Displaying items by tag: lexus
- Comfortable and refined to drive
- Good electric range
- New infotainment long overdue
- Not exactly exciting to drive
- Only average practicality
- Steering wheel controls confusing
- Amazing interior with some incredible details
- Smooth, quiet and refined
- World-beating reliability and warranty
- Expensive running costs
- Unimpressive performance
- Hard to justify against an S-Class
After introducing the new NX in June, Lexus has now promoted a new generation of the larger LX model as well.
The new Lexus LX is based on the latest Toyota Land Cruiser 300 Series (built on the new GA-F platform, so it weighs up to 200 kg less, has a lower center of gravity and about 10 percent lower CO2 emissions).
The vehicle is 4985 mm long, the wheelbase is 2850 mm, and the wheels are from 18 to 22 inches.
With a new exterior design, as well as a more modern interior (12.3 and 7.0-inch screens), the new LX will also offer a long list of safety and driver assistance systems (including adaptive cruise control, automatic braking system, pedestrian and cyclist detection ...).
Under the hood of the LX 600 is a 3.5-liter V6 twin-turbo petrol engine with 305 kW / 415hp and 650 Nm of torque, along with a new 10-speed automatic transmission.
Among other things, the LX 600 Ultra Luxury variant with two individual rear seats will be offered, as well as the F Sport version with modified suspension, Torsen LSD differential, 22-inch wheels and a honeycomb front grille with a dark chrome frame.
The new Lexus LX will officially hit the US market from the first quarter of next year.
TRD (Toyota Racing Development) has prepared a complete tuning program for the new generation of Lexus ES sedans, which is currently only available to Japanese customers.
So now the Lexus ES is available, among other things, with a new front spoiler and sills, as well as a rear diffuser and boot spoiler.
It should be mentioned that there are also new mirror housings on offer, a set of new 19- or 20-inch alloy wheels (in several colors), as well as a modified suspension as an option.
Finally, TRD for the new ES also offers interior elements, such as new door panels.
Lexus uses an altogether more comprehensive approach than Tesla does to achieving SAE Level 2 autonomy.
Tesla was first into the breach in the U.S. with a driver assist system capable of SAE Level 2 autonomy, which is the second-from-the-bottom tier of self-driving capability as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. (Full or close to full self-driving gets Level 4 and 5 designations.) Autopilot handles acceleration, braking, steering, and even lane changes on its own, but only on contained roads such as freeways, and the driver must monitor things. That Tesla allowed its Autopilot-equipped vehicles even that much autonomous leeway with the meager sensor package onboard raised eyebrows—all the more so when you consider what Lexus is bringing to the table with its SAE Level 2 setup dubbed Teammate.
It's The Sensor Package, Stupid
Is Lexus late? Sure. Mercedes-Benz has offered similar capability to Autopilot for a few years now, including automated lane changes. But like Mercedes (which also trailed Autopilot), Lexus is coming in much better prepared.
Consider what Tesla works with: Its Autopilot-equipped vehicles (at least, before its recent abandonment of a forward radar sensor in the Model 3 and Model Y) include front, rear, and side-facing cameras, plus 12 near-range ultrasonic sensors (i.e., parking sensors). The larger Model S sedan and Model X SUV still include a forward-facing radar sensor, but Tesla has been pretty clear about the fact its onboard computers favor inputs from the cameras when scanning the road ahead.
Now consider what Lexus' first go with Teammate brings to the table: Front-facing Lidar, front-facing long-range radar, short-range radar facing the front and blind-spot areas (three directions in total), 360-degree parking cameras and ultrasonic sensors, a forward camera, and a front-facing telescope. Both Teammate and Tesla's Autopilot deliver a 360-degree view of the vehicle's surroundings, but one is like having Terminator vision, and the other is the relative equivalent of waving a stick around yourself while blindfolded.
Although Tesla claims its cameras can deliver "powerful visual processing at up to 250 meters of range," that performance is limited to certain conditions. Camera performance deteriorates in bad weather, whereas radar—so long as the sensor isn't physically blocked by, say, ice or packed snow—can detect fast-moving objects in rain or sleet. Every sensor has its limits, of course, but there's something reassuring about the multiple redundancy built into Lexus' setup, wherein overlap exists in the viewpoints of the Lidar, radar sensors, and cameras.
No matter how comprehensive the sensor package, eventually the driver will need to retake control for some reason or another. These are, after all, SAE Level 2 systems that demand the driver's attention at all times. Teammate is, predictably, more upfront about policing the driver's attention during use. An infrared camera above the steering wheel monitors the driver's head movements and eyes to make sure they're paying attention at all times, even while the system is working.
Like Tesla, Lexus relies on sensors in the steering wheel that detect the driver's grasp; with Teammate, you can go extended periods hands-free, but as soon as the system deems the driver is needed again, those hands better get to the wheel, quick, or else the car will begin to slow down and pull over.
Tesla, on the other hand, only recently began actually using the included in-car camera to track the driver's involvement in the Model 3 and Y; the Model S and X hadn't even included the cameras until their recent refresh. This lack of monitoring has made possible those moronic YouTube videos you may have seen showing Tesla drivers able to climb into the back seat, or even go to sleep, with Autopilot active, and with disastrous results.
So, How Does Lexus Teammate Work?
The short answer? It works well. The longer answer is, it feels like a future-looking driver assist designed by Toyota. In other words, the system truly acts as a driver's partner and less like a carefree system a driver activates and simply tunes out from for a while. There is an abundance of communication from the car about where on the spectrum of involvement the driver is or needs to be in a given situation, too.
On a brief drive in Dallas near Toyota's Plano, Texas, headquarters, we experienced Teammate's two primary operating modes: Advanced Drive navigated, and not navigated. One can plug a destination into the nav screen, and, should the route take you onto an eligible freeway, you'll be given a heads-up that Advanced Drive will soon be available as you approach an on-ramp. A distance countdown in the head-up display shows you exactly how far remains until hands-free driving is possible. Once on the freeway, a message flashes in the gauge cluster alerting you the system is initializing.
After a few seconds, if everything's gravy, a graphic in the gauge cluster turns blue and an audible alert invites you to activate Teammate's Advanced Drive function. Simply press the corresponding button on the steering wheel, and the system leaps into action, taking control of steering, braking, and acceleration at the speed you were traveling when you pressed the button. Drivers can use the cruise-control adjustment to increase or decrease their set speed.
Again, with a navigation destination set, the system alerts the driver when their exit is approaching; it determines and displays decisions 6 miles ahead of time, with exit urgency growing within 2 miles of an off-ramp. It prompts you to monitor lane changes toward that exit (if the car isn't already in the right lane). Intriguingly, the car won't simply accept a lane-change instruction (you can tap the signal stalk in the direction you'd like to go) or change lanes without you: Either way, it beckons you to check the mirrors and "blind spot." Fail to get this head-turning choreography right (remember, the in-car camera is watching!), and Teammate won't follow through. It's not that Teammate can't handle lane changes on its own: With rear-facing radar on each side, it can make sure a car isn't fast approaching in your blind spot and size up gaps in traffic. That's something Autopilot relies on parking sensors and a camera for. But Teammate will only do its robot thing with your participation.
Approaching exit ramps or forks in the freeway, Teammate will slow the vehicle and steer into the appropriate lane. The same distance countdown that shows your proximity to Advanced Drive-eligible freeways counts down the distance in feet remaining before the driver must take control. Teammate will guide the car fully down an off-ramp until this handoff. Fail to take the wheel, and the car cinches the seatbelt a few times to get your attention and sounds audible warnings before slowing rapidly. Tap the gas or brake (or press the Advanced Drive button on the wheel), and it hands you control. Using Teammate without navigation is much the same, minus the steering toward exits or through forks and without countdowns into and out of system eligibility.
Clever And Reassuring
As with Tesla's Autopilot, Lexus Teammate uses the digital gauge cluster display to depict the Lexus positioned within lane markers (those are the lines that turn blue when the system is active), as well as animations of surrounding vehicles and objects. The similarities end there. In Teslas, the animated onscreen version of events surrounding the car are jerky, and nearby vehicles fade in and out of the Tesla's field of vision. In the Lexus LS500h with Teammate we drove, objects nearby were rendered smoothly and accurately on screen, inspiring more confidence that Teammate knew what was going on.
The system's driving smoothness, too, inspired even more confidence. Our Lexus remained precisely in the center of its lane unless—and this was impressive—a vehicle next to it got too close or wandered over the lane marker, spurring a gentle readjustment to maintain distance. At one point while Teammating in the right-hand lane, a Ford Explorer barreled down an on-ramp and looked like it was about to cross into our lane early, before the solid painted line separating the lanes gave way to a dotted one. As the Explorer was more or less even with the Lexus, we figured the car would crank the brakes and let the SUV cut in (likely taking the car following us by surprise) or, maybe, not see the situation developing and we'd be sideswiped. Instead, the LS500h deftly faded to the left and accelerated (we were traveling at less than our set speed at the time) past the wayward Explorer. It's what a smart human would have done had one been driving.
Interestingly, Advanced Drive will beckon you to participate now and again, mostly when it isn't entirely sure of its surroundings. It won't necessarily ask you to retake full control, however. There exists an in-between state where the car will continue steering, braking, and accelerating, but it asks for your hands on the wheel. (The animated lane markers in the gauge cluster turn gray in these instances.) Should stuff really hit the fan—or you reach the end of an exit ramp after leaving the highway—a series of visual and audio warnings urge you to retake full control. In all, the setup's feedback loop bolstered its apparent capability, leaving us far more comfortable than in other similar combinations of adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist.
Teammate Going Forward
Lexus Teammate and Advanced Drive makes its debut on the 2022 LS500h hybrid sedan this fall. It also includes an Advanced Park function that fully handles parking, including steering, throttle, and braking (we didn't have the chance to try it). We suppose, over time, the feature will spread beyond the LS flagship sedan to other Lexus models, but Lexus has not yet specified its next steps. Curious how you'll spot a Teammate-equipped Lexus? Look for the little radar sensor units on each front fender (they look like vents but face rearward). Oh, and the driver may not be holding the wheel.
The newest F Sport Performance version of the IS takes us back to the golden era of compact sports sedans with naturally aspirated V-8 engines.
About a decade ago, compact sports sedans offered naturally aspirated V-8s that absolutely ripped. Before everyone went turbo, the E90 BMW M3, the B7 Audi RS4, and the W204 Mercedes C63 AMG crammed in sweet-sounding V-8s to create experiences that we still remember fondly today. Now that we're feeling sufficiently nostalgic for those four-door screamers, we'll get to the point that Lexus apparently shares our passion for those cars, because the new 2022 IS500 is essentially a return of Lexus's V-8 compact sedan, the IS F.
There are no turbos under the IS500's hood. What is under there is closely related to the IS F's 5.0-liter V-8 from a decade ago. The engine—shared with the RC F—now produces 472 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque, or 56 more horsepower and 24 more pound-feet than its spiritual predecessor. In a turbocharged world, the V-8's horsepower and especially its torque numbers aren't at the level of the M or AMG models', so Lexus is setting expectations by positioning the IS500 as an F Sport Performance model rather than a full-blown IS F.
What does that mean for the IS500's driving experience? We can't quite say yet, but we did recently get the chance to ride in the passenger's seat of the IS500 prototype at an event at Eagles Canyon Raceway in Texas, near Toyota's headquarters in Plano. Professional race-car driver Townsend Bell was behind the wheel.
Keep in mind that the IS500 prototype we rode in wasn't exactly the same car that you'll be able to buy at Lexus dealerships later this year. Wrapped in an obnoxious neon-yellow and black livery, this car was specially prepped for the IS500's debut at Sebring International Raceway earlier this year. It wore an aftermarket exhaust, 20-inch wheels, and grippier Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires compared to the stock car, which will have 19-inch wheels and the same Bridgestone Potenza S001L summer tires as the IS350 F Sport with the handling package.
This means that our impression of the IS500's handling isn't exactly representative, but we weren't behind the wheel anyway. We can tell you that the 5.0-liter V-8 engine is a lovely addition to the latest IS and brings back a lot of those tingly V-8 memories. We're familiar with the glorious sound of this Lexus V-8 by now, and it makes itself known in the IS500. Although the prototype's aftermarket exhaust surely enhanced the auditory experience, we'd still rather listen to this characterful engine run up to its 7300-rpm redline than a BMW M3's twin-turbo inline-six.
Unlike the V-6-powered IS350 F Sport we drove that day on the test track, the V-8 has the grunt to shove you into the back of your seat, and the eight-speed automatic transmission upshifts and downshifts quickly. Lexus claims that the IS500 is 143 pounds heavier than a rear-wheel-drive IS350, and we assume that most of that weight is in the nose. Like the IS F that came before it, a noticeable hood bulge is the clearest sign that this is packing something special under there.
Thanks to the ability to completely deactivate stability control, the IS500 will play as much as you like—as Bell demonstrated by easily swinging the tail out wide for a satisfying drift. It also features the same torque-vectoring rear differential that's optional on the IS350 F Sport. But this car is not meant to be a track monster, and we felt plenty of compliance in the suspension tuning, with more body roll than you'd find in an M3 Competition or a C63, for instance.
We're enticed by the overall package that the IS500 promises to deliver, and we hope that the price is attractive enough to further increase its enthusiast appeal. Lexus has strongly hinted that it will be positioned closer to the M340i and AMG C43s of the world, meaning it could bring back a V-8 to the low-$60,000 range. If so, this could become the hidden gem of the sports-sedan world. Now all that's left is for Lexus to let us in the driver's seat.
What's planned through 2024? Read on.
The world will very much continue despite the coronavirus pandemic currently sweeping the globe. Although it's way too soon to know when life will return to normal, automakers are still preparing future models. Today, a massive leak has been exposed thanks to AllCarNews on Instagram revealing what Toyota and Lexus have planned through 2024. Some of the following has already been rumored but there's at least one new vehicle we didn't see coming.
First up, the next-generation Toyota 86 and its sister ship, the Subaru BRZ. Both are expected to debut in July 2021 and the 86 will be rebranded the GR86. Power will come from a new turbocharged engine with a reported 255 horsepower. Rear-wheel-drive will remain, of course. Next, the Toyota Camry will also receive a mid-life refresh that year, followed by the Avalon in 2022. The next-generation Camry isn't due until 2024.
Also in 2021, we'll be seeing a new Corolla-based crossover whose name has yet to be announced. One possibility is Corolla Cross with production potentially taking place at the joint Toyota-Mazda plant in Alabama, which is still under construction. As we previously reported, the Toyota Venza wagon-crossover is also due to return in 2021. In all likelihood, it'll share a decent amount of its components with the Camry, once again.
Moving on to trucks and SUVs, the leaked report indicates an all-new Toyota 4Runner and Sequoia will debut for the 2023 model year. Both will share the next-gen Tundra's TNGA-F architecture. The Sequoia and Tundra will ditch the 5.7-liter V8 in favor of a new twin-turbo hybrid V6. The 4Runner will get this engine as well. The redesigned Toyota Tacoma will arrive for 2024, but no precise details about it are yet available.
As for the Toyota Land Cruiser, it appears it will come in 2022 but unlike the current model, it'll be a stripped-out off-roader without a hint of luxury. In other words, it's going back to basics. Sweet.
As for Lexus, unlike the Land Cruiser, its LX counterpart will take the exact opposite approach by becoming a Bentley Bentayga rival, powered by the same twin-turbo V6. In general, Lexus is dropping all V8 models priced below $90,000. An all-new twin-turbo V8 will power the long-awaited LC-F in 2022. Also that year, the ES and LS will get a refresh. Surprisingly, the Lexus GS is being replaced outright by a Toyota Mirai-based RWD sedan.
Before that, the next Lexus IS, last updated in 2016, will debut in 2021, followed by a new RX and GX in 2023. Lastly, a new Lexus NX will come in 2021 and it'll ride on the TNGA-K platform with a total of five different powertrains and a new 14-inch touchscreen.
This is a lot of new information to take in, but Toyota and Lexus clearly have a very aggressive new product offensive on the way. We can hardly wait.