Almost There – IS350 F-Sport Nears 335i Performance Feel The all new 3rd Generation Lexus IS is a near luxury sport sedan to be launched during June 2013 as a 2014 model year entry (the 2013 IS C hardtop convertible based on the 2nd Gen IS continues for another year selling along side the 4-door sedan) . The major question is whether it is ready to take on the Germans in its class. To answer that question, Lexus served up three IS350 F-Sports, a BMW 335i and Mercedes C350 and a nice little track outside Austin, Texas – Driveway Austin Motorsports. You could drive each car for two laps per outing as many times as you wanted or time allowed. The conclusion is that the BMW retains the Ultimate Driving Machine crown, the IS350 F-Sport is very, very civilized and competitive, and the C350 approaches land barge category. The 335i is very sporty, very precise and tuned for performance. The IS achieves its competitive position only when you opt for the IS350 with the F-Sport package giving the car upgraded suspension and steering. The more mundane IS models – IS250 and IS350 – are softer and more tuned to the casual driver. But, the F-Sport is a gas to drive. Unfortunately, an Audi A4 was not available for the track exercise. It would have provided an interesting comparison.
So, with the excitement of the track experience out of the way, we were able to drive the IS on the great Texas Hill Country roads around the area.
The Lexus Flagship – the LS460 4-door sedan – is freshened for the 2013 model year. This comes after an all new Audi A8 in 2011, a tweaked 2012 BMW 7-Series, and the new Cadillac XTS (which may not be in this class). A major change for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is due in early 2013 as a 2014 model year. The Jaguar XJ that was all new in 2009 as a 2010 model gets a much needed all wheel drive system for 2013.
2013 Lexus LS460 F SPORT
Best In Class 2012 Hybrid/EV Crossover SUV: Lexus RX450h
2012 Lexus RX450h Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award
Owners of the 2012 Lexus RX450h Hybrid Crossover SUV give the vehicle top ratings in twenty-five of forty-eight attributes in AutoPacific’s 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. We won’t list all the winning categories. It would take too much space, but let’s consider those ratings of 4.5 or higher out of a possible high score of 5.0 satisfaction rating points: Overall Satisfaction, Driver’s Seat Comfort, Image, Vehicle’s Reputation, Brand’s Reputation, Interior Materials, Ride, Reliability, Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety Features, Safety Ratings and Overall Quality. Owners rate the RX450h below 4.0 satisfaction rating points in six categories: Interior Storage, Fuel Economy, Cruising Range, Price, Recyclability, Collision Avoidance Technology.
Think Audi A3, BMW 1-Series and Volvo C30 and you can better understand the competitive set Lexus is targeting with its all new CT200h 5-door hatchback to be launched in February 2011. Also think of the CT200h as a product really designed for the European market where it is right-sized and right-styled.
The competitive set in the USA sells less than 1,500 units per month now – or about 18,000 per year – small potatoes in a 12,000,000 unit industry. Lexus is going after 1,000 units per month – immediately intending capturing 40% of this small segment. Can they do it?
Given pricing in the low $30,0oo range, the CT will undercut the IS 250, but Lexus management tells us it won’t squeak in under the $30K barrier which could prove to be a psychological threshhold.
The 2010 Luxury Crossover segment winner is the Lexus RX, outscoring strong domestic and import brand competition in the segment. Lexus dominates their segment, with a package owners consistently give high marks to.
This third-generation RX is slightly larger than the previous model giving it a notably larger exterior size and greater interior room; it’s no wonder the RX was tops in its class in consumer satisfaction with exterior size, driver’s seat comfort and rear seat comfort.
The VSA’s measure both importance and satisfaction and the RX performed where it matters most to consumers. Areas of highest importance to consumers in the Luxury Crossover SUV segment are reputation, reliability, durability and driver’s seat comfort. The RX scored best in class in each of those attributes, as well as ease of getting in and out and feel of interior fabrics and materials.
A well-deserved class winner.
For a complete list of winners and description of the Awards, click here.
Cadillac’s owners’ cumulative scores for each Cadillac model in AutoPacific’s 2010 Vehicle Satisfaction research have given Cadillac a win in the race to be best brand overall. Cadillac outpoints Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Lincoln and Buick (top Popular Brand). This is Cadillac’s seventh win in the past eleven years. Winning so often is testament that Cadillac is selling to buyers who really appreciate their vehicles.
The Cadillac Escalade Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle is the only Cadillac winning its class outright, but the CTS, the STS, the DTS and the SRX scored well enough to move Cadillac into overall leadership.
For a complete list of winners and description of the Awards, click here.
On sale since August 2009, the Lexus HS 250h was the brand’s first dedicated hybrid model. A second, the CT 200h, launches later in 2010 in the compact car space. Being a luxury marque and with a conventional sedan shape prepped to play in the very heart of the car market (mid-size sedans), the HS 250h evolved a 187HP hybrid system from the Camry Hybrid and its 2.4L I4 rather than using that of the smaller Toyota Prius (136HP, 1.8L).
What that means for the HS 250h is a few more ponies under the hood (187HP net power versus 134HP of the Prius), and fuel economy a little less impressive than Pruis’s 51/48 city/highway mpg. The HS 250h boasts 35/34 city/highway, though the extra HP is welcome.
Until the 2011 CT 200h arrives, the $36,000 HS 250h is the least expensive Lexus hybrid. No doubt a well-thought-out piece of engineering, the HS 250h incorporates lessons learned from prior Lexus and Toyota hybrids. One example is the exhaust heat recovery system of the RX 450h, which keeps the engine and cabin warmer and allowing for more “stop” time at low speeds. The HS 250h’s fuel economy stacks up reasonably well against other conventionally motivated sedans of its size, but not against some current and upcoming hybrid sedans.
The Toyota recalls over sticking accelerator pedals are causing quite a stir this week, one which has grown in volume, really, over months and years. The fallout may be severe for Toyota, depending on how long it takes to fully resolve the issues and whether or not an additional recall regarding the Prius brake system is also required–voluntary or not. The situation is particularly bad for a company that had built a personality based on reliability and safety. No doubt, they will be taken to task. No doubt, mistakes were made. Also no doubt, the media frenzy is turning an already difficult and serious recall situation into recall fever.
But, while the drama plays out on local and national news, and our hard-working Congresspeople ensure they publicly flog Toyota and get their two cents in and “keep us safe,” there are real people with real questions. Toyota has some answers for customers, and we’d like to share them with you.
Follow the jump for Toyota’s relatively thorough and clear FAQs, including information on both the accelerator pedal and floor mat recalls, and what to do in an emergency.
Luxury and Economy Cars Stand Out in Data from 32,000 Consumers
TUSTIN, Calif. (September 1, 2009) — Three cars stand above the crowd of 2009 model year vehicles, as judged by owners participating in research firm AutoPacific’s annual survey. Of the vehicles that earned honors in AutoPacific’s 2009 awards, only the Lexus LS, Lexus ES and Honda Fit topped their segments in each contest: the Vehicle Satisfaction Award, the Ideal Vehicle Award, the Motorist Choice Award (presented jointly with IntelliChoice.com) and Owner Recommendations.
Data collected by AutoPacific from more than 32,000 new vehicle owners rated 2009 vehicles on 48 vehicle attributes related to satisfaction, value, comfort, styling, size, performance, reliability, fuel economy and more. The winning vehicles best met their owner’s expectations.
“Winning one award is quite an achievement, and proof an automaker is able to meet its customers’ needs,” said George Peterson, President of AutoPacific. “But winning all four honors in a single year shows that Lexus and Honda are able to provide what their customers want in a reliable, satisfying vehicle; a single car owners are proud to recommend to their friends and family.”