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First Drive: 2014 Lexus IS

This time it’s more than just plain vanilla.

by on May.23, 2013

The new sedan - the IS 250 shown here - adopts the Lexus spindle grille design.

It wasn’t all that long ago when Lexus dominated the U.S. luxury market, but despite its continuing strength in quality and customer service surveys, the Toyota luxury brand has been losing momentum to European makers BMW and Mercedes-Benz, never mind upstarts such as Audi.

It doesn’t help that the buzz around its vehicles has shrunk to something like a very faint hum, its sales more and more dependent on its primary crossover vehicle, the RX.  While that may be propping up the numbers, it also might trigger a sense of déjà vu for the sepia-tinged era when station wagons ruled the road.

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Company officials, notably including Toyota President Akio Toyoda are clearly worried and looking for ways to kick-start the brand. Among other things, they’ve been talking a lot about passion, these days, something that Lexus translates as the more sporty design language that one finds on the newly restyled Lexus IS.  The good news is that with this entry-level sedan beauty is more than skin deep, the 2014 IS reminding us why Lexus soared to the top of the U.S. luxury market in the first place.


First Look: Lexus LF-CC Concept

Can passion and hybrids co-exist?

by on Sep.27, 2012

The Lexus LF-CC Concept appears to be very, very close to production-ready.

Lexus has been dropping a number of surprises in recent months – all meant to demonstrate that it’s serious about pumping more “passion” into the brand.

The latest effort, the LF-CC Concept, may be the most aggressive example of that to date, taking the maker’s L Finesse design language to new extremes — with a bold new iteration of the Lexus spindle grille that has become the symbol of the brand’s new direction.

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Likely to return in production form, the Lexus LF-CC is making its formal debut at this year’s Paris Motor Show.  And it also emphasizes that the Japanese brand’s love affair with hybrid technology isn’t cooling down.

The brand’s U.S. boss, Mark Templin, told last month that by mid-decadeLexus will have eight, possibly even nine, gas-electric offerings in its line-up.


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.