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William Maley

Lexus News: Toyota Exec Admits Lexus' Sedans Need to Step Up

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It has been the ongoing story for a couple of years; buyers flocking to crossovers and sales of sedans falling down. While some automakers it seems are giving up on sedans, others are trying to figure out ways to make them more appealing.

Tokuo Fukuichi, Toyota Motor Corp.'s global branding chief tells Automotive News the brand will be employing two strategies to help keep their sedans relevant -  improve the driving dynamics and be more daring in terms of design.

"Unless we can really offer a sedan experience you cannot have with an SUV or crossover, I think the sedan may not be able to survive if it does not evolve," said Fukuichi.

"At a certain point of time, the traditional, square, three-box sedan will go away."

The LC coupe is the first model that is taking these ideas and running with it. It features a low ride height, the highest torsional stiffness of any Lexus model in history (partly due to the new GA-L platform), and a design that stands out. The all-new LS is following its footsteps as it features more of a fastback look than the standard three-box silhouette.

Intriguingly, Fukuichi dropped the idea of there being a station wagon in Lexus' lineup. It could take some ideas found on Porsche's Panamera Sport Turismo in terms of design. Before you get your hopes, there are no plans for a wagon at this time.

"Personally, I would like to have a Lexus wagon if we had enough resources. Maybe not as tall as an SUV but not as short as a wagon. There could be some optimized packaging," said Fukuichi.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)


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In other news, water is wet,. it gets dark at night, and the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

 

Nice cars, but yes, they do need to up their game....just like every other player in the luxury market.  Not impressed with our current luxury crop.

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Build a car with the driving dynamics and space of my Trailblazer SS AWD and I might be interested, otherwise, cars are dead men walking to me.

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You are the consummate SUV guy...

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7 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

You are the consummate SUV guy...

Happens when your 280lbs 6'6" tall. Cars after the mid 90's lost the space and comfort for us big guys. After all the ultimate Cadillac that was roomy and comfortable to me was the 1993 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham! 

1993CadillacFleetwoodBrougham.jpg

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Problem with Lexus sedans is they don't drive great and they are ugly on the outside and have Toyota level interiors inside.  Lexus doesn't make good sedans, crossover buyers aren't as worried about driving dynamics they buy what they know and they know the RX.  

But you can't make sedans with sloping roof lines less head room, less cargo space, etc, that is why people are leaving sedans.  You need to keep space in sedans, a liftback like the 4-series has vs a traditional trunk might help with cargo capacity for example.

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28 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

Problem with Lexus sedans is they don't drive great and they are ugly on the outside and have Toyota level interiors inside.  Lexus doesn't make good sedans, crossover buyers aren't as worried about driving dynamics they buy what they know and they know the RX.  

But you can't make sedans with sloping roof lines less head room, less cargo space, etc, that is why people are leaving sedans.  You need to keep space in sedans, a liftback like the 4-series has vs a traditional trunk might help with cargo capacity for example.

You are so right, took my sister auto shopping and she insisted she test drive a Lexus cuv. After driving it, she asked some questions to the sales person about why the interior was so identical to her friends Toyota, the sales person tried to say it was not and this is what luxury looks like. She took his card and we left, she then test drove the Buick Envision and loved it and said this is what Luxury is like, quiet, quality interior, what she would expect from Lexus. 

End result she has bought her Buick Envision, ordered the way she wants it.

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37 minutes ago, dfelt said:

You are so right, took my sister auto shopping and she insisted she test drive a Lexus cuv. After driving it, she asked some questions to the sales person about why the interior was so identical to her friends Toyota, the sales person tried to say it was not and this is what luxury looks like. She took his card and we left, she then test drove the Buick Envision and loved it and said this is what Luxury is like, quiet, quality interior, what she would expect from Lexus. 

End result she has bought her Buick Envision, ordered the way she wants it.

Lexus interior aren't even attractive.  The early to mid 2000s Lexus interior were at least un-offensive, they were pretty straight forward, buttons were easy to find, yes the switcher was right out of a Camry, but they gave you some soft leather and wood trim to forget about it.  The current Lexus interiors have so many angles and lines, they are overly busy and annoying.  And a lot of plastic, when the rest of the industry has moved on.

Even if they got their interiors up to par, I don't seem them offering performance in their Crossovers or Sedans to really stand out.  This is why their sedan sales are in the tank, sub-par performance on top of ugly styling.  Why buy them?   They already said the GS is dying, the ES could be next and that was a big seller for a lot of years for them.  But they don't need and IS and an ES at the same price, and how long will the Avalon last?  If the Avalon goes away, bye bye ES.

 

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Smk4565, The Lexus ES is a same-year Toyota Camry XLE V6 upgraded with the Lexus package.  It has been that way since day one.  If the Avalon were to become a casualty of the crossover revolution, that would be sad.  Nowhere nearly as sad as the demise of the LaCrosse and/or Impala, but just as bad.  It would mean the end of large sedans in general.

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3 hours ago, riviera74 said:

Smk4565, The Lexus ES is a same-year Toyota Camry XLE V6 upgraded with the Lexus package.  It has been that way since day one.  If the Avalon were to become a casualty of the crossover revolution, that would be sad.  Nowhere nearly as sad as the demise of the LaCrosse and/or Impala, but just as bad.  It would mean the end of large sedans in general.

The current ES shares platform and wheelbase with the Avalon, shares powertrain too.  So they are now more closely related than it is to the Camry, even though it shared all that with the Camry V6 from the 90s until 2012.

The Camry platform underpins the Avalon, Highlander, Sienna, ES, and RX, and Venza which I think is now dead.  So they get a lot out of that one platform.  I hadn't looked at Lexus sales recently so I just did, the ES is their number 1 selling sedan and outsells the Avalon.  So actually they could dump the Avalon and just push more sales to the ES350.  And the Avalon isn't much bigger than a Camry, anyone Avalon shopping that doesn't want to pay Lexus money can get a Camry.

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About the only Lexus models I've ever really liked are the original very unique SC and first 3 or so generations of LS...anonymous, '90s Mercedes-esque styling but w/ Toyota reliability.    Today's Lexus models are so aggressively ugly, IMO...

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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9 hours ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

About the only Lexus models I've ever really liked are the original very unique SC and first 3 or so generations of LS...anonymous, '90s Mercedes-esque styling but w/ Toyota reliability.    Today's Lexus models are so aggressively ugly, IMO...

My son owns a rather unique Sc 300, it is a 2000 which is the final year for the car, probably less than 200 made for the Us market, how many remain...neat car!

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So I am not the only one who thinks that the Lexus's Predator-like grill is ugly as . . . . sin.

Personally, I am glad that somebody said YES to the Buick and not just NO to the Lexus crossover.  If I had to buy a crossover, I would probably go for the Envision since the Encore is way too small and the Enclave has Family Vehicle written all over it (a very stylish one though).  Both the GS and the LS could stand having that grill replaced, but I think their real problem can be summed up in two words: Cadillac and Genesis.  Cadillac is back (with rising sales) and the Genesis G80 and G90 make Lexus seem rather expensive without any sound reason to buy either the GS or the LS anymore. This is 2017, not 2002, when Cadillac still had issues and there was no Genesis at all.

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1 hour ago, riviera74 said:

So I am not the only one who thinks that the Lexus's Predator-like grill is ugly as . . . . sin.

It's the Edsel of the 21st Century. But FAR worse.

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9 hours ago, balthazar said:

It's the Edsel of the 21st Century. But FAR worse.

There are likeable aspects of both the Edsel and the Lexus though.

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Lexus does have nice interiors, though.   It's good you can't see the front end from the driver's seat.. ;) 

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On 5/3/2017 at 9:27 PM, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

Lexus does have nice interiors, though.   It's good you can't see the front end from the driver's seat.. ;) 

Eh.... The RWD ones maybe. The FWD are too close to Camry for comfort.

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15 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

Eh.... The RWD ones maybe. The FWD are too close to Camry for comfort.

Agreed, plus the driving dynamics of the Lexus FWD cars are nothing to write home about at all.

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On 5/3/2017 at 9:32 AM, A Horse With No Name said:

There are likeable aspects of both the Edsel and the Lexus though.

True... in the case of the Edsel. ;) There the grille is pleasantly & organically radiused.

But Lexus's is only describable as 'pinched', 'dented' or 'collapsing'. "Spindle" ?? No.

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2 hours ago, balthazar said:

True... in the case of the Edsel. ;) There the grille is pleasantly & organically radiused.

But Lexus's is only describable as 'pinched', 'dented' or 'collapsing'. "Spindle" ?? No.

 I actually still have fantasy of owning an Edsel... especially a 1960 wagon or convertible, both of which are quite uncommon.

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Forced to pick, I'd go '59 I think. '60 just makes me immediately think '59 Pontiac (a MILES better & more appealing car), and '58 has some major quirks for me. Ford, having aced the '30s and '40s for the most part, had lost it's styling mojo in the late '50s. Having seen a 2-headlight '57 Merc for sale today, that opinion is pretty well cemented.

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On 5/5/2017 at 9:54 PM, balthazar said:

Forced to pick, I'd go '59 I think. '60 just makes me immediately think '59 Pontiac (a MILES better & more appealing car), and '58 has some major quirks for me. Ford, having aced the '30s and '40s for the most part, had lost it's styling mojo in the late '50s. Having seen a 2-headlight '57 Merc for sale today, that opinion is pretty well cemented.

I can see that.  You ahve gotten me more interested in cars from that immediate era...lots of neat stuff built during that time frame.  I like some of the old Mopar wagons of the era also.

On 5/5/2017 at 4:37 PM, balthazar said:

True... in the case of the Edsel. ;) There the grille is pleasantly & organically radiused.

But Lexus's is only describable as 'pinched', 'dented' or 'collapsing'. "Spindle" ?? No.

Ingested a Klingon....?

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23 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

Wrong alien...

th.jpg

I did not knwo being uglier than Klingons existed, i stand corrected!

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Who blessed with the gift of sight would willingly drive this ???

351249.jpg

 

I don't find this remotely pleasant from a design standpoint, yet it's 1000 times better than the above repulsive monster :

61 Ply.jpg

 

Huh. Looking at these 2 together, I'm struck by the similarity. Was Toyota inspired by the '61 Plymouth?? I need to plant this very seed around the internet! :ph34r:

Edited by balthazar
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      Enter the Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama. More than merely a new test facility, this asphalt track signals a change in Lexus’ product development course and speaks to the brand’s commitment to its human-centered nature.
      Since Lexus launched, the tactile feel, behavior, and execution for each model has been driven by the vision and efforts of the Chief Engineer. Moving forward, the efforts of the CE will be focused on elevating the vehicles to a new standard of performance and handling as developed by Lexus International President Koji Sato and Chief Branding officer Akio Toyoda. The ultimate goal is to deliver a new generation of Lexus vehicles that is more balanced, refined in control, and confident than ever before. Linear steering, brake responses, and optimized handling with exceptional ride quality is the result of heightened focus on tuning of the chassis and its interactions with the control surfaces through diligent evaluation at a test facility unlike any other.
      By establishing a uniform Lexus Driving Signature across the entire lineup, the hope is to continue propelling the brand’s evolution and reinforce its identity in the luxury space. This cultural shift within Lexus product development builds on the learnings and improvements seen on the F brand cars, and the latest models of the flagship vehicles (LC, LS, LX) that involve an “Always On” philosophy for continual, running enhancement. Over the past 30 years, Lexus has been defined by the detail-oriented and thoughtful nature of its products. The latest IS represents the first step down a path that has evolved into a uniquely Lexus tarmac testbed that will affect the trajectory of every Lexus product that comes next.
      “What we had foremost in mind in developing the new IS was to make it a car that excelled in communicating with the driver regardless of the road conditions or driving situation,” said Chief Engineer Naoki Kobayashi of Lexus International. “We aimed to make the new IS a Lexus compact sports sedan that provides high-quality riding comfort while offering a high level of vehicle control.”
      Opened in 2019, the Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture is near Lexus’s global headquarters. Its country road test course is inspired by Lexus’s many years of experience driving on Germany’s Nürburgring Nordschleife, famous throughout the world for its grueling driving conditions. Much like the IS itself, Nürburgring is near and dear to Akio Toyoda’s heart since it played a key role in his quest to become a master driver. The 3.3-mile test course at Shimoyama is designed to take advantage of the local topography, and it features a nearly 250-foot change in elevation, a wide range of curves and corners, and multiple types of road surfaces. Developing the new IS in such a severe driving environment made it possible to infuse an ever-higher dimension of vehicle performance.
      Maturation of Driving Performance
      With a new tool at its disposal, Chief Engineer Kobayashi’s team worked tirelessly to make the new IS the best to date. The Lexus philosophy of continuously improving meant no stone was left unturned. Countless test hours at the Shimoyama track and other test facilities were conducted on various road surfaces and conditions to identify ways to increase responsiveness and reduce unnecessary movement from unsprung mass. The “relentless pursuit of perfection” has always been a guiding philosophy for the brand, but also at stake is the mission to create a uniform Lexus Driving Signature, and that objective begins with the new IS.
      One of the first things engineers targeted was enhancing body rigidity. This was done in key areas such as reinforcing the radiator side supports, increasing the number of front-side-member weld points, and optimizing reinforcement structures from the C-pillars to the sides of the roof. The increased rigidity not only helps reduce unwanted noise and vibration, but it also helps improve riding comfort and driving performance with enhanced response to steering input.
      For the first time, the new IS will be available with larger 19-inch wheels to improve cornering force and provide a greater contact patch with the road. Engineers revised the suspension layout and front pickup points to help accommodate the larger tire-and-wheel package. Overall two different 19-inch wheels are available on F SPORT models, including a unique BBS wheel specific to the F SPORTs equipped with the Dynamic Handling Package. Standard 18-inch wheels will replace the outgoing 17-inch wheels on all other models.
      Taking a cue from the Lexus LFA supercar, engineers took rigidity enhancements one step further by employing lighter weight hub bolts to secure each wheel to the new IS. The use of hub bolts allows for improved fastening strength and therefore an increase to rigidity to further enhance braking and handling. What’s more, the move to hub bolts sheds approximately 2 pounds of total unsprung weight. The new bolts also feature a black coating so as not to draw any attention away from the attractive new wheel designs.
      Complementing the enhancements to overall rigidity, multiple refinements were made to the suspension setup. For starters, engineers targeted a reduction in unsprung weight. The new IS features coil springs that are 20 percent lighter than the outgoing model. New A-arms are employed as well that feature a forged aluminum material versus the outgoing steel composition, resulting in an 18 percent weight reduction. Engineers also opted for a new material for the suspension stabilizer bar to optimize the diameter and thickness to provide a 17 percent weight reduction.
      With unsprung weight reduced, engineers equipped the IS with new swing-valve shock absorbers equipped with ultralow-velocity valves in their pistons to manage oil flow in response to the most minor of road irregularities. Even when the stroke speed of the shock absorbers is low, the new velocity valves provide excellent responsiveness to apply appropriate damping force on all varieties of road surfaces. The result is consistently even ride quality. New bound stoppers are also employed to help manage the sprung weight more effectively for enhanced ride comfort.
      Fast, Fun, Ferocious – Putting the “F” in F SPORT
      The IS F SPORT lineup is restructured in the 2021 model year, as F SPORTs will only be offered on the IS 350 powered by the 311-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine. F SPORT features a host of visual and performance cues that immediately set it apart, including a unique front bumper with functional aerodynamic enhancements, rear bumper, grille surround, rear lip spoiler, rocker molding and more. Along with F SPORT 19-inch wheels, a unique center cap and larger rear tires for added performance (265/35R19), they are also equipped with a cool air intake with sound generator and an F SPORT exhaust and diffuser. In addition, unique F SPORT badges adorn the sides and rear of the vehicle as well.
      Inside the new IS, stainless-steel scuff plates adorn the door sills. Eyes are immediately drawn to the stylish F SPORT front seats, especially when dressed in the available new Circuit Red option. The front seats also offer standard heated and ventilated functions. A heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with unique center ornament, perforated leather-wrapped shifter and F SPORT combination instrumentation meter await the driver, as do unique F SPORT accelerator pedal, brake pedal and footrest. The distinctive front seats offer available two-way power adjustable lumbar support as well as four-way adjustable headrests. Unique F SPORT door accents are highlighted with black geometric film window switch surrounds. Active Sound Control has been improved to further enhance the exhilarating performance notes of the V6 engine while reducing unpleasant tones.
      F SPORT models can be further augmented with the addition of a Dynamic Handling Package (DHP) that includes Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS). For 2021, engineers have optimized the damping force of the AVS system to help enhance performance. In addition, the DHP also includes lighter 19-inch forged alloy BBS wheels finished in matte black. Not only are they impressive looking, the 19-inch BBS wheels are approximately 4 pounds lighter per wheel compared to the standard 19-inch F SPORT wheel.
      The RWD F SPORT models with the DHP are equipped with a Torsen® limited slip differential (LSD) that improves handling and performance thanks to enhanced traction when cornering or exiting turns. The LSD helps maintain straight-line stability as well. F SPORT models equipped with the DHP also feature drive select mode Sport S+, which provides advanced engine and transmission mapping to enhance performance. Sport S+ also adjusts the amount of EPS steering assist and damping force to deliver sportier handling to match the updated powertrain settings. Custom Mode is available on DHP models, offering multiple combinations for powertrain (Normal/Eco/Power), chassis (Normal/Sport) and air conditioner (Normal/Eco).
      F SPORT models equipped with the DHP receive a unique carbon-fiber rear spoiler and side-view mirror caps, center console knee pad with contrast stitching, and a Lexus Card Key.
      Athletically Inclined & Designed
      The bold new exterior styling of the 2021 IS not only aims for a provocative design, but its athletic silhouette is also meant to signify the agile changes that have taken place below the sheet metal. Overall, the new IS evokes lower, wider proportions. It is slightly wider, with muscular fenders that extend to enhance and accommodate the larger available 19-inch wheels and larger diameter tires. The wide and low form nods to the inherently high level of driving performance the IS possesses, but the sleek lines are also complemented with overtly aggressive sharpness carved into the side and shoulder character lines.
      2021 IS Specifications

      Starting at the front of the new IS, a newly designed spindle grille features a three-dimensional, polyhedral structure that originates from the foremost tip of the grille to emphasize a sense of presence. On F SPORT models, block forms based on a spindle motif combine with a mesh pattern to achieve a sporty impression. F SPORT models also feature a grille-bottom air intake that allows air to flow through to assist in cooling the brakes, a design inspired by the RC F.  Standard IS models feature a new grille that includes mini spindles within its design. This intricate pattern required six different types of cutting tools in order to create the mold.
      New slender headlamps are fitted on the IS that feature daytime running lights with a sharp L-shape signature that runs across the lateral axis just above the newly developed compact and lightweight lamp units. These new headlamps help contribute to expressing a low center of gravity through low-positioned areas around the grille, and they are matched by lowered side character lines that carry all the way through to the rear of trunk. Available triple-beam LED headlights are also redesigned to complement the low-profile hood.
      New rocker panels accent the side profile of the new IS with a design that kicks up in the rear, featuring a sharper overall contour that carries into the muscular shoulders over the rear wheel wells. Gently sloped rear-quarter pillars, which help form a firm cabin silhouette that wraps around from the sides, contrast with the rear fenders to further enhance the aggressive look.
      Moving toward the back of the IS, lines of the rear fenders blend into the extended, lowered rear deck to create a low stance that enhances the wider hips. The three-dimensional form of the rear deck design is created with a stamping technology called press-in mold construction. No question eyes will be drawn most immediately to the L-shaped blade-style lightbar that spans across the rear of the vehicle.
      There are five new exterior colors available on the 2021 IS, including Iridium, Cloudburst Gray, Matador Red Mica, Infrared*, and Grecian Water. These new colors will be added to other popular exterior options that include Ultra White, Eminent White Pearl, Atomic Silver, Caviar and Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0*.
      *Colors unique to F SPORT models, includes a premium paint charge of $595
      Bask in Cabin Comfort
      Luxury and performance are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and yet the two live in harmony in the new IS. The interior features standard NuLuxe®-trimmed seating, with 10-way power driver and 8-way power adjustable front passenger seats, a dual-zone automatic climate control system with touch-sensitive controls, an available power moonroof, and SmartAccess with push button start.
      New trim adorns each door in F SPORT models with a graphic pattern of embossed intersecting lines, representing a new form of Lexus decorative expression and Takumi craftsmanship. Decorative ornamentation is finished for the first time in Black Metallic paint, Black Geometic Film, or the unique Ash ornamentation exclusive to F SPORT models equipped with the Dynamic Handling Package. Piano Black accents also can be found on surface elements for cabin atmosphere that is both dignified and sporty. Standard NuLuxe interior color options include Black, Glazed Caramel and Rioja Red. On F SPORT packages the options include Black, Circuit Red, and two-tone White/Black, while the F SPORT Dynamic Handling Package is available in Black or Circuit Red interior.
      The IS features a standard 8-inch touchscreen nearly 3 inches closer to the driver for easy access to the controls. An expansive new 10.3-inch touchscreen is available on vehicles equipped with navigation or Mark Levinson with navigation. The new multimedia system features Apple CarPlay® compatibility, Android Auto™ compatibility, and Amazon Alexa integration.
      With Apple CarPlay compatibility, customers can access the familiar interface from their iPhone through the vehicle’s multimedia display. Simply connect an iPhone to get directions, make calls, send and receive message via Siri®, all hands free, and get access to favorite apps like Spotify, Audible® and Apple podcasts. With Android Auto, Android users can seamlessly cast their device’s interface onto the vehicle’s multimedia display, play music via apps such as Spotify® and Pandora®, send messages through a range of commonly used apps like WhatsApp®, navigate with Google Maps™, and request information—all with just the sound of your voice—through the Google Assistant™.  With Lexus+Alexa integration, you can bring all the convenience of Amazon Alexa on the road. Just ask Alexa for the same access to information and the thousands of skills available with Alexa at home. Listen to audiobooks, play favorite music, make lists, check the weather, get news briefings, and much more. Users can also control compatible smart-home devices such as lighting, thermostat and security systems. Offering added in-vehicle convenience, Alexa even syncs to the navigation system to provide on-the-go recommendations.
      The available Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System is also enhanced, with the previous system expanding from 15 speakers with 835 watts of power to a 17-speaker system with a new amplifier offering an impressive 1,800 watts. The new Mark Levinson system aimed to reduce interference, improve output (aided by the addition of two speakers), and improve overall sound quality with new EQ tuning. Rear surround speakers have been changed to tweeter/mid-range combination Unity speakers. The audio amplifier has enhanced Quantum Logic Surround for playback of compressed sound sources and to provide a 7.1 surround sound listening experience.
      Drivetrains and Powertrains
      Although, for some, the IS can only be viewed as a rear-wheel-drive compact sports sedan, others reside in climates where all-wheel-drive is a necessity. Fortunately, the 2021 IS will be available in both rear- and all-wheel drive options, and there are three distinct powertrain options available depending upon the grade.
      The rear-wheel drive IS 300 features a 2.0-liter, turbocharged and intercooled inline four-cylinder engine. The 2.0-liter engine is updated for 2021, featuring an adaptive transmission control that helps determines the most appropriate gear for each driving situation based on driver input to achieve linear response. Rated to deliver 241 horsepower, the stout four-cylinder also produces a solid 258 lb-ft of torque across a flat torque range from 1,650 rpm all the way up to 4,400 rpm. It’s not only powerful, it’s efficient, too, thanks to a sophisticated Variable Valve Timing intelligent – Wide (VVTi-W) system which allows the engine to switch between the Otto and Atkinson combustion cycles to maximize efficiency. It comes equipped with an eight-speed Sport Direct Shift (SPDS) automatic transmission. It integrates an advanced G-force Artificial Intelligence (G-AI) system that monitors multiple performance parameters to determine the optimum gear selection.
      For added traction in cold-weather climates, the IS 300 is also available with all-wheel drive. The IS 300 AWD is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 260 hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The electronically controlled all-wheel drive system is designed to help enhance traction and grip by automatically varying front-to-rear torque distribution. On dry roads it maintains a 30:70 front-to-rear torque split for maximum performance, but it’s capable of sending as much as 50 percent of the power to the front wheels in certain conditions.
      For buyers who crave maximum power, there’s the IS 350 in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 311 hp and 280 lb.-ft. of peak torque. The rear-wheel drive model uses the same eight-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission found in the IS 300 RWD, while the AWD version sends power through a six-speed automatic. If there’s any question about the performance-minded nature of each vehicle, look no further than their 0-60 times, as the IS 350 RWD covers the ground in 5.6 seconds while the IS 350 AWD goes from 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds. 
      Enhanced Lexus Safety System+
      The standard Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+) found on the new IS receives additions for 2021 in the form of the new LSS+ 2.5. A number of key features that are part of the Lexus Safety System+ have been enhanced, along with the addition of a few key features.
      For starters, the Pre-Collision System (PCS), which include Frontal Collision Warning (FCW), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Pedestrian Detection and Bicyclist Detection, features an enhancement to the single-lens camera and millimeter-wave radar elements to expand the response range. By enhancing the radar and camera capabilities it is now possible for the system to help detect not only the vehicle ahead but also a preceding bicyclist in daytime and even a preceding pedestrian in daytime and low-light conditions. At intersections, the system has improved recognition of an oncoming vehicle or pedestrian when performing a left-hand turn and may activate typical PCS functions if needed. Additional PCS functions include Emergency Steering Assist (ESA), which is designed to assist steering within the vehicle’s lane as cued by the driver.
      All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) can be activated above 30 mph and is designed to perform vehicle-to-vehicle distance controls down to 0 mph and can resume from a stop. DRCC also includes a new feature that allows for smooth overtaking of slower vehicles. If traveling behind a vehicle traveling slower than the preset speed, once the driver engages the turn signal the system will provide an initial increase in acceleration in preparation for changing lanes; after changing lanes, the vehicle will continue acceleration until it reaches the original preset driving speed.
      Lane Departure Alert is designed to help notify the driver if it senses the vehicle is leaving the lane without engaging a turn signal via steering wheel vibrations or audible alert. When DRCC is set and engaged, Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) is designed to provide slight steering force to help steer to the center of the lane to assist the driver with staying in the lane using lane markers or a preceding vehicle. LTA alerts the driver with a visual warning and either an audible alert or steering wheel vibration. In the new IS, the lane recognition performance, which makes LTA possible, has been improved with enhanced recognition of line and road edge, lateral G performance, and enhanced control and stability after lane change.
      Additional LSS+ 2.5 features include Intelligent High Beams, which detects preceding or oncoming vehicles and automatically switches between high beam and low beam headlights. Road Sign Assist (RSA) is designed to acquire certain road sign information using a camera and navigation maps and displays them on the multi-information display (MID). With DRCC engaged and activated, RSA can also adjust speed up to the posted speed limit if driving slower or down to the posted speed limit if driving faster than posted.
      To help IS drivers change lanes with confidence, the standard Blind Spot Monitor is designed to help detect and warn you of vehicles approaching or positioned in the adjacent lanes. Standard Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) can offer added peace of mind by helping to detect vehicles approaching from either side while backing out with a visual and audible warning.

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      It isn't a good sign when a fair number of automotive writers (myself included) looks at a new vehicle and wonders, what's different? That is the case with the new 2021 Lexus IS which was unveiled last night.
      The exterior for the most part is unchanged from the current IS. The only changes we can spot include,
      a new "three-dimensional" version of the Spindle Grille spilt headlight arrangement has been dropped for a new single headlight setup more prominent shoulder line 18-inch wheels are standard on the IS, while 19-inch BBS wheels are optional for F-Sport versions full-width LED taillight bar that seamlessly integrates with the rear lights grows in length and width by 1.2-inches, and is 0.2-inches lower in ride height Not much has changed with the IS' interior aside from new 8 and 10-inch infotainment systems finally getting touchscreens, along with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa intergration.
      The engine lineup is unchanged with the turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder (badged as IS 300) with 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque serving as the base. Next is a detuned version of 3.5L V6 with 260 hp and 236 lb-ft for the IS 300 AWD. Completing the lineup is the regular 3.5L V6 pumping 311 horsepower and 280 pound-feet for the IS 350. RWD models get an eight-speed automatic, while AWD models make do with a six-speed automatic.
      So what has changed for the 2021 IS? It is all under the skin. The suspension has been reworked with lighter a-arms, coil springs, and stabilizer bar. There is also a new Dynamic Handling Package for F-Sport models. This includes adaptive dampers and a Torsen limited-slip differential (only for RWD models).
      No word on pricing, but expect to see the 2021 IS arrive at Lexus dealers sometime in late fall.
      Source: Lexus
      Press Release is on Page 2
      2021 LEXUS IS: AGILITY AND ATHLETICISM EXPAND PURE DRIVING PERFORMANCE
      New 2021 IS first Lexus to debut Lexus Driving Signature Tested and developed at new technical center in Shimoyama, Japan Driving performance enhanced through rigidity, chassis and suspension enhancements New Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 offers enhanced standard safety features New multimedia system with available 10.3-inch touchscreen PLANO, Texas (June 15, 2020) – Writing yet another chapter in the book of compact luxury sports sedans, the new 2021 Lexus IS was unveiled today via a unique and engaging online virtual reveal. Since its debut nearly 20 years ago in the U.S., the IS has thrived on creating exhilarating driving performance in the form of a true rear-wheel-drive luxury sports sedan. The IS has served as a whetstone to help sharpen Lexus driving performance across the lineup but, more directly, it has forged indelible bonds between driver and machine that reach into the hundreds of thousands. It’s no wonder the IS has earned worldwide adoration for its extraordinary driving performance.
      There may be no greater fan of IS than Toyota President Akio Toyoda, who notes the vehicle’s special place in his heart during the introduction to the Art of Lexus book, where he credits the IS as “The car that really taught me what performance driving was, and it was the moment when my love affair with Lexus began.”
      The new 2021 IS, which is expected to arrive in dealerships in late fall of this year, looks to expand upon the legacy it has carved out in the compact luxury sports car segment over the previous two decades. Truly a global vehicle, it will be available for sale in approximately 40 countries around the world, including the US, Japan, and other countries in Asia.
      The Lexus Driving Signature Lives at Shimoyama
      From day one, the IS has left a lasting impression in the compact luxury sports sedan segment, where dynamic capability and driving performance are mandatory attributes. The 2021 IS looks to further cement the bond between driver and vehicle by providing an enhanced linear driving characteristic that provides clear and direct feedback to the driver. In order to achieve this objective, Lexus engineers needed the proper tool with which to hone the vehicle’s skills.
      Enter the Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama. More than merely a new test facility, this asphalt track signals a change in Lexus’ product development course and speaks to the brand’s commitment to its human-centered nature.
      Since Lexus launched, the tactile feel, behavior, and execution for each model has been driven by the vision and efforts of the Chief Engineer. Moving forward, the efforts of the CE will be focused on elevating the vehicles to a new standard of performance and handling as developed by Lexus International President Koji Sato and Chief Branding officer Akio Toyoda. The ultimate goal is to deliver a new generation of Lexus vehicles that is more balanced, refined in control, and confident than ever before. Linear steering, brake responses, and optimized handling with exceptional ride quality is the result of heightened focus on tuning of the chassis and its interactions with the control surfaces through diligent evaluation at a test facility unlike any other.
      By establishing a uniform Lexus Driving Signature across the entire lineup, the hope is to continue propelling the brand’s evolution and reinforce its identity in the luxury space. This cultural shift within Lexus product development builds on the learnings and improvements seen on the F brand cars, and the latest models of the flagship vehicles (LC, LS, LX) that involve an “Always On” philosophy for continual, running enhancement. Over the past 30 years, Lexus has been defined by the detail-oriented and thoughtful nature of its products. The latest IS represents the first step down a path that has evolved into a uniquely Lexus tarmac testbed that will affect the trajectory of every Lexus product that comes next.
      “What we had foremost in mind in developing the new IS was to make it a car that excelled in communicating with the driver regardless of the road conditions or driving situation,” said Chief Engineer Naoki Kobayashi of Lexus International. “We aimed to make the new IS a Lexus compact sports sedan that provides high-quality riding comfort while offering a high level of vehicle control.”
      Opened in 2019, the Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture is near Lexus’s global headquarters. Its country road test course is inspired by Lexus’s many years of experience driving on Germany’s Nürburgring Nordschleife, famous throughout the world for its grueling driving conditions. Much like the IS itself, Nürburgring is near and dear to Akio Toyoda’s heart since it played a key role in his quest to become a master driver. The 3.3-mile test course at Shimoyama is designed to take advantage of the local topography, and it features a nearly 250-foot change in elevation, a wide range of curves and corners, and multiple types of road surfaces. Developing the new IS in such a severe driving environment made it possible to infuse an ever-higher dimension of vehicle performance.
      Maturation of Driving Performance
      With a new tool at its disposal, Chief Engineer Kobayashi’s team worked tirelessly to make the new IS the best to date. The Lexus philosophy of continuously improving meant no stone was left unturned. Countless test hours at the Shimoyama track and other test facilities were conducted on various road surfaces and conditions to identify ways to increase responsiveness and reduce unnecessary movement from unsprung mass. The “relentless pursuit of perfection” has always been a guiding philosophy for the brand, but also at stake is the mission to create a uniform Lexus Driving Signature, and that objective begins with the new IS.
      One of the first things engineers targeted was enhancing body rigidity. This was done in key areas such as reinforcing the radiator side supports, increasing the number of front-side-member weld points, and optimizing reinforcement structures from the C-pillars to the sides of the roof. The increased rigidity not only helps reduce unwanted noise and vibration, but it also helps improve riding comfort and driving performance with enhanced response to steering input.
      For the first time, the new IS will be available with larger 19-inch wheels to improve cornering force and provide a greater contact patch with the road. Engineers revised the suspension layout and front pickup points to help accommodate the larger tire-and-wheel package. Overall two different 19-inch wheels are available on F SPORT models, including a unique BBS wheel specific to the F SPORTs equipped with the Dynamic Handling Package. Standard 18-inch wheels will replace the outgoing 17-inch wheels on all other models.
      Taking a cue from the Lexus LFA supercar, engineers took rigidity enhancements one step further by employing lighter weight hub bolts to secure each wheel to the new IS. The use of hub bolts allows for improved fastening strength and therefore an increase to rigidity to further enhance braking and handling. What’s more, the move to hub bolts sheds approximately 2 pounds of total unsprung weight. The new bolts also feature a black coating so as not to draw any attention away from the attractive new wheel designs.
      Complementing the enhancements to overall rigidity, multiple refinements were made to the suspension setup. For starters, engineers targeted a reduction in unsprung weight. The new IS features coil springs that are 20 percent lighter than the outgoing model. New A-arms are employed as well that feature a forged aluminum material versus the outgoing steel composition, resulting in an 18 percent weight reduction. Engineers also opted for a new material for the suspension stabilizer bar to optimize the diameter and thickness to provide a 17 percent weight reduction.
      With unsprung weight reduced, engineers equipped the IS with new swing-valve shock absorbers equipped with ultralow-velocity valves in their pistons to manage oil flow in response to the most minor of road irregularities. Even when the stroke speed of the shock absorbers is low, the new velocity valves provide excellent responsiveness to apply appropriate damping force on all varieties of road surfaces. The result is consistently even ride quality. New bound stoppers are also employed to help manage the sprung weight more effectively for enhanced ride comfort.
      Fast, Fun, Ferocious – Putting the “F” in F SPORT
      The IS F SPORT lineup is restructured in the 2021 model year, as F SPORTs will only be offered on the IS 350 powered by the 311-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine. F SPORT features a host of visual and performance cues that immediately set it apart, including a unique front bumper with functional aerodynamic enhancements, rear bumper, grille surround, rear lip spoiler, rocker molding and more. Along with F SPORT 19-inch wheels, a unique center cap and larger rear tires for added performance (265/35R19), they are also equipped with a cool air intake with sound generator and an F SPORT exhaust and diffuser. In addition, unique F SPORT badges adorn the sides and rear of the vehicle as well.
      Inside the new IS, stainless-steel scuff plates adorn the door sills. Eyes are immediately drawn to the stylish F SPORT front seats, especially when dressed in the available new Circuit Red option. The front seats also offer standard heated and ventilated functions. A heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with unique center ornament, perforated leather-wrapped shifter and F SPORT combination instrumentation meter await the driver, as do unique F SPORT accelerator pedal, brake pedal and footrest. The distinctive front seats offer available two-way power adjustable lumbar support as well as four-way adjustable headrests. Unique F SPORT door accents are highlighted with black geometric film window switch surrounds. Active Sound Control has been improved to further enhance the exhilarating performance notes of the V6 engine while reducing unpleasant tones.
      F SPORT models can be further augmented with the addition of a Dynamic Handling Package (DHP) that includes Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS). For 2021, engineers have optimized the damping force of the AVS system to help enhance performance. In addition, the DHP also includes lighter 19-inch forged alloy BBS wheels finished in matte black. Not only are they impressive looking, the 19-inch BBS wheels are approximately 4 pounds lighter per wheel compared to the standard 19-inch F SPORT wheel.
      The RWD F SPORT models with the DHP are equipped with a Torsen® limited slip differential (LSD) that improves handling and performance thanks to enhanced traction when cornering or exiting turns. The LSD helps maintain straight-line stability as well. F SPORT models equipped with the DHP also feature drive select mode Sport S+, which provides advanced engine and transmission mapping to enhance performance. Sport S+ also adjusts the amount of EPS steering assist and damping force to deliver sportier handling to match the updated powertrain settings. Custom Mode is available on DHP models, offering multiple combinations for powertrain (Normal/Eco/Power), chassis (Normal/Sport) and air conditioner (Normal/Eco).
      F SPORT models equipped with the DHP receive a unique carbon-fiber rear spoiler and side-view mirror caps, center console knee pad with contrast stitching, and a Lexus Card Key.
      Athletically Inclined & Designed
      The bold new exterior styling of the 2021 IS not only aims for a provocative design, but its athletic silhouette is also meant to signify the agile changes that have taken place below the sheet metal. Overall, the new IS evokes lower, wider proportions. It is slightly wider, with muscular fenders that extend to enhance and accommodate the larger available 19-inch wheels and larger diameter tires. The wide and low form nods to the inherently high level of driving performance the IS possesses, but the sleek lines are also complemented with overtly aggressive sharpness carved into the side and shoulder character lines.
      2021 IS Specifications

      Starting at the front of the new IS, a newly designed spindle grille features a three-dimensional, polyhedral structure that originates from the foremost tip of the grille to emphasize a sense of presence. On F SPORT models, block forms based on a spindle motif combine with a mesh pattern to achieve a sporty impression. F SPORT models also feature a grille-bottom air intake that allows air to flow through to assist in cooling the brakes, a design inspired by the RC F.  Standard IS models feature a new grille that includes mini spindles within its design. This intricate pattern required six different types of cutting tools in order to create the mold.
      New slender headlamps are fitted on the IS that feature daytime running lights with a sharp L-shape signature that runs across the lateral axis just above the newly developed compact and lightweight lamp units. These new headlamps help contribute to expressing a low center of gravity through low-positioned areas around the grille, and they are matched by lowered side character lines that carry all the way through to the rear of trunk. Available triple-beam LED headlights are also redesigned to complement the low-profile hood.
      New rocker panels accent the side profile of the new IS with a design that kicks up in the rear, featuring a sharper overall contour that carries into the muscular shoulders over the rear wheel wells. Gently sloped rear-quarter pillars, which help form a firm cabin silhouette that wraps around from the sides, contrast with the rear fenders to further enhance the aggressive look.
      Moving toward the back of the IS, lines of the rear fenders blend into the extended, lowered rear deck to create a low stance that enhances the wider hips. The three-dimensional form of the rear deck design is created with a stamping technology called press-in mold construction. No question eyes will be drawn most immediately to the L-shaped blade-style lightbar that spans across the rear of the vehicle.
      There are five new exterior colors available on the 2021 IS, including Iridium, Cloudburst Gray, Matador Red Mica, Infrared*, and Grecian Water. These new colors will be added to other popular exterior options that include Ultra White, Eminent White Pearl, Atomic Silver, Caviar and Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0*.
      *Colors unique to F SPORT models, includes a premium paint charge of $595
      Bask in Cabin Comfort
      Luxury and performance are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and yet the two live in harmony in the new IS. The interior features standard NuLuxe®-trimmed seating, with 10-way power driver and 8-way power adjustable front passenger seats, a dual-zone automatic climate control system with touch-sensitive controls, an available power moonroof, and SmartAccess with push button start.
      New trim adorns each door in F SPORT models with a graphic pattern of embossed intersecting lines, representing a new form of Lexus decorative expression and Takumi craftsmanship. Decorative ornamentation is finished for the first time in Black Metallic paint, Black Geometic Film, or the unique Ash ornamentation exclusive to F SPORT models equipped with the Dynamic Handling Package. Piano Black accents also can be found on surface elements for cabin atmosphere that is both dignified and sporty. Standard NuLuxe interior color options include Black, Glazed Caramel and Rioja Red. On F SPORT packages the options include Black, Circuit Red, and two-tone White/Black, while the F SPORT Dynamic Handling Package is available in Black or Circuit Red interior.
      The IS features a standard 8-inch touchscreen nearly 3 inches closer to the driver for easy access to the controls. An expansive new 10.3-inch touchscreen is available on vehicles equipped with navigation or Mark Levinson with navigation. The new multimedia system features Apple CarPlay® compatibility, Android Auto™ compatibility, and Amazon Alexa integration.
      With Apple CarPlay compatibility, customers can access the familiar interface from their iPhone through the vehicle’s multimedia display. Simply connect an iPhone to get directions, make calls, send and receive message via Siri®, all hands free, and get access to favorite apps like Spotify, Audible® and Apple podcasts. With Android Auto, Android users can seamlessly cast their device’s interface onto the vehicle’s multimedia display, play music via apps such as Spotify® and Pandora®, send messages through a range of commonly used apps like WhatsApp®, navigate with Google Maps™, and request information—all with just the sound of your voice—through the Google Assistant™.  With Lexus+Alexa integration, you can bring all the convenience of Amazon Alexa on the road. Just ask Alexa for the same access to information and the thousands of skills available with Alexa at home. Listen to audiobooks, play favorite music, make lists, check the weather, get news briefings, and much more. Users can also control compatible smart-home devices such as lighting, thermostat and security systems. Offering added in-vehicle convenience, Alexa even syncs to the navigation system to provide on-the-go recommendations.
      The available Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System is also enhanced, with the previous system expanding from 15 speakers with 835 watts of power to a 17-speaker system with a new amplifier offering an impressive 1,800 watts. The new Mark Levinson system aimed to reduce interference, improve output (aided by the addition of two speakers), and improve overall sound quality with new EQ tuning. Rear surround speakers have been changed to tweeter/mid-range combination Unity speakers. The audio amplifier has enhanced Quantum Logic Surround for playback of compressed sound sources and to provide a 7.1 surround sound listening experience.
      Drivetrains and Powertrains
      Although, for some, the IS can only be viewed as a rear-wheel-drive compact sports sedan, others reside in climates where all-wheel-drive is a necessity. Fortunately, the 2021 IS will be available in both rear- and all-wheel drive options, and there are three distinct powertrain options available depending upon the grade.
      The rear-wheel drive IS 300 features a 2.0-liter, turbocharged and intercooled inline four-cylinder engine. The 2.0-liter engine is updated for 2021, featuring an adaptive transmission control that helps determines the most appropriate gear for each driving situation based on driver input to achieve linear response. Rated to deliver 241 horsepower, the stout four-cylinder also produces a solid 258 lb-ft of torque across a flat torque range from 1,650 rpm all the way up to 4,400 rpm. It’s not only powerful, it’s efficient, too, thanks to a sophisticated Variable Valve Timing intelligent – Wide (VVTi-W) system which allows the engine to switch between the Otto and Atkinson combustion cycles to maximize efficiency. It comes equipped with an eight-speed Sport Direct Shift (SPDS) automatic transmission. It integrates an advanced G-force Artificial Intelligence (G-AI) system that monitors multiple performance parameters to determine the optimum gear selection.
      For added traction in cold-weather climates, the IS 300 is also available with all-wheel drive. The IS 300 AWD is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 260 hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The electronically controlled all-wheel drive system is designed to help enhance traction and grip by automatically varying front-to-rear torque distribution. On dry roads it maintains a 30:70 front-to-rear torque split for maximum performance, but it’s capable of sending as much as 50 percent of the power to the front wheels in certain conditions.
      For buyers who crave maximum power, there’s the IS 350 in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 311 hp and 280 lb.-ft. of peak torque. The rear-wheel drive model uses the same eight-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission found in the IS 300 RWD, while the AWD version sends power through a six-speed automatic. If there’s any question about the performance-minded nature of each vehicle, look no further than their 0-60 times, as the IS 350 RWD covers the ground in 5.6 seconds while the IS 350 AWD goes from 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds. 
      Enhanced Lexus Safety System+
      The standard Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+) found on the new IS receives additions for 2021 in the form of the new LSS+ 2.5. A number of key features that are part of the Lexus Safety System+ have been enhanced, along with the addition of a few key features.
      For starters, the Pre-Collision System (PCS), which include Frontal Collision Warning (FCW), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Pedestrian Detection and Bicyclist Detection, features an enhancement to the single-lens camera and millimeter-wave radar elements to expand the response range. By enhancing the radar and camera capabilities it is now possible for the system to help detect not only the vehicle ahead but also a preceding bicyclist in daytime and even a preceding pedestrian in daytime and low-light conditions. At intersections, the system has improved recognition of an oncoming vehicle or pedestrian when performing a left-hand turn and may activate typical PCS functions if needed. Additional PCS functions include Emergency Steering Assist (ESA), which is designed to assist steering within the vehicle’s lane as cued by the driver.
      All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) can be activated above 30 mph and is designed to perform vehicle-to-vehicle distance controls down to 0 mph and can resume from a stop. DRCC also includes a new feature that allows for smooth overtaking of slower vehicles. If traveling behind a vehicle traveling slower than the preset speed, once the driver engages the turn signal the system will provide an initial increase in acceleration in preparation for changing lanes; after changing lanes, the vehicle will continue acceleration until it reaches the original preset driving speed.
      Lane Departure Alert is designed to help notify the driver if it senses the vehicle is leaving the lane without engaging a turn signal via steering wheel vibrations or audible alert. When DRCC is set and engaged, Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) is designed to provide slight steering force to help steer to the center of the lane to assist the driver with staying in the lane using lane markers or a preceding vehicle. LTA alerts the driver with a visual warning and either an audible alert or steering wheel vibration. In the new IS, the lane recognition performance, which makes LTA possible, has been improved with enhanced recognition of line and road edge, lateral G performance, and enhanced control and stability after lane change.
      Additional LSS+ 2.5 features include Intelligent High Beams, which detects preceding or oncoming vehicles and automatically switches between high beam and low beam headlights. Road Sign Assist (RSA) is designed to acquire certain road sign information using a camera and navigation maps and displays them on the multi-information display (MID). With DRCC engaged and activated, RSA can also adjust speed up to the posted speed limit if driving slower or down to the posted speed limit if driving faster than posted.
      To help IS drivers change lanes with confidence, the standard Blind Spot Monitor is designed to help detect and warn you of vehicles approaching or positioned in the adjacent lanes. Standard Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) can offer added peace of mind by helping to detect vehicles approaching from either side while backing out with a visual and audible warning.
    • By William Maley
      Like it or not, crossovers are becoming the de facto choice for many buyers and automakers are responding. There is now a wide variety of crossovers available: From large three-row models to small, compact vehicles perfect for urban environments. The latter is what we’ll be focusing on this review with the latest entrant into subcompact luxury crossover class, the 2020 Lexus UX 200 F-Sport. It’s a late arrival to the class, but as I found out with the Volvo XC40 last year, that isn’t a bad thing. So how does the most affordable Lexus model stack up to the competition?
      Crossover or Hatchback on Stilts?
      It feels odd to think of the UX being more of a hatchback with a taller ride height than a crossover, but allow me to make my case. To start, the overall shape reminds me more of the Toyota Corolla Hatchback than the NX and RX crossovers. The roofline is a perfect example as the shape is similar to Corolla than any Lexus crossover. Second is when you get inside the UX. You may think that you step up to get inside, but it’s the opposite. The lower position might cause you to think that you lose out on the visibility gain with a higher ride height, but that isn’t the case as you have excellent visibility around most of the vehicle. The rear is difficult to see out of due to the thick pillar and it is recommended to order the optional backup camera.
      The UX 200 does make its presence known to everyone due to some bold design choices. Upfront lies the latest iteration of Lexus’ spindle grille along with some deep cuts in the bumper to give the model an aggressive attitude. The side profile features unique sculpting on the doors and the roof steeply raked towards the back. A vibrant color palette such as this orange on my tester only adds to the bold ideal.
      A Small, Premium Interior
      Lexus has mostly nailed the UX’s interior appointments with soft-touch materials featuring stitching on the dash, metal-like buttons for the climate control system, and contrasting stitching for the seats. The only part which slightly ruins this luxury feeling is the cheap-feeling door panels. Leatherette upholstery is used on the seats and it feels quite nice when sitting on them. F-Sport models get heavily bolster front seats which may make some larger people uncomfortable. Power adjustments for the front come standard on all UX models and allows both driver and passenger to find a comfortable position.
      The rear seat is quite snug for two people, while three is severely pushing it. Legroom can range from ok to non-existent if a tall person happens to be sitting upfront. Headroom is decent for most people, even with the optional sunroof. Cargo space is about average for the class with 21.7 cubic feet with the rear seats up. A tall lift-over height does make it a pain to load heavy items into the vehicle.
      Infotainment System is Better, But Still Frustrating
      The base infotainment system is a 7-inch screen, while a larger 10.25-inch screen is available as an option. Controlling each screen is Lexus’ Remote Touch system. The touchpad controller is unwieldy because you need to pay attention to the screen while making a selection. Otherwise, you’ll end up selecting a different function or setting than what you had originally aimed for. Lexus has added a touchscreen to the recently refreshed RX for 2020 and I can only hope this appears on other Lexus models down the road.
      One change that will be a welcome relief to Android users is that Lexus has added Android Auto compatibility to the system, bringing Lexus in line with most competitors with offering this and Apple CarPlay.
      Mediocre Performance Except In Fuel Economy
      Under the hood of the UX 200 is a 2.0L inline-four producing 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with CVT and front-wheel drive. If you want AWD, then your only option is the UX 250h which pairs the 2.0L with a hybrid system. The 2.0 really struggles at high speeds as evidenced by a 0-60 time of 8.9 seconds. Competitors in the class are at least are a second or two quicker. The engine also has a noticeable drone that appears when you are accelerating hard. But around town, the 2.0 feels quite punchy with excellent get-up and minimal fuss.
      Where the UX does well is in fuel economy. EPA figures are 29 City/37 Highway/33 Combined for the UX 200. My average for the week landed around 31 on a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving.
      I’m wondering if the UX could fit the 2.5L four-cylinder from the Toyota Camry. It would improve overall performance with a slight hit to fuel economy.
      Surprising Handling Characteristics
      Going for the F-Sport version like my test vehicle will net you a revised suspension setup. Going around bends, the UX shows little body roll and quick reactions. The only item that falters is the steering which feels very rubbery and doesn’t encourage enthusiastic driving. For normal driving duties, the UX’s ride quality is on the complaint side with a few bumps making their way inside. I do wish Lexus had done more to keep tire noise from coming inside, especially at highway speeds
      The Price Is Right
      With a starting price tag of $32,300 for the base UX 200, this makes it the most affordable model in the class. It also happens to be very good value as it comes with the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 as standard. This suite of active safety features includes forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. The UX 200 F-Sport seen here comes with an as-tested price of $41,285 and that’s with the optional navigation system, windshield deicer, heads-up display, and power tailgate. To get something similar on the competition, you’ll need to spend a few extra thousand dollars.
      The 2020 UX 200 makes a very compelling case for itself in the subcompact luxury crossover class. This is due in part to its low price and a long list of standard equipment. A competent handling package in the F-Sport and decent fuel economy figures help bolster the model further. But there are areas Lexus needs to address, primarily the engine and infotainment system. The good news is that Lexus has the necessary solutions to both these issues in the form of the infotainment system from the RX and borrowing the 2.5L four-cylinder from the Camry. It would move the UX from being somewhere in the competent class to one that can compete for class honors.
      Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the UX 200, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Lexus
      Model: UX
      Trim: 200 F-Sport
      Engine: 2.0L 16-Valve DOHC VVT-i Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: CVT, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 169 @ 6,600
      Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 29/37/33
      Curb Weight: 3,307 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan
      Base Price: $40,260
      As Tested Price: $41,285 (Includes $1,025.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Navigation System with 10.3-in Color Multimedia Display - $2,200.00
      F-Sport Premium Package - $975.00
      Power Rear Door w/Kick Sensor - $600.00
      Premium Paint - $595.00
      Parking Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert w/Braking - $565.00
      Blind Spot Monitor - $500.00
      Head Up Display (HUD) - $500.00
      Heated F Sport Steering Wheel w/Paddle Shifters - $150.00
      Windshield Deicer - $100.00
      Wireless Charger - $75.00

      View full article
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