Over the last 18 months you can really see Akio Toyoda’s fingerprints on the Lexus brand. For many years Lexus was considered a brand of fine cars with excellent build quality and a dealer network that set the standard for the industry. However, they were also thought of as bland and emotionless vehicles. Cars and SUV’s for those that wanted something nice, but didn’t care about cars or want to think about cars.
Akio’s statement was that cars bearing his family’s name WOULD have emotion, would have a connection to the driver, they would NOT be thought of as just a commodity item.
The all new GS was the first real statement along those lines and now with the 2014 Lexus IS, the third generation of the car, Akio has focused Lexus’ efforts into not just drawing event with cars like the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4, but setting the standard for the small luxury performance segment.
The new IS draws from it’s larger stablemate, the GS, in several areas. The front end is a further, more aggressive evolution of the spindle grill, the interior continues the horizontal theme dash, and the rear suspension is derived from the GS as well.
The new IS gains 2.5 inches in wheelbase allowing for a further 1.6 inches of rear seat legroom. The overall length has been extended 3.5 inches, the trunk now has an additional .5 cubic foot of space and the first time offering a 60/40 split folding rear seat for additional cargo capacity.
When the new IS is ordered with Satellite Navigation, it comes loaded with 3D mapping including Street View. Traffic and weather information are now subscription free, weather is updated every 10 minutes and traffic every 2 minutes. Traffic also has the addition feature of Predictive Traffic which can forecast ahead 15, 30 and 45 minutes so that you can see what your route may look like, and if you should choose a different way. Also when you are running low on fuel gas stations will appear as Points Of Interest on the map.
The 2014 IS has all of the safety features you’ve come to expect on a car at this level, 10 air bags, Blind Spot Warning with Cross Traffic, lane departure alert, and Pre Collision Radar cruise control down to 25 miles an hour.
The F-Sport version of the new IS, available on both the IS 250 and the IS 350 is distinguished by a different nose and bumper, different seats, LED daytime running lights, variable adaptive suspension and additional drive modes of Sports S and S+. Also in the F-Sport is a different gage cluster that draws it’s inspiration from the LFA Supercar. The center dial slides from the center to the right and alters the information on the LCD gage cluster.
Optional on all models is the 15 speaker, 835 watt Mark Levinson audio system. The system features a full digital (Class-D) amplifier, 5.1 channel/7.1 channel surround system, a total of 15 GreenEdge™ ultra-high efficiency speakers and a Lexus-first Auto Volume System,which automatically adjusts volume when changing between sources or radio channels.
The IS 250 and 350 can be had either as Rear Drive or All Wheel Drive. Power comes from either a 2.5 liter V6 in the IS 250 offering 204 horsepower and 184 lb/ft of torque, or the 3.5 liter V6 in the IS 350 which offers up 306 horsepower and 277 lb/ft of torque.
Fuel economy is rated in the IS 250 at 21/30/24 (city/highway/combined) for the Rear Drive and 20/27/23 for the All Wheel Drive model. The IS 350 rates as 19/28/22 for the Rear Drive and 19/26/21 for the All Wheel Drive.
All IS 250’s, plus the IS 350 AWD will use a six speed automatic transmission, while the Rear Drive IS 350 will use the eight speed automatic from the outgoing IS-F.
On the road the new IS has a very comfortable and controlled ride quality, the cabin is very quiet, as you’d expect. However, when you put your foot down, there is a very sporty sounding exhaust, and when tossed aggressively into corners, the body stays very flat, and the handling is very neutral, with just a hint of understeer to keep you safe.
Lexus believe you can have your cake and eat it too with the suspension in the new IS. They have soften the springs at all four corners to make the ride more supple, yet larger anti roll bars allow the handling to be very sporty and controlled without being overly stiff. When you want a more aggressive suspension you can dial it up with the drive mode selector. In the standard IS you have a Sport mode, and in the F-Sport there are Sports S and S+ options. The additional modes will not only change the suspension calibrations, but alter how aggressive the throttle is as well.
For 30 years the BMW 3 Series has set the benchmark for the small sport luxury segment, and Audi in the last decade has been running neck and neck with BMW with their A4. Lexus have now gone all in on this segment, and just like when Lexus entered the market with the original LS, the Germans will be may need to re-evaluate their current efforts.
Pricing for the IS 250 begins at $35,950 and $39,465 for the IS 350, All Wheel Drive adds $2,515 to the IS 250 and $2,235 to the IS 350, all models of the new IS will be available mid Summer.
The all-new 2014 Lexus IS sedans will feature an all-new multimedia system with a remote touch interface and will deliver real-time traffic and weather information over the air for free.
Lexus has made $1,400 worth of equipment that was optional in previous IS models standard in the new luxury sedans, including HID headlamps, L-shaped LED daytime running lights, Drive Mode Select, paddle shifters, a dual-zone climate control system, a next-generation Remote Touch Interface, Display Audio, a color 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display, and 10 airbags, while pricing the new Lexus IS 350 2.1 percent lower than its predecessor.
The revamped in-vehicle multimedia system features a 7-inch VGA multi-display as the centerpiece, providing drivers with climate, audio, and navigation information. The display can be operated via a Display Audio controller, which can access Info, Setup, Display, Media, Climate, and Phone screens, or by way of the carmaker’s new Remote Touch system featuring a next-generation haptic joystick.
The in-vehicle information system also features what Lexus describes as “advanced voice recognition” enabled by a new dual-microphone system and voice box built on the latest Nuance voice recognition software platform. The system searches a navigation point-of-interest (POI) database to conduct local search and Microsoft’s Bing for Internet search through a connected smartphone app.
Lexus is billing the free, HD radio-supplied weather and traffic info accessible in the 2014 IS sedan as an “industry-first application.” The same information service was previously provided via Sirius XM but required a subscription. Customers will have the option to add the Lexus Enform App Suite to their system, which uses cellular connectivity to provide weather and traffic info when out of HD Radio coverage range, and also includes fuel price, stock market, and sports updates.
Toyota has confirmed that the production of the Lexus ES will move to Georgetown, KY starting in 2015, which is the first time a Lexus vehicle will be built on North American shores. To accommodate the additional 50,000 units that the ES represents, Toyota will be investing US$360 million in the plant and hiring an additional 750 workers.
“Lexus was founded in the United States, so it is only fitting that we are bringing the production of luxury sedans for our U.S. customers back to where the brand was born,” said Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corporation. “Today’s announcement is a major step in our Global Vision to make ever better cars and trucks, give regions greater autonomy to make the products their customers want and achieve sustainable growth globally.”
“Since its arrival here in 1986, the impact Toyota has had on Kentucky has been immeasurable, and the addition of Lexus production only adds to that enduring legacy,” said Governor Steven Beshear of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. “The establishment of production for the Lexus ES 350 will afford Kentucky a tremendous opportunity to expand and strengthen its vast supplier base, creating even more growth potential in the future. Kentucky is proud of the confidence Toyota continues to demonstrate in our vibrant and skilled workforce as they prepare to make a vehicle model that, like them, has earned a reputation for high quality.”
Production of the ES 350 at the Georgetown plant is the latest step in Toyota’s continuing strategy to assemble vehicles in the markets where its customers live. Over the past 17 months, the company has announced plans to increase production capacity at its plants in Mississippi, Indiana, West Virginia and Canada, reflecting a cumulative investment of approximately $2 billion that has created more than 4,000 new jobs. Toyota also recently announced executive changes designed to provide regional managers with more local control and a streamlined decision-making structure to help the company deliver superior customer-focused products and services.
“Today’s Lexus ES announcement further strengthens Toyota’s commitment to serving American consumers, growing American production and investing in American team members,” said Jim Lentz, Toyota’s chief executive officer for North America. “We’re extraordinarily proud to have helped create over 365,000 jobs across the country and to produce so many of the industry’s highest quality vehicles right here in the United States. Today, Toyota’s 14 North American plants already produce seven out of every 10 vehicles that we sell in America, and North American-assembled vehicles are now exported to 23 countries around the world.”
Sources have confirmed that Lexus will introduce a small premium crossover that will directly compete with the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 at the 2014 Geneva motor show. The hybrid model will be based on the redesigned Toyota RAV4 and will slot below the Lexus RX 450h.
The new model is expected to carry the NX 300h tag, which was a name trademarked by Lexus in November. The “300h” would imply that the new vehicle will use a similar drivetrain to that of the ES 300h sedan, with a 2.5-liter four cylinder gasoline engine and hybrid system.
Lexus chief Kazuo Ohara has already confirmed the crossover will debut in concept form at this year’s Tokyo Auto Show, in November; and the full production model will debut in Geneva, the following March.
Lexus doesn’t currently offer any crossover smaller than the RX, which is considerably larger than many premium crossovers sold in Europe. And as customer seek greater efficiency and look to downsize their vehicles, a more economical crossover could prove even more popular.
Lexus has not confirmed if the new model will be available in North America.
From California to New York, student teams were recognized last week for making the world a better place by improving the environment. A total of $500,000 in scholarships and grants were awarded to teens, teachers and schools.
Two Grand Prize winners earned $30,000 each, and eight First Place winning teams were awarded $15,000 each. “The Elymenators” from Arlington High School in Lagrangeville, New York, and the “Eco Hawks” from Hanahan Middle School in Hanahan, South Carolina, were the Grand Prize winners. “The Elymenators” took on the spread of Lyme Disease both in their community and around the world while the “Eco Hawks” aimed to inspire the government and residents of South Carolina to improve its low recycling rate. For their efforts, each Grand Prize winner will receive $30,000, of which the school will receive a grant for $7,000, the teacher advisor will get a $3,000 grant, and the students will share $20,000 in scholarships.
Since the program was created, the Lexus Eco Challenge has awarded $4.5 million in scholarships and grants to empower middle and high school students to learn about the environment and take action to improve it.
“The Lexus Eco Challenge encourages teens to start local and then go global. All ten of these winning teams brought their idea to a larger audience to make a positive impact in the world,” said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager. “Through this program, nearly 30,000 participants have learned that their passion and commitment can make a difference in the world. It’s a lesson they can take with them the rest of their lives.”
The eight First Place teams each won $15,000 with $3,000 for the school, $2,000 for the teacher advisor and $10,000 in scholarships for the students. The winning teams were:
- California (La Crescenta) – “Riptides” – Clark Magnet High School – Created a native plant garden at their school and partnered with an environmental group to grow seeds to be planted in national parks.
- Florida (Newberry) – “Climate Control Corps” – Newberry High School — Focused on reducing carbon dioxide emissions through community outreach and building a solar water heater.
- Massachusetts (Boston) – “Real Cost Calculators” – Boston Latin School –Developed an on-line service learning tool to help consumers evaluate the “big picture” toll when purchasing everyday items.
- Michigan (Harper Woods) – “ECKH20 Preservers” – Harper Woods Secondary School – Worked with teachers all over the world to share ideas on improving water quality.
- New Jersey (Jersey City) – “Project Reservoir” – Christa McAuliffe School – Developed the “Put a Hole In It” campaign to help drain trash cans and reduce the mosquito population.
- Ohio (Chester) – “Take Charge Team” – West Geauga High School – Evaluated the process of fracking and its impact on the water supply in their own community, as well as in rural Guatemala.
- Texas (McKinney) – “Green Our School” – Evans Middle School – Installed energy tiles in their school and district, as well as created a smartphone app that calculates energy use.
- Utah (Holladay) – “Kookaburras” – Olympus Junior High School – Rallied the community to build houses for native birds in the state.
This year’s winners emerged from more than 400 registered teams representing nearly 3,000 middle and high school students nationwide. The 10 winners were selected from 32 teams that qualified to enter the Final Challenge by winning in one or both of the two previous Challenges that were held from September to February. The earlier phases of the contest, which required teams to address the topics of land, water, air or climate, challenged teams to make a difference for the environment in their local communities. The Final Challenge asked teams to reach beyond the local community and inspire environmental action around the world.
In addition to the ongoing contest, the Lexus Eco Challenge also includes educational materials designed by Scholastic to encourage teachers to integrate creative lesson plans into their classrooms to help teach students about the environment. For each challenge, the web site (www.scholastic.com/lexus) has lesson plans and teacher instructions including questions to help guide a discussion about the current challenge topic, facts about the topic, and guidelines for a specific classroom project.
The Lexus Eco Challenge will enter its seventh year in fall 2013. Teachers and students are encouraged to visit www.scholastic.com/lexus to view all the winning entries and to learn how they can take part in the next challenge.
For the fifth year in a row, Lexus tops the closely-watched J.D. Power Customer Service Index which is a measure of how well dealers are meeting owners’ expectations for performance in the service department. The annual index found that customers are more satisfied by dealer service in general, especially with the service from factory-approved retailers as compared with independent facilities.
“Manufacturers have made large investments in their retail programs, and dealers have made significant investments in key customer touch-points—people, improved processes and customer waiting areas—which are having a profoundly positive impact on their customers,” said Chris Sutton, the JDPA senior director in charge of the 2013 survey.
The index focuses on what happens when vehicle owners visit a service department for either maintenance and repair work asking about five specific areas: service quality, service initiation, service advisor, service facility and vehicle pick-up. While dealer service departments and independent repair outlets may be a traditional source of suspicion and complaints, the results of the latest survey indicate marked improvement in recent years. The average score was 797, on a 1,000-point scale, up from 787 last year, and a 29-point gain from 2011.
Last week, U.S. News & World’s Report announced their annual Best Cars for the Money award for 2013 and Lexus earned top honors in two categories. The RX 350 luxury utility vehicle received the Best Luxury 2-Row Midsize SUV for the Money while the RX 450h hybrid luxury utility vehicle won the Best Hybrid SUV for the Money. This is the fifth year in a row that the RX 350 has won this award, while the RX 450h has received the top honor in its category for the past two years.
“We are very proud that the RX 350 and RX 450h won their segments in U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 Best Car for the Money awards”, said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager. “The RX created the luxury crossover category in 1998 and these awards show how Lexus continues to deliver industry leading quality at a great value to our customers.”
The awards cover 21 automotive categories, from compact cars to three-row SUVs. Within each class, the U.S. News methodology identified a single vehicle that provides the best combination of quality and value.
“The award winners show that when it comes to cars, you can have your cake and eat it too,” said Jamie Page Deaton, Managing Editor of U.S. News Best Cars. “There’s a misconception that a car that offers a good value is boring. Our awards show that a car can have good performance, the latest features, plenty of comfort and still be a smart financial choice for the long haul.”
The Best Cars for the Money methodology combines quality and value data into a composite score. Within each of the 21 categories, the vehicle with the highest score is named the Best Car for the Money in that category. Quality is measured by the overall score a vehicle achieved in the U.S. News car rankings at the time the awards are published. The rankings compare cars on the basis of safety, reliability and a consensus of industry experts’ opinions. Value is measured by a combination of a vehicle’s five-year total cost of ownership and the average price paid for the vehicle at the time the awards are published.
Last week, J.D. Power released the results of its annual Dependability Study. This year, a number of LAcarGUY brands top the list. The study finds Lexus, Porsche, Toyota and Lincoln had the best records. The study measures the number of problems owners have experienced over the last 12 months in cars purchased during the 2010 model year. The study is based on survey responses from more than 37,000 owners of vehicles purchased during the 2010 model year. The research was done in the fourth quarter of 2012. Overall, the cars experienced an average of 126 problems per hundred vehicles. That was a decline from 132 the previous model year and the lowest average since J.D. Power launched the study in 1989.
“It is great news for consumers,” said Raffi Festekjian, J.D. Power’s director of automotive global research operations. “Manufacturers continue to keep their eye on the ball and improve quality. Consumers are spending less time at the dealer and there is less money spent on repairs if you have driven past the original warranty because the vehicles are more dependable.”
J.D. Power found that more than two-thirds of the brands had better scores from the previous years. In one finding, the study observed that the common assumption that newly redesigned or substantially changed model cars were less reliable from autos that were largely unchanged from the previous model year may be wrong.
“There is a perception that all-new models, or models that undergo a major redesign, are more problematic than carryover models,” said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. “This is not the case. The rapid improvement in fundamental vehicle dependability each year is more than offsetting any initial glitches that all-new or redesigned models may have.”
The top 10 car brands (from best to worst, with the average number of problems) were: Lexus, 71; Porsche, 94; Lincoln, 112; Toyota, 112; Mercedes-Benz, 115; Buick, 118; Honda, 119; Acura, 120; Ram, 122; and Suzuki, (which is exiting the U.S. market) 122. The remaining two brands that scored better than the industry average of 126 were Mazda at 124 and Chevrolet at 125.
The next 10 best auto brands, all below the industry average, were: Ford; 127; Cadillac, 128; Subaru, 132; BMW, 133; GMC, 134; Scion, 135; Nissan, 137; Infiniti, 138; Kia, 140; and Hyundai, 141. The rest were: Audi, 147; Volvo, 149; Mini, 150; Chrysler, 153; Jaguar, 164; Volkswagen, 174; Jeep, 178; Mitsubishi, 178; Dodge, 190; and Land Rover, 220.
The highest ranked compact car was the Toyota Prius, and the top large car was the discontinued Buick Lucerne. The highest ranked entry premium car was the Lexus ES 350 while the highest ranked premium car was the Audi A6.
Drop by LAcarGUY’s dealerships to test drive vehicles from any one of these top dependable brands today. Our experienced sales consultants would be happy to help you find the best vehicle that suites your needs.
Group vice president and general manager of Lexus, Mark Templin introduces the all-new 2014 Lexus IS at this year’s North American International Auto Show. Since its debut in 1999, the Lexus IS has provided an entry point into the Lexus brand for youthful, performance oriented buyers. The latest generation IS will give these customers even more of what they want.
The 2014 Lexus IS is scheduled to make its official debut at this week’s Detroit Auto Show, but images of the newly redesigned model have been surfacing on various internet sites. The all-new IS model range will include the IS 250, IS 350 and the first IS to feature Lexus Hybrid Drive, the IS 300h which will be sold in Europe, Japan and other international markets. The F Sport models will be available across the full range.
Adopting Lexus’ signature spindle grille, the translation to the IS seems to be even more pronounced and more dimensional than the recently updated Lexus GS. Highlights of the new design include uniquely sculptural headlamp assemblies that are almost three dimensional in contour and shape. Another stand out are the separate L-shaped LED daytime-running lights. Flared front fenders give the car a more powerful and seemingly wider stance.
On the inside, the stunning new interior will surely impress. The longer wheelbase and thinner front seats provide more legroom which addresses a common complaint with the previous IS models. Other details include a dash-mounted analog clock, electrostatic switches for the temperature controls and an LFA-inspired steering wheel.
Stay tuned as we bring you more images and details on the 2014 Lexus IS models as they are unveiled at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.