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Posts Tagged ‘Lexus Hybrid’

2016 Lexus ES 300h Gets Upgraded, Inside and Out

But the hybrid system is carried over.

by on Jul.14, 2015

The new 2016 Lexus ES 300h hybrid gets some styling updates, including the front grille.

We got our first quick look at the updated Lexus ES at the Shanghai Motor Show a few months ago. Now, as it’s ready to roll into showrooms, the Japanese luxury maker is offering up more details about the ES 300h hybrid.

Some notable changes to the sedan’s exterior styling, along with updated safety and infotainment technology, should appeal to potential buyers. Whether they’ll be pleased to learn that the hybrid drive system goes unchanged is another matter.

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The rollout of the 2016 Lexus ES 300h is part of a broader update of parent Toyota’s battery-electric line-up. An all-new version of the Lexus RX 450h was unveiled at the New York Auto Show, and the mainstream Toyota Camry Hybrid – which shares its underpinnings with the Lexus ES – has also been updated. (more…)

Lexus the Latest to Go Turbo with New NX

New, high-performance engine likely to see broad use.

by on Jul.08, 2014

The 2015 Lexus NX 200h will be the Toyota luxury brand's first turbocharged model.

It has become known as the hybrid luxury brand, but with the upcoming launch of its new NX crossover-utility vehicle, Lexus becomes the latest automaker to turn to an alternative technology that can deliver not only good mileage but the solid performance that appeals to younger, sportier buyers.

And while the 2015 Lexus NX is about to become the maker’s first turbocharged model, it certainly won’t remain unique in the luxury brand’s line-up for long, with a senior official suggesting turbos will play a “significant” role in the next five years as Lexus pushes to drive more passionate performance into its products.

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“Observing the trends in the industry,” said Brian Bolain, the Lexus corporate marketing manager, “it would be foolish to develop (the new engine in the NX) for only one model.”


Lexus Punches up Passion Quotient with 2014 IS

by on Jan.15, 2013

Lexus abandons staid for a more passionate design with the 2014 IS remake.

For the new Lexus IS, Chief Engineer Junichi Furuyama, flipped  conventional on its head.

“I adopted an entirely different approach to the development of the all-new IS,” IS Chief Engineer Junichi Furuyama said. “Specifically, it was to make an entertaining driving experience a major premise behind all aspects of performance.”

You hear the word, “passion” in Lexus circles a lot these days.

Lexus introduced its second-generation IS, meant to be a BMW 3-Series fighter, at the Detroit Auto Show today.

A shift in design direction that began with an all-new GS sedan two years ago now transforms the marque’s entry-level offering, the 2014 Lexus IS, which is making its debut at the North American International Auto Show.

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Intended to be sportier and more performance-oriented, the 2014 IS sedan will be available in rear- and all-wheel drive versions while offering a mix of powertrains in the IS 250 and IS 350 variants.  Also in the works will be a further evolution of the IS F-SPORT, with the sport trim available across the entire model range


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.


First Look: Lexus CT200h F-Sport

Adding a bolder look - but no more muscle - to the hybrid line.

by on Sep.16, 2011

With the Lexus CT200h F-Sport the difference is in the eyes of the beholder. Nothing changes under the skin.

Say the word, “hybrid,” and you’re likely to respond with, “Toyota.”  And for good reason, considering the maker accounts for 75% of the gas-electric vehicles currently on the road, primarily in the form of the Toyota Prius.  But the Japanese maker’s luxury marque has arguably made an even bigger commitment to hybrid technology, with a mix of models already accounting for nearly 15% of its total volume.

That includes the CT200h, which plugged into the Lexus line-up last year.  If anything, the CT seems to have been designed primarily with the European market in mind, the hybrid generating 30,000 sales in less than a year on the market there.  But, if anything, critics have found it a bit wanting.  And Lexus hopes to address those concerns with the Frankfurt Motor Show preview of the revised CT200h F-Sport.

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Don’t get your hopes up too high, however.  Early on, Lexus seemed intent on emphasizing performance, as much as fuel-efficiency, with hybrids like the original GS450h.  It has since shifted the focus to mileage.  So, despite being designated an F-Sport — a designation that’s supposed to signal the most peppy models in the Lexus line-up — the CT200h will remain a more luxurious version of the less-than-thrilling Toyota Prius and not a vehicle whose driving behavior will call to mind the word “sporty.”


First Look: 2013 Lexus GS 450h

Charging in with a more fuel-sipping, second-generation hybrid.

by on Sep.14, 2011

Lexus aimed to improve fuel efficiency without sacrificing performance with the gen-2 2013 Lexus GS 450h hybrid.

Barely a month after lifting the covers on the second-generation of its mid-luxury sedan Lexus is back and charging into the Frankfurt Motor Show with the updated 2013 Lexus GS 450h hybrid.

During a Pebble Beach preview, Toyota Motor Co. CEO Akio Toyoda underscored the importance of the Lexus GS line.  Though it might not be the luxury brand’s flagship – a space reserved for the bigger LS – the GS has been as close as it comes to the heart and soul of the Lexus division.

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The GS 350 shown last month is a fair bit sportier and more refined than the original sedan.  And the Lexus GS 450h is no different there.  But there’s been a bit of a shift in its mission.  The original hybrid put the emphasis on performance and was actually a bit quicker than the standard-issue GS sedan.  This time, Lexus is focusing on fuel-efficiency and claims the GS 450h delivers a 30% improvement over the gas-powered model.


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: Lexus LF-Gh

Japanese luxury maker lifts the kimono prior to NYAS preview.

by on Apr.12, 2011

Lexus provides an advance look at its new grand touring concept, the LF-Gh.

It’s going to be a busy week for the motoring scribes heading to New York for the upcoming New York Auto Show, which may be why Lexus has decided to stage an early, online reveal of the all-new LF-Gh hybrid.

Set to replace the aging Lexus GS450h hybrid, the new rear-drive model is expected to see the maker try to balance both performance and fuel economy with the latest version of its hybrid synergy drive system.

Officially described as a “concept” vehicle, the Lexus LF-Gh is nonetheless expected to reappear in a form very similar to that of the prototype formally debuting at the Big Apple’s Jacob Javits convention center.

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The name, the Toyota division reveals, is short for Lexus Future Grand Touring Hybrid.  Its styling, says the marque’s design chief, Kengo Matsumoto, is an evolution of the Lexus L-Finesse design theme that has been used for such current models as the LS600h and CT200h hybrids.

“For this concept,” he notes, “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.”


Lexus CT 200h: Slow-speed Driving Fun

Luxury automaker's latest hybrid is more than a dressed-up Prius.

by on Feb.25, 2011

The Lexus CT 200h is fun to drive, but it doesn't accelerate quickly.

It would be easy to write off the Lexus CT200h is just a gussied up version of Toyota’s hybrid poster child, the Prius.

It’s true that the CT 200h shares its platform and most of its hybrid mechanicals with the Prius, but where the Prius is a snooze to drive, the Lexus is fun. Can an underpowered hybrid that’s geared for mileage, not performance, be fun? In a word, yes.

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If you need eye-popping acceleration, look elsewhere. In fact, if you expect average acceleration, look elsewhere. With a combined 134 horsepower between its 98-horsepower 1.8-liter four cylinder and 80-horsepower electric motor, the CT isn’t going to win any stoplight grand prix. Well, unless, the competition is a Prius.

But the CT is one of those cars that make spouses complain “What, do you think you’re Mario Andretti?” The hefty steering begs for you to take corners a little faster than normal, clipping apexes with the precision of a sports car. So there’s a Prius lurking under the CT’s sheetmetal? No one will ever know.

Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid Finally Debuts in U.S.

Up to 46% better fuel economy claimed for “lease only” SUV.

by on Nov.13, 2009

Mercedes-Benz ML450 HYBRID 4MATIC

Mercedes plans to sell the ML and subsequent Hybrid-powered SUVs only in the U.S.

Next Monday, Mercedes-Benz will officially launch the ML450 Hybrid, the first European marque full Hybrid vehicle to be offered in the U.S.

It is based on the technology developed by General Motors for its dual-mode Hybrid models, which the company subsequently licensed to BMW, Chrysler and Mercedes, all of whom were and are desperately behind in the Hybrid technology race long dominated by Toyota and Lexus.

The Alabama-built ML450 Hybrid joins the S400 Hybrid, which cannot run on electricity alone, and existing “BlueTec” diesel models in its growing portfolio of, relatively, fuel-efficient vehicles.

Mercedes plans to sell the ML and subsequent Hybrid-powered SUVs only in the U.S., global marketing chief Klaus Meier told TDB. The technology is meant to supplement, rather than replace Mercedes’ diesel offerings, which currently account for about 20% of its SUV sales, in the U.S.

ML450 Hybrid will be offered as part of a special lease only option (no purchase allowed!) for a lease price of $659 per month for 36 months and $549 per month for 60 months. A down payment of $5,200 or $5,000, respectively, is required.

A  Mercedes spokesperson told us that it is too early to say what will happen to the vehicles at the end of the lease period, and whether they or later production models will ultimately be available for sale.

Readers may recall the  huge controversy around Saturn’s lease only EV1 electric cars at GM, which to the outrage of happy owners were taken back and shredded at the end of their leases, in spite of pleas from the owners to buy them.

Whether this is lawyer-generated problem at Mercedes, as it was at GM, or Daimler’s doubts about the life and performance of the ML’s nickel metal hydride batteries, or an attempt to limit the volume of what most assuredly is a large loss-making vehicle, among other possibilities that I haven’t thought of, I’ll leave as open questions.

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No Purchase Needed!

Mercedes is marketing the ML Hybrid as having V8-like power with four-cylinder fuel economy. Although, Mercedes provided data show that at 7.8 seconds zero-to-60 mph acceleration time, the Hybrid is a full 2.2 seconds slower than the V8. And at 5,000 pounds rated towing capacity, it has 2,200 pounds less capability. I have not driven the SUV but look forward to doing so.