Lexus, the luxury line of Toyota automobiles, made headlines this past week with the announcement that they would begin manufacturing some of their product in the United States. They selected a plant in Georgetown, Kentucky for the production of the ES line of sedans, and the start date was announced as 2015. The company wants to produce the cars in the country where they experience strong sales, and, additionally, they want to mitigate the strong yen and its exchange rate with the dollar.
The production announcement was made by Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Company, Lexus’ parent firm. The company was named after his ancestors, but the “d” was changed to a “t” in 1936. In Japanese, writing the name required two less brush strokes and besides, company officials at that time thought the new name sounded less rural.
Several Lexus vehicles have been delivered to me for testing, and the latest was the RX350 luxury crossover SUV. It came in Starfire Pearl white metallic, and inside it featured the parchment leather interior with black trim and carpet. M.S.R.P. for this car was $52,974, and it included a comfort package ($1,340), heads-up display ($1,200), luxury package ($4,520), Mark Levinson premium stereo ($995), navigation package ($2,775), and intuitive parking assist ($500). The packages added such things as a moon roof, Xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, 19” alloy wheels, heated mirrors/seats/steering wheel, roof rails, backup camera, Lexus Enform multimedia display, satellite radio and illuminated scuff plates. Standard Lexus equipment included electric tilt/telescope, power windows and locks, cruise, privacy glass, power tailgate, 10-way power buckets, and power mirrors. Seating was for five and luggage space behind the second row of seats was 40 cubic feet. That number doubles when the back seats are folded down.
During a cold week I found that the heated steering wheel delivers its comfort at 9 and 3 o’clock only, so by golly, that’s the way it was driven. Comfort abounds inside the Lexus, and the two-toned upholstery was attractive. Ride, too, was suitable and I liked the handling and guidance.
Styling of the RX is a hallmark and has remained basically unchanged for several years. No chrome tailpipes were present at the rear, but a nice chrome strip adorns the lower body panels. Up front the car features Lexus’ new “spindle”, pinched-in, somewhat massive, grill design. I mentioned the roof rails, and they, along with the fog lights, dolled up the Lexus.
Power for this car is provided by a 3.5 liter, 270 horsepower (248 lb. ft. torque) V-6 with an EPA rating of 18-city and 24-highway miles per gallon. I observed 19 mpg during my week driving around in the RX. Zero to 60 acceleration is reportedly 7.8 seconds. Behind the power plant is a six speed automatic with manual shifting and snow mode. It, of course, is an all-wheel drive configuration, and the wheels are fifteen-spoke alloys fitted with P235/55R19 Michelin all-season radials.
It’s not a surprise that the Lexus RX is the top-selling luxury SUV, and in fact the hybrid RX is the marquee’s best selling model with a hybrid drive train. I can recommend the RX; it was an enjoyable week with it in my possession.