After taking a sales hit due to tsunami-related production woes, Lexus has been trying to regain their mojo with a new product offensive. Things started out with the new Lexus GS sedan that Jack Baruth and I loved on and off the track, followed by a revised RX. With the redesigned IS, the bulk of their lineup has been overhauled. Initially, I was a little concerned that the Lexus IS sedan would receive nothing more than a new nose and some LED lights for 2014 but the Japanese 3-Series fighter came out swinging when we were invited to the launch event earlier in the year. I came away impressed with the IS 350′s road manners, but most buyers will be shopping for the less powerful IS 250 and it’s taken us this long to get our hands on one.
Category: Car Reviews
Please welcome TTAC reader “psychoboy” as he tells a story of a rare encounter with the rarest of Honda Preludes — JB
A few months ago, I was convinced to get involved with what has turned out to be The Worst LeMons Car Of All Time, the mighty ‘Super K’ Plymouth Reliant wagon, as part of the “K-It-Forward” program. As bad of an idea as that was, it turns out that, compared to my attempt to buy a chop-top Prelude, it might have marked a bit of a high point in my automotive adventures this year.
Way back, way way back, in 1979, my family decided to trade in our nondescript late-Seventies Chevy Sedan on the newest, hottest, sports car to come from Japan: the brand new Prelude. Silver paint, Bordello red velour interior, giant moonroof, luggage rack on the trunk. This car had it all. It even beat Lexus to the market by a few decades with a concentric speedo and tach, and Chevrolet by ten years with an irreplaceable (in the sense that you couldn’t find a replacement) radio in the cluster shroud.
Read More >
Six days a week, Monday through Saturday, I get up at 4:45 am – five o’clock and I’m plonked in front of the keyboard, staring at the blinking cursor of my computer screen, fuelled by caffeine and ready to start shovelling words into its gaping maw. Six days a week, but on the seventh day I sleep in.
Sunday, a day for rest. But this day, I rise at my usual time to drive a hundred and fifty miles through the blackness and the pouring rain. Read More >
Well. How to begin? Perhaps by pointing to a positive review for the Malibu 2.0t from our own Michael Karesh. Alternately, I could refer you to a four-star recommendation for this car’s predecessor from illustrious former E-I-C, Ed Niedermeyer. I want you to understand that there are people on our editorial staff, including Derek, who have good, solid, well-founded, nice things to say about the Malibu. And why not? We’re out of the GM Deathwatch business now. There’s no longer anybody in the TTAC virtual office angling for a job with the Republican Party, General Motors itself, or some improbable combination of the two. I, personally, believe that GM is in the business of building outstanding automobiles, from the outgoing Tahoe in which I recently spent a few pleasant days as a passenger in New Mexico to the Corvette C7 I thrashed around the Road&Track “Motown Mile” last month.
But this rented 2013 Malibu LTZ, on which I recently moved the odometer from 14,010 to 14,574 miles in the course of a Midwestern day trip, isn’t even close to outstanding.
Read More >
TTAC readers seem to care not a whit for the flashy stuff. The Jaguar F-Type, possibly the most anticipated press car this year among journalists, lifestyle bloggers and other dubiously affiliated members of the media, garnered less than 50 reader comments. Meanwhile, reviews of the Chrysler minivans regularly generate hundreds. In a quest to be of greater service to our readers (and because I know that another Generation Why can scarcely be tolerated), I decided to sample something that is hopefully of genuine interest to you all: a minivan that is not available in the United States. Like the Chevrolet Orlando, the Kia Rondo is available in a number of countries that did not support the Iraq War, among them, Canada. Like the Chevrolet Orlando, it is supposedly “right-sized” for Canada, thanks to a smaller engine, a smaller physical footprint and an available manual transmission (which will be popular in Northen Quebec and nowhere else). And like the Chevrolet Orlando, it’s hard to rationalize buying one of these when you can have a Dodge Caravan for similar money. Read More >
The Acura ILX has been derided as being nothing more than a gussied-up Honda Civic, an analogy that I too applied to the compact Acura when it first arrived. But then our own Brendan McAleer caused me to question my dismissal of the ILX. How many shoppers out there are willing to option-up a base model by 50% and don’t think twice about the fact their “limited” model looks just like the base model? All of a sudden the ILX, especially the 2.4L model we tested made sense to me. What was the revelation? Click through the jump to find out.
This is the Lexus LS460, the luxury boomer that built the brand. It was the Lexus LS that launched the Automotive Battle of Hastings back in 1990, attacking the European establishment with devastating competence. The 2013 Lexus LS460 is still that great, and yes, the ride is still more Chris Craft than hardtail.
The mainstream compact car segment is the perfect example of the infamous “driving appliance.” The Corolla and Civic sell in enormous volume because they are the middle-of-the-road “white bread” option, not in-spite of the vanilla. Unlike many in the automotive press, I don’t find anything wrong with that. In fact, I love me some Wonder Bread. But sometimes you feel like a pumpernickel, and that’s where the 2014 Mazda3 comes in. Mazda was so excited about their new loaf that they invited me to spend the day with them in San Diego. Want to know if you should spend 5+ years with one? Click through the jump.
As soon as I arrived at the rental counter in Stuttgart, I realized I’d made a fatal miscalculation. In the weeks and months preceding my trip, I thought the task would be easy – obtain two back-to-back rentals of vehicles that aren’t sold in the US. Simple. But that fickle foe of the flat-earth car enthusiast, globalization, had conspired against me. Turns out that despite my “premium class” upgrade, the EU-spec vehicles made from pure unobtainium that I’d reserved failed to materialize. Instead, my options in Dusseldorf – our first roadside waypoint on this European Vacation® – were limited to either a Toyota GT86 or an Audi A3 Sportback. Great, I thought. Two cars that, despite being sold in slightly different configurations abroad, were still known quantities back home. I went with the GT86 for the first leg because, well, I wanted to tear into it on the mother of all public racecourses, the Nurburgring. You can read how that went here. I also figured that in Stuttgart, there’d be a larger selection of rental vehicles to choose from, since the city’s slightly more populous and naturally the airport must be larger, too.
The durability of the original Toyota HiLux, known in the United States as simply “Truck,” is the stuff of legend, especially if you enjoy Top Gear. It often seems that only rust can kill these simple but durable pickups, which means that in areas where rust does, in fact, sleep, they are effectively immortal. My daily ride in Abu Dhabi is a Fortuner, the HiLux’s Asian cousin.
But this isn’t my first foray into Toyota reliability. My graduate level work in this field came from my time as a UN Unarmed Military Observer (UNMO) on a peacekeeping mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2004. The patrol vehicle dejuir was the Toyota HiLux Surf (aka the 4Runner). But rather than the V-6, the UN standard issue at the time was a 4 cylinder turbo diesel mated to a 5 speed manual.
Calling the Corolla “Toyota’s most important car” would be an understatement. This single model accounts for 38 percent of all Toyotas ever sold in the USA and they expect to shift 330,000 next year alone. If the sheer quantity wasn’t amazing enough, ponder this reality: 75% of sales will be split between just four different configurations. If you’re in a 2014 Corolla, the odds are about one in five that the Corolla next to you is identical save for paint color. Often derided by the automotive press as a “driving appliance,” is there more to the 2014 Corolla or is it just a toaster with wheels? Let’s find out.
Toyota may have become monumental on the basis of the midsize Camry’s popularity with American drivers over the past two decades, but that monument was built on the foundation of many, many compact Corollas. Before Lexus, before Camry, it was the Corolla that earned Toyota its reputation for reliability and quality construction. Forty million Corolla branded cars have been sold globally since the car’s introduction in 1968. For more than a generation, the conventional answer from both car enthusiasts and regular consumers alike, when asked to name a reliable small car, has been “Toyota Corolla”. Like Alfred Sloan proposed, Toyota knows that if you can capture car buyers when they are just entering the market, you can sell them a lot of cars over the course of their lives. While driving the latest Corolla isn’t on most car enthusiasts’ or automotive journalists’ bucket lists, the introduction of a new Corolla is indeed big news, at least as far as the car industry is concerned. Though the Honda Civic leads the segment in U.S. sales, the Corolla is close behind in second place and Toyota expects to sell about 300,000 Corollas this year. They’re hoping to increase that by 10% by selling cars to other than just traditional Corolla buyers, attracted by more exciting exterior styling and upgraded interior features. Read More >
What unalloyed pleasure it gives me to welcome TTAC’s august founder, Robert Farago, back to these pages. Robert’s a little too busy with what might be the biggest firearms news site in the world to give us much more than this review of Mercedes’ four-door-not-really-a-coupe, but to paraphrase John Mayer, it’s hard for me to take a stand when I will take his work any way I can. Go visit Mr. Farago at his new digs and say hello… and enjoy this review! — JB
When the heat breaks in Texas Hill Country the air is as dry as an Oxford grad’s sense of humor. And when my ML350 broke blasting across four lanes of trafﬁc my Mercedes dealer passed me the key to a CLS550. And so I found myself behind the squared-off wheel of Germany’s lowered limo on a starry Texas night, contemplating cats’ eyes roller-coastering into the distance. I felt an old yet welcome urge to press my luck with local LEOs.
Read More >
As of October, the most fuel-efficient mid-sized sedan in America is the Honda Accord. Or so Honda says. After all, Ford has been trumpeting a matching 47 MPG combined from their Fusion. Who is right? And more importantly, can the Accord get Honda back into the hybrid game after having lost the initial hybrid battles with their maligned Integrated Motor Assist system? Honda invited us to sample the 2014 Accord Hybrid as well as a smorgasbord of competitive products to find out.
Nothing is more American than the pickup truck. If the stars and stripes thing ever gets old, they will probably get replaced by a RAM / GM / Ford montage. The other thing that’s quintessentially American is an arms race. No, I’m not talking military hardware, I’m talking about the eternal RAM vs Chevy/GMC vs Ford tuck wars. Who has the best frame? Who has the best engine? Who can haul the most? Be prepared to draw your weapons and click past the jump. Chrysler sent me a 2013 RAM 3500 for a week and then invited me to taste test the refreshed 2014 model for a day.