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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    2019 Dodge Charger Adds A Bit More Muscle

      The entire lineup has been given the once-over 


    While we're still waiting on anything concerning the next-generation Charger, Dodge has gone ahead and made a number of changes to the current model for the 2019 model year.

    We'll begin with the base SXT and work our way to the SRT Hellcat, highlighting the various changes.

    • SXT: All-wheel drive becomes available on the base trim, bringing with it the more powerful 3.6L Pentastar V6 (300 horsepower and 264 pound-feet). Options now include  Houndstooth cloth sport seats, Caramel Nappa leather interior, updated Blacktop Package, and new Cold Weather Package.
    • GT: This model will now be positioned as performance-oriented model for the V6. It gets the 3.6L Pentastar V6 from the SXT AWD, but sends power to the rear-wheels. Previously, the GT was only available with AWD. Other mechanical changes include a performance suspension, 3.07 rear axle ration, and enhanced steering system. The exterior boasts a new performance hood, sculpted side sills, and a spoiler. A set of Houndstooth cloth bolstered performance seats, paddle shifters, and 8.4-inch UConnect system with Dodge Performance Pages make up the interior.
    • R/T: Becomes more aggressive in the looks department with a new performance hood, fascial, side sills, and spoiler. Under the skin is a standard performance suspension, 2.62 rear axle ration, and enhanced steering system. Power remains the 5.7L HEMI V8 with 370 horsepower and 395 pound-feet.
    • R/T Scat Pack: Gains Launch Assist (help minimize wheel hop and maximize grip) and Line Lock (to do those smoky burnouts). A new front grille features dual air inlets to provide additional cooling for the 392 HEMI V8 engine (485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet). A Satin Black-painted hood and Bilstein three-mode Adaptive Damping Suspension are on the options list.
    • SRT Hellcat: Adds Launch Assist, Line Lock, After-Run Chiller (keeps cooling down the supercharger/charge air cooler when the engine is turned off), and Torque Reserve (closes a bypass valve to prefill the supercharger and manages fuel flow and spark to create a "reserve of torque that is delivered upon acceleration from a standing stop). Other changes include a new grille with dual air inlets, optional Satin Black painted hood, and Alcantara interior package. 

    The 2019 Charger lineup arrives at Dodge dealers in the third quarter.

    Source: Dodge


    Imposing New Face, Interior and New Performance Upgrades Lead Revamped Dodge Charger Performance Lineup for 2019

    • Dodge repositions the Charger lineup to include a new SXT all-wheel-drive (AWD) model and new Charger GT rear-wheel-drive (RWD) performance model; both are powered by the award-winning Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine, which delivers up to 300 horsepower and up to 30 miles per gallon
    • Charger GT and R/T models receive a full complement of race-bred chassis upgrades and features along with new performance looks, such as a performance hood with air induction, styled fascia, sculpted side sills, decklid spoiler and seats
    • New for 2019, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat and R/T Scat Pack feature standard performance upgrades, including Launch Assist and Line Lock; a new performance grille with dual air inlets; new Launch Control switch on R/T Scat Pack; and Torque Reserve, After-Run Chiller on SRT Hellcat

    June 28, 2018 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - Dodge//SRT continues to run at full throttle in the North American large sedan segment, revamping the entire Charger lineup for 2019. As America’s only four-door muscle car and the sales leader in the segment five years running, Dodge continues to charge ahead of its competition with upgrades both inside and out.
     
    New for 2019, Dodge is repositioning the Charger lineup into six distinct, attitude-infused models that offer a range of performance and powertrain options for every modern muscle-car customer. The lineup ranges from the 707-horsepower Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat – the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world – to the efficient V-6 power of the new Charger GT RWD performance model and the all-wheel-drive capability of the new SXT AWD model.
     
    “Despite a shift toward utility vehicles in the United States over the past decade, the Dodge Charger and Challenger continue to buck the trend,” said Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Car Brands, Dodge//SRT, Chrysler and FIAT – FCA North America. “Charger and Challenger retail sales have increased 70 percent since 2008, and since the launch of Scat Pack in August 2014, high-performance model sales increased from 4 percent to more than 25 percent. Charger is on track to lead the large car segment in the United States for the fifth straight year in 2018, and we intend to keep that string alive by updating the product to deliver the performance and capability that our customers demand.”
     
    Dealer orders for the 2019 Dodge Charger open in late June 2018 and vehicles are scheduled to arrive in Dodge dealerships in the third quarter of 2018.

    Charger SRT Hellcat
    The 2019 Charger SRT Hellcat remains the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world with the supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI® V-8 that delivers 707 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to the quick-shifting TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.
     
    New for 2019, the Charger SRT Hellcat features a new performance grille with dual inlets that feed cooler, outside air into the engine compartment. Bolstering the performance is the addition of four race-inspired technologies that come standard on Hellcat, including:

    • Launch Assist, which uses wheel speed sensors to watch for driveline-damaging wheel hop at launch and, in milliseconds, modifies the engine torque to regain full grip
    • Line Lock, which engages the front brakes to hold the Charger SRT Hellcat stationary, but leaves the rear wheels free for a burnout to heat up and clean the rear tires
    • After-Run Chiller, which keeps cooling the supercharger/charge air cooler after the engine is shut off
    • Torque Reserve, which closes a bypass valve to prefill the supercharger and manages fuel flow and spark advance to balance engine rpm and torque, generates a reserve of torque that is delivered upon acceleration from a standing stop

    New instrument panel badging, a Satin Black painted hood option, available Brass Monkey 20-inch forged wheels and an Alcantara interior package are also new to Charger SRT Hellcat for the 2019 model year.
     
    Charger R/T Scat Pack 
    The 2019 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack is the most muscle for the dollar, powered by the naturally aspirated 392 HEMI V-8, it delivers 485 horsepower and 475 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission, priced less than $40,000.
     
    New for 2019, Launch Assist and Line Lock are now standard features on the R/T Scat Pack for optimum performance at launch from a standstill. A new switch on the dashboard provides quick access to initialize Launch Control, which coordinates the engine, transmission, driveline and suspension for an optimal launch and consistent straight-line acceleration.
     
    R/T Scat Pack features the same new performance grille with dual air inlets as the SRT Hellcat and adds a new Scat Pack bee badge on the decklid, replacing the R/T badge. New Dark Dub Plate instrument panel and Houndstooth cloth performance seat with an added Scat Pack bee logo are also standard. Dual Carbon stripes, a Satin Black-painted hood and Bilstein three-mode Adaptive Damping Suspension are added to the available options.
     
    Charger R/T 
    The 2019 Dodge Charger R/T is powered by the iconic 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, rated at 370 horsepower and 395 lb.-ft. of torque and mated to the standard TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission.
     
    For 2019, the Charger R/T adopts new performance looks and features standard, including the performance hood, fascia, sculpted side sills, spoiler and seats. Race-bred chassis upgrades, including a standard performance suspension, 2.62 rear axle ratio, enhanced steering, steering wheel with paddle shifters, Dodge Performance Pages with the 8.4-inch Uconnect screen, Houndstooth cloth bolstered performance seats, new Dark Dub Plate instrument panel, and new 20-inch Satin Carbon and Black Noise wheel options.
     
    Available on the R/T is the new Cold Weather Package, which includes heated steering wheel, heated cloth driver and passenger seats.
     
    Charger SXT AWD 
    The Charger SXT AWD model, new for 2019, is powered by the award-winning Pentastar V-6 engine, rated at 300 horsepower and 264 lb.-ft. of torque, and mated to the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission, delivering up to 27 mpg on the highway. The all-wheel-drive system is automatic with an active transfer case and front-axle disconnect, which helps minimize powertrain parasitic losses.
     
    Available options on the SXT AWD are a new Caramel Nappa leather interior, Houndstooth cloth sport seats and the Blacktop Package, which includes a new 19-inch Black Noise wheel. The new Cold Weather Package is also available on the SXT AWD, which includes heated steering wheel and heated cloth driver and passenger seats.
     
    Charger GT 
    The new Dodge Charger GT RWD performance model is powered by the award-winning Pentastar V-6 engine, rated at 300 horsepower and 264 lb.-ft. of torque and mated to the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission.
     
    For 2019, the GT adopts new performance looks and features standard, including performance hood, fascia, sculpted side sills, spoiler and seats. Race-bred chassis upgrades, including a standard performance suspension, 3.07 rear axle ratio, enhanced steering with paddle shifters, Dodge Performance Pages with the 8.4-inch Uconnect screen, Houndstooth cloth bolstered performance seats, new Dark Dub Plate instrument panel, and new 20-inch Satin Carbon and Black Noise wheel options.
     
    The new Cold Weather Package is also available on GT, including heated steering wheel and heated cloth driver and passenger seats.
     
    Charger SXT 
    The powerful, roomy and solid Charger SXT model is powered by the standard Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6, rated at 292 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, working with a TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission. For 2019, Charger SXT includes electronic stability control, remote start, cruise control, electric power steering, capless fuel filler, automatic halogen projector headlamps with LED accents and three 12-volt power outlets.
     
    Available options for SXT include Houndstooth cloth sport seats, a new Caramel Nappa leather interior, the popular Blacktop Package, which includes a new 20-inch Black Noise wheel, and the new Cold Weather Package, which includes heated steering wheel and heated cloth driver and passenger seats.
     
    Charger Exterior Colors
    Available exterior colors for all 2019 Dodge Charger models include B5 Blue, Destroyer Grey, F8 Green, Go Mango, Granite Crystal, IndiGo Blue, Maximum Steel, Octane Red, Pitch Black, Plum Crazy, TorRed, Triple Nickel and White Knuckle.



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    More muscle? I was hoping for a bump in something. Just using the same tune the "regular" v6 already has isn't much of adding anything. 

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    This is also the same press release they will use for the 2029 Charger, except the Pentastar V6 will make 305 hp and 268 lb-ft of torque by then.

    Remember when the Cadillac CTS had a 304 hp V6... in 2008.

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    So we're going to bitch about the base V6 not giving more performance when there's 370, 485 and 700 HP above it???

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    True, there is no lack of power here.   But this chassis is 14 years old now, and it was old when they got it, LOL.

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    You mean when Daimler FORCED Chrysler to buy old components at brand new component pricing in order to strip mine capital out of ChryCo?

    No body knows or cares about 'platform age'- it's NOT a consumer issue whatsoever.
    They don't have a shelf life; if they meet crash standards, are relatively stiff & not too heavy; spending a buncha millions on a new one that's 1.5% stiffer and 2% lighter just doesn't move the consumer needle.

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    3 hours ago, balthazar said:

    So we're going to bitch about the base V6 not giving more performance when there's 370, 485 and 700 HP above it???

    Thinking so...

    Hell, I'll take it!

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    14 hours ago, balthazar said:

    So we're going to bitch about the base V6 not giving more performance when there's 370, 485 and 700 HP above it???

    No, the article title is a little misleading. 

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    16 hours ago, smk4565 said:

    True, there is no lack of power here.   But this chassis is 14 years old now, and it was old when they got it, LOL.

    Still lying. 

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    16 hours ago, balthazar said:

    You mean when Daimler FORCED Chrysler to buy old components at brand new component pricing in order to strip mine capital out of ChryCo?

    No body knows or cares about 'platform age'- it's NOT a consumer issue whatsoever.
    They don't have a shelf life; if they meet crash standards, are relatively stiff & not too heavy; spending a buncha millions on a new one that's 1.5% stiffer and 2% lighter just doesn't move the consumer needle.

    Daimler lost $27 billion on Chrysler, Chrysler screwed them, not the other way around.

    Cerebus lost money on Chrysler, although not much since they were able to sell Chrysler finance to TD Bank, otherwise they would have taken a bath.  

    The US government took a $1.3 billion loss on Chrysler after the bailout and sale to Fiat.  And that was the 2nd government bailout, at least Chrysler paid the money back the first time.  But this company bleeds money, and the only way FCA will get their money out is to sell off pieces to get quick cash inflows.  Sergio knows it, whoever takes Sergio's place knows it, so don't be surprised when it happens.

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    2 hours ago, smk4565 said:

    Daimler lost $27 billion on Chrysler, Chrysler screwed them, not the other way around.

    Cerebus lost money on Chrysler, although not much since they were able to sell Chrysler finance to TD Bank, otherwise they would have taken a bath.  

    The US government took a $1.3 billion loss on Chrysler after the bailout and sale to Fiat.  And that was the 2nd government bailout, at least Chrysler paid the money back the first time.  But this company bleeds money, and the only way FCA will get their money out is to sell off pieces to get quick cash inflows.  Sergio knows it, whoever takes Sergio's place knows it, so don't be surprised when it happens.

    http://money.cnn.com/2007/05/14/news/companies/chrysler_sale/

    Actually according to the news Daimler paid 37 Billion and the sale did not get any money actually into Chrysler as the money being paid for the 80.1% equity ownership went into Chrysler to keep it afloat and Daimler paid $650 million to unload it. Then a year later the Chrysler declare bankruptcy and the rest of the 19.9% holding became worthless as a write off for Daimler as their investors pushed them to dump the American brands.

    Many other stories seem to imply that Daimler did not recover anything except for the Platform and suspension parts that Chrysler / Dodge were obligated to buy during that period of time.

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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

      View full article
    • 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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