Obama talks GM, but leaves out the "B" word. Hydrogen is back this week; will it stay? And the new version of Microsoft SYNC is out; we'll tell you what it does and if your Ford can get it. Plus, a ride in a hotted-up Lexus.Listen now: Download today's podcast SHOW NOTES
With the poorly selling SC 430 on the chopping block, Lexus found itself in need of a sexy luxury convertible to generate some excitement around the brand.
The IS sedan is about the same size as the SC and much better-looking. In IS 350 trim, it also extracts more horsepower from its 3.5-liter V-6 than the SC can from its 4.3-liter V-8. So, rather than update the aging SC, Lexus transplanted an updated version of its three-panel aluminum folding roof onto the IS sedan and, with a little massaging, the IS C was born.
The IS C goes from hardtop to topless in 20 seconds, which is 5 seconds faster than the SC 430.
With the exception of the new roof and two fewer doors, the IS C looks identical to the sedan. Upon closer inspection, we can see that the aesthetics have been tweaked to better fit the IS C's sporty open-air attitude. In fact, we're told that the IS and the IS C share almost no sheet metal. Of course, this is most notable around back, where the IS' tail lamps have been reworked and its rump raised to accommodate the retractable hardtop.
On paper, IS C still seats four passengers. In reality, passengers will find that the rear seats have been shifted forward by 5 inches, compromising leg room.
In the cabin, an optional Mark Levinson audio system sounds fantastic, thanks to a tweaked version of Automatic Sound Leveling that not only adjusts volume for vehicle speed, but also adjusts the equalizer to compensate for the loss of bass that comes with open-air listening. Perhaps it was our ears playing tricks on us, but the IS C's stereo actually sounds better when the vehicle is rolling than it does at a stop, which is quite an impressive feat.… Read more
The stock Lexus IS 350 delivers impressive performance, its 3.5-liter V-6 getting it from 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, while still embodying Lexus luxury. Now you can tune up the handling substantially with Lexus' F Sport accessories from the dealer. A tuned-up luxury car may be a strange idea, but it works for the Mercedes-Benz AMG division. We looked at a 2009 IS 350 loaded with F Sport brakes, suspension components, and exhaust. These components make it a car you can take out to track days, although the harsher ride will take some of the luxury … Read more
Probably the only race that Buick and Jaguar would finish in a tie is the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS), but both are on the top of the leader board this week. Each rank highest in vehicle dependability in a tie. Buick improves from a sixth-place ranking in 2008, while Jaguar improves from 10th place. Following in the top-five rankings this year are Lexus, Toyota and Mercury.
Toyota garners five segment awards for the Highlander, Prius, Sequoia, Solara, and Tundra. Lexus follows with four segment awards for the ES 330 (in a tie with the … Read more
From our reviews, we round up the most expensive, geekiest cars available. These big sedans average around one-hundred grand and feature some of the latest automotive technology available. Want a massage? Try out the Mercedes-Benz CL550. Want to know if cars are in your blind spots? Give the Audi S8 a spin. Feeling a little green? The Lexus LS 600h delivers luxury and a hybrid power train.
Lexus' timing couldn't be better as it releases an economy luxury car during the current economic troubles. The once wealthy who find themselves in straitened circumstances can still toodle around in a Lexus. The HS 250h is a dedicated hybrid--there is no gasoline equivalent in the Lexus lineup, making it a first for the automaker. The proportions and power train come close to the Camry, and the styling is hardly what we would call refined, but the cabin features the latest Lexus gadgets, including a new interface controller, hard-drive-based navigation, and natural language voice command system.
Elsewhere, editor Wayne Cunningham has covered the new styling and cabin features of the 2010 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h. So I'll comment on the drivetrain and chassis changes.
Let's just say that, at Lexus, "The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection" is not merely advertising hype.
Lexus has obviously been doing something right with its RX, as the midsize luxury crossover is its most-popular vehicle, and the one that defines the midsize luxury crossover segment. But there was room for improvement in both the chassis and powertrain departments. The two previous generations had suspension tunings best-described … Read more
Although the Toyota Prius got all the hybrid hoopla, Lexus showed that a hybrid could be powerful and luxurious with the RX hybrid SUV. That model launched as the RX 400h in 2005, and now gets a much-needed update for the 2010 model year. At Lexus' preview for the car, we got to drive it over mountain roads and spend some serious time trying out the new cabin tech.
The new model is called the RX 450h, as Lexus bumps up the gas engine from 3.3-liters to a 3.5-liter V-6. And, like the original model, that engine is complemented by a full hybrid system, with electric motors that can power the car. With newer battery technology, Lexus was able to make the RX 450h's nickel-metal hydride battery pack, which sits under the rear seat, a little smaller. As with the old version, the gas engine and one motor/generator drive the front wheels. Option it up to all-wheel-drive, and a second motor/generator gets added to power the rear wheels.
We took a sport-trimmed model on a drive over twisty mountain roads in Northern California, and found a lot of improvement. Where the steering on the RX 400h was extremely light, even at speed, Lexus returned the electric-power steering to give more resistance in the RX 450h. Coming through a tight corner at speed, the steering wheel offers much more feedback. The tires were singing in the turns, but the sport-tuned suspension kept the car reasonably flat. Of course, there is a trade-off in that the ride didn't feel as soft as with the RX 400h. Lexus changed the suspension pretty radically in the rear of the RX, taking out the strut towers in favor of a double-wishbone. This new suspension leads to a firmer ride and increases the cargo area. … Read more
A new feature from Ford Motor will allow drivers to let their car do the steering when faced with a parallel parking space, the company announced Tuesday.
On the self-parking Lexus, the driver can use an interface to adjust the space the car aims for, and only maintains control over the brake while it's maneuvering.
In Ford's version the driver pulls up alongside a space and pushes a button. The car then applies ultrasonic-based sensors … Read more