Toyota Leads, Fiat-Chrysler Disappoints in Consumer Reports' Latest Reliability Study

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Toyota and its Lexus subsidiary earned the top two spots in Consumer Reports' 2014 Auto Survey (subscription required), which rates reliability from consumer surveys of some 1.1 million vehicles over the past 12 months. Of the 28 brands ranked in terms of predicted reliability, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Fiat, Jeep, Ram and Dodge brands landed in the bottom four slots. At the top and bottom of the survey, those results played out similarly to Consumer Reports' study a year ago.

Related: Porsche Flies, Fiat Flails in 2014 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

Buggy multimedia systems, including navigation systems, Bluetooth and smartphone compatibility, garnered the most complaints. It's a recurring trend, Consumer Reports notes, and respondents to J.D. Power and Associates' Initial Quality Study have expressed similar frustrations.

But rankings between the two have otherwise limited correlation. Consumer Reports says its reliability study surveys subscribers for malfunctions on existing cars, whether recently purchased or older. J.D. Power says its IQS surveys those who recently bought a new car for objective malfunctions and subjective dislikes in the first 90 days of ownership. J.D. Power ranked 32 brands in its IQS this year; Consumer Reports ranked 28. Five brands made the top 10 in both studies: Honda, Kia, Lexus, Porsche and Toyota. Just three brands made the bottom 10 in both: Fiat, Infiniti and Jeep. To some degree, that cements the reliability — or lack thereof — for those eight.

By Kelsey Mays | October 27, 2014 | Comments (8)

Lexus Talks Turbochargers, Possible SC Successor

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German luxury brands have been bullish on turbochargers for years, but Toyota's Lexus division has been reluctant to follow — at least until now. An all-new turbocharged four-cylinder in the NX 200t serves as the base engine in the brand's newest SUV. If you believe Brian Bolain, Lexus' corporate marketing manager, it's just the tip of the turbo iceberg.

Related: 2015 Lexus NX Starts at $35,405

Lexus has come a long way since its 1989 inception: Sixty dealerships have grown to more than 230, and the brand held the U.S. luxury-brand sales title throughout the 2000s. But it lost the crown to Mercedes-Benz in 2011 when a March earthquake and tsunami in Japan left U.S. inventory below BMW and Mercedes levels for six of the nine months that followed. Mercedes has kept the sales title ever since.

Bolain downplayed the importance of Lexus being America's top-selling luxury brand, but he did hint at a few directions it might go — specifically, more turbochargers and perhaps a replacement for the SC convertible.

By Kelsey Mays | October 27, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2002-2005 Lexus, Toyota and Pontiac Cars, Pickup Trucks, SUVs

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Vehicles Affected: Nearly 250,000 model-year 2002-05 Lexus SC luxury coupes and Toyota Sequoia SUVs, and 2003-05 Tundra pickup trucks, Corolla sedans and Matrix hatchbacks, and Pontiac Vibe hatchbacks, all originally sold or currently registered in high-humidity areas of southern Florida, along the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa

The Problem: The front passenger airbag inflators are susceptible to rupture in a crash, necessitating the deployment of the front passenger airbag. The inflator could rupture, causing metal fragments to strike and seriously injure the passenger-seat occupant or others.

The Fix: Toyota will notify owners of Toyota and Lexus vehicles, and GM will notify owners of Pontiac vehicles. Dealers will replace the passenger-side airbag inflator for free. As an interim measure if a replacement is not available, the dealer will disable the front passenger airbag and advise owners not to use the front passenger seat until a replacement inflator is installed. Toyota will begin notifying owners around Oct. 25; GM has not yet announced a notification schedule.

What Owners Should Do: Owners of Toyota and Lexus vehicles can call Toyota at 800-331-4331, and owners of Pontiac Vibes can call GM at 800-521-7300. Owners can also call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236, or go to www.safercar.gov, for more info.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

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By Matt Schmitz | October 20, 2014 | Comments (2)

2015 Lexus NX Starts at $35,405

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Lexus released pricing for the all-new 2015 NX 200t and NX 300h compact SUVs, which go on sale in December. The NX 200t starts at $35,405, including a destination charge, or $6,490 below Lexus' larger RX 350 SUV. The NX 300h hybrid, meanwhile, starts at $40,645; that's $7,900 below the RX 450h. All prices are for models with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive adds a modest $1,400 to the NX 200t and $1,590 to the NX 300h.

Related: 2015 Lexus NX First Drive

That puts the NX atop the starting prices for entry-luxury SUVs like the 2015 Audi Q3 ($33,425), Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class ($32,225) and BMW X1 ($31,850), but Lexus insisted at a press drive in July that the NX competes with their larger siblings — respectively, the Q5 ($39,825), GLK-Class ($38,825) and X3 ($39,450) — a group that's dimensionally closer to the NX; all prices include destination.

By Kelsey Mays | October 16, 2014 | Comments (11)

2015 Lexus NX: Car Seat Check

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The Lexus NX 300h is the gas-electric hybrid version of the all-new compact luxury crossover, which also comes in gas-powered form as the NX 200t. Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays tested the NX 300h and counted "more hits than misses," particularly with regard to driving fun and occupant comfort. For families, he also noted "anyone with serious cargo needs should look elsewhere." In our Car Seat Check, the NX 300h had a respectable showing, earning high marks for ease of installation and well-positioned Latch anchors.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

More Car Seat Checks

By Matt Schmitz | October 16, 2014 | Comments (0)

What's the Most Worry-Free Car You Can Buy?

What's the Most Worry-Free Car You Can Buy?

Car shoppers have a lot to sort through when looking for a new car. Is it big enough for the family? Does it have good fuel economy? Often, one of their biggest concerns is how much a car will cost to repair over time. We take a stab at translating a lot of information to give shoppers more peace of mind. That's why we came up with the Worry-Free Index.

By Kelsey Mays | September 29, 2014 | Comments (15)

2015 Lexus RX 350 Video

Cars.com reviewer Bill Jackson said the Lexus RX 350 luxury crossover returns for 2015 as a "comfortable car that impresses with its responsive engine, general comfort, but comes up short in a few areas." Watch the video above for more.

Watch on YouTube

By Matt Schmitz | September 24, 2014 | Comments (0)

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)

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