Tag Archives: Audi

2021 Lexus LS 500 AWD

A high-lux sedan even a CEO could love, and afford …

Rarely do the options on a test car add up to even more than a modestly priced car or crossover itself, but that’s what happened with this week’s high-lux Lexus LS 500 AWD.

            The sumptuous near limo added roughly $30,000 in options (14 to be exact) to crest $110,000. Now don’t take that as a criticism because let’s face it neither you nor I can afford a luxury sedan dripping with such opulent style and oozing electronic gadgets and gizmos that one might imagine sending Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson into outer space.

            This is a CEO-mobile and competes with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi’s long stretchy sedans that feature the same sort of goodies and enough interior leather to make a cattle farmer blush.

            Everyone can appreciate such plushness. My 12-year-old grandson quickly declared “this is the type of car I want.”

            Certainly there’s plenty to like, starting with the dynamic exterior styling that continues inside with cool dark wood trim with silver etched patterns that blend with the spiffy satin chrome streaks across the dash and air vents.

            Some declare the expansive Lexus spindle grille “too much,” but it has grown on me as all luxury makes have expanded their grilles and nose-mounted logos like a fairgoer’s waistline after wolfing down an entire box of cream puffs.

Is this grille too much? Or does it blend beautifully with the hood lines and lights?

            The way the hood and lights meld into the highly creased nose and grille is brilliant. Likewise the taillights are artistic expressions rarely found in today’s auto designs. And as I have mentioned, the interior is equally pizzazzy. This one featured bright white leather seats with stitching and quilting to set it way apart from the competition while overhead is a white ultra-suede headliner to brighten the interior that otherwise has a black dash and door tops.

            So, not surprisingly, the interior coddles while the undercarriage excites, starting with a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 hooked up to a silky 10-speed automatic. Smooth is exactly what you’d expect, but how about 416 horsepower along with a torque rating of 442 pound-feet?

            Watch Mark’s video: 2021 Lexus 500 AWD review by Mark Savage

            A romp down a highway entry ramp easily puts the Lexus at 100+ mph and there are six drive modes to help you get there. Eco won’t, but Normal, Comfort, Custom, Sport, and Sport+ can, especially the sportier settings that firm the steering and adjust shift points to emphasize power, something any CEO could appreciate.

            The older and wiser ones may also like the LS’s velvety ride and easy handling too. No racer on the handling front, the Lexus’s steering effort is mild and easy in all but the Sport settings, thus easy to park while still being super stable on a highway romp.

Inside, again, the LS is board room quiet (active noise control) and the leather seats so soft you’d swear that you were parking your keister atop baby butts, an odd picture, but you get it. These are super soft.

White leather all around could make even a cattle rancher blush!

Adaptive variable air suspension ($1,400 option) here soften things too along with adjusting car ride height. Lexus says this also allows the driver to raise or lower the car a bit for comfortable entry and exit.

            Beyond style the LS has loaded the interior with so much extra it’s hard to wrap up in a paragraph or two, but the $17,580 (that’s right) Executive Package adds that soft semi-aniline leather, and 28-way (crazy) front seats with a Shiatsu-inspired massaging feature. Five quick choices there and all can be tweaked for more specific functions and at various massage pressure levels.

            Oh, and the rear seat gets the same treatment with a 7-inch display screen that adjusts everything, plus allows the passenger-side rear seat to be reclined nearly fully while extending a footrest for a special rear seat passenger. Those seats in back are “only” 22-way adjustable, but front and rear both feature stylish butterfly headrests.

Rear seats recline and massage, need I say more?

            Naturally all seats are heated and cooled and the steering wheel is heated, although I could find no wireless charger here, an odd thing to be missing. There are plenty of plug-in ports though.

            That mega-package also adds the ultra-suede head liner, four-zone climate controls and spiffy power rear sunshades, two for each side window and one big one for the rear window. It retracts automatically if the car is put in reverse, allowing for better rear visibility.

            One could argue that’s plenty of luxury, but wait, there’s more!

            A 24-inch heads-up display adds $1,200, a panoramic glass sunroof another $1,000 (there’s a second stationary sunroof over the back seat with a power sun shade), and a panoramic view monitor for $800.

            The premium wood trim mentioned earlier (above) costs $800, the heated leather and wood-trimmed steering wheel is $410, and illuminated door sills run $450.

            Almost forgot, the test car also packed a Mark Levinson 23-speaker audio system that costs more than a monthly mortgage payment at $1,940. Wow!

            Good news too because Lexus has added a 12.3-inch touchscreen for the info screen and to control that radio. It works fine, negating the need, mostly, for the console’s awkward touchpad. Get this, a CD player is included too. Bravo, us oldsters thank you. Plus much of the fancy seat gyrations, heat and cool are adjusted via the screen. Screen visuals are fine too.

Large twin pipes aid the twin-turbo V6’s exhaust note.

Other pluses include a power tilt/telescope steering wheel, power trunk release and closure, and all the safety equipment you’d expect. Although oddly Lexus charges $3,000 extra for its Lexus Safety System+, which includes pre-collision warning with active braking, active steering assist, pedestrian alert, front cross-traffic alert and lane-change assist. I would expect all that on my luxury car starting at $80,275, including delivery.

The test car also included AWD, a major boon in these northern climes as the car is rear-drive otherwise. That is included in this model’s base price, or is $3,250 extra if you order it on the base $77,025 RWD LS 500. A hybrid model also is available, starting at $84,000.

The closer you look, the cooler these taillights are!

Not that fueling costs will likely worry potential LS owners, but the car uses premium fuel and is rated 17 mpg city and 27 mpg highway by the EPA. I got an even 20 mpg in about a 60/40 mix that was heavier on highway driving.

On the more practical side its 16.9 cubic foot trunk is generous and will easily hold a couple bags of golf clubs.

Bottom line? CEOs and others with $100 grand car budgets, or companies that will lease them such cars, can get everything they want in an LS 500, plus maybe a few things they didn’t even know they wanted, or needed. LS equals Luxury Sedan!

FAST STATS: 2021 Lexus LS 500 AWD

Hits: Beautiful styling inside and out, smooth power, velvety ride, easy handling, 6 drive modes and AWD. Hush quiet interior, big screen, wide HUD, massaging heated/cooled seats, heated wheel, power rear sunshades, two sunroofs, full safety lineup, 23-speaker stereo, plus CD player.

Misses: No wireless charger, touchpad still backup for touchscreen and some would say giant grille is a bit much.

Made in: Tahara, Aichi, Japan

Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, 416 hp

Snazzy headlights perfectly blend with grille and hood!

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Weight: 4,696 lbs.

Wheelbase: 123.0 in.

Length: 206.1 in.

Cargo: 16.9 cu.ft.

MPG: 17/27

MPG: 20.0 (tested)

Base Price: $80,275 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $73,936

Major Options:

Lexus Safety System+ (pre-collision w/active braking, active steering assist, pedestrian alert, front cross-traffic alert, lane change assist), $3,000

Adaptive variable air suspension w/rapid height adjustment, $1,400

Executive package (semi-aniline leather trim interior, 28-way power driver/passenger seats w/massage, ultra-suede headliner, power front seat buckles, butterfly headrests, 22-way power rear seats w/butterfly headrests & memory, message, heat, and 7-inch touchscreen controller, right-rear power recliner w/ottoman, 4-zone climate controls, power rear sunshades), $17,580

Digital rearview mirror, $200

20-inch split 10-spoke alloy wheels w/gloss black & machined finish, $920

24-inch heads-up display, $1,200

Mark Levinson 23-speaker audio system, $1,940

Panoramic glass roof, $1,000

Panoramic view monitor, $800

Premium wood trim, $800

Heated wood/leather trimmed steering wheel, $410

Illuminated door sills, $450

Rear bumper applique, $95

Door edge guards, $155

Test vehicle: $110,225

Sources: Lexus, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

Die-Cast: DNA Collectible’s VW Golf GTI Clubsport S

Golf GTI Clubsport S a hot hatch even in 1:18 scale …

Never as a teen or 20-something driver did I think Volkswagen would create a performance-oriented hatchback.

The Beetle was about to go away, the Rabbit was new, and the Dasher was sort of sportier looking, but really, not so hot. Yet over the years VW’s Golf has evolved, and in GTI trim has become a darned racy hatchback with great handling and good power.

Well, in Europe VW has taken the Golf even further, and that’s what DNA Collectibles shows off with its new 1:18 scale Golf GTI Clubsport S, a sizzling hot hatch only available overseas, at least for now. This fits right in with DNA’s, well, DNA of producing rare and limited run models from makes such as VW, Audi, Volvo, Saab, and Subaru. The GTI is No. 37 among its releases during its first several years of creating fine resin die-cast vehicles. Continue reading Die-Cast: DNA Collectible’s VW Golf GTI Clubsport S

2020 Cadillac CT4 Premium Luxury

Caddy’s CT4 sedan a value leader …

Seemingly forever Cadillac was THE American luxury car, its image built on being big, luxurious, powerful, pricey, and stylish, often to a gaudy extreme!

All that changed when Japan’s luxury makes invaded and when coupled with growing sales of German luxury makes, Cadillac’s slice of the U.S. luxury pie became much smaller. But Caddy got its act together more quickly than Lincoln, the other big U.S. luxury make since Packard ceased to exist after the late 1950s. So for the past 20 year or so Caddy has been making solid and fairly stylish luxury vehicles. Continue reading 2020 Cadillac CT4 Premium Luxury

2019 Volkswagen Arteon SEL w/4Motion

VW Arteon  a sporty fastback that should score big with families …

VW’s new luxury family sedan proves that cars are not dead yet. This sporty fastback is simply so much more fun and comfortable to drive than an SUV or large crossover that it makes you wonder why cars are falling out of favor.

VW has launched the Arteon (odd name to be sure, but not a deal breaker) to replace the CC which was equally attractive. The tested Chili Red (medium metallic red) SEL with 4Motion has everything a family predestined to buy a ute or crossover could want. Continue reading 2019 Volkswagen Arteon SEL w/4Motion

Die-cast: Autoart’s 2014 LeMans, Toyota TS040 Hybrid

Toyota’s LeMans hybrid racer looks good in 1/18 scale …Autoart Toyota TS040 Hybrid

LeMans prototype racers press the envelope of styling and power to compete at the highest levels of the World Endurance Championship that includes the famous 24 Hours of LeMans in France.

Audi has dominated that race for the past decade and Porsche has had its run too. But a few years back Toyota decided to enter the fray and take on the big boys with its TS030. But it took two years to work out the bugs and the hybrid model TS040 won the WEC manufacturer’s championship in 2014.

Autoart has created another masterful reproduction in 1/18 scale, here with the No. 7 Toyota racer that was driven in 2014 by noted endurance drivers, Alexander Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima,  and Stéphane Sarrazin.

The History

Toyota’s foray into prototype racing for the endurance title started in 2012 with the TS030 hybrid. But it was the TS040 that finally moved the Japanese car maker to the top of the LMP1 podium. Autoart Toyota TS040 HybridThe TS040 used a naturally-aspirated V8 that featured a supercapacitor system, or energy-retrieval system, on the rear and front axle to give it 58% more power than its predecessor. This also gave the racer 4-wheel-drive, a major benefit in an endurance car that often has to race in lousy weather.

The car features a carbon fiber and aluminum honeycomb chassis and its 3.7-liter 90-degree V8 along with the energy-retrieval system generates nearly 1000 horsepower – 986 hp to be exact. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart’s 2014 LeMans, Toyota TS040 Hybrid

2017 Genesis G90 RWD 5.0 Ultimate

Genesis has it all, but the panache and name …2017 Genesis G90

When Toyota launched Lexus in 1989, its first sedans impersonated Mercedes-Benz models, but cost a lot less. Now Hyundai has launched its impressive new Genesis luxury car lineup with two models and the top-level G90 looks like a Bentley. Even its logo resembles that of the British make.

Again the formula is to create a car that visually screams luxury while undercutting the original by thousands of dollars. To be sure the new G90 competes mostly with the large Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and Cadillac sedans. But if you could convince your neighbors you were driving a Bentley, yet only spent $70 grand or so, well, you just might try.

That’s what Hyundai is betting on, just as Lexus did before it.2017 Genesis G90

Certainly the G90 is impressive and dressed in Caspian Black, a metallic black paint job, the tested rear-drive Ultimate model turned heads. People asked what it was. Genesis didn’t ring any bells.

But it may soon. Along with this 5.0-liter, 420-horse, V6-powered G90 Genesis offers the G80 with a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 that creates a substantial 365 horsepower. Both models are rear-wheel drive, but offer all-wheel-drive versions too. Continue reading 2017 Genesis G90 RWD 5.0 Ultimate

2016 Lexus RC 200t

Lexus RC looks, drives like a sexy beast 2016 Lexus RC 200t

Not much in the car world is better than a sexy sports car, except maybe one that offers four engine choices and a wide span of prices so more folks can afford said sexy beast.

Lexus happily does just that with its RC sports coupe, which offers two versions of its 3.5-liter V6, plus a rockin’ 467-horsepower V8-powered F model for the serious racer wanna-bes or guys overcompensating for something.

The tested base RC 200t lists at $39,995 while the V8 version starts at about $64,000.

I tested the RC 350 more than a year ago and found it powerful, stylish, nimble and well, pretty much a hoot to drive. The 200t is less of the same.

Still stylish with its distinctive spindle grille and edgy overall looks, the RC 200t features a good looking interior too and all the handling and fun of the 350, but with less power and one major stumbling block, an annoying hesitation for that power to kick in when you first tromp the gas pedal.2016 Lexus RC 200t

Here’s the deal. Continue reading 2016 Lexus RC 200t

2016 Acura RDX AWD Advance

Acura RDX couples luxury, power with AWD rdx

Smooth, quiet and useful, with a strong interior luxury quotient. That’s the new Acura RDX AWD Advance, the top-of-the-line model that should be making European makes nervous.

Why?

Well, it’s awfully nice and for substantially less cash than equally equipped German makes, such BMW, Mercedes and Audi. There’s still some panache to such nameplates, but folks looking for luxury and value will find both in the Acura.

This is an incredibly quiet and comfortable crossover vehicle that will carry five passengers. It’s handsome but certainly not a head turner. But the dark metallic blue of the test vehicle made this RDX stand out in a sea of gray/silver crossovers populating suburbia.

rdx2There’s much to like here, and little to loathe, or even think twice about.

Power is good from the 3.5-liter iVTEC V6 that creates 279 horsepower with a torque rating of 252 ft.-lbs. Plus there’s a sport mode that increases throttle response if you’re needing quick acceleration. Certainly the RDX will quickly get you to highway speeds for easy merges. However, and this was only a moderate concern, sometime there is a lag in acceleration once you are at speed and get on the gas quickly to pass, or when powering out of a turn. This is not uncommon in many of today’s vehicles, no matter their price. Continue reading 2016 Acura RDX AWD Advance

2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE

Hybrid gives us another good reason to buy a Camrycamry1

            Toyota’s Camry was the best-selling car in the United States last year, topping the No. 2 Honda Accord by roughly 40,000 units.

In fact, Camry has been one of the top-selling cars for years, and for several, Toyota was happy to let it idle along. But a couple years ago Toyota decided that styling mattered and revamped Camry’s exterior helping it become one of the better styled family sedans.

Now along comes the hybrid version, which means it has a gas engine and hybrid electric system that work in conjunction to create excellent fuel economy. Add to that the Camry’s expected comfort, longevity and its newfound styling, which includes a large Audi-style grille, and, to be honest, there’s not much to fault.

The 2015 Camry remains a pleasant drive, and in my eye, much more stylish than an Accord. Toyota’s hybrid system is the best in the biz for functionality and consistently good gas mileage. I got 36.5 mpg in about a 50/50 split of city and highway. EPA rates this at 40 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. Regular unleaded is all the 2.5-liter I4 requires. There’s also an Eco mode controlled by a button on the console if you want to improve your mileage. But it does sap your power considerably. Continue reading 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE

2015 Kia K900

K900, like Equus, delivers quiet luxury, many features at lower priceK900A

Established luxury makes may want to check that rearview mirror as Kia and its cousin Hyundai are gaining on them, rapidly.

Case in point, the new Kia K900, the separated-at-birth twin to Hyundai’s luxurious Equus. Both the K900 and Equus are ladled with luxury features, look as luxurious as any full-size luxury sedans on the road, and are as quiet as Miller Park in October – quieter!

Sound deadening and a smooth-running 5.0-liter V8 create an interior that could pass for a sensory deprivation tank, if you close your eyes. You won’t want too though because the interior looks great too and cradles you in its soft leather trimmings.

Did I mention that you’ll pay on the order of $10 grand less than a “traditional” luxury make?

Consider the K900 starts at $59,500 and even at that price you get much of the luxury trimmings that came on the metallic gray test car, which added a $6,000 VIP package to push this to $66,400, including a $900 delivery fee. A Lexus, Audi, Mercedes-Benz or other full-size European luxury sedan will run you considerably more. But then their logos have been around longer.

k900bCertainly value is a big part of the Kia’s story, but while value talks, performance walks. That is, it puts you in the hunt for luxury sedan buyers’ stock option checks. Continue reading 2015 Kia K900