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Auto blogTue, 22 Apr 2014
"All show, no go." That's how I described the 2014 Lexus IS 250 F Sport that you see above, when I reviewed it back in November. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot to like about the new IS, but the 204-horsepower, 2.5-liter V6 in the IS 250 is not on that list. In my review, I suggested that Lexus ought to get on the bandwagon of offering a small-displacement, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine in its base IS (like its rivals), and now the folks at Motor Trend are furthering that discussion.
Lexus pulled the wraps off its new NX 200t crossover at the Beijing show recently, and it'll be the first vehicle in the company's lineup to use a brand-new - you guessed it - 2.0-liter turbo-four. With 238 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque on tap, that represents a healthy increase over the 204 hp and anemic 185 lb-ft currently being offered with the 2.5-liter V6, and we imagine the fuel economy gains will be rather significant, too. For comparison, the Lexus' four-pot power numbers are very close to the 240 hp and 255 lb-ft offered in the same-sized engine that BMW uses in the 328i.
Motor Trend also posits that Lexus may consider changing the base IS' name from 250 to 200, or perhaps 200t, to properly reflect the new engine's displacement. Of course, that's assuming Lexus doesn't pull a BMW or Mercedes-Benz, and no longer has its alphanumeric names properly reflect the size of the powerplant found underhood.
Think the only challengers for the title of best-selling luxury brand hail from der Vaterland? Wrong. Lexus outsold the likes of Mercedes-Benz for the second time in 2014 last month. In fact, the Japanese luxury marque's total sales this year are a mere 12,000 units behind BMW.
Lexus was able to move 26,921 vehicles last month, a year-over-year increase of 21.1 percent, respectively. Mercedes, meanwhile, was just barely beaten, moving 26,617 units in April. The difference, though, is that Lexus has made far bigger year-over-year gains than Mercedes, which recorded a YOY increase of just 4.13 percent.
This is particularly troubling for the Germans, as it marks a return to form for Lexus that we haven't seen since before the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that decimated Japan. Prior to that natural disaster, Lexus enjoyed nearly a dozen years at the top of the luxury heap.
A revised methodology in devising its annual Car Brand Report Cards has seen Consumer Reports award Lexus its top overall ranking for 2013. For the first time ever, the institute broke out individual brands from their larger corporate umbrellas, meaning car makers like Lexus and Scion were judged independently from parent company Toyota. That strategy worked out well for Lexus, as the luxury brand earned a top report card score of 79 for the 2013 model year.
The institute has recommended every one of the Lexus models it has tested to date, and said that the company's products won out thanks to "a foundation of plush and very reliable vehicles."
Meanwhile, Mazda and Subaru tied for the second-highest scoring report cars, with scores of 76. Subaru earned praised for sporting models like the BRZ, which CR testers apparently had a lot of fun driving (naturally), while the Mazda products were lauded for their blend of practicality, sportiness and efficiency. Both of the Japanese brands offered good handling, fuel economy and versatility, said Consumer Reports.