Showing posts with label Lexus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lexus. Show all posts

Sunday, 21 August 2011

2013 Lexus GS 350 fully revealed at Pebble Beach

We've endured the teasers, seen the leaks and even driven a prototype, and now the wraps officially come off. This is the 2013 Lexus GS 350, the automaker's latest bid to create a driver-focused mid-sizer aimed at the hearts, minds and wallets of would-be 5 Series and E-Class buyers. It might be a tough sell, but it's a compelling case on paper, even if the styling leaves us wanting.

The chassis is all-new, the interior is more spacious and it's all powered by a 3.5-liter V6 putting out 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed sequential shift automatic gearbox. In rear-wheel-drive guise, Lexus claims a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds and a run from 30 to 50 mph in three seconds flat. An optional electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system can vary the power split between 50/50 and 30/70, but a torque-vectoring rear differential is notable in its absence.

Three driving modes span the spectrum from fuel-conscious to maximum consumption, with the now-familiar ECO mode reworking the throttle mapping, seat heaters and climate controls for improved fuel economy, while Sport S changes the instrument lighting from blue to red, delivers more aggressive shifts and throttle settings and Sport S+ tightens steering, loosens the stability control and shores up the adaptive suspension.

A 112.2-inch wheelbase works in partnership with aluminum control arms front and rear, along with a completely reworked multi-link rear suspension, beefed up bushings and four-piston aluminum calipers in front and upgraded discs at all four corners. Rolling stock include standard 17x7.5-inch wheels with optional 18x8 or 19x8-inch, the latter of which are fitted with 235/45 or 235/40 rubber, respectively.

Lexus managed to keep the dimensions almost exactly the same as the outgoing model and overall curb weight is down from 3,795 pounds to 3,715. The interior is more driver-centric, with all the major controls kept closely at hand, including a new Remote Touch system for the adaptive climate control system – dubbed S-Flow – which can detect how many occupants are in the GS and tailor the HVAC accordingly. Wood and leather abound, the seats appear nicely bolstered and the cabin is several steps above the outgoing model.

Bluetooth phone and audio streaming come standard, along with a 5.1 surround sound stereo and eight-inch central control display mounted high in the center of the dash. SMS text-to-speech allows drivers to have their messages read to them and respond with pre-canned texts, while the next-generation of Lexus Enform infotainment allows Bing searches, Pandora, iHeartRadio and Facebook integration, along with Sirius XM data services for traffic, weather, sports and fuel prices, voice-enabled restaurant reservations through OpenTable and movie ticket purchasing.

If the standard display and audio system is up to snuff, Lexus is offering a 835-watt, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system and a split-view, 12.3-inch display for movies, navigation, audio and climate information.

As for the styling, Lexus calls its new fascia a "spindle grille" and it's set to infect the rest of the line-up in the coming years. It's a more subtle interpretation of the GS concept's nose, and although it's certainly toned-down, it's sure to be divisive. The rear opens up to provide 25 percent more luggage room and we're seeing a whole lotta Sonata in the taillight treatment and sloping trunk.

We'll have live images of the GS 350 a bit later, and we plan to grille Lexus execs on the hybrid and F Sport versions when we corner them this evening. In the meantime, check out all the details in the press release and gallery below.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Lexus teases 2012 GS 350 ahead of Pebble Beach debut

We've already been behind the wheel of the 2012 Lexus GS sedan, and we've spied it lapping the Nürburgring under layers of camouflage. All that time, though, we've been forced to imagine what the finished product will look like under all those loose-fitting layers of clothing.

The wait is almost over. Lexus will officially unwrap the 2012 GS 350 at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on Thursday, August 18th at 4:15 PM (PDT). We'll be there, bringing you the goods live, but in the meantime, the Japanese automaker has decided it's high time to start teasing.

We know that the car's styling was foreshadowed by the LF-Gh Concept that was shown off at the 2011 New York Auto Show, and nowhere will that be more evident than in the shape of the car's grille. Lexus tells us that the new design philosophy that will debut with the 2012 GS will eventually spread through the rest of its lineup, so we're keenly interested in seeing how this car looks in the flesh.

Check out a high-resolution version of the teaser by clicking on the image above. We've also taken the liberty of adding a lightened version of the image for you, which may or may not help you pick out some interesting details. Lastly, feel free to check out the official press release after the break.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Review: 2011 Lexus IS 250 AWD

Your available options in the entry-level luxury sedan segment rival the variety found at your local Baskin-Robbins. Interested in all-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive or front-wheel drive? Nearly every automaker has you covered. Want to row your own gears, or sit back and let the silicon chippery do the work? The car of your dreams awaits. There’s an option for all of us, and if you prefer a good vanilla to rocky road, then you’re going to love the 2011 Lexus IS250 AWD.

The Lexus IS 250 is instantly familiar, yet ever-so-slightly different for 2011. The reason is that little has changed on the exterior, with a few minor exceptions. Some updates are hard to find, while others are immediately clear. The front bumper and grille have received slight tweaks, while subtle changes have been made to the foglight area and lower fascia opening, which benefit from sharper cutouts. In back, the IS 250 wears new taillamp lenses and redone exhaust tips.

By far, the most noticeable change has occurred out front, where a pair of bright LED eyelids have taken up residence under the swept-back headlamps. All of these changes give the 2011 Lexus IS 250 a smattering of sprinkles on an otherwise rather bland landscape of sheetmetal. The overall theme is conservative, but the new LED running lamps imbue Lexus’ most affordable sedan with a bright flash of modern style, displayed brilliantly against our tester’s Tungsten Pearl paintwork.

2011 Lexus IS 250 AWD side view2011 Lexus IS 250 AWD front view2011 Lexus IS 250 AWD rear view

That subdued exterior style continues on the inside, as clean lines perform in concert with the surprisingly airy interior cabin. The pleasing to the eye Light Gray color scheme hangs in the background like a briefly foggy coastal morning. Against the sea of gray sits a set of bright white-faced gauges, which are easy-to-read and rather sharp, with a thin blue line underlining the ambitious 160-mile-per-hour display.

Ambitions aside, we had no desire to press that speedo into serious use. Why? Because the seats were just too darn comfortable for us to care. The perforated semi-aniline leather front thrones of our tester offered both heating and cooling features, thanks to the $2,195 Luxury Package Value Edition. It may be a bit crass to call this option grouping a “value” when it costs over $2,000, but the package does include wood trim, the aforementioned LED running lights, power everything (that wasn’t already), a rear sunshade and rain-sensing wipers.

2011 Lexus IS 250 AWD interior2011 Lexus IS 250 AWD front seats2011 Lexus IS 250 AWD speedometer2011 Lexus IS 250 AWD paddle shifter

Should you require the use of those intelligent water removers, fret not, because this particular IS 250 is equipped with all-wheel drive. Though the AWD gubbins add nearly 200 pounds to the curb weight (3,651 pounds), the IS 250’s small, 2.5-liter V6 remains surprisingly entertaining. We expected a droning bore of an engine coerced into working far harder than it wanted. What we found was a mill that pushed the whole works up to speed more quickly than we anticipated.

The engine produces 204 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 185 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. Those numbers sound low in a world filled with 400-horsepower daily drivers (including the brand’s own high-performance IS F model) yet the IS 250 AWD simply rears back and moves at a pace capable of holding our interest. Push it above 3,500 rpm and it even begins to clear its throat something approaching a sense of authority.

2011 Lexus IS 250 AWD engine

The 2.5-liter is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, which features steering-wheel mounted paddles for manual shifting. This may be Lexus’ entry-level car, but the shifts could be a few degrees smoother – even if the IS represents the brand’s sportier side. While we were hoping for less I-just-got-my-license and more of a Sade-like smooth operator, the setup didn’t oblige. The paddles only serve to nudge the drivetrain back into sporty, slightly roughneck territory, but unfortunately they don’t respond quickly enough to make the leap entirely.

This baby Lex comes across as confused in a few other areas as well. A bipolar effort, the IS 250 suffers from overboosted steering and mushy brakes. When driving, those factors make us think the IS 250 is pining to be a true luxury sedan, yet the ride, while smooth, is stiffer than we’d expected it to be. Vigorously bouncing over a rough section of Southern California tarmac makes one think the IS has changed its mind, suddenly wanting to be a sports car. It’s a little confused, and so are we.

2011 Lexus IS 250 AWD rear 3/4 view2011 Lexus IS 250 AWD headlight2011 Lexus IS 250 AWD wheel2011 Lexus IS 250 AWD taillight

At the end of the day, the slight redesign for 2011 doesn’t help a conflicted vanilla offering stand out in a display-case full of capable entry-level luxury sedans. The Lexus IS 250 AWD’s $35,775 base price is on par with its classmates, but fails to stack up as well in other areas. The Infiniti G25x is less costly ($34,900) and offers a more engaging driving experience, though its interior falls short. For $34,500, you might find yourself in a 2011 Audi A4 Quattro, with its top-shelf all-wheel-drive system, 7 more horsepower, 73 more pound-feet of torque available and better fuel economy ratings (21/31 miles per gallon versus the Lexus’ 20/27 mpg). The 2011 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic starts at $37,900 and makes more power, but is only rated at 17/24 (an updated 2012 model is just around the corner). We could add the Lincoln MKZ, BMW 328i xDrive, Cadillac CTS and Acura TL SH-AWD to the list of competitors to further muddy the waters.

The entry-level luxury sedan category is chock full of viable options and the 2011 Lexus IS 250 AWD is a perfectly acceptable (if run-of-the-mill) choice. The styling is conservative, the driving dynamics are a mixed bag of sport and luxury, but the engine is better than we anticipated. It’s priced exactly where it should be and, were you shopping in this segment, you wouldn’t be embarrassed to put one in your driveway. And yet… while we’ll happily concede that vanilla ice cream is enjoyable from time to time, we can’t help but think that Audi, BMW, Infiniti and Cadillac buyers are paying about the same to enjoy all 31 flavors every single day.

[Source: autoblog]

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Review: 2011 Lexus GX 460

Despite the rise of the crossover, there’s still a market for traditional SUVs. Moreover, some buyers don’t want to sacrifice luxury to get the capability that a full-frame, truck-based sport utility offers. Lexus makes the GX 460 for consumers who want a blend of opulence and a sure-footed, full-frame, locking-transfer-case 4×4 architecture that’s not afraid to pull a substantial trailer and won’t roar loudly enough to cause permanent hearing damage.

While the Lexus RX grabs the hearts of buyers looking for an L-Finesse crossover, the GX 460 is an alternative choice if you’re considering an LR4 or Range Rover Sport, the most direct competitors in terms of architecture and market segment. Taking price and mission into account, a disparate field of rivals ranges from the BMW X5 and Audi Q7 to the GMC Yukon Denali or even the Ford Expedition King Ranch. The GX 460s footprint and price puts it in between larger crossovers and even bigger SUVs, perhaps an awkward place to be, but sales goals are modest.

So does the GX 460’s tinge of uniqueness help it stand out from the herd? Have the changes made since being knocked for potential instability been effective?

The GX 460 is styled with common Lexus features. Swept headlamps and a wide-slat grille is ugly to some and nondescript to others. Prominent blocky wheelarches are meant to convey ruggedness, though the effect can be heavy-handed on the relatively short wheelbase that the GX 460 shares with the Toyota 4Runner. Not likely to win any beauty contests, the GX 460’s styling doesn’t leave a lasting impression, though it’s instantly identifiable as a Lexus.

Saying the GX is a Lexus on the outside means the styling is tame and blends easily into the background. The Lexus-ness means a lot more when talking about the interior. High quality materials and excellent assembly quality are on display everywhere, though the metallized plastic on the center stack looks more Scion than Lexus. Padded and stitched leather covers the door panels and even the dashboard. It looks and feels finely crafted and sends the right messages to the rugged luxo-roader set.

2011 Lexus GX 460 side view2011 Lexus GX 460 front view2011 Lexus GX 460 rear view

Shiny Bubinga wood accents on the door panels, dashboard and steering wheel are richly toned, and perforated leather facilitates ventilated and heated power-adjustable front seats. Outboard second-row seats are also heated, and Lexus makes much of its available upgrade to semi-aniline leather without saying much about why it’s better. For the record, semi-aniline leather is dyed all the way through and treated with a protective topcoat, versus plebian pigment-slathered hides. The GX 460’s seats could be upholstered in fetid banana leaves and they’d still be all-day comfortable.

There’s not much in the GX 460 interior that feels cheap. Indeed, most switchgear feels fluid-damped, and nearly everything around you is padded or soft-touch. With the button-heavy center stack, steering wheel and console, there’s a whole lotta touchin’ goin’ on, too.

2011 Lexus GX 460 interior2011 Lexus GX 460 steering wheel2011 Lexus GX 460 dash2011 Lexus GX 460 dash trim

Standard GXs make do with a 4.5-inch LCD, but ours had a big, bright eight-inch unit. There’s some over-reliance on the non-tactile touchscreen interface, which can be maddening to figure out. There are also plenty of buttons. Hard switches for the three-zone climate control, seat heaters, transfer case and audio system pepper the center stack and console. Still more controls populate the steering wheel, where drivers can adjust the audio system, engage the voice-recognition system in casual conversation and twiddle through the information displayed between the trademark Optitron gauges in the instrument panel. Look up, and there are a few more buttons for the large moonroof and traction control, and don’t forget the eight buttons that flank that big LCD, giving you climate, audio and navigation menus. Finding what you want sometimes takes a few seconds of reading.

There are nice ergonomic touches, like sliding and reclining second row seats and a third row that’s power folding. There’s less interior space in this latest generation GX, down by at least 17 cubic feet to 130. It wasn’t capacious before, and it’s less so now, though it’s mostly a problem for third-seat riders and the cargo space that disappears when the last row is in use. A 120-volt outlet in the cargo area is a smart inclusion, considering the lifestyle-of-doing-stuff the GX is intended to support. Second-row controls for heated seats and climate are part of the three-zone system that’s included with the Premium equipment level. An optional Mark Levinson audio system is there for the audiophile taking, though we found little to complain about with the sound of the Premium model’s standard audio setup. Families will likely be interested in the rear seat entertainment system, too.

2011 Lexus GX 460 rear seats2011 Lexus GX 460 third row2011 Lexus GX 460 rear cargo area2011 Lexus GX 460 rear cargo area

The utility role may be wrapped in luxury, but the 4.6-liter V8 can tow 6,500 pounds, though its 301 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque are more V6-like figures these days. The engine is smooth and well-isolated from the cabin in typical Lexus fashion, though it makes its presence known if you’re booting it. There’s significant weight for the powertrain to deal with, and speed is not the priority in the GX, though it’s got enough oomph to please its customers. The automatic transmission has six speeds and is nearly undiscernable in its operation. Things change when you ask for a downshift, however. The exceptionally smooth transmission hesitates for what seems like an eternity, meaning instead of a simple one-gear kickdown, you’ve by then mashed the pedal to the floor to avoid being crushed by overtaking traffic. Fuel economy stands at 15 miles per gallon in the city city, 20 mpg on the highway, and Lexus specifies premium fuel. Our combined driving returned 17.8 mpg, which is right on the bubble, and better than we expected, though filling the 23-gallon fuel tank is not a bargain purchase.

The 5,305-pound curb weight is perched atop a fully-independent Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, which self-adjusts the stabilizer bars for more suspension travel off-road and good manners on pavement. Premium trim GX 460s get a self-adjusting rear air suspension as standard fitment, too. The driving experience has hints of truck flavor, with some head toss and high-waisted body motion. A longer wheelbase might smooth out some of the hobby-horse motions, but the GX 460 isn’t trying to be a crossover, and movements are controlled and the frame is strong and jiggle-free. Steering feedback isn’t something we even need to discuss, other than to say the level of power assist is just right and there’s no slop to the GXs reactions.

2011 Lexus GX 460 engine

The burrs have been studiously buffed off the GX 460’s driving experience. Controls operate with an uncanny smoothness that’s astounding when you stop to consider how hard it is to pull off. Steering, accelerator and brake reveal no nasty surprises, and the powertrain does its best to avoid detection. It’s too bad that, in being unobtrusive, the engine doesn’t generate the power or torque we now expect from modern V8s, and the automatic transmission’s avoidance of kickdowns mars an otherwise serene driving experience. Despite the lack of performance verve from the otherwise delightful engine and transmission, the acceleration is plenty more than most owners will require. There’s real off-road capability here, too, and no matter where you’re going, the interior has that serene Lexus atmosphere. And just as importantly considering the recent round of negative press, at no time did the GX 460 ever get crossed up or feel unstable.

Granted, we weren’t trying the evasive maneuvering that got Lexus in trouble with Consumer Reports in the first place, but neither did the GX display any bad tendencies. In snow, standard stability control steps in early and effectively to provide the maximum safety net.

2011 Lexus GX 460 rear 3/4 view

It’s hard as a car guy to admit that you like a Lexus, but the 2011 GX 460 has a lot going for it. It’s luxurious without being sterile, and the nicely-trimmed cabin feels more expensive than the price of entry. In a class of expensive competitors, the GX commands more money than many, but the cabin makes you feel rewarded for your expenditure. The most annoying traits are the reliance on the touchscreen for even every day controls, and a tailgate that swings open to the right instead of opening like a hatch. The less than practical rear door reveals the veritable lack of storage space when all three rows of seats are in use, as well.

The GX 460 does have a lot of competition above, below and beside it with luxury crossovers and SUVs to fend off, and it may not stack up on paper. With impeccable build quality inside and out, luxurious materials, and a brand reputation for reliability and dealers that coddle, it’s a different story on the road. Or off it, for that matter.

[Source: autoblog]

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Frankfurt 2009: Lexus LF-Ch Concept

Lexus LF-Ch Concept

From certain angles it's brilliant – everything the Lincoln Concept C tried to be, but wasn't. Yet from other angles... the word 'deformity' comes to mind. As does the term 'puffer fish.' Designed to be a 1 Series competitor, the little Lexus luxury hybrid hatchback answers one very important question: what does Chris Bangle dream about after eating a few sheets of blotter acid? Again, there are parts we like and parts that might have been put on backwards. And that's about all we know.

Monday, 27 July 2009

UK police replace Imprezas with Lexus IS-F cruisers

Lexus IS-Force

Objects you do not want to see in your rear-view mirror: Hungry dinosaurs, pissed-off exes holding rifles, mushroom clouds and this guy. Indeed, you're looking at a Lexus IS-Force, an IS-F that's been converted to a cruiser for police duty in the English county of Humberside, which includes the notoriously criminally minded port city of Hull. For the past few years, Humberside bobbies have been chasing baddies in Subaru Imprezas, but the AWD cars just weren't up to the task at hand. What to replace 'em with? Here's what the cops were thinking, according to Sergeant Mike Peck:

"The Lexus was tested during a 12-month period along with similar vehicles and proved itself to be ideally suited in providing a dynamically safe high performance chassis along with an electronically stable platform for the computer equipment. In the past this equipment has placed huge demands on vehicles but the Lexus IS-F easily met with our requirements. The final product provides a most formidable package and is undoubtedly one of the most advanced police vehicles in the world which in turn enables my officers to deal with the criminals who use the roads for serious and organized crime."

We're actually a little weak-kneed at the very thought of the IS-Force's existence. 416-horsepower 5.0-liter V8s with the power to yank your license tend to have that effect. Even on crooks.