Category Archives: Lexus

Upscale Elegance with a sense of Sportiness – The 2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport

 

Check Out Our YouTube Video Review on the Lexus ES350 F Sport.

Age has its privileges, and my first mistake was to tag a picture of the 2019 Lexus ES350 F Sport that arrived that morning with a hashtag of #V8.  Why? Because that is what these aging eyes saw on the window sticker. Or it could have been that I remember when the brand came to the USA with an 8-cylinder, while everyone else was doing a six.  Within moments a YouTuber who follows me on Instagram corrected me. And let me know how it was a V6 and not a V8. Then, not long after that one of my young compatriots coyly mentioned he too had seen the mislabeled V8 hashtag. Yup, Frickin kid’s, I mistook the 6 for an 8, wait until you grow old and dream of big powerful engines, when you are driving your electric powered whirligigs.

20190630_184623It was back in the latter part of the last century, the news was about upstart luxury brands, offshoots of Japanese economy brands. And while today, three remain Lexus has kept both tried and true to the concept of luxury all the while holding on to Toyota’s reliability, quality, and dependability.

While in the past 30 years, Lexus has become a leader. Toyota, the parent company, realized that it was time to put excitement into their models, with the We will build no boring cars ideology. Lexus’s ES line is often confused with being an upscale Toyota Camry.  Which had been considered one of the less exciting cars to drive.  And that just isn’t right. Especially in the F-Sport trim, the ES is not a Camry, or should I say the Camry is not quite an ES350 in F Sport trim.

 

What makes the F Sport special?

2019_Lexus_ES_006_C3FAD6239DA48AE1D46B22F7A777ED968DB419AEIn the automotive world, you are either a Sport or a Premium Luxury, and bringing the two together rarely makes either side happy. Toyota does just that with a more sporty persona in the F-Sport as well as the luxury and tech that Lexus is known for.

Lexus’s high-performance models are named F Sport from the Fuji Speedway in Japan whose first corner, 27R inspired the shape of the “F” emblem. First brought to market in 2007 as a factory-sanctioned high-performance line, it succeeded the TRD (Toyota Racing Development) based L-Tuned of earlier in the decade. Now F Sport has expanded across the marque’s entire model lineup and not just limited to the IS and GS models as when it was first introduced.

 

Driving the 2019 Lexus ES 350 FSport

Lexus F Sport with Lexus RX350A week behind the wheel of the 2019 Silver Lining Metallic with a red interior Lexus ES350 F Sport gave us the feel of the many features that come standard on the ES model, as well as the sporty aspects of the F Sport, more importantly, the drive experience.

 

 

Quite a comfortable sedan, especially as a long-distance road warrior, with plentiful interior passenger and trunk cargo space. Aided by the $750 Adaptative Variable Suspension, the ride was excellent and quite centered and controlled.  The 3.5 V6 24 valve DOHC Aluminum front-engine with variable valve timing and intelligent wide intake exhaust mated to an 8-speed Direct-Shift transmission, and front-wheel drive provided plenty of power no matter the need, with 22/31/25 in mileage.  Though it was not as powerful as it would have been with the original thought of 8-cylinder. (Which I will say on my first drive after the initial IG post, I thought to myself, this is not an eight!)

Lexus ES 350 F Sport GrillDriving the Lexus, you realize how big it is, parking it though, it does not seem large, and with the parking sensors and auto-brake both come in to play in tight spaces. Pulling into a space in a parking garage, it quickly sensed I was too close to the car in front of me, jarringly the auto-braking engaged quickly and securely stopping well clear of the vehicle parked in front of me. The Blindspot monitor with Rear Cross Traffic alert and parking assist with auto braking, a $1065 option is always an excellent option to have on any car.

Lexus F Sport Key Glove

 

While I marveled at the twenty-dollar Key Glove, but really is it necessary? And at twenty bucks, it would have been something that could have been acquired from a local artisan, instead of an optional add on.

 

 

 

Luxury Inside and Out

A lot of what is standard on the ES is nothing new or not found in other vehicles, interior ambient lighting, 10-way F Sport bolstered front heated and ventilated power seats with 2-way lumbar with Lexus memory system of driver seat outside mirrors and steering wheel tilt and telescope. And of course, sporty aluminum trimmed pedals.

INTERIOR_Lexus-ES-350_Flare-Red_Hadori_FSport18_79317162B50BE8E8E177B05BBE99789C4BCB1DDBIt is how Lexus brings it together inside the F Sport that is special, the interior design, the quality touch and feel that makes you appreciate it as a Lexus. Something that did bother me was the $75 optional wireless charging option hidden away under the console armrest. I think all cars should come with wireless chargers. I did indeed use it, and it to charge my Samsung outfitted with an Otter Box Case. It did not overheat like some chargers do. Where I found myself frustrated, is I wanted to look at my phone, even if things were relayed to the car’s display. And yes I know we should not be distracted by our devices, cars are meant to be driven.

Some fun aspects of the F Sport are the moveable meter in the center dash, roadside sign assist, and the smartwatch and Amazon Alexa integration. All help you integrate closer to the car so that driving becomes one with the body and soul.

20190630_184945Ride comfort with the F Sport Suspension Tuning with Performance dampers front and rear gives you a soft but sporty ride. And the large 19-inch wheels were of course more sporty 235 40 R 19 Bridgestone tires which are different from the 215/55R 17-inch wheels and tires on the non-F Sport model. Though the smoked split 5-spoke alloy wheels were indeed attractive, I worried about scratching them.

Exterior styling with a unique rear spoiler and valance and that unmistakable and controversial front bumper grill get plenty of attention. Again, I worried that someone would bump into the grill and damage it while parallel parked.  And yes indeed the ES had the intuitive parking assist option.

Lexus Strong Dealership Commitment

 

Darcars Lexus of Silver Spring MD
DarCars Lexus of Silver Spring MD Online sourced photo

Dealerships are often that first and only interaction that any auto buyer really has with a brand. Lexus ensures that commitment to the customer is a strong one, and has been very pro-active in this area long before other brands who tout it. The Lexus brand attracts a more affluent buyer who has an appreciation for the finer things in life and willing to pay for service. Here is where Lexus really shines. Their dealerships commitment to service, being one of the first to provide true concierge service, where a staff member will come to the customer to pick up their car for service and return it. This is something very attractive to women buyers, as well as those owners who have little time to attend to such things. It is our experience relayed to us from female friends that while shopping in a Lexus dealer. They now own Lexus vehicle because of this focused on the Brand’s owners. 

 

Who is Lexus today?

Lexus RX 350 and ES 350 F SportA brand that has the reliability and dependability of a Toyota, expert dealership customer service. Lexus sells a wide range of sedans, sports coupes and of course crossovers and SUV’s. Customers of Lexus have enjoyed the best of Toyota quality and technology (Lexus is one of the first luxury brands to put hybrid powertrains into their cars) from the very beginning.  Expect great things to come from the brand as it continues to grow and respond to what their customers want.

 

William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret
William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret

Words and Images by William West Hopper

This 2019 Lexus ES350 F Sport was provided to us by Toyota Motor Company and Lexus for a week to review, no compensation other than the use of the car was provided. Parking expenses were covered by myself as was any fuel used after the first tankful.

 

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We are looking forward to the World Car Awards

With the New York International Auto Show on the horizon, one of my personal favorite events each year is the World Car Award. This year held on March 28th.

2018 will be the 14th year for the annual awards and the for the fifth consecutive year based on Prime Research’s 2017 media report. The World Car Awards were inaugurated in 2003 and launched in 2004.

2018 marks the 12th year of World Car’s partnership with NYIAS, and the fifth consecutive year that the World Car Awards have retained their ranking as the No.1 automotive awards program in the world in terms of media reach. While the awards and ceremony are a recognition of automotive excellence is on an international scale and intended to complement and not compete with other national and regional Car of the Year celebrations.

The awards are administered by a not-for-profit association, under the guidance of a Steering Committee of pre-eminent automotive journalists from Asia, Europe, and North America. Peter Lyon (chair – Japan), Jens Meiners (vice-chair – Germany), Mike Rutherford (vice-chair – UK), Tim Stevens (director – USA), Siddarth Patankar (director – India) and Gerry Malloy (director – Canada and president, WCOTY Association).

 

Automobiles Nominated for the
World Car Awards


2018 World Car of the Year:

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– Mazda CX-5
– Range Rover Velar
– Volvo XC60


2018 World Urban Car:

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 – Ford Fiesta
– Suzuki Swift
– Volkswagen Polo


2018 World Luxury Car:

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– Audi A8
– Porsche Cayenne
– Porsche Panamera


2018 World Performance Car:

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-BMW M5
– Honda Civic Type R
– Lexus LC 500


2018 World Green Car:

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– BMW 530e iPerformance
– Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
– Nissan LEAF


2018 World Car Design of the Year:

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– Lexus LC 500
– Range Rover Velar
– Volvo XC60


The Road to the World Car began in Frankfurt on September 19, 2017, and was followed by the first-ever Tokyo Test Drive conducted at the BMW Tokyo Bay facility in October giving jurors yet another opportunity to evaluate contenders that might not be available in their home markets. Then, the fourth annual “L.A. Test Drives” took place across a six-day period in November with a record number of 35 jurors participating. At the Geneva show in March, they close in on the end of the Road to World Car journey which will end on Wednesday, March 28, 2018, when World Car opens the New York International Auto Show and also declares all winners in all categories.

New York International Auto Show

Owned and operated by the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, the New York Auto Show is an awesome combination of new ideas, technological innovation, exceptional concept cars and nearly 1,000 of the latest new cars and trucks.  Over one million visitors are expected to visit the show this year to see what is truly possible from the automotive industry.

 

Information for this post is from the World Car Awards Press Release. Photos are from the various automotive media sites. Collated and edited by William West Hopper.

You are invited to the LGBTQ Family Night at the Washington Auto Show on Feb 1, 2018.

2017-Washington-Auto-Show-Saturday-54Join us at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Thursday evening February First, 2018 for an evening of auto show fun with friends at the LGBTQ Family Night at the Washington Auto Show.

 

Sponsors

Cadillac, Lexus, Mazda, and Toyota are; and we hope you will as well. These automotive companies are some of our 2018 sponsors along with The Washington Auto Show itself.

 

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Like last year, this will be a gathering of friends at the DC Auto Show. You don’t have to be an automotive enthusiast, and there will be no set program, just come meet new people, or friends of long standing, and enjoy all the 2018 Washington Auto Show has to offer.

Cadillac XT5
Cadillac XT5

We will have a private room, and plenty of friends to talk with about cars and all else. Thanks to Cadillac and Mazda for supporting our event, we will have snacks and iced tea, but more importantly, we want to get you out and enjoy the show, see the displays and experience all that the show has to offer.

 

Toyota HSR Left SideAfter Party

After the show is over, Toyota and Lexus will be hosting an afterparty for those attending the event. So you will not want to miss that and drink a toast to the New Year thanks to our friends at Toyota and Lexus.

 

MX5 Santa

Why are we holding this event, so that LGBTQ friends and family know that the auto manufacturers and dealers in the Washington area appreciate our business and want us as customers.

 

When and Where?

Date, Thursday evening February 2nd, at the Washington Convention Center (Room to be announced ) from 5 pm to 9 pm (when the show closes) then we will transfer the party over to a nearby location for a little more celebrating.

While there is no fee to attend the LGBTQ Family night at the Washington Auto Show, we ask you to register for the event.
Register Here:

Yes, the event is free, though you will have to purchase tickets to get into the show.  You can get tickets directly from the show here. Or if you want discounted tickets through Groupon, you can click here. Or if you are not on Facebook, send us an email to let us know you are coming and if you are bringing a friend or family along with you.

For information on what will be happening at the 2018 Washington DC Auto Show, check out their daily schedule of events.

The Lexus LC500h is a Supercar that is Eco Friendly and available to the Masses*.

The Lexus LC500h
Lexus LC500 Coupe
*If the Masses have a hundred grand to spend.

Don’t tell anyone that the LC500h saves trees and drops panties at the same time!

 

 

 

Chef Matt in the Navigators Seat of the Lexus LC500h
Chef Matt in the Navigators Seat of the Lexus LC500h

Lexus provided us a pre-production 2018 LC500h for a weekend in early September to attend the Radnor Concours d’Elegance and drive in their fundraising road rally for Thorncroft Equestrian Center. A drive that took us on 90 miles of bucolic Chester County roads, not only a picturesque Pennsylvania countryside, it was an opportunity to test out this “High-Performance Lexus.” Myself and co-driver Chef Matt enjoyed every moment behind the wheel.

Lexus LC500H Hybrid badge.Surprises were many, mostly the attention this coupe got where ever we went, especially women. Women coohed over it, and when offered an opportunity to get the driver’s seat they practically leaped at the chance to get in and caress the soft interior surfaces. Never have I driven a car that so enthralled women of all ages. I kept kidding my co-driver, a single guy, that this was his big chance! We would catch glimpses of people photographing the car where ever we went. Yes, a Lexus can bring that much attention.

 

Stock photo of the Lexus LC500H from the Lexus media site.
Stock photo of the Lexus LC500H from the Lexus media site.

The attention started when my original co-driver found out a wedding conflicted with the rally and he could not join me. I posted a stock photo of the Lexus LC500h on my Facebook Page, asking if any of my friends were interested in spending the day driving around Philadelphia’s fox hunting country. One buddy responded, “If that is the car, count me in, I want to go.”  Though his idea of a Rally was speeding across back roads at breakneck speed, like, so many internet videos show.  I assured him it would be a relaxing and fun ride in the countryside, and We would get a meal out of the deal. “Any meal I don’t have to cook is one I will enjoy.” The classic line of anyone who spends their days in a kitchen for a living.

 

 

The two of us met up with about 125 other participants at the Radnor Hunt Club. A wide range of cars from classic Rolls, compete with the mustard to old farts in Aston Martins (who kept getting in our way but won the Rally.)  Even another Lexus, and a bright RED Infiniti G series, whose owners we became friends with during the weekend.

 

The Lexus LC500H an Aston Martin and Infiniti all lined up and ready for the Radnor Concours Road Rally.
The Lexus LC500H an Aston Martin and Infiniti all lined up and ready for the Radnor Concours Road Rally.

It did not take long before we quickly found that our car was both adored and somewhat sneered at. “That is some High-Performance Lexus,” said one upper-crust passer-by. A hybrid called High Performance, well shows what great styling can do! Chef Matt also quickly found out that the LC was a chick magnet. Watching an introvert struggling to talk to pretty girls was painful, and sometimes more so when you could see the ladies were more interested in the beautiful road machine he was driving, than the man with incredible culinary talents.

First of all  How it Looks.

Lexus 500H Rear view, lots of shapely lines.
Lexus 500H Rear view, lots of shapely lines.

This two-door coupe has muscular lines from the front fenders to the rear haunches. It seems like an oxymoron to hear the word muscle when the car has hybrid badging.

While guys, from tatted and bearded Harley riders to conservative mainline types gave it thumbs up, and as we found out, it really seduced the ladies. And once inside they really connected to the Alcantara suede door panels and heated and cooled leather seats. Lexus has always known that marketing to the fairer sex is a smart business decision, and this car will have a lot of women becoming owners of their vehicles.

Inside

The very clean dash on the Lexus LC500H
The very clean dash on the Lexus LC500H

OK, this is a two-seat coupe, and yes it has four seats. And in those seats, you felt in control of the vehicle as a driver and enveloped as a front seat passenger.  Do not expect people to sit in the rear seats, as no adult of any proportion is going to fit back there, or even contort themselves to get into and out of the rear seats. But that is entirely OK! The front seats contoured the body like an elegant glove, holding you in comfort as well as style.

 

The LC500's Trunk is not especially big in the first place, and the hybrids battery takes up additional room.
The LC500’s Trunk is not especially big in the first place, and the hybrid’s battery takes up additional room.

Luggage, who needs a lot of baggage? The boot is limited to a couple of overnighters and a suit bag. No golf club bags, and honestly I had to lay a half gallon of scotch down on its side because it was too tall.

Powertrain & Driveability

While you can get this model in a V8. The one we enjoyed was a 3.5-litre V6 with multistage hybrid technology attached. This power plant may not be what you think of when you think of when you think of the other products in Toyota’s family of hybrids. Lexus was one of the first to put the hybrid engine in a vehicle other than a four-door sedan, with the RX. Now it makes perfect sense to put it in this luxury sports coupe. We experienced plenty of power, and excellent fuel mileage to boot.

With this LC500H you have all the options to make whatever noise you want, or NOT! A hybrid powerplant makes that sound, which you sometimes hear in this vehicle in eco and comfort mode (I call it chewing up logs with a dull blade.) Put the LC500h in one of the two sports mode and step on it, and it takes off like a bat out of Gehenna. Or just put it in EV mode and quietly move it out of the driveway. As sometimes you want to make an elegant exit without anyone hearing the exhaust growl of a performance car.

Lexus LC500H Center Console includes an integrated assistance handle for the passenger.
Lexus LC500H Center Console includes an integrated assistance handle for the passenger.

Fuel Mileage, this is a Hybrid, set it in eco mode and get top fuel mileage, like in the mid-30’s. Set it in Sport Plus and it is all power, and still, you will not be draining the tank!  All the while looking amazing and returning fuel consumption numbers that were impressive.

The classic Hold on for your life handles in this car, aka the O’Crap Handles are there for the front seat passenger.who is hardly forgotten. And since Lexus takes performance and handling seriously, the driver has control of the comfortable steering wheel and the shift paddles and fed constant updates from a well-balanced display screen as well as aided by the touchpad controlled display topping the center stack.

 

Speaking of screens:

 

We could have watched the transition on the dash display time and time again, as the image moved aside bringing more information forward. While the center display controls everything from HVAC to Audio to monitoring the performance of the Hybrid system. And when you want it to display a more extensive map, or set up the seats for heating and cooling, it is a touch of the screen away. We experienced a few lapses in the GPS display on our suburban Philadelphia adventure, with sometimes not displaying the roads we were on, this we chalked up to the car being a pre-production model. While it could have been operator error, and probably was, it would be nice for it to pop back after some time and tell you, hey, I have stopped working at your request.

Chef Matt and the Lexus LC500H
Chef Matt and the Lexus LC500H

Think Sports Car for those who want a supercar, but may not want to spend the several hundred grand. While this puppy tops out at that $100K mark it is still well priced when you consider what you are buying. A lot of technology in a very, very attractive package. One of the most beautiful Lexus body styles we have ever seen. While you may look at competing brands, this one has a vast dealer network as well as a strong history of brand dependability that comes with it.

Author William West Hopper with the 2018 Lexus LC500H.
Author William West Hopper with the 2018 Lexus LC500H.

Words and photos by William West Hopper.

We were given the use of the Lexus LC500H for a week to use at the Radnor Concours. No other compensation was provided, and all event, travel, and other fees were paid out of our own pocket.
For more information or to test drive for yourself the Lexus LC500H or any of their other vehicles, please visit your local Lexus dealership.