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. Tue, 26 May 2015 20:00:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 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 » Lexus http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 2015 Lexus IS 350 F Sport Review (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2015-lexus-350-f-sport-review-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2015-lexus-350-f-sport-review-video/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1056498 BMW moved over 140,000 3-Series’ last year in America. They didn’t do this by being the most luxurious option or by being the best handling option. (The truth is hard to hear, I’m sorry.) Instead, BMW did this by doing exactly what shoppers asked for; luxury car buyers want a comfy ride with a luxury logo […]

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2015 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport Exterior -002

BMW moved over 140,000 3-Series’ last year in America. They didn’t do this by being the most luxurious option or by being the best handling option. (The truth is hard to hear, I’m sorry.) Instead, BMW did this by doing exactly what shoppers asked for; luxury car buyers want a comfy ride with a luxury logo on the front, good fuel economy and to read reviews that extol the track-day virtues of their car of choice. The average buyer will never be on a track, but it’s critical to know your car belongs there.

What BMW dealers don’t want you to know: there are two sedans in this segment that are arguably better on the track than a 328i or 335i and we’re talking about one of them today, the IS 350 F Sport.

Exterior

Lexus’ exterior styling used to strike me as graceful, sophisticated and reserved. Apparently, however, the front end got no respect on the Autobahn, so the F Sport nose was created. While I can’t say if it commands more respect in Germany, the ginormous grille on our IS 350 F Sport looked ready to devour small children and subcompact cars alike. While some folks have said they dislike the gaping maw, I actually like it. What I’m not a fan of are the separate headlamp and “Nike-swoosh” daytime running lamp modules; I find the look a little discordant. Whether you like it or not, you have to admit this front end is more dramatic than anything on offer from BMW, Mercedes, Audi or Infiniti.

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Out back, less has changed, with the rear being more reserved than the front. But it’s the side profile where things really divert. The IS is 3.5 inches longer than the last generation model and most of the increase goes to the rear seat area – although, some of it also goes to the trunk, making the IS look more balanced than before. Thanks to pedestrian impact regulations in Europe, the front end has become blunter (just as we have seen from the Europeans lately), which actually helps the front 3/4 view. I think the Cadillac ATS is the most attractive sedan in this segment, but the IS in F Sport trim leaps up the scale to number 3, just behind the ATS and 3-Series.

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Interior

While BMW and Audi have opted for an open and expansive interior theme, the IS feels tight and close to the driver by design with a high beltline and tall center console. F Sport models get a configurable LCD disco dash instead of the white-on-black gauges we normally expect from the brand. Similar to Volvo’s new LCD instrument cluster, the display can seem a little lost in the binnacle as the binnacle normally houses a wider traditional dial cluster. Since Cadillac has yet to move their large LCD instrument cluster down-market to the ATS, there really isn’t any competition for this display at the moment.

As you’d expect from Lexus, one can still get acres of stained wood and soft leather, but neither are standard. Like most entries in this segment, leather is reserved for specific packages and wood is an optional upgrade. Front seat comfort proved excellent during my week. The sport seats easily bested the Audi A4, Cadillac ATS and the base seats in the BMW 328i or Mercedes C300. Wider folks should know that the bolstering is pronounced and the F Sport trim doesn’t have an option to delete the sport seats.

Thanks to the wheelbase stretch, combined legroom is up by 2.6 inches inside which places the IS towards the top of the group in total legrooom. Nobody expected the BMW 3-Series to grow as much as it did in its latest incarnation, which becomes quite obvious when you run the numbers. The 3-Series boasts the second best legroom figures behind the much larger Infiniti Q50. The Lexus offers a slightly larger trunk, but I found the overall trunk dimensions to be more advantageous in the BMW.

2015 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport Interior -003

Infotainment

The 2014 redesign of the IS brought a raft of new features from traffic maps on non-navigation equipped models to predictive traffic, improved voice recognition and smartphone integration. Alas, the lord giveth and he taketh away. Along with the new software comes Lexus’ Remote Touch input device, or as I prefer to call it: the Lexus joystick. I find little joy in the mouse-like controller, but it is better than the trackpad you find in the NX. The controller is the textbook example of the difference between an intuitive input method and one that is optimized for use in a car. The joystick is intuitive, it’s just not well suited to a vehicle as it requires much more eye-off-the-road time. I grabbed a few friends and had them perform a few identical functions in the Lexus and a BMW with iDrive while I watched their eyes. It simply takes longer for you to find what you need in the Lexus system. Oddly enough, the same Lexus software without a touchscreen is one of the least distracting available, but you can only get that in the GX and LX. If you don’t buy navigation, you still get the 7-inch screen but trade the joystick for a rotary knob.

Lexus doesn’t offer any sort of heads-up display a la BMW, but you can gadgets like radar cruise control, Mark Levinson branded audio system, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning.

2015 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport Engine-004

Engine

Standing somewhat alone in this segment is a 100-percent naturally-aspirated engine lineup. While everyone but Infiniti has moved to a turbo four to fill the bottom end, Lexus has stuck with their tiny V6. (I’m not counting the 2.5-liter four-banger in the base ATS. Why? Who would?) Displacing 2.5 liters and sporting direct injection, the IS 250 is good for 204 ponies and 185 lb-ft of torque. [It’s the least powerful V6 currently on sale. -Ed] While many in the industry would once have complained about a base luxury model without an inline-6 engine, this V6 now competes with four-cylinder engines. Although a V6 isn’t as balanced as an I6, it’s miles ahead of an I4. The model we tested is the 3.5-liter V6 IS 350. Adding a liter bumps power to 306 and torque to 277. For reasons known only to Lexus’ product planning team, the 220 horsepower IS 300h remains forbidden fruit on our shores.

Lexus tends to be a cautious company when it comes to adopting new technology and, as a result, the 2.5-liter V6 and AWD models of the 3.5-liter have to make do with ye olde 6-speed automatic from Aisin. If you get the RWD version of the IS 350 that we tested, you get Aisin’s new 8-speed auto, a variant of the transmission used in the Corvette and select Cadillacs.

2015 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport Instrument Cluster_

Drive

The naturally aspirated engine lineup is the first thing you will notice about the IS out on the road. Much like the 3.6-liter V6 in the ATS and the 3.7-liter V6 in the Q50, power builds in a linear fashion. This is quite different from the C400, 335i and other turbo entries which typically have torque and horsepower “plateaus” with sharp drops on either end. 0-60 acceleration in our F Sport tester came in at 5.6 seconds – not a bad time by any stretch. However, Volvo’s front-wheel-drive S60 T6 Drive-e will do the same sprint in 5.4. The purist in me prefers the feel and unadulterated sound a naturally-aspirated engine delivers, but the pragmatist in me realizes the C400, 335i, S4 and S60 T6 will all beat the IS to the freeway ramp. Opting for Lexus’ AWD system improves grip, but the loss of two gears causes the 0-60 time to stretch to 5.7 seconds, getting close to the less powerful BMW 328xi. AWD shoppers also have to live with an odd hump in the front foot-well caused by the transfer case and driveshaft to the front axle.

The responsiveness of the IS in tight corners demonstrates how much time Lexus spent engineering the suspension. The old IS came across as isolated, perhaps even sloppy, while this chassis is sharp and crisp. Every system feels like a team player, from the suspension to the transmission shift logic and the revised double-wishbones up front. The IS quite simply delivers the best feel in the corners and out on the track with every system tuned to near perfection. (Bear in mind we still have electric power steering, so it’s all relative.) The IS actually manages to feel a hair more precise, although not as engaging, than the E90 3-Series (previous generation). The F30 (current generation) has traded handling prowess for a softer ride and a ginormous back seat. And therein lies the rub: the change has improved BMW’s sales rather than stopping the gravy train. Meanwhile, the Audi and Volvo plow like a John Deere when they encounter a corner and the Mercedes feels just as you would expect – heavy and soft. The purist in me prefers the crisp handling and impeccable feel of the IS on a track. The pragmatist in me is keenly aware that feel doesn’t actually get you around a track. That’s where power comes in. Because of the power deficit, the 335i, S60 T6 AWD, C400 and S4 are all faster around your average track. If you’re talking autocross, the IS has a chance, but even the Volvo will beat it around Laguna Seca.

2015 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport Headlamps

Competition

Comparing the IS 350 with the 335i seems like the natural thing to do – after all, they both have “3” in the model number – but a more apt comparison is the 328i. The IS 350 slots between the 328i and the 335i in both price and performance, but price is critical. Meanwhile IS 250 performs more like the 320i than the 328i.

The IS 350 F Sport manages to be a hair less than a comparably equipped 328i M-Sport, which is an excellent start. Despite costing a fraction less, the Lexus delivers considerably more refinement under the hood, better acceleration and more driving feel in the twisties. Our F Sport was notably less expensive than a Mercedes C300, and even when you add AWD to the Lexus, it’s still the more willing partner on your favorite mountain highway.

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Audi’s A4 ends up being around the same price as the IS 350 while Volvo’s S60 is the discount option. Both the Audi and the Volvo start as FWD vehicles but add AWD to compensate for their front heavy designs. Unless you step up to the considerably more expensive S4, the Audi comes across as underpowered and all versions of the A4 feel nose heavy in comparison. The Volvo has a similar weight issue up front but the Swedes will happily drop a powerful turbo engine under the hood, mate it to AWD and sell it for less than the Lexus. The resulting S60 R-Design will out-pace the IS 350 F Sport but the experience will be much different. The Volvo will be understeering like mad in the corners; the IS will feel balanced and poised. Unfortunately, the Lexus’ driver will have to enjoy the feel while looking at the S60’s tail lamps.

The Infiniti Q50 is the often forgotten competitor. Nissan’s luxury arm has never quite reached the same status as Lexus as far as brand perception – perhaps that’s why. Never the less, the Infiniti has good looks and a low price tag on its side. Even the $37,150 base model starts with a 328 horsepower 3.7-liter V6. It’s still slower than BMW’s 335i, but at 5.2 seconds to 60, it is among the faster options. If you want more power and better economy, Infiniti will sell you their hybrid version that scoots to highway speed in 4.9. Comparably equipped, the Q50 is about $2,000 less than the F Sport we tested, making it the best RWD deal in this segment.

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After a week with the IS 350, I’ll admit I was torn. The way the IS drives and feels on my mountain road commute is incredible. The way the IS feels on a track is alluring. And the value proposition is undeniable. Lexus’ well deserved reliability reputation and generally lower operating costs means the IS will cost less to own. All these things should mean my purist and pragmatic boxes will be well and truly checked. The Lexus has the luxury and track-day-diary cred to compete with the competition, but the infotainment system in the IS and slower 0-60 time keep the Lexus from being my choice in this segment. If my money were on the line, I’d live with Infiniti’s questionable steer-by-wire system and get the Q50S hybrid instead. You get more room inside, a 0-60 time matching the 335i and 31 MPG. While the IS 350 F Sport represents a good value against BMW’s volume 3-Series model, they still have nothing to compete properly with the 335i. Yes, the IS 350 F Sport feels better and road holds better than a comparably equipped 335i. But, as BMW has recently shown, perhaps going around a corner perfectly isn’t all that important after all.

 

 Lexus provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.2 Seconds

0-60: 5.6 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.8 Seconds at 100 MPH

Average Observed Economy: 20 MPG over 674 miles

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New York 2015: 2016 Lexus RX Bows http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-2016-lexus-rx-bows/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-2016-lexus-rx-bows/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:28:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1035201 The fourth-gen 2016 Lexus RX arrived in the spotlight at the 2015 New York Auto Show. Power for the standard RX comes via 3.5-liter direct-injection V6 delivering 300 horsepower through an eight-speed automatic, while the RX 450h uses a 3.5-liter Atkinson-cycle V6 in a hybrid setup, also putting out 300 horsepower. Styling is updated for […]

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The fourth-gen 2016 Lexus RX arrived in the spotlight at the 2015 New York Auto Show.

Power for the standard RX comes via 3.5-liter direct-injection V6 delivering 300 horsepower through an eight-speed automatic, while the RX 450h uses a 3.5-liter Atkinson-cycle V6 in a hybrid setup, also putting out 300 horsepower.

Styling is updated for 2016, with the premium crossover taking on Lexus’ Predator-esque design language. Standard 19-inch wheels with optional 20-inch aluminum wheels are available, while LED lighting flanks the front and rear.

Inside, rear occupants gain more leg and knee room, and have their choice of viewing the sky via a power panorama moonroof, or checking up on their Toyota shares via an entertainment system with a pair of 11.6-inch screens. The driver, meanwhile, has an available HUD keeping important details within sight, along with a 12.3-inch monitor with full-screen map.

Those who want more can opt for the AWD-only F Sport package, which includes 20-inch graphite-finish alloys, perforated leather trim, Sport S+ driving mode, and custom instrument cluster.

Other features include: the Lexus Safety System+ package, debuting with the RX; Michelin Premier tires; adaptive variable suspension; vehicle stability; and three driving modes — four with the aformentioned F Sport package.

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Toyota, Lexus Bring Low-Cost Automated Braking To Respective Ranges http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/toyota-lexus-bring-low-cost-automated-braking-to-respective-ranges/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/toyota-lexus-bring-low-cost-automated-braking-to-respective-ranges/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 11:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033393 When Toyota and Lexus reveal their respective crossovers at the 2015 New York Auto Show, both will come with low-cost automated braking safety packages. The all-new RAV4 Hybrid and fourth-gen RX will offer “new, multi-feature, integrated safety packages, each anchored by automated pre-collision braking and offered at a price dramatically below comparable systems across the […]

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When Toyota and Lexus reveal their respective crossovers at the 2015 New York Auto Show, both will come with low-cost automated braking safety packages.

The all-new RAV4 Hybrid and fourth-gen RX will offer “new, multi-feature, integrated safety packages, each anchored by automated pre-collision braking and offered at a price dramatically below comparable systems across the auto industry.” According to Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz, the packages will then spread throughout both brands’ collections, with nearly every model to have the packages by 2017.

The packages — Toyota Safety Sense and Lexus Safety System+ — offer pre-collision, pedestrian pre-collision, lane departure, automatic high beam, and dynamic radar cruise control technologies, which are handled via millimeter-wave radar and cameras. The pre-collision systems help bring a vehicle down by 19 to 25 mph within an operational speed range of 7 to 50 mph, while the dynamic radar cruise control keeps an eye on the speed of surrounding vehicles, then adjusts its vehicle’s speed accordingly.

On the Toyota side, TSS will be offered in two packages: TSS C for compacts, and TSS P for midsize and premium models. Pricing for the duo begins at $300 and $500, respectively. Lexus’ LSS+ will be a single package for all models, with pricing to range between $500 and $635.

TSS C/P will first debut on the aforementioned RAV4 Hybrid, as well as the Avalon, with three more expected later this year; LSS+ will debut with the RX and four other models over the same period.

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New York 2015: 2016 Lexus RX Previewed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-2016-lexus-rx-previewed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-2016-lexus-rx-previewed/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 16:28:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1026049 The most significant luxury CUV of our time is about to get a thorough re-design. Lexus will show off an all-new RX at the New York Auto Show. This is all we’ve got for now?

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The most significant luxury CUV of our time is about to get a thorough re-design. Lexus will show off an all-new RX at the New York Auto Show. This is all we’ve got for now?

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Geneva 2015: Lexus LF-SA Concept Arrives http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-lexus-lf-sa-concept-arrives/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-lexus-lf-sa-concept-arrives/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 14:06:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1013586 This one might get blown away by the Robb Report all-stars at Geneva, but the Lexus LF-SA Concept shows what the automaker can do in the city. The spindly, spikey city car seats four in its tiny frame, which comes to 135 inches in length, 66.9 inches in width, and 56.3 inches in height. Most […]

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This one might get blown away by the Robb Report all-stars at Geneva, but the Lexus LF-SA Concept shows what the automaker can do in the city.

The spindly, spikey city car seats four in its tiny frame, which comes to 135 inches in length, 66.9 inches in width, and 56.3 inches in height. Most of its interior layout is driver-focused, including a fixed driver’s seat and adjustable steering wheels and pedals, while the front passenger seat slides for access to the rear seats.

Outside, the LF-SA Concept’s “Time in Design” appearance is meant to give onlookers a change in perception “when viewed from different angles.” Lexus’ trademark is incorporated into the design, such as the L-shaped lamp clusters and daytime running lights, while the overall look is meant to give the concept a rugged, confident vibe.

Other features include hologram-style digital display, undercut wheel arches, silver exterior finish, and a wide-angle HUD.

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Geneva 2015: Lexus LF-SA Leaks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/geneva-2015-lexus-lf-sa-leaks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/geneva-2015-lexus-lf-sa-leaks/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:31:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1009786 Although it looks like a Lexus version of the Toyota iQ, the LF-SA concept is intended to be a rival to the Mini, Audi A1 and other premium A/B segment cars in Europe. Pray that the production version doesn’t look like this.  

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Although it looks like a Lexus version of the Toyota iQ, the LF-SA concept is intended to be a rival to the Mini, Audi A1 and other premium A/B segment cars in Europe. Pray that the production version doesn’t look like this.

 

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Lexus Takes Gold In 2015 JD Power Dependability Study http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lexus-takes-gold-2015-jd-power-dependability-study/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lexus-takes-gold-2015-jd-power-dependability-study/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008050 For the fourth consecutive year, Lexus is tops among the brands ranked in JD Power’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study. The research group says owners of the premium brand’s offerings reported 89 problems per 100 vehicles. However, its parent company was bumped down to third place on the podium this year by Buick, the latter making […]

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For the fourth consecutive year, Lexus is tops among the brands ranked in JD Power’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study.

The research group says owners of the premium brand’s offerings reported 89 problems per 100 vehicles. However, its parent company was bumped down to third place on the podium this year by Buick, the latter making a huge leap from fifth place in 2014 to take silver with 110 problems per 100 vehicles reported. Toyota had one more problem compared to Buick.

Among the rest, Cadillac took home fourth, while Honda and Porsche tied for fifth. Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Scion and Chevrolet round out the top 10 for 2015, while Land Rover and Fiat landed at the bottom of the list with 258 and 273 problems per 100 vehicles, respectively.

As for the problems themselves, most took issue with their vehicle’s Bluetooth and voice-recognition systems, followed by problems with the vehicle’s engine or transmission, the latter mostly focused on “automatic transmission hesitation and rough shifting.”

This year’s study surveyed over 34,000 original owners of 2012 models after three years of ownership, with the survey taking place between November and December of 2014.

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Lexus RC F, Reviewed! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lexus-rc-f-reviewed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lexus-rc-f-reviewed/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 14:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=997250 Get in the RC F and press the starter button hidden, out of place, next to the gauges. That little tingle crawling up your spine is perfectly normal. Point that gaping rabid spindle maw at your nearest runway, skidpad, industrial plant, Ken Block Gymkhana set, or empty freeway on-ramp. Step on the throttle, hard. Harder, […]

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Lexus RCF cliff, side up

Get in the RC F and press the starter button hidden, out of place, next to the gauges. That little tingle crawling up your spine is perfectly normal. Point that gaping rabid spindle maw at your nearest runway, skidpad, industrial plant, Ken Block Gymkhana set, or empty freeway on-ramp. Step on the throttle, hard. Harder, firmer! (Stop giggling!) Watch that trick digital gauge, front and center, as bright as Times Square: when the needle hits about 3,700 RPM the windshield gets blurry, the blood rushes to the head, the chests of every occupant is shoved firmly against the seatbacks, and the exhaust baffles open up and the cabin fills with a WOOOOHHHHHHHH, deep and warbly and just slightly parodic of itself. At this moment, it is the Loudest Thing in the Known Universe. And it rings with the same unmistakable baritone earthquake as the last genuinely insane Lexus—the dearly departed IS F.

 

Lexus took this photo for our amusement. From an F-Sport extravaganza in Las Vegas, where anything goes, but mainly tires.

Lexus took this photo for our amusement. From an F-Sport extravaganza in Las Vegas, where anything goes, but mainly tires.

Oh, yes, the IS F—Lexus’s first hot-rod experiment in that most American vein, whose inventors should be enshrined in the Hot Rodder’s Hall of Fame, right next to Bob Hirohata. The RC F is 200 pounds heavier, but packs 50 more horsepower: it’s the ISF, only more in every direction. It shares the ISF’s 5.0-liter V8, but with a lighter crankshaft, forged rods, 32 titanium valves…outside it’s all ducts, fans, flares, and gaping maws that could swallow jaywalking schoolchildren, all of which will score points with any wannabe street racer east of the 710 Freeway. It’s all very exciting.

Lexus RCF, front

Given the above, the RC F puts on a good show. All singing, all dancing, tail-wiggling, noise-making. If you conjure a performance bent out of nowhere, you’re allowed to be shouty. Interestingly enough, the turn signals ping exactly like grandfather clocks, the cupholders squeak incessantly when stuffed with plastic water bottles, and the stacked diagonal exhaust tips are finally real exhaust tips. But that’s neither here nor there.

What is important, however, is that the RC F addresses two of Lexus’s greatest shortcomings: first, its clumsy traction control. Turn the drive selector knob twice to the right, for Sport Plus: the steering firms up, the throttle gets touchier, and the brakes are preloaded for the exuberantly talentless. And here, if you press the traction control button, once, you immediately enter “EXPERT Mode. Expert! Nothing more could stoke the ego of our Playstation generation: hell yeah I got all my A licenses in Gran Turismo! Time to take every off-ramp sideways! LIFE DON’T HAVE A RESET BUTTON, SON!

Sport mode means you're serious. Sport Plus mode means you're seriouser. (Photo by Lexus)

Sport mode means you’re serious. Sport Plus mode means you’re seriouser. (Photo by Lexus)

Which is appropriate, this video-game thing. Because even though the plasticky paddles lend it a Forza feel, they control what is finally one of the RC F’s biggest improvements: it finally has a competent transmission.

The eight-speed automatic shifts hard on full attack, upshifts as fast as you can flick the paddles: bam. Bam. Bam. In certain modes, it even kicks a little bit. (Though not like the BMW M4, the RC F’s archnemesis, which boots you in the kidneys with steel-tipped Doc Martens.) It’ll hold a gear until it’s aurally painful to do so, then blip the throttle on a downshift just like a 21st-century sporting machine should. Even the LFA had an automatic that “kinda sucks.” But now, here it is: a Lexus transmission that does a seamless job of transmitting!

Lexus RCF, rear

Turn an RC F through a corner and the effect is a slight delay through that heavy, cliff-like proboscis, before the Torsen mechanical limited-slip differential squares away the rear, eager and snappy, and the traction control lets swing a nice arc before calling it in. You’ll get addicted jumping around every intersection at full throttle. The brakes are terrific. The steering is weighty, which is nice, but slightly numb, which is not. Crash over a particularly rough stretch and while the jolty suspension will send shivers all up your glutes, the wheel will remain rock steady, a triumphant exorcism of both feel and bump steer. (It’s a nice time to mention that the seats are wonderful: thin and flowing and perfectly sculpted.) But the wheel itself is small in diameter and absurdly thick, like squeezing a fat lil’ Buddha—and for our purposes, it’s just what a wheel should feel like.

That suspension corners nearly flat, all the time. It jolts, sure, but it is never abusive, never crashing. Our producer for the Hooniverse Podcast, Chris Hayes, met up with a girl for a date—as you do, when handed the keys—when she asked, where shall we go for dinner? “Why not Santa Barbara?” he said. So they blasted the 95 miles to Santa Barbara, then back, at night, in under an hour. Why not, indeed. The long-legged RC F can do this to people.

Lexus RCF, side

Lexus wants to take out BMW and the M4, which is a given, because every luxury manufacturer short of Bristol wants to take out BMW and the M4 these days. What’s the biggest difference between this and the M4? You can have fun with the RC F at any speed. The M4 sneers at your lack of talent, your nonchalance, your daily driving—it grumbles and protests below 10/10ths, and will continue to do so until you press 37 separate buttons to put it back in its place. If you don’t panic-flog an M4 to the upper limits of your nerves it yawns like a bored supermodel, unimpressed at your attempts at sexual fulfillment.

Lexus RCF, exhaust

Lexus had to conjure a performance bent out of nowhere, and the LFA is suffering for it*—and yet it worked on the IS F, the ground level of a side of Lexus we once considered new, and groundbreaking, and impossible. With the RC F—and the recently unveiled Lexus GS F—dare we say we now expect it?

* For a completely different set of circumstances, mind you.

The RC F is thirsty. Around town it's a truck-like 14 miles per gallon. To paraphrase Public Enemy, Eco mode is a joke in your town.

The RC F is thirsty. Around town it’s a truck-like 14 miles per gallon. To paraphrase Public Enemy, Eco mode is a joke in your town.

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U.S. Sales: The Lexus NX Isn’t Hampering The Lexus RX http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/u-s-sales-lexus-nx-isnt-hampering-lexus-rx/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/u-s-sales-lexus-nx-isnt-hampering-lexus-rx/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 18:29:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994962 Up to this point, the arrival of a potential familial rival has not hindered the success of the Lexus RX, America’s favourite premium brand utility vehicle. The RX, still a relatively affordable two-row Lexus crossover, has been sold alongside the more affordable but somewhat less spacious NX since the very end of November. 5717 copies […]

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2015 Lexus NX200tUp to this point, the arrival of a potential familial rival has not hindered the success of the Lexus RX, America’s favourite premium brand utility vehicle.

The RX, still a relatively affordable two-row Lexus crossover, has been sold alongside the more affordable but somewhat less spacious NX since the very end of November. 5717 copies of the NX were sold in December and January combined. Year-over-year, U.S. sales of the RX rose 8% to 20,194 over the same period.


• RX sales reached an eight-year high in 2014

• 2905 NXs sold in December; 2812 in January


Admittedly, the RX’s rate of growth doesn’t compare well with that of the overall SUV/crossover market. RX sales increased just 3% in the 2014 calendar year and 3% in December specifically. January’s 17% jump translated to 962 extra sales in a SUV/crossover market which rose 19%. U.S. SUV/crossover sales were up 12% in December and in 2014 as a whole.

But late in its lifecycle, with production levels that can only go so high, and with new external rivals popping up all over the place? In that case, the ability of the RX – once a game changer itself – to post any improvement at all is impressive. That it could do so when the $34,480 (base NX200T) arrives in healthy numbers is more monumental.

2013 Lexus RX350The NX, of course, is no shrinking violet. But as the Jeep Cherokee proved before it, avant-garde styling isn’t a first-class ticket out of town in the SUV world. The NX outsold a most small luxury crossovers in January, only trailing the Audi Q5 by 115 units and the Acura RDX by 705. The NX, with 2812 January sales, begins the year 1210 units ahead of the Lincoln MKC, having also handily outsold entry-level players like the Audi Q3, BMW X1, and Mercedes-Benz GLA in addition to slightly upsized rivals like the BMW X3, Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GLK, and Volvo XC60.

But no premium brand crossover sells in anything like the kinds of numbers put up by the RX, and the RX made that all the more clear in January. At this time last year, the second-ranked premium brand utility was the Cadillac SRX, 1161 sales back of the RX. In January 2015, the next-best-selling premium brand utility vehicle was the Acura MDX, 2188 sales abaft.

Lexus sales chartSRX sales slid 22% to 3485 units in January 2015, the SRX’s seventh consecutive monthly decline. MDX sales were up 3% to 4381, equal to 37% of all Acura sales.

Meanwhile, in addition to the 2812 NXs sold by Lexus, its semi-related donor vehicle, the Toyota RAV4, set a January sales record with 19,824 U.S. sales. The RAV4 ranked third overall, 3487 units out of top spot; 230 sales back of the Ford Escape.

Lease deals and financing offers that continue to make the RX look like a good deal when the newer, flashier, less costly NX sits nearby can clearly play a role in keeping the brand’s best seller atop the leaderboard.

Yet by the same token, improved RX offers late in its tenure aren’t holding back the NX from entering the small luxury crossover fray with instantaneous success, either. Product positioning isn’t an easy task, but it’s certainly clear that Lexus has it figured out. At least through two months.

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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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.

lexus-lf-c2-concept-2014-la-auto-show-02 lexus-lf-c2-concept-2014-la-auto-show-01 lexus-lf-c2-concept-2014-la-auto-show-09 lexus-lf-c2-concept-2014-la-auto-show-13 lexus-lf-c2-concept-2014-la-auto-show-14 lexus-lf-c2-concept-2014-la-auto-show-12

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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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Capture

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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