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Sampling all three flavors of the 2015 Lexus NX
It’s easy to figure out which one we like best

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British Columbia is a beautiful place. From the towering buildings butting up to the water in Vancouver to the snowy expanses lying to the north near Whistler, there’s something beautiful to see nearly everywhere you look.

A good way to break all of that up is by using something that some would describe as “polarizing”. That’s exactly how we’d describe the all-new 2015 Lexus NX. Some folks are going to love it, while others… well, they will let you know what they think.

For us, it boils down to how a car drives, and the NX drives surprisingly well. It’s clear that Akio Toyoda’s mission to make his brands more sporting is paying off. It should be no surprise that our favorite of the three new NX examples is, of course, the F-Sport version.

We touch on both the 300h and the 200t to start things off, but we quickly focus on the most interesting of the three.

[Disclaimer: Lexus flew us to Whistler and put us up in a swank hotel. Also, I cleared customs in like five minutes... I don't know if that had anything to do with Lexus though.]

First Drive: 2015 Lexus NX
Dynamically, a step in the right direction

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[Editor's Note: We have a First Drive coming soon too. The initial footage is not yet finished though, so GET EXCITED because you have more Lexus NX coming your way.]

It also happens to be damned perfect for its target market. The RX is comfortable, offers up an appropriate level of luxury, looks fancy enough without standing out, and is priced in line with the rest of its segment. If you’re afraid to test the diesel waters, the Lexus RX Hybrid is a perfectly fine vehicle for you.

Still, there are some who desire some engagement from their machines. Toyota President Akio Toyoda himself even said recently that he desires to see more a more sporting attitude and nature throughout the Toyota lineup. To that end, we’ve begun to see the initial results of his push. The Avalon no longer looka like the last car you’ll ever buy your grandmother, the Lexus IS and GS are truly entertaining machines both on the street and the track, and the Toyota/Scion GT-86/FR-S are rhythm car blasts from enthusiast heaven.

It should stand then, that a compact crossover from Lexus should be enjoyable to drive as well. This is one of the hottest segments out there, so Lexus needs to offer something unique. Enter the 2015 Lexus NX… and even if you hate how it looks, prepare to love how it drives.

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Video Review: 2013 Lexus GX 460
A business suit that can be covered in mud

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Around the world, a vehicle called the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado is the go-to machine for areas that require traversing less than hospitable paths and roads. It’s a tough truck that can go almost anywhere. In fact, the UN regularly relies on the Prado to help its members reach every nook and cranny of the globe.

Sounds like a pretty sweet ride, right? Too bad we don’t have that in the States…

Allow me to introduce you to the other side of the 2013 Lexus GX 460.

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Understanding and Hooning the Lexus F SPORT Cars

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The BMW M3, in theory, has always been simply a base sedan turned into a sports car by BMW M GmbH. There were substantial improvements in its chassis and engine, but it was still a 3 Series. Over the years, many have attempted to duplicate the performance and success of the M Division, but most always fall short of the mark. For instance, Audi’s S4 was too slow and too heavy, so much so that Audi had to create the sportier RS4 version. The Mercedes-Benz AMG version of the C-class was fast and powerful, but the driver involvement just was not there.

In 2007, an M3 competitor came from the least likely of places, Lexus, in the form of the IS F. Like the E90 M3, it too had a powerful V8 engine that sent its power to the rear wheel via a proper limited-slip differential, and the car boasted a strong, well-tuned, chassis. While the IS F did not knock the M3 off its throne, it may have come closer to doing so than many others.

To further show how serious it was about its performance, Lexus put the much-hyped LFA supercar into production. The V10 two-seater was aiming straight at Italy’s exotica, offering parallel performance but with a Camry-level of reliability and none of the drama. To say that Lexus is serious about performance brand image would be an understatement.

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Video Review: 2014 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport
This brand is starting to embrace sportiness

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Lexus has been a builder of luxury cars since the late 1980s. They’ve gotten really good at producing cushy cruisers that appeal to their intended demographic. During that time, there’s never been much to get excited about from a sports-oriented driving experience. Yes, the IS-F is a blast and the LFA proves the company is capable of tremendous feats of engineering. Still, the standard IS has been the sportiest machine in the lineup, and it can’t hold a candle to offerings from BMW, Audi, or even the the new Cadillac ATS.

Now, however, Lexus is pushing itself. This is happening in both the style department and the in-seat experience. The cars are far more bold, whether you like it or note. Additionally, they’re becoming rather entertaining to drive. For example, I had a chance to sample the latest GS on a track, and I was nearly shocked at how well it behaved. One of my best burnouts was recently accomplished in the F-Sport version of the LS. These machines are still holding on to their luxurious roots, but their also broadening their horizons… and it’s about time.

The 2014 Lexus IS now has to step up to this improvement plate. As the entry-level member of the family (forgetting the CT200h), it has to capture the heart and soul of folks so Lexus can keep them climbing up the product ladder as they grow older. Can the new IS pull off this emotional encapsulation?

Click past the jump to find out… and watch the video all the way through to catch the worst “donuts” ever.

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2013 Lexus GS 350 AWD
Keeping the blue blooded brahmins on their toes

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Remember Quint from Jaws? Of course you do… he was the gruff fisherman that promised he could save the beach community from a menacing Great white shark. That character didn’t simply spring forth from the mind of Peter Benchley. The character of Quint was based on a real fisherman named Frank Mundus. In the film, Quint’s boat was called Orca but the real boat is called Cricket II. It still exists, but it’s currently rotting under a tarp in the same small Connecticut boatyard where my father in-law keeps his cabin cruiser tied up.

It’s a funny place, this boatyard. It’s right on the edge of some exceptionally wealthy areas of Connecticut and Rhode Island. One of the favorite chariots of the New England elite is nearly any machine wearing a Lexus badge. For many years this meant that blissful blue bloods would shuttle their broods in comfortable cars that lacked any real driving emotion.

Much like Jaws arrived to the town of Amity and shook things up, perhaps the latest line of Lexus products can do the same. The biggest surprise to don the new predator front fascia is undoubtedly the reworked GS, and I just so happen to have brought the GS 350 to the land of red pants, nautical belts, and boat shoes.

I don’t need a bigger boat… I’ve got over 300 horsepower.

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Review: 2013 Lexus GS 450h

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Lexus introduced the GS300 in 1993. The Italdesign Giugiaro designed car was to follow in the footsteps of the iconic LS400, bringing contention to the 5-series and the E-class, much like the LS did to 7-series and the S-class. The car looked slick and it came with already legendary reliability and an excellent price point.

Unfortunately its success did not mimic the LS400. The GS was a victim to the sharply raising cost of Yen and the lack of V8 power, which its competitors had. Successive generations of the GS had the right equipment but lacked the advantageous value and style. It wasn’t just the GS, however, the whole Japanese car market seemed to have suffered some kind of design and engineering setback in the late 1990’s and 2000’s from which the whole industry is currently recovering.

Part of this recovery was Toyoda Akido’s direction to improve quality and make cars that are not boring. The initial results of this direction are evident in the Lexus LFA, ISF, and the Scion FR-S. Toyota plans to implement this direction into each new product, including the new Lexus GS. Jeff has previously reviewed the new Lexus GS 350 F-Sport, and he liked it a lot. But I’m not driving the F-Sport. No, I am driving the faster, more powerful GS 450h.

Yes, h as in hybrid. Yes, faster. Yes, more powerful. Yes, you read that right.

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Video Review: 2013 Lexus ES 350
Stylish luxury… for non enthusiasts

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I’d love to believe that every car built is designed with the idea of selling to someone who loves the act of driving. This is not the case, of course. That doesn’t mean these less-than-dynamic machines are bad. They’re built to appeal to a larger audience, and they’re designed to sell. One such vehicle is the 2013 Lexus ES 350. This latest iteration is the sixth generation of the ES, and it’s most certainly the best one yet. The exterior looks great, the interior is wonderfully laid out, and the driving experience is one of utter smoothness.

Still, it’s not for me.

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Video Review: 2012 Lexus IS-F

We love odd-duck cars. Not just because they’re unique pieces of the automotive landscape though, they also have to be good at something. The Mazda2 is a sub-compact machine that happens to enjoy being treated very badly. The Fiat 500 Abarth drives like a school bus, but sounds like Darth Vader singing smooth jazz. Just like these and other odd ducks, the 2012 Lexus IS-F is a luxury four door from Lexus, which doesn’t sound very exciting until you realize there’s a 416-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine under the hood.

Is that enough of a reason for us to love it though?

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Quick Spin: 2013 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport

Did you know that the design of the first-generation Lexus GS was penned by the sexy shape makers at Italdesign Giugiaro? That car was shaped in 1988 before it became the real-life 1991 Toyota Aristo. It eventually arrived stateside in 1993 as the Lexus GS 300, and slotted itself as a more affordable luxury alternative to the Lexus LS while also offering more substance than the entry-level ES. It took a generation for the GS to catch on though, because it wasn’t until the second-generation 1998 GS hit dealership that the model began to rise in popularity.

Everything that goes up eventually comes down though, because the third generation 2006 GS was a bit of a snooze fest. It was certainly more refined and luxurious than the models that came before it, but the styling fell deep into the family look. Lexus vehicles are typically understated and shoot for subtle elegance. The GS, however, was always the wild child of the family that offered up something more for enthusiast shoppers.

Now the time has come to return to its stand-out roots. Lexus has an all-new GS and it seems exterior aggression is the order of the day. Have the designers gone too far? In order to break out of the standard Lexus look, we say you can’t go far enough and the 2013 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport is the perfect anti-Lexus Lexus.

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