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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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!

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    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.

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      Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
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      Make: Chrysler
      Model: Pacifica
      Trim: Touring L
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      Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 287 @ 6,400
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      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/28/22
      Curb Weight: 4,330 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario
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      View full article
    • By William Maley
      There is one vehicle that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has to get right the first time - the minivan. The company is credited for creating this vehicle segment back in the eighties with the introduction of the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. Each subsequent version brought forth some new improvement or feature that put it ahead of the pack. But due to the bankruptcy in 2009 and subsequent merger with Fiat, plans for the next-generation Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Caravan were pushed back. This left the old model struggling against some fresh competition in the form of the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. 
      But last year, Chrysler surprised everyone with a new minivan. Wearing the Pacifica nameplate, the van was unlike anything that had come before. It featured a sleek design, handsome interior, and the option of a plug-in hybrid powertrain. The bigger surprise was that Chrysler would be the only brand getting the new van. The Dodge Caravan would continue in its current incarnation for a few years to provide a low-cost option for those shoppers. Has Chrysler pulled a rabbit out its hat or has the unthinkable happened and the Pacifica trails the competition?
      The first thing to take in about the new Pacifica is how good-looking it is. The design comes courtesy of the 700C that debuted quietly a few years back at the Detroit Auto Show. The rounded front end is reminiscent of the recently departed 200 with a narrow grille and headlights, chrome trim along the edges of the grilles, and a sculpted hood. The side profile shows off two character lines; one running from the front fender to the chrome trim for the windows and another running through the door handles and curving into the rear fender. We would only make one slight change to the Pacifica. Our Touring L tester featured 17-inch wheels that looked a bit small for a vehicle this size. We would go for the larger 18-inch wheels that fill in the wheel wells much better.
      Anyone who has been in the last-generation Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Caravan knows the interior was well past its sell-by date. When pitted against competitors, the two vans came up very short in terms of design, materials, space for cargo and passengers; and infotainment. Step inside the Pacifica and it is clear that Chrysler has done its homework. The design is much more modern with flowing lines and contrasting colors. It also feels more spacious than the outgoing vans thanks to some smart decisions such as the removal of the center console to allow for an open floor between driver and passenger, and the use of a knob for the transmission. Material quality has also seen a noticeable improvement with many surfaces now boasting soft-touch plastics. It wouldn’t be crazy to say the Chrysler Pacifica is ahead of everyone when it comes to the interior.
      Depending on the trim, you can order the Pacifica with seating for seven or eight people. Our Touring L featured the eight-seat layout with a removable middle seat for the third row. It will take you a few moments to figure out how to remove the seat, but once you do, it is quite easy to remove and install the seat. The rest of the seats feature Chrysler’s Stow ’n Go folding system where the seats can fold into compartments in the floor to provide a flat load area. Cargo area is in line with the current crop of minivans with 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row, 87.5 cubic feet behind the second row, and 140.5 cubic feet with both rows folded. As for passengers, both rows of rear seats provide an excellent amount of head and legroom. Getting into the third row is much easier thanks to second-row seats offering a tilt function.
      FCA has equipped the Pacifica with the newest version of their UConnect system. The interface may look similar to the older UConnect system, but there are a number of changes that help catapult this new version towards the top of the infotainment system list. First, the new system is much sharper thanks to the new fonts and an updated screen that provides improved brightness levels. FCA has also improved the overall performance of the system, meaning no slow downs when going between various functions. One item we cannot comment on is navigation as our test Pacifica didn’t come with it.
      Power for the Pacifica comes from the 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission that routes power to the front-wheels only. It might not be the fastest van on the road (that honor falls to the Toyota Sienna), but Pacifica comes very close. Power comes on a smooth and steady rate. You’ll find yourself not wanting more power when merging onto a freeway or trying to make a pass. FCA has seemed to get its act together with the nine-speed automatic transmission. Issues with clunky shifts and gear hunting have been mostly ironed out. The transmission now features smooth and quick upshifts. The only item we would want FCA to work on is the transmission’s hesitation to downshift in certain situations such as making a pass.
      EPA fuel economy for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is rated at 18 City/28 Highway/22 Combined. Our week mostly spent in the city returned 23.2 mpg.
      The primary concern when it comes to a van’s ride and handling characteristics is providing maximum comfort and the Pacifica delivers. The suspension delivers a smooth ride even on some of the rough roads on offer from Metro Detroit area. An added bonus is how well the Pacifica isolates road and wind noise from coming inside. At highway speeds, only a whisper of wind noise makes it inside. But the Pacifica becomes a bit of a surprise when it comes to handling. Despite its large size, FCA’s engineers made the Pacifica feel quite nimble. The steering might not give that impression as it feels somewhat light when turning. But go around a corner and the van feels more like a midsize sedan than a van. 
      It has been a long time coming for a new minivan from FCA and the good news is that they haven’t dropped the ball. The Pacifica may not have ripped up the rulebook when it comes to minivans, but it sure has expanded or rewritten bits of it. From a surprising balance of ride and handling characteristics to the best interior in the class, it is clear that FCA wants to reclaim the crown of the best minivan. But there one thing that we need to address and that is FCA’s poor reliability history. No matter which survey or study look at, more often than not, FCA’s core brands are towards the bottom. What does this mean for the Pacifica? We can’t say for right now, but this could be the one thing that makes or breaks Chrysler’s new van.
      For right now, the Pacifica is at the top of the class.
      Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Chrysler
      Model: Pacifica
      Trim: Touring L
      Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6
      Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 287 @ 6,400
      Torque @ RPM: 262 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/28/22
      Curb Weight: 4,330 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario
      Base Price: $34,495
      As Tested Price: $36,880 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Audio Group - $895.00
      8 Passenger Seating - $495.00
    • By William Maley
      They say timing is everything. As I mentioned in our quick drive piece of 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium, the automaker announced a refreshed version for 2017. Changes included a revised exterior, improved interior materials, and a revised EyeSight active safety system. Once we heard about the refresh, we knew we need to get one in for review. That’s what happened this past fall as a 2017 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Touring arrived at the Cheers & Gears Detroit garage. The XT is the important bit as it means we have the turbo engine.
      Let us begin with the engine as this is one of the best points of the Forester. The XT gets a turbocharged 2.0L boxer-four producing 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT and all-wheel drive. The turbo engine solves some of the issues we had in the previous Forester. The 2.5i wasn’t as responsive as we would have liked and it takes its sweet time to get up to higher speeds. With the turbo engine, the Forester leaps into action. Yes, it does a take a moment for the turbo to spool up. But once it does, the engine delivers power at a steady and smooth rate.  Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT is one of the better CVTs on the market. Part of this comes from the simulated gear changes Subaru has programmed for the CVT. This will fool most people into thinking that the transmission is a standard automatic. Also, the CVT doesn’t have much of a groan when you decide to floor the accelerator. The downside to the turbo engine is fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2.0XT stand at 23 City/27 Highway/25 Combined. Our average for the week was 24.7 MPG. If you’re expecting Subaru to make some changes to the suspension and/or steering for the Forester 2.0XT, then you’ll be very disappointed. The 2.0XT is the same as the 2.5i we drove earlier. That means a smooth ride over some of the worst roads Michigan has on offer, but a fair amount of body roll when going around a corner.  Changes for the 2017 Forester’s exterior include a new grille design, LED accent lights for the head and taillights; and a new set of wheels. The XT also gets a more aggressive front bumper. While the Forester is still a box, at least the changes have made it a bit more stylish. The interior remains mostly unchanged when compared to the 2016 model. The only change we noted is the option of brown leather for the XT Touring that is used for the seats and various parts of the dash and doors. It is a nice touch, but it would have been nice if Subaru had gone a bit further with the luxury touches - especially considering the price of our tester. Subaru has upgraded their EyeSight system for 2017 by installing a new set of color stereo cameras. Subaru says the new cameras allow better detection of various objects and a wider range of monitoring. We believe it as the updated system was able to detect vehicles slightly faster than the previous system when using the adaptive cruise control system. There is one big issue for the 2017 Forester 2.0XT Touring, price. The base price is $34,295. Equipped with an option package that brings a larger screen for the Starlink infotainment system, EyeSight, and reverse automatic braking, the as-tested price comes to $36,765. Taking into consideration for what you get for the price, the Forester 2.0XT Touring isn’t worth it considering you can get into some luxury crossovers for around the same price. You can get the Forester 2.0XT in the Premium trim which kicks off at $29,295, but you cannot get EyeSight as an option. If you really want a Forester with a turbo engine, wait for 2.0XT Touring to hit the used car lot as it will become a slightly better value. Otherwise, skip the 2.0XT and go with the Forester 2.5i or another crossover. Disclaimer: Subaru Provided the Forester 2.0XT Touring, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Subaru
      Model: Forester
      Trim: 2.0XT Touring
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC GDI Boxer-Four
      Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 2,000 - 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/27/25
      Curb Weight: 3,686 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: OTA, Gunma, Japan
      Base Price: $34,295
      As Tested Price: $36,765 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Option Package 34 - $1,595.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      They say timing is everything. As I mentioned in our quick drive piece of 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium, the automaker announced a refreshed version for 2017. Changes included a revised exterior, improved interior materials, and a revised EyeSight active safety system. Once we heard about the refresh, we knew we need to get one in for review. That’s what happened this past fall as a 2017 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Touring arrived at the Cheers & Gears Detroit garage. The XT is the important bit as it means we have the turbo engine.
      Let us begin with the engine as this is one of the best points of the Forester. The XT gets a turbocharged 2.0L boxer-four producing 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT and all-wheel drive. The turbo engine solves some of the issues we had in the previous Forester. The 2.5i wasn’t as responsive as we would have liked and it takes its sweet time to get up to higher speeds. With the turbo engine, the Forester leaps into action. Yes, it does a take a moment for the turbo to spool up. But once it does, the engine delivers power at a steady and smooth rate.  Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT is one of the better CVTs on the market. Part of this comes from the simulated gear changes Subaru has programmed for the CVT. This will fool most people into thinking that the transmission is a standard automatic. Also, the CVT doesn’t have much of a groan when you decide to floor the accelerator. The downside to the turbo engine is fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2.0XT stand at 23 City/27 Highway/25 Combined. Our average for the week was 24.7 MPG. If you’re expecting Subaru to make some changes to the suspension and/or steering for the Forester 2.0XT, then you’ll be very disappointed. The 2.0XT is the same as the 2.5i we drove earlier. That means a smooth ride over some of the worst roads Michigan has on offer, but a fair amount of body roll when going around a corner.  Changes for the 2017 Forester’s exterior include a new grille design, LED accent lights for the head and taillights; and a new set of wheels. The XT also gets a more aggressive front bumper. While the Forester is still a box, at least the changes have made it a bit more stylish. The interior remains mostly unchanged when compared to the 2016 model. The only change we noted is the option of brown leather for the XT Touring that is used for the seats and various parts of the dash and doors. It is a nice touch, but it would have been nice if Subaru had gone a bit further with the luxury touches - especially considering the price of our tester. Subaru has upgraded their EyeSight system for 2017 by installing a new set of color stereo cameras. Subaru says the new cameras allow better detection of various objects and a wider range of monitoring. We believe it as the updated system was able to detect vehicles slightly faster than the previous system when using the adaptive cruise control system. There is one big issue for the 2017 Forester 2.0XT Touring, price. The base price is $34,295. Equipped with an option package that brings a larger screen for the Starlink infotainment system, EyeSight, and reverse automatic braking, the as-tested price comes to $36,765. Taking into consideration for what you get for the price, the Forester 2.0XT Touring isn’t worth it considering you can get into some luxury crossovers for around the same price. You can get the Forester 2.0XT in the Premium trim which kicks off at $29,295, but you cannot get EyeSight as an option. If you really want a Forester with a turbo engine, wait for 2.0XT Touring to hit the used car lot as it will become a slightly better value. Otherwise, skip the 2.0XT and go with the Forester 2.5i or another crossover. Disclaimer: Subaru Provided the Forester 2.0XT Touring, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Subaru
      Model: Forester
      Trim: 2.0XT Touring
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC GDI Boxer-Four
      Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 2,000 - 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/27/25
      Curb Weight: 3,686 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: OTA, Gunma, Japan
      Base Price: $34,295
      As Tested Price: $36,765 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Option Package 34 - $1,595.00
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