Auto blogWed, 19 Nov 2014
Well, that's one question answered. When Lexus released the first teaser for its LF-C2 Concept, we figured it'd be one of two things - either it'd be a convertible based on the LF-LC Concept car or it'd be a thinly veiled concept version of the RC Convertible. Turns out, it's kind of both.
The LF-LC styling straddles the wilder, concepty looks of the LF-LC and the still wild, but more grounded, looks of the RC. That doesn't mean it's not a polarizing piece of design, with Lexus styling trademarks like the dominating spindle grille and separate LED running lights. Lexus' knife-edge cuts and folds in the bodywork have been toned down relative to past concepts, but the overall look here, particularly in the rear fenders, is rather busy.
"The LF-C2 concept shows what's in store for our brand's future design direction," Lexus boss Jeff Bracken said. "This concept shows consumers around the world Lexus' devotion to emotional designs as well as our passion for an exceptional driving experience."
Fancy yourself an example of Lexus' take on the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5? Well, now you can customize your very own RC on Lexus' consumer website. With prices starting at $42,790 for a rear-drive model while an all-wheel-drive RC kicks off at $45,025. Neither price includes Lexus' *$925 destination charge.
With a wild (by Lexus' standards) color palette and the option of regular and F Sport trims, there's a fair amount to play with in this configurator. That said, it follows the brand's typical strategy of offering colors and upholsteries along with a wide range of pre-determined options packages.
For those waiting on the configurator for the RC F, it looks like you'll have to wait a big longer, as Lexus hasn't launched a builder for its high-performance, 467-horsepower, $63,325 coupe. Stay tuned for that one.
Lexus is bringing an appropriate concept to the 2014 LA Auto Show in the form of the topless LF-C2 Concept you see teased above (click on the image to enlarge). We really don't have a lot information on this one as of yet, although we only have just over a week to wait.
We can, however, speculate. Does the LF-C2 preview a convertible LF-LC? Maybe. Could this show off a replacement for the IS Convertible, maybe modeled on a RC coupe with a folding-metal roof? That's also a pretty fair possibility.
Proving that social media reveals have well and truly jumped the shark, Lexus will release further teasers of the LF-C2 during a three-day social media campaign. That'll culminate with its LA Auto Show debut on November 19.
It's a good thing senior editor Seyth Miersma doesn't live in Japan, or he wouldn't have been able to snap a photo like the one you see here, of a fresh-off-the-line Lexus RC F on hand at a first drive for media. That's because Toyota's Japanese arm has outright canceled its RC press launch. Sure, we've heard about events being delayed, but canceled? That's rare. Even worse is the reason: according to Automotive News, the event was nixed due to lack of interest. Wow.
In an email to media, Lexus said the event "has been canceled due to insufficient attendance," according to AN. The News posits that perhaps it would have just been better to hold the event anyway, in an attempt to save face, and that this is another example of the Japanese culture (especially youth) becoming less and less interested in cars. Of course, there's also the thought that local media just didn't want to drive out to Yokohama to drive the RC on a not-so-sexy press launch, which, if you ask us, is an incredibly lame excuse (do your jobs, folks!).
Either way, will this bode well for the Lexus RC's public launch? Will it receive the same lukewarm response when it arrives at Japanese dealers? We'll see.
It's the showdown everyone's been looking forward to, the East versus West grudge match of the year. We're talking, of course, about the BMW M4 versus the Lexus RC F.
Although BMW uses a twin-turbo straight-six and the Lexus uses a free-breathing V8, the two are pretty closely matched on paper: a luxury coupe with over 400 horsepower channeled to the rear wheels.
The BMW has been doing these cars for longer, and the M4 boasts a higher power-to-weight ratio. But then the RC F has more power - and without forced induction to break up the rev range. So which is the better luxury muscle coupe? Watch the latest episode of Motor Trend Head 2 Head to find out.
The Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Survey (right) is out, and the top two spots look much the same as last year's list with Lexus and Toyota in first and second place, respectively. However, there are some major shakeups for 2014, with Acura plunging eight spots from third in 2013 to 11th this year, and Mazda replaces it on the lowest step of the podium. Honda and Audi round out the top five. This year's list includes six Japanese brands in the top 10, two Europeans, one America and one Korean.
Acura isn't the only one taking a tumble, though. Infiniti is the biggest loser this year by dropping 14 spots to 20th place. Other big losses come from Mercedes-Benz with an 11-place fall to 24th, and GMC, which declines 10 positions to 19th.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's not traditional mechanical bugs hauling down these automaker's reliability scores. Instead, pesky problems with infotainment systems are taking a series toll on the rankings. According to Consumer Reports, complaints about "in-car electronics" were the most grumbled about element in new cars. Problem areas included things like unresponsive touchscreens, issues pairing phones and multi-use controllers that refused to work right.
Go back a couple of decades and the thought of a Japanese automaker challenging the German limousines would have seemed laughable, but 25 years later the Lexus LS is a mainstay of the luxury sedan market. And it didn't get there by sitting on its laurels, so it should come as little surprise that Lexus is offering some small tweaks as it enters the 2015 model year.
This time around the upgrades are rather minor, consisting primarily of a new multimedia system. It's got an updated navigation system with 12.3-inch display, revised backup camera imagery with dynamic gridlines, and an enhanced Lexus Enform App Suite that can control the locks, ignition, climate control and more, remotely.
While they were at it, Toyota's engineers also reduced the turning circle by four inches (on cars fitted with 18-inch wheels), and enhanced the F Sport package as well. Otherwise, it's essentially the same LS we've always known.
Toyota is re-notifying owners and expanding its Takata airbag inflator recall for some regions. The renewed campaign covers 247,000 examples of the Toyota Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia, Tundra and Lexus SC430 that are located in southern Florida, along the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa. All of the models come from the 2001-2004 model years and have potentially faulty Takata-made inflators on the front passenger side. According to the company, testing shows the problem warrants "immediate action," and its press release says, "this action intensifies Toyota's efforts to reach customers and remedy previously recalled vehicles, and a small number of newly included vehicles."
According to Toyota, it submitted some recalled inflators to Takata for testing, and it found a high probability of rupturing in high humidity areas. The automaker said it had no reports yet of injuries or fatalities related to the problem.
This is Toyota's third inflator recall this year. In June, it called in for repair the same vehicles from the 2003-2005 model years in high-humidity areas, and it conducted a separate campaign nationwide for the parts in additional models. In April 2013, it also announced a fix campaign for 1.73-million vehicles worldwide for the same issue.
Lexus has announced pricing for the 2015 NX crossover lineup, which goes on sale next month.
The NX 200t starts at $34,480, and the all-wheel-drive model adds a $1,400 premium to lift the sticker to $35,880 (*destination charges of $925 are not included in the prices). The 200t uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 235 horsepower, and it's Lexus' first-ever gasoline-fed turbo.
The hybrid version, the 300h, starts at $39,720, and all-wheel drive tacks on $1,590 for a price of $41,310. The hybrid teams a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor to generate 194 hp. Though power dips, Lexus anticipates this version will get a combined 33 miles per gallon with front-wheel drive when the EPA ratings are announced - a considerable leap when compared with the combined 24-mpg estimate for the turbo model.
Toyota is issuing three separate recalls covering 1.67 million vehicles worldwide with most of those models in Japan. It looks like the campaigns' impact on the US may be smaller, though. According to Reuters, Toyota isn't aware of any accidents, injuries or fatalities affecting the models. Some yet-unnamed Lexus models might also be affected.
The largest of the campaigns does not currently affect any US-market vehicles. About 802,000 units of the Toyota Crown Majesta, Crown, Noah and Voxy in Japan are being repaired to replace a seal that could leak in the brake master cylinder. Those already leaking get a new brake booster, as well, according to Reuters.
The only recall currently believed to affect the US is due to a problem covering approximately 759,000 vehicles with 423,000 of them here. The repair is to fix a faulty fuel delivery pipe that could cause a fire if the fuel leaks out. Unfortunately, we don't know which models it covers. Autoblog spoke to Toyota spokesperson Mona Richard and was told the information was still "under embargo." When exactly that embargo will lift isn't yet known, but we're on the case.