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. Fri, 31 Jul 2015 21:47:19 +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 Canada, Ontario Governments Kick in Millions for Toyota Plant Upgrades http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/canada-kicks-millions-toyota-plant-upgrades/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/canada-kicks-millions-toyota-plant-upgrades/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 19:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1130465 Federal and provincial governments in Canada have offered more than $100 million (USD $77 million) for improvements to the Cambridge and Woodstock plants, CTV news is reporting. The incentives are part of a $421 million (USD $323 million) investment that will be used for light metal stamping in Woodstock, which makes the RAV4, and plant improvements […]

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2013 Toyota RAV4

Federal and provincial governments in Canada have offered more than $100 million (USD $77 million) for improvements to the Cambridge and Woodstock plants, CTV news is reporting.

The incentives are part of a $421 million (USD $323 million) investment that will be used for light metal stamping in Woodstock, which makes the RAV4, and plant improvements in Cambridge, which produces the soon-to-be-gone Toyota Corolla and Lexus RX vehicles. Toyota has said it will move the Corolla to Mexico, but hasn’t announced what would replace it at the Cambridge plant.

The Canadian government tipped in $34 million in 2013 for improvements to the Cambridge plant to produce the RX 450h.

Toyota’s announcement may be welcome news for Ontario’s car-building complex. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne recently told media in Toronto that building cars in Canada is becoming more expensive, and former Oshawa mayor John Gray calling for a GM boycott if the automaker doesn’t replace the Camaro when production ends in November.

Both Volvo and Land Rover have opted to build plants in Southern U.S. states that could potentially offer more in incentives than Canada’s most populous province, which is heaping more public debt on itself through public infrastructure projects.

The announcement could also signal a better working relationship between the governments and automakers. FCA may be looking for incentives as it prepares to make a $1 billion decision on its Brampton plant, which produces the Dodge Challenger, Charger and Chrysler 300.

Marchionne asked federal and provincial governments in 2014 for incentives to retool the company’s Windsor plant that produces minivans. After a contentious public debate over the size of the financial package requested, FCA decided to go it alone. The future of the Brampton plant, which will also require funding to finance retooling for the next-generation rear-wheel drive sedans, is uncertain.

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Lexus Will Plant 2-liter Turbo Four Into RC Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/lexus-will-plant-turbo-four-rc-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/lexus-will-plant-turbo-four-rc-coupe/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 17:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1130145 Lexus will take the turbocharged four cylinder from the NX 200t and plant it in its RC coupe, the automaker announced today. The RC 200t, which will make 245 metric horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, has only been announced officially for sale in Europe — for now. It joins the RX 200t, NX 200t and IS […]

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Lexus RC 200t

Lexus will take the turbocharged four cylinder from the NX 200t and plant it in its RC coupe, the automaker announced today.

The RC 200t, which will make 245 metric horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, has only been announced officially for sale in Europe — for now. It joins the RX 200t, NX 200t and IS 200t in the Lexus lineup as the fourth model to sport the engine on the Old Continent.

Parent-company Toyota has quickly adopted the turbo four as its preferred replacement for its aging V-6 in other cars, including the Camry.

The turbocharged RC may arrive in the United States at some point, but Lexus is tight-lipped about that possibility.

In Europe, the turbocharged, direct-injected engine will only drive the rear wheels and will be exclusively paired to its 8-speed automatic transmission. According to the automaker, it’ll propel the coupe up to 62 mph in 7.5 seconds, while managing roughly 33 mpg in average fuel consumption.

The model will join the recently announced hybrid RC 300h, which isn’t offered in the States either.

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Lexus Expands IS Engine Lineup to Include Smaller, Turbo Four http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/lexus-expands-engine-lineup-include-smaller-turbo-four/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/lexus-expands-engine-lineup-include-smaller-turbo-four/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 20:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1124921 Lexus will offer for the first time in the United States a four-cylinder IS, the automaker announced Friday. The compact luxury car will sport a variety of engines starting with a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder borrowed from the NX200t, and two variations of its 3.5-liter V-6 that it currently offers. The smaller mill in the IS200t […]

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2016_Lexus_IS_300_AWD_F_SPORT_001_2AEF9F669D0BB0948BE16C125B5434AE04D64090

Lexus will offer for the first time in the United States a four-cylinder IS, the automaker announced Friday.

The compact luxury car will sport a variety of engines starting with a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder borrowed from the NX200t, and two variations of its 3.5-liter V-6 that it currently offers.

The smaller mill in the IS200t will produce 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, according to the automaker, and will only be offered with rear-wheel drive.

Lexus said it would offer a version of its existing 3.5-liter V-6 in an all-wheel drive IS300, detuned from its current 306 horsepower. The revised engine will produce 255 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque.

The IS350 will be rear- or all-wheel drive and continue to sport the 3.5-liter V-6.

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2015 Lexus RC F Review (with Video) – Is F Greater than M? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-lexus-rc-f-review-video-f-greater-m/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-lexus-rc-f-review-video-f-greater-m/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 13:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1111321 The last Lexus coupé-only model to grace luxury Japanese dealer lots was the 1991-2000 Lexus SC 300/SC 400. Since then Lexus has tried to satisfy luxury coupé and convertible shoppers simultaneously with the hardtop SC and IS convertibles since 2001. That is until the folks in Japan decided to change their strategy to compete more directly with BMW, […]

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2015 Lexus RC F Exterior

The last Lexus coupé-only model to grace luxury Japanese dealer lots was the 1991-2000 Lexus SC 300/SC 400. Since then Lexus has tried to satisfy luxury coupé and convertible shoppers simultaneously with the hardtop SC and IS convertibles since 2001.

That is until the folks in Japan decided to change their strategy to compete more directly with BMW, Mercedes and Audi in every segment. The result is the development of the RC.

Perhaps because Lexus decided against a 2-coupé strategy, as utilized by BMW and Mercedes, the RC is mix mash between the compact IS and the mid-sized GS — with a little bit of Lexus IS C tossed in for good measure.

In theory, the new coupé was also to serve as the basis for an all-new convertible. Unfortunately, the dealer network revolted and demanded another change in course, redirecting efforts into a 3-row crossover. As a result, the all-new RC is sold alongside the aging Lexus IS C convertible, a situation that’s unlikely to change for the foreseeable future. Fortunately for enthusiasts, Lexus developed their M4-fighter at the same time as the more pedestrian RC 350, otherwise the very-blue 467-horsepower RC F you see above may have met the same fate as the moribund convertible.

Exterior
Lexus’ last M fighter, the IS F, was as unassuming as the RC F is bold. The Lexus ES says, “I’m on my way to the mall,” while the front end of RC F says, “I’m on my way to an anger management intervention.” Base RC 350 coupés have a grille that’s bigger and angrier than Lexus has ever used before. For the RC F, the visual impact gets downright ferocious.

Something struck me as odd when I first set eyes on the RC F a few months back in New Orleans: I’m not a fan of the front end on the IS, largely because the daytime running lamp is divorced from the headlamp. In the RC F, this theme actually works. The difference is the rest of the IS’ form is mainstream and the headlamps themselves look like any other lamp module, making the swoosh seem out of place. For the RC, Lexus reshaped everything, giving the design a more three dimensional feel with concave headlamps. The look works, especially with the optional tri-beam LED headlamp modules (a $1,160 option) fitted to our tester. The only thing missing from this nose are the tiny LED fog lamps you find in the RC F-Sport. At the launch event I attended, Lexus claimed their desire for “no-compromise cooling” meant the fog lamps were left on the cutting room floor.

Now to identify the competition. The RC F obviously has the BMW M4 in its sights and Lexus features an Audi RS 5 in a few commercials, but there are two other players: the new Cadillac ATS-V and the current Mercedes C63 AMG coupé. (The new C63 Coupé should be out in 2016 as a 2017 model, but my local dealer still has three 2015 models on the lot.)

Cadillac’s ATS sedan appears small when stacked against the BMW 3-Series and Lexus IS, but the coupé segment is different and all the entries are but a hair apart. The largest variation at work here is the wheelbase. The Lexus has the shortest span at 107.5 inches and the M4 the longest at 110.7 inches. This helps accentuate the M4’s low and long profile. The other main difference is curb weight. Thanks to standard Quattro, the RS 5 is the heaviest at 4,009 pounds and the M4 is the lightest at 3,530. Curb weight is crucial in a performance vehicle and that’s a sizeable variation. The RC F weighs in second heaviest at 3,958 (or about the same weight as a Jaguar XJ). The Merc is a cupcake lighter and the Caddy straddles the middle at 3,700 pounds.

2015 Lexus RC F Interior-008

Interior
Although the RC is a hybrid of the IS and GS, the interior is pure IS — which I found a little disappointing. Instead of the upright dash and large wide-screen infotainment screen you find in the GS 350, we get a multi-tired dash and a small LCD with narrow proportions. As with the IS, I find the interior somewhat jarring, mainly because of the enormous airbag bump on the passenger side.

The RC F suffers from the same problem as every other entry in this segment: an interior designed for a car half the price. This isn’t unusual. In fact, the RC borrows its interior from the IS 250 while the M4 leverages the basics from the 320i. Also similar to the competition, you won’t find real cow in the base RC F. Lexus insists the NuLuxe pleather seating is a premium feature as it’s bonded to the seat’s foam and won’t “pucker” or “wrinkle” like leather. However you slice it, it still won’t faux anyone.

2015 Lexus RC F LCD Gauges-002

The only major change to the IS interior for coupé duty is a rearrangement of the cupholders and the incorporation of Lexus’ new infotainment controller. F models get a different partial LCD instrument cluster versus the RC 350 with a small fixed speedometer on the right and everything else replicated by the disco dash. In terms of overall parts quality and design, I found the ATS, RC and M4 to all be quite comparable while the aging RS 5 is still the most pleasing to my eye. Narrowing the ranking, I put the M4 above the ATS and the RC F last. If the ATS had the LCD cluster we see in the CTS, it would take top honors, and the RC F is last because the large expanse of injection molded dashboard can’t compete with the extra touches we get in the rest.

I found the front seats to be comfortable and on par with the Audi RS 5 and a notch above the old C63’s narrow seat backs. As we have come to expect from BMW recently, the M4’s front seats are excellent and offer more adjustability than we find in the RC. Unexpectedly, Cadillac has taken a page from BMW’s playbook and offers your choice of 16- or 18-way adjustable seats with more range of motion than you find in the Audi or Lexus.

2015 Lexus RC F Interior Enform Navigation-001

Infotainment
Since the RC shares its dashboard with the IS sedan, the coupé also adopts the small LCD infotainment screen of its four-door sibling. U.S.-bound models get a standard 7-inch LCD screen perched high on the dash. Unfortunately, the distance from the driver and the large plastic bezel conspire to make the screen look smaller than it is. The problem is further compounded by the screen measuring smaller than the competition. As with the IS sedan, the standard display audio system is the only way you can escape the infamous Lexus Remote Touch system. Thankfully, the base system is well featured with HD Radio, SiriusXM, CD player, iPod/Bluetooth integration and weather/traffic displays.

I find myself very conflicted about the Lexus Enform navigation and infotainment system. When coupled with a touchscreen — as in the Lexus GX 460 — I find the system easy to use and intuitive. Admittedly, the software lacks some of the polish of BMW’s iDrive, but it is still one of my favorites. Sadly, in most Lexus vehicles, the touchscreen has been swapped for a joystick-like device which transforms the system from easy to use to frustration itself. For 2015, Lexus is trying something new: a track pad in the RC and NX. The laptop-like unit works essentially the same as the former joystick and offers haptic feedback in addition to some limited pinch and scroll gestures. HD Radio support and traffic information via HD radio are standard, so you don’t need an XM subscription to get a color-coded map. If you can get beyond the input method, the system proved reliable and moderately intuitive. Overall, however, I rank this system below BMW’s iDrive, Audi’s MMI, Infiniti’s new two-screen setup, and even Mercedes’ aging COMAND system. On the flip side, Lexus is one of the few manufacturers to offer complete voice command of your USB/iDevice a la MyLincoln Touch and the luxury automaker continues to expand the number of smartphone integrated app features. New for 2015 is an OnStar-like app that gives you all the standard “did I lock my car” telematics features in addition to alerting you if the car is speeding (handy if Johnny Jr. drives your RC F to school), exceeding a geo-boundary or violating curfew.

2015 Lexus RC F Engine 5.0L V8

Drivetrain
This segment is split in two camps. On the left we have the turbocharged, six-cylinder engines from Cadillac and BMW, and on the right we have the naturally aspirated V-8s from Lexus and Audi. (Next year is likely to bring a unicorn to this segment: a twin-turbo V-8 from Mercedes.)

F buyers get a reworked 5.0L V-8 from the discontinued IS F. Based on the 4.6L V-8 found in the LS 460, the 5.0L version has some significant changes in addition to the displacement bump. We get the usual bevy of performance tweaks, such as titanium valves, a fuel surge tank and high-lift cams. We also get something unusual on a performance vehicle: the ability to operate on the Atkinson cycle. (Technically, a modified Otto cycle.) Unlike most engines, however, this V-8 can switch between Otto and Atkinson cycles, depending on what is needed at the time. This is accomplished by swapping the variable valve timing system found on the old 5.0L design with a new electronically controlled unit on the intake side, allowing a greater deal of control over both valve lift and duration. When efficiency is needed, the intake valve stays open part way into the compression cycle, effectively making the compression stroke “shorter” than the expansion stroke, improving efficiency. According to the engineers, the advantage to employing this fuel-sipping tech is that switching back to max-burn mode takes less time than cylinder deactivation and it can be done across a broader range of engine RPMs. The advantage to the consumer is the solution is 100 percent transparent; cylinder deactivation systems can change the exhaust note and decrease engine smoothness. Thanks to these modifications, the RC F produces more power than the hybrid implementation of this engine present in the LS 600hL while still delivering a 2 mpg bump in the EPA highway score of 25 mpg. The RC F achieves 19 mpg on the combined cycle.

Sending power to the rear is an eight-speed automatic made by Aisin. For those into trivia, this is a variant of the first production eight-speed automatic (in the Lexus LS) for automotive use and was introduced a year before the ZF eight-speed that’s sucked all the air out of the room. For F-duty, Lexus beefs up the internals and allows the torque converter lockup clutch to engage in gears 2-8. (Lexus calls this SPort Direct Shift, or SPDS, but it the same concept used in many modern automatics like Mazda’s SKYACTIV six-speed.) Aft of the transmission is a standard Torsen limited-slip rear differential or an optional electronically controlled, torque-vectoring rear axle as part of the performance package.

2015 Lexus RC F Exterior-007

Drive
Every coupé in this segment handles incredibly well, zips to 60 in the blink of an eye, and stops on a dime compared to your average compact luxury sedan. In truth, the difference out on the road — aside from the raw numbers when it comes to 0-60 times and road holding — is down to personal preference and how your priorities stack up against the facets of the car’s road personality.

Let’s start with the big dog, the artist formerly known as the M3 coupé. At just over 3,500 pounds, the M4 is light for this segment. Despite making 10-percent less power than the Lexus, the BMW is faster to 60 because it is nearly 15-percent lighter and turbocharged. Thanks to less mass, the torque curve flattening effects of the German hairdryer, and the quick-shifting dual clutch transmission, the Bimmer will run to 60 half a second faster than the Lexus — if you can find the traction.

2015 Lexus RC F Exterior Headlamp LED

On the downside, this is not the E92 M3 you’re longing for. The steering feel in the Lexus is a hair more precise and, overall, it’s an easier car to drive hard. I’ll leave the track day diaries to Jack Baruth, but when pitted back to back, there is something artificial about the Lexus torque-vectoring rear axle. Unquestionably, it allows the rear of the RC F to rotate in ways the standard Torsen diff can’t (I had the opportunity to test a few cars at NOLA recently), but the feeling isn’t as satisfying as the M4, despite the M4 having a torque-vectoring rear end as well.

That said, the RC F is just as quick around most tracks; I chalk that up to how easy it is to pilot and the programming of the eight-speed auto that aggressively downshifts based on your braking Gs. Back out on the paved road, the transmission’s shift logic lost its charm. When you’re on your favorite mountain highway having a little fun, you look like a dweeb while the transmission hangs onto 2nd gear as you cautiously pass a pack of cyclists. It also means that real-world passing maneuvers take considerably less time in the M4 as the DCT is far less reluctant to downshift. On the flip side, the ride on the RC F is more livable, is likely to be more reliable, and my insurance guy tells me it’d cost me a lower premium, too.

2015 Lexus RC F Exterior-022

Audi’s RS 5 is seriously spendy ($8,500 more than the RC F) and it is the oldest car in the group now that Mercedes has sent the C63 out to pasture. Like most Audis, the RS 5 has a weight balance “problem” because the engine and part of the transmission hang out ahead of the front axle. The resulting 59/41 (F/R) weight distribution is the most skewed of the bunch (identical to a Honda Accord Sport or Mazda6), but thanks to Audi’s engineering it hides it fairly well — though push the RS 5 in the corners and you get more plow and less feeling from the front axle. Although I find the RS 5 the best looking option, the heavy curb weight, standard AWD, electric power steering, weight balance and high price tag make the RS 5 a dynamic choice only on an ice circuit.

Then we have the ATS-V which, aside from the surprisingly cheap looking instrument cluster, is my choice. A few years ago, the mainline auto press would have scoffed at Cadillac putting a turbocharged six-cylinder engine under the hood of a BMW M fighter — except that’s exactly what BMW has done. Cadillac, for their part, kicked it up a notch further. The larger displacement V-6 approaches the RC F’s horsepower figure at 464, but crushes the segment with 445 lb-ft of torque at just 3,500 rpm. With the new GM 8L90 automatic transmission and a curb weight that’s 200 lbs heavier than the BMW, the Cadillac is slower off the line — by a slim 1/10th of a second. GM also offers a six-speed manual in the ATS if you prefer to row your own, and get to 60 slower. As good as the Lexus eight-speed is, GM’s new slushbox is better. The shifts are faster and crisper and the shift logic is more country-road appropriate than the DCT in the M4. The 8L90 will hold gears in Sport mode like the rest, but it’s more willing to up-shift after you’ve passed the slow poke.

2015 Lexus RC F Exterior-013

As a package, the ATS is more willing to turn in and it feels more nimble than the BMW or the Lexus. The transmission isn’t as sharp as BMW’s dual-clutch box, but it is more livable for a daily driver in stop and go traffic. As with the ATS sedan, the steering feel and general dynamics are superior, but it lacks the polish you get with the German. Where the ATS really scores is value. When priced similarly to our $74,000 Lexus tester, the Cadillac offers more comfortable seats, a heads-up display, adaptive suspension, the best automatic in the group, and an overall style that splits the difference between the more sedate Germans and the over-the-top Lexus.

Lexus’ latest performance vehicle is the finest example of what Lexus does best: incremental changes. The RC F is the sum of everything Lexus has learned over the years about competing in the luxury market and, lately, the performance luxury market. The “Lexus way” is to continually improve while taking the “safe route” with a naturally aspirated engine and a proven traditional automatic. Unfortunately, playing it safe is what puts both the M4 and the RC F tied in second place. Although each vehicle has its pros and cons, they balance out on my tally sheet. While the M4 is faster and more direct, BMW is also playing it safe with conservative styling and road feel that isn’t as direct as the Cadillac. It’s hard to go wrong with the 2015 RC F, but the Cadillac ATS-V is a new instrument cluster away from perfection.

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.2 Seconds

0-60: 4.6 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 12.5 @ 115 MPH

Average Economy: 20.8 MPG

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Junkyard Find: 1997 Lexus LS400 Coach Edition (with Bonus Failed Anti-Tow-Away Note) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/junkyard-find-1997-lexus-ls400-coach-edition-bonus-failed-anti-tow-away-note/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/junkyard-find-1997-lexus-ls400-coach-edition-bonus-failed-anti-tow-away-note/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 11:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1119017 Three years ago, after becoming obsessed with 1990s Japanese luxury cars and, failing to find a non-thrashed Infiniti Q45 (or even a nice J30), I bought a very clean 1997 Lexus LS400 Coach Edition. It’s still my daily driver and still in great shape, but you always have a need for a few bits and […]

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33 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Three years ago, after becoming obsessed with 1990s Japanese luxury cars and, failing to find a non-thrashed Infiniti Q45 (or even a nice J30), I bought a very clean 1997 Lexus LS400 Coach Edition. It’s still my daily driver and still in great shape, but you always have a need for a few bits and pieces when you drive an older car. The early LS400s are extraordinarily common in low price, self-service wrecking yards these days, but the UCF20 1995-1997 LS is still worth enough that it’s a rare sight at U-Wrench-It.

Last winter, I finally found one in a Denver yard, and it has stories to tell.
21 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Even five years after moving to Colorado from the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m still not fully on board with this snow-covered-junkyard business.

13 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

This car had all the signs of a rapid fall from luxury-car glory; there was plenty of body damage outside and trash inside, but it still had all the original dealer paperwork and factory inspection certificate.

60 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

I’m pretty sure that the TO BE TOWED note I found was written by an enraged apartment manager or neighbor, after the car became immobile due to some expensive-to-fix mechanical problem, and that the angry response was written by the car’s owner. As we all know, heartfelt notes to tow-truck drivers don’t work.

42 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

But according to the auction sticker, the car starts.

There is nothing sadder than a broken wind-up crab toy crawling through the junkyard slush.

64 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The only part I really wanted for my LS was the factory radio, because the LCD display on mine has some bad pixels. However, I learned from parting out an SC400 on eBay that certain 1990s Lexus parts are worth good money, so I grabbed a few more bits.

 

21 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 28 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 29 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 30 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 33 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 41 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 42 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 43 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 47 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 49 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 50 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 55 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 60 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 64 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 66 - 1997 Lexus LS400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Google’s Robot Car Crashed, Humans At Fault http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/googles-robot-car-crashed-humans-fault/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/googles-robot-car-crashed-humans-fault/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 18:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118793 Three people were injured when a car rear-ended Google’s self-driving Lexus on July 1 in Mountain View, California, The Detroit Bureau is reporting. It’s the 15th crash for the self-driving car and the first with injuries. Three people had “minor whiplash” Google’s Director of Driverless Cars Chris Urmson wrote and the driver of the car that rear-ended the […]

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Three people were injured when a car rear-ended Google’s self-driving Lexus on July 1 in Mountain View, California, The Detroit Bureau is reporting. It’s the 15th crash for the self-driving car and the first with injuries.

Three people had “minor whiplash” Google’s Director of Driverless Cars Chris Urmson wrote and the driver of the car that rear-ended the Lexus appeared to be at fault.

“Our self-driving cars are being hit surprisingly often by other drivers who are distracted and not paying attention to the road,” he wrote.

The robots will not look kindly on our inattention.

According to Google’s monthly report, the fleet of autonomous cars has traveled more than 1 million miles without human piloting, and the cars are averaging around 10,000 miles traveled each week.

Google says the autonomous cars have not been at fault in any of its 15 recorded accidents so far. Testers say the vehicles are being crashed into at a higher rate than normal due to under-reported accident numbers.

Earlier this month, Google sent two Lexus RX450h vehicles to Austin, Texas for mapping and testing.

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2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4MATIC: Lookin’ for Love http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-mercedes-benz-gla250-4matic-lookin-for-love/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-mercedes-benz-gla250-4matic-lookin-for-love/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 15:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1117377 The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 lives within the margins. The compact — which shares more in common with a hatchback than an SUV — has a life thanks to America’s all-things-crossover obsession. It dodges definition, shirks consistent fuel-economy ratings and even has me guessing on my own feelings toward it. For sure, I can’t find a […]

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The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 lives within the margins.

The compact — which shares more in common with a hatchback than an SUV — has a life thanks to America’s all-things-crossover obsession. It dodges definition, shirks consistent fuel-economy ratings and even has me guessing on my own feelings toward it. For sure, I can’t find a single offensive thing about the GLA. Even more, I can’t find a single thing to love.


The Tester

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250

Engine: 2.0-liter inline, turbocharged 4-cylinder (208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm; 258 pound-feet @ 1,250-4,000)

Transmission: 7-speed DCT transmission with paddle shifters

Fuel Economy (rating): 24 mpg city/32 mpg highway/27 mpg combined
Fuel Economy (observed): 25.3 mpg according to trip computer in 60/40-split city/highway driving.

Options: Cocoa brown exterior paint; Satin light brown poplar wood trim; Blind-spot assist; Bi-xenon headlamps; 19-inch wheels; Premium package (satellite radio, heated front seats, harman/kardon audio, dual-zone climate control); Multimedia package (navigation, 7-inch high-resolution display, DVD player, traffic information).

Base price: $33,300
Price as tested: $41,950


Exterior
From beak to butt, the GLA looks like adolescent hatchback growing into its tall frame.

That’s not an indictment on the GLA’s overall looks. The GLA’s stretched sheet metal from front to back look downright futuristic compared to the BMW X1 and Lexus NX. Maybe not as classically handsome as the Range Rover Evoque and a coin-flip compared to the Audi Q3, but there is nothing about the GLA that outwardly screams “half-baked.” It’s clear that German engineers set out to build a handsome crossover that happened to be a Mercedes, and not a Mercedes crossover that happened to be handsome. In my opinion, the GLA is too busy to look “classic” Mercedes.

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Even the tail, which has the unenviable task of tying together the multiple body lines and profile curves, looks solidly modern and scrutinized. If I had to nitpick — and I think I have to — the bulbous tail lamps have a whisper of ugly.

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Up front, however, the GLA’s nose and grille present a compelling argument. The car, which starts at just over $34,000, looks more expensive from the front. It’s a case of Mercedes putting a better foot forward for entry buyers. I prefer the GLA’s nose over, say, the boxy approach of the GLK, but the GLA’s face is much less polarizing.

The thick C-pillar visually lengthens the GLA’s abrupt end and gives the car a longer approach than its 179-inch measurement would indicate. From all approaches, the GLA looks bigger outside than it actually is, and that’s not a bad thing.

Shod with our optional 19-inch wheels the GLA sits tall and muscular without being gaudy. If the Subaru Forester had a Y chromosome, it’d look like a Mercedes-Benz GLA.

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Interior
If intention was everything, the GLA’s interior would shine as a paragon for what luxury crossovers should be. Unfortunately, execution factors into the final result so we have to look at these things as they are — not as they could be.

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First, the familiar: the Mercedes-Benz three-spoke wheel in the GLA is an exceptional touch. The wheel feels solid and confident, and its steering wheel controls and paddle shifters are among the best in the business right now.

Additionally, Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND system (its infotainment interface) is clear and fabulously unfussy. Pairing a smartphone or dictating an address is a breeze, and the 7-inch high-resolution display is seamlessly integrated into the GLA (albeit for $2,480 extra) without looking like a 80-inch HDTV in a trailer home.

The GLA even looks the part too. The ballyhooed cross-hair air vents are impressive, and even the beige faux-leather seats would have me second-guessing shelling out $1,700 for the privilege of more hides between the doors.

But it doesn’t take long for impressions to settle into reality.

The three-spoke wheel hides the stalk and makes setting cruise control nearly impossible. The controls for the COMAND system are awkwardly placed somewhere between my elbow and my wrist, and the dash sounds unsettlingly too hollow.

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Even the comfortable-looking MB-Tex seats started to flatten the longer I was in the car and after 2 hours in a hot car driving through the city, I found myself itching to get out.

If I can use a small example: the GLA’s electric-adjustable seat controls are in the doors, like every other new Mercedes-Benz. Unlike some of them, the GLA doesn’t have electrically adjustable headrests, but there’s still a piece of fixed-molded plastic where that slider would go. In short, the GLA has all the look inside that a Mercedes should have, but it’s just not as special.

(Spring for the leather seats and you get a MB-Tex-stitched dash upper, which could kill two birds with one stone.)

The rear seats are comfortable for adults on short to moderate trips. My 6-foot-2-inch frame could fold into the back behind the driver, but not with someone my size driving up front.

Infotainment
As a $2,480 option on a $33,300 car, Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND system is no minor detail. The big, bright 7-inch high-resolution display rises prominently from the middle of the dash and is distinctly an added extra — there’s no hiding that the GLA was built first without it.

However, the COMAND system is thoughtfully integrated and wasn’t much of a distraction for me. I’m incredibly familiar with the layout and controls, so it’s hard for me to comment on the system’s learning curve. However, I can report that after teaching passengers how the small-ish knob placed near the cup holders could slide AND rotate, very few people had trouble learning the system.

The good: The radio controls mimic a tuner, and the system is detailed without needing too much attention.

The bad: Adding a phone, then adding that same phone as a Bluetooth streaming device is a head scratcher.

The ugly: The control knob is far-too small for my big mitts.

In the new C-Class, the COMAND system is nearly impossible to beat. In the GLA, it’s very good.

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Drivetrain

The GLA250 sports a 2.0-liter turbo four that makes an entirely approachable 208 hp. According to the manufacturer, the GLA250 runs up to 60 mph in around 7 seconds, which may not be blinding, but may not be the engine’s fault. The 7-speed DCT transmission does its very best to keep the GLA in low-rev, fuel-saving territory on the tach and it’s apparent. More than a few times, I guessed I was in third gear by the other side of the intersection, and the GLA’s long legs are built for wringing every last mile from its 15-gallon tank.

Unfortunately, it’s a losing attempt.

Despite my best efforts on long highway jaunts, I couldn’t approach 30 mpg consistently, and the GLA may be thirstier than its 27 mpg combined rating would indicate.

In combined driving, over nearly 200 miles, I managed only just over 25 mpg without over-taxing the GLA or touching the paddle shifters.

The GLA is offered in front- or all-wheel drive, which Mercedes calls 4MATIC, configurations. Our tester was the latter, but without much snow or mountain driving to be found over the past week, it’s hard to report whether the all-wheel drive is necessary. We’ll blame El Nino. Or something.

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Drive
Despite being one of the least expensive cars that Mercedes-Benz offers, the GLA is surprisingly confident and nimble on the road. Its grippy, direct steering was surprising for a car that weighs nearly 3,500 pounds and forces all its energy through the front wheels under normal circumstances. I could coax the GLA250 into a push, but not without plenty of drama from the wheels first. (And that’s the way it should be.)

The GLA is easy to park and remarkably maneuverable around an Ikea parking lot (if you’re wondering what I did with it instead of driving into the Rockies.)

There are some niggles, however. The GLA is far from quiet inside. A considerable amount of road noise comes through into the cabin and it feels like Mercedes just skipped some of the sound deadening material in the final checklist.

Also, Mercedes’ collision prevention assist system isn’t any more advanced than anyone else’s, which means that it’s entirely too intrusive. In stop-and-go traffic, the system tripped a few times and warned of a low-speed collision that wasn’t going to happen anyway.

And if I could coax the transmission into shorter shifts at the risk of less impressive fuel economy (on paper), I would. Mash your right foot, count to three and then the GLA clambers forward. There’s too much time between action and reaction for a car that costs more than $40,000.

But there’s nothing wholly unsatisfactory about the GLA. It looks impressive and delivers a product that’s nearly better than anyone else’s. It’s better looking than the NX, more modern than the X1 with more interior potential than the MKC at a price that’s on target for what I’d expect from the three-star folks.

It’s just, coming from the company that recently made an extremely good C-Class car, the only thing I could define about the GLA was my extremely high expectations before I drove it. And maybe that’s just not fair.

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Chart Of The Day: NX Boosting Lexus In The Time Of The RX’s Need http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/chart-day-nx-boosting-lexus-time-rxs-need/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/chart-day-nx-boosting-lexus-time-rxs-need/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1095825 Conventionally pretty, it is not. But the Lexus NX is a hit. The NX200t and NX300h combined to generate 4,014 U.S. sales in May 2015, the best month yet for the six-month-old NX line. Year-to-date, 16,546 copies of the NX have been sold in America. Since the end of November, 19,473 NXs have found their […]

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USA Lexus sales chart May 2015 YTD

Conventionally pretty, it is not. But the Lexus NX is a hit.

The NX200t and NX300h combined to generate 4,014 U.S. sales in May 2015, the best month yet for the six-month-old NX line. Year-to-date, 16,546 copies of the NX have been sold in America. Since the end of November, 19,473 NXs have found their way into driveways across America.

Lexus, of course, has a tradition of building wildly popular premium crossovers. The RX is perennially America’s top-selling premium utility vehicle.

As Lexus prepares to replace the current RX with an all-new, already revealed model for 2016, sales of the current RX have fallen 5% this year. It’s still far more popular than any other premium brand utility vehicle in America.

In the meantime, with the NX added to the fleet, SUVs and crossovers accounted for 49% of all Lexus volume in the U.S. over the first five months of 2015, up from 43% in the same period one year ago, before the NX. Rather inconsequentially, sales of the high-end LX are faltering, but the GX460 is up 13% year-to-date, a gain of 1108 units.

As for the NX’s standing in its own category, only the Acura RDX and Audi Q5 are currently selling more often. The fourth-ranked Mercedes-Benz GLK, down 24% this year, is 5,260 sales back of the Lexus. BMW’s X3, down 44% this year, is 5,564 sales abaft. The Volvo XC60, Lincoln MKC lead the peloton but are well back of the better-selling contestants.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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Mitsubishi Will Soon Sell the Least Powerful V6 in America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/mitsubishi-will-soon-sell-the-least-powerful-v6-in-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/mitsubishi-will-soon-sell-the-least-powerful-v6-in-america/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 20:37:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1102433 With the Lexus IS finally ditching its dated and overripe 2.5L V6 in favor of the new Atkinson/Otto-cycle 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, the vehicle above will have the least powerful V6 engine in America: the 224 hp, 3.0L V6-powered Mitsubishi Outlander. Making matters worse, it requires premium fuel … and that’s not the worst part. It’s been a […]

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2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

With the Lexus IS finally ditching its dated and overripe 2.5L V6 in favor of the new Atkinson/Otto-cycle 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, the vehicle above will have the least powerful V6 engine in America: the 224 hp, 3.0L V6-powered Mitsubishi Outlander.

Making matters worse, it requires premium fuel … and that’s not the worst part.

It’s been a long time coming, but Lexus fans will likely welcome the new force-fed four-pot that ups the base output of its entry sedan to “241 horsepower and up to 258 lb-ft of torque” according to the Canadian Lexus release. While Lexus in the U.S. has not yet confirmed the new engine for the IS, it seems all but inevitable at this point.

Sadly, that puts Mitsubishi squarely in the crosshairs again for having a product that doesn’t match up to the competition. Even V6 turbodiesels on the market are producing 240 horsepower and above along with much, much more torque.

However, the worst of it comes when you put Mitsubishi’s V6 in context. It can only be had in the very top GT S-AWC trim, portraying the 3.0L V6 as the “premium” option, which starts at $30,995. It only drinks premium fuel. And, to top it all off, Mitsubishi is looking forward to being in this position for the next three to four years as the 2016 model year brings with it a refreshed Outlander. That refresh didn’t include any upgrades to the V6.

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The Warren Buffet Way To Buy And Sell Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/warren-buffet-way-buy-sell-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/warren-buffet-way-buy-sell-cars/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1097681 The august founder of TTAC, Robert Farago, asked me to shop around for a Lexus IS F nearly seven years ago. Those were bad old days. The “Fall of 2008″ was a brutal, hopeless, and downright dire time in the American retail car market. Nobody was buying $50,000+ sports cars like this Lexus, and the few […]

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The august founder of TTAC, Robert Farago, asked me to shop around for a Lexus IS F nearly seven years ago.

Those were bad old days. The “Fall of 2008″ was a brutal, hopeless, and downright dire time in the American retail car market. Nobody was buying $50,000+ sports cars like this Lexus, and the few that could afford to were too busy watching their stock values sink like stones and their home values dive straight into the ass end of a 20 year time warp.

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My hometown of Powder Springs, Georgia and nearly every other American city and small town were getting neutron bombed by man-made financial WMDs known as CDOs – collateralized debt obligations. Where people had once occupied new homes and burgeoning small businesses, now all that was left in much of America were empty buildings and unfathomable levels of debt.

The American people, yet again, had been scammed by an elite that relied on passing the fraudulent buck to whomever was willing to hold the empty bag. The Wall Street margin calls of the 1920s had transformed into the main street liar loans of the 2000s. But this time, millions of businesses throughout the world would feel the unforeseen effects of these complex financial implosions. Credit soon became scarce even for the well-connected, and the American economy would become a borderline bankrupt marketplace.

What did Robert do? The same exact thing Warren Buffet did at that time. He went shopping!

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High-end niche models like the Lexus IS F were especially tough to sell. Back then, I couldn’t quite figure out why Robert wanted this car when the Audi RS4, Cadillac CTS-V and BMW M3 were considered to be the better choices by the brunt of the automotive press. I had recently driven the RS4 thanks to a friend from Texas who picked up a brand new one that was languishing at an Audi dealership in North Georgia. I negotiated that deal on his behalf and, as a surprise thank you, I also wound up with my very first experience with a brand new high-end sports car.

I may need to wait about 7 more years before I get to relive that experience – but I definitely want to do it again. The question most of us have is when does it make the most sense to buy on the right side of the automotive bell curve?

There is always a sweet spot where you can enjoy the fruits of an automaker’s labor and not have to pay the ridiculous price premiums usually attached to such a ride. On conventional cars here in the south, the depreciation curve tends to plateau around the nine to eleven year mark. The more popular cars hit it right around years 12 thru 15. Keep in mind I rarely get to see the tin-worm that is rust out here, so those of you who have to deal with 50 shades of brown may find that these points hit a few years newer for you.

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Then there is the “buy low / sell high” method which for the keepers among us can also be termed “buy low / sell nigh.”

There are the usual suspects, such as buying SUVs and trucks if gas prices are high or gas sippers when the gas prices are low, but gas really doesn’t have an enduring impact on the deal simply because it fluctuates all the time.

What does have an impact are three things:

  1. Asymmetric information
  2. The seller
  3. The car’s condition

Asymmetric information simply means you know something about that particular vehicle that the seller does not. How to fix a repair issue. The rarity of a particular trim. Sometimes, such as the auctions I attend, you may find out that the car in question has a lot of expensive modifications, or that a pricey repair has already been performed. Auto auctions are a rolling paradise for these things, but Craigslist and Autotrader can also offer a few eyebrow raising surprises.

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The seller and the car’s condition always go hand in hand. As we all know, you’re not buying a used car so much as you’re buying the prior owner’s driving style and maintenance habits. A walking turd of a car owner often drives in a rolling turd of a car. Great cars are usually owned by folks who understand that machines need to be tuned and maintained – and garaged if at all possible.

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I have enjoyed some beautiful rides over the years that hit all of these sweet spots: the right time to buy, the right seller, and – most importantly – knowing a little important something beforehand that made all the difference. Toyota Celica All-Tracs, Ford Mustang Police Interceptors, and several Mazda RX-8s have been in and out of my hands simply because I was able to find the right ingredients for the car buying recipe. The 2005 Mazda RX-8 cost me all of $2,300 last year because it had a flooding issue that was easy to figure out. I had a blast with it for three months and sold it for $4,500.

How about you? Have you ever been able to buy the right car with the right history at the right time?

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CPO To Go: 2014 Lexus IS F http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/cpo-go-2014-lexus-f/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/cpo-go-2014-lexus-f/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1093425 I usually have more fun with $5,000 cars than with $55,000 cars. It’s not because I’m cheap. Well, let me rephrase that. I love investing in a quality vehicle, but in the world that is wholesale auctions, I rarely get to see them. You can find nearly anything at the auctions that has been traded-in, repossessed […]

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I usually have more fun with $5,000 cars than with $55,000 cars.

It’s not because I’m cheap. Well, let me rephrase that. I love investing in a quality vehicle, but in the world that is wholesale auctions, I rarely get to see them. You can find nearly anything at the auctions that has been traded-in, repossessed or not picked up at the end of it’s lease. What you can’t find are the keepers.

Toyota imported only a bit over 5,000 of these IS F sports sedans from 2008 thru 2014. The number brought to auction so far in 2015? 35. Annualized, that’s less than a 1.5% turnover rate in a business where anywhere from 20% to 60% of late model vehicles will revisit ‘wholesale heaven’ before getting shucked back into a retail dealership.

After a week and change behind the wheel of this 2014 Lexus IS F, I finally figured out why you see so few of these vehicles at the auctions. It’s the one missing ingredient that nearly every enthusiast publication glosses over when they review any high-end sports car.

The real world ownership experience.

is3Not the arduous race tracks specifically designed to distinguish the better from the best in mere tenths of a second. Not those drop-dead gorgeous long and winding roads that make you contemplate the existence of God and the beauty of all creation.

I was able to find joy with the IS F in the everyday banality of middle-aged life. Impromptu burger runs, long stop lights, even in the worst of rush hours. There was always either a burbling exhaust note or a 13-speaker stereo system that made the IS F experience rare, valuable, and difficult to imitate.

Then again, this attitude towards the IS F really has an awful lot to do with where I live. I spend most of my driving time in the outskirts of a major metropolitan area. The ex-urbs. The test tracks that highlight the 0 to 60 4.2 second time for this 416 horsepower screamer regularly slammed straight into the brutal brick walls of reality that are artificially low speed limits, frequent stops, and excessive police enforcement.

is5In my real world of traveling from auction to auction, I need an exterior that blends in so that I can get what amounts to a short-term thrill between stop lights, stop signs and traffic that just seems to stop without any rhyme or reason.

Except for the wheels, which has a bit of a dulled out boy-racer vibe to them, the exterior of the Lexus IS F is a rolling representation of Clark Kent. It is the Captain Anonymous of four-wheeled superheroes in a sports car universe where the loud and proud high rollers have become all too easily recognized.

Other than the wheels, which I would replace with a more Q-ship styled quartet, there is nothing else that stands out aesthetically with this super-fast sports sedan compared with other less powerful, and less expensive alternatives.

Enthusiasts may be able to pick out the small chorus of ‘F’ badges along with a few unique exterior touches from the wider fenders to the imperceptibly larger rear spoiler. Yet, in the end, the IS F chooses a conservative route that makes it less popular for the flashy and attention seeking owner, and far more useful for stealth seekers like me who are trying to avoid the revenuing schemes and speed traps of local police departments.

YouTube chronicles this unfortunate neverending battle between an enthusiast’s love, and the desire of the legalized theft cartels to revenue out the nicest rides whenever possible.

Corvettes? Dead! In the world of speed enforcement, these cars should come with a “Kick me!” sign.

Black M3? Halt! (Credit to the nice cop.)

Mercedes C63? Damn those 1%’ers! Speed trap cities and towns consider a Mercedes to be their proverbial ten pound fish in the easy money barrel.

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A little compact Lexus? In ultra-white? (yes, that is the color description!)

Just feel free to hide your 5.0-liter 416 horsepower V8 and blend in with the sea of traffic until the sharks swim away for better prey. In the real world of driving, the IS F – less those wheels – can be driven as the ultimate Q-Ship.

is11The inside of this Lexus tells a very different story.

The contrast between the suit and tie exterior and this loud and proud interior is probably the biggest dichotomy in high end sports sedans. For those not wanting to relive the trombone case red hues of yesteryear, Lexus also offers a dark suit gray and a bright white leather seating package that is closer to mainstream tastes.

See all those controls on the steering wheel? I wish every competitor would just copy this layout and call it a day. The current IS, with nearly twice as many buttons and fidgits falls far below the real-world ease that is this simple five-by-five design.

As a circa 2008 car with minimal updates the IS F, suffers from two incurable era specific maladies from that time period. The excessive use of interior design cues that originated 10 years ago, and this scratch happy material called aluminized composite accents. Enthusiasts know it as fake carbon fiber while middle-aged men like me who are still stuck in the 1990s scratch their heads and say, “What’s wrong with using some nice thick wood instead?”

is13Ahhh, that’s much better. No gimmicky crap. No little icons or infotainment driven cartoon style graphics. Just a simple layout. Everything neat and quick to read. Truth be told, that prominent tachometer combined with the digital speedo is a great combination. Still, the IS F instrument cluster offers as much useful information about the powertrain’s activities as a 25-year-old Toyota Celica All-Trac. If you are looking for a video game style display with trivial feedback about every little nuance of the driving experience, look elsewhere.

The Lexus IS F dashboard carries over Toyota’s love for the big simple buttons and knobs over rotating dialers and plasticized joysticks of the competition. It took less than a day to get used to the flow of the layout.

There are also several other unique take-it-or-leave-it touches to this interior such as…

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This shift gate along with the single cupholder. A definitive post-Y2K design element.

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What is this strange contraption? I thought this would house the USB connection and maybe an adapter or two. Ash trays are gradually becoming the CD players of the modern day and the cassette players of ten years years ago. By the way, Lexus was also the last brand to get rid of the old cassette players.

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Interesting… on a slow news day I’m sure we can debate the right place for these plug-in connections.

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The rear seat room is about on par with a Civic. Small, but amazingly comfortable if you’re 5’8″ or less.

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The kids never complained, even after two several hour jaunts. As for seat comfort? These seats depend highly on your height and your girth. This 5-foot-8, 170 pound guy was perfectly happy; as were my smaller wife and kids. Bigger people should take extra care to feel out the seats in any car of this ilk.

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As for the driving experience, it’s pretty much bipolar. When you are light on the throttle it’s as easy to drive as any Camry except for the fact that your handling is precise to a surprisingly minute degree. When you hammer it, even a little bit, the IS F is so incomprehensibly fast and fun that you feel like you’re driving a car that can easily handle the racetrack and the twisted road – but not necessarily the beaten one. You better make sure that the open road in your neck of the woods is sports car friendly because the suspension can get brutal if you live in pothole central. It was a pleasure to drive in the one-lane rural smooth roads of Deliverance country, but an unforgiving misery to navigate through the steel plates and bottomless road pits in the city of Atlanta.

TTAC ended up reviewing the car multiple times way back when it was new and fresh. Michael Karesh, Robert Farago, and Jack Baruth all reviewed the IS F back in its new car heyday, and, other than the Scion FR-S, I’m having a hard time finding any other vehicle that was so broadly reviewed and admired as this one. This is one of the few sports sedans left that doesn’t take the driver and completely destroy their line of vision under an ergonomic catastrophe of thick A-pillars, small windows, and side mirrors the size of a football.

You see nearly everything, and the driving experience is in the thick of the fun quotient. All for a real world cost of around $55,000.

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Did I say $55,000? Yep! The average wholesale price for a 2014 Lexus IS F at the auctions with about 7,000 miles on it is in the $52,000 range. Throw in the seller fee, transport, and maybe a minimal bit of reconditioning and you’re looking at around a $53,000 wholesale price, and a meeting of the minds at around $55,000. If you want to get a certified pre-owned version, plan on paying around $700 more for it.

That nice little condo in West Palm Beach that you planned on using for your retirement can now be all yours in the form of four wheels and a driver seat that may be easier to sleep in than most hotel beds. About halfway through the week, I thought about driving off to some remote part of north Georgia and sleeping in the thing. Then again, I’m also the type of guy who buys a $100 SUV sight unseen. Your financial risk tolerance and desire for daily weirdness may be far different than mine.

Speaking of cost, do you want to engage in basic DIY maintenance on the IS F? Don’t. Or at least if you do, and rarely do any work yourself, just relegate yourself to raising the hood between oil changes and looking at all the pointless plastic that keeps you away from all the dirty icky engine parts.

is24Every maintenance item seemed to have either a seal or a plastic cover tormenting your inner grease monkey.

At least the battery is on top and easy to get to. On the flip side, Lexus calls their automatic transmission fluid a lifetime fluid. The word “lifetime” for any fluid, from any automaker, should always be replaced with the phrase “warranty period”. Lifetime fluids don’t exist if you happen to be one of those types who keeps their new cars past 120,000 miles. My advice for the long-term keepers among you is to keep abreast of the Lexus enthusiast forums that you can find here, here and here.

A late model IS F will cost you about as much as a well-equipped 2014 Avalon and a prior-gen 2014 Miata… combined. Is this 2014 model worth that much?

Let me put it to you this way: in the real world of car buying and long-term car ownership, the Lexus IS F offers all of the pleasures of a high performance sports sedan with very few of the vices.

That’s the good news. Now having said that, this car is only a good fit for a very small group of enthusiasts.

Do you prefer conservative styling? Do you need room for a small family? Do you live in an area where potholes don’t exist and police enforcement hasn’t quite yet fallen off the cuckoo’s nest? If the answer to these questions is yes, and if your desire for an ultra-fast sports sedan burns into the very core of your being, then the IS F may very well be worth your time.

Just take one piece of advice should you ever decide to trade all that money in for those keys. Do invest in a radar detector. The IS F is made with speed in mind. And get a good lawyer who knows how to get out of speeding tickets. If you buy a car with this much performance, you will probably need to put that lawyer on a retainer.

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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.

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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.

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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.

2015 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport Exterior -006

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.

2015_Geneva_Motor_Show_Lexus_Concept Lexus_LF_SA_Concept_002 Lexus_LF_SA_Concept_003 Lexus_LF_SA_Concept_004 Lexus_LF_SA_Concept_006 Lexus_LF_SA_Concept_005 Lexus_LF_SA_Concept_012 Lexus_LF_SA_Concept_013

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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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xLF-SA-1-e1425086733157.jpeg.pagespeed.ic.r6B5XgLU0uLC193M_Fhn

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.

 

xLF-SA-4.jpeg.pagespeed.ic.Q9myIxZoZykYyQTtPIih xLF-SA-5-e1425086950654.jpeg.pagespeed.ic.GbOstBzVuIUrg3qJNjr7 xLF-SA-3.jpeg.pagespeed.ic.Xbe3RD6_O8h-azWAkQd2 xLF-SA-1-e1425086733157.jpeg.pagespeed.ic.r6B5XgLU0uLC193M_Fhn

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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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Lexus RCF cliff, side

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.

2015 VDS Slide1_0

2015 VDS Slide2_0

2015 VDS Slide3_0

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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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