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Quick Spin: 2015 Lexus RC 350 AWD

2015 Lexus RC 350 front left 2

I may be in the minority of people, especially for people under the age of forty, when I say that I like many of the Toyota and Lexus cars. Toyotas make for well built, reliable, long lasting, basic transportation. Lexus builds on Toyota’s philosophy and adds nice, quiet, interiors, better materials, and unique styling. Most of the cars, such as the IS, GS, and LS, do not have a Toyota equivalent, making it a mostly stand-alone brand, which is great in world of never ending badge engineering.

Lexus’ newest addition to its line-up of cars is the RC coupe. The coupe is loosely based on IS and GS architecture, and being that I really enjoyed the IS and GS F cars, I had high expectations of it. The RC is set to be a direct competitor for the Audi A5, BMW 4-series, Mercedes C coupe, and the Infiniti G37/Q60, which is to say it should attract image-conscious yuppies.

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Road Trip In The Lexus RC350 F Sport


The Lexus RC350 has an aggressive exterior and aims to attack the coupes from its German rivals. The F Sport package gives it better handling and a more menacing look. As a Lexus and not a Caterham, it’s required to strike the right balance between comfort and handling.  I originally planned to take the RC350 F Sport to an autocross event but the car had to be rescheduled and ended up arriving the weekend before a road trip. The logical choice for the six hour round trip  to a wedding would’ve been to take my Cadillac STS or their Toyota Camry but I convinced them that we should ride in the RC350.

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First Drive: 2015 Lexus RC F

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Lexus is looking to join the big leagues of the sport luxury segment. That’s a hefty road to climb considering it’s currently filled with the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, BMW M4, and the Audi RS5, amongst other machines.

Lexus has an answer to those vehicles, however, and it’s called the RC F. Hooniverse.com Executive Editor Jeff Glucker heads to the Monticello Motor Club in New York to see if it can compete with the rest of the segment.

[Disclaimer: Lexus flew me to New York and put me up in a hotel. I ditched the after-track after-dinner drink-a-thon to hang out with my buddy Matt… we had our own drink-a-thon. I was tired the next day.]

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


[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


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


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


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

2013 Lexus GS 450h (20)

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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