Tag Archives: Mark Levinson

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

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2015 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

Great-looking Lexus RC 350 packs performanceLexus profile1

Lexus cars always look luxurious, rarely racy, until now. Lexus stylists have cranked up their angular mojo to create their first truly sporty looking sports coupe – the RC 350.

I’ve read or heard all sorts of jawing from other car writers that the RC isn’t racy enough, sits too high, has too big and bulgy of wheel wells, won’t break the sound barrier, etc. Let me tell you that’s hogwash – except the sound barrier thing.

First, the RC is exceptionally good looking with a rakish stance, sleek sloping windshield and roofline, extreme spindle grille that Lexus has made its trademark of late, and slim beautifully sculpted lights front and rear along with fins on the lower rear bodywork. Plus those twin exhausts sound pretty sweet. Yes, this baby would look fast in a car wash!

Speed, handling, ride and performance are all first rate.

lexus tailOne could argue that this isn’t as track worthy as an off-the-truck Porsche, but it’s a street racer of distinction. And by that I mean it’s plenty fast, sounds like it means business and handles like a high-end sports coupe. It’s not an $80 to $100 grand racer, it’s a $42,700 sports coupe and as tested with the F Sport package and other goodies, hits $54,815. That’s not cheap, but it’s not so pricy you’ve got to sell the house and kids.

Power is generous. A typically smooth Lexus 3.5-liter V6 with variable valve timing and direct and port injection gives the RC 350 its oomph. Officially it creates 306 horsepower and 277 ft.-lbs. of torque. Because the Lexus is refined, not a beast, its engineers provide it with Drive Mode Select, allowing the driver the option of Eco mode to save fuel (it drinks premium), Normal, or Sport. The later keeps rpm up as it holds lower gears longer to boost acceleration. Continue reading 2015 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

2014 Lexus GX460 Luxury

Robust GX460 boasts V8, 4-wheel-drive, luxurious interior

lex2SUVs have become as commonplace as spring potholes, and large luxury SUVs, at least by appearance, fill a sizeable spot in this pricey segment.

This week’s Lexus “tungsten pearl,” silver, GX460 Luxury, certainly fits the bill. This is the top-level luxury version of Toyota’s 4Runner, not the biggest, baddest big-boy ute, but robust to say the least.

Start with the mechanical muscle under its hood, a 4.6-liter V8 with variable valve timing and 301 horsepower. That’s plenty of grunt to push the full-time 4-wheel-drive ute’s 5,179 lbs. up to highway speeds. Naturally linked with a 6-speed automatic tranny the power is delivered smoothly and effectively so getting up to full gallop is easy. All three GX460 models come with the same powertrain.

Steering effort is moderate, so not as heavy as one might predict when you see its girth and know its heft. Actually the GX460 handles well, with little lean in high-speed turns and it’s easy to fit into a grocery parking lot space. In fact, its turning radius is a moderate 38.1 feet, about the same as some compact utes.

While this is a body on frame truck, which sometimes means a bouncier truck ride, Lexus tames even our current asphalt moonscape with the GX460. Coil springs and gas shocks up front and rear air springs and gas shocks absorb anything that comes their way. The ride is well controlled and luxurious and sound deadening material keeps the interior extremely quiet.Lex1

Continue reading 2014 Lexus GX460 Luxury

2014 Lexus RX 450h

H = hybrid in luxurious 450h crossover for a smooth quiet cruiser
lex450Lexus makes quiet, comfortable and reliable vehicles as well, if not better, than most car makers and its RX crossover has been a hit for years, being an early entry into the crossover, or tall wagon, market.

Certainly Lexus does nothing to embarrass itself with its latest RX iteration, and this was the 450h, which means it’s a hybrid. That translates to better gas mileage and quiet startup and running. But then all of the RX models are quiet as a church on a snowy Sunday morning.

Yet quietness is just one of the RX 450h’s virtues.

The metallic tan (satin cashmere metal is what Lexus calls it) test vehicle delivered good gas mileage with its hybrid assist system and in both Normal and Sport mode it accelerates well. Steering effort is moderate and handling is smooth and linear so you always feel in control.

A seamless all-wheel-drive system keeps it well planted even in heavy snow. I had this during a pre-Christmas snowstorm and traction was excellent.

Under the hybrid’s hood is Lexus’s proven 3.5-liter V6 that features variable valve timing and is backed up by a hybrid battery system that combined gives the RX a substantial 295 horses. There are three driving modes, with Normal and Sport allowing all those ponies to be used, although you’ll likely burn more gas. The ECO mode, which I used for several days, delivers lame low-end power. You creep, although smoothly, away from stoplights.

The hybrid uses an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission with an intelligence feature that helps it understand your power needs and driving habits. This system gives it an infinite amount of gear ratios, allowing the crossover to accelerate as efficiently as possible. It’s incredibly smooth, but again, most of us will prefer anything but the ECO mode. Continue reading 2014 Lexus RX 450h