Posts Tagged ‘Toyota’


Car sales are always a good barometer of the economy, and if that’s true, the outlook or at least the anticipated outlook for 2013 is good. According to the California New Car Dealers Association (CNCDA), new vehicle sales for 2012 were up 25.3% over 2011, exceeding a whopping 1.6 million units (including fleet sales).  Compare that to a nationwide increase of 13.4%.  Go California!

A couple weeks ago, headlines around the country trumpeted (or jeered, depending on your perspective), that the Toyota Prius was the number one selling vehicle in California in 2012.  How many? An impressive 60,688 – more than the entire population of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  You could practically feel the derision and scorn aimed at California from “real Americans” who only buy big pickup trucks and SUVs. Those damn socialist, communist, tree huggers, over-zealous environmentalists and car-haters in California.  How dare you choose a Japanese-made hybrid over an American pickup truck!

2013 Toyota Prius in the top trim level - Five.

2013 Toyota Prius in the top trim level – Five.

I think the Prius’ crown makes sense and here’s why: Gas is expensive in California – more than most of the rest of the country – and the Prius delivers the best fuel economy for the dollar.  For the vast majority of buyers, whether they admit it or not, it’s a pocketbook issue. Aside from economics, you can pretend to (or actually) care about the environment and brag about how little you spend on gas.  It’s also a class-less car.  You will see people of all socioeconomic levels driving a Prius — from a wealthy Hollywood star to one of the below-the-line staffers on a television show.

The 2013 Toyota Prius v ("v" for versatility) has more cargo capacity and a wagon-like tailgate.

The 2013 Toyota Prius v (“v” for versatility) has more cargo capacity and a wagon-like tailgate.

The whole Prius ethos is wrapped up into a simple, right-sized, easy to drive transportation appliance that people love. We have one in our family and it functions exactly as advertised. It is very reliable and requires almost no driving skill to glide through daily activities and gets a relatively consistent 40 mpg (never the 50 mpg claimed).

Top-Selling Vehicles in California versus Top-Selling Vehicles in the U.S. for 2012 (source:CNCDA)

However, for us in Los Angeles and the other large metropolitan areas that dot the beautiful coast of California, this isn’t surprising. You can’t throw a stone in any direction without hitting one.  And in 2012, the Prius family grew to three models: The standard Prius hatchback, the compact, Yaris-based Prius-C and the larger Prius-V wagon.  We are used to the creepy “silence” a Prius makes as it rolls along before the gas engine kicks:  There is that vague electric hum (like you hear from a transformer) and the subdued road noise from the low-rolling resistance tires as if someone was pushing a stalled car.

The Prius c ("c" for compact) was introduced in the first quarter of 2012 and was an instant hit from the beginning, despite tepid reviews. It's based on the humble Yaris.

The Prius c (“c” for compact) was introduced in the first quarter of 2012 and was an instant hit from the beginning, despite tepid reviews. It’s based on the humble Yaris.

This isn’t to say that our former favorite car, the Honda Civic, didn’t do very well, despite being dropped from Consumer Report’s “Recommend List” for the first time in memory and receiving near-universal scorn from the automotive press. When I drove the 2012 Honda Civic in 2011, I piled on the poor Civic calling it a second-rate, noisy econobox.  But as you can see by the graphic above, Honda Loyalists didn’t abandon their favorite car and still bought 57,124 units.

Honda execs, horrified by the merciless criticism, rushed a heavily-revised 2013 Civic to market in 18 months. I predict it will be a close race between the Prius and Civic in 2013.

The heavily revised 2013 Honda Civic is sure to outsell the 2012 in 2013.

The heavily revised 2013 Honda Civic is sure to outsell the 2012 in 2013.

Apparently we also like cars better than trucks. In California, in 2012,  passenger cars accounted for 62.9% of sales; SUVs 24.3% and pickups and vans, 12.7%.  Compared to the entire country where passenger cars accounted for only 51.6% of total sales.

In 2012, hybrid registrations were 98,154 (a 7.4% of the market) and 2996 electric cars were registered (0.2% of the market) mostly Nissan Leafs, with a few Teslas thrown in.  The Tesla Model S is growing in popularity.  Just yesterday, on my short drive home from the gym, two of them passed me.  And last week in Venice, I saw a brand new Model S parked on (appropriately) Abbot Kinney.

The very sexy and very fast 2013 Tesla Model S

The very sexy and very fast 2013 Tesla Model S

Toyota and Honda still dominate our market. Below is how the various manufacturers divvy up the highly-lucrative California market:

  • Toyota (including Scion and Lexus) grabbed the lion’s share at 21.1%
  • Honda (including Acura) 12.5%
  • Ford (including Lincoln), 11.3%
  • GM (Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac), 11.2%
  • Nissan (including Infiniti), 8.3%
  • Hyundai/Kia 8.3%
  • Chrysler (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, SRT and Fiat) 5.5%
  • VW (Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche. Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti) 5.5%
  • BMW (Including MINI and Rolls-Royce) 4.5%
  • Mercedes-Benz (including smart and Sprinter light trucks) 4.1%
  • Other 6.7%

The rising star in California is Hyundai’s twin, Kia, with sales up a whopping 53.3% in 2012.  And a  little car company whose sales are part of the “other” rounding category, Subaru, had a stellar year with sales up 44.2%.  Volkswagen, in its march to conquer the world, saw its California sales increase 37.9%.

Broken down by region, in 2012, L.A. and Orange Counties accounted for 522,256 (approximately 40%) of the total 1,310,720 (retail, excluding fleet) new car registrations.  Southern California (including Riverside, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Diego counties) accounted for 67% or two thirds of all registrations. That makes sense given the vast freeway systems, long distances and lack of good public transportation.

California top-selling vehicles, by segment were:

Entry Level: Nissan Versa, Kia Soul, Honda Fit, Fiat 500, Ford Fiesta

Subcompact: Toyota Prius, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla/Matrix, VW Jetta, Hyundai Elantra

Sporty Compact: Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger, Scion tC, Hyundai Veloster

I don't quite think of the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro (in ZL1 Convertible trim in this picture) as a "compact" sports car... But that's how it's categorized.

I don’t quite think of the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro (in ZL1 Convertible trim in this picture) as a “compact” sports car… But that’s how it’s categorized.

Standard Mid Size: Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima

Large Mid Size: Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300, Nissan Maxima, Buick LaCrosse, Toyota Avalon

Near Luxury: BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class, Infiniti G, Lexus ES, Lexus IS

Luxury: Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5-series, Lexus GS, Audi A5, Audi A6California Auto Outlook Q4 2012 2014 Mercedes Benz E-class sedan

Sports Car: Porsche 911, Nissan 370Z, Chevrolet Corvette, Mazda MX-5 Miata, BMW Z4

Compact Pickup: Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, Honda Ridgeline

Full Size Pickup: Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, Ram, Toyota Tundra, GMC Sierra

The Ford F-150 pickup truck and all its derivatives has been the best-selling vehicle in the US for more than 20 years.  This model is the SVT Raptor, an expensive performance upgrade to the standard F-150.

The Ford F-150 pickup truck and all its derivatives have been the best-selling vehicle in the US for more than 20 years. This model is the SVT Raptor, an expensive performance upgrade to the standard F-150.

Minivan: Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Dodge Caravan, Nissan Quest, Mazda5

Full Size Van: Ford E-Series, Ford Transit Connect, Chevrolet Express, Sprinter, Nissan NV

Compact SUV: Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Nissan Rouge, Jeep Wrangler

Always a big seller and favorite in both California and in the whole US, the Honda CR-V seems to hit the sweet spot of the compact SUV market.

Always a big seller and favorite in both California and in the whole US, the Honda CR-V seems to hit the sweet spot of the compact SUV market.

Mid Size SUV: Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Ford Edge, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Kia Sorento

Full Size SUV: Ford Explorer, GMC Acadia, Ford Flex, Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Traverse

Luxury SUV: Lexus RX, BMW X5, Mercedes M-Class, Acura MDX, Mercedes GLK

The Lexus RX350 is forever popular in Los Angeles. This one is the F-Sport model with some subtle changes to the grille and body cladding.

The Lexus RX350 is forever popular in Los Angeles. This one is the F-Sport model with some subtle changes to the grille and body cladding.

You can download the full California Auto Outlook, Fourth Quarter publication here.


The first day was packed with so many debuts, previews and hyperbole, it nearly wore me out.  The last three posts contained material from the first day. Going back on the second day of press preview, things have calmed down and a few and a few surprises pleased.

Acura: This time there wasn’t much of a crowd around Acura’s new flagship and I understand why.  Aside from a few high-tech tricks of the trade, I still can’t see why anyone would pay north of $50,000 for the RLX when the TL (based on the Honda Accord) looks as good,  the interior is nearly as luxurious, it offers virtually the same technology and is nearly the same size. When I look at the new RLX, I should see “flaghship” all over.  I don’t.

2014 Acura RLX with its blazing LED headlights.

2014 Acura RLX with its blazing LED headlights.

 

Audi: On day one, all Audis on the floor were in snow white, the color of green, I guess. And the big news was that the bosses in Ingolstadt were allowing Audi US to see more models with the corporate 3.0L V6 TDI engines.  On day two, we got red for the racing models and black for the ones you drive to the opera. This lovely 2013 RS5 appeared and it’s just beautiful in person.

2013 Audi RS5 starts at $70,000.

2013 Audi RS5 starts at $70,000.

And since diesel was the theme of the first day, I happened to catch this fetching 2013 Q5 Hybrid on the floor. It’s Audi’s first gasoline-electric hybrid in the U.S., but it’s not cheap, starting at $51,795.  It’s powered by the corporate 2.0L turbo gas engine and a 54 hp 40 kw 3-phase electric motor/generator. Fuel economy is modestly increased to a combined 26 mpg.  It’s on sale now.

The 2014 Audi Q5 Hybrid. The badge on the back is one of the only ways to distinguish the regular Q5 from this Hybrid.

The 2013 Audi Q5 Hybrid. The badge on the back is one of the only ways to distinguish the regular Q5 from this Hybrid.

 

Fiat:  In its relentless march to have an many colors and flavors of the same car as earthly possible, Fiat introduced a 500C Abarth.  We already have Charlie Sheen advertising the coupe version of the 500 Abarth, I wonder which celebrity will get to advertise this one? Please, god, not JLo again.

2013 Fiat 500C Abarth

2013 Fiat 500C Abarth

The bigger news, so to speak, was the 2014 500L, an almost exact duplicate of the MINI Countryman.  Finally, something that real Americans want: an SUV!  I’m also sure that Fiat dealers will be thrilled to get their  hands on something, anything that isn’t just another designer edition of the 500 coupe/cabriolet (see above). Fiat doesn’t play coy here either.  The company is trying to duplicate MINI’s success in the U.S.  The MINI Countryman accounts for more than a third of all MINI sales so far this year and accounts for nearly 100% of the increase in sales since it was introduced.  Since Fiat is copying MINI, the 500L was inevitable.

2014 Fiat 500L. From almost any angle, it reminds you of the Countryman.

2014 Fiat 500L. From almost any angle, it reminds you of the Countryman.

The 500L still has the face of a 500, but definitely bulked up. It's not so small any longer!

The 500L still has the face of a 500, but definitely bulked up. It’s not so small any longer!

The rear of the 2014 500L shows that it has big cargo aspirations.

The rear of the 2014 500L shows that it has big cargo aspirations. That’s a pretty big badge, huh? With a butt this big, I don’t know if the badging had to match the size.

The interior of the 500L is one large pile of cheap plastic. It doesn't look bad, but then you start to touch it and tap it and  you can feel and hear how cheap it is. Pricing hasn't yet been announced, but you can be sure it will be close to the Countryman.

The interior of the 500L is one large pile of cheap plastic. It doesn’t look bad, but then you start to touch it and tap it, you can feel and hear how cheap it is. That doesn’t bode well for road noise either – a problem that plagues the MINI. Pricing hasn’t yet been announced, but you can be sure it will be close to the Countryman.

 

GMC – GM’s luxury truck division didn’t have much to show us either. There were no new models, no concept cars. The best GMC could muster for the show was the addition of the Danali über luxury/styling package (translate: boatloads of profit) for the Acadia and Terrain.

The 2013 Acadia has been updated with a better interior and some styling changes as have the other GM Lambda-based SUVS, the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave. The addition of the Denali trim level to the Acadia adds to the sticker price as well as GMC profits.

The 2013 Acadia has been updated with a better interior and some styling changes as have the other GM Lambda-based SUVs, the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave. The addition of the Denali trim level to the Acadia adds to the sticker price as well as GMC’s profits.

2013 Terrain Denali. I know someone must buy these, but it wasn't attracting much press attention at the show.

2013 Terrain Denali. I know someone must buy these, but it wasn’t attracting much press attention at the show.

 

Honda: Honda had some big news at the LA auto Show, but the company waited for the second day to unveil the 2013 Civic.  While the news had already been leaked, the fact that it happened is astounding. After less than 18 months on the market, the all-new 2012 Civic was so universally panned that Honda rushed to give it an extensive makeover to the 2013 model.

The front and rear were completely restyled.  Interior materials were upgraded and the dash was re-sorted to be more harmonious. Seats were reworked to be more comfortable. One hundred pounds of soundproofing was added and the glass was thickened to help reduce the road noise inside the cabin.  All this was done without a hit to fuel economy too.  Bluetooth, streaming audio, a USB charging port and a rear view camera are now standard.  To top it off, the price only went up $160. The base Civic starts at $18,960.

And Honda isn’t waiting for the compliments to roll in.  The refreshed 2013 Civic (Sedan, Coupe, Si and Hybrid variants) is already for sale at your friendly local Honda dealer.

The 2013 Honda Civic is on the right. It certainly has more detail and personality than the 2012 model. It more resembles the new Accord.

The 2013 Honda Civic is on the right. It certainly has more detail and personality than the 2012 model. It more resembles the new Accord.

The taillights of the 2013 Civic, on the right, have been extended into the trunk. There is more chrome too. Again, it no longer looks like a 10 year old Camry, it looks more like the 2013 Accord, which is a good thing.

The taillights of the 2013 Civic, on the right, have been extended into the trunk. There is more chrome too. Again, it no longer looks like a 10 year old Camry, it looks more like the 2013 Accord, which is a good thing.

Even though the Civic was hated by critics (its most faithful supporter, Consumer Reports, refused to recommend it),  the car-buying public still ate it up. Through October, Honda has sold 254,716 Civics.  It easily beats the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Chevy Cruze and it even beat the Toyota Corolla by more than 10,000 units.  I’d be pretty pissed off if I bought a 2012 Civic – the 2013 is that much better.  I took the 2013 Civic for a short drive while at the show, and while I still don’t fit well in a Civic (I haven’t in years), I found it to be fun, peppy and much more the car it should be. I can’t imagine sales not being even greater in the years to come.

It may be too early to tell, but this wake-up call to Honda may have helped Honda come in from the blandtastic wilderness and back to it’s “hip” and fun roots.

Lighting wasn't great, but this was the 2013 Civic Sedan on display at the show.

Lighting wasn’t great, but this was the 2013 Civic Sedan on display at the show.

The 2013 redesign of the Civic puts Honda squarely back in the game with the very hot competition.

The 2013 redesign of the Civic puts Honda squarely back in the game with the very hot competition.

Even the color schemes have changed in the 2013 Honda Civic.

Even the interior color schemes have changed in the 2013 Honda Civic.

The 2013 Honda Civic Si gets a blacked-out grille for a more sporty look.

The 2013 Honda Civic Si gets a blacked-out grille for a more sporty look.

 

Jaguar:  The press descended on the Jaguar press conference to introduce the new F-Type roadster because, aside from the usual hype for the Porsche Cayman, the F-Type was the rock star of the show. Sleek, slim and thoroughly modern, the F-Type was the physical and spiritual embodiment of the Jaguar brand.  On Day 2, after the press was gone, I was able to not only sit inside it but take much better pictures.

The blue Jaguar 2014 F-Type S has the supercharged 3.0L V6 making 380 hp / 339 lb-ft torque.

The blue Jaguar 2014 F-Type S has the supercharged 3.0L V6 making 380 hp / 339 lb-ft torque.

2014 Jaguar F-Type S

2014 Jaguar F-Type S

Center console of the 2014 Jaguar F-Type S. The shifter is very BMW and it uses the same ZF 8-speed automatic as the BMW. All good things.

Center console of the 2014 Jaguar F-Type S. The shifter is very BMW and it uses the same ZF 8-speed automatic as the BMW. All good things.

The cabin of the 2014 Jaguar F-Type S is beautifully-crafted and the switchgear is substantial and jewel-like.

The cabin of the 2014 Jaguar F-Type S is beautifully-crafted and the switchgear is substantial and jewel-like.

The very orange 2014 Jaguar F-Type V8S has a supercharged 5.0L V8 making 495 hp / 460 lb-ft torque. And damn, it looks GREAT in orange.

The very orange 2014 Jaguar F-Type V8S has a supercharged 5.0L V8 making 495 hp / 460 lb-ft torque. And damn, it looks GREAT in orange.

There is no bad angle for the Jag F-Type.

There is no bad angle for the Jag F-Type.

The slim taillights and integrated spoiler of the Jaguar F-Type are sublime.

The slim taillights and integrated spoiler of the Jaguar F-Type are sublime.

 

Kia: It seems like Kia keeps introducing a new Forte every two years. The Korean Twins, Hyundai and Kia, are relentless in introducing fresh models that are the automotive triple threats: Great, distinctive styling, packed with the latest mechanical and infotainment technologies, at a price and with a warranty that undercuts the competition.

2014 Kia Forte Sedan

2014 Kia Forte Sedan

The 2014 Kia Forte loses some of its "German" looks in favor of some Asian flavor. However, I still prefer its looks over the Hyundai Elantra (and I like the Elantra).

The 2014 Kia Forte loses some of its “German” looks in favor of some Asian flavor. However, I still prefer its looks over the Hyundai Elantra (and I like the Elantra).

Check out the detail on the 2014 Forte. The quarter glass is often blacked out with plastic with the side mirror attached. Kia went with the mirror mounted on the door (like some expensive German cars) and used glass instead of cheap plastic. Nice touch.

Check out the detail on the 2014 Forte. The quarter glass is often blacked out with plastic with the side mirror attached. Kia went with the mirror mounted on the door (like some expensive German cars) and used glass instead of cheap plastic. Nice touch.

The interior of the 2014 Kia Forte looks well sorted. While the plastics are cheap, textured and soft-touch surfaces imbue a richer, more upscale feeling. The center console has lost some of its angle towards the driver, but a bit still remains.

The interior of the 2014 Forte Koup is nearly identical to the 5-door and sedan.

The interior of the 2014 Forte Koup is nearly identical to the 5-door and sedan. This model lacks the navigation system, but the contrasting stitching on the steering wheel and seats is a nice touch.

I like the taillight styling better on the 2014 Forte Koup.

I like the taillight styling better on the 2014 Forte Koup.

Always nice to know that Kia hasn't abandoned the 5-door hatchback format.

Always nice to know that Kia hasn’t abandoned the 5-door hatchback format.

 

Lincoln: On the first day of press preview, Lincoln showed off its heritage vehicles that I covered in Part 1. Day two represented the future of the Lincoln Brand in the form of the 2013 MKZ.  While it wasn’t a world preview, it was the first time the MKZ has been shown in L.A.  The 2013 MKZ is the Lincoln version of the Ford Fusion.  I think the Fusion looks better and is a much better value. You can get virtually all the advanced tech in Ford’s arsenal on the Fusion for thousands less that the MKZ.  The only major difference is that the Lincoln can be ordered with a V6 while only 4-cylinder engines (including turbos) are available on the Ford.

I like almost everything about the MKZ except the grille. That alone would make me go for the Fusion, which has the Aston Martin gaping trapezoidal grille.  I’ll add my voice to the chorus of enthusiasts who want Ford to make a proper rear-drive Lincoln flagship. Ford can do it with the new rear-drive platform that will debut on the 50th Anniversary 2015 Ford Mustang in the spring of 2014.  Until Lincoln comes up with something else, the MKZ is going to have to carry the brand.

2013 Lincoln MKZ

2013 Lincoln MKZ. This loaded model was $46,750 and the price can go over $50,000 easily.

The rear of the 2013 MKZ is decidedly better than the front and you can see some Lincoln heritage in the taillights that run the full width of the rear.

The rear of the 2013 MKZ is decidedly better than the front and you can see some Lincoln heritage in the taillights that run the full width of the rear.

The interior of the Lincoln MKZ looks a bit too similar to the Ford Fusion except for one major change. The center console shifter is gone and the transmission is operated by electronic push-buttons on the upper left portion of the center dash. I'd rather have the floor shifter.

The interior of the Lincoln MKZ looks a bit too similar to the Ford Fusion except for one major change. The center console shifter is gone and the transmission is operated by electronic push-buttons on the upper left portion of the center dash. I’d rather have the floor shifter.

Ford thinks that this optional panoramic sliding glass roof will be a popular defining feature of the MKZ. Except you can get a similar one on the Ford Fusion. It is slick and the black glass is a great contrast with the silver paint.

Ford thinks that this optional panoramic sliding glass roof will be a popular defining feature of the MKZ. Except you can get a similar one on the Ford Fusion. It is slick and the black glass is a great contrast with the silver paint.

Here’s something that I haven’t seen in a long time. A rear fender-mounted antenna. Apparently with the sliding glass roof, Ford couldn’t find a way to integrate a decent quality AM/FM antenna into the windows or the roof. You can see the small black pod which is the satellite radio antenna on the lower center of the rear window.

 

Mazda:  Mazda had already showed off it’s terrific new 2014 Mazda6 sedan – with both the SkyActiv gasoline and diesel engines. What showed up on Day Two was a Concept CX-5 made for Actor/Racer Patrick Dempsey.  Nice to be good-looking, famous and rich, right? You get free stuff thrown at you.  Anway, this is one tricked-out CX-5 and it was irresistible.

A 2013 Mazda CX-5 custom built for Patrick Dempsey.

A 2013 Mazda CX-5 custom built for Patrick Dempsey.

Nice custom bike rack for Mr. Dempsey's 2013 CX-5.

Nice custom bike rack for Mr. Dempsey’s 2013 CX-5.

Here’s a nice picture of the 2014 Mazda6 with the SkyActiv-G 2.5L turbo engine.

2014 Mazda6 SkyActiv-G

2014 Mazda6 SkyActiv-G

I can't resist another picture of the 2014 Mazda6 SkyActiv-D. It's a diesel and it's really coming to the US market!

I can’t resist another picture of the 2014 Mazda6 SkyActiv-D. It’s a diesel and it’s really coming to the US market!

Here's a closer look at the SkyActiv-D badge on this 2014 Mazda6.

Here’s a closer look at the SkyActiv-D badge on this 2014 Mazda6.

 

Mercedes-Benz: I almost lost my camera in this super sexy $230,000 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG coupe. I had to take it out of my pocket to sit in the cockpit. Good thing this was press preview and someone turned it into the Mercedes information desk.

2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupe. Ah, those fantastic Gullwing doors!

2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupe. Ah, those fantastic Gullwing doors!


MINI: I thought I should include a couple better pictures of the new 2013 MINI Paceman – a rakish 3-door Countryman.

MINI's 2013 Paceman does cut a nice silhouette and it has all the cargo space of its 4-door brother.

MINI’s 2013 Cooper S Paceman does cut a nice silhouette and it has all the cargo space of its 4-door brother.

The interior of the 2013 Paceman is typical MINI Countryman.

The interior of the 2013 Paceman is typical MINI Countryman.

The 2013 Paceman is distinctly a MINI. Fiat envy's the image that BMW's MINI division was able to cultivate worldwide.

The 2013 Paceman is distinctly a MINI. Fiat envies the image that BMW’s MINI division was able to cultivate worldwide.

 

Porsche:  In case the Porsche Panamera Turbo was too slow for you, Porsche added yet another range topper – the 2013 Panamera Turbo S.  Starting at $175,300 (before freight), the Turbo S is good for 550 hp, zero to 60 in 3.6 seconds and tops out at 190 mph, if you can find a road or a track to go that fast.

The cabin of the 2013 Panamera Turbo S is of very high quality, as it should be.

The cabin of the 2013 Panamera Turbo S is of very high quality, as it should be.

The behind of the 2013 Panamera Turbo S is still a too bulbous, but it does make for good rear headroom.

The behind of the 2013 Panamera Turbo S is still a too bulbous, but it does make for good rear headroom.

These are the seat and HVAC controls for the back seat passenger in the Panamera Turbo S. First class accommodations for four only.

These are the seat and HVAC controls for the back seat passenger in the Panamera Turbo S. First class accommodations for four only.

 

Toyota:  I covered the RAV4 in Part 3 of my auto show coverage. However, Toyota sneaked in its NS4 Concept.  It’s not new, but it hasn’t been seen in LA. It’s supposed to foreshadow future hybrids, including the next-generation Prius.

The Toyota NS4 Concept

The Toyota NS4 Concept

The 2014 Highlander Hybrid also made an unexpected appearance.  It looks very similar to the current Highlander, albeit with some updated styling cues.

The 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

The 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

The interior of the 2014 Highlander Hybrid looks upgraded and comfortable.

I liked the roof rack on this 2013 Toyota 4Runner.

2013 Toyota 4-Runner. I applaud Toyota for keeping the 4-runner with a roll-down rear window. There aren't many of those left. Most SUVs have fixed glass, and a couple have pop-up windows, but the roll-down is best.

2013 Toyota 4-Runner. I applaud Toyota for keeping the 4-runner with a roll-down rear window. There aren’t many of those left. Most SUVs have fixed glass, and a couple have pop-up windows, but the roll-down is best.

I drove the 2013 RAV4 EV and found it quiet, smooth and very easy to drive. Like all EVs, it’s hard to know it’s even on – watch for the green light on the dash! But with the electric drive, all the torque is available right from the start.  It will cruise up to around 85 mpg in “Sport” mode, but that burns electrons fairly quickly. If you need something bigger than a Prius V and can live with the range anxiety of an EV, this may be the small SUV for you.

Toyota - 2013 RAV4 EV Front Left

The 2013 RAV4 EV. It’s goes for $50,000 before the federal tax credit. The batteries are by Tesla. It has a range in excess of 100 miles.