• Sign in to follow this  
    Followers 0

    2013 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport


    By William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    May 2, 2013

    In 1999, Lexus introduced the first luxury car-based crossover named the RX. It became a huge success for the company and defined the compact luxury crossover class we know of today. But since that time, the competition has been improving. Vehicles such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz, and even the Cadillac SRX have been making inroads and slowly cutting away the RX’s sales lead. Lexus has been on the attack to stop the advance of competitors by introducing a refreshed 2013 RX, which includes a new F-Sport model that promises a more capable and sporty RX. Does the new F-Sport model help or hurt the RX?

    gallery_10485_649_7218.jpg

    Aggressive is the key word in describing the RX350 F-Sport exterior looks. Lexus did a excellent job of making the F-Sport really stand out. The front features Lexus’ spindle grille with a mesh insert, more aggressive front bumper, and a set of new headlights with LED daytime running lights running along the inner edge. Other F-Sport appointments include nineteen-inch alloy wheels with a graphite finish that help set off the very unique and optional Claret Mica (deep red) paint.

    The interior of RX350 F-Sport is much like the standard RX with some touches to it give some sport. There are set of alloy pedals, leather seats with F-Sport logo embroidered into them, a sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, and metal trim pieces. I feel like Lexus is trying a bit too hard to convince everyone that is their sporty model with all of these touches. Just tone it down somewhat.

    gallery_10485_649_110934.jpg

    Comfort is a big plus in the RX. Front seat passengers get power adjustments, heat, and ventilated seats. In the back, passengers will find a good amount of head and legroom. Plus, passengers can recline and adjust their seats to make themselves more comfortable. Cargo space is very impressive, with RX having the best in class of 40 cubic feet. That grows to 80 cubic feet with the rear seats down.

    The main point of contention in the RX’s interior is the center stack. Controls seem somewhat cramped thanks to the odd placement of the transmission selector. Also, the screen for the infotainment seems a bit too far in the center stack. I will give Lexus kudos though for putting the screen at just the right height.

    gallery_10485_649_413152.jpg

    The 2013 RX comes equipped with Lexus’ Remote Touch which is this joystick/mouse controller you use to move around the infotainment system. Previously, I have complained about the Remote Touch system being a bit slow to perform a function where I could have done it a bit faster with a touchscreen. Since spending a week with the remote touch system, I got the hang of it and found it to be just as quick if I was using a touchscreen thanks to the layout of the infotainment system. That said, Remote Touch can be sometimes a bit touchy. If you’re trying to make a selection and your hand moves ever so slightly on the remote touch joystick/mouse thing, the selection is cancelled and you’re left yelling at the system. Its not bad, but it isn’t good either.

    Powering the RX 350 F-Sport is the same engine you’ll find under the standard RX; a 3.5L V6 making 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. F-Sport models get an eight-speed transmission with all-wheel drive, while base RX 350s stick with a six-speed automatic and the choice between front or all-wheel drive.

    The 3.5L’s performance can be classified as adequate. It's not the most powerful engine in the class, but it's also not sluggish. The 3.5L can get you moving at a decent rate, but be prepared to push the pedal a bit more if you need to get moving quicker. The eight-speed automatic is very smooth and responsive. You won’t notice the transmission working its way through the gears unless one of your eyes is glued to the tachometer. The paddles do make the F-Sport a bit more engaging to drive and can be activated when the transmission is in either drive or the manual mode. However, I wished the paddles were on the steering column and not the the steering wheel.

    gallery_10485_649_313574.jpg

    In the fuel economy department, the RX 350 F-Sport sees a minor increase when compared to the normal RX 350 mostly thanks to the eight-speed transmission. EPA rates the RX 350 F-Sport at 18 City/26 Highway/21 Combined, compared to the RX 350’s 18 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. During my week, I saw an average of 21 MPG.

    F-Sport models get firmer suspension and steering tuning, and new a lateral damping system that Lexus claims brings the a more engaging driving experience to the RX. The improvements are there... somewhat. The RX 350 F-Sport does roll less when in turns, but that’s really about it. The changes seem to bring more problems than improvements. An example is the steering. I found it to be heavy and wanting to fight me every time I turned the wheel. Lumbering was the word I would use to describe it. Oddly when I was driving around in the RX F-Sport, I kept thinking how much more I liked driving the Cadillac SRX I had a few weeks before.

    gallery_10485_649_217368.jpg

    The ride does suffer a bit as well as the firmer suspension does let more road imperfections into the cabin. It's not to the point of where your kidneys are getting repeatedly punched, but it's very un-Lexus like. The good news is the quietness that Lexus is known for remains very well and true in the F-Sport model.

    Sadly there is one more problem with the RX 350 F-Sport, the value for money argument. For the $51,729 as-tested price, you get such items as navigation, twelve-speaker sound system, blind-spot monitoring, and parking assist. But, the Cadillac SRX I had couple weeks before comes with most of these items and a more powerful V6 for about $4,000 less. If you decide to equip an SRX for the same asking price as the F-Sport and you can get such features as a panoramic sunroof, lane departure warning, and number of other features.

    The RX 350 F-Sport might look better and have a much better transmission than the standard RX 350, but I feel the normal RX is the much better vehicle all around. The F-Sport just adds more problems and hurts the RX more. If it was just an appearance package, I would be more ok with it. The F in the RX 350 F-Sport must be short for frustrated because that how I’ll felt at the end of my time with it.

    gallery_10485_649_1364120.jpg

    Disclaimer: Lexus provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline.

    Year - 2013

    Make – Lexus

    Model – RX 350

    Trim – F-Sport

    Engine – 3.5L DOHC 24-valve with Dual VVT-i V6

    Driveline – All-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic

    Horsepower @ RPM – 270 @ 6,200 RPM

    Torque @ RPM – 248 @ 4,700 RPM

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/26/21

    Curb Weight – 4,510 lbs

    Location of Manufacture – Cambridge, Ontario; Canada

    Base Price - $47,000.00

    As Tested Price - $51,729.00* (Includes $895.00 destination charge)

    Options:

    Navigation with Voice Command, Lexus Enform - $2,775.00

    Blind Spot Monitor - $500.00

    Intuitive Parking Assist - $500.00

    Cargo Net - $59.00

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

    0


    Sign in to follow this  
    Followers 0


    User Feedback


    Nice write up, I have to just shake my head at this car as it really looks like a station wagon trying to be a bit more buch and not being successful.

    I know looks are subjective, but then while I love the Predator Movies, the Predator front grill no matter what Lexus/toyota calls it is just ugly to me.

    Side profile is nice, tends to remind me of the first generation SRX. Rear is bland fine, tends to still remind me of a bread box that got squished at the top.


    The front head on look give one an impression of being fat on the bottom but lean on top. Just looks slow and slugish from the visual cues. I would say they still have no idea of any kind of Style Mojo.

    The engine compartment is sure plastic covered and just looks cheap.

    From what I can see of the interior, seats look fine just like everyone elses seats. The dash is the big problem. For a luxury auto, this dash SCREAMS Corolla. CHEAP, It just is terrible and for a new updated model.

    End result is I see Lexus doing a 1yr refresh on this already just like Honda Civic. This is a FAILURE for a new luxurty CUV. It already looks dated and old and out of touch with the 21st century.

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    The center stack looks like something on a COBY stereo system from the 90's. Ugly on the inside. Ugly on the outside. No wonder it's #1 in the USA.

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    It may just be me but I do not understand the attraction here. But I do understand the sales and the number they move of these at high profit. I would bet women buy 75% of these or more. I seldom see a man driving one.

    To me I also get the tall wagon look and cheap looking dash. I also do not understand the sport option. This is anything but sport. The sport issue is not just for this either I would not want to see a SS Nox either.

    There are many things I do not like on the market but if it make money and a lot of it God Bless em. Cars are built and sold to make money and if people want crap give it to em. In this market it is what ever it takes to survive.

    I have said that the love affair for the car is pretty much over with the general public for a long time. Many here wanted to contest it but here is exhibit A the Camry is exhibit B.

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    It's the aspirational CUV of women in suburbia nationwide. Combine the Toyota reliability reputation + Lexus accoutrements + the coveted 'L' on the nose = sales gold.

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Other than the predator grille it looks the same as the non refreshed version from last year. The goofy dash reminds one of a cheap 90's stereo system and the exterior is as bland as ever.

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    You know, I am wondering why Lexus needs this F-Sport. That is not Lexus's business model or anything. In fact, The RX was meant for comfort luxury, not sport luxury. I would so replace that lame dash with a MUCH larger screen and ditch the entire concept of an F-Sport immediately. If I want sport in a luxury CUV, that is what a BMW X3/X5 is for, not a Lexus. Remember when the first-gen SRX was released, it did not sell very well because it aped BMW. Once Cadillac shifted to aping the RX, SRX sales boomed. Sport in a luxury CUV is simply unnecessary.

    And I HATE that Predator grill!

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I'm not a fan of the current RX, though it is a comfortable drive. I don't care for the spindle grill at all, but it probably wouldn't dissuade anybody from buying one. I could see the appeal of the F-Sport line, for those who want something a tad more sporting but don't want to risk the liability concerns of the more sporting brands like BMW or Audi.

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites


    Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

    Guest
    You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
    Add a comment...

    ×   You have pasted content with formatting.   Remove formatting

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor




  • Popular Stories

  • Today's Birthdays

    1. svz-07
      svz-07
      (37 years old)
  • Similar Content

    • By William Maley
      Lexus executives admit there are some holes in their lineup such as not having a subcompact or three-row crossover. Speaking with Automotive News, Lexus General Manager Jeff Bracken said the brand is losing as many as 70,000 potential vehicle sales by not competing in certain segments. 
      "We do think there's room to fill some gaps that still exist for Lexus," said Bracken.
      One possibility is introducing a subcompact crossover possibly with a production version of the UX concept.
      "That's a gap we are watching very closely. We're very fixated on trying to move that conversation forward with our parent corporation." 
      Also up for consideration is a three-row crossover and expanding the F-series performance family - might include an LC-F.
      One surprise to come out is Lexus doing an electric vehicle. According to Bracken, the brand started investigating possibilities after the Paris Motor Show where many European luxury automakers pushed this idea.
      "It was amazingly focused. Subsequent to that show, from my standpoint, we began conversations with our product planners," said Bracken.
      Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Lexus executives admit there are some holes in their lineup such as not having a subcompact or three-row crossover. Speaking with Automotive News, Lexus General Manager Jeff Bracken said the brand is losing as many as 70,000 potential vehicle sales by not competing in certain segments. 
      "We do think there's room to fill some gaps that still exist for Lexus," said Bracken.
      One possibility is introducing a subcompact crossover possibly with a production version of the UX concept.
      "That's a gap we are watching very closely. We're very fixated on trying to move that conversation forward with our parent corporation." 
      Also up for consideration is a three-row crossover and expanding the F-series performance family - might include an LC-F.
      One surprise to come out is Lexus doing an electric vehicle. According to Bracken, the brand started investigating possibilities after the Paris Motor Show where many European luxury automakers pushed this idea.
      "It was amazingly focused. Subsequent to that show, from my standpoint, we began conversations with our product planners," said Bracken.
      Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
    • By William Maley
      Almost three decades ago at the Detroit Auto Show, Toyota shocked the establishment with the introduction of Lexus and LS 400 flagship. Lexus hopes with the 2018 LS introduced this morning in Detroit is able to recapture some of that shock.
      The look of the 2018 LS is familiar and somehow different. The profile is the similar to the current LS, but Lexus made a number of changes to make it stand out. There is a more aggressive take on the spindle grille, a crease running along the doors, lower ride height, and larger wheels. The new GA-L platform that made it's debut last year on the LC coupe underpins the LS. It has been stretched and widened to provide measurements of 206.1-inches long 74.8-inches wide, and 57.1-inches tall. This makes it about the same size as a BMW 7-Series long-wheelbase.
      Power comes from an all-new 3.5L twin-turbo V6 engine with 415 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with a new ten-speed automatic. Lexus says the LS with this engine will hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. It is unknown whether or not a V8 or hybrid option will be introduced down the road. The front and rear multilink suspension setup from the LC is employed on the LS. An air suspension system is optional.
      The interior takes some ideas from the LC with a similar instrument cluster with traction control and drive mode selectors sitting on either side. The seats have been redesigned and now feature 28-way power adjustments for those sitting up front. Rear seat passengers can get reclining seats, an ottoman, and Shiatsu massage functionality. Tech-wise, there is a new version of Lexus' remote touch system with a 12.3-inch infotainment system and optional 24" color heads-up display which the automaker claims is the largest in the world.
      The 2018 Lexus LS is expected to go on sale towards the end of the year.
      Source: Lexus
      Press Release is on Page 2


      With the All-New 2018 LS, Lexus Reimagines Global Flagship Sedan
      Radical new design with coupe-like silhouette, yet spaciousness of prestige sedan New platform for greatest-ever LS agility and comfort All-new twin-turbo V6 with 415 horsepower 10-speed automatic transmission All-new available Lexus Advanced Safety Package New level of flagship luxury in every aspect Interior inspired by traditional Japanese aesthetics On sale in U.S. near the end of 2017 DETROIT, January 9, 2017 — It is possible that no single automobile has, upon introduction, upended its category as decisively as the first Lexus LS did when it launched the luxury brand 28 years ago. The 1990 LS 400 was the original luxury disruptor, winning critical acclaim and astonishing customers by setting new benchmarks for comfort, powertrain performance and smoothness, quietness, build quality, attention to detail, and dependability. The brand supported that groundbreaking vehicle by setting and maintaining new standards for customer service and satisfaction.
       
      Now, Lexus is about to repeat history with the introduction of the all-new, fifth-generation LS flagship sedan for 2018, unveiled at the 2017 North American International Auto Show. Inside and out, the new LS reflects a strong, uniquely Japanese identity and approach to luxury. Yet, the LS was designed to be the brand’s latest global citizen, available in about 90 countries.
       
      “Not only will the LS symbolize the Lexus brand, it will become the definitive new-generation luxury car embodying Japanese tradition and culture,” said Toshio Asahi, chief engineer for the new LS. “As such, this global pinnacle must go far beyond what the world expects from a luxury car.”
       
      Longer, Lower, Wider – and More Exciting
       
      Longer and lower than the sedan it replaces, the all-new LS debuts a strikingly bold design with a coupe-like silhouette punctuated by the Lexus design language. A new driver-centric performance feel comes from building the LS on the company’s all-new global architecture for luxury vehicles (GA–L). This premium rear-wheel drive platform, an extended version of the one used for the stunning new Lexus LC 500 coupe, will offer a more dynamic experience on the road while further elevating renowned Lexus comfort. 
       
      The original Lexus LS won acclaim by anticipating what luxury customers would want, rather than simply amplifying what established luxury automobile brands offered at the time. In that spirit, the 2018 LS sedan’s spacious cabin, unique appointments and visionary technology will once again surprise customers by resetting expectations for a global flagship sedan.
       
      “We set previously unheard of targets and resolutely pushed ahead towards these ambitious goals,” said LS chief engineer, Asahi. “The customers who are going to want to own a Lexus flagship are already surrounded by luxury on a daily basis, people who have a sharp eye for authenticity to begin with. We wouldn’t turn their heads with a conventional premium product.”
       
      A Flagship Reborn
       
      Just as the original LS launched the Lexus brand, the all-new 2018 LS continues the brand’s more dynamic direction. Each generation of LS sedans leading up to this iteration advanced luxury, craftsmanship, performance and safety in their own way, with the most recent also introducing a far more emotional design and engaging on-road performance.
       
      To create the all-new LS, Lexus took the approach of starting from new, reimagining what a flagship sedan should be, as if launching the brand all over again. The goal was not to improve on what Lexus has done, but to exceed expectations of global luxury customers.
       
      A common thread going through all LS models remains: Omotenashi, the concept of Japanese hospitality. Applied to a luxury automobile, it means taking care of the driver and passengers, anticipating their needs, attending to their comfort and helping to protect them from hazards.
       
      Vehicle Dynamics
       
      More than ever before, luxury sedan drivers demand greater handling agility and performance feel without sacrificing comfort. It’s one of the most difficult balances to achieve in a vehicle, yet the new Lexus global architecture for luxury vehicles (GA–L) meets the challenge. The new platform debuted in the LC 500 coupe and now, with a longer wheelbase, underpins the new LS. To enhance center of gravity height and weight distribution, the new LS has a wide and low design.
       
      The GA-L platform is the stiffest in Lexus history, setting the stage for enhanced handling, ride smoothness and cabin quietness. The 123-inch wheelbase is 1.3-inch longer than the current LS long-wheelbase model.
       
      Helping to provide the uncanny ride and handling balance in the new LS is the latest generation of a chassis control technology known as Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM). This system implements cooperative control of all vehicle subsystems – braking, steering, powertrain, and suspension – to control basic longitudinal, lateral and vertical motion as well as yaw, roll and pitch. Optimal control of these motions helps to enable exceptional ride comfort, enhanced traction and safety and handling agility. Handling can be further enhanced by active stabilizer bars and the Lexus Dynamic Handling (LDH) System with independent front and rear steering. VDIM is capable of aiding stability when the car is traversing split-friction surfaces, such as dry pavement and ice.
       
      In creating the new LS, engineers used lightweight materials including ultra-high tensile steel sheet and aluminum to carve over 200 pounds from the current LS platform and body. These savings, along with the implementation of the new V6 engine and enhanced body rigidity, allow for a more dynamic driving experience. 
       
      Critical to its driving performance, the new platform lowers the car’s center of gravity by placing most of the mass, including the engine and the occupants, in a position more centralized and lower in the chassis. Special braces in the engine compartment, stiff aluminum front and rear suspension towers, and other features help bolster the strength of key chassis structures.
       
      The LS has a history of outstanding suspension compliance, yet Lexus saw opportunity for new gains in this realm as well. For example, the multilink suspension employs double ball joints on the upper and lower control arms to help allow for control of the smallest movements from the driver inputs and road conditions. Beyond sharing workload, a dual ball joint arrangement helps optimize suspension geometry to increase wheel control and yield more precise steering response with better initial effort. To reduce unsprung weight and therefore aid agility and comfort, aluminum is used extensively in the suspension.
       
      LS Performance and Smoothness Redefined: Twin-Turbo V6 and 10-Speed Transmission
       
      For both high power and excellent fuel efficiency, Lexus designed an all-new 3.5-liter V6 engine specifically for the new LS with all-new twin turbos developed through the company’s F1 technology. This new engine in the LS is indicative of the more dynamic approach being taken by Lexus, offering V8-level power without sacrificing fuel economy—all while minimizing noise and vibration. The new LS engine offers the output one would expect in a flagship sedan: 415 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque, sizeable gains over the current LS model’s V8. The long stroke and optimized stroke-to-bore ratio contribute to high-speed combustion and the efficiency of the twin turbos, which assist the LS with a projected 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds (RWD).     
       
      Perhaps more critical is how Lexus tuned the engine and transmission to deliver instant acceleration and a constant buildup of torque toward the engine’s redline.
       
      A ladder frame structure in the cylinder block, redesigned engine mounts, electric wastegates and numerous other features help ensure the remarkable powertrain smoothness, a Lexus hallmark. The driver will be able to tailor powertrain response and feel by choosing from Normal to Sport to Sport+ modes, and just enough of the exhaust note can be heard to enhance the sporty feel.
       
      The first-ever 10-speed automatic transmission for a premium passenger car, having already debuted in the Lexus LC 500, is also used in the new LS flagship sedan. It is a torque-converter automatic, yet with shift times that rival those of dual-clutch transmissions. The wide bandwidth afforded by ten closely spaced ratios is ideal for all forms of driving, helping to provide an optimal gear for all conditions.
       
      Shifting via paddles is available, yet many will prefer the advanced electronic control system, which anticipates the driver’s input. The system chooses the ideal ratio by monitoring the acceleration, braking and lateral-g forces.
       
      For starting acceleration, the close ratios of the low gears and the shortened shift time enable a rhythmical and exhilarating acceleration feel. The high torque of the twin-turbo engine matches ideally with the higher gear ratios for effortless, serene highway cruising, yet very quick downshifts yield direct acceleration with no lag in G response.
       
      Torque converter lock-up activates in all ranges except when starting off to provide a direct feel, while also supporting fuel efficiency.
       
      Crafting a Unique Identity
       
      “The LS is the flagship of the Lexus brand,” said chief designer, Koichi Suga. “More than any other model, it embodies the history and image of Lexus and serves as a symbol for everything the brand stands for.”
       
      Following the “Yet” philosophy that has been passed on since the first-generation LS, Lexus created a design offering the room and comfort of a prestige “three-box” sedan, yet with the stylish silhouette of a four-door coupe that holds stronger appeal for younger luxury customers.
       
      Lexus designers took full advantage of the new platform, with its lower profile and length on par with that of a prestige long-wheelbase sedan, to give the new LS a stretched, ground-hugging appearance. Compared to the current LS, the new model is about .6 inches lower, while the hood and trunk are approximately 1.2 inches and 1.6 inches lower, respectively. The new LS is the first Lexus sedan with a six- side window design. Also a first for a Lexus sedan, the flush-surface windows smoothly integrate with the side pillar.
       
      To preserve headroom with the lower profile, the new LS features an outer slide-type moonroof. The unique rendition of the spindle grille mesh, with a texture that seemingly changes in different light, is the result of both intense CAD development and hand-adjusting thousands of individual surfaces.
       
      The LS debuts five wheel designs, including two new 19- and three 20-inch wheel designs. The 20-inch premium wheels employ a brilliant appearance created using an electroplating technique known as sputtering. All but one of the wheel designs feature a hollow rim structure that helps reduce the resonance sound generated by the tires.
       
      Progressive Comfort with Traditional Inspiration
       
      Creating a new standard of flagship luxury is not simply a matter of adding more features. Inspired by the omotenashi principle, Lexus sought to instill the new LS cabin with luxury that welcomes and envelops the occupants while treating the driver like a partner.
       
      “I suggest that you simply open the door and experience that immediate, intuitive sense that you’re looking at an interior that is unlike any luxury car before,” said chief designer Suga.
       
      New seating designs, including available 28-way power front seats that feature heating, cooling and massage, exemplify this approach. The organically shaped dash design clusters information displays at uniform height to support the “seat-in-control” layout that emphasizes the driver’s ability to operate all systems without the need to change posture.
       
      While making the new LS even more of a driver’s car, Lexus also lavished attention to the rear seat, developing a design that creates seamless, enveloping continuity between the trim and seatbacks for passenger egress.
       
      Options for heating, cooling and massage make the rear seat a welcoming environment. The available power front and rear seat with Shiatsu massage and a raised ottoman, part of a wider rear seat luxury package, offers the most legroom of any previous-generation LS. In addition, the seat behind the front passenger in this optional package can be reclined up to 48 degrees, and can be raised up to 24 degrees to help assist the rear-seat passenger in exiting the vehicle.
       
      Because the new LS is lower than previous versions, Lexus, for the first time, equipped the available air suspension with an access function. Activated by unlocking the car with the smart key, access mode automatically raises the vehicle and opens the seat bolsters to welcome drivers behind the wheel.
       
      The Intersection of Tradition and Technology
       
      Lighting and attention to detail express a unique aesthetic in the LS. A new approach to creating trim elements again turned to Japanese culture, combining traditional Japanese aesthetic with advanced manufacturing techniques. This is reflected in signature touches, such as beautiful interior ambient lighting inspired by Japanese lanterns and armrests that appear to float next to the door panel.
       
      Inspired by Shimamoku wood patterns, the new forms that combine the artistic combination of natural woodwork and application of Japan’s sophisticated sliced wood and laser cutting manufacturing technologies can be seen in the new LS. New patterns include Art Wood Organic, Art Wood Herringbone, and Gray Sapele Wood with Aluminum. Compared to the straight-grain Shimamoku pattern, the new LS cross-grain is a larger pattern featuring bolder contrasts between light and dark, giving the wood a more vibrant appearance.
       
      The Sounds of Near Silence – or Great Music
       
      Lexus tuned the LS exhaust to convey a more authoritative tone, yet also designed the cabin to ensure utterly quiet cruising. New sound suppression methods further hush the environment compared to previous LS models. Active Noise Control quiets the cabin even more by detecting the sound of the engine coming into the vehicle and cancelling certain frequencies using antiphase sound from the audio speakers.
       
      The serenity of the LS cabin provides an ideal stage for the standard premium audio system or the audiophile-worthy available 3D surround Mark Levinson audio package with in-ceiling array speakers. The package features a more inviting graphic user interface. Its next-generation remote touch is designed to mimic smartphone operation, also supporting handwritten input. In addition to its 12.3-inch wide navigation display, the LS can incorporate an optional 24-inch color heads-up display (HUD)—the largest in the world—that projects a variety of information onto the driver’s forward view.
       
      Advanced Safety Features and Driver Support
       
      Structurally, the all-new Lexus LS offers a high degree of passive safety for occupant protection in collisions. Lexus has also equipped the LS with technologies that can possibly help prevent crashes from occurring or mitigate their effects.
       
      The LS will feature the brand’s Lexus Safety System + and offer the Advanced Safety Package, which features the world’s first system with Intuitive Pedestrian Detection with Active Steering within the lane. With this system, if a pedestrian is detected in the lane ahead and a collision is imminent, the LS is designed to automatically brake and potentially steer around the person while staying in the lane. The available color HUD is utilized in alerting the driver.

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Almost three decades ago at the Detroit Auto Show, Toyota shocked the establishment with the introduction of Lexus and LS 400 flagship. Lexus hopes with the 2018 LS introduced this morning in Detroit is able to recapture some of that shock.
      The look of the 2018 LS is familiar and somehow different. The profile is the similar to the current LS, but Lexus made a number of changes to make it stand out. There is a more aggressive take on the spindle grille, a crease running along the doors, lower ride height, and larger wheels. The new GA-L platform that made it's debut last year on the LC coupe underpins the LS. It has been stretched and widened to provide measurements of 206.1-inches long 74.8-inches wide, and 57.1-inches tall. This makes it about the same size as a BMW 7-Series long-wheelbase.
      Power comes from an all-new 3.5L twin-turbo V6 engine with 415 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with a new ten-speed automatic. Lexus says the LS with this engine will hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. It is unknown whether or not a V8 or hybrid option will be introduced down the road. The front and rear multilink suspension setup from the LC is employed on the LS. An air suspension system is optional.
      The interior takes some ideas from the LC with a similar instrument cluster with traction control and drive mode selectors sitting on either side. The seats have been redesigned and now feature 28-way power adjustments for those sitting up front. Rear seat passengers can get reclining seats, an ottoman, and Shiatsu massage functionality. Tech-wise, there is a new version of Lexus' remote touch system with a 12.3-inch infotainment system and optional 24" color heads-up display which the automaker claims is the largest in the world.
      The 2018 Lexus LS is expected to go on sale towards the end of the year.
      Source: Lexus
      Press Release is on Page 2


      With the All-New 2018 LS, Lexus Reimagines Global Flagship Sedan
      Radical new design with coupe-like silhouette, yet spaciousness of prestige sedan New platform for greatest-ever LS agility and comfort All-new twin-turbo V6 with 415 horsepower 10-speed automatic transmission All-new available Lexus Advanced Safety Package New level of flagship luxury in every aspect Interior inspired by traditional Japanese aesthetics On sale in U.S. near the end of 2017 DETROIT, January 9, 2017 — It is possible that no single automobile has, upon introduction, upended its category as decisively as the first Lexus LS did when it launched the luxury brand 28 years ago. The 1990 LS 400 was the original luxury disruptor, winning critical acclaim and astonishing customers by setting new benchmarks for comfort, powertrain performance and smoothness, quietness, build quality, attention to detail, and dependability. The brand supported that groundbreaking vehicle by setting and maintaining new standards for customer service and satisfaction.
       
      Now, Lexus is about to repeat history with the introduction of the all-new, fifth-generation LS flagship sedan for 2018, unveiled at the 2017 North American International Auto Show. Inside and out, the new LS reflects a strong, uniquely Japanese identity and approach to luxury. Yet, the LS was designed to be the brand’s latest global citizen, available in about 90 countries.
       
      “Not only will the LS symbolize the Lexus brand, it will become the definitive new-generation luxury car embodying Japanese tradition and culture,” said Toshio Asahi, chief engineer for the new LS. “As such, this global pinnacle must go far beyond what the world expects from a luxury car.”
       
      Longer, Lower, Wider – and More Exciting
       
      Longer and lower than the sedan it replaces, the all-new LS debuts a strikingly bold design with a coupe-like silhouette punctuated by the Lexus design language. A new driver-centric performance feel comes from building the LS on the company’s all-new global architecture for luxury vehicles (GA–L). This premium rear-wheel drive platform, an extended version of the one used for the stunning new Lexus LC 500 coupe, will offer a more dynamic experience on the road while further elevating renowned Lexus comfort. 
       
      The original Lexus LS won acclaim by anticipating what luxury customers would want, rather than simply amplifying what established luxury automobile brands offered at the time. In that spirit, the 2018 LS sedan’s spacious cabin, unique appointments and visionary technology will once again surprise customers by resetting expectations for a global flagship sedan.
       
      “We set previously unheard of targets and resolutely pushed ahead towards these ambitious goals,” said LS chief engineer, Asahi. “The customers who are going to want to own a Lexus flagship are already surrounded by luxury on a daily basis, people who have a sharp eye for authenticity to begin with. We wouldn’t turn their heads with a conventional premium product.”
       
      A Flagship Reborn
       
      Just as the original LS launched the Lexus brand, the all-new 2018 LS continues the brand’s more dynamic direction. Each generation of LS sedans leading up to this iteration advanced luxury, craftsmanship, performance and safety in their own way, with the most recent also introducing a far more emotional design and engaging on-road performance.
       
      To create the all-new LS, Lexus took the approach of starting from new, reimagining what a flagship sedan should be, as if launching the brand all over again. The goal was not to improve on what Lexus has done, but to exceed expectations of global luxury customers.
       
      A common thread going through all LS models remains: Omotenashi, the concept of Japanese hospitality. Applied to a luxury automobile, it means taking care of the driver and passengers, anticipating their needs, attending to their comfort and helping to protect them from hazards.
       
      Vehicle Dynamics
       
      More than ever before, luxury sedan drivers demand greater handling agility and performance feel without sacrificing comfort. It’s one of the most difficult balances to achieve in a vehicle, yet the new Lexus global architecture for luxury vehicles (GA–L) meets the challenge. The new platform debuted in the LC 500 coupe and now, with a longer wheelbase, underpins the new LS. To enhance center of gravity height and weight distribution, the new LS has a wide and low design.
       
      The GA-L platform is the stiffest in Lexus history, setting the stage for enhanced handling, ride smoothness and cabin quietness. The 123-inch wheelbase is 1.3-inch longer than the current LS long-wheelbase model.
       
      Helping to provide the uncanny ride and handling balance in the new LS is the latest generation of a chassis control technology known as Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM). This system implements cooperative control of all vehicle subsystems – braking, steering, powertrain, and suspension – to control basic longitudinal, lateral and vertical motion as well as yaw, roll and pitch. Optimal control of these motions helps to enable exceptional ride comfort, enhanced traction and safety and handling agility. Handling can be further enhanced by active stabilizer bars and the Lexus Dynamic Handling (LDH) System with independent front and rear steering. VDIM is capable of aiding stability when the car is traversing split-friction surfaces, such as dry pavement and ice.
       
      In creating the new LS, engineers used lightweight materials including ultra-high tensile steel sheet and aluminum to carve over 200 pounds from the current LS platform and body. These savings, along with the implementation of the new V6 engine and enhanced body rigidity, allow for a more dynamic driving experience. 
       
      Critical to its driving performance, the new platform lowers the car’s center of gravity by placing most of the mass, including the engine and the occupants, in a position more centralized and lower in the chassis. Special braces in the engine compartment, stiff aluminum front and rear suspension towers, and other features help bolster the strength of key chassis structures.
       
      The LS has a history of outstanding suspension compliance, yet Lexus saw opportunity for new gains in this realm as well. For example, the multilink suspension employs double ball joints on the upper and lower control arms to help allow for control of the smallest movements from the driver inputs and road conditions. Beyond sharing workload, a dual ball joint arrangement helps optimize suspension geometry to increase wheel control and yield more precise steering response with better initial effort. To reduce unsprung weight and therefore aid agility and comfort, aluminum is used extensively in the suspension.
       
      LS Performance and Smoothness Redefined: Twin-Turbo V6 and 10-Speed Transmission
       
      For both high power and excellent fuel efficiency, Lexus designed an all-new 3.5-liter V6 engine specifically for the new LS with all-new twin turbos developed through the company’s F1 technology. This new engine in the LS is indicative of the more dynamic approach being taken by Lexus, offering V8-level power without sacrificing fuel economy—all while minimizing noise and vibration. The new LS engine offers the output one would expect in a flagship sedan: 415 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque, sizeable gains over the current LS model’s V8. The long stroke and optimized stroke-to-bore ratio contribute to high-speed combustion and the efficiency of the twin turbos, which assist the LS with a projected 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds (RWD).     
       
      Perhaps more critical is how Lexus tuned the engine and transmission to deliver instant acceleration and a constant buildup of torque toward the engine’s redline.
       
      A ladder frame structure in the cylinder block, redesigned engine mounts, electric wastegates and numerous other features help ensure the remarkable powertrain smoothness, a Lexus hallmark. The driver will be able to tailor powertrain response and feel by choosing from Normal to Sport to Sport+ modes, and just enough of the exhaust note can be heard to enhance the sporty feel.
       
      The first-ever 10-speed automatic transmission for a premium passenger car, having already debuted in the Lexus LC 500, is also used in the new LS flagship sedan. It is a torque-converter automatic, yet with shift times that rival those of dual-clutch transmissions. The wide bandwidth afforded by ten closely spaced ratios is ideal for all forms of driving, helping to provide an optimal gear for all conditions.
       
      Shifting via paddles is available, yet many will prefer the advanced electronic control system, which anticipates the driver’s input. The system chooses the ideal ratio by monitoring the acceleration, braking and lateral-g forces.
       
      For starting acceleration, the close ratios of the low gears and the shortened shift time enable a rhythmical and exhilarating acceleration feel. The high torque of the twin-turbo engine matches ideally with the higher gear ratios for effortless, serene highway cruising, yet very quick downshifts yield direct acceleration with no lag in G response.
       
      Torque converter lock-up activates in all ranges except when starting off to provide a direct feel, while also supporting fuel efficiency.
       
      Crafting a Unique Identity
       
      “The LS is the flagship of the Lexus brand,” said chief designer, Koichi Suga. “More than any other model, it embodies the history and image of Lexus and serves as a symbol for everything the brand stands for.”
       
      Following the “Yet” philosophy that has been passed on since the first-generation LS, Lexus created a design offering the room and comfort of a prestige “three-box” sedan, yet with the stylish silhouette of a four-door coupe that holds stronger appeal for younger luxury customers.
       
      Lexus designers took full advantage of the new platform, with its lower profile and length on par with that of a prestige long-wheelbase sedan, to give the new LS a stretched, ground-hugging appearance. Compared to the current LS, the new model is about .6 inches lower, while the hood and trunk are approximately 1.2 inches and 1.6 inches lower, respectively. The new LS is the first Lexus sedan with a six- side window design. Also a first for a Lexus sedan, the flush-surface windows smoothly integrate with the side pillar.
       
      To preserve headroom with the lower profile, the new LS features an outer slide-type moonroof. The unique rendition of the spindle grille mesh, with a texture that seemingly changes in different light, is the result of both intense CAD development and hand-adjusting thousands of individual surfaces.
       
      The LS debuts five wheel designs, including two new 19- and three 20-inch wheel designs. The 20-inch premium wheels employ a brilliant appearance created using an electroplating technique known as sputtering. All but one of the wheel designs feature a hollow rim structure that helps reduce the resonance sound generated by the tires.
       
      Progressive Comfort with Traditional Inspiration
       
      Creating a new standard of flagship luxury is not simply a matter of adding more features. Inspired by the omotenashi principle, Lexus sought to instill the new LS cabin with luxury that welcomes and envelops the occupants while treating the driver like a partner.
       
      “I suggest that you simply open the door and experience that immediate, intuitive sense that you’re looking at an interior that is unlike any luxury car before,” said chief designer Suga.
       
      New seating designs, including available 28-way power front seats that feature heating, cooling and massage, exemplify this approach. The organically shaped dash design clusters information displays at uniform height to support the “seat-in-control” layout that emphasizes the driver’s ability to operate all systems without the need to change posture.
       
      While making the new LS even more of a driver’s car, Lexus also lavished attention to the rear seat, developing a design that creates seamless, enveloping continuity between the trim and seatbacks for passenger egress.
       
      Options for heating, cooling and massage make the rear seat a welcoming environment. The available power front and rear seat with Shiatsu massage and a raised ottoman, part of a wider rear seat luxury package, offers the most legroom of any previous-generation LS. In addition, the seat behind the front passenger in this optional package can be reclined up to 48 degrees, and can be raised up to 24 degrees to help assist the rear-seat passenger in exiting the vehicle.
       
      Because the new LS is lower than previous versions, Lexus, for the first time, equipped the available air suspension with an access function. Activated by unlocking the car with the smart key, access mode automatically raises the vehicle and opens the seat bolsters to welcome drivers behind the wheel.
       
      The Intersection of Tradition and Technology
       
      Lighting and attention to detail express a unique aesthetic in the LS. A new approach to creating trim elements again turned to Japanese culture, combining traditional Japanese aesthetic with advanced manufacturing techniques. This is reflected in signature touches, such as beautiful interior ambient lighting inspired by Japanese lanterns and armrests that appear to float next to the door panel.
       
      Inspired by Shimamoku wood patterns, the new forms that combine the artistic combination of natural woodwork and application of Japan’s sophisticated sliced wood and laser cutting manufacturing technologies can be seen in the new LS. New patterns include Art Wood Organic, Art Wood Herringbone, and Gray Sapele Wood with Aluminum. Compared to the straight-grain Shimamoku pattern, the new LS cross-grain is a larger pattern featuring bolder contrasts between light and dark, giving the wood a more vibrant appearance.
       
      The Sounds of Near Silence – or Great Music
       
      Lexus tuned the LS exhaust to convey a more authoritative tone, yet also designed the cabin to ensure utterly quiet cruising. New sound suppression methods further hush the environment compared to previous LS models. Active Noise Control quiets the cabin even more by detecting the sound of the engine coming into the vehicle and cancelling certain frequencies using antiphase sound from the audio speakers.
       
      The serenity of the LS cabin provides an ideal stage for the standard premium audio system or the audiophile-worthy available 3D surround Mark Levinson audio package with in-ceiling array speakers. The package features a more inviting graphic user interface. Its next-generation remote touch is designed to mimic smartphone operation, also supporting handwritten input. In addition to its 12.3-inch wide navigation display, the LS can incorporate an optional 24-inch color heads-up display (HUD)—the largest in the world—that projects a variety of information onto the driver’s forward view.
       
      Advanced Safety Features and Driver Support
       
      Structurally, the all-new Lexus LS offers a high degree of passive safety for occupant protection in collisions. Lexus has also equipped the LS with technologies that can possibly help prevent crashes from occurring or mitigate their effects.
       
      The LS will feature the brand’s Lexus Safety System + and offer the Advanced Safety Package, which features the world’s first system with Intuitive Pedestrian Detection with Active Steering within the lane. With this system, if a pedestrian is detected in the lane ahead and a collision is imminent, the LS is designed to automatically brake and potentially steer around the person while staying in the lane. The available color HUD is utilized in alerting the driver.
    • By William Maley
      Last fall, I had the chance to drive a Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack for a week and fell in love. It was basically an SRT Charger, minus a few items for just under $40,000. This fall, another high-performance Charger came in a week’s stay and it was packing more heat. 707 horsepower to be exact. Yes, I finally got my hands on a Hellcat. What was it like? It was fast, but you want more information than that.
      That 707 horsepower figure comes courtesy from a 6.2L supercharged HEMI V8. Torque is rated at 650 pound-feet.This is backed up by an eight-speed automatic only. If you want a manual, then you’ll need to get the Challenger Hellcat. Trying to explain just how fast the Charger Hellcat is difficult. This is a car that you need to drive or sit in to experience the ferocity of the V8 engine. The best way I can use to describe the Hellcat’s power delivery is engaging warp drive. Step on the accelerator and the supercharger whirrs into life and the V8 produces a roar very few vehicles can dream. Blink and you’ll be at an illegal speed before you know it. Taking turns in the Hellcat is somewhat difficult because of the accelerator. You need to roll on it if you want to do it smoothly. If you step on the accelerator pedal like you would on a standard vehicle, the back will become very loose and the stability control will kick on to get the vehicle straightened out. This is especially important due to the tires fitted to Hellcat, a set of Pirelli P-Zeros. These tires need to be warmed up before they begin to bite the road. The Hellcat will be a regular at the fuel pump with fuel economy figures of 13 City/22 Highway/16 Combined. I got about 14.3 mpg during my week in mostly city driving. Handling? That’s the surprising part as the Charger Hellcat doesn’t embarrass itself. Fitted with an adaptive suspension system, the Charger Hellcat shows little body roll when put into Sport and provides a smooth ride when in comfort. The steering system provides the right amount of feel and heft you want in a performance vehicle.  Bringing a 707 horsepower vehicle to a stop is no easy task, but a set of massive Brembo brakes is up to the task. It brings the Charger Hellcat to a quick halt. The Charger Hellcat looks like your standard SRT Charger with a new front clip and lowered stance. There are some slight differences such as a new hood, 20-inch wheels finished in a dark bronze color, and the requisite Hellcat emblems on the front fenders. Inside, the Hellcat isn’t that much different from the standard Charger aside from the speedometer going 200 mph. It would have been nice if Dodge could have done some sprucing of the interior to not make it feel so dank and dark. A little bit more color on the dash would not be a bad thing. The front seats have extra bolstering to hold you in when you decide to let loose all 707 horsepower or take a turn a bit too fast. As I mentioned in my Ram 1500 Quick Drive last week, the Charger’s UConnect system is beginning to show its age. The interface is still easy to use but is beginning to show signs of aging. Performance isn’t as snappy either as in previous FCA models. Hopefully, the 2017 model is able to get the updated UConnect system that debuted in the Pacifica. The UConnect system in the Charger Hellcat does come with SRT Pages. This allows you to record 0-60, quarter-mile, and reaction times. It also allows you to change various performance settings such as gear changes, suspension, and whether you want the full 707 horsepower or 500. The last one pertains if you happen to have the red key. In terms of pricing, the Charger Hellcat kicks off at $65,495. With options and a $1,700 gas guzzler tax, our tester came to $72,820. Compared to other high-performance sedans, the Hellcat is quite the steal. If it was my money on the line, I would go for the Charger R/T Scat Pack. I get most of the enjoyment of the Hellcat, minus the supercharger whine. But I would have a fair chunk of change that I could spend on hopping it up. But I understand why someone would go for the Charger Hellcat. It is a four-door sedan that provides explosive acceleration and engine note that no other vehicle can dare match. There’s something magical about stepping on the accelerator, being flung back into the seat due to power on tap, and then laughing like a four-year old after what happened. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Charger Hellcat, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      (Author’s Note: That’s a wrap for the 2016 review season. We’ll be back with the first batch of 2017 model year vehicles after New Years. But I will be picking my favorite vehicles I drove this year. Expect to see that before the year comes to a close.)
      Year: 2016
      Make: Dodge
      Model: Charger
      Trim: SRT Hellcat
      Engine: Supercharged 6.2L HEMI V8
      Driveline: Eight-speed automatic, Rear-wheel drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 707 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 650 @ 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/22/16
      Curb Weight: 4,570 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario
      Base Price: $65,945
      As Tested Price: $72,820 (Includes $995 Destination Charge and $1,700 Gas Guzzler Tax)
      Options:
      Customer Preferred Package 23T - $1,995.00
      20-inch x 9.5-inch Brass Monkey SRT Forged Wheels - $995.00
      275/40ZR20 P Zero Summer Tires - $595.00
      Redline Red Tri-coat Pearl Exterior Paint - $595.00

      View full article
  • Recent Status Updates

  • Who's Online (See full list)