The Truth About Cars » Lexus http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 21 Jan 2015 16:00:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Lexus http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com New York 2015: Lexus Debuting 2016 RX 350 In April http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/new-york-2015-lexus-debuting-2016-rx-350-april/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/new-york-2015-lexus-debuting-2016-rx-350-april/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=985090 Skipping Chicago after Detroit as far as debuts are concerned, Lexus will unveil its 2016 RX 350 at the 2015 New York Auto Show in April. Edmunds reports the crossover will grow in size to distance itself from the Toyota RAV4-based NX 200t, while also losing weight through the use of lightweight materials for better […]

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2013 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport-005

Skipping Chicago after Detroit as far as debuts are concerned, Lexus will unveil its 2016 RX 350 at the 2015 New York Auto Show in April.

Edmunds reports the crossover will grow in size to distance itself from the Toyota RAV4-based NX 200t, while also losing weight through the use of lightweight materials for better fuel economy. The size increase may mean a third-row seat for two more passengers, as well; the RX 350 has always been a five-passenger crossover since its birth in 1998.

As far as styling goes, Lexus’ trademark Predator face may be jazzed-up with the rest of the exterior, but the premium brand isn’t likely to flip the script on its No. 1 best-seller entirely.

The 2016 RX 350 is set to arrive in showrooms later in 2015.

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Lexus Tops 2014’s U.S. Luxury SUV/Crossover Race With 137,000 Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/lexus-tops-2014s-u-s-luxury-suvcrossover-race-137000-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/lexus-tops-2014s-u-s-luxury-suvcrossover-race-137000-sales/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 13:55:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=984353 Curious fact: America’s two best-selling premium brands and one of the two fastest-growing premium brands are the three premium brands which rely the least upon SUVs and crossovers in the U.S. market. We correctly believe that much of the growth in the luxury vehicle sector over the coming half-decade will be in the CUV category, […]

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luxury suv market share by brand 2014Curious fact: America’s two best-selling premium brands and one of the two fastest-growing premium brands are the three premium brands which rely the least upon SUVs and crossovers in the U.S. market.

We correctly believe that much of the growth in the luxury vehicle sector over the coming half-decade will be in the CUV category, but there’s no denying that the major players established productive, popular, profit-generating passenger car lineups many years ago.


• Most new crossovers introduced in 2014 were “premium”

• Majority of Jaguar-Land Rover, Acura, Lincoln sales come from utilities

• Porsche and Cadillac generate half their U.S. volume with utilities


SUVs and crossovers are assisting these brands – BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi – in finding new avenues for growth, but their car divisions are large volume tools.

The same can’t be said for many of the mid-tier and low-volume luxury brands. Cars accomplish very little for Acura and Jaguar-Land Rover, generate only half of Cadillac’s volume, and produce only 45% of Lincoln sales.

Six of 2014’s seven new utility vehicle nameplates were introduced by luxury auto brands. Lincoln brought us the MKC, Porsche the Macan, Mercedes-Benz the GLA. Audi began selling the Q3 in August. Lexus introduced the NX at the end of the year. BMW’s X4 arrived mid-summer. All six are on the compact side, if not smaller.

But it’s the larger premium utility vehicles which continue to put up the biggest U.S. numbers. The Lexus RX will outsell the NX, the MDX outsells the RDX at Acura, BMW sells more X5s than X3s or X1s, the Mercedes-Benz ML easily outsells the GLK, just as a few examples.

But these newer, smaller crossovers provided a boost to utility vehicle volume that was already rising.

Lexus RX350No premium auto brand sells more SUVs and crossovers than Lexus, which saw its SUV/CUV sales rose 14% to 137,154 in 2014. While the NX contributed 2927 extra sales at the end of the year, the RX – America’s best-selling luxury SUV/crossover – generated 78% of Lexus’ utility vehicle volume.

With the GLA throwing in another 6884 sales, Mercedes-Benz’s five-pronged SUV/crossover lineup jumped 11% to 118,297 in 2014. Acura sold 110,468 MDXs and RDXs in 2014 plus 78 copies of the ZDX, enough for a 13% year-over-year improvement. BMW’s new X4 added 2709 sales to BMW’s SAV volume in the latter half of 2014, helping the brand’s utility vehicles rise 8% to 110,268. Rounding out the top five premium SUV sellers in 2014 was Cadillac. A new Escalade lineup powered Cadillac’s utility vehicle family to a 9% gain and 84,047 sales in 2014.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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NAIAS 2015: Lexus Expands F Lineup With 2016 GS F http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-lexus-expands-f-lineup-2016-gs-f/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-lexus-expands-f-lineup-2016-gs-f/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 17:45:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=980713 For those who prefer their Lexus F to have four doors instead of two, the premium brand has just the thing: The 2016 GS F [Live photos now available – CA]. Under the bonnet, one will find a naturally aspirated 5-liter DOHC 32-valve Atkinson V8 producing 467 horsepower and 389 lb-ft with a redline of […]

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For those who prefer their Lexus F to have four doors instead of two, the premium brand has just the thing: The 2016 GS F [Live photos now available – CA].

Under the bonnet, one will find a naturally aspirated 5-liter DOHC 32-valve Atkinson V8 producing 467 horsepower and 389 lb-ft with a redline of 7,300 rpm. Power goes to the back via an paddle-shifted eight-speed automatic with manual shifting. Four driving modes are available depending on preference, from the fuel efficiency-minded Eco, to the track day-ready Sport S+. Firmer suspension, torque vectoring, wide 19-inch alloy wheels shod in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, and 15-inch front rotors with 6-piston calipers round out the performance aspect of the GS F.

Inside, occupants can enjoy Alcantara trim, the optional 17-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Audio system, Active Sound Control for those who prefer the sound of the V8 over the strings of Vivaldi, lateral support for all in front and back, and an analog clock.

Other features include: radar cruise control; pre-collision warning; LED headlamps; carbon fiber rear spoiler; 12.3-inch central dashboard monitor; and blind-spot monitoring.

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BMW Takes US Luxury Sales Crown Back From Mercedes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-takes-us-luxury-sales-crown-back-mercedes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-takes-us-luxury-sales-crown-back-mercedes/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 12:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=972809 After a year-long battle for the top position on the U.S. luxury sales podium, BMW takes back the crown Mercedes-Benz won in 2013. Reuters reports the Bavarians moved over 9,000 more units by the end of 2014 over the wonder boys back in Stuttgart, coming out to a total of 339,738 for BMW, 330,391 for […]

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After a year-long battle for the top position on the U.S. luxury sales podium, BMW takes back the crown Mercedes-Benz won in 2013.

Reuters reports the Bavarians moved over 9,000 more units by the end of 2014 over the wonder boys back in Stuttgart, coming out to a total of 339,738 for BMW, 330,391 for Mercedes. Both automakers also experienced growth in U.S. sales during the last year, though BMW’s 9.8 percent boost over 2013’s numbers raced past Mercedes’ 5.7 percent increase.

Taking third on the podium was Lexus with 311,389 units sold in 2014, though its rate of growth bested the top two finishers at 13.7 percent over 2013.

Rounding out the rest of the U.S. mainstream luxury pack, Audi took fourth from Cadillac, the latter to be the only make to see a decline in growth in 2014, falling 6.5 percent to 170,750 units; Audi sold 182,011 over the same period, 15.2 percent more than it did in 2013.

Acura and Infiniti took sixth and seventh respectively, with 167,843 to 117,300 units moved. Both also experienced the lowest rates of growth in sales in the outgoing year: 1.5 percent in Acura’s favor, 0.8 percent for Infiniti.

Lincoln finished dead last with 94,474 units sold, but had the biggest rate of growth out of its fellow competitors compared to 2013 at 15.6 percent.

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2016 Lexus GS F, Now With 25 Percent Less Aggro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/2016-lexus-gs-f-now-25-percent-less-aggro/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/2016-lexus-gs-f-now-25-percent-less-aggro/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 16:53:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=972346 The upcoming Lexus GS F retains the IS-F’s intense shade of blue, but lacks the bulging fenders, giant wheels and other visual cues that scream “please take me seriously as an M3 competitor”. Using the RC F’s 5.0L V8 and 8-speed automatic, the GS F will be positioned as a rival to the BMW M5, […]

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The upcoming Lexus GS F retains the IS-F’s intense shade of blue, but lacks the bulging fenders, giant wheels and other visual cues that scream “please take me seriously as an M3 competitor”.

Using the RC F’s 5.0L V8 and 8-speed automatic, the GS F will be positioned as a rival to the BMW M5, the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG and the Audi S6. It will be the only super sedan to offer a naturally aspirated V8 as well.

 

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Toyota Planning Lexus FCEV For 2017 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-planning-lexus-fcev-2017/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-planning-lexus-fcev-2017/#comments Fri, 26 Dec 2014 12:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=968066 Love the idea of hydrogen, but can’t fathom paying nearly $60,000 for a Toyota? What if it were a Lexus? Motoring.com.au reports Toyota is planning on a Lexus LS FCEV for 2017, positioned above the LS 600h L hybrid. Unlike the Mirai, which was intentionally built to be an FCEV, the LS will be retrofitted […]

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Toyota Mirai in White

Love the idea of hydrogen, but can’t fathom paying nearly $60,000 for a Toyota? What if it were a Lexus?

Motoring.com.au reports Toyota is planning on a Lexus LS FCEV for 2017, positioned above the LS 600h L hybrid. Unlike the Mirai, which was intentionally built to be an FCEV, the LS will be retrofitted with the former’s Toyota Fuel Cell System.

Per a source close to the matter, redesigned, larger air intakes will grace the LS’ face for ventilation of the electric components, while the fuel cell unit and a pair of hydrogen tanks will be placed under the front seat, rear seat and rear parcel shelf, respectively.

For power, a 150 kW fuel-cell stack will be combined with a 220 kW electric motor to help move the 2100 kg (4,630 lbs) sedan forward over a range of 298 miles. Refueling is expected to take around five minutes.

As for price, the LS 600h L goes for $120,000 USD; figure on the LS FCEV to be just as much before the usual subsidies.

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Detroit 2015: New Lexus F Model Teased http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-new-lexus-f-model-teased/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-new-lexus-f-model-teased/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962338 More teasers from Toyota, this time from its luxury brand, Lexus, which is bringing over a new F model to the party at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. The new vehicle, the second in the F high-performance series after the RC F, will roll into the spotlight January 13 at 8:40 a.m. Eastern. More details […]

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More teasers from Toyota, this time from its luxury brand, Lexus, which is bringing over a new F model to the party at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

The new vehicle, the second in the F high-performance series after the RC F, will roll into the spotlight January 13 at 8:40 a.m. Eastern. More details will likely be revealed closer to showtime, as is sometimes the case with these teasers.

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Detroit 2015: Toyota Debuting Next-Gen Tacoma In January http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-toyota-debuting-next-gen-tacoma-january/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-toyota-debuting-next-gen-tacoma-january/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 11:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955626 The next-generation Toyota Tacoma will roll down the ramp this January at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Autoblog reports the announcement came from Toyota senior vice president of operations, Bob Carter, who didn’t offer much else. The new truck is expected to be a significant upgrade than the current model, last refreshed in 2012, and […]

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The next-generation Toyota Tacoma will roll down the ramp this January at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

Autoblog reports the announcement came from Toyota senior vice president of operations, Bob Carter, who didn’t offer much else. The new truck is expected to be a significant upgrade than the current model, last refreshed in 2012, and will be coming into a market that now includes the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins, both of whom have done well for themselves since debuting in showrooms this autumn.

Carter also announced that Lexus would unveil two performance vehicles, but again, proclaimed nothing more than the promise that all in attendance would enjoy seeing them.

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Los Angeles 2014: Lexus LF-C2 Concept Unmasked http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-lexus-lf-c2-concept-unmasked/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-lexus-lf-c2-concept-unmasked/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 01:10:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948401 Not everything that glitters is gold, that shooting stars — like Lexus — can break the mold one time too many. This golden concept, the LF-C2, serves as both a harbinger of design cues for the Japanese premium brand, and the foundation for a grand-touring convertible to replace the aging IS C. The concept rides […]

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Not everything that glitters is gold, that shooting stars — like Lexus — can break the mold one time too many.

This golden concept, the LF-C2, serves as both a harbinger of design cues for the Japanese premium brand, and the foundation for a grand-touring convertible to replace the aging IS C. The concept rides upon the bones of the RC 350, with a width of 72.4 inches; the former’s length is slightly longer at 185.6 inches.

If the business case is there — convertible sales are falling in the United States, after all — the 2+2 LF-C2 could become an RC convertible, with power derived from the RC 350’s 3.5-liter V6.

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Lexus Europe Boss: Teutonic Trinity “Impossible” To Beat http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/uyttenhoven-teutonic-trinity-impossible-beat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/uyttenhoven-teutonic-trinity-impossible-beat/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 15:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944057 While American premium brands Cadillac and Lincoln look to the Germans for inspiration — and their places on the podium — Lexus Europe chief Alain Uyttenhoven proclaimed that the Teutonic Trinity — BMW, Mercedes and Audi — were “impossible” to beat on a global scale, settling for fourth if possible. According to Just-Auto, Uyttenhoven says […]

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2014 Lexus CT200

While American premium brands Cadillac and Lincoln look to the Germans for inspiration — and their places on the podium — Lexus Europe chief Alain Uyttenhoven proclaimed that the Teutonic Trinity — BMW, Mercedes and Audi — were “impossible” to beat on a global scale, settling for fourth if possible.

According to Just-Auto, Uyttenhoven says the parent company is “out of its adolescence,” a turbulent time that included taking a one-two combo from the Great Recession and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Global sales prior to the occurrences topped out at 518,000 in 2007, with 2013 sales hitting a new peak of 523,000 units sold. That figure is just a quarter of what Audi aims to sell by 2020.

He adds that after establishing a reputation for high quality, customer service and environmental responsibility, Lexus will now focus on “emotion.” Thus, more high-performance vehicles with better driving dynamics, and likely more Predator grills. Diesels in Europe, on the other hand, will need more work:

The next big discussion will be about particulates. CO2 is not behind us, but we have to go to 99g/km by 2020. So, diesel has been growing because that CO2 average is easier to achieve with diesel. But the cost of purifying a diesel car is going to rise, so in the future, these engines are going to cost a lot more… For us, [petrol] hybrid is the answer.

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Piston Slap: Get Ready to Lose Much More! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/piston-slap-get-ready-to-lose-much-more-c-class/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/piston-slap-get-ready-to-lose-much-more-c-class/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 14:33:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943113   TTAC Commentator LordMurdoc writes: Sajeev, I’m finally ready to lose my BORING 2002 Geo Prizm. Checking eBay for older Lexus LS or a Mercedes C-class(about 2004-2006) . If I went with the Merc with the gasoline V6, what type of Gremlins might I expect to attack me when my wallet is most vulnerable? The […]

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Know what that triangle is for? (photo courtesy: www.drive.net)

TTAC Commentator LordMurdoc writes:

Sajeev,

I’m finally ready to lose my BORING 2002 Geo Prizm.

Checking eBay for older Lexus LS or a Mercedes C-class(about 2004-2006) . If I went with the Merc with the gasoline V6, what type of Gremlins might I expect to attack me when my wallet is most vulnerable? The Prizm is turning my brain to mush and my right foot is in despair!

Thanks for your excellent advice.

Sajeev answers:

That’s a good question, insofar that I’m answering the question I heard you to ask…not your actual question.

“Why yes, the 2003+ Lincoln Town Car with an SCT tune, a cop car air box/rear sway bar, late model Mustang GT mufflers and a quicker axle ratio is PERFECT for you!  Considering otherwise is foolish, and thank goodness you are no such fool.”

But somewhat more seriously, these questions are fun: the OP knows he’s about to do something stupid.

Like buying a neglected Lexus LS with an explodey timing belt. Or the litany of little things to drive you nuts on most W203 C-class Benzes. Or big things, like certain V6s with balance shaft issues. But, on the plus side, the C240 looks more robust, perhaps even having less body mounted electric gizmos to fail as it’s a lower level model. Maybe even with super durable MB-Tex coverings!

I’d go with the C240, for the stout motor.  The rest of it? Off to you, Best and Brightest.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Lexus Throws A Party, Nobody Shows Up http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/lexus-throws-party-nobody-shows/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/lexus-throws-party-nobody-shows/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 14:58:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=942585 The coming-out party for the Lexus RC has been canceled in its home market of Japan. Apparently, Japanese journalists just aren’t interested. Automotive News reports that the media launch for the RC and the V8-powered RC-F was canned due to “insufficient attendance” on the part of Japan’s automotive press. As former EIC Bertel Schmitt frequently noted, […]

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The coming-out party for the Lexus RC has been canceled in its home market of Japan. Apparently, Japanese journalists just aren’t interested.

Automotive News reports that the media launch for the RC and the V8-powered RC-F was canned due to “insufficient attendance” on the part of Japan’s automotive press.

As former EIC Bertel Schmitt frequently noted, Japanese events are far more austere than the all-expenses paid junkets that North American journalists are accustomed to. Many scribes end up paying their own way to and from the event, and a bottle of water is considered a generous freebie.

Even so, AN‘s Hans Greimel touched on one likely reason for the low attendance. Quoting one fellow journalist who remarked “Why would I go all the way to Yokohama to test drive a sports car like the RC and just sit in traffic?”, the RC’s launch may have been as much a victim of poor planning as any other factor.

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NHTSA Issues Urgent Recall For Takata-Equipped Vehicles In Humid Climes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934178 If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed. Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made […]

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Takata Airbag Cutaway

If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed.

Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made by Takata have been linked to humidity-related failures, where upon detonation, metal shrapnel would be sprayed into the cabin, injuring or killing all within.

Owners of the following affected vehicles may need to bring their vehicles in for repairs if they call Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands or Hawaii home:

Toyota: 778,177 total number of vehicles potentially affected
2002 – 2004 Lexus SC
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra
2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 -2007 Honda Pilot
2006 Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 -2003 Acura TL/CL

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 Infiniti FX

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2004 Mazda6
2004 Mazda RX-8

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre
2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous
2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

Recall letters are being sent out to affected owners, who can also look up their VIN through SaferCar.gov to determine if their vehicle is under recall.

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Piston Slap: To Battle The Moonroof Rattle? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/piston-slap-moonroof-rattle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/piston-slap-moonroof-rattle/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 12:32:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921905 TTAC Commentator Sobro writes: Hi Sajeev and your goateed evil twin Sanjeev! Beige. We all know it, we all love it, especially when it comes in Lexus Pearl White as my wife’s 2003 ES 300 does. This vehicle has had exactly one non-maintenance item replaced since bought new: the A/C compressor relay. My wife installed […]

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TTAC Commentator Sobro writes:

Hi Sajeev and your goateed evil twin Sanjeev!

Beige. We all know it, we all love it, especially when it comes in Lexus Pearl White as my wife’s 2003 ES 300 does. This vehicle has had exactly one non-maintenance item replaced since bought new: the A/C compressor relay. My wife installed it since her office is near the Toyota dealer. And it was July. In Nashville. It was my research in the Lexus forums which led to this fix for the flashing LED in the A/C button.

Which brings me to my question.

The sunroof has started to clunk occasionally when hitting bumps, and the clunk is directly overhead of the driver. This sort of thing drives me nuts, so I’m glad I don’t commute in the wife’s ride. The Lexus forums have very little to offer, and what they do tend to start with “remove the sunroof”. Any ideas? Thanks!

Long time lurker, first time caller!

Sajeev answers:

Take it from someone working on moonroofs for 10+ years, you almost always remove the glass to do anything. The forums seem scant on info on a cursory glance but–ZOMG R U SAYIN’ ME AND SANJEEV COULD BE DAVID HASSELHOFF?

(photo courtesy: www.teamknightrider.com)

Wait, that’s no goatee on Garth!  (sigh of relief)

So anyway, moonroof rattle: since you mention the glass itself opens/closes/seals like new (no wind leaks), I betcha the rattle comes from the shade or the wind deflector.  Rule out the shade by pressing your palm against the shade and drive over a road known to cause the rattle. Start with light pressure and use more if the rattle doesn’t go away, to ensure the shade can’t possibly mask another problem with the track.

I have my doubts about the shade, as most Lexus’ products have a rather heavy and rattle-resistant shade, adding weight to silence a rattle isn’t likely. The (often spring-loaded) wind deflector is my bet. But other problems could be at fault: judging by the Sunroof Doctor‘s comprehensive repair kit.

What’s the fix?  Get a factory shop manual (no exceptions) to ensure you don’t break anything.  I’d venture a guess, but I’d prefer to remain lawsuit free after you install it wrong and the moonroof launches itself on the highway.

Sanjeev answers:

Wait, wait: you think anyone cares enough to actually want to sue you?

I’m too busy growing a goatee now, otherwise I’d tell everyone about that time you didn’t install a moonroof correctly and it flew off the car. If only people knew The Truth About Sajeev

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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Lexus Topped Premium Brands In The U.S. In July, And How http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/lexus-topped-premium-brands-u-s-july/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/lexus-topped-premium-brands-u-s-july/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 12:20:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=899386 In July 2014, for the first time in twelve months, Lexus outsold all other premium brands in the United States. Back in August 2013, Lexus sold 29,792 vehicles, 5269 more new vehicle sales than BMW managed; 5031 more than Mercedes-Benz, excluding Sprinter vans. Last month, Lexus’ margin of victory over the two brands which now […]

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2013 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. DykesIn July 2014, for the first time in twelve months, Lexus outsold all other premium brands in the United States. Back in August 2013, Lexus sold 29,792 vehicles, 5269 more new vehicle sales than BMW managed; 5031 more than Mercedes-Benz, excluding Sprinter vans.

Last month, Lexus’ margin of victory over the two brands which now routinely outsell the Toyota premium division was much smaller. Mercedes-Benz reported the sale of 27,192 new vehicles; Lexus another 141 units.

The annual U.S. race to be tops among premium brands was last won by Lexus in calendar year 2010. Yet as Mercedes-Benz and BMW blossomed with expanding utility vehicle lineups, Lexus’s 3-Series-fighting IS aged and the brand continued to rely very heavily on the RX.

July’s key difference relative to the recent past? Although the small NX isn’t here yet and Lexus fell back on the RX for more than one-third of the brand’s volume, the IS is now a moderately high-volume sports sedan. IS volume has increased on a year-over-year basis in each of the last 13 months and July’s 4542-unit performance marked the third occasion this year in which IS sales have topped 4000 units. IS volume increased by 901 units in July, by 5420 units over the last three months, and by 13,688 units through the first seven months of 2014.

Yet the IS, which accounted for 17% of the brand’s volume in July, was only Lexus’s third-best-selling model. The ES, sales of which rose 4% (and are only slightly less than level year-to-date), generated 6326 July sales, more than four out of every ten Lexus passenger car sales last month. The ES – with its entry-luxury price tag, front-wheel-drive orientation, and spacious interior – has no genuinely direct rival at Mercedes-Benz or BMW.

Lexus July 2014 sales articlesThe GS, on the other hand, does stand up as an E-Class or 5-Series challenger, though not on U.S. sales volume terms. 2001 GS sedans were sold in July, a 16% year-over-year increase. With larger lineups (the E-Class is available in four different bodystyles, for example), Mercedes-Benz sold 6648 Es in July, a 19% jump, and BMW sold 5676 copies of the 5-Series, up 17%.

While BMW sold 6187 versions of their five X models in July and Mercedes-Benz’s G, GL, GLK, and M-Class combined for 9038 sales, Lexus sold 9658 RX hybrids and RX350s. (Lexus also sold 1955 GX SUVs, representing a 122% increase. LX sales fell 15% to 248 units.)

Among premium brand utility vehicles, the RX is an astonishingly and consistently popular nameplate. RX sales jumped 14% in July and are up 5% year-to-date.

It’s on the basis of the RX’s success that Toyota feels it can sell 2200 NXs per month. Challenging styling aside, it’s hard to doubt the company’s expectations. To the NX’s extra volume, Lexus will also add a few sales with the RC.

If those figures cause you to think Lexus could return to the top of the heap more consistently and for the long-term, you wouldn’t be crazy. But you may also be forgetting that Mercedes-Benz will soon be selling a sub-GLK GLA. The race among upmarket brands to generate increased sales, and thus decreased exclusivity, requires many a move down-market.

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Chart Of The Day: At Least Toyota Has Toyotas http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/chart-day-scions-flagging/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/chart-day-scions-flagging/#comments Sat, 16 Aug 2014 12:30:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=893482 Having reached a four-year peak in 2012, the year in which the FR-S first arrived, sales at Toyota USA’s Scion division slid 7.1% in 2013. Through the first seven months of 2014, every Scion model except the tC is selling less often than they did one year ago. The iQ’s 47% drop equals 1244 fewer […]

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Scion U.S. sales chart July 2014Having reached a four-year peak in 2012, the year in which the FR-S first arrived, sales at Toyota USA’s Scion division slid 7.1% in 2013.

Through the first seven months of 2014, every Scion model except the tC is selling less often than they did one year ago. The iQ’s 47% drop equals 1244 fewer sales through seven months. The FR-S’s 24% decrease translates to 2802 fewer sales.

Scion sold 173,000 new vehicles in 2006, the brand’s best year on record. With likely no more than 65,000 sales in 2014, Scion will have declined 62% from that point. (It was, not surprisingly, worse between 2009 and 2011.)

Scion’s Toyota parent company, however, sells a rather large number of vehicles in America. With just 2.6% of U.S. Toyota volume coming from Scion – 12% from Lexus – it’s not as though this has to be a long-term headache. Twelve different nameplates, on their own, outsell the Scion brand as a whole.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Lexus CT200h http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2014-lexus-ct200h/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2014-lexus-ct200h/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 12:51:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=884489 To ignore the fact that auto reviewers head into a review with preconceived notions is to forget that we’re humans, not robots. A car review isn’t a specifications chart, it’s language, however artfully (or not artfully, in this case) penned. I don’t decide in advance to dislike a car. Indeed, as often as not, the […]

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2014 Lexus CT200To ignore the fact that auto reviewers head into a review with preconceived notions is to forget that we’re humans, not robots. A car review isn’t a specifications chart, it’s language, however artfully (or not artfully, in this case) penned.

I don’t decide in advance to dislike a car. Indeed, as often as not, the cars I feel certain I will like instead leave me feeling somewhat underwhelmed. But if the information which I possess aforetime causes me to start the week with the assumption that I might not favour a car, I don’t robotically cast that notion aside. I am not capable of doing so, just as I am not capable of saying, “I will be completely open-minded about this meal of battered catfish served on a bed of refried beans with a side of grits and an extra-large helping of black pudding.”

The restyled 2014 Lexus CT200h didn’t completely change my mind. I assumed it would be terribly slow, and it was. I assumed it wouldn’t be completely worthy of a premium badge, and it wasn’t. I figured its cargo area would be too small, and I was correct.

Yet in a large number of ways, the CT200h was decidedly better than expected, so much so that I could, if I squinted, see the car’s appeal, something I wouldn’t have said the day the car arrived. So maybe I’m more open-minded than I thought, even if I won’t eat catfish or black pudding.

The CT’s front seats are among the best I’ve sat in, good enough for me to see the overall appeal of the small Lexus, even without an up-down function for the power lumbar support.

The CT’s infotainment unit is easy to use, with quick access buttons for audio, home, and back surrounding a centre console-mounted circular control knob. There’s no slow-to-respond touch screen here, and long before week’s end I stopped looking away from the road to operate vital functions.
2014 Lexus CT200Outside, the CT provides onlookers with lots to see. It’s not conventionally pretty, nor is this specific car (a $39,745 Premium Package CT200h in Canadian parlance, similar to a $37,704 CT200h in the U.S.) as aggressive as the F Sport models. You may not think it’s a cohesive effort, as the new spindle grille is not as effectively integrated as it is on the IS. But from the tailgate’s bizarre shelf to the conspicuous hybrid badging to the wrap-around rear glass and the shapely hood, there’s something to look at. The CT is not boring, which from a company that formerly used car styling as anesthesia, is a good thing.

For the moment, the CT200h is also unique among premium brands in that it’s an entry-level hatchback. No, there’s not a lot of space behind the rear seats – we’ll get to that later – but it’s a flexible layout, and space for four or five occupants is better than decent.

Perhaps the greatest surprise to me was the CT200h’s handling. Yes, the car rides rather stiffly, so we expect a compensating degree of handling prowess. The electric assist steering, which doesn’t feel as artificial as so many modern systems, and the comfort with which the CT adopts and maintains a position when hustling down my favourite local roads, combine to make for a car that’s at ease with fast driving. (Once you eventually get up to speed.) The Lexus lacks the enthusiasm of Mercedes-Benz’s CLA whether the CT’s prominently-mounted knob is turned to Eco, left in Normal, or moved to Sport, which definitely upgrades the car’s personality and takes away some of the most drastic slow sensations.
2014 Lexus CT200Then again, isn’t there always (often? sometimes? every now and then?) something a little bit charming about a slow car being driven quickly? And me oh my, is it ever slow. Instrumented tests say 60 mph arrives in under ten seconds, but I’m not sure what kinds of seconds those are. The CVT just eats up so many of the 134 Prius-donated horsepower. Because you must work the CT hard when trying to keep a gently-driven Pontiac G3 in sight, half the slowness-related problem originates with the accompanying racket of a hybrid powerplant whose revs periodically head in a different direction than you expected. Perhaps with a conventional V6 the CT would be quiet like a Lexus is supposed to be. With this mode of propulsion, with some disappointing tire hum and a speck too much wind noise, it’s not.

The lack of refinement, the lack of adequate motivation, and the overarching feeling that traffic is going that way and I’m not joining them, is enough to leave me feeling like the CT shouldn’t be called a Lexus. It’s a bit like the family reunion of mostly successful siblings, most of whom run half marathons and attend PTA meetings and eat goat cheese and grow high bush blueberries along their white picket fences, where that one younger brother who’s kind of chubby showed up wearing a WWE t-shirt, actually sprayed his hamburger with Cheez Whiz, and started singing, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” after the grandchildren sang, “The Wheels On The Bus,” at the evening campfire. Maybe it’s not exactly like that. But it’s a little like that. There’s an awful lot of obviously shared DNA: the hybrid addiction and the spindle grille and the love of cheese and the affinity for music. But there are notable differences.
TTAC_2014_Lexus-CT200h-interior-2Our press car had fewer than 4500 miles on the odometer, but the driver’s seat side bolster that gets chafed with every entry was quickly wearing away. The brakes have that prototypical hybrid regen grab, but then lack further bite. Why do I have to move a shift lever up and over and down and back but then use a separate pushbutton to put the car in Park? I’m pretty sure I just used a foot-operated parking brake. And with 14.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the rear seats, the CT is way down from the Mazda 3 hatchback’s 20.2 cubic feet and even farther away from the new Volkswagen Golf’s 22.8 cubic feet. These are huge gaps in load-lugging ability, gaps we weren’t very willing to disregard when the CT was maxed out by one large load of groceries.

And then, like the guy who drives ten miles to save a penny per gallon on fuel, I temporarily lost all perspective when I filled up the CT200h before the car went back to Toyota Canada. It had burned less fuel (46 mpg) than even its EPA ratings (40 highway, 43 city) forecasted. This was pre-confirmed by the car’s own onboard computer, which I had assumed couldn’t possibly be accurate given the EPA ratings and the manner in which I drove the car.

I couldn’t overlook the CT200h’s lack of urge, its handful of non-premium missteps, or its ineffective cargo hold. I’d be happier in a fully-equipped Mazda 3 or a diesel-powered Golf, and I suspect most Lexus CT buyers would prefer to drive an Audi A3.
2014 Lexus CT200hMaybe I’m missing the point; maybe I don’t grasp the importance of the CT’s uniqueness. The buyer who wants a mid-$30s upmarket car but can’t stand spending money on fuel – who presumably figures her Lexus will feel like a Lexus, and who used to own a Prius – likely doesn’t find those other cars all that appealing. Personally, I can see the CT’s appeal, I just can’t link it to my own tastes. Or the tastes of the vast majority of the auto-buying public: this car has not proven very popular.

Even though it does boast an unexpectedly tiny fuel bill, a Lexus badge, a long standard equipment list, a sense of style, and surprisingly decent handling.

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CAFE Case Study: Lexus NX Gets Different Fascia To Qualify As “Light Truck” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/cafe-case-study-lexus-nx-gets-different-fascia-to-qualify-as-light-truck/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/cafe-case-study-lexus-nx-gets-different-fascia-to-qualify-as-light-truck/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 15:43:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=882282 Although we’ve covered CAFE and its effects on the new car market before, the launch of the Lexus NX provides us with an interesting example of just how far auto makers will go to have their offerings classified as “light trucks” under the U.S. regulatory scheme which incentivizes manufacturers to offer these sorts of vehicles […]

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2015-Lexus-NX-Exterior6

Although we’ve covered CAFE and its effects on the new car market before, the launch of the Lexus NX provides us with an interesting example of just how far auto makers will go to have their offerings classified as “light trucks” under the U.S. regulatory scheme which incentivizes manufacturers to offer these sorts of vehicles beyond mere market forces.

To recap quickly, CAFE splits vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GWVR) under 8,500 lbs into two categories: cars and light trucks. Each vehicle has a “footprint” formula based on the vehicle size, with fuel economy targets it must meet. These are added up to a “fleet average” for each manufacturer, and there are a whole host of byzantine rules regarding “credits” for different technologies, like start-stop systems, hybrids and EVs that can be applied. They key concept here is that two vehicles can be the same “footprint”, but the “light truck” has to meet a fuel economy standard that is less stringent than the “car” standard. This (along with market forces) has been one reason why crossovers have become such a prominent segment in the American auto market.

As the crew at Top Gear Philippines discovered, the Lexus NX doesn’t just meet the standard of being a “light truck” by virtue of its approach angle. The solution is a different fascia  for North American markets, such as the one shown above. Compare that to the one below, which has a “fuller”, square-jawed appearance.

The change in fascia isn’t the most onerous hurdle to overcome, but it does illustrate the fickle nature of the regulations, and how far auto makers will go to meet them – and exploit the various loopholes contained within.

lexus_nx300h_world

 

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Generation Why: A Sub-$30k Car “Wouldn’t Be A Lexus” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/generation-sub-30k-car-wouldnt-lexus/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/generation-sub-30k-car-wouldnt-lexus/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 14:45:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=877265 Mercedes and Audi all have a sub-$30,000 entry in their American model ranges. BMW’s cheapest model is just a few hundred dollars above that price point. Infiniti will likely have their own model in that space. So why not Lexus? Speaking to Automotive News, Lexus boss Mark Templin said “We could go down and build a […]

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1024px-LEXUS_CT200h_Japan_2011_front

Mercedes and Audi all have a sub-$30,000 entry in their American model ranges. BMW’s cheapest model is just a few hundred dollars above that price point. Infiniti will likely have their own model in that space. So why not Lexus?

Speaking to Automotive News, Lexus boss Mark Templin said

“We could go down and build a car under $30,000, but it would be decontented, and you’d be cutting corners. It wouldn’t be a Lexus…To be honest with you, you can’t build a Lexus with the quality, the durability, the reliability, the craftsmanship, the content that we put in a Lexus and sell it profitably under $30,000. You just can’t do it.”

Templin’s comments are about as clear a swipe at the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA as one can get. While CLA sales have been big for Benz (as much as 11 percent of the brand’s total, by AN‘s count), reviews have been mixed.

Mercedes-Benz, like other European luxury brands, face an additional dilemma beyond the usual matters of scale, volume and profitability requirements associated with those issues. In many mature markets, their buyers are getting older, while a new generation of buyers is both moving away from cars, and arguably less able to afford a new luxury car. Products like the CLA and A3 offer an affordable entry-point into the brand, while also appealing to the aesthetic, environmental and economic tastes of the Millennial generation. Lexus doesn’t necessarily have this problem in the same way that the Germans do, but they also don’t have much of a presence in Europe either.

What Lexus is doing, as AN pointed out, is attempting to stake out the “high ground” by keeping the price floor above $30,000 (the entry-level CT hybrid starts at about $32,000), which will ostensibly further entrench their “luxury” position. But Lexus, for all its success, has never achieved true global success as a luxury brand, which is something that only the Germans have managed to earn. And as we all know, it’s easier to reach downmarket than try and move up. The A-Class was a hit for Mercedes, but Volkswagen didn’t fare well with the Phaeton. And Audi is just finally turning the corner after a decades long climb to Tier 1.

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Lexus GX Sales Double, Profits Pile Up http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/lexus-gx-sales-double-profits-pile-up/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/lexus-gx-sales-double-profits-pile-up/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:53:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874489 The Lexus GX seems to truck along in the American marketplace with little fanfare. Aside from a brief rollover scare, the GX’s most notable achievement appears to be as the ride of choice for family members of Lexus dealer principals and Central Asian warlords. But Ward’s Auto reports that a bit of magic by Lexus product […]

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The Lexus GX seems to truck along in the American marketplace with little fanfare. Aside from a brief rollover scare, the GX’s most notable achievement appears to be as the ride of choice for family members of Lexus dealer principals and Central Asian warlords. But Ward’s Auto reports that a bit of magic by Lexus product planners has helped double sales in just over a year.

According to Ward’s

Adding a lower-priced base grade for the GX’s ’14 refresh, by substituting fake leather for real leather and deleting some content, was key to this year’s sales jump, putting the SUV’s starting price on par with 3-row midsize CUVs.

Keep in mind that this is an SUV that starts at a hair under $50,000 – and only 20 percent of buyers are even opting for the base model. Most customers go for the $53,795 GX Premium, which ostensibly offers real leather and other stuff that one would expect on a pricey SUV.

Brian Smith, VP of Marketing for Lexus, told Ward’s that

“I think there’s a need for towing capability, without having to go all the way to a (fullsize) LX…So we’re doing everything we can to continue to keep Toyota focused on the need for GX.”

Sure, there is a need for towing capacity with these vehicles, but there’s another, unspoken reason why Lexus keeps the GX around: profit. The GX is based on the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, a body-on-frame SUV related to the Toyota 4Runner, and sold in world markets as a family vehicle.

Taking an inexpensive vehicle that has had most of its costs amortized already (and is relatively simple to design, engineer and manufacture) and marketing it as a luxury item is a tried-and-true recipe for enormous gross margins that other players like GM, Ford and Nissan have all been exploiting for years now. It even works on unibody designs too (think Honda Pilot/Acura MDX or even Toyota Camry/Lexus RX). The body-on-frame design used by the GX just happens to be very simple technology that doesn’t cost a whole lot. When it’s sold as a silk purse, it becomes a very, very lucrative sow’s ear.

No wonder Smith speaks of his desire to “keep Toyota focused on the need for GX”. The SUV might as well be a printing press for the Lexus division, not just in America, but also in markets like China and Russia, where Lexus can charge whatever they please. And doubling sales of a product like this sure doesn’t hurt either.

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BMW M235i Bests Corvette, 911 In Consumer Reports Road Testing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-m235i-bests-corvette-911-in-consumer-reports-road-testing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-m235i-bests-corvette-911-in-consumer-reports-road-testing/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=855833 BMW’s M235i has earned the highest marks ever bestowed upon the German automaker’s lineup from Consumer Reports, while also besting the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette in road tests whose results were recently released online. Bloomberg reports the coupe earned a 98 out of 100 in its road test, falling one point short of the […]

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BMW M235i HR 04

BMW’s M235i has earned the highest marks ever bestowed upon the German automaker’s lineup from Consumer Reports, while also besting the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette in road tests whose results were recently released online.

Bloomberg reports the coupe earned a 98 out of 100 in its road test, falling one point short of the all-time leaders, the Tesla Model S and Lexus LS460L. The 911 and Corvette, packing more firepower with less comfort than the M235i, earned 95 and 92 out of 100 in their respective road tests.

Deputy editor Jon Linkov proclaimed the M235i a “dual-purpose car” that anyone “could drive to work every day of the week” without leaving the driver in pain, followed by a weekend at the track taking on the likes of the 911 and Corvette. He added that this particular BMW “has almost a direct lineage” to BMWs of the past that lived up to the marketing of “Ultimate Driving Machine.”

Neither of the trio were recommended by the publication, however, as the BMW and the Corvette were too new for reliability reports, while the 911 has below average reliability according to those surveyed.

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QOTD: Why There Will Be No “Made In China” Lexus Products http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/qotd-why-there-will-be-no-made-in-china-lexus-products/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/qotd-why-there-will-be-no-made-in-china-lexus-products/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 14:02:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=815530 Currently, there is only one Lexus plant outside of Japan. A Toyota factory in Cambridge, Ontario makes the Lexus RX crossover, while Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant will come online in 2015. Like other Japanese auto makers, Toyota is moving towards a localization of its production facilities, but one thing they won’t be doing is producing […]

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Currently, there is only one Lexus plant outside of Japan. A Toyota factory in Cambridge, Ontario makes the Lexus RX crossover, while Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant will come online in 2015. Like other Japanese auto makers, Toyota is moving towards a localization of its production facilities, but one thing they won’t be doing is producing Lexus vehicles in China.

Speaking at the Beijing Auto Show, Lexus head Tokuo Fukuichi said

“We are often asked whether we plan to manufacture Lexus cars in China. But the question is whether our brand has earned the trust of customers. If a brand is really trusted, it can sell its products wherever they are manufactured. But Lexus has not yet achieved such a status.” 

Building an automotive luxury brand is a decades long process. Audi is an overnight success nearly 40 years in the making, while Infiniti is now on the slow, long road to lifting themselves up out of the doldrums of Tier 2 luxury. Lexus has arguably been the most successful Japanese effort at a Tier 1 luxury brand, but they still have work to do. In world markets (specifically Western Europe), Lexus does not enjoy the same footing as it does in the United States, and has only been on sale in Japan since 2005.

In Fukuichi’s estimation, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz (not to mention, Cadillac and Infiniti) can all do what Lexus cannot: build cars in China without harming brand perception. This is a big problem for Lexus – it must import its cars from Japan (and the NAFTA zone) and sell them at a higher price thanks to import tariffs and other duties. But it’s also a deliberate calculation on the part of Lexus.

If any of the German brands suffered quality problems from Chinese made cars, their customers would likely forgive them, due to the burning desire to have four rings, a three pointed star or two blue triangles on the hood of their car. But nobody feels the same pull for the stylized “L”.

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Piston Slap: The Straw that broke the Hybrid’s Back? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/piston-slap-the-straw-that-broke-the-hybrids-back/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/piston-slap-the-straw-that-broke-the-hybrids-back/#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 11:48:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=805330 Marc writes: Hi, I haven’t seen this addressed anywhere. I have 2006 Lexus RX400H with 106,000 miles. The vehicle is bulletproof never having a repair, it even has it’s original brakes. I traded in a 2000 RX 300 for it. The 300 also never had a repair. My question pertains to the hybrid batteries. Multiple […]

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Marc writes:

Hi, I haven’t seen this addressed anywhere.

I have 2006 Lexus RX400H with 106,000 miles. The vehicle is bulletproof never having a repair, it even has it’s original brakes. I traded in a 2000 RX 300 for it. The 300 also never had a repair.

My question pertains to the hybrid batteries. Multiple Toyota and Lexus dealers have stated to me, that they have seen few hybrids if any needing replacement batteries yet some Prius’ have been on the road for over 10 years but there doesn’t seem to be much said about the expected life of the battery packs. My battery warranty just expired. Is it time to trade it in to avoid the eventual high battery replacement cost or am I worrying about a problem that could be many years down the road.

Sajeev asks:

Hi there. Where do you live and how many electronic items on the cat do you regularly run? (A/C, stereo, heated seat, etc.)

Marc replies:

I live in Southern California. The AC is almost always on, music always on, NAV always on.

Sajeev concludes:

The series has indeed covered hybrid battery fail, Toyotas in particular.  Your location’s warm climate shall be easy on hybrid batteries, not taxing them with a ton of power robbing heater load. Or, to a lesser extent, the A/C load of hotter parts of the country.  But your battery will fail, and there are companies willing to help.

If you want the help.

Considering the lack of needed repairs (original brakes? Impressive!) on this RX, selling it while the going is good is quite logical. If you want a new vehicle! If not, find a hybrid battery vendor, get a brake job, fluid changes, etc. that will eventually be needed.

All this work could be the straw that broke the camel’s back, yet none of it scares me like a TDI+DSG Volkswagen product that’s out of warranty.  This stuff just needs to happen.  I’d wager it’s worth it, if you like the RX and wouldn’t want to pay for a new vehicle. Which is always gonna be your call, son.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Lexus Reveals Its Most Important Product Since The LS400 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/lexus-nx200/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/lexus-nx200/#comments Sun, 13 Apr 2014 17:56:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=796402 Lexus is launching their long awaited small crossover at this month’s Beijing Auto Show. Dubbed the NX, it will be the first Lexus product with a turbocharged engine. Aside from the 2.0T engine, a naturally aspirated NX200 and an NX300h hybrid (which shares its powertrain with the Lexus ES300h) will also be offered. Exact specs […]

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Lexus is launching their long awaited small crossover at this month’s Beijing Auto Show. Dubbed the NX, it will be the first Lexus product with a turbocharged engine.

Aside from the 2.0T engine, a naturally aspirated NX200 and an NX300h hybrid (which shares its powertrain with the Lexus ES300h) will also be offered. Exact specs haven’t been announced.

For TTAC readers, the NX is a non-event, another boring crossover to add to the ever-growing pile of soulless two-box vehicles that should be wagons. But for Lexus, this is a vitally important product, a competitor in the booming small crossover segment.

In Europe, Lexus has traditionally been an also-ran, fielding a lineup of cars that are considered uncompetitive thanks to thirsty gasoline engines, a dearth of diesel options and a lack of compelling reasons to pick one over a rival luxury brand. The NX is their best hope at changing things.

The small crossover segment could not be hotter, and if the pricing is right, Lexus might be able to make some headway against the Mercedes-Benz GLA, BMW X1 and Audi Q3. The lack of a diesel won’t help, but the hybrid version might do well due to low CO2 emissions, even though hybrids traditionally have not done well on The Continent. In markets like China, Russia and Brazil and India, the diesel conundrum is less important. What matters is the “premium” perception that goes along with the Lexus brand and CUVs in general. The NX won’t break new ground in quality and value like the LS did – but it might just kick off a second wind for the brand in the markets that matter most.

 

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Canadian Toyota Plants To Hold Union Vote As Early As Next Week http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/canadian-toyota-plants-to-hold-union-vote-as-early-as-next-week/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/canadian-toyota-plants-to-hold-union-vote-as-early-as-next-week/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 17:22:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785369 Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union (formerly known as the CAW), has filed to unionize Toyota plants in Canada. The Financial Post reports that more than 40 percent of Toyota’s 6,500 workers have signed union cards. According the paper, Unifor president Jerry Dias characterized the move to unionize as an “internal effort”, with employees apparently […]

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Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union (formerly known as the CAW), has filed to unionize Toyota plants in Canada. The Financial Post reports that more than 40 percent of Toyota’s 6,500 workers have signed union cards.

According the paper, Unifor president Jerry Dias characterized the move to unionize as an “internal effort”, with employees apparently creating their own union cards and sending them to Unifor.

The FP notes that

“Employees at the Toyota plants have raised concerns about several recent unilateral changes at the plants, including moving new hires to a defined-contribution pension plan and the hours they work. They also have concerns about the company ability to impose other changes, and other health and safety concerns. In order for the certification vote to pass, 50% plus one of the Toyota workers have to vote in favor of unionization.”

According to Dias, the effort to organize has more to do with workers having a say in the management of the plant, rather than compensation or benefits. Dias noted that Unifor would attempt to negotiate a new collective agreement if the effort was successful.

While it would be tough to speculate on the outcome of the vote, Dias has previously stated that he would delay a union vote until he was comfortable that a victory would occur. Previous efforts by the CAW to organize Honda’s plant in Alliston, Ontario, were unsuccessful, with workers repeatedly failing to organize. One Honda insider suggested that a successful campaign could even lead to a shutdown of a given plant, despite the recent investments made by Toyota and the Canadian government.

According to our source, the Japanese take a dim view of any outside forces trying to meddle in the management of their plant – unions included. Unions do exist in Japanese auto plants, but don’t aim to do this, or any other initiative that would be seen as hostile in the context of Japanese labor relations.

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