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2020 Lexus ES 300h Hybrid

Susan Frissell, Editor/Publisher

The 2020 Lexus ES 300 now enters its seventh generation. Without a lot of obvious changes, the ES remains a classy sedan that offers comfort, looks and reliability, and demands it’s worth.  After all, not all vehicles purchased today can demand their worth. Not true with a Lexus product. And even those who aren’t car aficionados know this fact.

There were some 81,000 Lexus-badged non-truck vehicles sold in the U.S last year (2019), and 51.336 of them were ES models. The Lexus LS is obviously the brand’s flagship sedan, however, the ES is holding its own in the all-around sedan category.

In an effort to broaden its appeal, the ES has upped its game, particularly in the interior. Although one can argue there are snappier sedans out there, the ES remains a sedan with a more staid, but coveted look, and not all car buyers are looking for stand-out style.

This iteration of the ES 300 hybrid has more of a family resemblance; a modern family, that is. For 2020,the ES has adopted the jury-is-still-out-front grille. Due to this year’s recurved shape, the ES incorporates the grille better than other models. We kind of like it-surprise! Perhaps the blades on the hybrid model NX are a better partner for the grille.  

The 2020 ES 300h has the same engine as do the Toyota Camry and the RAV4. An electric motor is packaged with a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine, also borrowed. With 215 horsepower, down from last year’s model (302 hp., V6), which is a tad noticeable. However, it remains adequate, with enough punch to satisfy most drivers.  Miles-per-gallon are rated at 44 mpg-we didn’t test the accuracy.

As with all Lexus products, one can travel the worst of streets and never feel a bump. Added to that is the ES’ quiet interior-the inner sanctum. Wind noise is barely detectible, with the help of acoustic side glass (Luxury Package).

In 2020, the ES 300 is available in four choices: ES 350 Ultra Luxury ($43,750), ES 300h ($41, 810), ES 350 Luxury ($42,755), and ES350 F Sport ($44,635). For those who have never owned a hybrid vehicle, Lexus has managed to craft a hybrid that feels very much like a gasoline-powered vehicle. Active Glide Control when on ECO mode leaves out the traditional EV regenerative braking, as it coasts along.

The interior is top notch, with the best in materials/leather, 14-way power adjustable seats for driver and passenger. In winter, driver and passengers can opt for the heated seats, and when it’s 90-degrees outside, for the air-conditioned seat feature. The leather hide on the doors and center console is textured, and very classy.

For passengers of all sizes, there is plenty of room in the rear seating area. Leg and head room are generous. The backseat area is well lit with a good size center armrest/cupholder. The moonroof is large, covering much of the rear seating area which also provides light. The ES 300h’s trunk at 16.7 cu. Ft. is generous, offering plenty of extra storage space. With the hybrid model, however, rear seats cannot fold down.

Our Matador Red Mica ES 300h was stunning-and in fact, was our 4th red-toned vehicle this month. It’s clear to see this color denotes pizazz and class, and remains a favorite for that classy ride. We had lots of looks. The interior was also first-rate in Flaxen Semi-Analine Leather, with matte Bamboo trim.

Fourteen-way front seats, heated steering wheel, wiper de-icer, and 12.3-inch large infotainment screen are appreciated. We would opt for the noise-reducing 18-inch wheels and tires, part of a package. Our test vehicle also came equipped with the 10.2 heads-up display ($500), upgraded LED headlamps ($1,515), Mark Levinson sound system, with 17 speakers ($1,080), and wireless charger ($75). We suspect many owners continue to find Lexus’ infotainment touch pad a pain to operate. Never feel comfortable with it. Of course, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both available.

The full Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 suite is present in the ES. This includes emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane trace assist, automatic high-beams and adaptive cruise control. We found the cruise control very consistent, and it works especially well in concert with lane trace assist. With both active the car will target the middle of the lane by reading road markings, or center itself based on the car ahead.

As with most Lexus products, the ES 300h is a luxury sedan that provides all one could want, and then some. Reading this writer’s reviews, it’s not difficult to sense a biased slant. It’s not hard to be impressed with the Lexus 300h sedan, even though this writer remains a holdout for hybrids. One need not compare the Lexus sedans with the likes of German sedans. Two entirely different animals; one buyer may not necessarily be buying one over the other.

As the hybrid’s share of Lexus sedans grow, nearly one in five buyers in the U.S., there is no question the ES 300h is hitting the mark for many buyers.


Price as tested: $55,005; starting price $42,835, delivery $1.025
Engine: 2.5L I4 w/ electric motor, Hybrid, inline, 215 hp. Output: 215
hp, 163 lb-ft
Transmission: Electronic CVT, FWD, automatic
Weight: 4,740 lbs.
Length: 195.9
Height: 56.9 in.
Width: 73.4 in.
Wheelbase: 113.0 in.
Interior: Flaxen semi-anilne leather, bamboo trim
Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gal.
Wheels: 18-inch alloy lock, split with spoke machined finish (standard 17-inch wheel tire)
Tires: 215/55R18 all-season
Capacity: 5-seat, hybrid luxury sedan
US Fuel Economy (mpg, city/highway/combined): 43/44/44
Warranty: 4 yr/50,000-mile, Basic.

2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport

Susan Frissell, Editor/Publisher

Although a luxurious and sporty SUV, the 2020 Lexus NX 300 lags somewhat behind its competitors; to name a few the Infiniti QX50 and BMW X3. As with all the Lexus products, many reviews mention their dislike for the Lexus infotainment system. Just not user-friendly.

In the middle of luxury compact SUV’s, the NX 300 started life in 2015 as the NX 200t, and in 2018, changed its name to the NX 300. The NX saw a few changes in 2019, nothing major. Available in five trim levels, the 2020 NX 300 offers the 300 FWD ($36,870), 300 AWD ($38,270), 300 F Sport FWD ($39,110), 300 Sport AWD $40,510), and the 300 Luxury FWD ($43,960). A Hybrid is also available.

Our press NX was the 300 F Sport, FWD in a stunning Cadmium Orange exterior with white perforated leather seating. MSRP at $40,360, our NX 300 F Sport quickly climbed in price by adding several options, including Adaptive Variable Suspension ($770), Panoramic View Back Up Monitor ($800), Electrochromic Auto-Dimming Inside Rear View Mirror w/Lexus Homelink Garage Door Opener ($125), Triple Beam LED Headlamps with AFS ($1,515), Navigation/Mark Levinson 14-speaker 835-watt Premium Surround Sound Audio System with 10.3-inch multimedia display, Lexus Dynamic Navigation (3-yr. trial subscription included), Lexus Enform Destination Assist (1-yr. trial subscription included), $2,920), Intuitive Parking Assist with Auto Braking ($535), Premium Paint ($595), Power Rear Door ($400), Premium F-Sport Package ($2,865), Heated and Ventilated Front Seats, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic alert, Lexus Memory, System Power Moonroof, and Courtesy Delivery Sticker.

The pros of our 2020 Lexus NX 300 F-Sport SUV include driving dynamics, the option of AWD and a beautiful interior, although a tad tight on space. Our Cadmium Orange NX 300 had a stunning Arctic White perforated leather interior with Rioja Red brown accents on the doors and dash.

The NX 300 styling looks up-to-date and modern, and as with all Lexus products, has an excellent reliability rating (Consumer Reports). While many refer to its grille as “massive,” we kind of like it-guess it’s a matter of getting used to.  Lexus manages to add subtle, yet attractive interior touches, such as the analog clock on the dash (think Infiniti), ambient lighting, moonroof.

Remote-less start is a nice convenience, and the 10.3-inch multi-media display is right-sized. The F-Sport upgrades include stylish interior upgrades, 18-inch wheels; a sport-tuned suspension; heated sport steering wheel; fog lights; LED daytime running lights; heated outside mirrors; and aluminum pedals.

Our NX 300 press vehicle also included the Mark Levinson premium sound system, with 14 speakers, navigation, and LED headlamps. Who wouldn’t enjoy this?

New for 2020 are some driver safety features that include bicycle detection, lane-centering assist, and low-light pedestrian detection. More safety features to learn about and get accustomed to. Added standard safety equipment (Lexus Safety System +2.0) is also new for 2020.

The 2020 Lexus NX 300 does provide luxury in a compact package, and when adding the F Sport package, performance. The sport-tuned suspension will make the NX 300 feel like a performance vehicle, but don’t’ expect that rumble you hear from a Corvette pipe. Rather, what you get is the sound of a 4-cylinder turbo.

If you prefer all-wheel-drive, the NX 300 offers it. FWD is standard and performs good under most normal driving conditions.

Two complaints: As with all Lexus products, the Remote Touch infotainment controller is the worst function on the NX 300. Hard to use and frustrating, especially while driving.

All in all, this is a pleasant SUV, but not a stand-out in this category. This writer prefers the F-Sport option in all the Lexus products; just makes the vehicle feel more performance-oriented, although the Lexus brand is often thought of in luxury terms.

The panoramic view backup monitor ($600) although helpful, takes some adjusting to. We are still accustomed to checking a rear-view mirror. The backup monitor offers several views and if studied judiciously, can help avoid any backup hazards. A good thing. As with most new features, it takes a little practice. which we would recommend. It allows you to see a much wider angle when backing in limited sight areas. The power rear hatch with a kick sensor is another feature you will want when carrying shopping bags and both hands are full.    

The 2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport brings extra driver engagement with improved driving dynamics over the standard model. The exterior styling may be a bit edgy, but once you step inside, the cabin will win you over. There’s extra attention to detail, luxury treatments, and the quality is there. This NX 300 also offers the latest safety equipment to keep the family safe in the event of an accident.

Overall, the NX 300 is a perfect everyday commuter that places few demands on the driver and provides a calm, comfortable cabin.

There exist a plethora of SUV’s these days; each manufacturer offering more than what is needed, perhaps. The UX 200 from Lexus may be a more practical SUV/sport wagon than the NX 300 and offers better fuel economy. As a colleague noted, the NX 300’s 2.0-L 1-4 Turbo doesn’t get much better economy than the naturally aspirated V6 engine in the RX, especially with the 8-speed transmission.


Pricing: MSRP $40,360; total price $51,910; delivery $1,025.

Engine: 2.0-liter in line 4, turbo with 235 hp.

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Wheelbase: 104.7 in.

Width: 73.6 in.

Length: 182.3 in.

Height: 64.8 in.

Weight: 4,050 lbs.

Fuel Tank Capacity: 15.9 gal

MPG: 22/28

Tires: Front/Rear all-season, 225/60R18 (F Sport package)

Wheels: aluminum

Towing capacity: 2,000 lbs.

Warranty: 4-yr./50,000 miles basic; 8 yr./70,000-mile powertrain; 72 mth/unlimited mile corrosion, perforation; 48 mth/unlimited distance roadside; 12 mth/10,000-miles maintenance

2020 Genesis G70 AWD 3.3T Sport

Susan Frissell, Editor/Publisher

Rising almost out of nowhere, the Genesis ‘brand,’ a product of Hyundai has made a name for itself in just a short period of time. Driving the new 2020 G70, I found it hard to be invisible. Heads turned on every block and even engendered questions when at a stop. I was disappointed in myself that I hadn’t done my ‘homework’ before getting into the new G70 so I could answer intelligently. I also didn’t get the feeling-at first-I thought I would when climbing into the supportive driver’s seat.

I had all but decided G70 would be my next vehicle, hoping at some point to negotiate a decent price. Which is why there are second chances in life. First impressions-no matter what you’ve heard-aren’t always the correct impression. As the week progressed, I grew  fond of the G70 and its knock-out styling.

Our test G70 was the AWD version Sport, equipped with the 3.3L Twin-Turbo V6, 365 horsepower. A member of the Luxury Support Sedan market, the G70 was launched early in 2019. Hard to compare it to the big players in this market (Audi, BMW, $60,000), but one does not need to as it stands alone, both in styling (especially in Havana Red), interior charm and value.

Our G70 test vehicle is fast enough for most and challenging in looks. Our G70 came equipped with three separate packages: Elite (including Low Beam Assist, Rain-sensing wipers, parking distance warning, heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, Wireless charging pod); Prestige (Heads-up Display, Surround View Monitor, Napa Leather seating Surfaces with Luxury Quilting, Heated Rear Seats, Power Trunk, Microfiber Suede Headliner); and Sport (including Electronically Controlled Suspension, 12-inch Sport Alloy Wheels w/Summer Tires (RWD) or All-Season Tires, AWD, Copper Headlight Bezel Accents, Dark Tint Taillight Covers, Dark Chrome Grille and Window Trim, Black Napa Leather Seating Surfaces with Sport Quilting).

These packages add to the car’s pricing, of course, and some of us can do without such opulence. Nice to have, but perhaps not always necessary, especially if you’re trying to get into the new G70 for a decent price. MSRP at $46,650 is doable for some, and this may be a vehicle drivers will elect to lease.

Pricing of today’s automobiles is on the high side; and seems so to most people. But with Hyundai (and cousin Kia), buyers get a lot for the price. For instance, one can have a specially painted color without extra cost.  These new versions of red in today’s color choices are smashing. Just In one month of driving vehicles in the fleet, we had four versions of ‘red,’ all stunning.

The G70’s grille is reminiscent of Lexus’ most recent grille which has caused mixed emotions among many. We like it on the G70. It has a commanding presence. This luxury sedan has no trouble taking off with the help of 365 horsepower, and drivers can choose from one of five drive modes. Genesis brags numbers of 0-60 in 4.5 seconds. While some long for the days of the V8 (oh, how I mourned it), today’s turbo engines strive to make up for that experience, and in a much more efficient way. We preferred Sport mode but found Comfort mode a good option for daily drives.

Genesis also offers a Smart mode which believe it or not, learns the driver’s style adjusting shift points to match the driver’s normal way of driving. Of course it does, you say. Aren’t all vehicles “Smart” cars today? Custom and ECO mode are also available. I often find myself driving on ECO mode, assuming MPG will be better.

What took a little getting used to for this writer was the driver’s seat and its position. It felt either too close or not close enough to the pedals, and too high most of the time. I spent time looking for the perfect fit, and finally after a few days in the G70, I found it. The seats are plush and very sporty.

This is a substantial sedan at close to 4,000 lbs. and feels so when navigating the roads. Although the feel isn’t just like a performance vehicle, still it feels sporty, if not a tad stiff on worse roads. The 8-speed automatic transmission is smooth and shifts effortlessly. One can opt for a rear-drive G70 as well, and a 2.0T entry level engine.

Available models include the 2.0T Standard ($35,450), 2.0T Standard AWD ($37,450), 2.0T Sport ($38,500), 3.3T Standard $44,650), and 3.3T Standard AWD ($46,650).

The interior on the Genesis G70 meets luxury specs and is comfortable. Seats are large yet rear seating room can be a tad tight. The trunk isn’t as generous as we expected, and the trunk mat a little cheesy. We admired the perforated leather seating with a quilted pattern. Matching door panels just added to the ambiance. These seats are available on the Sport and Prestige packages. Team that up with the Lexicon 15-speaker audio with Quantum Logic surround and Clari-F sound and you’ve got it made.

We would have preferred the steering wheel (black leather) be the D-shaped version, as it denotes sportiness and class. The red stitching is a nice touch, along with the satin chrome trim on doors, dashboard and console. Of course, front seats are heated and cooled; the steering wheel also heated (option). The dash is easy to figure out and with just a touch, one can operate all these conveniences. The steering wheel also is a power tilt/telescope one, and if you need to adjust mirrors, locate the button on the door. When leaving the vehicle and locking it, the mirrors automatically fold inward. Nice touch.

In all, the 2020 Genesis G70 is a beautiful, fun-to-drive sedan. While sporty it also manages to give off a lot of class. We can assume its maintenance record will also be good.


Pricing: $53,245; MSRP: $46,650; handling $995; $35,450-$46,650

Engine: 3.3L Twin-Turbo V6; 365 hp., 376 lb.ft.torque

Transmission: 8-speed Automatic Transmission with Paddle-Shifters and Rev-Match, Shift by wire, AWD

Class: Luxury Sedan, 5 seats

Wheels: 19-inch Alloy

Tires: 19-inch Michelin All-Season, front: P225/40R19; Rear: P255/35R19

Length: 184.4 in.

Width: 72.8 in.

Height: 55.1 in.

Wheelbase: 111.6 in.

Weight: 3.887

Fuel Tank Capacity: 15.9 gal.

MPG: 22/30 mpg.

Cargo: 10.5 cu. Ft.

Added Features: Elite Package ($1,450); Prestige Package ($2,850); Sport Package ($1,300)

Warranty: 3 yr/36,000 Complimentary Maintenance; 3 yr/36,000 Complimentary Service Valet; 3 yr/Complimentary Genesis Connected Services; 3 yr/Complimentary Map Care

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD

Susan Frissell, Editor/Publisher

It’s hard not to like a Toyota product and the 2020 Avalon is no exception. Although for years it was a rather drab high-end sedan. Let’s face it, as popular as the Camry has always been, it too, wasn’t an eye-catcher. However, those days are long gone and both Toyota sedans are stylish and attractive.

Unveiled at the LA Auto Show, the 2020 Avalon touted its 3.5-liter V6, with 301 horsepower, and mileage at 22/32. Zero-to-60 in less than six seconds.

We liked the pickup and exhaust sounds when putting the pedal to the metal. There is a thrill one gets when driving a sporty car. The Avalon’s exhaust music can’t rival a Corvette, but then we’re talking about a whole different class of automobile. The 9-speed transmission is very smooth and effortless.

The Avalon has a beautiful, up-grade interior, plushy seating and every extra you’d want. The question maybe become, however, when Toyota offers a choice of the Camry TRD; equally attractive and sporty, yet quite a bit less ($12,000), isn’t the Camry enough. Word has it both Camry and Avalon will be 4-cylinder and offer AWD.

The Avalon’s seats, although ample, didn’t fit this writer well. Perhaps they cater to a larger frame. We found them too large and couldn’t quit get the seat where it was comfortable. Either it was too high and/or too far back to reach the pedals satisfactorily. This isn’t a fault as others may find the seats just right.

Our test 2020 Avalon came in Supersonic Red with the Matte Black alloy wheels. Sharp. Beige Leather for the interior made a great combination, very classy and up-scale. Toyota offers some very attractive exterior colors for 2020, including the Opulent Amber, Harbor Gray Metallic, and Ruby Flare Pearl.

Models available include the XLE ($35,875); Hybrid XLE ($37,000); XSE ($38,375); Hybrid XSE ($39,500); TRD ($42,375); and Touring ($42.575). Our TRD Model topped out at $45,384 with some optional equipment including Premium Audio with JBL Clarl-FI Dynamic Navigation and APP Suite. Including 4 speakers including Subwoofer and 1200W amplifier ,9-inch touch screen ($1,760), and Illuminated door sills ($379).

As is the case with most full-size sedans, the ride is comfortable, fitted with a large back seat and plenty of legroom. Trunk size (16 cu. Ft. of cargo space) is also generous and can accommodate 3-4 pieces of luggage, among other goodies. It’s the perfect car for a roadtrip.  I remember the road trips in my father’s 1996 Buick Park Avenue Ultra. The car Hoovies Garage (U Tube) has named the “Best Kept Secret of AARP members,” and the “Most Affordable Car for Broke Millennials.” For $2000-$3000 you can pick up one of these Park’s, which offers such neat features as the license plate slot through the trunk.

However, back to the desirable features of the 2020 Avalon-its upscale cabin, with quality materials, smooth handling and easily gliding powertrains and transmissions. Toyota offers many standard features, including the drive-assistance technology, standard rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning system, forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking-all standard, and available rear-cross-traffic braking.

Redesigned in 2019, there are few changes for 2020. However, Toyota has added the TRD trim level, our press car for the week. From Toyota’s performance division, the TRD (Toyota Racing Development) edition is sportier-outwardly and inwardly. We preferred it, though don’t think it’s true competition for the likes of sportier sedans. Upgrades include a sport-tuned suspension, red-painted brake calipers (loved this) and black-painted side skirts. The XLE trim level comes with heated power-adjustable side mirrors, LED headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, of course heated front seats (and cooled). The auto-dimming rearview mirror and tilt/telescoping steering column are also standard.

The sound system is better than some and has the up-to-date technology, including Apple CarPlay, SiriusXM satellite radio, driver assistance-listed above (blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise).

It’s been some time since we’ve tested an Avalon and the TRD was definitely a fun experience. At $45,000, not sure if it would be a first pick, but it’s been around since 2005, so assume it has an audience. Avalon U.S. sales for 2018 were just under 26,000.

From what was considered by some as a drab, not very handsome full-size sedan, the Avalon finally has something to shout about, particularly in the TRD edition. Boring would probably have been the right adjective in the past, but the 2020 version has come into its own.

While pricing isn’t affordable for many shoppers, those who would be interested in the Avalon can probably justify it. We’re not sure what leasing numbers are like, and/or if this is a car that falls into that category.


Pricing: $42,300; total vehicle price $45, 384; delivery $955

Engine: DOHC 3.5-liter, V-6, 301 hp.,

Transmission: 9-speed

Wheels: 19-inch dark gray/black painted machine-finish alloy

Tires: P235/40R19; all-season temp spare

Height: 55.9 in.

Length: 195.9 in.

Weight:3,638 lbs.

Width: 72.8 in.

Wheelbase: 113.0 in.

Fuel Tank: 15.8 gal.

Crash test scores: Perfect 5 out of 5 (NHTSA)

Seating: 5

Warranty: Basic: 36 mth./36,000-miles,Powertrain: 60 mths/60,000 miles; Corrosion Perforation: 60 mths w/unlimited miles.

2020 Mazda6 Signature Sedan

Susan Frissell, Editor/Publisher

The Mazda6 is more than an ordinary mid-size family sedan, but then Mazda is more than the “usual” Japanese auto manufacturer. Founded in 1920 as Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., was renamed Mazda in 1984. Known for development of and use of the Wankel engine, they are best known for their iconic sportster, the MX-5, Miata.

It would appear that Mazda is deliberate about the vehicles they create and sell; not going overboard like some auto manufacturers who feel they have to represent each category of automobile. Instead, Mazda introduces new models methodically, and with great thought.

Our week in the new 2020 Mazda6 Signature sedan was pleasurable, for many reasons. One, there wasn’t much traffic on the roads so we could drive it, as intended. This is a fun-to-drive sedan. With its attractive body and classy interior, one gets a lot for his/her money.

As someone who still prefers a sedan to the SUV ad nauseum, the Mazda6 sits high on our list. My daily driver is a 2016 Nissan Maxima with a sporty vibe and 300 horsepower which is hard to beat, but the Mazda6 is so comfortable. Not every family with kids needs a minivan or SUV. Something like the new Mazda6 accommodates well and offers plenty of backseat room.

Based somewhat on Mazda’s 2010 Concept car, the Shinari ( a knockout), the Mazda6 is a stunner. Especially if you choose just the right color. In our case, the Soul Red Crystal Metallic-really stands out. The blue they chose for the concept Shinari was a beauty, too. Both make this sedan desirable. Our test vehicle came with ivory/white nappa leather trimmed sport seats.

Their selling model differs a little from the ordinary by allowing buyers to select a higher trim level and add the features they desire. Maybe the Mazda6 won’t compete with sedans that offer the latest up-to-date features, but it satisfies on most levels. After all, most drivers out there are not auto freaks. And although I am, this is a reasonable purchase. Some may wince as they discover the price of adding some extras.The Touring Reserve model offers the best value including the turbo. Also included are the 11-speaker premium audio, Sirius XM satellite radio. Paddler shifters and vented disc front brakes.

Changes to the 2020 Mazda6 are few, including a trunk lid badge and new key fob for the Signature model. Redesigned three times in the past 6 years, the Signature trim level also gets special badging. Our Signature features leather interior, real wood trim and several extras exclusive to this model.

The engine carries over from 2018, adding a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder. While we appreciate the turbo boost, it still sounds like a 4-banger and doesn’t have the growl we might wish for. There are five models, including the Sport ($24,920), Touring ($27,520), Grand Touring ($30,620), Grand Touring Reserve ($33,120 and the Signature ($36,220).

Our test Signature model came with special badging for 2020, a 360-degree camera with front/rear parking sensors, nav with traffic sign recognition and nappa leather with Japanese sen wood accents. Nice!

No shortage of space in the Mazda6. The trunk is ample, accommodating lots of bags, luggage.  One feels as though she is driving a substantial car. In need of more space? Release the handles and lay down the back seats for carrying long objects; even a bicycle.

Ranking near the top of the midsize car class, the Mazda6 offers spirited performance, great looks and a luxury feel. For those so inclined, there is no hybrid or plug-in available at this time. Two engine choices are available and include the 2.5-liter four-cylinder, 187 hp., and the optional turbocharged engine that generates up to 250 hp. Six-speed automatic transmission is standard. Mazda revealed an AWD version and 2.2-liter turbo-diesel will be coming to the U.S. market.

The 2020 Mazda6 is a nice-looking sedan and fun to drive. All six models come with driver assistance features, including blind-spot monitoring, low-speed forward collision warning, automated emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

We did not try out the paddle shifters. Mazda Connect touchscreen infotainment, although nice takes some time getting used to. It took this writer a bit more time to get command of the GPS system.

Mazda’s infotainment system is competitive, yet, the buttons are a pain to operate. The screen is nicely positioned on the dash, tucked right in as not to be in the way. The center console is ample and actually holds any number of goodies.

Safety and driver-assistance features include standard forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking, standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and available lane departure warning with lane-keep assist. Earning a five-star crash rating from the NHTSA speaks well for the Mazda6, as well as being named a Top Safety Pick.

If you’re still into sedans-like this writer-the Mazda6 should be a definite choice on your list. We think you’ll agree when you drive it, it hits a lot of the buttons.


Pricing: $35,300 MSRP, Total vehicle price $36,915

Engine: 2.5-liter inline 4, turbocharged, hp 227, 310 lb-ft. torque

Transmission: 6-speed, automatic, sky-active drive, front-wheel-drive,

Wheels: 19-inch alloy, gun metallic finish

Fuel economy: 26/35 mpg.

Weight: 3,437 lbs.

Brakes: 4-wheel disc

Wheelbase: 111.4 in.

Length: 192.7 in.

Width: 72.4 in.

Height: 57.1 in.

Fuel tank capacity: 16.4 gal.

Tires: 19-inch P225/45 R19 all-season

Pricing: $24,100-$35,400

Warranty: Limited, covers 3 yrs/36,000-miles; powertrain5 yrs/60,000-miles; no complimentary scheduled maintenance.

More Recalls

Kia announced another recall for SUVs and Vans; an electrical problem: Moisture could get inside ABS control computer causing a short, and possible fire. 229,000 Sedona minivans, 2006-2010; Sorento SUVs, 2007-2009. The recall will start April 10, owners will be notified. They will install a relay in the main electrical junction. In the meantime, Kia advises owner to park the vehicle outside, not in a garage or next to another vehicle.


U.S. Dealership Count Drops

U.S. Dealership count drops for the first time in six years. According to Urban Science Magazine, the number of U.S. new-vehicle dealerships fell from 18,294 in 2018 to 18,195 making it the first decline since 2013. According to the annual Automotive Franchise Activity Report, the average number of new-vehicle sales per dealership also fell to 940 in 2019, a decrease of 8 units from 2018, reports Urban Science. California had the biggest decrease in dealerships, down 28 to 1,478, followed by Illinois with nine fewer dealerships. Ohio and Missouri, lost 7 each. Texas experienced the most growth with 11 new dealerships; North Caroline, 4 and Pennsylvania and Tennessee, 3 each.

Adios Manual Tranny

Always a kick reading Consumer Guide’s Tom Appel who recently blogged another automotive reality of 2020: The ‘stick’ car or manual transmission ride is fading into the sunset. Sorry for those who enjoy driving stick, and sorry for the younger generation who may never know the thrill.

According to Green Car Reports, 2019 was the first year electric vehicles outsold cars with manual transmissions. J.D. Power noted that electric cars accounted for 1.6 percent of the U.S. market vehicle sales; manual transmission cars/trucks, a mere 1.1 percent. To illustrate how quickly they are falling in sales, in 2018 only 1.5 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. were with a manual transmission. A one year plunge from around 275,000 stick-shift cars to just 190,000; a 30 percent fall in 12 months.

There are currently five vehicles left on the market with a manual trans. As Tom noted, young drivers are unaware of manual transmissions.

(Susan Frissell, Editor)

Kelly Blue Book Best Sedans

Subcompact Sedans: 2020 Hyundai Accent, 2020 Kia Rio, 2020 Toyota Yaris

Compact Sedans: 2020 Honda Civic, 2020 Toyota Corolla; 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

Midsize Sedans: 2020 honda Accord,2020 Honda Accord Hybrid, 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Full-Size Sedans: 2020 Nissan Maxima, 2020 Dodge Charger, 2020 Chevrolet Impala

Luxury Compact Sedans: 2020 Lexus IS, 2020 Acura ILX, 2019 Audi RS 5, 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class; 2020 Infiniti Q50, 2020 Lexus GS

Luxury Full Sedan: 2019 Genesis G80,2019 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid, 2019 Acura RLX

Luxury Sports Car Sedan: 2020 Lexus GS, 2019 Audi RS 5, 2019 Audi S5

Sports Car Sedan: 2020 Honda Civic, 2020 Lexus GS, 2020 Subaru WRX

Exotic Sedans: 2019 Rolls-Royce Ghost, 2019 Rolls-Royce Phantom, 2018 Maserati Quattroporte

(Susan Frissell, Editor)

*In late 2019, the top 5 most frequently stolen vehicles of the 2016-18 model years included Dodge Charger HEMI, Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, Infiniti QX50 4-door, Infiniti QX80, and QX80 4WD, GMC Sierra 1500 crew-cab. Others on the most stolen list were Nissan Maxima, Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew-cab, and 4WD model, Mercedes-Benz S-Class 4-door long-wheelbase 4WD, Dodge Charger 4WD, Dodge Durango 4WD, Land Rover Range Rover, Dodge Charger, Nissan Titan crew-cab short bed, Audi A7 4WD.

*GM to layoff 1,500 workers after sale of Thailand plant.