To say I was shocked at the color is an understatement. Like many, I’ve always known Lexus as a builder of staid, solid, but uninspiring sedans for “older” people. As an impressionable youth who watched too much TV, I always wanted a Lexus commercial to come immediately after the “Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile” spot for the perfect “This Is Your Father’s Oldsmobile” juxtaposition.
I once even asked an exchange student if Lexus was a Japanese acronym for champagne beige pearl metallic.
No, this bright red (Lexus calls it Redline) 2016 Lexus IS200t F-Sport that appeared in my parking spot isn’t the dull sedan your dad may have driven. It’s potentially the sports sedan this dad wants to drive — but with one trivial flaw that might keep me from signing a note.
The flagship LS built the Lexus brand’s reputation by offering quality on par with the Germans and a V8 engine that was smaller and more advanced than those fielded by the Americans.
The model continued on a relatively fixed course for the next 26 years, slowly increasing the displacement of its V8 and giving a nod to environmental pressure with a hybrid variant. Even in the LS 600h, the battery is still strapped to a 5.0-liter V8.
However, a trademark application uncovered by AutoGuide suggests that the LS’s drivetrain tradition is due for a shakeup.
Lexus has leaked a photograph of its UX Concept vehicle ahead of a planned September 29 unveiling at the Paris Motor Show.
The concept displays a new design direction for the luxury automaker — and an edgy one at that — but is there a chance that the concept heralds a wholly new model?
“I hope someone’s watching.”
That thought ran through my head on my first night in the 2016 Lexus RX 350. No, I wasn’t doing something the cops should know about. This is TTAC, not Vice.
See, night had just fallen, and Lexus’s stalwart midsize luxury crossover was taking me home. I pulled up to the last stop sign and signaled for a right turn. Well, didn’t the RX 350’s yet-unnoticed LED cornering lamps light up that street corner like a baseball diamond. Nice — this is what people pay for, I thought. I hope someone’s watching.
It’s fickle, but it’s the little things that make you feel special. For my mother, it was the fender-mounted turn signal lamps that got her into her first new car — a ’76 Plymouth Volare (a decision she rightfully laments to this day.)
Cobble together enough feel-good features — ideally paired with a reliable powertrain (side-eye to the former Chrysler Corp.) — and you’ve got a pretty compelling package to dangle in front of buyers.
That’s assuming they like the face.
The quickest Nürburgring lap times make no difference to me when I’m driving across town for a Monday afternoon dental appointment. In fact, the best Nürburgring lap times will likely result in a car that shakes my fillings loose before I get to the dentist.
A spec sheet that lists competitor-besting horsepower and torque figures might have held sway over me a decade ago, but I’m much more captivated now by how a car responds to my inputs.
The 2016 Lexus RC 350, even with all-wheel-drive traction and the F Sport package, is no track monster. Nor, in comparison to more established rivals from Audi and BMW, is the RC 350 a winner on paper.
And that’s okay. I don’t need, nor do I want, a track monster. I don’t spend much time analyzing horsepower wars.
The RC 350 F Sport is, however, a frightful Solar Flare orange beast to behold, and I’m not sure I can cope with offensive styling.
Or can I?
The refreshed Lexus IS bowed today at the Beijing Motor Show, presenting an even hungrier face than before.
Lexus kept the well-defined proportions of the entry-level sedan intact, but went to town on the front end. The corporate spindle grille now sports a higher cinch point and spacetime-bending three-dimensional mesh.
From reader “Joey X” comes a tale of what it’s like to own what he calls “The most hated sports coupe ever.” —JB
Worst car in the history of the world. You try selling a car on Craigslist after getting that sobriquet slapped across its hood by Top Gear. The seller of my 2002 SC430 had the old girl listed for almost a year before I came by and snatched her for $10,000 in funny money Canadian dollars (roughly $7,200 US at the moment). She had 129,000 miles (not kilometers!) on her at this point and an iffy history containing no fewer than three previous owners.
It’s been a year since I got her — and I wouldn’t give her up for the world.
If you’ve never been to a press day at a major auto show but always dreamed of being there for all the big releases and parties and executive speeches, I’m afraid I must burst your bubble: The shows just aren’t all that awesome. This year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit was no exception.
It’s true that there was some fun to be had, but it was mostly the same sort of fun that one has at a high school reunion. I had a blast karting with the Jalopnik crew the Saturday before the show, and I definitely enjoyed hanging out with my friends Matt Farah and Sam Smith late on Sunday. But the show itself was a giant MEH.
Lexus has tended to prefer conservative design in almost every aspect of product development. Words like reliable and dependable usually spring to mind before sporty or exciting.
Yet, the brand has been trying to change that over the last few years with love-it-or-hate-it designs; in particular, Lexus’ new “Predator mouth.” The changes aren’t simply skin deep. The current-generation IS sedan also stepped outside the luxury brand’s comfort zone with sharp handling and a focus on dynamics. Of course, this is Lexus we’re talking about, so this change in a more aggressive direction is happening at, you guessed it, a conservative pace.
Now in its third year of production, the third-generation IS isn’t getting a refresh like we’d typically see in from ze Germans. Instead, Lexus has decided to focus its attention under the hood with a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a de-tuned V-6 for mid-level shoppers.
Can a refreshed drivetrain help the IS stand out in a crowded segment? Let’s find out.
Four years after Lexus unveiled its LF-LC at the 2012 North American International Auto Show, the automaker announced Monday that it would put into production largely the same car and call it the LC 500.
Powered by a 5-liter V-8 lifted from the RC-F and GS-F, the LC 500 will be the brand’s largest two-door coupe and mostly complete the turnaround by the automaker they started around four years ago.
Seriously, the LC 500 is by the same people who make the ES 350.
Subaru and Lexus brands topped Kelley Blue Book’s annual resale list for the second year in a row, the auto industry group announced Tuesday.
Subaru claimed four model winners for 2016 and Lexus nabbed six honors in the annual survey that measures projected retained value for five years of ownership. Toyota and General Motors each earned five segment winners this year and Tesla earned its first award for its Model S.
Toyota will build the next generation RAV4 and RAV4 Hybrid on its new global platform in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada near the Lexus RX in 2019, the automaker announced Tuesday.
The plant, which recently lost production of the Corolla to Mexico, would receive a significant upgrade to the Toyota New Global Architecture line that could be used to produce other cars in the future. In a statement announcing the RAV4’s production, Toyota executives touted the Cambridge and Woodstock plants as the “North American hub for sport utility vehicles.”
Lexus won’t be building cars in China anytime soon due the automaker’s concerns regarding production quality, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
“There’s too much quality risk in China to produce there,” said Takashi Yamamoto, executive vice president of Lexus International.
Did you hear that mic drop? Hello? Anyone there?
Lexus took the wraps off its LS Concept in Tokyo on Tuesday to showcase the automaker’s big plans for its flagship sedan.
The car — which is about as long as a 1995 Cadillac DeVille Concours — boasts a hydrogen power plant to drive all of its wheels, an “advanced human interface” to recognize hand gestures, and a spindle grille the size of Rhode Island.
The concept shows the direction Lexus designers may take for its future full-size sedan, including floating L-shaped lights in front and back.
Lexus released Wednesday a hint of what’s to come from the automaker’s 2015 Tokyo Motor Show display. According to the automaker, Lexus will be showing their “vision of progressive luxury” — which is vague-booking at its finest.
Although many believe the concept will be the automaker’s next-generation LS — which is certainly plausible considering Mercedes-Benz S Class, BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, et al. — it could be something different; Lexus has the Mirai and new Prius (aka CT) to play with from Toyota.
Lexus announced Friday that it would show a concept for “progressive luxury” at its Tokyo Motor Show stand when the show starts later this month.
The car, which Automotive News reported could be a concept for its flagship LS sedan, may be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, hybrid or Bernie Sanders.
Lexus may also need to update its CT 200h, which is based on the Prius. Toyota is rolling out its new 2016 Prius, which will be the first car based on Toyota’s new global architecture. The CT 200h went on sale in 2011 and hasn’t changed much since.
Lexus announced Friday that its RC coupe would get the turbo four treatment for 2016, following the NX, GS, IS and [s]RX[/s] Toyota’s eventual march toward smaller-displacement, boosted engines for many of its sedans and coupes.
According to the automaker, the 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which produces 241 horsepower, will be available in the coupe with an eight-speed automatic with rear-wheel drive only. It will join three other engines available in the RC.
The all-wheel drive RC300 will come equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 255 horsepower mated to a six-speed automatic, a rear-wheel drive RC350 with a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 306 horsepower married to an eight-speed automatic, and a 468-horsepower 5-liter V-8 in the RC-F and how many engines does Toyota have on its shelves?
Toyota announced its updated Land Cruiser in Japan today, with a starting price of $38,000 (!?) for the off-roading legend.
The seven-seater over there serves as the base for our Lexus LX over here, which was unveiled over the weekend in California alongside the turbo’d Lexus GS, and our version has all the grille.
Based on initial reception of the LX, when will we get the new Land Cruiser?
The 2016 Lexus GS will sport Toyota’s 2-liter, turbocharged engine, which is already in the NX200t and is coming to the IS200t. The GS will be the third Lexus model in the States to feature the engine — overseas, the RC will get it as well, but that model hasn’t been confirmed for the U.S. market.
The 2-liter turbo, which produces 241 horsepower, will complement the GS350 and GS450h, which will get incremental improvements over last year. The 3.5-liter V-6 underneath the hood of the GS350 will get a small power bump (311 horsepower vs. 305; 280 pound-feet vs. 277). According to Lexus, the V-6 will have port and direct injection, but the automaker didn’t specify if the engine used the same D-4S system found in the 2016 Toyota Tacoma.
The GS200t will be rear-wheel drive only and will be paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Countdown to the RX getting the same treatment starts … now.
Last week, Lexus division general manager let slip that his company was thinking that it needed a paragon as the luxury division for Toyota.
“We need a flagship. It doesn’t have to be a sedan,” Jeff Bracken, Lexus division general manager, told Reuters.
What about the LS!? Is that chopped liver now? Oh, right.
“In addition to the LS (a large sedan), there could be another flagship in our lineup,” Bracken said. “We’ll define what it is in January.”
Taking a page from the old Saturn playbook, Lexus will test no-haggle pricing at a dozen dealerships this year, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The pricing strategy will apply to new and used cars, and service and maintenance at the dealers.
According to Lexus general manager Jeff Bracken, no-haggle pricing could be initially difficult.
“The dealer has to be willing to let the customer walk away or word gets out and the model falls apart,” Bracken told the Detroit Free Press.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The various models of the Toyota Land Cruiser are some of the most respected off-roaders in the world. But what works elsewhere in the world does not necessarily work in North America. Dressed up in what is perceived to be luxury, how does this fancy Land Cruiser Prado, as its known everywhere else in the world, perform in the United States?
To ignore the fact that auto reviewers head into a review with preconceived notions is to forget that we’re humans, not robots. A car review isn’t a specifications chart, it’s language, however artfully (or not artfully, in this case) penned.
I don’t decide in advance to dislike a car. Indeed, as often as not, the cars I feel certain I will like instead leave me feeling somewhat underwhelmed. But if the information which I possess aforetime causes me to start the week with the assumption that I might not favour a car, I don’t robotically cast that notion aside. I am not capable of doing so, just as I am not capable of saying, “I will be completely open-minded about this meal of battered catfish served on a bed of refried beans with a side of grits and an extra-large helping of black pudding.”
The restyled 2014 Lexus CT200h didn’t completely change my mind. I assumed it would be terribly slow, and it was. I assumed it wouldn’t be completely worthy of a premium badge, and it wasn’t. I figured its cargo area would be too small, and I was correct.
Yet in a large number of ways, the CT200h was decidedly better than expected, so much so that I could, if I squinted, see the car’s appeal, something I wouldn’t have said the day the car arrived. So maybe I’m more open-minded than I thought, even if I won’t eat catfish or black pudding.
Several Toyota models dominated this year’s Consumer Reports list of used car recommendations, with 11 out of 28 overall belonging to the automaker’s Scion, Lexus and namesake brands.
Last time TTAC looked at the Lexus GS Hybrid, Jack and I descended upon Vegas, drank too much, shared too much and one of us got purse-slapped (it wasn’t Jack). In other news, Jack found the GS a willing partner on the track, I kept drawing comparisons to the Volvo S80 T6 and Hyundai Genesis, and both of us agreed the GS 450h would be the car we’d buy. Despite telling you all that we would have a full review in “a few months,” it has in fact been “a few years.” Since that pair of articles hit, the luxury hybrid landscape has changed dramatically.
Both Infiniti and Lexus know how to ruin a car. The Lexus GS 450h and the Infiniti M Hybrid are what results from taking a fundamentally good car and adding a bustle full of batteries. It’s more galling now because of what’s happened to these two. For years, both the M and the GS were mildly interesting also-rans that couldn’t compete with the established segment leaders on any measure but price/value. But now, you’ve got an Eastern Jaguar and a crisp Arleigh-Burke class sedan that are mounting a more credible challenge against the benchmark Germans. The M and GS have learned how to control dynamics to deliver the Patris, fillii et Spiritius Sancti of performance, handling and luxury. Hybrid versions of these cars seriously blunt the excellence, and it’s a damn shame.
From the same division that birthed the Lexus IS-F and LFA comes the RC-F Coupe, which will turn up next week during the 2014 Detroit Auto Show to punch both BMW and Mercedes-AMG in the face.
It’s happened, all in a neat confluence of threes. By my decree, the third generation of the Lexus IS has surpassed the BMW 3 Series. While BMW has been busying itself creating niches for increasingly grotesque vehicle-type-things, Lexus has turned out a pair of legitimately great sports sedans, first in the GS and now in the new 2014 IS. This from a company who’s top sellers are Camry cousins.
After taking a sales hit due to tsunami-related production woes, Lexus has been trying to regain their mojo with a new product offensive. Things started out with the new Lexus GS sedan that Jack Baruth and I loved on and off the track, followed by a revised RX. With the redesigned IS, the bulk of their lineup has been overhauled. Initially, I was a little concerned that the Lexus IS sedan would receive nothing more than a new nose and some LED lights for 2014 but the Japanese 3-Series fighter came out swinging when we were invited to the launch event earlier in the year. I came away impressed with the IS 350’s road manners, but most buyers will be shopping for the less powerful IS 250 and it’s taken us this long to get our hands on one.
This is the Lexus LS460, the luxury boomer that built the brand. It was the Lexus LS that launched the Automotive Battle of Hastings back in 1990, attacking the European establishment with devastating competence. The 2013 Lexus LS460 is still that great, and yes, the ride is still more Chris Craft than hardtail.
The LS 600hL is the pinnacle of Toyota and Lexus engineering. It is the largest Lexus sedan, the brand’s most expensive model, the most expensive hybrid in the world and, with the death of BMW’s V8 ActiveHybrid system, it is once again the most powerful hybrid on sale. Yet the LS 600hL hasn’t had an easy time of things. The large luxury sedan has been lambasted for being the antithesis of green thanks to its EPA combined 20 MPG score. Critics also question whether the 600hL’s enormous premium over the LS 460L can ever be “justified.” I too questioned the logic behind the 600hL at first, but then I spoke with someone who changed my mind. Before we dive in, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The 600hL starts at $119,910. With all the options checked, you land at $134,875. Without destination. Put your eye balls back in their sockets and click past the jump as we dive into an alternate universe.
I remember when the RX rolled onto the scene in 1998. It was truly the first successful crossover as we would know it today. While everyone else was trying to produce a truck-based luxury SUV, Lexus took the Camry/ES platform, put a jelly-bean inspired box on top and jacked the ride height up to 7.7 inches. The result was instant sales success. As we all know however, success has a price. The marshmallow-soft FWD RX lacked road feel, steering feel and sex appeal. Although it’s a bit late in the game, Lexus has decided to fix that last problem with the introduction of the 2013 RX F-Sport.
Every car company hates the BMW 3-Series. It’s always the benchmark, always the sales champion, always the golden boy. BMW shifted nearly 100,000 3-Series models in America last year and they did so not by being “the best” luxury sedan, but by pandering to the shopping public’s desires. Buyers have shown they want a comfy ride with a luxury logo on the front, they want good fuel economy and they want to hear journalists say how well the car handles on a track. The average buyer will never be on a track, but it’s critical to know your car belongs there. The old IS was a good car on the track, but its demure looks sold more on Lexus’ reliability and dealer reputation than the car’s track diaries. As we know from Volvo and Lexus’ sales numbers in this segment, two things don’t move metal: reliability and safety. For 2014 Lexus went back to the drawing board completely redesigning the IS sedan to be their most dynamic sedan ever. Does it have what it takes to take on the Germans and Infiniti’s new Q50?
The ES has been Lexus’ best-selling sedan for 15 years yet the front-driver started life as something of a side-show. In 1989 the ES was a thinly veiled Camry, supposedly rushed to market because Lexus dealers couldn’t envision launching a brand with one vehicle (the LS 400) and were unwilling to wait for the SC and GS. This explanation makes sense to me and explains why the ES was the only FWD car in a brand created to compete with the Germans. Of course, this odd fit within a full-range RWD luxury brand is exactly why the ES sells. Wonder why Acura’s wares never had the sales success of the ES? It’s all about the brand baby.
While BMW has been turning the 7-Series into a luxuriously silent highway cruiser, Lexus has been busy injecting sport into their isolated lineup. In 2006 we got the 417HP IS-F, in 2011 came the insane LF-A super car, and in 2012 we were introduced to Lexus’ styling and suspension tweak brand F-Sport with the GS350 F-Sport. It was only a matter of time until the spindle grille and the looks-fast F package appeared on Lexus’s flagship LS. Can a “looks-fast” and “handles-better” package help the LS regain the sales crown? Or does Lexus need to go back to the drawing board for some go-fast love?
Even when stacked up against other Lexus models, the front-drive ES has long been considered boring. Yet the Camry-based sedan has been a best-seller for Lexus and in its segment. For this reason, it has become a benchmark; just as every compact sport sedan targets the BMW 3-Series, every upper-midsize near-luxury sedan targets the ES. Well aware of the beads drawn on its back, [s]Toyota[/s] Lexus has redesigned the car for the 2013 model year. But has it raised the bar enough to keep Koreans with upward aspirations in their place?
The LS and I have had a long relationship. Back in 1993 I was an impressionable teenager nearing that holy-grail of ages: 16. This meant I dreamt of driving constantly. My parents were Oldsmobile and Chrysler folks, so my choices were a 1980 Custom Cruiser, a 1985 Cutlass Ciera, or a 1988 Grand Voyager. The Oldsmobiles were diesel. Need I say more? One day my best friend’s dad pulled up in a brand-new 1993 Lexus LS 400 for the school run. I had no idea cars could be assembled with that kind of precision and my world was changed forever. Needless to say, when the Lexus invited me to the unveiling of the fifth-generation LS, my expectations were set high.
The Lexus ES has been the best-selling Lexus sedan for decades, outselling every Lexus model except for the RX. While the ES was originally designed as the Japanese luxury brand’s entry-level vehicle in America, it is slowly becoming one of Lexus’ flagship products. To prove to us that Lexus has what it takes to reign supreme in the FWD luxury class they created in 1989, they flew us up to Oregon to sample the all-new, sixth generation ES 350 and 300h hybrid.
With each revision since 1990, BMWs have become more like Lexus. Meanwhile, Lexus (some of them, anyway) have become more like BMWs. With the latest iterations, have the 5-Series and GS met somewhere in a muddled middle, or does each retain a distinct identity?
2013 will bring a new version of the Lexus ES, and we’ve already seen its new mug from photographers in China. Yet even with the new ES in the wings, Lexus is on track to sell 40,000 “lame duck” models, making it the most popular Lexus car and the second most popular Lexus vehicle after the RX350. As a goodbye to the “Lexus Camry,” we took one for a road trip from Northern California to Southern California – a sort of farewell to an important but sometimes misunderstood luxury car.