2016 Lexus NX300h Hybrid Crossover

20161112_164644Recently the Lexus hybrid was taken over to Pirate Radio (104.7 FM) for a look-see by the “Morning Show” DJ’s – George Gray and Matt Arguello.

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Blue Vortex metallic paint – 5 passenger and 5 doors with moon roof – power heated and air conditioned leather bucket seats – Touchscreen/navigation – All wheel drive – LED headlamps – XM radio and  premium Lexus 10 speaker stereo – Keyless entry – power windows and locks – pushbutton start – 2.5 liter four with hybrid technology – 194 horsepower combined rating – CVT Automatic transmission – Enform, backup camera, and blind spot monitor – 18” Ten – spoke alloy wheels – $47,818.00  list price – 32 MPG combined mileage, 33 in city and 30 on highway

 

2016 Lexus RX-350 F Sport

20160922_100157Recently the Lexus RX-350 was taken to Pirate Radio FM-104.7 (KELS) for a Friday edition of “Stu’s Reviews” featuring George Gray and Matt Arguello:

Adaptive Variable Suspension – Full-time All Wheel Drive – Blind Spot Monitor – Power Tailgate – Moonroof – Heated Steering Wheel – 12.3” Touchscreen Navigation – 15  Speaker Stereo by Mark Levinson – “Caviar” Metallic Black paint – White leather seating for five – $57,375.00, as equipped

Styling of the RX has always been a hallmark and this 2016 had a revised (substantially) look that was an eye-catcher .  Chrome tailpipes were present at the rear, and a nice black cladding strip adorns the lower body panels.  Up front the car features Lexus’ new “spindle”, pinched-in, somewhat massive, grill design.

Power for this car is provided by a 3.5 liter, 295 horsepower V-6 with an EPA rating of 19-city and 26-highway miles per gallon.  I observed 25.1 mpg during my week driving around in the RX, predominately on the highway.  Zero to 60 acceleration is reportedly 7.8 seconds.  Behind the power plant is a eight speed automatic with manual shifting and snow mode.  It, of course, is an all-wheel drive configuration, and the wheels are twenty-spoke black alloys fitted with P235/55R20 Michelin Premier LTX all-season radials.

It’s not a surprise that the Lexus RX is the top-selling luxury SUV;  I can recommend the RX, as it was an enjoyable week with it in my possession.

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2016 Lexus GX460 Luxury SUV

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An elegant 2016 Lexus GX-460 Luxury edition was dropped off at my house last week, and I quickly jumped in to take it to the airport to pick up my family.  Lexus is the luxury division of Toyota, and has been producing the GX series of SUV’s since 2002.  This one was painted Silver Lining metallic, a gorgeous finish.  Inside, it featured gray leather deluxe upholstery with comfortable buckets and seating for seven.  The family, consisting of the three girls just back from Disney World, oohed and ahhhd at the Lexus interior.

This GX is a big SUV, weighing 5,179 lbs. and extending out to 189.2 inches in overall length.  It’s 73.8” tall and 74.2” in width.  I mentioned the seven passenger capability, which requires a small double leather seat that folds down into the floor in the far back.  When these seats are up, there is a modest amount of luggage space, but when collapsed along with the middle row of seating, you can obtain 64.7 cubic feet of cargo space.  The back door swings out towards the curb and a hinged rear glass is incorporated into it.  All packaged up and out on the road, this vehicle rides great, and wind noise, guidance, and handling are all commensurate with a Lexus of this caliber.20160518_183452

My GX test car had a base M.S.R.P. of $61,515.00.  The entertainment system added $1,970.00, driver support package added $4,340.00, and the freight added $940.00, bringing total list price to $68,765.00.  Stereo equipment was Mark Levinson (including navigation system) with 7.1 Dolby surround sound and 17 speakers.  The GX had the blind spot monitor that I’ve grown so fond of, allowing Ruth and I to get on Highway 85 at Brighton and sale into Greeley from the south.

The 4.6 liter V-8 provided 301 horsepower (329 lb. ft. of torque) and was mated to a six speed automatic transmission with sport shift mode.  Acceleration is on target, with a zero to sixty timing that is reportedly a respectable 7.8 seconds.  Fuel economy ratings are 15/20 city-highway (17 combined), and I observed a little over 18 for the week spent with the GX.  It has full-time four-wheel drive with crawl control for four wheeling.  This car is a body-on-frame SUV with 8.1” of ground clearance, so can do more than just drive through snow.

Styling of the GX-460 has been changed since the second generation model was introduced in 2009, and personally I think they kept the styling pretty much in line with the prior series, with perhaps a little more aggressive attitude.  My GX had the roof rails, nice lighted steps on the side, ample chrome, and 18”, six-spoke Liquid Graphite alloy wheels.  The tires were Bridgestone Dueler H/T 840’s, P265/60R18 in size, with mud and snow capabilities.

Sleek, unibody “crossover” SUVs are currently the rage, and the GX460 is somewhat of a throwback.  But if the shopper wants to luxuriate with off-road and towing capabilities, the GX-460 Lexus provides an excellent option to consider.

 

 

 

2015 Lexus RC-350 F Sport RWD Coupe

20151116_124819Last month I drove over to Pirate Radio with my latest test car, the 2015 Lexus RC-350 F Sport, which was painted Ultra white and featured a red leather interior.  Pirate Radio is FM 104.7 in Greeley, and the car was there to be analyzed by the DJ’s, George Gray and Matt Arguello.  Their impression of the Lexus was positive, and if they had driven it they would have really gotten excited.

I took care of the driving of the RC-350 for a week and can report that the Lexus is a solid, smooth performer with enough horsepower (306) to accelerate to 60 mph in under 6 seconds.  In the past I have driven the Lexus RC-F, which is identical except for the engine, and of course it was excellent, as well.  The power in the RC-F was a V-8, so performance was more exhilarating.

What I will say about the RC-350, the subject of this evaluation, is that with the V-6 in it the performance was very satisfying, in somewhat of a surprise.  I expected it to pale in comparison (to the V-8), and that was not the case.  In it (the RC-350) is a 3.5 liter, 306 horsepower unit with 277 lb. ft. of torque.  The ultra-smooth power plant features 24 valves, dual overhead cams, direct/port injection, and variable valve timing.  The transmission is an eight-speed automatic with floor shift and paddles on the steering column.  Top speed of this rear-wheel drive car is reportedly 155 mph.  As for fuel economy, the automobile rates 28 mpg highway, 19 mpg city, and a combined figure of 22 mpg.  The tank holds 17.4 gallons.

Inside the four-passenger coupe is leather seating for four adults.  It was upholstered in a dramatic red material with intricate stitching, and black accents were employed successfully throughout the cabin. 20151116_125130 The F Sport has badging on the steering wheel (on fenders, as well) and alloy foot pedals are on hand.  Four driving modes are accessible when operating the RC, and they are normal, eco, sport, and sport+.  When in sport+, the dash output changes to red accents and  a large tachometer/digital speedometer.  The ride is great and visibility is about as good as can be expected considering the sporty performance and design.

Lexus has knocked it out of the park with regards to styling of the RC-350, which in the case of my test car featured an Ultra White metallic paint job.  Fifteen-spoke two-toned 19″ alloy wheels were fitted with Bridgestone Potenza 235/40R19 (265/35R19 on the rear axle) summer radials.  When I’m testing a vehicle with different size tires on the front and the rear, I know I have my hands on a hot rod.  The large black “spindle” grill is out front, a spoiler is integrated into the trunk (10.4 cubic ft.), and stainless exhaust finishers are under the rear fascia.

M.S.R.P. of the Lexus RC-350 F Sport is $54,220.00, including a base price of $42,790.00, fog lights ($410.00), F Sport package ($3,985.00), navigation/audio ($2,610.00), intuitive park assist (500.00), moonroof ($1,100.00), and variable gear ratio steering ($1,900.00).  Freight was $925.00.

The RC-350 is a surprising value, as performance coupes go, and with its stellar styling and interior appointments, I would recommend it to a prospect in the sector.

2015 Lexus ES-300h FWD Sedan

20150615_153629On a recent long weekend I was able to test a new Lexus for a trip to Nebraska, and it was the ES series hybrid model that has been available since early 2012.  The car was painted Atomic Silver and had black leather five-passenger seating.  Inside it was black perforated “Semi-Aniline” (a dying process) leather throughout, courtesy of the Ultra Luxury package that was included on this ES.   This added $2,435.00 to the base price of the Lexus ($40,430.00) and included power memory heated/air conditioned front buckets, ambient lighting, bamboo trim, power tilt/telescope steering column, rear sunshades, and driver’s seat power cushion extender.

Additionally, the car had blind spot monitor ($500.00), lane departure alert with intelligent high-beam headlamps ($1,015.00), navigation package with 8″  screen ($1,795.00), power trunk closer ($400.00), intuitive parking assist ($500.00), rain-sensing wipers with de-icer ($155.00),  and heated leather trimmed/bamboo steering wheel ($450.00).  Thus the base price and freight of $925.00 pushed the total M.S.R.P. to $48,605.00.

My father and I bought a brand new 1965 Corsair Corsa for about $46,000.00 less than that figure in Grant, Nebraska fifty years ago.  I bring that up because my 50th class reunion in that town was the reason for the road trip in the Lexus.  I tooled around Grant in the ES300h, a sedan considerably more accomplished than the old Chevy was, and although the Lexus is more expensive, the Corvair was over $20,000.00 if adjusted for inflation.  The Lexus’ current price adjusted back to 1965 dollars comes to $6,500.00, and it may be that Bullock Chevy/Cadillac there in Grant sold a Caddy for about that amount.  I don’t really know, but I do know that Dad and I didn’t bother to look at such a car.20150615_153920

As a popular Lexus hybrid, the ES has an Atkinson-cycle, 2.5 liter, four cylinder gasoline engine at its heart, and two electric motor/generators to contribute power.  An Englishman named Atkinson obtained an American patent on the Atkinson-cycle engine over 120 years ago, but the design wasn’t favored until recently because its efficient fuel consumption aspect was more than offset by its lack of torque.  Well, electric motors provide instant torque, so in the hybrid automobile the Atkinson engine goes with an electric motor like love and marriage.  And in the ES300h, the total package provides 200 horsepower and runs that through a continuously-variable automatic transmission. Reportedly, top speed is 112 mph and zero to sixty acceleration takes 8.1 seconds.

Size-wise, this ES is a luxo-Camry with 111” wheelbase and a 16-foot overall length.  It’s heavier than a Camry, though, at 3,700 lbs. with its big battery.  That battery restricts the trunk to 12.1 cubic feet, and on this ES the lid powers up and down.  No restriction is evident in the back seat, however, with seating for three and a big armrest in the middle.  Riding anywhere in the ES300h is a pleasure, and I felt the ride was superb while motoring up through northeastern Colorado and into Perkins County, Nebraska.  Lexus ES300h styling is suitable for me and me and Ruth really liked the Atomic silver tone.  The front-end styling is fine and so is the rear with the exhaust tips concealed, hybrid-style.

EPA ratings for the ES300h are 40-city, 39-highway, and 40-combined miles per gallon – electric power allows drivers to save fuel in the city.  My average, driving around Greeley as well as the road trip to Nebraska, was 41.1 mpg.  It’s hard to say how much driving is necessary to make a hybrid Lexus pay off; there are other factors involved in the calculations.  With resale value and pride of ownership factored in, this hybrid Lexus looks like a pretty good deal to me.

2015 Lexus RC-F RWD 2-Door Coupe

20150608_185153In late 2014, Lexus brought out their high-performance version of the RC Coupe, the RC-F, as a 2015 model offering.  The RC-300h and RC-350, the original V-6 coupes, were upgraded to a V-8 in this new car, a 5.0 liter, 90 degree, four-cam power plant.  The RC-F is essentially a blend of three prior Lexus models – GS and IS sedans and the IS-C convertible.  What the amalgamation resulted in was what I called a “supercar” all week long during my testing of the RC-F.

In a pleasant turn of events, on several occasions nearby motorists, upon blowing their horn, were seen giving me and Ruth a “thumbs up”, as opposed to the customary shaking fist.  They must have agreed with me as far as the “supercar” characterization goes, and admittedly the Infrared paint and terrific styling makes getting around in obscurity quite difficult.  Lexus likes to say “you’ll turn heads” with the RC-F, and indeed we did.

M.S.R.P. of my test Lexus came in at a total of $74,560.00, including freight.  The base price ($62,400.00) had as options the following: 19″ hand polished alloy wheels ($1,500.00), leather interior ($800.00), navigation package ($2,840.00), the paint ($595.00), premium package ($4,400.00), and moonroof ($1,100.00).  Thus the four passenger RC-F was equipped with pretty much every imaginable interior amenity including the Mark Levinson rock-crushing, 835-watt, 17-speaker surround sound audio system.

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The RC-F has a fairly smooth drag coefficient of .33, and reportedly has a top speed of 168 mph.  On the dashboard is situated a tennis-ball sized, 200 mpg speedometer and a rather large 9,000 rpm tachometer.  A rating of 467 horsepower from the throaty V-8 is at an impressive 7,100 rpm, and the torque rating is 389 lb. ft. at 4,800 rpm.   Four driving modes are available on the console-mounted knob of this car –  Sport S mode alters the powertrain for more dynamic throttle response, Sport S+ mode adds steering enhancements to help provide a higher level of responsiveness, normal mode provides the optimal balance of fuel efficiency and engine performance, and ECO mode moderates the throttle response, engine power output and climate settings for increased fuel efficiency.  My favorite was, of course, the Sport S+ mode, and even Ruth urged me to make the selection when we rode around together.  Part of the reason for our desire to drive in that mode was the active sound control that Lexus installs – at engine speeds up to 3,000 rpm, the system issues a steady tone of low and deep sounds.  And as the engine speed increases, the tone transforms into a higher-pitched note that blends with the engine’s mechanical sounds, and it really honks above 6,000 rpm.20150611_05594520150614_090048

The RC-F transmission is an eight-speed sport direct shift automatic that is smooth operating in normal and Eco modes, and more abrupt in the two sport modes.  Paddle shifters are on hand and the two-door coupe has rear wheel drive with a Torsen limited-slip differential.  Zero to sixty acceleration is reportedly 4.5 seconds. Wheelbase of the RC-F is 107.5″, overall length is 185.2″, the trunk holds 10.1 cubic feet of luggage, and the weight is 3,958 lbs.  It is the same size as Ford’s Mustang and about 200 lbs. heavier.20150614_090119

I averaged 20.3 miles per gallon with the Lexus, and provided it with its called-for premium gasoline.  The tank holds 17.4 gallons, and the EPA ratings are 16-city, 25-highway, and 19-combined miles per gallon.  Purchasers of the Lexus RC-F don’t care about the information in this paragraph, but do care about the rocket-ship performance and dynamite styling of it.  This reviewer could recommend a long look at the RC-F if that is the twin desires of their purchase.   20150611_060048

 

 

 

 

2015 Lexus IS350 F Sport AWD Sedan

SAM_0323Lexus, Toyota’s luxury automobile division, has built and sold the IS series of sedans since 2006.  The cars are manufactured in the Tahara plant in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, and for 2014 the model underwent an update in body styling, with the drive train carried over from 2013.  For 2015, both the styling and drive train remained essentially unchanged.

I recently tested a new 2015 Atomic Silver IS350, which was equipped with the 3.5-liter, 24-valve V-6 with 306 horsepower (6,400 rpm) and 277 lb.-ft. of torque.  The sedan had a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters and a downshift rev-matching feature that worked like a charm.  Acceleration was fine, and reportedly the Lexus ( this is the smallest sedan offering) will go zero to 60 in 5.6 seconds.  Fuel economy ratings are 19 mpg in town, 26 mpg on the highway, with a 21 mpg overall rating and a 17.4 gallon fuel tank.

The Lexus IS350 styling for 2015 has as its main calling card the new “spindle” grill found on their entire lineup in some form.  The IS that I drove had black horizontal bars inserted in the grill along with dramatic inset LED daytime running lights and fog lights on the front of the car.  The IS body styling features a scalloped crease that sweeps up just ahead of the rear wheel-well, and an integrated rear spoiler is molded onto the trailing edge of the trunk lid.  The dark gray alloy wheels have ten spokes, and are fitted with Bridgestone 225/40R18 Turanza EL400’s, with all-season tread.SAM_0341

Speaking of all seasons, the IS has a mode selector (on the console) that includes a snow setting for winter driving.  For the other seasons, ECO, sport, and normal modes are on hand for a total of four settings.  My Lexus was an F Sport iteration of the IS, which has more capable underpinnings for track-like performance.  An exhilarating intake-noise sound generator kicked in when accelerating, so the car seemed more exciting than it actually might have been.  It was enjoyable.SAM_3691

Inside the new IS350, an additional measure of legroom has been added (about 1”, both front and rear), and the “mouse” has been retained on the console for controlling the infotainment system.  The screen on the dashboard is 7”, measured diagonally.  The IS features a moon roof, push button starter with proximity keyless entry, heated power leather bucket seats, 60/40 fold-down rear seat, ten airbags, Mark Levinson 16-speaker stereo, navigation system with rear facing camera, lane departure/blind spot/rear collision warning system, and power windows, locks, mirrors, with power tilt-telescope steering column.  Seating is supportive and comfortable and the trunk can hold 13.8 cubic feet of cargo.

SAM_0331M.S.R.P. for the Lexus is $50,375.00, and that includes a base of $42,300.00 and options/freight totaling $8,075.00.  The IS350, a car that had prior to the 2014 model year  become a bit marginalized, is currently front and center in the luxury sports sedan segment.  Shoppers in that segment need to take a hard look at it.