When Autosavant first laid eyes on the 2014 Mercedes Benz E-Class, it was at its official debut during the 2013 North American Auto Show in Detroit Michigan, where the newest iteration of the E-Class (in sedan and wagon form) left a good first impression on us with its reworked exterior styling as well as its new interior layout. But with the car now arriving onto dealer lots, does it still have what it takes to compete against the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 while filling the lofty shoes of its popular predecessor at the same time? To find out, I visited my local Mercedes-Benz dealership in Bloomfield Hills Michigan, where their “Open Haus” event allowed me to spend some quality time with the 2014 E-Class lineup and witness first hand whether the company’s efforts to improve the E have paid off.
Remember the Hyundai Veracruz? It was Hyundai’s Lexus RX-ish three-row crossover (though the RX that it looked like never had more than two rows of seats) that was a slow seller. Well, Hyundai figured out a way to increase sales of the Veracruz: name it the Santa Fe. You see, Hyundai discontinued the Veracruz model at the end of its life cycle and instead split the Santa Fe into two models – the Santa Fe Sport (5 passenger, four cylinder only) and Santa Fe (6 or 7 passenger, V6 only). Though the two models share (most of) a name and all sheetmetal from the B-pillars forward, they really do feel quite different from behind the wheel. The non-Sport Santa Fe is just launching, so Hyundai invited us to New York a few days ago to put it through its paces outside the city.
What makes a vehicle a “crossover”? I thought I knew, and that it was some sort of small car-based SUV/tall wagon type vehicle, like a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. That being said, the CR-V, RAV4, and CX-5’s of this world fall more into the “cute-ute” camp rather than crossover, at least in my book. To take my misguided understanding a bit further, I consider cars like the XV Crosstrek, Volvo XC70, and Audi Allroad to be just jacked-up wagons. Suffice it to say, I don’t have a clear understanding of the definition of “crossover” in my own mind.
Last fall, Autosavant’s Kevin Gordon and I were . His was equipped with the sweet-shifting six-speed manual, which offers the driver complete control in extracting the goodness out of what is arguably Toyota’s sportiest offering in some time. My fate? Spending a week with the automatic-equipped FR-S. Was it as good?
The Lexus ES, originally a part of Toyota’s effort to penetrate the luxury market by adding high-end features to a reliable lineup of sedans. As time went on, and Lexus reached into the upper echelons of the luxury market, the ES grew distant from its Camry underpinnings on the surface, but retained a position as a solid competitor to domestic and import brands. For 2013, the ES moves to a platform shared with the larger Avalon, and the lineup also expands to include the ES300h, the first ES hybrid. Is the ES hybrid the car the luxury market was asking for?
They say that you often don’t know what you had until it’s gone. Such is the case with Drop Stop, a simple device that we were asked to sample more than a year ago, but kind of forgot that it was silently doing its job in my wife’s 2008 Sienna. Now that the Sienna is gone and we think we forgot to remove Drop Stop from it, we’re wishing that we still had it.