The 2014 Mazda6 is exactly what we expect from a Mazda sedan: it’s fun without sacrificing comfort. It’s affordable, but still feels techy and advanced. It’s stylish without being in-your-face. We aren’t sure how it’ll fare in a world dominated by Camrys, Accords, and Fusions, but if Mazda can get customers behind the wheel, we think it’ll be a pretty easy sell.
Now, to be clear, despite the punchy six-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive, there’s nothing really exciting about the Venza driving experience. With 268 horsepower and 246 pound-feet of torque, acceleration is merely adequate. This Toyota will easily get out of its own way, and packs enough punch for quick passes on the highway. Credit this more to the clever six-speed automatic than the actual powerplant. This six-cog is willing to drop gears without much hunting about, while delivering brisker-than-expected upshifts. Acceleration from a standstill is brisk, but doesn’t have the same kind of punch as some of the four-cylinder, turbocharged competition, largely due to the Venza’s 6200-rpm horsepower peak and 4700-rpm torque peak.
It wasn’t until we settled down and drove civilly that we were able to appreciate what was “just right” about the Camry Hybrid’s powertrain. Namely, that it wasn’t a vehicle for going fast, but rather delivering just enough power for the average on-road situation while returning simply excellent fuel economy with a minimum of effort. The trick came with exploiting the electric motor’s torque without dipping too far into the throttle. Finding the appropriate driving style to really net the best balance of economy and pace was a recipe for a surprisingly involving experience.
The Malibu Eco has a smooth, unfussy ride, but it hardly communicates with its driver at all. The hybrid system neither intrudes, nor adds to the driving experience. Steering feel is slightly more talkative, but is outclassed by other vehicles at this price point. Seating position is surprisingly conducive to aggressive driving.
We think the CC succeeds admirably at this mission. Upon approach the CC looks good, in a classical way. It isn’t quite voluptuous, but it is clearly designed with care rather than appearing to be the byproduct of a cost-engineering exercise. On the inside this feeling repeats itself, especially in the available Euro color combinations. The metalwork is clean, with attractive fit, and the materials are good. As is common on so-called four-door coupes, the rear headroom won’t work for passengers above six feet in height, but otherwise the seating is quite comfortable in the firm Germanic oeuvre.
Although it was just refreshed in 2011, Toyota has unveiled an all-new, fourth-generation of its Avalon sedan. The stretched Camry has been given a hefty exterior and interior treatment that gives it more upscale feel.
Now, make no mistake, this Camry is no sports sedan. The car is “all motor,” by which I mean the only really fun/dynamically distinguishing feature of the vehicle is the power it offers, and the quickness with which it lays that power down. The rest of the package is very subdued, soft, and quiet in terms of driver feedback.
The spy photographers over at Left Lane News recently snapped photos of what appears to be the upcoming 2013 Lexus ES, the luxury brand’s mid-level sedan. One of the most unique features spotted on this heavily camouflaged prototype is the appearance of a hybrid powertrain. An interior shot of the gauge cluster showed potential signs of electrification, which is significant because a hybrid option has not appeared on the ES before. As emission and economy standards increase, we’re likely to see more and more upscale vehicles like the ES receive the hybrid treatment.
In this hysterical spot, Toyota highlights the reinvented Camry, while imagining a world where everything is reinvented. Couches made of bikini-clad girls (or speedo-clad men if that’s your leaning), babies that don’t defecate but time travel instead, rain that makes you lose weight, and curtains made of pizza are a just a few of the wacky reinventions that are imagined.
For Toyota, it doesn’t get any more important. The Camry has been America’s best selling car for the past nine years (and 13 of the last 14), and Toyota expects almost 50 percent of 2012 Camry buyers to have been previous owners, so there is an expectation of what the car will deliver. The question is, will it deliver?
If you have or are actually shopping for a mid-sized, mid-priced sedan, what are the “need to know” items that you want us to delineate in a review of a car like this? What are the “make or break” criteria you’re looking for? Or do you agree with the first impression that there isn’t much difference on offer here, and you decide by price and small personal preferences? Leave your answers below, in our comments section.
The Toyota Camry is a good car. There…we said it.
Actually, it is a good car, in much the same way that vanilla ice cream is a good dessert. It’s tasty, refreshing, and provided you don’t experience brain freeze resulting from unintended mass consumption, devouring a dish is generally a pleasurable experience. It’s also, well, rather dull. Especially if one commits to a steady diet of the stuff for more than a week. For the sake of our readers, we’ll spare the disgusting details by simply saying the ick factor hits quick—real quick. This is why we suspect ordering plain vanilla ice cream seldom happens, despite its abundance around the world. There are far more delectable dishes on the menu for pretty much the same price, and since this isn’t the latest issue of Calories Galore, you probably get the metaphor by now.
Toyota has announced that it is suspending sales of eight models involved in the recall for the sticking accelerator, a recall wholly separate from the floor mat-related recall of certain Toyota and Lexus models. Because of a possibility of the pedal becoming stuck while depressed, certain year models of the RAV4, Corolla, Matrix, Camry, Avalon, Highlander, Tundra, and Sequoia, will not be sold until the problem has been solved.
If you’re sitting behind the wheel of a base Camry sedan or Sequoia SUV, you may be hard pressed to believe that Toyota has a far-reaching vision for the future of transportation. It does. Really.
For a company as small and idiosyncratic as Subaru, launching a wholly new contender for the high stakes midsize market is a really big deal. The automaker is rightly aware that its 2010 Legacy won’t be overtaking the sales numbers of stalwarts Accord or Camry any time soon, but Subaru has high hopes and broad targets for the all-new sedan, nevertheless. The stated goal for the Legacy is to become the, “Driver’s car of the midsize segment.” Consider us intrigued.
When any manufacturer, but particularly an industry titan like Toyota, rolls out a new vehicle that they say is “in a new class”, well, the hairs on any journalist’s neck stand up a bit. That was certainly the case as we listened to Toyota’s executives and engineers roll out the new Venza. But after a couple of days of driving it, talking to Toyota about it, and reviewing the data, we think they have a point. It’s a subtle point, but a point nonetheless.