Bucking the tide of compact crossover sport utility vehicles, three 2018 cars from Japan's Toyota and South Korea's Kia are sparking renewed consumer interest in four-door sedans.
These sedans are being unveiled at a time when crossover utility vehicles, especially in the compact class, have taken over as the hottest category in U.S. vehicle sales -- mainly at the expense of midsize and compact sedans.
The 2018 sedans to watch are the all-new Toyota Camry, the Lexus LS 500 from Toyota's luxury division, as well as the Kia Stinger, a new midsize sports fastback that looks as if it could threaten some of Europe's best.
Despite the booming popularity of compact crossovers, manufacturers still obviously believe in midsize sedans. The Camry, though losing 40,737 customers between 2015 and 2016, still tops the midsize field with 388,618 sold in 2016.
The 2018 model, seeking to mitigate the Camry's reputation as durable but bland, boasts styling changes and improvements across the board. It is longer, lower, and wider, with a lower center of gravity for better handling.
strong>As before, there are four versions: LE, XLE, SE, and XSE. The LE and XLE models have a different grille from the S and XSE versions and are oriented toward comfort, while the S and XSE models have a more sporting personality. Power choices are a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a 3.5-liter V-6, and a hybrid powertrain.
All 2018 Toyota Camry models get the company's Entune 3.0 connectivity system, which includes navigation and a host of other state-of-the art features.
Over at Lexus, the attention grabber is the all-new LS 500, which, at 17 feet, 2 inches long, is bigger and classier than ever, rivaling the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The LS 500 is powered by a 415-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine with twin turbochargers, a 10-speed automatic transmission, and a predicted zero-to-60 mph acceleration time of 5.1 seconds.
Among other things, its standard and optional features include a 12.3-inch center screen with navigation and handwriting recognition; air suspension system; heated, cooled, and massaging front and rear seats; and a detection system that can trigger braking or steering around a pedestrian.
Most of the excitement among enthusiasts, however, focuses on the Kia Stinger, an all-new car with a new name. It marks a milestone for the South Korean manufacturer, which delivers high-quality cars, crossovers, and even a minivan.
The midsize Stinger is a performance-oriented Gran Turismo four-door with a fastback design and a rear hatch, not unlike the larger Audi A7, which competes among cars that can cost up to $80,000.
Few Stinger details were available at its unveiling, including the price, but it will likely be way less than the A7's, and more competitive with the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Jaguar XE, Lexus IS, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class cars.
With rear-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive with torque vectoring for improved handling, the Stinger will offer two powerplants: a 225-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine or a 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged V-6 engine. The transmission is an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters for a manual shifting mode. No manual gearbox was considered.
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