Toyota's upscale brand Lexus has been responsible for setting many benchmarks in the industry. By many measures, Lexus vehicles are supremely reliable and defect-free compared to their competition. A recent focus on sport sedans proves that Lexus intends to move beyond its reputation for reliability.
The Lexus lineup includes a dedicated hybrid model. The smaller CT is a front-wheel-drive, five-door hatchback with seating for 5 passengers. The CT 200h equips a hybrid powertrain matching that of the popular Toyota Prius for a net horsepower rating of 134. The EPA rates the CT at 43/40 (city/highway) which makes the CT the most fuel-efficient Lexus. With a starting price of around $30,000, the CT is also the least expensive Lexus model. The CT includes power equipment as standard, but the seats are trimmed in synthetic leather. Like other luxury models, the CT can be upgraded with a variety of option packages which drive the price up quickly.
Lexus offers a variety of sedans ranging from the IS to the LS. Originally an upscale clone of the Camry, this front-wheel-drive sedan serves as a stylish and more attainable luxury model than some other more focused models in the lineup. Lexus now offers two different powertrains in the ES. The ES350 is powered by a 268-bhp 3.5l V6. The ES 300h is a full hybrid which pairs a 2.5l four-cylinder gasoline engine with electric motors for increased fuel efficiency. With the explosion of models in the entry-level luxury segment, there are numerous alternatives available for less money, but the ES remains as the most approachable path to Lexus ownership.
The GS occupies the middle of the Lexus line between the smaller IS and the much larger LS. This places the GS in competition with other mid-range luxury offerings like the BMW 5-Series, Infiniti M, and Audi A6. At just 190.7 inches long and 72.4 inches wide, the GS is shorter and narrower than all three of these vehicles. GS models wear alphanumeric names based on their powertrain. The GS 350 equips a 306-bhp, 3.5l V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. The GS350 is available in both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive. The GS 450h is a gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain based on a 3.5l V6 engine. The hybrid system raises the total system power to 338-bhp while improving fuel-economy to 29/34 (city/highway). A restrained interior is finished in wood and leather and offers a competitive list of features considered mandatory on today's luxury cars.
The GX460 is a rugged luxury SUV slotted between the car-like RX350 and the LX570. A 4.6L V-8 and 6-speed automatic are the only powertrain available. Although the GX460 shares the same platform as the Toyota 4Runner, it features an optional KDSS (Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System) that reduces body roll & sway up to 50% during cornering, without compromising ride. Traction Control (TRAC), ABS, Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC), Downhill Assist Control (DAC) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) provide maximum safety on the road and off-road. Interior luxury options include a rear seat DVD entertainment system, DVD Navigation, and a premium Mark Levinson audio system. The GX 460 includes three rows of seating for up to 7 passengers, but that leaves a scant 4.1 cubic feet of storage behind the third row.
By most accounts, the Lexus LS is perfect. Outstanding levels of build quality and reliability have propelled it near the top of a short list of large luxury automobiles. The LS is offered in two wheelbases with a 4.6L V8 under the hood, yielding the LS460 and LS460L models. A gasoline/electric hybrid model combining a V8 engine with electric motors is sold as the LS600h L. The conservative styling of the fourth generation LS gave it the distinct presence that it predecessors had lacked. On the inside, the LS features high levels of luxury and the long wheelbase model even offers a rear seat package with a reclining ottoman, personal DVD player and cooler. A host of electronics and driving aids are befitting a vehicle that competes with complicated German luxury sedans. The LS even offers a system that will assist in parking the car for you.
Lexus pioneered the luxury crossover SUV with the RX300, but has had no entry into the expanding compact SUV market until now. Loosely based on the Toyota RAV4 platform, the NX gets unique styling, interior design, and the first turbocharged engine in a Lexus. The model range consists of the NX200t and NX300h hybrid. Both are available in front-drive and all-wheel drive configurations.
The last time Lexus had a sporty coupe was in the late 1990s, when the 2-door SC300/400 was part of its lineup. Neither the SC430 nor the IS convertible that followed were really replacements for the SC hardtop coupes. So Lexus went back to its roots and to design a coupe offering both performance and luxury. Lexus is positioning the RC350 as a luxury coupe, with the F Sport package intended for customers preferring bolder styling and sharper handling. The RC F is the performance flagship in the Lexus lineup, intended to compete against the BMW M4 and Audi S5.