Lexus auto news

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Final Lexus IS F rolls off assembly line in Japan, bound for US

08/04/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Plants/Manufacturing, Lexus, Luxury

Lexus IS F

We knew this day would come, but it's nonetheless a bit of a sad one for Lexus enthusiasts as the very last example of the IS F has rolled off the assembly line in Tahara, Japan. Decked out in its trademark bright blue, the final IS F is destined for a customer right here in the United States.

Far from just another now-defunct model in an endless succession, the IS F marked the first time that Lexus did a proper performance model, debuting in production guise at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show alongside the LFA concept long before the latter entered production and took the idea of the high-performance Lexus even further. The IS F may not have sold in huge numbers, but it definitely marked a milestone for Toyota's luxury division.

Don't cry too much, however, as the new RC F that effectively takes its place packs an even mightier punch. While both are powered by essentially the same 5.0-liter V8 engine mated to an eight-speed automatic driving the rear wheels, the outgoing sedan's 416 horsepower and 371 pound-feet of torque is easily outgunned by the new coupe's 450 hp and 383 lb-ft.

The news was posted on Facebook by Yikihiko Yaguchi, the Toyota performance engineer responsible for both the IS F and RC F. Now, feel free to join us in a moment of silence...

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Here's why our Lexus NX is uglier than the rest of the world's

08/02/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hybrids/Alternative, Government/Legal, Crossovers/CUVs, Lexus, Design/Style, Luxury

2015 Lexus NX 300h

Take a good look at the image above. That's the US-market Lexus NX 300h, and it looks, well... distinctive. Although the entire NX crossover sports styling that could certainly be described as controversial, it's the front end of the 'ute that seems to draw most of the ire, befitted as it is with Lexus' so-called spindle grill.

Now, take a look at the pair of images just below. The one on the left is from the States (the same model seen above), while the one on the right comes from Europe. Notice a difference? The lower front fascia of the European Lexus NX dips down much lower than the one from the US, and it looks much more refined because of it.

2015 Lexus NX 200t from the US2015 Lexus NX 200t from Europe

Why the disparity between the two designs? According to Top Gear Philippines, the reason why the US gets the more pointy proboscis is because of its classification as a light truck. It seems trucks are required to have some sort of concession to the car's approach angle - in other words, a truck should be able to clear an obstacle that a car might hit. Why does Lexus care if the NX is a car or truck? Well, that has to do with how fuel economy is reported, as trucks are given less-stringent requirements for Corporate Average Fuel Economy purposes.

We wish this weren't the case - the Lexus NX looks much better with its lower fascia in place. As it stands, though, you can still opt for the F Sport package on either the turbocharged NX 200t or hybrid NX 300h, which replaces the front end of the NX with a much more menacing, if not necessarily more attractive, fascia, along with other more overtly sporty finishing touches. Take a look at the 2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport in our image gallery below, and tell us which version of the CUV you prefer.

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Lexus looking for performance with 600-hp LF-LC?

07/27/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Lexus, Rumormill, Luxury

Lexus LF-LC Concept

Lexus has been keeping development of the production version of its LF-LC concept tightly under wraps. Last we heard, that halo GT car had received the green light for production, but that was over a year ago. Since then, things have been pretty silent. Finally though, fresh rumors about the luxury coupe are starting to leak out, pointing toward the model's powertrain lineup.

According to unnamed sources speaking to Motor Trend, the production LF-LC will eventually sport three very intriguing engine options. The base model will reportedly use a naturally aspirated V8 providing around 450 horsepower - very similar specs to the upcoming RC F. The next step up will allegedly be the upcoming hybrid powertrain shared between BMW and Toyota pumping things up to around 500 hp. Finally, a top-of-the-heap F version will use a twin-turbocharged version of the RC F's 5.0-liter V8 to bring output to 600 hp. The insiders even claim that the hybrid and the twin-turbo V8 could find their way into other Lexus products like the LS and possibly even a more beastly RC.

None of this speculation sounds too outlandish. Lexus could get more capacity out of the RC F's tuned V8 by shoving it into other models, and rumors are flying about performance cars spawned from BMW and Toyota's partnership. Given Lexus' recent embrace of turbocharging, even the twin-turbo V8 doesn't seem too dubious. That said, with no hard facts to back up the rumormill, we'll have to keep waiting to see what the LF-LC shows up with.

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Lexus GX has quietly more than doubled its sales this year

07/27/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: SUVs, Lexus, Luxury

2014 Lexus GX460

There are some things in this industry that we're perplexed by, like the infotainment system on our long-term Subaru WRX or why the Mitsubishi Mirage is allowed to exist, among other things. Let's add one more to that group, with the Lexus GX. It's not a particularly bad vehicle for a big, body-on-frame brute, remaining one of the only true SUVs in the mid-size luxury class, alongside the equally old fashioned Land Rover LR4.

Considering these things, then, what we're about to tell you makes very little sense - sales are up 135 percent through last month. The Japanese luxury marque has moved over 5,300 during the first six months of 2014, owing in no small part to a significant price drop over the 2013 model. Today, a GX starts at $49,085, while a year ago, it was $53,445.

Don't mistake this price decrease for charity, though. Lexus specifically built a lower-cost GX to lure in customers. According to WardsAuto, faux leather covers the cabin rather than the real stuff, while the overall package is decontented relative to what you might find in a typical Lexus.

"That was our target in terms of positioning, to bring a true SUV down to a (CUV) price point," Brian Smith, VP of marketing for the brand, told Wards.

While the price cut has helped drive customers into showrooms, Lexus isn't selling many sub-$50,000 GXs.

"We've been successful with that [base grade], however it's not the biggest chunk of our volume," Smith said.

Base sales only constitute a fifth of the GX's totals, with customers generally flocking to the better outfitted GX Premium, which coincidentally starts at just a few hundred dollars more than last year's base model.

Despite this big increase in sales, the GX's future is far from certain, Smith said. Lexus is allegedly, according to AN, looking at swapping the GX from its truck-based roots to a proper unibody platform, in order to better compete dynamically with CUVs like the Acura MDX. Smith doesn't want that, though, citing the SUV's 6,500-pound towing capacity.

"I think there's a need for towing capability, without having to go all the way to an LX," Smith said. "So we're doing everything we can to continue to keep Toyota focused on the need for GX."

What are your thoughts? Should Lexus retain the GX as a body-on-frame vehicle, or should it just leave towing duties to American brands? Are you surprised to hear the GX still exists? Let us know in Comments.

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These are the top luxury cars bought by people entering the segment for the first time

07/26/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Car Buying, Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Infiniti, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes Benz, Volvo, Luxury

Volvo C70

Let's say you just got a big promotion at work or the kids are moving out of the house, and you finally have some extra money. You decide to blow it all at once and treat yourself by upgrading your ride. Naturally, you look to a luxury automaker. What do you choose?

Models like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class may be tailor-made to introduce buyers to the premium segment, but a new study finds that they don't garner the highest rates of non-luxury customer conquests. It turns out that a Volvo leads among folks moving up to a premium brand, and it isn't even one that's made anymore, at that.

A recent study by Polk and IHS Automotive looked at what models had the highest rates of buyers upgrading from a non-luxury segment. The information comes from its new vehicle registration data through April 2014. All ten top models boasted conquest rates of over 50 percent, but the Volvo C70 led the field with 68.01 percent of its customers coming from non-premium brands.

It's an odd winner because the C70 isn't even available as a new model anymore, having been discontinued after the 2013 model year. It isn't the only car no longer offered that's on the list, either. The BMW 128i is in seventh place with 53.93 percent of conquest buyers despite leaving us in MY 2014. It seems likely that some of these vehicles are still on dealer lots, and buyers are getting good incentives to pick them up at lower prices.

According to Polk, the 10 models with the highest conquest rates from non-luxury segments are:

  • Volvo C70 - 68.01 percent
  • Infiniti JX35 (QX60) - 63.89 percent
  • Acura ILX - 59.66 percent
  • Audi A3 - 57.34 percent
  • Cadillac ATS - 56.88 percent
  • Acura RDX - 56.53 percent
  • BMW 128i - 53.93 percent
  • Lexus CT 200h - 53.17 percent
  • Land Rover LR2 - 52.47 percent
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class - 51.83 percent
If you're curious about the other side of the table, the Mercedes S-Class is the least likely vehicle for new luxury buyers to choose at 10.35 percent. Although, that's not exactly a shock - with a starting price of nearly $100,000, it would be quite a leap up from a Camry or Accord.
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40+ cars that barely avoid the gas guzzler tax

07/24/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Coupes, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Wagons/Estates, Government/Legal, Audi, Bentley, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Hyundai, Jaguar, Lexus, Maserati, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Luxury

The Gas Guzzler schedule, with mpg ratings and charges that haven't changed since 1991, lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam.

I started thinking about the "Gas Guzzler Tax" - considerably less well known as The Energy Tax Act of 1978 - when I was driving Dodge's new Challenger SRT Hellcat last week. Unsurprisingly for a car that can burn 1.5 gallons of gas per minute at max tilt, theoretically able to empty a full tank of premium in about 13 minutes, the Hellcat will be subject to the Gas Guzzler Tax schedule when it goes on sale.

Beyond knowing that it existed, and occasionally seeing a surcharge for it listed on the specification sheet for a press car I'd been loaned, I didn't really understand how the GGT worked or was calculated.

Thankfully, the Environmental Protection Agency makes learning about the GGT (and a lot of other stuff) pretty simple. EPA.gov has a clearly written explanation of the tax and the tax schedule. That schedule, operating with miles-per-gallon ratings and charges that haven't changed since 1991, clearly lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam. Basically, if a car's combined fuel economy rating is 22.5 mpg or higher it's off the hook ­- trucks, minivans and SUVs are all exempt from the GGT - if the rating is lower, per vehicle taxes range from $1,000 to $7,700 for the very thirstiest.

Simple, right?

Continue reading 40+ cars that barely avoid the gas guzzler tax

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The cars that won't live to see 2015 [w/video] [UPDATE]

07/24/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Acura, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Infiniti, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Scion, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo

Acura TL

Every year in the fast-paced automotive industry brings new models, but it also spells the end for some that have been less successful. This year will be no exception.

Japan's automakers make up the bulk of the list of discontinued models for the 2015 model year: Acura is replacing the TL and TSX with the new TLX sedan, Honda is bidding farewell to the Fit EV as the new Fit hatchback takes its place, and Nissan is saying goodbye to both the Cube and Murano CrossCabriolet. Both the Nissan Maxima and Mazda2 exit stage left before their upcoming replacements arrive, while Toyota is terminating the RAV4 EV and FJ Cruiser as well as the Scion xD, and Lexus IS C and IS F that are being effectively replaced by the new RC.

From our own domestic automakers, Cadillac discontinues the CTS-V sedan and wagon as the new CTS rolls in, Chevy is canceling the mild-hybrid Eco versions of the Malibu and Impala sedans, and Chrysler is killing off the 200 convertible as the new 200 sedan arrives.

German automakers are also well represented on the list, with BMW splitting the 1 Series coupe and convertible into the new 2 Series line, Mercedes reintegrates the CL-Class coupe into the S-Class family, and Volkswagen is finally killing off the Chrysler-made Routan. Elsewhere in Europe, the long-serving Gallardo is being replaced by the Huracán in the Lamborghini lineup, while Volvo ends production of the XC90 in advance of the new model's arrival.

It's a long list to wrap your head around, but our compatriots over at The Car Connection have summed it all up in the video below, and we've assembled the slideshow above with photos of each. The question is, which of these models will you miss the most? Share your thoughts in Comments.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story stated that Infiniti is discontinuing the G37 that was already replaced by the Q50. While that's technically true, as we reported earlier this year, the G37 as we know it will continue to live on, and has been renamed Q40 for the 2015 model year.

Continue reading The cars that won't live to see 2015 [w/video] [UPDATE]

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The cars that won't live to see 2015 [w/video]

07/24/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Acura, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Infiniti, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Scion, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo

Acura TL

Every year in the fast-paced automotive industry brings new models, but it also spells the end for some that have been less successful. This year will be no exception.

Japan's automakers make up the bulk of the list of discontinued models for the 2015 model year: Acura is replacing the TL and TSX with the new TLX sedan, Honda is bidding farewell to the Fit EV as the new Fit hatchback takes its place, and Nissan is saying goodbye to both the Cube and Murano CrossCabriolet. Both the Nissan Maxima and Mazda2 exit stage left before their upcoming replacements arrive, while Toyota is terminating the RAV4 EV and FJ Cruiser as well as the Scion xD, and Lexus IS C and IS F that are being effectively replaced by the new RC. Meanwhile Infiniti is finally discontinuing the G37 that was already replaced by the newer Q50.

From our own domestic automakers, Cadillac discontinues the CTS-V sedan and wagon as the new CTS rolls in, Chevy is canceling the mild-hybrid Eco versions of the Malibu and Impala sedans, and Chrysler is killing off the 200 convertible as the new 200 sedan arrives.

German automakers are also well represented on the list, with BMW splitting the 1 Series coupe and convertible into the new 2 Series line, Mercedes reintegrates the CL-Class coupe into the S-Class family, and Volkswagen is finally killing off the Chrysler-made Routan. Elsewhere in Europe, the long-serving Gallardo is being replaced by the Huracán in the Lamborghini lineup, while Volvo ends production of the XC90 in advance of the new model's arrival.

It's a long list to wrap your head around, but our compatriots over at The Car Connection have summed it all up in the video below, and we've assembled the slideshow above with photos of each. The question is, which of these models will you miss the most? Share your thoughts in Comments.

Continue reading The cars that won't live to see 2015 [w/video]

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What you missed on 7.14.14

07/15/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Hybrids/Alternative, Sports/GTs, Etc., Crossovers/CUVs, Lexus, Mercedes Benz, Luxury

Daily U-Turn

Lexus NX 300hQuick Spin: 2015 Lexus NX 300h

Following our first drive of the turbocharged NX 200t, managing editor Jeremy Korzeniewski tells us about the version of Lexus' new small crossover that might just be the one we'd buy. The hybrid NX 300h "is one of the more interesting hybrids on the market," says Korzeniewski, thanks in part to its decent driving dynamics and innovative all-wheel-drive system.

Elio Motors Translogic Translogic 154: Elio Motors

Despite looking like the next big thing in EVs, the Elio is actually a small trike with a traditional internal combustion engine. It seats two and can achieve a remarkable 84 miles per gallon, thanks to its super-slick design and 900cc gasoline powerplant. What's more, all of this uniqueness is expected to come in at just under $7,000. We check it out in the latest episode of Translogic.

2015 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG CoupeMercedes-Benz S65 AMG Coupe

What has 621 horsepower, 738 pound-feet of torque, two doors, and every luxury amenity you could ever dream of? The 2015 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG Coupe. As associate editor Brandon Turkus writes, this car might be "the most opulent coupe in [Mercedes-Benz's] storied history." And while pricing hasn't been announced just yet, we'd be shocked if this thing came in at less than $220,000. Get the full scoop, here.

Top Stories

  • VW confirms CUV for Chattanooga; will add 2,000 jobs including new R&D center
  • Toyota design leader Dezi Nagaya moving to Yamaha
  • 2015 Hyundai Sonata already recalled for bad wiring harnesses
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2015 Lexus NX 300h

07/14/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hybrids/Alternative, Crossovers/CUVs, Lexus, Luxury, Quick Spin

2015 Lexus NX 300h front three-quarter

With so much hullabaloo being made over the first gasoline turbocharged engine produced by Lexus, it's easy to forget that there's another option for those who'd rather (barely) hear the whirring of electric motors than the high-pitched whizzing of turbos. That's too bad, because we think the NX 300h is one of the more interesting hybrids on the market, due in large part to its innovative all-wheel-drive system and relatively sporty driving dynamics. We spent several hours with the brand-new hybrid crossover from Lexus, and we came away with plenty to talk about.

Driving Notes

  • Of course, the big thing that differentiates the 300h from the 200t is its drivetrain. In place of the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder sits a 2.5-liter gasoline engine that runs exclusively on the Atkinson cycle to save fuel, augmented by a pair of electric motors and mated to an electronic continuously variable transmission. Lexus is no stranger to hybrids, buoyed by parent company Toyota's expertise, and the basic setup used by the NX 300h is a well-known quantity shared with the ES 300h.
  • First thing's first: Lexus estimates that the NX 300h will score 35 miles per gallon in the city, 31 on the highway and 33 combined with front-wheel drive, and 33/30/32 with the brand's new E-Four all-wheel drive. That's quite a bit better than the 200t AWD's 21/28/24 figures, and it ought to put it at the very front of the luxury compact crossover market, though it will be engaged in a who-can-sip less battle with diesel entrants from the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
  • There is no mechanical connection between the front-mounted engine/motor combination and the rear wheels on AWD models. Instead, this is a through-the-road system, wherein a completely separate motor/generator unit, rated at a peak of 67 horsepower, is housed in a unique transaxle that sends power to the rear wheels as needed. We didn't find many areas to test this setup up in Whistler, British Columbia, outside of a gravel parking lot, but that was enough to confirm that power does indeed flow to the rear when called upon, as it isn't all that apparent under normal dry driving conditions.
  • Interestingly, Lexus tells us that electricity from the battery pack is diverted from the front-mounted electric motors to the rear motor when slip is detected from the front wheels. In this way, the all-wheel-drive system is used only when called upon, thereby saving fuel, and total system horsepower remains unchanged. The majority of the time, the rear-mounted motor sits idle or is used to recapture more energy during periods of regenerative braking.
  • Yaw-rate sensors allow the rear motor/generator unit to be used as a handling aid, similar to the Dynamic Torque Control system used in the turbocharged NX 200t.
  • A total of 204 individual nickel-metal hydride cells are used in the NX 300h, split into two packs that weigh 44 pounds each. The units are mounted on either side of the rear seat, close to the car's center of gravity, says Lexus.
  • The P314 transmission is new for the NX, and it brings with it the brand's first use of a kick-down feature in a hybrid. As its name implies, the kick-down is called upon when the driver's right foot mashes down on the throttle, and it basically just forces the transmission into full-speed-ahead behavior.
  • Kick-down or not, nobody is going to mistake the 2015 NX 300h for its turbocharged sibling when it comes to all-out acceleration. Whereas Lexus claims a 0-60 run of 7.0 seconds for the AWD 200t, the same task takes the 300h about 9.0 seconds. In other words, the hybrid is very much tuned for efficiency over maximum performance.
  • Still, driving the NX 300h can be fun. Lexus has included steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters that mimic the ratios of a standard automatic transmission, like that of the 200t. These allow drivers to hold the hybrid's engine at predetermined rev points, providing quicker response on curvy roads, uphill and downhill grades, or anywhere else its pilot deems their use desirable. We used them extensively, and they work fine.
  • Maximum fuel savings can be found using the Eco driving mode, which dulls the CUV's responses in exchange for improved consumption. There's also an EV Mode button that allows the NX 300h to run using electricity only at speeds up to 25 miles per hour for as much as half a mile. Again, we tested it, and it works, so long as there's sufficient charge in the battery.
  • Besides the reduction in outright accelerative performance and a corresponding increase in fuel efficiency, the NX 300h driver isn't asked to give up much of the full NX experience. Handling seemed roughly equivalent between the two models, both were quiet and composed out on the road. The biggest hybrid-related gripe is the brakes, which feel awkward in certain stopping situations due to the fight between regen and the standard disc brakes.
  • The F Sport package can be had along with the hybrid, and this is the way we think we'd order an NX, if we were so inclined to buy one. We prefer the looks of the F Sport over the standard bodywork (non-F Sport seen above), and we're suckers for the cool stitching of the revised interior in that model, too. We honestly didn't find the 2.0 turbo all that convincing as an enthusiast-grade engine - the BMW X3 28i offers a superior driving experience when going quickly is of paramount concern - and the Hybrid's Sport Mode, combined with its paddle shifters, offered us just enough driving enjoyment to make the Hybrid F Sport with E-Four AWD our personal NX of choice. Plus, lowered gas bills leaves more money for other enjoyable endeavors, right?
  • That said, remember: Your mileage will most definitely vary, and the quirks of a hybrid powertrain aren't to everyone's tastes. Test drive 'em both, we say, if you're in the market for an entry-level luxury crossover, but don't forget that this is a crowded segment with a bevy of compelling options from the US, Europe and Japan.
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