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Consumer Reports Name Top Brands and Models

Japanese makers dominate again.

by on Feb.24, 2015

The Toyota Highlander was one of the top-ranked models according to Consumer Reports readers.

Consumer Reports’ latest list of top-ranked automotive brands and models contained some big surprises and reinforced some long-standing reputations. Notably, little battery-car start-up Tesla Motors had the top-ranked product overall in the form of its Model S sedan.

Toyota, a manufacturer long associated with high-quality products, managed to place two of its brands in the Top Ten, meanwhile. But Kia, a marque may traditionally associated with lowball pricing, also managed to place among the industry’s best, nudging aside BMW to take the ninth place spot in Consumer Reports’ annual automotive brands report card.


Who led the list and who lagged behind? Here’s a quick look at some of the key findings from the study, which looked at how individual models scored in both road and crash tests, while also looking at what the magazine’s readers reported in terms of real world reliability.


Lexus Trying to Tie a Red Bow on 300,000 in 2014 Sales

Luxury brand celebrating 25th anniversary.

by on Nov.25, 2014

Jeff Bracken, head of Lexus, said the brand would sell 300,000 units in the U.S. this year.

Just weeks after suggesting Lexus would sell more than 300,000 vehicles this year, the brand’s top executive revealed how it will make that number: it’s launching its annual, year-end sales drive, which made December into one of the most, if not the most important months on the auto industry’s marketing calendar.

Through October, Lexus has seen its sales increase 14.3%, outpacing the growth of other luxury nameplates in a strong market. Jeff Bracken, the head of the Lexus Division, told the Automotive Press Association in Detroit that Lexus will kick off its annual sales drive next week. But he also noted that rivals such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz have copied Lexus sales tactics.

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“We thought we owned the red bow,” said Bracken. “But now I’m not so sure.” (more…)

Mercedes Lands Luxury Sales Crown as Industry Closes Books on 2013

Ford, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Audi and Subaru among other makers celebrating.

by on Jan.03, 2014

Mercedes-Benz wrestled the luxury car title away from BMW this year.

Mercedes-Benz took away the luxury vehicle sales crown from archrival BMW as carmakers closed the books on a successful 2013 that sets the stage for a continuing rebound.

With the U.S. auto industry recording its best year since before the start of the Great Recession, a number of automakers had reason to celebrate. Honda, Nissan, Audi and Subaru were among those reporting all-time record sales, while General Motors retained its position as the nation’s largest automaker.

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But Toyota finished 2013 with bragging rights for not only having the best-selling passenger car in the country, but also having the industry’s highest retail sales. And Ford’s F-150 retained its crown as not only the best-selling truck, but also the best-selling vehicle overall. (more…)

Lexus Rolling out Revamped LF Concept at Tokyo

Makers tweaking concepts for multiple shows.

by on Nov.04, 2013

Lexus is bringing at tweaked version of the LF-NX concept vehicle to the Tokyo Motor Show.

The string of concept cars coming to the Tokyo Motor Show just got a little longer with Lexus announcement it’ll have one for the event later this month: the LF-NX crossover.

The “new” concept is actually the same vehicle it showed at the Frankfurt Motor Show with a few modifications, including a newly developed 2.0-liter turbo-charged engine.

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Additionally, the maker added a front splitter to help lower the center of gravity and give it a sportier profile.  (more…)

GM, Audi, Volvo Make Gains, Ford Stumbles in Consumer Reports Reliability Study

Lexus, Acura, Toyota Still Lead – but Toyota Camry loses “Recommended” rating.

by on Oct.28, 2013

Ford's C-Max Energi was the lowest-rated vehicle in the new CR reliability survey.

While Japanese makers continue to dominate the influential Consumer Reports annual vehicle reliability survey, General Motors, Audi and Volvo made significant gains, each cracking into the Top 10 this year.

While Detroit makers, on the whole, have been gaining ground, Ford Motor Co. dipped well below average. The second-largest of the domestic auto manufacturers has been hammered by complaints about its digital infotainment systems – an issue that has been causing grief for many of its competitors, as well, according to the CR survey of 1.1 million vehicle owners.

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The annual survey contained a number of surprises, including some unexpected problems plaguing traditionally Japanese manufacturers. Meanwhile, Consumer Reports announced that some of the most popular Asian products, including Toyota’s Camry, RAV4 and Prius V models, have lost their coveted “Recommended Buy” rating because of their poor performance in new crash tests.


Consumer Reports Slams New Lexus, Infiniti Offerings

Lexus IS 250, Infiniti Q50 finish near bottom new ratings.

by on Oct.22, 2013

The new 2014 Lexus IS 250 received merely a "good" rating from Consumer Reports. It's the lowest rating a Lexus sedan has gotten in years.

As if recent quality issues weren’t enough to handle, Toyota and Nissan are now dealing with less-than-stellar reviews from Consumer Reports on their two newest luxury entries for 2014.

The 2014 Lexus IS 250 and Infiniti Q50 scores were among the lowest for expensive sport sedans, according to the magazine. In fact, neither vehicle achieved the coveted “Recommended” rating. That is in part due to the fact that neither can receive a “reliability” score because they are new; however, the IS 250 wouldn’t have received the rating because it scored too low.

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The pair came in below the Lincoln MKZ 2.0 EcoBoost, BMW 328i, Mercedes-Benz C250 and Volvo S60 T5. (more…)

Lexus Explores Compact Crossover Options with LF-NX Concept

Debut scheduled for Frankfurt Motor Show next week.

by on Sep.04, 2013

Lexus is introducing its new LF-NX Concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

While its key European competitors have rapidly expanded their line-ups in recent years, Lexus has motored along with a relative handful of offerings. But, as previously reported, it has been studying its options in the fast-growing compact crossover niche.

We should get a good sense of what Lexus has in mind during its news conference at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week when the Toyota luxury division lifts the covers off the Lexus LF-NX show car.

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“This concept explores the potential for a compact crossover within the Lexus model range,” the maker said in a terse news release accompanying these teaser images. (more…)

Volkswagen Group Tops Latest JD Power APEAL Study

GM, Ford follow close behind as Toyota slides.

by on Jul.24, 2013

Shining bright: the Porsche Boxster was one of the highest-ranked models in the 2013 JD Power APEAL.

Volkswagen grabbed the top spot in the latest J.D. Power APEAL study, a survey that focuses on the things that surprise and delight car buyers rather than the problems that frustrate them. The German maker’s Porsche and Audi brands topped the annual report while five individual VW Group models led their individual product segments.

General Motors and Ford Motor Co. followed close behind. In fact, GM’s Chevrolet division had more segment winners than any other brand, a sudden surge that echoed Chevy’s unexpectedly strong performance in J.D. Power’s closely watched Initial Quality Survey, or IQS, last month.

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Another surprise came with the poor performance of Toyota. Though its premium Lexus division landed in fifth place in the latest APEAL study, the flagship Toyota brand came in fifth from the bottom, two spots lower than the Japanese maker’s youth-oriented Scion division.

Perhaps less unexpected was the continued dominance of well-equipped luxury vehicles over mainstream brands and products. Only a handful of non-luxury brands scored above the industry average and none landed in the Top 10.


Cadillac Takes Aim at Lexus

Compact CUV could undercut rival’s crossover dominance.

by on Aug.30, 2012

Cadillac's new ATS may soon have a lot more company in the showroom - including a compact CUV.

Once the reigning U.S. luxury brand Cadillac is eager to reclaim lost ground and has put a target on the back of Lexus, which was itself the best-selling luxury brand until last year’s Japanese earthquake violently disrupted production.

The 2013 model-year will be a big one for the U.S. maker, as it rolls out both the new ATS compact luxury sedan and the more upscale XTS.  Cadillac is also working on plans to expand its line-up even further, officials now openly discussing plans to add a compact crossover – as first reported.

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When asked about which brand was likely to windup to “donate” some market share as the deck is reshuffled in the luxury, segment, Cadillac’s marketing boss Don Butler didn’t hesitate – “Lexus,” he said, suggesting it certainly has a large pool of owners who could be persuaded to try something different.


Lexus To Unveil New “Flagship” at “Invitation-Only” Event

Next-gen LS to offer more passionate styling, hybrid, sport and long-wheelbase variants.

by on Jul.09, 2012

Expect to see some key elements of the newest Lexus GS carry over into the 5th-generation LS - notably including the "spindle grille."

Toyota President Akio Toyoda has been promising to put more “passion” into his company’s products – providing a hint of this new direction with offerings as varied as the new Toyota Avalon, Scion FR-S and the 2012 Lexus GS.  But the real test will come when, late this month, the maker’s luxury division lifts the covers off an all-new version of its flagship LS line.

A terse news advisory from Lexus reveals Lexus will unveil the fifth generation of that flagship sedan at an “invitation-only” event taking place in San Francisco on July 30th.

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The release notes that the next-gen Lexus LS will be offered in standard and long-wheelbase versions, with an updated version of the LS 600h hybrid and an all-new LS 460 F Sport on tap, as well.  Beyond that, it’s a matter of wait-and-see but some insight can be glimmered from recent moves the marque has been making.