As I drive around in the latest iteration of VW’s American-market Passat, now featuring the 1.8 TSI engine, driving impressions of the outgoing 2014 Sonata in Hybrid guise – a car I drove the week prior – flashed into my mind. The Sonata that this 2014 Hybrid is based on was introduced back in 2009, and the newly revised 2015 Sonata will be hitting dealerships around the time you read this (though the Hybrid version soldiers on in current form until a new one bows for 2016).
Tag - Hybrid
I’ve admitted on these pages before to not being the World’s Greatest Hybrid Fan. Yeah, I can see their purpose, and although their net impact on global sustainability remains questionable and hotly debated, I do at least understand that a reduced dependence on fossil fuels is a goal we should all be working toward. If in the near term we accomplish that by building vehicles with battery packs that greatly reduce fuel consumption, so be it. But that still hasn’t burnished a place in my heart for the Prius as a vehicle I would recommend to my friends when they ask me, the car guy in their lives, for advice.
The thought of hybrid loanership for a week usually fills me with the sort of dread reserved for visiting a dentist’s office with a dull ache in your jaw – the only way through the period of time ahead is to envision how much better you’ll feel when it’s behind you. It’s not that hybrids are bad cars, mind you – they certainly serve a purpose for a portion of the buying public – but very rarely are they geared toward car lovers, and instead tend to focus so single-mindedly on efficiency that the duty of actually driving becomes drudgery in their presence. Such was the case when I approached the Sonata Hybrid pictured – “here we go again”.
Efficient Luxury Transport for the Pleated Set
Put yourself in a place for a moment – one where Porsches, Mustangs and Corvettes are of little concern. Hard to imagine, I know, but bear with me – at some point, many car shoppers decide they’ve endured the stresses of enthusiast auto ownership for too long. Maybe they bore the brunt of a few too many high dollar repairs, or been left stranded in the office parking lot for the last time. They’ve grown weary of having something “sporty” and all the compromises that go along with that. It’s time for a change – they want something comfortable, relaxing, quiet and luxurious – maybe even something that gets really good gas mileage. For one reason or another, maybe a diesel is out of the question – you wouldn’t want your significant other accidentally topping off the tank with gasoline, you know. That can make for a hefty repair bill. They’d even be willing to consider a shade of beige for the paint color. If only there was a car that fit those exacting needs…
Enter the Lexus ES300h.
Around the middle of my third day driving the Prius c, I realized the car had won. It had succeeded in turning me into the equivalent of one of Pavlov’s dogs, dutifully following the throttle-based energy monitor’s screen until I had achieved sufficient “eco” status while driving. If I was really good, I’d even trigger EV-only operation. Much salivating commenced.
Vanity, thy name is midsize executive saloon. Few automotive categories are more about being pure arm candy for their owners than $50 – $70,000 luxury sedans. Think about it – if the only thing you were after was practicality, you’d probably be looking elsewhere. These cars are often tighter inside for four passengers than a midsized family sedan, their gas mileage trails that of the roomier FWD luxury segment unless you spring for a hybrid model, their reflexes aren’t quite in the realm of sports sedans (that’s what the halo models of their respective ranges are for) and they are, of course, priced out of the reach of the everyday shopper. And yet, none of that really matters – because few better ways exist of really letting your neighbors know you’ve made it.