2015 Lexus RC 350 and RC F First Drive

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Specification sheets don't tell the whole story, and if there's a single brand that has illustrated this time and again, it's Lexus. Parent brand Toyota plainly got out of the sporty car business a decade ago, but some Lexuses have continued to look the part. Even more important, the elements you look for — like generous power, rear-wheel drive and double-wishbone suspensions — have often been present. Regardless, they haven't always translated to the emotional experience you expect, or at least desire, based on what you see in the specs. The new 2015 RC coupe, especially in RC F form, changes all of that in ways its predecessor, the IS-F sedan, failed to do.

Related: 2015 Lexus RC F at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show

The RC, a two-door four-seater, is intended to compete with the likes of Audi's A5 and BMW's 4 Series (that's the former 3 Series coupe). It comes in three versions: the RC 350, the RC 350 F Sport (the regular car with substantial performance tweaks) and the RC F (a full-blown competitor for the Audi RS5 and BMW M4). I tested all three versions in New York state and at the Monticello Motor Club, a private racetrack in Monticello, N.Y.

Engines include the venerable 3.5-liter V-6 producing 306 horsepower in the RC 350, and an updated version of the 5.0-liter V-8 from the IS-F, producing 467 hp in the new RC F. Both engines drive the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission, though the RC 350 also offers all-wheel drive that instead pairs with a six-speed automatic.

By Joe Wiesenfelder | September 4, 2014 | Comments (1)

2015 Lexus RC 350 Starts at $43,715

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When the Lexus RC 350 goes on sale this fall, the 306-horsepower V-6, rear-wheel-drive coupe will start at $43,715 with destination charge. Variants in addition to the standard RC 350 include an all-wheel drive RC 350 at $42,950, plus the higher-performance 467-hp V-8 RC F (above) that's rear-wheel-drive only and starts at $63,225.

Related: 2015 Lexus RC First Drive

RC pricing comes in competitively with two of the most notable coupes in the business: the BMW M4 ($65,150) and BMW 435i ($47,050), formerly known as the M3 and 335i coupes. A new Cadillac ATS coupe joins the field with a starting price of $38,990. The RC is an all-new coupe for Lexus not derived from any one of its sedans, but rather a hodgepodge of Lexus models as underpinnings are shared with the new Lexus GS and IS sedans as well as the Lexus IS convertible.

By Joe Bruzek | September 4, 2014 | Comments (3)

2015 Lexus RX 350 Real-World Cargo Space

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The 2015 Lexus RX 350's deep, wide cargo area makes use of numerous cargo-friendly features to complement the huge 40 cubic feet of space behind the backseat. Floor tie downs, cargo-area seat release levers, a sliding second row and a 40/20/40-split backseat all make the RX's cargo space extremely versatile.

Related: 2015 Lexus RX 350 Expert Review

Cars.com reviewer Bill Jackson was also impressed by the second row's function of hiding the cargo floor gap commonly left by a sliding second row. Jackson calls it a "thoughtful detail." See how well everyday items fit in the Lexus RX 350, below.

By Joe Bruzek | August 18, 2014 | Comments (0)

Top 10 Urban Cars

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From squeezing between a Dumpster and a wall to holding your breath as a bus hard aports past your bumper, cities can be an automotive minefield. And cars are often the casualties. Need proof? Look no further than auto insurance rates. A 40-year-old male with a 2012 Honda Accord in Manhattan's West Village would pay 27 percent more for the exact same coverage than if he lived across the Hudson River in Hoboken, N.J., according to CarInsurance.com's analysis of six leading carriers.

Related: Top 10 Most Overlooked New Cars

Yet scores of Americans still prefer to live in the city. From New York to San Antonio, the country's 25 largest urban centers are home to 31.9 million people within city limits, according to the 2010 Census. That's 10.3 percent of the entire U.S. population in 2010, and given the trend of increasing urbanization, it doesn't look like it will recede anytime soon.

Most city-zens still have to drive. Not to worry: Our latest Top 10 nominates cars best suited for urban driving. Editors considered our candidates' overall size relative to their competitors, as well as visibility, city gas mileage, turning radius, city drivability, utility and more.

Here are our picks, in order of which cars received the most votes. In cases of a tie, we ranked by turning circle and other dimensions.

By Kelsey Mays | August 11, 2014 | Comments (10)

2015 Lexus RX 350 Review

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"For 2015, the Lexus RX 350 is a soft, almost numb, car that impresses with its responsive engine and general comfort, but comes up short at offering both a rewarding driving experience and exceptional interior luxury," said Cars.com reviewer Bill Jackson. Check out Jackson’s review for more.

2015 Lexus RX 350 Expert Review

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

By Jennifer Newman | August 4, 2014 | Comments (10)

2015 Lexus NX Review

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"As compact luxury SUVs go, the 2015 Lexus NX combines enough driving fun and occupant comfort to deserve a look, but anyone with serious cargo needs should look elsewhere, or stick to the brand's popular RX," said Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays. Check out Mays' review for more.

2015 Lexus NX Expert Review

Cars.com photo by Kelsey Mays

By Matt Schmitz | July 30, 2014 | Comments (1)

Top 10 Most Overlooked New Cars

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Every year hundreds of new-car models are introduced and enter the research process for millions of car shoppers. The dizzying number of choices sometimes shrouds from the masses what are good cars.

More Top 10s

Here are 10 cars that Cars.com's editors agree are overlooked due to no fault of each vehicle's own substantial merits.

 

1. 2015 Mazda6

The Mazda6 is one of the rare family sedans that is both fun to drive and fuel-efficient; it's rated as high as 28/40/32 mpg city/highway/combined with an automatic transmission and the optional GT Technology Package, which includes regenerative braking and active grille shutters. But even the base automatic gets 38 on the highway. Good cabin quality, intuitive controls, comfortable seating and a striking design also fall into the Mazda's favor.

By David Thomas | July 23, 2014 | Comments (9)

2015 Lexus RX 350, RX 450h: What's Changed

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Most significant changes: Display audio system, 7-inch screen, backup camera now standard

Price change: RX 350 and 450h $1,035 higher, and the RX 350 F Sport $1,085 higher; effective with September 2014 production those prices will increase $175

On sale: Since April

Which you should buy, 2014 or 2015? 2015

The RX crossover SUV is the best-selling Lexus model, so there was little need to make major changes for 2015. Besides the standard backup camera and 7-inch display screen, other changes are minor. LED fog lamps are included with optional high-intensity-discharge headlights, the turn signals add a three-flash lane-change feature and the Enform app suite adds Slacker radio.

More on the Lexus RX

The lineup includes front- and all-wheel-drive versions of the RX 350 with a gas V-6 and the RX 450h V-6 hybrid, plus the front-drive F Sport model that adds a firmer suspension, more aggressive exterior trim and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The F Sport is a decent attempt at adding some zest to the RX line, but most buyers are more interested in the comfort and convenience features of the other models.

By Rick Popely | July 16, 2014 | Comments (1)

2015 Lexus ES 350, Lexus 300h: What's Changed

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Most significant changes: Backup camera now standard, new optional multimedia system

Price change: TBA

On sale: September

Which you should buy, 2014 or 2015? 2014

Lexus is making some small changes to its most popular sedan for 2015, but they may not add up to enough to sway buyers from a good deal on a leftover 2014.

2014 Lexus ES 350 Expert Review

If you're a multimedia maven, though, you'll want to wait for the 2015s. A new multimedia system, similar to the one introduced last year on the IS 250/350 and other Lexus models, includes a customizable home screen, 3-D maps and a bird's-eye view for the navigation system, traffic guidance, the ability to cache 15 minutes of radio broadcasts for later play and other features.

By Rick Popely | July 14, 2014 | Comments (3)

2015 Lexus NX First Drive

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As badge engineering goes, Toyota's luxury division has more hits than misses. The ES midsize sedan feels considerably nicer than a Toyota Camry; the GX bears little resemblance inside or out to its Toyota 4Runner sibling. And so it goes for the NX, a car Toyota Corporate Marketing Manager Brian Bolain says is "very loosely related to the RAV4," Toyota's popular small SUV. Bolain insists it has 90 percent different parts and a structure that's 20 percent more rigid.

2015 Lexus NX: First Look

Indeed, the two seem like distant cousins at most. The NX hits U.S. showrooms in December, one of 80 global markets in which Lexus plans to sell the SUV. Pricing is still to come. But at a media preview in Seattle, I drove preproduction versions of the gasoline-powered NX 200t and gas-electric NX 300h hybrid, and my early take is the NX holds promise.

As compact luxury SUVs go, the 2015 Lexus NX combines sufficient driving fun and occupant comfort to deserve a look, though anyone with serious cargo needs should look elsewhere in this crowded field, or stick to the brand's popular RX.

By Kelsey Mays | July 11, 2014 | Comments (5)

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