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    First Steer: 2013 Lexus LS



    William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    October 10, 2012

    1989 was a pivotal year in the automotive world. That would be the year when Toyota would introduce the Lexus brand and its first vehicle, the LS400. The LS shattered expectations of what a luxury car and quality should be. This startled the old luxury guard and caused many buyers to take a look at this newcomer. Twenty-three years later, the LS still carries the flag of what a luxury sedan should be to many.

    But Lexus hasn’t been one to rest on its laurels. The competition has learned and implemented many ideas from the LS, and Lexus tries its best to stay one step ahead. The LS has grown from single model to a range of short and long-wheelbase models packing either a gas or hybrid powertrain and a load of new technologies. The new 2013 LS hopes to continue that trend.

    Lexus invited me to down to The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, Michigan to drive the LS 460 F-Sport and 600h L. This happens to be a big deal because an automaker outside of the big three has invited Cheers & Gears; a site was started as a place for GM fans to gather in 2001. Since that time, we’ve expanded the focus and coverage of the site to all automotive brands. Having an automaker that’s not based in the Detroit area, reach out and invite you to a drive event is a big deal.

    Previously known for its conservative outward appearance, Lexus chose a more audacious look on the 2013 LS. Up front, the new LS drops the Plain Jane front end styling of the last-generation model. The new model falls in line with other redesigned Lexus models by sporting the new spindle grille with chrome running along the length of it and a set of HID or optional LED headlights. The hood features a slight bulge running along the middle. In the back, Lexus designers took the current LS rear end and tapered it to match the aggressive look of the front.

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    The interior has also been given a dramatic change, featuring a design similar to new GS and ES. Materials used throughout the interior include leather seats and dash, five different choices of trim including a new Shimamoku ("striped") wood trim, and soft touch materials. There’s a new instrument cluster with a 5.8-inch full-color TFT multi-function display sitting in the middle. The centerstack has a new 12.3-inch multimedia display sitting on top. The screen is controlled by Lexus’ Remote Touch, a Joystick controller. Using the remote touch system for the short time left me frustrated since it would take me longer to perform a function than using a touchscreen. Some people who have used the system a bit longer say it’s very easy to use once you get the hang of it.

    gallery_10485_479_735327.png

    Safety-wise, the new LS comes with a new version of the Pre-Collision Safety (A-PCS) system with Collision Avoidance Assist. The system uses cameras and radar mounted on the front end to monitor the road. If the system detects an obstruction on road, whether it is another vehicle or a person, the system will intervene, provide an audible alert to driver, and begin to slow the vehicle down. If the vehicle is traveling under 24 MPH, the system will actually bring the car to a stop. I didn’t get the chance to try the system out for the fear of it not working and having to explain to Lexus why one of their priceless prototypes is sitting on a flatbed tow truck.

    Next: Shall we take a drive?


    Lexus will offer the LS in the following seven configurations:

    • LS 460
    • LS 460 AWD
    • LS 460 L
    • LS 460 L AWD
    • LS 460 F-Sport
    • LS 460 F-Sport AWD
    • LS 600h L (AWD)

    First up was the new for this generation LS 460 F-Sport. The LS 460 F-Sport is much like the GS 350 F-Sport that I drove back in May at the MAMA Spring Rally; appearance and suspension changes. The F-Sport gains a mesh grille, nineteen-inch alloy wheels, Torsen limited-slip differential on RWD models (AWD models have a Torsen center differential), sport tuned air suspension with drive mode select, Brembo brakes, bucket seats, aluminum trim, and paddle shifters.

    gallery_10485_479_151399.png

    Under the hood lies a 4.6L V8 that carries over from the last-generation LS. Power is up from 380 to 386 HP (@ 6400 RPM) while torque remains unchanged at 367 lb-ft (@ 4100 RPM). For the AWD models, the power and torque numbers are 360 HP (@ 6400 RPM) and 347 lb-ft (@ 4100 RPM), respectively, an uptick of 3 HP and 3 lb-ft from previous generation. A smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission seamlessly channels the power to the drive wheels.

    Driving in the LS F-Sport was a bit of surprise because of how sporty it felt. Turn the drive mode select to the Sport+ function and the personality of the car changes. The air-suspension firms up and keeps the car planted while the steering is weighted and provides a good response for each input. Even the engine has a bit of growl, thanks to an intake sound generator. When you decide to stop having fun, just turn the knob back to comfort and it’s almost like driving a normal Lexus. The ride is mostly comfortable, with a few bumps making their way into the cabin. I would put the nineteen-inch wheels and the vehicle being a pre-production model as to why those bumps made it in. Wind and Road noise were kept to a minimum.

    After returning the F-Sport, it was time to jump into the LS 600h L. The 600h L has been the flagship of the LS lineup since it was first introduced back in 2006. The 600h uses a hybrid system comprised of 5.0L V8 producing 389 HP (@ 6400 RPM) and 385 lb-ft (@ 4000 RPM), a 165 kW electric motor, and a nickel-hydride battery pack. Total output is 438 HP that goes through a CVT down to all four wheels.

    gallery_10485_479_437722.png

    First climbing into the back seat of the LS 600h L, I was amazed at how much head and legroom there was. Compared to the short-wheelbase LS, the LS600h L’s wheelbase are about five inches longer. This allows Lexus to fill the back seat with many luxuries, including optional rear seats that recline and give you a massage. This is where you want to be sitting if you get the chance to ride in a LS 600h L.

    Leaving the back seat to sit in the front, I found the 600h L to be a big, soft luxury car. Lexus’ hybrid system provided enough power and was surprisingly quiet. Transition from electric power to hybrid was very seemless as was the CVT. Steering was what you expected from a big luxury car; light and not that much feel. The 600h L’s ride was very comfortable and quiet.

    Pricing for the 2013 LS lineup hasn’t been announced, but most likely the LS lineup would be structured as the base LS models being on the bottom, the F-Sport models in the middle, and the LS 600h L taking the top spot. The new LS will be arriving at dealers beginning sometime in November.

    Has Lexus raise the bar of what a luxury car should be with the new LS? Yes, but it is not the game changer as the original LS. Despite this, I predict this new LS will keep the other high end luxury sedan makers on their toes.

    Author's Note: Special thanks to Lexus and Toyota’s Midwest PR office for inviting Cheers & Gears out to breakfast and lunch at The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, Michigan for this event. -WM

    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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    Great Read, nice write up on the auto line. I have to say I think the interior is very bland and weird and the exterior front end scream Predator ugly.

    Their car line is just pathetic.I do not see what is so appealing about the Lexus lineup. Considering that most people I know who drive Lexus is very religous and conservative, is it that mind set that keeps this line going even when it is so blah?

    I just do not get it, why is Toyota building such a blah product?

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    One thing I just noticed in reviewing the pictures again, the interior of what I assume is the 600H seems to isolate the 4 individuals from each other. There is no way for people to snuggle in the back or have the spouse slide over to sit next to their mate.

    This is one of the sad losses with the Government over site of telling you what you have to have on an auto and all belted up for safety, we have lost that ability to be close to others in our auto's.

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    One thing I just noticed in reviewing the pictures again, the interior of what I assume is the 600H seems to isolate the 4 individuals from each other. There is no way for people to snuggle in the back or have the spouse slide over to sit next to their mate.

    This is one of the sad losses with the Government over site of telling you what you have to have on an auto and all belted up for safety, we have lost that ability to be close to others in our auto's.

    That happens to be option package on the long-wheelbase models called the Executive package. From the press release

    Executive Package

    • 4-zone climate control with air purifier and rear infrared temperature sensor
    • Leather door trim
    • Leather glove box
    • Leather Instrument Panel
    • Power ottoman seat with massage and ottoman knee airbag
    • Rear air conditioning with cool box
    • Rear audio control
    • Rear seat audio controls
    • Rear seat side airbags
    • Rear Seat Entertainment System with rear Blu-ray DVD player, power nine-inch screen and wireless headphones

    So you don't have to get it at all.

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    I don't think the government told Lexus do to that. There is no law against bench seats.

    Nope, just very little market demand. I like the look and colors of the interior....that new front end, though...

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    i sort of like the LS now aside from the weird grille. I do think the LS ES and GS have improved and i sort of really enjoy the new horizontal interiors actually. Would I buy one? No, but at the same time, the LS almost seems nicer to me than a 7 series. The A7 has a bitchen exterior but a predictable interior. I really do think the Lexus cars have improved and while still dull they are not complete snores like they were a few short years ago.

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    Ugly grille, and all they did in the back was flip the tail lights upside down. Underpowered as well, I think this car is about to get left in the dust by the European big sedans. The Europeans have more fuel economy and more power to offer.

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    I'd take this over a BMW or a MB. I drove the last generation model. My only real complaint was the overboosted steering, which could be considered appropriate for this class of car. I still haven't warmed up to the spindle grille, though this one appears to be a little more better integrated than some of the others. I like the aggressive treatment of the L-Sport.

    I took my IS300 to the dealer this week for service, and it cost less to service than my Silverado, plus the Lexus dealer gives a carwash and a $50,000 loaner Lexus to drive.

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    This is a very nice luxury car, as intended by Lexus for its audience. I have no issues with this car from a features standpoint and the interior looks very nice. The grill is a chrome version of the Predator. That's not good and too undignified for a Lexus. B+, maybe.

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    Looks like the same ol same ol styling with a bizarre grille thrown in. it's funny how companies like Lexus and Toyota an keep 85-90% of there styling the same for 10 years and barely any complaints but when GM comes out with a new Malibu or Silverado that are different the critics pan them for being too similar to the outgoing models.

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      Nissan worked on making the 2017 Pathfinder look a bit more SUV-like. The front end gets a new hood and bumper to make it look somewhat wider. Around back, the tailgate and taillights have been reshaped. Here is the thing, you’ll have to look closely to spot the changes. If you were to park a 2016 and 2017 Pathfinder next to each other and ask someone to point out the differences, the only thing they would likely spot is the new grille. The Pathfinder’s interior hasn’t changed much and that isn’t a bad thing. Materials used in the Platinum are for the most part very good for the class. There is plenty of soft-touch materials on the door panels and console.  But Nissan loses some points for the materials used for the dashboard and the surround for center stack. It might look like something soft. But it is hard when pressed. This would be ok if it was the SL and lower trims, not in the top Platinum trim. The center stack is very easy to understand thanks to a simple layout and the use of buttons and knobs. Glad to see Nissan has added their latest version of NissanConnect to the Pathfinder. I really liked this system when I drove the Murano and Maxima last year with a modern interface and being very easy to use. Second-row seating is towards the top of the class with a large amount of head and legroom. Also, the second-row seat is very flexible. The seat can tip forward to allow for easy access to the third row. If you’re wondering, the third row is best reserved for small kids. The 3.5L V6 has been tweaked to produce 284 horsepower (up 24) and 259 pound-feet of torque (up 19). The improvements in power do make a big difference. Compared to the last Pathfinder I drove back in 2013, the updated V6 feels a bit more energetic to get up to speed. Although, the V6 does sound somewhat unrefined when you step on it. Nissan made some changes to the chassis to improve body control and ride. Such changes include revised spring rates, stiffer shocks, and improved steering system. The changes make the Pathfinder feel more stable on stable on the road, especially in corners. At the event, Nissan announced pricing for the 2017 Pathfinder. The base S two-wheel drive begins at $30,890 and climbs to $44,460 for the Platinum 4WD. (Prices include a $900 destination charge) Nissan has made some noticeable improvements for the Pathfinder. But even with these improvements, I can’t think of a reason of why I would pick the Pathfinder over the Kia Sorento, GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot, and Mazda CX-9. The Pathfinder is good, but competitors at the moment do it better. 2017 Nissan Armada
      There isn’t really much difference between the new Nissan Armada and Infiniti QX80 aside from different front ends. Both are very polarizing in terms of their overall looks, but I would say the Armada is slightly more tasteful. The interior is a huge improvement over the old Armada. A new dashboard, noticeable improvements in terms of materials, and bits of style strewed about make for a pleasant experience. Yes, there are a fair amount of interior bits from the QX80 in the Armada’s interior, but it doesn’t feel out of place. Most Armadas will feature seating for eight people. The Platinum which was the model I drove features seating for seven (captain chairs in the second row). Sitting in the second row is quite comfortable with a large amount of head and legroom. The Platinum’s second row also features a removable center console that adds more storage. The third-row seat is best left for small kids. Adults will complain that they don’t have any legroom. The standard equipment list is quite generous with all models featuring push-button start, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and navigation.  Speaking about the navigation, I think Nissan made a massive oversight. Unlike the Pathfinder which boasts the latest generation of Nissan Connect, the Armada features a system from the late-oughts. The graphics look quite dated and it doesn’t feature any of Nissan’s latest technologies such as the NissanConnect telematic services. Power comes from a new 5.6L Endurance V8 with 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. The V8 has more than enough grunt to leave a stop light in decent time and makes a passing a breeze. It doesn’t hurt the V8 has a nice growl during acceleration. The automatic seems quite smart with shift points and gear changes are very smooth. One item we’ll be looking at closely whenever we get in an Armada for testing is fuel economy. The Armada Platinum AWD is rated at 13 City/18 Highway/15 Combined. The last Armada we drove in 2014 only got an average of 12 mpg. The ride is very pleasant with bumps being smothered. This is impressive when you consider the Platinum is riding on 20-inch wheels. Nissan also worked on the Armada very quiet. On the freeway, barely any wind noise came in. Some road noise made its way inside, but that is likely due to the large wheels. Somewhat surprising is how the Armada felt in the corners. There was little body roll which is impressive for a seven-seat SUV. Not so impressive is the steering; it feels quite light when turning and there isn’t any feel.  The Armada starts at $45,395 for the base SV 2WD and climbs to $60,985 for the Platinum AWD Think of the 2017 Nissan Armada as an Infiniti QX80 with a significant price cut. There are a lot of improvements for this SUV that might make it an interesting alternative to the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon and Ford Expedition. 2017 Nissan Titan
      Finally! Nissan has brought out the half-ton Titan. There isn’t any difference in terms of looks between the standard Titan and the Titan XD. The only real difference comes in size: Titan is about 14.7 inches shorter in terms of overall length and its wheelbase is about a foot shorter. Still looks like an older F-150 to me in the front. Everywhere else, the Titan does have some unique touches such black and silver wheels for the Pro-4X, and a large chrome bar on the tailgate of the top Platinum Reserve. The Titan will be offered in regular and king (Nissan-speak for extended) cabs. Sadly, Nissan didn’t have a regular cab Titan to look at in person. The interior might not be anything special in terms of looks, but build and material quality are excellent. Dash layout is a bit button-heavy, but most controls are arranged in a logical fashion. All Titans feature a touchscreen infotainment system, either 5 or 7-inches. The trucks available for us to drive came with a larger 7-inch screen. I’m not a fan of the NissanConnect system used in the Titan and Titan XD for a number of reasons: the interface is looking somewhat old despite being one of the newer systems on the market and having issues with devices plugged in via USB. One area that the Titan shares with the XD is comfort. The front bucket seats provide excellent levels of comfort and support. The backseat is quite spacious with plenty of head and legroom for most passengers.  A storage bin under the back seats provides a handy space for storing tool and other random bits. A clever trick that the bins offer is the ability for the lid to flip out and provide a flat surface for carrying large items in the back. Powering the Titan for the time-being is a 5.6L Endurance V8 with 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. A V6 is coming, but Nissan isn’t talking details about it at the moment. The V8 moves the Titan with authority, although it takes a moment for the throttle to realize that your foot is on the gas before anything happens. Provides a nice growl during acceleration and doesn’t show any signs of harshness. The seven-speed automatic provides smooth gear changes, although it does take its sweet time to downshift in certain maneuvers such as passing. During the short drive loop, the Titan provided a smooth and relaxing ride. One area that Nissan might want to do some more work is in noise isolation. I found a fair amount of road noise coming into the cabin. Handling is quite surprising for a truck. The Titan felt planted around corners and showed no sign of body roll. Steering is where the Titan really shined as it felt connected to the road and had the right amount of heft. This is due to Nissan using a rack-and-pinion setup, not a recirculating ball steering system in the XD. Pricing for the Titan starts at $35,975 for the base S 2WD Crew to $56,595 for the Platinum Reserve 4WD. Prices for the crew cabs are on the high side and that is making us wonder how much the regular and king cabs will start at. Nissan is making progress with the 2017 Titan in a number of key areas. But we have to wonder if the slow rollout that Nissan is doing with the Titan is actually hurting them. Consider that when other truck manufacturers launch a pickup, they have a number of cab and bed variants ready to go, along with a range of engines. The Titan only has one cab, bed, and engine at the moment. The regular cab goes on sale this fall, but the King Cab and V6 aren’t due till later. This could put Nissan and the Titan in a difficult spot. Author's Note: Cheers & Gears would like to thank Nissan for inviting us to this first drive event. 
    • By William Maley
      Toyota Motor Sales Reports July 2016 Sales
      TMS posts best-ever light truck sales for second month in a row
      RAV4 and Highlander post best-ever sales for the month
      Lexus posts best-ever LUV sales in July and year-to-date
      TORRANCE, Calif. (August 2, 2016) – Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., today reported July 2016 sales of 214,233 units, a decrease of 1.4 percent from July 2015 on a volume basis. With the same amount of selling days in July 2016 compared to July 2015, sales were down 1.4 percent on a daily selling rate (DSR) basis. 
       
      Toyota division posted July 2016 sales of 186,343 units, down 0.5 percent on a volume basis and DSR basis.   
       
      “Light trucks remained the hottest segment for the industry in July,” said Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager, Toyota division. “Toyota Division reported its best-ever light truck sales for the month, supported by record July results for both RAV4 and Highlander.”
       
      Lexus posted July sales of 27,890 units, down 6.5 percent on a volume basis and DSR basis. 
       
      “Lexus luxury utility vehicles had another strong sales month, with RX, NX, and LX up,” said Jeff Bracken, Lexus division group vice president and general manager. “With these results, we had our best-ever July for light trucks and are up nearly 10 percent for the year, thanks to the strength of our dealer body.”
       
      July 2016 Highlights
      Corolla posts sales of 31,717 units; up almost 5 percent for the month
      Camry posts July sales of 34,122 units
      TMS posts best-ever light truck sales for the second consecutive month   
      Toyota Division light trucks up 7.3 percent; best-ever July
      RAV4 sales rose 19.3 percent; best-ever July
      Highlander posts sales of 15,213 units, up 19.5 percent; best-ever July
      4Runner up more than 14 percent
      Land Cruiser up 57.7 percent in July
      TCUV posts best-ever July
      ES posts sales of 5,497 units for the month, up 1 percent
      Lexus LUVs post best-ever July and year-to-date sales
      NX up 8.1 percent in July with sales of 4,689 units; best-ever July
      RX posts sales of more than 8,500 units, up 3.1 percent for the month
      LX up almost 54 percent for the year
      Lexus L/Certified posts best-ever July, up 24 percent for the month
      *Note:  Unless otherwise stated, all figures reflect unadjusted raw sales volume
       

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