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First Look: 2014 Lexus IS

Pumping up the passion meter in an entry-lux sedan.

by on Jan.09, 2013

Lexus returns to Detroit for the reveal of its 2014 IS.

While it may be located in the Motor City, Lexus has always had an affinity for the North American International Auto Show. And more than two decades after debuting its original two offerings in Detroit, the Toyota luxury brand will be back to pull the wraps off the all-new 2014 Lexus IS.

As the entry offering in the brand, the IS plays a critical role and, arguably, could be even more important going forward.  Lexus has been struggling to regain momentum over the last few years as luxury brands BMW and Mercedes-Benz push past it in the market and second-tier brands such as Audi and Infiniti – never mind Cadillac and Lincoln – start taking aim.

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The outgoing IS was, if anything, an example of why.  It was a competent but far from inspiring product, according to most analysts, attracting buyers who were more interested in quality statistics than 0 to 60 times. But as other makers have improved their own reliability that has become less of an advantage.


Lexus Tease Suggests New LS is Smoking Hot

by on Jul.20, 2012

Smoke...but no mirrors. Lexus teases the next-generation LS it officially reveals later this month.

With the brand facing increasingly aggressive competition from its upscale European competitors. Lexus has a lot riding on the upcoming launch of the newly redesigned LS.  Parent Toyota’s CEO Akio Toyoda has promised to put more “passion” into future models and a new teaser of the flagship sedan suggests that it is, indeed, smoking hot.

The 2013 Lexus LS will be formally unveiled in San Francisco on July 30th during what the maker describes as an “invitation only” event, with automotive scribes to get a closer look during a first-drive event in early August.

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The first of what are likely to be several more teasers suggests that the new model will not start from the proverbial clean sheet of paper, though the silhouette appears to feature a bit more sporty styling than the decidedly stodgy current model.


“Stunning” New Toyota Concept May Be Next-Generation Avalon

Sneak peek signals NY Auto Show preview.

by on Mar.28, 2012

Will this be the next-gen Toyota Avalon?

“Passion” is a word that Toyota CEO – and founding family heir – Akio Toyoda talks a lot about.  It’s something he readily admits Toyota products don’t have enough of it, and that in today’s competitive market it’s something the brand desperately needs.

Clearly, the oft-maligned styling of the latest Toyota Camry didn’t deliver, despite a last-minute styling tweak intended to satisfy near-mutinous dealers.  Last year’s launch of the new Lexus GS and the recent unveiling of the LF-LC concept hint that Toyota product developers are taking the mandate seriously.  Or so we may see with the planned NY Auto Show preview of what the Japanese maker is calling a “stunning U.S.-designed sedan.”

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The maker clearly considers the launch significant, providing this teaser shot a week ahead of the big event at New York’s Jacob Javits Center.  Meanwhile, spy shots are popping up and from the industry scuttlebutt it appears that what we see here is going to soon reappear as the next-generation Toyota Avalon.


Lexus Turns to SI Swimsuit Models to Market GS

Battling it out in the Tori 500.

by on Feb.15, 2012

A hard-driving body? Swimsuit model Tori Praver provided the shape for the "Tori 500" race track.

When Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda suggested he wanted to put more passion into the Lexus brand few might have thought he meant that in its more lustful interpretation.  But that’s apparently how the marketing folks at the luxury brand took it.

They gave a hint of a more sexy approach with their recent Super Bowl commercial and are taking things a significant step further as part of a partnership with Sports Illustrated magazine, Lexus becoming the Official Automotive Marketing Partner for the maker’s much coveted annual swimsuit issue.

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In particular, the automaker will be using the, ahem, attributes of swimsuit model Tori Praver to show up the curves of its own new offering, the 2013 Lexus GS, as part of what it is calling the TORI 500 campaign.


Images of Updated Lexus RX Leak Out

by on Feb.13, 2012

The brochure suggests there'll be an F-Sport version of the fourth-generation Lexus RX.

Lexus has had a tough time keeping a secret in recent months.  The maker had hoped to give the world its first look at the LF-LC concept at the Detroit Auto Show, last month, only to have images leak out ahead of time. 

And it’s happened again.  This time it’s the all-new 2013 Lexus RX crossover that is getting a premier public debut – which also reveals that the new model, the best-seller in the Lexus line-up – will borrow heavily from the front-end design cues first introduced on the LF-LC prototype.


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The popular crossover, which is also the best-seller in its segment, was expected to get a facelift for 2013, with the updated model showing up in April at the New York International Auto Show, but we deliver this sneak peek thanks to our friends at Autoblog and CarScoop – who tracked down a brochure meant for the Japanese domestic market.


There are clear hints of the Lexus LF-LC concept in the front end of the new Lexus RX crossover.

The new look is decidedly more sporty than the frumpy family machine it replaces, with the distinctive pinched chrome trim that surrounds the new double spindle grille directly borrowed from the LF-LC.

It also appears the 2013 Lexus RX will be offered with the luxury brand’s performance-oriented F-Sport trim kit.  But it’s still a people-mover, at heart, even with the bigger wheels and swept-back headlamps. 

This images reveals that we’ll still have the RX450h hybrid option for 2013.  The brochure also suggests there’ll be a new Lexus RX270, though that version is highly unlikely to make it to the American marketplace.


The 4th-generation Lexus RX is expected to debut at the upcoming NY Auto Show.

Beyond that, there are indications of a new rear-seat entertainment system to keep the family happy en-route.

But while it’s all but certain Lexus will have lots of new technology to talk about when the fourth-generation RX is revealed, we expect company officials to echo the emphasis on “passion” that was the centerpiece of the presentation by Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda when he unveiled the Lexus GS sedan last August. 

We expect to find out plenty more by the time we reach New York, though it would surprise few if Toyota’s luxury arm releases a few details of its own before that official preview – as it did once the LF-LC images began leaking out.

Punching More Passion into Lexus

Japanese maker expects smaller share going forward.

by on Nov.21, 2011

Lexus hopes to redefine itself with the new GS, putting more passion into a brand not normally known for fun-to-drive dynamics.

Can passion cure the blues for Lexus?

It’s been a tough year for the upscale arm of Toyota, Lexus likely to lose its long standing as the nation’s best-selling luxury automotive brand due to production shortages that followed the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last March.  But Lexus has other challenges to deal with as it struggles to regain its status as king-of-the-hill.  Competition in the luxury market continues to increase – not only from existing automakers but also from new competitors like Hyundai, which last year launched its first premium luxury sedan, the Equus.

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So, Lexus is setting out to redefine itself with new products like the 2013 GS sedan, a model designed to “start adding driving dynamics,” said Lexus General Manager Mark Templin, to a brand not known for having a passion for performance.  The maker is also rethinking what products belong in its line-up.  It is less likely to try to match the brand proliferation of rivals like Mercedes-Benz and BMW and may even be willing to cede some market share, said Templin, to stay focused on what it does best.


Further Production Cuts at Toyota and Honda

No clear end in sight in wake of Thai flooding.

by on Nov.07, 2011

The Thai flooding could impact the launch of new Toyota vehicles like the next-gen Lexus GS.

Both Toyota and Honda acknowledge they will have to make further cuts in production in the wake of the disastrous flooding that has savaged Thailand.  The two makers source a number of key components – especially microprocessors and other electronic goods – from the Southeast Asian nation, which has been hammered by some of the worst flooding in decades.

Toyota announced today it will reduce production at its Japanese plants by 30% this month due to parts shortages, with additional cuts being made in the U.S. and other plants around the world.

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The cuts come at a particularly bad time for both Toyota and Honda.  The two makers collectively lost more than a million units of production due to the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11 leading to an earlier shortage of critical parts and components.


Lexus Teases GS 450h Hybrid and GS F-Sport

Targeting the extremes.

by on Aug.29, 2011

Lexus offers a hint of what's to come with the GS F-Sport and GS 450h hybrid models.

Less than two weeks after lifting the covers on its next-generation GS 350 sedan, Lexus is offering up a tease of what’s to come, later this year, when it formally unveils two other spin-offs from the midsize GS line: the performance-oriented F-Sport and gas-electric GS 450h.

The hybrid will make its debut at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show, an increasingly common backdrop for environmentally-friendly products.  The F-Sport, meanwhile, will be revealed at the annual SEMA show, an aftermarket extravaganza in Las Vegas.

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The GS has traditionally been the sportiest line in the Lexus model mix, other than the track-ready IS-F, (which was the first F-Sport model).  Curiously, the original GS 450h was intended to demonstrate the performance potential of gas-electric technology, though critics said it was neither fish nor fowl, neither sporty enough nor fuel-efficient enough.


First Look: 2013 Lexus GS

A “new face” for Toyota’s luxury brand.

by on Aug.19, 2011

The 2013 Lexus GS ushers in some big changes for Toyota's luxury brand.

It’s been a tough year for Lexus, Toyota’s luxury brand slipping behind BMW in the U.S. sales sweepstakes.  Part of the problem has been the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Japanese auto industry, but industry observers also warn that potential buyers may be shifting to other luxury brands in search of more passionate products.

With that in mind, Lexus is out to reinvent itself, declared Akio Toyoda, the CEO of Toyota Motor Co., during a speech in Pebble Beach, California Thursday night.  The executive’s relatively rare American appearance underscored the importance of the 2013 Lexus GS sedan which was given a splashy preview during the lead-up to the weekend’s annual Concours d’Elegance.

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“This is the first car to wear the new face of Lexus,” the executive, the grandson of Toyota’s founder, proclaimed.  But the new sedan is more than just a new styling exercise, Toyoda added.  It is the result of an intensive effort designed to get more in touch with the brand’s customers and, as such, “Lexus is leading the way in how the entire Toyota Motor Company should operate.”


First Look: 2012 Lexus GS 350

Scheduled for Pebble Beach preview.

by on Aug.08, 2011

The 2012 Lexus GS 350 will make its debut at the upcoming Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

Give credit to PhotoShop.  It took a bit of effort to pull this image out of the shadows but at least you’ve got the basic silhouette of the new 2012 Lexus GS 350.  To get a more complete image of the sporty sedan, however, we’ll all have to wait for the upcoming Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

The annual classic car show has developed something of a split persona, luxury makers like Lexus using the tony setting as a backdrop for launching many of their latest offerings.  This year will bring the debut of the Lexus GS 350 – as well as the Infiniti JX and concepts from Cadillac and Lincoln, among others.

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If the shadowy image shown here strikes a resonant chord it’s because you might have already seen the GS in concept form – Lexus pulling the wraps on the angular LF-Gh concept at the New York International Auto Show, back in April.

At the time, design chief Kengo Matsumoto hinted that, “Lexus designers studied characteristics that are often considered contradictory and difficult to execute together. The captivating design of the LF-Gh concept examines the possibility of balancing what are normally opposing qualities, such as style and functionality.”