missing content and pricing aside, the RX’s front seats are very comfortable. The same is true for the second-row seats, too. Softly cushioned seats offer 38 inches of legroom, a folding center armrest, and reclining seatbacks. HVAC vents in the center console keep air blowing, though the temperature is set by the front passenger’s setting. The rear seats are not heated, either, regardless of how much money you throw at Lexus.


What it's Like to Daily Drive the Lexus RX350 - image 763369
“The rear seats work rather well for my six-year-old and her booster seat”

The rear seats work rather well for my six-year-old and her booster seat. She’s able to open the door, climb in, and buckle herself just fine. Partial credit is due to the width of the rear seats. The outboard positions have plenty wide for even full-grown adjust, so her booster has plenty of room between the buckle and door.

Cargo room is a downside to the RX, at least when compared to its main competitors. It offers 18.4 cubic feet in the cargo area and 56.3 cubic feet with the 60.40-split second row folded flat. You can read how it compares here, but just know the RX is the least spacious out of the Cadillac XT5, Audi Q5, and Lincoln MKX. Still, the RX has plenty of cargo space for a week’s worth of groceries or a trip to IKEA.

Behind the Wheel


What it's Like to Daily Drive the Lexus RX350 - image 763368
“In addition to the comfortable front seats, the RX’s cockpit provides ergonomic controls that are logically arranged”

In addition to the comfortable front seats, the RX’s cockpit provides ergonomic controls that are logically arranged. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is a pleasure to hold and its many buttons make short work of accessing common features.

The center stack has two real knobs for radio volume and tuning, making listening to the radio less stressful than some vehicles currently on the market. HVAC controls are well placed, though the buttons are on the small side and require a glance down to find. The infotainment system is, well, typical for the Lexus Enform system. You can read my full thoughts about it here.

The gauge cluster is mostly easy to read and the center information screen offers plenty of vehicle information. Unfortunately, it does not offer a digital speedometer. Opt for the F Sport package and the cluster is replaced with an LFA Supercar-inspired design, complete with a digital speedometer. There is also an optional head-up display if the F Sport isn’t your thing.


What it's Like to Daily Drive the Lexus RX350 - image 763361
“Lastly, the RX has plenty of storage spots that make life more organized”

Lastly, the RX has plenty of storage spots that make life more organized. There’s a great spot ahead of the shifter for a cell phone. It’s even large enough to accommodate an iPhone Plus. The cup holders are well designed, as is the storage box under the armrest. A decently sized glove box and massive door pockets hold everything else. And as a bonus, Lexus includes hidden storage under the palm rest for the Enform’s joystick. It’s large enough for an older, non-plus iPhone or things like business cards or parking receipts.

Driving Impressions


What it's Like to Daily Drive the Lexus RX350 - image 763383
“The Lexus RX’s smooth ride makes it a fantastic daily driver, both around town and on the highway”

The Lexus RX’s smooth ride makes it a fantastic daily driver, both around town and on the highway. The supple ride soaks up bumps and road imperfections without translating them into the cabin. Set the cruise control and watch the RX eat miles away. It would make a fantastic road trip machine for two people. The flip side of its smooth ride is body lean in turns and nose dive under hard braking. It’s hardly a problem, but it’s more pronounced than in the RX 350 F Sport. Most will never notice the extra movement. Road and tire noise are also kept to a minimum.

The RX 350’s power comes from the familiar 3.5-liter V-6. Here it produces 295 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque.
A smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic sends power to the front wheels. The sprint to 60 mph takes only 7.7 seconds and its top speed is 124 mph. The torquey V-6 has no problems spinning the front tires from a stop, especially when turning. Torque steer is present, though it’s not detrimental to the overall driving experience. The brakes are equally impressive, hauling the RX to a stop with confidence. I especially like the pedal feel.


What it's Like to Daily Drive the Lexus RX350 - image 763379
“Fuel economy is EPA-estimated at 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined”

Fuel economy is EPA-estimated at 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined. Thanks to a 19.2-gallon fuel tank, the RX has a cruising range of roughly 518 miles. It’s a good thing those seats are comfy, right?

Stick around for our full review of the 2017 Lexus RX350.

References

Lexus RX


2016 Lexus RX - image 624726

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus RX.


maker logos - image 746643

Read more Lexus news.

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$2,160.00 (20 Bids)
End Date: Friday Mar-2-2018 11:45:00 PST
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2015 Ford F-150 2015 FORD F150 LARIAT CREW 4X4 FX4 NAV 20'S LIFT 42K
$39,980.00
End Date: Wednesday Feb-28-2018 6:30:00 PST
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1965 Ford Mustang 1965 Ford Mustang Coupe 302 Automatic Power Brakes Air Condition Power Steering
$12,000.00 (4 Bids)
End Date: Wednesday Feb-28-2018 14:02:01 PST
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2002 Chevrolet Corvette 2D Coupe 2002 Chevrolet Corvette
$11,400.00 (21 Bids)
End Date: Saturday Feb-24-2018 16:48:10 PST
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1967 Ford Mustang coupe 1967 ford mustang project
$2,550.00 (23 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 17:38:58 PST
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1968 Ford Mustang 1968 Ford 289 V-8 Mustang Fastback Candy Apple Red - Great Opportunity !!
$7,000.00 (8 Bids)
End Date: Monday Mar-5-2018 20:00:00 PST
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2014 Ford F-150 FX4 2014 Ford F-150 FX4 46,421 Miles Oxford White 4D SuperCrew EcoBoost 3.5L V6 GTDi
$3,350.00 (12 Bids)
End Date: Tuesday Feb-27-2018 16:02:39 PST
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1967 Ford Mustang GT 1967 Mustang GT Fastback Project 390GT S-Code 4-Speed Dark Moss Green
$17,950.00
End Date: Monday Feb-26-2018 18:53:53 PST
Buy It Now for only: $17,950.00
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