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Lexus
LEXUS

Lexus GS sport sedan a 'Lexurious' and fun drive

Lexus has been relentlessly, and passionately, pursuing automotive perfection since the brand first upset the luxury car market back in 1989. Does that mean its current line has reached that pinnacle of automotive excellence for which it has advertised its intent for so long?

Of course not. The only perfection in this world is my wife - followed closely by my grandson (and, yes, they made me write that) - and it isn't realistic to expect flawlessness in any mere product, especially since your idea of perfection is undoubtedly quite a bit different from mine (which, of course, means yours is wrong...).

But they keep plugging away, redefining and refining their line and building some of the most reliable vehicles on the planet year after year.

Their mid-sized GS sports sedan is reasonably sporty, too, though folks who look for a BMW-like experience with Lexus have been disappointed because the cars, while lovely and fun, still don't have that special "je ne sais quois" of a 5 series, not that much does. more...

Smallest Lexus SUV continues to be a winner

Take Lexus' top selling vehicle, the RX 350, shrink it to the next market niche down, and resist the urge to add a bunch of over styled cues and the result is the NX 200t, a wonderful little crossover/SUV that Lexus has made even more wonderful for 2017.

Well, mostly. It still has that awful "spindle" grille that's infecting all Lexi currently, and you have to use a trackpad to navigate its central stack's LCD - but other than that the NX continues to be my favourite current Lexus, the nicest of a very nice line of luxury vehicles.

Think of it as kind of a Rav4 on steroids, though that isn't really fair to either vehicle. But they both operate in that basic size niche, though of course at different areas of the marketplace. And they're both very good vehicles, the NX also having the honour of being the first Lexus to sport, a term used not to describe its driving experience, a turbocharged engine. more...


Lexus RX 350 ups its popular ante, but is it better to drive?

Lexus' top selling model has a new set of clothes for 2016, as well as some new toys and capabilities. But has the redesign done anything to make the SUV/crossover a more interesting and/or fun vehicle to drive than before?

Not really, alas, though it's still a very fine vehicle and will undoubtedly please its owners over the short and long terms.

But I remember when the RX was a tad more fun, when I drove the customer shuttle for the local Lexus dealer some 10 or so years ago. I'd do one day a week, to get me out of the home office and get some real human contact, and the shuttle then was an RX 330 Sport model, which even had a decent manual shifting mode. On the other hand, Lexus dealers have a better vehicle to use as a shuttle now - the new RX is roomier and, thanks to its lack of driver involvement, it can undoubtedly be a little more relaxing for the passengers being shuttled by lead-footed drivers. more...

Lexus IS 300 - a new model with an old name

Lexus is revisiting an old appellation with the 2016 IS 300.

The 300 has joined the company's other IS sedans, the (also new for 2016) IS 200t and the existing IS 350; the hope, undoubtedly, is to up Lexus' sporty reputation, which is a worthwhile endeavour for a company known more for luxe than lust.

Lexus' first real attempt at a sports sedan came in the early 2000's with the IS 300. It was a good car (full disclosure: my son drives one), though a tad busy on the instrument panel, and it featured the last version of the venerable Toyota inline six cylinder engine - a fine power plant that appeared on everything from the old Crown and Corona Mark II to the Supra sports coupe. It was a great engine; my 1983 Supra had it and I drove it happily for 20 years before finally putting it out to stud (you should see its progeny!). more...


Lexus ES 350 gets freshened for 2016

Lexus' best selling sedan gets an upgrade for the 2016 model year that makes it an even nicer vehicle than before. And it was a darn fine vehicle already, especially after its last tweaking.

So what has Toyota's luxury division done to this Camry-inspired sedan to improve it? Lots, actually, though much of it won't be visible because it's under the skin. But even that skin has seen some reworking for 2016, resulting in a sedan that's also more handsome than it was before.

Outside, the company's designers have made their signature spindle grille a little less "alien Predator-like" without compromising its overall family-themed appearance. To each side of the grille are new LED projector headlights with L-shaped "arrowhead" daytime running lights. Newly designed fog lights are now on the outer lower corners of the front fascia, which help give the vehicle a wider-appearing stance. It's a very classy front end. more...


Lexus CT 200h a great opportunity missed

Lexus' entry level car would be a terrific little sports wagon if not for one thing: it isn't the least bit sporting - even, unfortunately, with the F-Sport packaged added to the mix.

It's a real shame. I love small wagons - full disclosure, my personal vehicle is a small sports wagon - because they give you all the advantages of a sedan, but with more room to haul stuff. Other examples of the species include Audi's Avants/Allroads, and the wagon versions of sedans from Mercedes-Benz and BMW. For some reason, however, wagons don't seem to sell well here in North America; maybe it's thanks to memories of the land barges with stuck on fake wood of decades past, or just because people seem to like SUV's better - but whatever the reason, consumers here are missing out on the chance for great driving pleasure with wonderful practicality in one package deal. more...


Mercedes and Lexus offer very different takes on little wagons

One's a turbo, the other's a hybrid, and both of these "little wagons" offers car buyers an interesting if not completely satisfying driving experience.

The B-Class is the smallest Mercedes-Benz offered in Canada currently, while the CT 200h is Lexus' entry level hybrid. They both offer the storage and practicality of a wagon and/or hatchback as well as the luxury that buyers of premium automobiles expect. And they're both priced fairly similarly: they start at just over $31,000 Canadian, though of course you can option them up from there: a nearly loaded B-Class will set you back about $42,500, while the optioned up CT 200h F Sport will drain about the same amount from your wallet.

This isn't a completely apples-to-apples comparison because the options are different in each case and because the up market B also has 4MATIC all-wheel drive, a feature that isn't available on the little Lexus. Of course, four wheel drive may not be important to you, in which case the point's moot. more...


Lexus RC 350 'F-spires' to sportiness

Lexus appears to be going after the BMW 4 series coupe with its new two door model, the RC. But has it  hit the target?

In some ways, yes – easily. In others, however, meh. It excels in the livability department, but it falls down where it really shouldn't if it's to be taken seriously: as a driving machine, it's nowhere near the "ultimate" mantle that BMW claims. And that's a darn shame because this is otherwise a very nice set of wheels. more...


Lexus NX a terrific entry level luxury ute

Lexus' newest SUV, the NX 200, is sized like the RAV4 but since it's a Lexus it ups the luxury ante substantially over the popular Toyota ute. But that hedonistic turn hasn't turned the NX into a softie; rather, it has even introduced Lexus' first turbocharger to the mix and the result is a really nice vehicle that will probably sell really well.

The NX is available in two models, the turbo gas engine and a gas/electric hybrid that's probably very nice but probably not particularly compelling to drive. Fortunately, Lexus Canada sent the turbo model, in its up market F Sport livery, and I loved it. I didn't expect to, but I did. So I had the NX 200t (the hybrid's the NX 300h), which starts at $40,950, and it very quickly wriggled its way into my heart, becoming my favorite of the current Lexus models I've driven. more...


Lexus ES 350 a solid entry into the luxury niche

It began life as a Camry-based entry luxury sedan meant to expand the young Lexus line beyond its game changing flagship LS 400, but some 25 years later it has evolved into an extremely compelling Camry-based entry luxury sedan in its own right.

Not that the original ES 250 was any slouch, but to compare that car with today's ES 350 would be as silly as comparing a, well, 1990 Camry with a 2015 Camry. Cars have evolved and so have the Camry and the ES. Yet while they're both terrific cars that share DNA, you wouldn't think they're connected other than through Lexus being owned by Toyota. The ES feels even more substantial, is definitely more luxurious, and is generally a more refined place to be than the Camry, which undoubtedly is the point.

This isn't meant as a slight on the Camry, which is a fine car. But it's like the difference between a Volkswagen and an Audi; they spawned in the same ocean, but took a decidedly different evolutionary path that leaves them related superficially, but each with its own distinct purpose and personality. more...


Lexus RX 350 SPORTDESIGN ups its features and driving experience

Lexus' top-selling vehicle in Canada gets a new trim level name for 2015, one that should help make it an even more compelling vehicle than it is already. And it was a pretty compelling SUV/Crossover to begin with, comfortable and luxurious and with great resale value.

And yet the new SPORTDESIGN version is the base model! It's one of three RX's, the base and hybrid SPORTDESIGN (the latter of which is now called the RX 450h SPORTDESIGN) and the RX 350 F Sport, which is supposed to be the one that's the most fun to drive. I haven't driven that one yet, but if it's like the rest of the F Sport models it likely won't be that much more fun than the base model. And that's a shame because, while Lexi are great cars, they aren't the greatest to drive if you're an enthusiast, even when they're wearing their  sportiest clothes. more...


Lexus ES hybrid a pleasant and luxurious sedan

If you're looking for a four door car that gives you the reliability of Toyota's Camry, but ups the luxury quotient substantially, you really should take a look at the Lexus ES.

Available as the enviro-raping ES 350 (reviewed here) or as the enviro-saving ES 300h, the ES a very nice place to conduct the business of both driving and "passenging" and this current generation is the nicest in a line of ES sedans that stretches back to Lexus' genesis (no Hyundai joke intended). The other original model, by the way, is the big LS. more...


Toyota and Lexus offer interesting choices in entry level editions

Toyota's entry level car is a good little vehicle that's more fun to drive than you might think. Even with an automatic transmission. Lexus', on the other hand, is nice vehicle that could be even nicer if they'd offer a non-hybrid version.

Lexus' current entry level model is the CT 200h, a great little wagon that would go head to head against such worthy entries as the Audi A3 or VW GTI if it weren't saddled with a gutless and funless hybrid power train. As it is, however, it's still a really nice little car, even if it isn't great to drive. more...


Two great Toyota, Lexus sedans soldier on with few changes for 2014

It appears that both Toyota's flagship Avalon and Lexus' mid-line GS sedans have entered 2014 mostly the same as when they were introduced barely a year ago. Fortunately, it isn't as if they needed a lot of updating, anyway, because they're both very good vehicles.

Lexus Canada sent the GS 350 AWD with more sporty F Sport package this time, a version of the car that promises an upgraded smile component for driving enthusiasts. It features the same 3.5 liter V6 engine (rated at 306 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque) and the drive mode selector on the center console changes the throttle and transmission characteristics depending on how you want to drive: eco, normal, and sport settings. more...


2014 Lexus IS 250: all it needs is a TARDIS (and power)

Automotive technology and fashion never stops moving for long and so it was probably past time for the Lexus IS to go through a Doctor Who-type regeneration.

Not that the previous generation of the IS sedan wasn't a fine car but, other than the introduction of the supposed 3 series beater IS-F, it hadn't been upgraded seriously since its introduction for the 2006 model year. It was aging gracefully, though, so gracefully that when it came time for a regeneration, the meat under the skin wasn't changed too much.

Just like Doctor Who. The famed, half century old British sci-fi series changes lead actors periodically, but the core of the character doesn't change. It's the same Time Lord, just zipping around space-time in a different body with some different personality quirks.

So it is for the IS, mostly. For 2014 the IS sports an all-new and more athletic skin that's not nearly as conservative as the still-quite-fetching last gen. Available in a dizzying 22 different versions, including the F SPORT package of Lexus Canada's sample vehicle, it appears there's an IS for everyone.  more...


Lexus RX 450h - not a lot of changes, not a lot needed

The RX has traditionally been Lexus' best selling model and there's good reason for this. After all, SUV/Crossovers are an incredibly popular segment of the market, mainly because they offer wagon/hatchback convenience with a high-mounted view that's a real boon when commuting because they let you see what's going on around you better.

The Lexus does all this well – unless you need a third row of seats – while enveloping you in the lap of luxury and giving you all wheel drive stability. And with this hybrid version, you might be able to save yourself some money on gas (once you've paid the hybrid premium up front) and feel better than your non-hybrid-driving neighbors who continue to ravage Person Nature.

Of course, if you bought it to save the earth, perhaps you should be walking everywhere so as not to risk being perceived as a hypocrite. more...


New Lexus ES 350 the best version yet

It began life as a Camry-based entry level alternative to Lexus' flagship LS 400 sedan, and it has maintained that mien as the line has evolved and expanded over the past couple of decades.

And now, for 2013, the front wheel drive Lexus has been updated and upgraded to be the nicest version of what's traditionally been a very nice (if not particularly exciting) car anyway. And judging from this new model, and the car's sales success over the more than 20 years since it was introduced, this new version should continue to be a sales winner for Toyota's luxury arm. more...


Lexus GS adds some sport to its luxury quotient

It began life as an Italian-designed Japanese luxury sedan and has evolved into an even better, and more interesting – albeit no longer Italian-designed - Japanese luxury sedan.

The Lexus brand, with a few exceptions,  has never been as much about the driver as competitors such as BMW and Audi are, but its overall excellence and quality can't be faulted. And this new Lexus GS 350 appears to be part of the company's attempt to add a bit of "soul" to a lineup that has been criticized as a tad sterile for optimal driver involvement. more...


ES 350 a cushy, comfortable cruiser

If you had to sum up the 2012 Lexus ES 350 in one word, "soft" would be a good choice.

If you were to expand that to four words, try "soft, but very nice." That's because this longtime Lexus model – the first of the Camry-based ES sedans came out with Lexus' debut in North America more than 20 years ago – focuses on luxury and comfort, and it accomplishes that mission very well. more...


Entry level Lexus offers luxury, hybrid performance – but not a lot of "Go!"

The "littlest Lexus" returns for 2012 in much the same form as in its 2011 debut, but with some minor upgrades and packages that could make it more compelling for those who like a little "joy" with their luxury.

That's what Lexus says, anyway, with its announcement of an available F-Sport Package for 2012 that includes front and rear performance dampers, distinctive steering wheel, 17 inch alloy wheels, leather seats, spoiler, grille, scuff plates, interior trim and pedals. more...


Lexus CT 200h – the Greener Side of Sport?

Is Lexus' new "Premium Compact Sportback" a luxury car, a sports car, or just a reasonably luxurious hybrid with sporting pretensions?

Well, if you've seen the commercials for the new Lexus CT 200h, you've undoubtedly noticed they refer to this cute little wagon as "the darker side of green," hinting that it's more than just an economical hybrid – that it has some driving soul as well. And why not? A hybrid does not necessarily mean "no fun". The Honda CR-Z is a relative blast to drive, and the Lexus GS 450h is plenty fast and pretty fun to drive, so why can't the new Lexus wagon offer the same experience?

Obviously, there's no reason. The only problem is that Lexus seems to have forgotten that. more...


Lexus IS and GS 350 AWD – a Fine Pair Gets All Wheel Drive

Lexus has squeezed a little more power from the engine this year, raising the IS' pony ante (does that make it a "pony ante" operation?) to 306 horsepower with a peak torque of 277 lb.-ft.. The GS 350 has to make get by with a mere 303 hp/ 274 lb.-ft., which was still V8 territory only a few years ago. And if that isn't enough for you, the offer a V8 version as well: the GS 460, which claims 342 hp @ 6,200 and 339 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm.

Perhaps the biggest technical tweak besides the extra oomph is the addition of the AWD option, which came in very handy during my wintry sojourn with both Lexi. more...


Lexus HS 250h – an Easy to Like Hybrid

Call it an uber-Prius, if you like.

It's the Lexus HS 250h, the luxury car maker's first four cylinder model, and at heart it's a luxury hybrid. It's also a very nice car that would undoubtedly be easy to live with.

And it's so green, regardless of which color you order it in, that it could drive you nuts. Not only is it supposed to sip gas (Lexus claims a mileage rating of 41.3 mpg or 5.7L/100 km, though I never got that), but it's also supposedly equipped with an interior that's nearly one third populated by "sustainable ecological plastics" whatever the heck that's supposed to mean. more...


Chevy Camaro and Lexus HS 250h – Retro Meets 21st Century Green

You might say the duo of the reborn Chevy Camaro muscle car and Lexus' new hybrid luxury sedan are a case of "something old, somethin—g new, something borrowed, and something green."

The something old – the Camaro – is now something new, for better or for worse. The something new – the Lexus HS 250h – is also something green, since it's a hybrid. As for something borrowed, well they both lean on their respective companies' heritage to create new vehicles that will probably do well in their respective niches. more...


Popular Lexus Ute Gets a Brand New Suit

Lexus' most popular model has undergone its first major restyling and reengineering, a process designed to keep it current and competitive.

And it has. While recognizable as an RX, the new RX 350 looks and feels quite a bit different than its predecessor. It's still a fine vehicle, though, and should continue to be a top seller for Toyota's luxury division. more....


Lexus GS 450h Update

One's a great example of the "cute ute" genre, and the other's a luxurious and eco-friendly road rocket.

And while neither the Honda CR-V and Lexus GS 450h features major upgrades for 2009, both of them continue to be excellent vehicles in decidedly different niches. I got to some quality time in each vehicle recently, which reaffirmed that both are my favorites of the vehicles I've driven in their respective "cute ute" and "hybrid" markets.  more....


Big Lexus SUV Ups Its Own Ante for 2009

The Lexus LX 570 is the latest iteration of a vehicle that really began life decades ago as the Toyota Land Cruiser wagon – a fine vehicle then and today. The current version features a bigger and more powerful engine, more interior volume, more technology and more luxury appointments than you can shake a stick at.

It's also a huge vehicle that cuts a swath through traffic. This is definitely a "full size" SUV! And there's a lot to like about it. more...


Lexus Unleashes a Beast

It's a lean, mean driving machine, yet it comes from a company whose name is more associated with luxury than sports.

The Lexus IS F (the first in a new line of "F" designated vehicles from Lexus) is a beast from the Far East, a car that combines the marque's acclaimed luxury and attention to detail with the high performance meanness of a true muscle car. The result is a car that'll put a smile on the faces of people who like their car's niceness to tempered with the kind of nastiness that comes only from a high performance car. more....


Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Lexus LX 570 – Awesome, Times Two

They're big, brawny and luxurious – and can go nearly anywhere. But are they any good?

Well of course they are – this is high end stuff!

"They," are the 2008 Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Lexus LX 570, top of the line SUV's from opposite corners of the world. Both showcase state-of-the-art technology envisioned differently by different companies. more....


Lexus GS 450h – No Slowpoke Hybrid, this!

Love may not be quite as wonderful the second time around. But it's still pretty good!

After my second kick at the Lexus GS 450h hybrid, I wasn't drooling with lust as much as I did after my initial week of test driving it more than a year ago. It’s still a fine car, a wonderfully luxurious four door sedan and probably the fastest hybrid I've driven. But the bar has moved since then and, other than some minor tweaks and extra standard equipment, the GS 450h hasn't.

It's still an excellent performer, though.  more....


Lexus LS 460 - A Classy, Capable Cruiser

In 1989, Toyota's new Lexus division set the automotive world on its ear when it introduced its new high-end luxury sedan, the LS 400.  It was a quantum leap for Japanese manufacturers in which they dared to go head-to-head with established luxury makers such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar, etc..

But 18 years is an eternity in the ultra competitive automobile market and while Lexus has introduced a bevy of beautiful and successful vehicles over that time, the flagship LS had never received a complete revision.  Until now, of course. more....


Lexus GS 350 - More Oomph a Welcome Addition

Remember the old Toyota slogan "You asked for it, you got it"? Well, it still applies – at least as far as Toyota's upscale Lexus division's mid-range GS sedan is concerned.

When the third-generation debuted for the 2006 model year, the base model GS 300 came with a 3 L V-6 engine rated at 245 hp and 230 pound feet of torque.  This was the car's weakest link, taking a lot of the "fun to drive" factor out of the experience. more....


Lexus GS 450h – a Hybrid That'll Amaze You

Talk about a jaw dropper!

The Lexus GS 450h isn’t just a luxurious four door sedan, it's also one of the fastest sedans I've ever driven. And it's a hybrid! Who'd have thunk?

Not that I've driven anywhere near all of the world's great sedans, of course, but I've driven enough to know that what this Lexus hybrid is accomplishes is amazing. It goes like a bat out of heck and, while it doesn't exactly sip gas, it returns surprisingly good fuel economy as well. All while coddling you in the manner expected from a Lexus. more....


Popular Lexus RX SUV Adds Super New Powers

Maybe they should call it RX Version 4.  

Since the introduction of Version 1, the RX 300, a few years ago, the Lexus luxury SUV has seen its share of upgrading and refinement. First there was Version 2 (the RX 330) and its addition of a larger engine along with such nifty features as a power operated tailgate. Then came Version 3, the hybrid RX 400h introduced in 2005.

Now Lexus has once again upped the ante with the 2007 RX 350. The new name indicates yet more power, but this V6 engine isn't just the old one upgraded again: this time it's an all-new V6 that Lexus says improves fuel economy while upping the oomph ante.

The new power plant plants 270 horses of power onto the road @ 6200 rpm and 251 lb-ft of torque @ 4700, which is more than adequate for this type of vehicle. The double overhead cam engine uses intelligent variable valve timing to, as Lexus says, "optimize torque for quick response at all engine speeds" while improving combustion efficiency. more...


Lexus Redefines the Meaning of “IS”

I think I may have a new favorite car.

Once in a long while I find a vehicle that almost seems as if the manufacturer took my measurements and built the car to fit me specifically. My old 1983 Toyota Supra was like this, as was my 1972 Datsun 240z. Infiniti’s M35x comes very close, as does the Acura TSX. They’re cars I could easily drive the daylights out of for many happy years, and in the case of the Supra, I did exactly that for 20 years.

And Lexus’ new IS 250 luxury sport sedan sure feels like the real deal. Admittedly, it isn’t the rocket that the M35x is, nor does it give the athletic rush of the TSX. But when I parked my posterior in the 2006 IS 250 I felt right at home immediately, and my week with it was a marvelous experience despite the weather not having allowed me to drive the car properly – by which I mean I couldn’t wind it out with abandon the way I’d have liked. more...


Lexus GS 300 – Relentlessly Pursuing Passion?

Lexus, and to a lesser extent Infiniti, really set the car world on their ears when they first burst onto the market about 15 years ago. Since then, the premium Japanese brands have been serious contenders for the dollars of the reasonably well heeled.

Over the course of that decade and a half, Lexus has changed its marketing from relentlessly pursuing perfection to passionately pursuing perfection. And they continue to make excellent cars that are often considered to be as perfect as a car can be.

The latest in their stable are the 2006 GS 300 and GS 430, the third generation of the sporty sedan that sits below the LS 430 flagship and above the ES 330 and IS 300 entry level sedans. Sporty and entry level being relative terms, of course. more...


Lexus GX 470 Adds Luxury To Off Road Capability

Toyota’s 4Runner has been an excellent example of the mid-sized SUV species for many years, and when the company unleashed its latest version it saw an opportunity to not only redesign it but to push it up market as well.

Hence the Lexus GX 470, a luxury SUV based on the popular 4Runner that gives you the formidable capabilities of its Toyota sibling but with all the coddling and technology you’d expect from the Lexus name.

My review unit was from the 2004 model year, and coming as it did just ahead of the 2005 model’s new engine, it provided a wonderful opportunity to get to know the vehicle, and then try the supposedly new and improved model for comparison when it comes by. more...


New Lexus RX Blends Power, Luxury, and Economy

Coming on May 6, 2005, to a Lexus dealer near you, the world’s first luxury hybrid SUV.

It’s the 2006 RX 400h, the highest-tech and newest version of the popular RX 330 (nee RX 300) that has been selling oodles of copies since its introduction.

Lexus says the new hybrid version of the SUV gives V8 performance with the fuel economy of a compact car. Those are pretty impressive claims – almost like proclaiming you’ve built a perpetual motion machine – and if Lexus can’t back them up there are sure to be some people looking to make hay from the fact that the company fell short in its relentless pursuit of perfection. more...


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Jim Bray is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. His columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.

We welcome your comments!