Cars.com Reviews the 2013 Buick LaCrosse

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The 2013 Buick LaCrosse eAssist doesn't offer the Volkswagen Passat TDI's value or the high-end Lexus ES 300h's fuel economy, but Cars.com reviewer Jennifer Geiger says it "pleasantly" splits the difference between practicality and price. The mild hybrid version of Buick's largest sedan improves gas mileage with its lithium-ion battery pack and 15-kilowatt electric motor combined with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine; the result is seamless acceleration and a "pillowy" ride. While the LaCrosse's lush interior draws nearer to "luxury" than "near-luxury" competitors, backseat comfort and cargo space may necessitate hanging on to that hyphen.

2013 Buick LaCrosse Review
By Matt Schmitz | January 22, 2013 | Comments (3)

Lexus to Replace Inside-Trunk Releases on Three Models

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Following a report in October by Consumer Reports that emergency release levers inside the trunk of two Lexus models could snap off, Toyota will replace the levers on the 2007-13 Lexus ES, 2006-12 IS and 2013 GS cars. The magazine found the levers in its 2013 ES and GS could snap off rather than release the trunk if you tugged them to one side, prompting Lexus parent Toyota to investigate. The automaker noted the IS has the same trunk-release design, and said it will announce a customer service campaign to retrofit all three cars with stronger levers starting next month, the Detroit News reports.
 
The campaign will affect some 700,000 cars, but it's unclear if that's globally or just in the U.S. Toyota spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
 
During the summer of 1998, 11 children died from trunk entrapment; release levers have been required in the U.S. since the 2002 model year. No children have died in a car with the releases since then.

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By Kelsey Mays | December 12, 2012 | Comments (0)

2013 Lexus ES 350 and 300h: Car Seat Check

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For 2013, the Lexus ES 350 received a redesign that included a new exterior look and an upgraded interior. It also welcomed a hybrid counterpart, the ES 300h, for the first time. For the Car Seat Check, we installed car seats in the 300h, but the results can be applied to the ES 350; both sedans have seating for five and the same interior dimensions. The 300h's battery pack does eat into the trunk space, though. The ES 350 has 15.2 cubic feet of cargo space, but the 300h has 12.1.

For the Car Seat Check, we use a Graco SnugRide 30 rear-facing infant-safety seat, a Britax Roundabout convertible child-safety seat and Graco high-back TurboBooster seat.

By Jennifer Newman | December 4, 2012 | Comments (4)

2013 Lexus ES Joins NHTSA's Five-Star Club

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Lexus' midsize sedan is the latest vehicle to be awarded the top rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The 2013 ES 350 earned an overall five out of five stars in NHTSA's crash tests.

The composite score for the ES was composed of mostly five stars across the different areas of crash testing, but it did earn four stars in the rollover test. The sedan earned fives in overall driver safety, frontal crashes and overall side crashes.

For 2013, the Lexus ES grows longer, gets fresh styling and adds a hybrid model to the lineup. Both the ES 350 and the hybrid ES 300h versions received a combined five-star rating from NHTSA.

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By Jennifer Geiger | December 3, 2012 | Comments (1)

2013 Lexus ES 350 Video

Lexus redesigned its midsize luxury sedan for 2013, bringing more attractive styling inside and out. A new hybrid model joins the lineup this year. Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays takes a look at the ES 350, which he says is not just a gussied-up Toyota. Built on a larger platform than the outgoing generation, the new ES offers a spacious cabin, better driving experience and sporty styling. But will a confused transmission, inconsistent interior quality and lack of competitive features scare off car shoppers?

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By Robby DeGraff | November 27, 2012 | Comments (1)

Consumer Reports Finds Faulty Release Inside Trunks of Lexus ES, GS

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If you own a car from the last 10 years, you've probably noticed a glow-in-the-dark trunk release on the inside of the trunk. That's to help anyone who happens to find themselves inside the trunk escape from it. It's been a federal requirement for all cars in the U.S. since Sept. 1, 2001, following a 1998 summer where 11 children died from inadvertent trunk entrapment. Since its implementation, no children have died in the trunk of a car that has the release.

Consumer Reports noted the release inside their 2013 Lexus ES and GS sedans could snap off, however. One editor's 4-year-old son wanted to test (under supervision) the emergency release, which snapped off. The publication found that in the ES 350, ES 300h and GS 350 sedans, the release lever could break if you pulled it toward the driver's side of the car. Lexus parent, Toyota, told Consumer Reports that the Lexus IS has a similar release design. Consumer Reports spot-tested other test cars in its fleet and found no such issues.

By Kelsey Mays | October 12, 2012 | Comments (4)

Dodge Dart, Lexus ES and Two More Named Top Safety Picks

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s list of Top Safety Picks has grown by four cars. The 2013 versions of the Lexus ES, Dodge Dart, Hyundai Santa Fe and Subaru XV Crosstrek have earned IIHS’ top award.

To earn the safety nod, a car must receive the highest score of Good in front, side, rear and rollover crash tests. The rollover test looks at a vehicle’s roof strength. To pass this crash test, a car’s roof must withstand a force of four times its weight.

The ES and Santa Fe have been redesigned for the 2013 model year. Both the ES 350 and ES 300h, a hybrid, have been named Top Safety Picks, besting the 2012 ES 350 that earned a Marginal score in the rear crash test. The 2012 Santa Fe also was a Top Safety Pick.

The new-for-2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek’s crash-test scores are no surprise since it’s based on the Subaru Impreza, which is also a Top Safety Pick. The Dart is also new for 2013.

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By Jennifer Newman | October 3, 2012 | Comments (1)

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: September 2012

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September was another strong month of car sales, making the automotive industry one of the sole bright spots of the economic recovery. With most major carmakers reporting, sales are up 13% year-over-year with 1.118 million vehicles sold, according to Automotive News. 

That gain is healthy, especially considering that the average vehicle transaction price has also increased to $32,243 as compared to August’s $32,181, according to CNW Marketing Research. Total incentives and discounts weren’t appreciably higher as compared with last month, either. In fact, the only major seller to see significant incentive increases for the month was the 2012-13 Ford Focus, which has up to $2,000 cash-back offers currently. The Focus was up an astounding 91.4% year-over-year, which made it the 12th best-selling vehicle for the month.

By Colin Bird | October 2, 2012 | Comments (22)

August's Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars

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The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport topped last month's fastest-selling cars — a list that mixed the usual influx of redesigns and introductions with a lot of older cars. The 2013 Toyota Corolla, Honda Fit, Mini Cooper, Audi A3 and Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen flew off dealer lots last month. All but the A3 saw sales increases, with the Corolla, Fit and Cooper up more than 25% apiece. But all five cars have been on the market for some time since their last update, and none offer major incentives. One possible factor is gas prices, which have risen 20 cents in the past month. All five cars have variants with combined EPA mileage of 30 mpg or better.

Response to the redesigned Hyundai Santa Fe has been "nothing short of remarkable," Hyundai sales chief Dave Zuchowski said in a statement Tuesday. However, sales for the nameplate — whose redesign sprouts a new Santa Fe Sport derivative that's lumped into the same sales figure — fell nearly 50% for the month. What gives?

By Kelsey Mays | September 6, 2012 | Comments (0)

Lexus Announces Pricing for 2013 ES Models

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When the redesigned Lexus ES 350 goes on sale later this summer, it'll start at $36,995, including an $895 destination charge. That's a 1.7% decrease compared to model-year 2012 versions. Its hybrid sibling, the ES 300h, will cost $2,750 more at $39,745. 

The ES 350 gets a little longer for 2013 and now uses the brand's new spindle grille and a revised suspension. The previous version's 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission carry over.

By Jennifer Geiger | July 16, 2012 | Comments (7)

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