The shapely 2013 Toyota Avalon sedan offers an optional wireless charging pad on the top-line limited model.
The Avalon has a nifty "ebin" in the lower console of the instrument panel to hold and charge electronic devices. The clever cubby has a sliding cover, and inside are two 12-volt plugs and iPod/USB ports.
The wireless charging can be engaged by a switch beneath the lid. Slide the cover closed and your phone can rest on the high-friction lid. The option is available in the technology package, $1,950, which also includes automatic high beams, dynamic radar cruise control and pre-collision system.
The system uses Qi wireless charging, which is now integrated in 34 smartphone models, Toyota says, including the latest LG Google Nexus 4, Nokia Lumia 920 and the HTC Windows Phone 8X.
Chrysler LLC also offers a wireless charging pad in its new Dart compact sedan. The Mopar accessory is $275.
Other Qi (pronounced "chee") products include gaming controllers, smartphone docking speakers and battery packs.
*2014 Chevy Impala Starts at $27,535
Chevrolet's redesigned and re-engineered large midsize sedan starts at $27,535, including the $810 destination charge. Three direct-injection engines are available, including a 3.6-liter V-6 and a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder with eAssist fuel-saving technology gets 35 mpg on the highway.
All engines are matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. New features include crash-avoidance technologies, such as rear cross traffic alert and side blind zone alert. The latest version of MyLink radio features "natural" voice recognition -- a first for Chevy.
*2013 Toyota Prius c Gets Modest Changes
The 2013 Prius c ranges from $19,875 to $24,155, including the $795 freight charge. Pricing is up by $130.
Interior upgrades include a standard SofTex-trimmed steering wheel on the Prius c Four and a black SofTex dash panel on Prius c Two and Three models.
The 99-horsepower hybrid operating system is similar to that of the standard Prius, except that the gasoline engine is of smaller displacement, 1.5 liters compared with 1.8 liters. Fuel economy on the highway is estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency to be about 46 mpg.
The Prius c is 19 inches shorter than the Prius hatchback, but it also has a surprising 35 inches of rear legroom and a backbench with one of the longest seat bottoms I've seen in a subcompact.
Mark Maynard's weekly column, "Maynard's Garage," can be found at creators.com.