Amazingly, Lexus went from having nothing in the compact luxury SUV segment throughout most of 2014 to being one of the top-three players by the end of 2016. The story is even better in the U.S. where…

2017 Lexus NX 300h Executive

2017 Lexus NX 300h Executive
The 2017 Lexus NX 300h still looks fabulous despite being in its third year of availability. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Amazingly, Lexus went from having nothing in the compact luxury SUV segment throughout most of 2014 to being one of the top-three players by the end of 2016. The story is even better in the U.S. where the new NX is now number one in the entire class.

How the mighty Germans have fallen, not that Lexus is particularly weak and feeble. The Japanese luxury brand is a powerhouse in the crossover sport utility sector where its RX has been the bestselling mid-size luxury SUV in both Canada and the U.S. (by a long shot) for as long as there’s been a mid-size luxury SUV segment, a vehicle class it helped to create. Therefore it only makes sense the NX would do well too.

2017 Lexus NX 300h Executive
Modern angles are everywhere, Lexus no longer the conservative wallflower it was in decades past. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

It helps that it looks fabulous, or at least I like it a lot. The NX’ design hasn’t changed one iota since arriving in December of 2014 as a 2015 model. Lexus didn’t wait long before getting this hybrid variant to market either, joining it up with the NX 200t for the model’s inaugural year and making it an important part of its one, two knockout NX punch ever since.

2017 Lexus NX 300h Executive
The full LED headlamps and 18-inch alloys are part of the Executive package upgrade. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Now that the Audi Q5 Hybrid is history, the NX 300h is an anomaly within the compact luxury SUV category. In fact, with Audi also eliminating the Q5 TDI (at least temporarily) and Mercedes-Benz doing likewise with its new GLC (again, just for the time being as far as we know), the only alternative-fuel competitors in the class are BMW’s X3 xDrive28d and the unlikely addition of Jaguar’s F-Pace 20d. Still, being that Dieselgate ruined Rudolf Christian Karl’s most fuel-efficient internal combustion engine (ICE) type, most environmentally oriented consumers won’t be turning to diesel as a way to save the planet, leaving the NX 300h as the only real green choice in this burgeoning market segment.

2017 Lexus NX 300h Executive
The Executive package adds a number of upscale features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Behind the NX 300h’s bold spindle grille is the same ultra-clean powertrain as the new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Lexus’ ES 300h, comprised of a 150 horsepower gasoline-fueled 2.5-litre four-cylinder Atkinson Cycle ICE with 152 lb-ft of torque driving the front wheels and a 50 kW (67 horsepower) permanent magnet electric motor powering the axle in back, the energy for the latter sourced from a rear-mounted nickel-metal hydride battery that gets recharged via the ICE as well as regenerative braking.

2017 Lexus NX 300h Executive
The 300h gets hybrid info in place of the usual tachometer. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

When topped off it has the ability to drive solely on EV power for short distances at low speeds (bumper-to-bumper traffic, parking lots, etcetera), but most of the time it merely assists the ICE for improved performance and reduced fuel consumption. A specially designed continuously variable transmission (CVT) takes care of shifting duties, of sorts, the full result of Lexus Synergy Drive’s combined forces being 194 net horsepower and the same 152 pound-feet of claimed torque (although it feels like a lot more and likely is).

2017 Lexus NX 300h Executive
A Sport mode is standard, as is an all-electric EV mode. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

More importantly the NX 300h is good for estimated fuel economy equaling 7.1 L/100km in the city, 7.7 on the highway, and 7.4 combined, which is far and away the best in its class (the X3 and F-Pace diesels achieve 7.9 and 8.1 combined city/highway respectively).

Along with its EV mode, the NX 300h features three selectable drive modes including Eco, Standard, and Sport, these focused on maximizing efficiency or power rather than changing steering and suspension settings.

2017 Lexus NX 300h Executive
This hidden Qi wireless device charger is is part of the Executive upgrade. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

This being a niche model in comparison to the NX 200t, Lexus’ Canadian division limits trims to just one and options packages to a singular digit as well. Standard trim, which starts at $54,350, is therefore generously equipped with 18-inch alloys on 225/60R18 all-seasons, LED low-beam headlights with washers, LED DRLs, LED clearance lamps, LED fog lights, LED taillights, aluminum roof rails, a rear rooftop spoiler, auto-dimming power-adjustable heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals and memory, proximity access, and more on the outside.

2017 Lexus NX 300h Executive
The NX 300h now gets standard leather upholstery. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Once inside the base NX 300h includes pushbutton ignition, a heatable leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a powered tilt and telescoping steering column, a colour TFT multi-information display, leather upholstery, heated and cooled power-adjustable front seats with driver’s side memory, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone auto climate control, touchscreen infotainment featuring a reverse camera with active guidelines and navigation, a 120-volt household-style power outlet, an integrated garage door opener, a powered moonroof, a powered tailgate, hill start assist, all the usual active and passive safety features including airbags for the driver’s knees, and more.

2017 Lexus NX 300h Executive
Is the rear seating area roomy enough for your needs? We’ll tell all in our upcoming review. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Our fully decked out tester included the $6,650 Executive Package that adds full LED headlamps with auto-leveling and auto high beams, rain-sensing wipers, dynamic radar cruise control, head-up display, Qi wireless device charging, 10-speaker audio, Shimamoku hardwood inlays, powered rear seat releases with switches on the dash and cargo compartment, front and rear parking sensors, blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a pre-collision system with emergency autonomous braking, lane departure alert with steering assist, and more, raising the price to $61,000 plus freight and fees. These latter items earn the NX 300h Executive a Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the IIHS.

2017 Lexus NX 300h Executive
How’s that for size? We’ll provide cargo specs and discuss overall liveability in the review. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Where the conventionally powered NX 200t can be had with the sportier F Sport package, the NX 300h makes do with less aggressive styling and more comfort-oriented suspension settings, although you can upgrade the wheels to a unique set of 19-inch F Sport alloys via the accessories catalog for $2,650 and change.

As you may have noticed I haven’t told you diddly squat about my experience behind the wheel, what I think about its overall refinement, or its standard and available feature set, overall roominess, pricing and value proposition, etcetera, etcetera, which means you’ll need to come back for my detailed road test review. Make sure you do, as you may just be surprised at what I have to say…

There’s a reason Lexus is considered a Tier 1 luxury brand along with Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. Strong sales numbers have a lot to do with it, but also its almost totally full range of models. For…

2017 Lexus RC 300 AWD F Sport

2017 Lexus RC 300 AWD F Sport
The F Sport upgrade adds significant style to the already eye-catching RC 300 AWD. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

There’s a reason Lexus is considered a Tier 1 luxury brand along with Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. Strong sales numbers have a lot to do with it, but also its almost totally full range of models. For a relatively new brand, such a wide assortment of models and body styles means that some don’t sell well enough to make money, but instead provide important branding that trickles down to enhance higher volume cars and SUVs.

The IS series was Lexus Canada’s bestselling car last year with more than 3,000 deliveries. This is a polar opposite result from Lexus’ U.S. division sales that saw the more comfort-oriented ES series as the brand’s premium car populist last year and every year prior, by a long shot, whereas that larger front-wheel drive four-door model only found 2,153 buyers during calendar year 2016 in Canada. This shows that Canadians view Lexus in a sportier light than our friends to the south, but still not enough to snap up RC coupes en masse.

2017 Lexus RC 300 AWD F Sport
Looking good front to back, the RC 300 AWD F Sport stands out in its segment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The stylish new two-door hardtop model only managed to pull in 526 luxury buyers last year, which while more positive than the 415 mid-size GS and 95 flagship LS luxury sedans sold during the same 12 months, is still a far cry from the 4,765 BMW 4 Series delivered through 2016.

Lexus’ big money was made on SUVs, the RX leading sales for the Japanese brand as well as Canada’s entire mid-size SUV segment at 8,147 units, whereas the fresher NX is already third in its class with 6,295 deliveries. Even the massive LX SUV outsold the RC at 748 units, while the sizeable GX also outshone RC numbers with 551 units down unpaved roads.

2017 Lexus RC 300 AWD F Sport
F Sport trim means the primary gauges are fully configurable and navigation fills the infotainment display. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Just the same, we can’t discount the importance of sports models like the RC when it comes to brand image as noted earlier, and the beautiful Infrared painted 2017 RC 300 AWD F Sport parked in our garage this week pulls eyeballs almost as effectively as the same spec car did in Solar Flare orange last year. That vibrant colour isn’t available for the 2017 model year, although seemingly identical Molten Pearl can be had on the even rarer V8-powered RC F super coupe, this being one of the only changes for the regular RC model’s third year of existence.

Many thought the 2.0-litre RC Turbo, currently available in the U.S., would’ve been added to the Canadian lineup for 2017 in order to drop the price and hopefully attract more buyers, but Lexus appears to want its northernmost coupes fitted with all-wheel drive and that car is only pushed from the rear, so the $49,050 RC 300 AWD is base here in Canada.

2017 Lexus RC 300 AWD F Sport
The F Sport gets a nice set of sport seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

It’s arguably better looking with the $4,700 as-tested F Sport Series 1 package (there is no Series 2 package for this model, in case you were wondering) that adds a new front fascia with a larger, bolder grille and unique lower fascia detailing with integrated fog lamps, as well as other exterior styling upgrades, plus unique 19-inch alloys wrapped in 235/40 performance tires (although my tester is fitted with winters), an adaptive sport suspension, a powered tilt and telescopic sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, rain-sensing wipers, front sport seats, NuLuxe pleather upholstery with contrast stitching, memory for the driver’s seat, ventilated front seats, a fully configurable LFA-style TFT instrument cluster, Lexus’ touchpad Remote Touch Interface for the infotainment system, navigation, active sound control, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

2017 Lexus RC 300 AWD F Sport
Rear seat roominess isn’t best in class, but it’s acceptable for a D-segment coupe. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The only other notable option is a dealer-added F Sport performance exhaust system integrated within a fabulous looking rear bumper diffuser (for about $2,050 and change). Lexus claims the upgraded exhaust reduces backpressure for increased torque, which might be noticeable given the RC 300 AWD’s modest engine output.

Despite its considerable 3.5 litres of displacement, the base V6 makes just 255 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque for fairly relaxed performance due to the coupe’s considerable 1,765-kilo (3,891-lb) curb weight (it’s actually a bit heavier with the F Sport gear). Making it feel even more comfort-biased is a six-speed autobox in a segment filled with snappier eight-speed auto and dual-clutch alternatives.

So how does it feel? I’ve told you too much already, but don’t worry as I’ve got a lot more to say in the upcoming road test review. Make sure to check back for the full story soon…

With fuel prices once again soaring in most Canadian cities, the long-in-tooth Lexus CT 200h just might be one of the most relevant entry-level luxury models available today. Only Audi’s A3 e-tron can…

2017 Lexus CT 200h F Sport

With fuel prices once again soaring in most Canadian cities, the long-in-tooth Lexus CT 200h just might be one of the most relevant entry-level luxury models available today. Only Audi’s A3 e-tron can give it a run for its money regarding fuel economy, although the German is initially much more expensive than the $32,750 CT.

2017 Lexus CT 200h F Sport
Lexus’ trademark spindle grille makes current CT 200h look fresh and current, especially in F Sport trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Updated just a few years ago, the CT remains fresh looking thanks to Lexus’ new spindle grille and aggressive frontal body cladding, while its profile and sporty five-door body style has always been good looking.

A 134 horsepower 1.8-litre Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine drives the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT), while a proven (a.k.a. old-school) Ni-MH battery pack powers an electric motor that more often than not is used to assist the gasoline engine in true hybrid form, although the CT can drive under pure EV power for short distances at low speeds (bumper-to-bumper traffic, parking lots, etc). If the power unit sounds familiar, it’s identical to that used in the previous Toyota Prius, and like the Prius the CT delivers superb claimed fuel economy rated at 5.5 L/100km city and 5.9 highway.

2017 Lexus CT 200h F Sport
A sporty yet plenty luxurious cabin lives up to Lexus’ lore. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While the drivetrain is pulled from the Prius, the platform architecture is sourced from Toyota’s global compact car line, which made sure a fully independent suspension lived up to Lexus’ handling and ride quality standards. Its handling is even more engaging in as-tested F Sport trim.

Stay tuned for a detailed review of the 2017 Lexus CT 200h F Sport shown here…

Want a luxury sport coupe but still value exclusivity? You can buy a Maserati or Ferrari, or if these are a bit out of reach a Lexus RC might fit the bill perfectly. Even more on budget, a new RC 300…

2016 Lexus RC 300 AWD F Sport Road Test Review

At first glance you'd be forgiven for thinking the RC 300 AWD F Sport is an RC F. Of course, the two models are based on Lexus' new RC sport coupe, so their design and overall shape is identical, while this version is visually amped via the F Sport upgrade package's more aggressive styling front to back, not to mention it wears the same Solar Flare orange paint as the previous RC F I tested, but driving them is night and day.

The RC F is a 467 horsepower V8-powered rear-drive super coupe competing with the likes of BMW's M4, Cadillac's ATS-V Coupe, Mercedes-AMG's C63 Coupe, and I suppose Infiniti's new Q60 Red Sport 400 as well, whereas the RC 300 AWD F Sport only looks as if it can leave 90 percent of its four-wheeled rivals in a tire-smoking whirlwind of bruised egos. In reality its 3.5-litre V6 merely makes 255 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, the latter number notably less than some of its competitors' base four-cylinder engines.

The Bavarian and Swabian challengers' Read Full Story
The GS F sits at the pinnacle of Lexus’ performance sedan lineup, a midsize 4-door with a 467-hp 5.0L V8, 8-speed auto with paddles, RWD, 19-inch alloys, an adaptive sport suspension, a torque vectoring…

2016 Lexus GS F Road Test Review

Expanding its hyper-performance F sub-brand is an important step in Lexus' continued progression as a Tier 1 premium brand, and while the Japanese luxury division has contracted this process somewhat with the (hopefully) temporary loss of its IS F sport sedan, it has certainly grown out F prospects in other categories, particularly the new RC F super coupe that I reviewed a couple of months ago (which even includes a race-spec RC F GT3 variant) and this mid-size GS F super sedan.

The GS F puts Lexus in rarified company, alongside the legendary BMW M5, Mercedes-Benz' nearly as well recognized E63 AMG, Audi's S6 and Cadillac's less known but nevertheless very respectable CTS-V. Of note, Jaguar has bowed out of the mid-size uber sedan race by eliminating its XFR/XFR-S, but Alfa Romeo is just introducing us to its new Giulia Quadrifoglio, although it's a slightly smaller model than the usual E-segment competitor, yet a bit larger than the D-segment "compacts" occupied by the M3, C63, Read Full Story