Camden, Maine, United States
We knew this day would come, but it's nonetheless a bit of a sad one for Lexus enthusiasts as the very last example of the IS F has rolled off the assembly line in Tahara, Japan. Decked out in its trademark bright blue, the final IS F is destined for a customer right here in the United States.
Far from just another now-defunct model in an endless succession, the IS F marked the first time that Lexus did a proper performance model, debuting in production guise at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show alongside the LFA concept long before the latter entered production and took the idea of the high-performance Lexus even further. The IS F may not have sold in huge numbers, but it definitely marked a milestone for Toyota's luxury division.
Don't cry too much, however, as the new RC F that effectively takes its place packs an even mightier punch. While both are powered by essentially the same 5.0-liter V8 engine mated to an eight-speed automatic driving the rear wheels, the outgoing sedan's 416 horsepower and 371 pound-feet of torque is easily outgunned by the new coupe's 450 hp and 383 lb-ft.
An Unlikely Star in the Lexus Stable
Think about Lexus for a second. Odds are your gray matter is busy regurgitating images of the company's middle-aged RX crossover or possibly the midsize ES sedan. As the volume movers for Toyota's luxury fleet, the two are the default ambassadors for everything with an italicized L pinned to the grille, and that's a damned shame. As the 2013 GS450h is so willing to point out, Lexus engineers are busily crafting models that offer drivers more than a safe luxury choice.
As the master of fuel-sipping battery propulsion, Lexus has brought the impressive width of Toyota hybrid engineering to bear on the GS450h. The result is a vehicle that manages to sneak its hybridness by you with buttery acceleration, stone quiet operation and brakes that don't feel like you're trying walk around the house in Velcro socks. The drivetrain doesn't feel the need to beat you over the head with its battery pack or announce to the neighborhood that you're saving the world one whispery mile at a time. Both driver and passengers get to enjoy a luxury car that just so happens to be a hybrid instead of the other way around.
Toyota's sales seem to have rebounded from the unintended acceleration issues from 2009 and 2010, but the automaker is far from done dealing with this situation. Following a settlement worth up to $1.4 billion for economic loss to affected vehicle owners, Toyota has settled rather than going to trial in a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from an accident in Utah in 2010 that left two passengers dead. This isn't the first case in which Toyota has settled, but it was the first among a consolidated group of cases being held in Santa Ana, CA.
According to The Detroit News, this case was scheduled to take place next month, and it was for a November 2010 incident in which Paul Van Alfen and Charlene James Lloyd were killed in a Camry when, based on findings by the Utah Highway Patrol, the accelerator got stuck causing the car to speed out of control and hit a wall; the terms of the settlement were not announced.
The article says that while Toyota will settle on some cases, it doesn't plan on settling on all of them as it still wants to be able to "defend [its] product at trial." This will probably be the case in suits claiming that software for the drive-by-wire accelerator was the cause of an accident in a Toyota or Lexus vehicle. The question of whether or not the electronic accelerator played any role in this problem has been a hot-button topic since the beginning. Toyota has issued recalls in the past to attempt to prevent unintended acceleration caused by trapped floor mats and faulty accelerator pedals, but it also says driver error was to blame in some instances.