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    William Maley

    2019 Buick Envision Adds More Gears, Lowers Price

      The changes make for a better crossover


    Buick has pulled back the curtain on the refreshed 2019 Envision crossover. It may seem crazy for a brand to refresh their model only a couple years after its debut. But we need to remember that Buick has been selling the Envision in China since 2014, so it is about the time when a refresh takes place.

    The big news is with the transmission. A nine-speed automatic becomes standard on turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder. It's a nice pairing, especially since Buick has upped the torque figure from 260 to 295 pound-feet. Horsepower remains at 252. Sadly, the base 2.5L four-cylinder sticks with a six-speed automatic. 

    There are some minor changes for the Envision's exterior with a new winged front grille, HID headlights becoming standard on all trims, larger taillights, and new designs for the alloy wheels. 

    Pricing for the 2019 Envision is about $2,000 less on all trims compared to the 2018 model. This means the 2019 Envision begins at $32,990 (doesn't include destination).

    Source: Buick
    Press Release is on Page 2


    Customer-Driven Updates Define 2019 Buick Envision

    • New design, performance and tech features starting at $32,990

    DETROIT — Refined design cues, responsive performance enhancements and intelligent technology expand on the Envision’s growing popularity.

    The 2019 Envision features a newly sculpted front and rear, signature grille and new wheel choices. With a focus on quality and safety, the design and engineering teams also welcomed input from current Envision owners to enhance the vehicle.

    “Some of the 2019 Envision’s most notable changes are the results of listening to our customers,” said Elizabeth Pilibosian, Envision chief engineer. “Beneath the updated exterior are a number of changes guided by a goal of offering the most refined and pleasant driving experience possible.”

    Envision highlights

    • New nine-speed automatic transmission for 2.0L turbo models. Buick now offers this innovative transmission on five models across the lineup.
    • 2.0L turbo engine offers increased vehicle performance of 252 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The engine and transmission updates produce 0-60 mph acceleration just under a half-second quicker than the 2018 model.
    • Engine stop/start deactivation switch — a Buick first in North America.
    • Single rate brake booster for improved overall brake performance that requires less effort.
    • Flexibility to switch between Adaptive Cruise Control and conventional Cruise Control.
    • Enhanced visibility on Rear Vision Camera.
    • Improved hands-free microphone for better call quality and better voice recognition.
    • The seat heating system warms up more quickly.
    • Next-generation wireless charging with wattage capability for fast and efficient charging, including iPhone8/iPhoneX compatibility.
    • Lighting upgrades across all trims: HID headlights standard on 2.5L models, bi-functional LED headlamps on 2.0L turbo models and LED wing signature lights on every model.
    • In-vehicle air ionizer that helps eliminate odors, reduce bacteria and provide better air quality.

    Focus on the customer

    Initial owner feedback and solid sales growth indicate the Buick Envision is delivering the luxury and features desired by compact SUV customers. Refinements across the 2019 Envision are aimed at providing the best that the vehicle offers, plus the flexibility and options customers desire most at a price point true to Buick’s attainable luxury promise. Pricing starts at $32,990 (excludes tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment). All trim levels have been adjusted toward the heart of the premium compact SUV market, further positioning the Envision to capture the interest of loyal Buick owners looking to move up to the next-sized compact SUV and conquest buyers who are considering Buick for the first time.

    “The Envision brings a tremendous growth opportunity for the Buick brand,” said Sam Russell, Buick marketing director. “The new pricing strategy not only puts the Envision in the heart of the industry’s largest segment, but also better positions it in relation to Encore, our top-selling nameplate.”

    Nearly 60 percent of all Encore buyers come from outside General Motors. These new-to-Buick customers are increasingly return buyers, with nearly half of them likely to trade in their vehicle to buy another Buick SUV. In addition to attracting new customers to the Buick brand, the 2019 Envision is designed with these existing Encore customers’ evolving needs and preferences in mind.

    Thoughtfully refined, inside and out

    The Envision’s exterior has a sculpted front fascia, new grille and headlamps that align with the new face of Buick. Crisp horizontal lines on the front create a more premium look and feel, while redesigned taillamps, reflectors and side markers give the back end a wider and more athletic stance. New optional 19-inch wheels provide an expressive and distinct profile.

    Premium lighting technology is featured on every 2019 Envision. HID headlamps with LED Buick signature lighting come standard, with the enhanced performance of bi-functional LED headlamps standard on the top two trims.

    Under the hood, the Envision offers a balance of performance and efficiency with a nine-speed transmission on 2.0L turbo models that allows for an increase in torque from 260 lb-ft to 295 lb-ft and an improvement in acceleration.

    A 2.5L inline four-cylinder engine mated with a six-speed automatic remains the standard powertrain for the 2019 Envision and goes unchanged from previous model years. It is offered in front- or all-wheel-drive configurations.

    Driven by customer feedback, the 2019 Envision is equipped with a non-latching stop/start deactivation switch on the instrument panel that allows the driver to choose whether to use the auto-stop function. The calibration of the Envision’s stop/start technology has also been refined for an even more seamless experience.

    The 2019 Envision offers a Buick-first Tire Fill Alert that lets a driver know when a tire has reached its recommended pressure level.

    Other standard features include Buick’s signature QuietTuning; 10 airbags1, including side curtain and knee airbags; Rear Park Assist; and newly added Rear Seat Reminder2. Available features include Surround Vision, Safety Alert Seat and Forward Automatic Braking, among others3.

    Every Envision comes equipped with an 8-inch diagonal infotainment system with Apple CarPlay4 and Android Auto5 compatibility, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot6 (an unlimited data plan for $20 per month7 is available through AT&T after trial period), a limited trial of OnStar8 and connectivity access at no additional cost. Along with other benefits such as the myBuick app9, the connectivity access features Smart Driver, an opt-in service designed to help Buick owners become better drivers.

    The 2019 Envision goes on sale in the spring of 2018 and will be available in five trim levels starting at Envision ($32,990), Preferred ($34,495), Essence ($36,795), Premium ($41,695) and Premium II ($44,595). Prices exclude tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment.



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    :metal: Very Sharp looking, Great refresh and awesome to have done it so soon. Yea I know the model has been on sale since 2014 in China, but this really rocks. :metal: 

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    This perked me up a bit when I saw the news.  The Envision has naturally been on my radar as I'm an Encore owner, but moving to the current iteration didn't seem to be a huge jump in tech for what is a huge jump in price.  I wondered why the 9-speed wasn't there from the start when the Terrain has it.   The 9-speed plus the healthy increase in torque make this much more compelling.

    We both went to the Pittsburgh auto show this year.  The Regal is flat out eliminated from the running as he hated the interior. The Envision makes the cut, and surprisingly, so does the Terrain.  I'm not a huge fan of the looks of the Terrain, but I might get on board with certain trim levels. He did really like the Lacrosse and you can get killer deals on them lately as long as you don't lease.

    The surprising thing... he loves the Durango R/T.   I thought I knew the guy....

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    2 hours ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    This perked me up a bit when I saw the news.  The Envision has naturally been on my radar as I'm an Encore owner, but moving to the current iteration didn't seem to be a huge jump in tech for what is a huge jump in price.  I wondered why the 9-speed wasn't there from the start when the Terrain has it.   The 9-speed plus the healthy increase in torque make this much more compelling.

    We both went to the Pittsburgh auto show this year.  The Regal is flat out eliminated from the running as he hated the interior. The Envision makes the cut, and surprisingly, so does the Terrain.  I'm not a huge fan of the looks of the Terrain, but I might get on board with certain trim levels. He did really like the Lacrosse and you can get killer deals on them lately as long as you don't lease.

    The surprising thing... he loves the Durango R/T.   I thought I knew the guy....

    They had to lower the price on the Envision because they need to put the XT4 in at $34,990, just watch.  

    I also went to the auto show, I found the interior on the regular Terrain and Terrain Denali to be the same and the Denali was $44k.  The Avenir Lacrosse and Enclave also seemed like nothing special on the inside.  Regal I wasn’t a fan of, it felt cheap inside.  Probably a LaCrosse has big discounts that if you stay away from the top trim you can get a good deal.  

    I didn’t sit in any Dodges, sat in the Pacifica, 300, Ram, Compass, Renegade, and Grand Cherokee and I just find nothing appealing about anything at FCA.

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    4 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

    They had to lower the price on the Envision because they need to put the XT4 in at $34,990, just watch.  

     

    At the auto show this weekend, I saw 3 trim levels of the Envision, IIRC the stickers ranged from $39k to $49k... 

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    7 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

    They had to lower the price on the Envision because they need to put the XT4 in at $34,990, just watch.  

    I also went to the auto show, I found the interior on the regular Terrain and Terrain Denali to be the same and the Denali was $44k.  The Avenir Lacrosse and Enclave also seemed like nothing special on the inside.  Regal I wasn’t a fan of, it felt cheap inside.  Probably a LaCrosse has big discounts that if you stay away from the top trim you can get a good deal.  

    I didn’t sit in any Dodges, sat in the Pacifica, 300, Ram, Compass, Renegade, and Grand Cherokee and I just find nothing appealing about anything at FCA.

    The Envision is the 3rd best selling Buick after Encore and Enclave. Lowering the price will probably make it #2.  That said... the packaging on the Envision is still all wrong.  You can't get AWD unless you get the 2.0T which also means you can't get a base trim.  Here in Pittsburgh that means no one buys the 2.5.

    11 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

    I didn’t sit in any Dodges, sat in the Pacifica, 300, Ram, Compass, Renegade, and Grand Cherokee and I just find nothing appealing about anything at FCA.

    Well of course not.... you only find things appealing if they have a 3 pointed star on them.  It could be a '96 Sable with fogged headlights and you'd be into it if someone drilled a Benz hood ornament on the front. You'd claim it was the next big thing in automotive tech.

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    2 hours ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    The Envision is the 3rd best selling Buick after Encore and Enclave. Lowering the price will probably make it #2.  That said... the packaging on the Envision is still all wrong.  You can't get AWD unless you get the 2.0T which also means you can't get a base trim.  Here in Pittsburgh that means no one buys the 2.5.

    Well of course not.... you only find things appealing if they have a 3 pointed star on them.  It could be a '96 Sable with fogged headlights and you'd be into it if someone drilled a Benz hood ornament on the front. You'd claim it was the next big thing in automotive tech.

    For the set of entry lux crossover market you probably want the 2.0T anyway.  At that $35-40k price you have turbo Ford Edge, a low trim MKC which is turbo, I think even the Subaru Forester has a turbo 4 at that price, as does Mazda, etc.  I think most Envision buyers would go for the turbo 4 anyway, but you do lose some sales without the low price AWD car.

    I have sat in every Dodge before, they haven't put out a new product in years, so it isn't like there is anything new to see.  I thought the new Nissan Rogue was pretty good for the small crossover segment, compared to a Rav4 or Chevy counterpart.  The new Accord is just as nice as any Acura, although that being said Acuras are like the worst luxury car there is. I think the GLB will turn the entry-lux SUV market upside down, none of these Lincoln, Buick, Acura, Volvo, Jaguar, etc interiors are on par with Mercedes, and they give you a 2.0T standard.  Actually, the GLB should be your next car, it checks all the boxes.

    Edited by smk4565

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    5 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

    I think the GLB will turn the entry-lux SUV market upside down, none of these Lincoln, Buick, Acura, Volvo, Jaguar, etc interiors are on par with Mercedes, and they give you a 2.0T standard. 

    I agree that not all auto's have nice interiors for the cash they ask for them, Lexus is a perfect example of a plastic hell inside for their CUV's. Yet I doubt the GLB will be the best as we have a ton of spy shots and nothing to really say it is going to be better than everyone else. Just your kool aid drinking statements.

    I bing'd 2018 GLB to see what would come up and I got this:

    2018-GLB-Dash.jpg

    Nice for a German Ricer version as this does not say luxury to me.

    Bing'd 2019 GLB and you get this especially from a bunch of german auto sites:

    2019-GLB-Interior.jpg

    Better, but this is just a BUSY MESS. An attempt to make luxury but then throw in the kitchen sink for buttons everywhere, MB terrible paddle system to the cheap looking circle vents no different than Fords Circle vents on a Mustang.

    Only cool thing is the dual big LCD screens in the dash.

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    The GLA and GLB will have metal buttons, even the Cadillac XT4 has plastic, so if Cadillac made the thing you touch all the time from cheap plastic, what is the rest of the car made of?  And the GLB is more of an X1, Q3, XC40 sort of competitor, but if it looks like a mini G-wagen I think they will steal a lot of sales off Terrain and Jeep too.

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    The GLB won't have what I want in a vehicle. The only Benzes that do are the GLS (I'll take an Escalade or Navi instead) or possibly the GLE.

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    53 minutes ago, balthazar said:

    GLA curently HAS plastic buttons ALL OVER the interior...

    Right, which is why they are fixing it.  And floating NAV will be gone so all the people that copied their floating Nav will have to go back.

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    25 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    The GLB won't have what I want in a vehicle. The only Benzes that do are the GLS (I'll take an Escalade or Navi instead) or possibly the GLE.

    GLB would be larger than an Encore, roomier, more luxurious, more powerful, better looking even without seeing it.

    Car and driver tested the Navigator this month and said how it is much better than the Escalade, and that Cadillac would not provide and Escalade for a comparison.  But then they mentioned how the GLS rides and handles and brakes better than the Navigator, and the GLS/GLE are the oldest models in the Mercedes line.  I'm pretty confident that the new GLS will mop the floor with the Navigator, the current GLS won Car and Driver best large SUV for 2018, Navigator did not.

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    I'm not looking for a direct replacement for the Encore. If I was, I'd get another Encore as we've been very happy with it and it has served us well over the 72,000 miles we've owned it. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend one to anyone looking for a city crossover that is still a comfortable road trip car. It just no longer fits our needs.

    I don't give a rats ass what Car and Driver says about the GLS or Navigator. I've driven both and the Navigator is my choice by a country mile. I like the exterior of the Escalade equal to the Navi, but the Navigator blows it away on the interior...it isn't even a fair fight. Navigator also has a more comfortable ride.

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    52 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

    Right, which is why they are fixing it.  And floating NAV will be gone so all the people that copied their floating Nav will have to go back.

    Why did it need to be fixed in the first place?
    What happened to 'the best or nothing'?
    Only OEMs using the 'tacked on' screens did so to cut costs. Aaanndd it looks exactly like that.

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    55 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

    Right, which is why they are fixing it.  And floating NAV will be gone so all the people that copied their floating Nav will have to go back.

    So mb will move in the direction of Lincoln, Caddy, and Buick then...

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    4 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    So mb will move in the direction of Lincoln, Caddy, and Buick then...

    Well, the E-class and S-class always had an integrated screen, I hate "floating NAV screens.  But the Lexus RX has it, BMW I think was actually first, but Audi does it, Mazda, Kia, the list goes on, just like everyone wants a 4-door coupe (a Mercedes idea) and everyone wants silver color aluminum speaker covers, another Mercedes idea.

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    Silver speaker cover is a mercedes idea'?? EVERYTHING had silver speaker covers at one point.
    Random spin of the Google wheel : 1960 Bonneville ~

    1960-Bonneville-speaker.jpg

     

    4-door coupe : as usual, Cadillac was there first ~

    1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham.jpg

     

    floating screen : 1955 Ford Thunderbird ~

    7419477f66a222_low_res_1955-ford-customline.jpg

    Edited by balthazar
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    13 hours ago, dfelt said:

    Bing'd 2019 GLB and you get this especially from a bunch of german auto sites:

    2019-GLB-Interior.jpg

    There's no way that's a GLB. I assume  "B" means it's small and look how wide that center console area is. That's gotta be GLEish sized with how wide it is. then again, what is comparable size-wise to a "GLB"? 

    After looking it up, it's supposed to be like a baby G Wagen..? :scratchchin:

    10 hours ago, balthazar said:

    Silver speaker cover is a mercedes idea'?? EVERYTHING had silver speaker covers at one point.

    Is there anything Mercedes HASN'T DONE FIRST(in his eyes)? :palm:

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    3 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    There's no way that's a GLB. I assume  "B" means it's small and look how wide that center console area is. That's gotta be GLEish sized with how wide it is. then again, what is comparable size-wise to a "GLB"? 

    After looking it up, it's supposed to be like a baby G Wagen..? :scratchchin:

    That pic is of the current E-class interior, looks like.  The GLB or whatever it will be called hasn't been unveiled yet, so any pictures purporting to be it are suspect at this point...

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    9 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    That pic is of the current E-class interior, looks like.  The GLB or whatever it will be called hasn't been unveiled yet, so any pictures purporting to be it are suspect at this point...

    That's what I gathered as well.  Thanks ya!

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    4 hours ago, ccap41 said:

    There's no way that's a GLB. I assume  "B" means it's small and look how wide that center console area is. That's gotta be GLEish sized with how wide it is. then again, what is comparable size-wise to a "GLB"? 

    After looking it up, it's supposed to be like a baby G Wagen..? :scratchchin:

    Is there anything Mercedes HASN'T DONE FIRST(in his eyes)? :palm:

    G-Class is to Jeep Wrangler as GLB is to Jeep Renegade

    As for the metal speaker..... there is of course my personal favorite, the first generation Toronado.

    0806_04_z-1966-1967_oldsmobile_toronado-built_in_speaker.jpg

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    The way I understand the naming scheme for MB CUVs/SUVs is that the GLB is the 'B' as it is the GL to the B-class, like the GLA is the GL to the A-class, GLC is the GL to the C-class, GLE is the GL to the E-class, GLS is the GL to the S-class...

    And the 'GL' prefix is shorthand for CUV.... (from the German Geländewagen, "cross country vehicle", i.e. the name of the G-wagen aka G-class). 

    Simple and clear, right ?   ;)

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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    Makes me almost consider the new Envision over the Cadillac XT5. . . . . . . . almost.

    Are they upgrading the interior on the new Envision, or is it just the powertrain?

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    • By William Maley
      What a difference that four years make. That's the timeframe from the first Kia electric I reviewed (Soul EV) to the model seen here, the 2019 Niro EV. So much has changed in terms of battery technology and overall range that I could see myself having an electric vehicle as a primary mode of transport. There are some still some issues that make me think twice, but they are getting smaller.
      Kia avoided the trend of going crazy with the Niro EV’s design. Little touches such as blue accent trim, 17-inch alloy wheels, and closed-front grille hiding the charging port help the EV stand apart from other Niro models. Changes inside are even smaller with a new center console featuring a dial control for the drive selector. This move is very smart as many buyers really don’t want their vehicle to shout “LOOK AT ME” when driving. The electric powertrain in the Niro EV packs quite the punch - 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque. This is up 62 and 92 respectively from the Niro Hybrid I drove a few years back. Providing the electricity is a 64 kWh Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery that provides an estimated range of 239 miles. Kia says the Niro EV will hit 60 mph in under eight seconds. But I found it to be slightly quicker thanks to all of the torque being available instantly. Merging onto a freeway is where the electric powertrain does lose steam - blame a hefty curb weight of 3,854 pounds. I saw a maximum range of 208 to 210 miles throughout my week. This was due to cold temperatures ranging from low 30s to high 40s. But I was able to do a forty-mile round-trip commute for most of the week without having any range anxiety issues. Charging anxiety is a different story. If you have been reading my electric and plug-in hybrid reviews, then you’ll know that I only have access to 120V charging at home. Plugging the Niro EV after my day job meant waiting over sixteen hours for a full charge. This caused me to not want to venture out far unless I had some important errands to run as it would mean a longer time for a recharge. If I had completely depleted the battery, I would be waiting over two days for the battery to recharge. If you have a 240V charger, that time drops to 9.5 hours for a full-recharge. Finding a quick charger has gotten easier in the past year or two, but it is still a hit and miss affair. There are no quick chargers near where I live (unless I have a Tesla). It's slightly better further south where I work as there some around the area. But that introduces its own set of problems such setting aside the time to charge up the vehicle to finding if one works. I should note that I didn’t get the chance to try quick charging with the Niro EV during my week.  Handling is slightly better in the Niro EV thanks to the additional weight of the battery pack which reduces body roll. Steering is very light when turning, but will surprise you with how quick and accurate it deals with changes in direction. Ride quality is a little bit firm with some bumps and imperfections making their way inside. Where the Niro EV shines is noise isolation. During my work commute, I was surprised by how little wind and road noise came inside.  The major downside to the Niro EV is its limited availability. At the time of this writing, Kia is only selling the Niro EV is twelve states - most of them having Zero Emission Vehicle (or ZEV) programs that require automakers to sell a certain amount of electric vehicles in their lineups. Nothing is stopping you from purchasing a Niro EV in one of the states that it is available, but I’m wondering how many people will do that. Pricing for the Niro EV begins at $38,500 for the base EX model. I had the EX Premium at $44,000 which adds such goodies as an eight-inch touchscreen, premium audio system, heated and ventilated front seats; sunroof. Add in a $1,000 Launch Edition package (LED headlights, front parking sensors, and auto-dimming rear-view mirror), and my as-tested price came to $45,995. Expensive bit of kit, but the Niro EV does come with a long list of standard features including heated outside mirrors with power folding; seven-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and push-button start. Plus, the Niro EV qualifies for the full $7,500 federal tax credit which may sway some buyers when it comes time to do their taxes. The Kia Niro EV is the first electric vehicle that I could see myself living with. It drives for the most part as a normal vehicle and offers enough range for most people. The big item you need to be aware of is charging. If you decide to purchase, be sure to get a 240V charger and check to see if there are any sort of fast chargers in your area. It may mean the difference between worry-free and a large amount of anxiety. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Niro EV, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2019
      Make: Kia
      Model: Niro EV
      Trim: EX Premium
      Engine: 356V Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electric Motor
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Lithium Ion Polymer Battery Pack
      Horsepower @ RPM: 201 @ 3,800 - 8,000
      Torque @ RPM: 291 @ 0 - 3,600
      Estimated Range: 239 Miles
      Curb Weight: 3,854 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: 
      Base Price: $44,000
      As Tested Price: $46,045 (Includes $1,045.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Launch Edition - $1,000.00
    • By William Maley
      When Toyota introduced the last-generation Avalon for the 2014 model year, I was shocked by how Toyota had built the better Lexus ES. On the surface, this seems a bit crazy. But Toyota had put a lot of effort into shedding the image of Avalon of an old person’s car by bringing a modern and sleek look; luxurious interior, and a balance between a relaxing ride and sporty dynamics. This became more apparent when compared to the ES launched a couple of years earlier, looking very dated in terms of looks and driving like a cream puff.
      The times are a changing and the two brands have launched new versions of their respective sedans within the past year. I find myself wondering if Toyota still builds the better Lexus or if the ES has finally stepped up and can give the Avalon a real challenge.
      Exterior
      Toyota stuck with the shape of the previous Avalon but gave it some refinement. The low roofline and sloping rear glass shape are paired with more aggressive rear end featuring a full-length taillight. Where the new design falls apart is in the front. Toyota must have taken some of the pages out of Lexus’ design book on grille design as the Avalon has a massive grille. Lower trim models make do with black slats for the insert, but my Hybrid Limited tester features chrome slats that make it more polarizing. I understand Toyota wants to give the Avalon a bit more presence on the road, but this new grille design is a bit much.
      The ES 350 is a different story as Lexus’ designers pulled off an extensive transformation. Wearing a toned-down version of the brand’s current design language, the new ES has an overall look of something formidable and elegant. The spindle grille is front and center, but Lexus has made it slightly smaller to have fit in with the flowing lines. Other design traits include a sloping roofline and shortened rear deck.
      Interior
      Like the exterior, the ES’ interior is completely unrecognizable from the outgoing model. Gone are the cheap feeling and mismatch plastics. In their places is a combination of leather, soft-touch plastics, and wood trim that brings forth a sense of premium uniformity. Ergonomics are also top of the class with such touches as control knobs sitting on either side of the instrument panel, and controls for the climate and audio being in easy reach for driver and passenger.
      Those sitting in the front are treated to leather-covered seats that provide an excellent balance between support and coddle. Those sitting in the back seat might complain about the low position, but will like the ample amount of head and legroom.
      Stepping inside the Avalon Hybrid, Toyota has given it a major makeover. Gone is the flowing and rounded center stack with capacitive touch controls. Instead, the Avalon uses a narrower and blocky center stack with actual buttons. I’m sad to see the touch controls go away as I found them to be quite responsive. Toyota likely dropped them as buyers complained there was no feedback - a click sound or pulsation - to whoever was using it. Other changes include a slim chrome bar running along the dash vents and more color choices.
      Finding a comfortable position in the Avalon was no problem due to the numerous amount of power adjustments available on the Limited. Like the ES, the Avalon’s seats strike the balance of comfort and support just right. In the back, there is an abundance of legroom that allows passengers to stretch out. Headroom is fine for most adults.
      Infotainment
      Toyota has installed the latest version of Entune for the 2019 Avalon. While looking somewhat dated with a muted color palette and dull screen, Entune retains its ease of use. The menus with large touchscreen buttons make it very easy to move around the system, along with clearly marked buttons and knobs sitting on either side. Toyota has also got with times and made the Avalon the first model to feature CarPlay integration. Those wanting Android Auto will need to wait until 2020.
      If there is an Achilles heel to the ES 350, that would be Lexus’ Remote Touch. I have written numerously about how using this system is not only a pain, but very distracting when driving. Take for example changing an XMSirius station.
      Look at the screen to see where the cursor is. Use the touchpad to move the cursor to the station you want, making sure to keep an eye on the screen. Press down on the touchpad to make the selection, hoping you’re finger doesn’t slip and causes something else to happen. This whole routine plays out time and time again whenever you want to do something. Even Apple CarPlay which was introduced for 2019 is a pain to use with Remote Touch. There is salvation on the horizon. Earlier this year, Lexus unveiled an updated RX crossover with a touchscreen for the infotainment system. The automaker said that it will be available on other models in the coming years. Here’s to hoping the ES is one of the first recipients. 
      Performance
      Both vehicles come with the choice of either a 3.5L V6 or hybrid system using a 2.5L four-cylinder. An eight-speed automatic is teamed with the V6. The hybrid uses a CVT.
      The 3.5 V6 has been given a bit more power for 2019, now producing 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. This bump makes for a noticeable improvement in overall acceleration, feeling slightly quicker than the last ES 350 I drove. Power builds on a smooth and linear fashion. The engine is also noticeably refined, with barely a rumble coming from underneath the hood. 
      With only a total output of 215 horsepower, the hybrid system in the Toyota Avalon may seem underpowered. This is only an issue when climbing a steep hill or needing to make an immediate pass. Otherwise, the hybrid system provides plenty of oomph for the daily drive. I like how the system seamless transitioned from electric to hybrid power with only a minimal buzz coming from the engine bay. Like other Toyota hybrids, the Avalon Hybrid can travel on electric power alone - albeit a short distance and at speeds below 25 mph.
      In EPA testing, the ES 350 returns 22 City/33 Highway/26 Combined and the Avalon Hybrid returns 43 City/43 Highway/43 Combined. I clocked averages of 25 in the ES 350 and 40 in the Avalon Hybrid.
      Ride and Handling
      Aside from engines, the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 share another vital component. Under the skin of both models is a version of Toyota New Global Architecture (TGNA) known as GA-K. This variant provides the stiffer structure and lower-center of gravity found on other TGNA models, but allows both Toyota and Lexus to build larger front-wheel drive vehicles.
      In the Avalon Hybrid, the move to GA-K doesn’t change much. The last-generation model showed that you could have good driving dynamics and retain a mission of comfort. The new model continues that with slightly improved handling and sharper steering response. The ES 350 is a different story. Changing over to GA-K transforms the model from a creampuff on wheels to a luxury sedan with that can take corners without embarrassing itself. Body roll is significantly reduced and the steering responds to inputs without fuss. Neither one of these sedans will challenge the likes of the Germans or the Kia Stinger GT, but they will not fall over and cry uncle when pushed.
      Ride quality is still one of the impressive points for both models. On some of roughest, pothole-ladened streets that the Metro Detroit has on offer, the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 made it feel like mere ripples. Not much outside noise comes inside the cabin of either model, making them a perfect place to decompress after a long day.
      Verdict
      Let’s begin with the 2020 Avalon Hybrid. This updated sedan didn’t surprise me and that’s fine. Aside from the styling, Toyota made small changes to address certain issues of the previous-generation and build upon its strengths. Getting 40 MPG is still an impressive trait for such a big sedan. With a starting price tag of $35,560 for the gas version and $36,650 for the hybrid, the Avalon is still the one to buy if you want the luxuries of the ES without the luxury tax.
      The ES 350, on the other hand, is the more impressive of the two. You have to wonder if Lexus was motivated by what Toyota was able to pull off with last-generation Avalon. In a lot of ways, the ES 350 looks and feels like a proper luxury car. Add in a new platform that doesn’t make you feel like you’re going to tip over and Lexus is very close to that idea of “Experience Amazing”. The only fault is Remote Touch which sours many of the dramatic improvements. If Lexus can get that new touchscreen into the ES ASAP, I would gladly give it my “Most Improved Car of the Year” award. 
      How I would configure a 2019 Lexus ES 350 or Toyota Avalon Hybrid
      Starting with the ES 350, I would skip the base model and go with the Luxury trim. This adds such items as leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats, and ambient lighting. On top of this, I would add Blind Spot Monitoring package and a power rear sunshade. With destination, I'm out the door with a final price of $45,540.
      For the Avalon Hybrid, I would pick the XSE. This is positioned as the sporty model with various exterior treatments including a mesh insert for the grille. Other standard equipment includes a moonroof, leatherette and suede upholstery, and wireless phone charging. The only two options I would tick are the Ruby Flare Pearl paint and 14-Speaker JBL Audio System. Add destination and the final price comes to $41,480.
      Alternatives
      Genesis G80: A perennial favorite, the G80 slots between the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 in terms of price - $41,750. It comes showered with loads of standard equipment and an excellent engine lineup. It cannot match the ES and Avalon in terms of interior design, but provides a more modern and easier to understand infotainment system. Ride quality is similar in all three vehicles, but the ES and Avalon have a slight edge in handling. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas 
      Year: 2019
      Make: Lexus
      Model: ES 350
      Trim: Luxury
      Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve with Dual VVT-i V6
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 302 @ 6,600
      Torque @ RPM: 267 @ 4,700
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/33/26
      Curb Weight: 3,649 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, Kentucky
      Base Price: $42,755
      As Tested Price: $45,955 (Includes $1,025 Destination Charge)*
      Options:
      Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Intuitive Parking Assist with Auto Braking - $1,065.00
      18-Inch Split Five-Spoke Alloy Noise Reduction Wheels - $950.00
      Wood and Leather Trimmed Steering Wheel - $300.00
      Power Rear Sunshade - $210.00
      *No window sticker was provided for the ES 350. This is me taking a guess as to final price and options.
      Year: 2019
      Make: Toyota
      Model: Avalon Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.5L 16-valve DOHC with Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder, 650V Electric Motor
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT
      Horsepower @ RPM: 176 @ 5,700 (Gas);  118 (88 kW) (Electric); 215 (Total Output)
      Torque @ RPM: 163 @ 3,600-5,200 (Gas)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 43/43/43
      Curb Weight: 3,715 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, Kentucky
      Base Price: $42,800
      As Tested Price: $45,118 (Includes $920.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Advanced Safety Package - $1,150.00
      Carpet Mat Package - $248.00

      View full article
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