Car Review: 2014 Lexus IS 250 F-Sport Convertible
When you have a sleek luxury coupe with a hardtop that transforms it into a convertible in 20 seconds, a choice of 204-hp or 306-hp V6 engines, F-SPORT Package with 18-inch wheels and tuned suspension and Lexus Enform multimedia and Mark Levinson audio, all you can do is say “bring it on.” We drove a 2014 Lexus IS 250 F-Sport Convertible in beautiful September weather in Northeast Ohio and the days all got just a little brighter!
The IS 250 C model cuts a sharp profile, which looks sharper still with the addition of the available F-SPORT package as tested. This package’s combination of sport-tuned suspension, F-SPORT 18-inch wheels, exclusive interior trim and aerodynamic body features give the IS C models a decidedly sporty stance, with enhanced agility to match. Additional F-SPORT Performance Accessories available for the IS C models include 19-inch forged alloy wheels, suspension and brake upgrades, air intake, exhaust systems and more.
Just 20 seconds separates coupe from convertible worlds in the 2014 Lexus IS C models. That’s how long it takes for the three-panel aluminum roof to lower once the driver has pushed the switch. The coupe’s retractable hardtop disappears beneath a locking panel, with no need for the driver to secure a tonneau cover or hold-down snaps. Constructed primarily of lightweight aluminum, the retractable hardtop features an automatic front lock assembly that provides the interior security not found in most soft-top convertibles. When the top is stowed, a lock assembly engages to keep the panel in a fixed, stable position. Lexus ensured smooth, low-noise roof operation by using a lightweight aluminum four-link design. The roof even closes quietly, thanks to a roof-speed brake system that slows the roof as it approaches the end of the closing operation.
When the IS C is equipped with the available Intuitive Park Assist (IPA), roof operation will stop if an obstacle that might interfere with operation is detected behind the car. The driver will get an audible warning, and a warning light illuminates in the instrument panel. This is a sight to see and guaranteed you’ll have folks that will want to see it open and close in awe! When the hardtop drops, this car becomes one of the most attention-getting vehicles we drove this year!
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Car Review: 2014 Lexus LX570
Lexus has been upfront with the innovations and capabilities of the 2014 Lexus LX570, and for very good reason. The Lexus LX was the first premium, full-capability prestige three-row luxury utility vehicle, and the latest edition wears the bold, brand signature spindle grille front design. We had a full week to test this hulking SUV to find out exactly what you can get for close to 90K these days!
You will notice the 2014 Lexus LX570 immediately once you see this beast on the road, and with the sleek designs of Lexus brand vehicles these days, this SUV goes in a different direction. There is a true off-road look to the LX 570, which is fine, but you kind of get the feeling that this huge SUV might have came out of the 90s. There are also some very good looking exterior features on the Lexus LX570, such as a very aggressive-looking front fascia and a high-end side view. The 20-inch, 5-spoke wheels with liquid graphite finish really pop on this SUV. At night, you can see the LX570 from afar with the high intensity discharge headlamps (HID) and integrated fog lamps with LED daytime running lights and LED tail lamps. We also liked the illuminated running boards with tow hitch and ball mount.
There is as much leather as a Texas boot shop in the cabin of the 2014 Lexus LX570! The Luxury package delivered semi-aniline leather trimmed interior with contrast stitching, driver and passenger heated and ventilated seats with second row heated seats, center console mounted cool box, smart access card key and wood-trimmed door switch plates. When full 8-passenger seating is not needed, the Lexus LX 570 can open up a large, useful cargo area. With the 50/50 split power-retractable third row seat folded into the floor, the LX 570 provides 41 cu. ft. of carrying space, and this expands to 83.1 cu. ft. with the 40/20/40 split middle row folded. The clamshell-design tailgate, which features a power upper section, is much more versatile than a typical one-piece hatch. Cutting-edge multimedia abounds in the Lexus LX 570, providing something for everyone onboard. Lexus Enform can make a compatible Bluetooth smartphone even smarter. The available Enform service, with Destination Assist, eDestination and App Suite, comes with the Navigation System/Mark Levinson Audio Package. Lexus Enform provides access to the subscription-free App Suite. These voice-enabled apps let you search the Internet through Bing, make restaurant reservations through OpenTable, get movie tickets via MovieTickets.com, listen to Internet radio including Pandora and iHeartRadio, search business reviews on Yelp, and check in on Facebook Places.
Lexus Enform with Safety Connect is available by subscription. Complimentary one-year trial subscriptions are available on all purchases of new Lexus vehicles equipped with these features. Safety Connect is standard on all vehicles, while Lexus Enform with Safety Connect is on all vehicles equipped with the optional Navigation system. The Lexus Enform and the Safety Connect response centers operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. Lexus Enform vehicles are factory ready for subscriptions to a variety of innovative SiriusXM services, including NavTraffic, NavWeather, Sports, Stocks and Fuel Prices. SiriusXM services offer complimentary one-year trial data subscription.
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Car Review: 2014 Kia Cadenza Limited
Kia continues to roll out new models, and since the debut of the all-new 2014 Kia Cadenza sedan, this offering from Kia has garnered praise for its premium feel and long list of amenities. We drove the new Cadenza for a week and had the opportunity to find out if Kia is still churning out winners!
With the Cadenza, you first notice the broad shoulders, contoured hood, large wheels and wide stance that give it a strong, grounded appearance. The striking design has a distinctive sport-sedan form that you normally find on much more expensive models. The signature grille and front fascia make Cadenza instantly recognizable as a Kia. Flanking the grille are quad headlights that nestle deeply behind crystalline lenses. The lower fascia is wide, lending to the Cadenza’s imposing stance, and chrome trim accents around the fog lights and grille add to the vehicle’s premium presence. LED positioning lights and projection beam headlights provide additional European sophistication. The vertical nose is imposing and the long hood is sensuously sculpted to meet the swept-back windshield. The greenhouse curves gracefully to the C-pillar and is surrounded by a tasteful chrome bezel that flares upward at the rear door, effectively creating a beautiful glass droplet. Beginning just aft of the front-door cutline is a chiseled indentation that sweeps upward, seamlessly transitioning into the tail lights. Classic chrome accents adorn the lower portions of the doors and the treatment continues into the rear fascia. The 19-inch alloy wheels offered in the Technology Package resemble a jet turbine and add to the Cadenza’s athletic stature.
Moving to the rear, the standard LED taillights sit high on the deck and are designed to cut across a large portion of the vehicle, lending to the Cadenza’s broad stance. The twin oval tail pipes accentuate the Cadenza’s sporty and elegant design. What universally garnered plenty of attention were the sleek 19-inch chrome alloy wheels that give this new Kia some street cred.
The interior of the Cadenza envelops its occupants in a premium environment complete with soft leather upholstery and tasteful accents of wood and chrome. Ambient lighting and a horizontally positioned switch gear communicate an uncluttered and sophisticated aesthetic. An elegant analog clock positioned between the automatic climate controls lends a classic feel. The center console is angled slightly toward the driver for optimized control, and an available large 7-inch high-resolution TFT LCD screen in the gauge cluster showcases a wide range of vehicle information, including turn-by-turn navigation and infotainment. Elegant chrome bezels surround the HVAC and audio controls, air vents and the standard push-button start. Standard Bluetooth, wood-trim door inserts, one-touch automatic up/down power front windows and power-folding heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators all enhance the Cadenza’s premium image.
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First Drive: 2015 Acura TLX
It has been a long time, more than a decade, since you could put “Acura” and “fun to drive” in the same sentence. But the Japanese automaker unleashed its engineers and let them create a car that is indeed a watershed.
The 2015 Acura TLX replaces the Acura TSX and TL. Neither midsize sedan could be called a rousing success. Worse, the TL grew to be almost as big as Acura’s flagship RL sedan, throwing the automaker’s lineup out of whack.
The premium and luxury car markets used to be mannerly, almost sedate, but not anymore. Though it was the first Asian luxury brand in the U.S. market, Acura got left at the gate by Infiniti and Lexus. Now, Mercedes-Benz and BMW have risen to their challenge, and from Acura’s standpoint, there is a resurgent Audi and a rejuvenated Cadillac too compete with as well.
In short, you’ve got to have a great product to even call yourself a premium or luxury brand these days. It seems that Acura’s head honchos have gotten that message and allowed some of the best engineers around to develop the all new TLX. The midsize luxury sedan’s overall length has been shortened from the old TL, but the wheelbase length remained. That means the back seats of the TLX are spacious, comfortable and can carry two full-sized adults with no problem. But the real story here is under the TLX’s hood.
First, there’s a 2015 Acura TLX with a 2.4-liter four cylinder engine with an eight-speed dual clutch transmission and P-AWS. This engine makes 206 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. There’s also a TLX with a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a nine-speed automatic. The model comes with either P-AWS or Acura’s SH-AWD.
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First Drive: 2015 Toyota Camry, Yaris & Sienna
Testing new vehicles is always an adventure, but the opportunity to test new vehicles in Hawaii is just a whole different experience. Auto journalists love cars, but we also love to drive cars in adventurous destinations featuring incredible roads with twists and turns in places so grand that you realize how spectacular other places on earth can be. The sunny Kona District stretches for about 60 miles from Kona International Airport to beyond Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii’s lava-lined western coast. Along this expansive area, we found everything from coffee farms to historic Hawaiian landmarks. Our homebase was the Fairmont Orchid, which is a luxurious Hawaiian resort on the Kohala Coast inspired by culture, well-being and genuine Aloha. To take in all of the Big Island while driving a stable of new offerings from Toyota can make for eye-opening visuals in the 2015 Camry, Yaris and Sienna. These new Toyotas are so different and compete in three distinctive segments, but all shared the same careful design and manufacturing expertise that is synonymous with a Toyota.
There is no car more important to Toyota than the Camry, and for 2015, the folks at Toyota continued their quest to be king of the midsize car market with a new 2015 Camry that ups the stakes. Yes, the best-selling car in America for the last 12 years just got better! When redesigning the Camry for 2015, Toyota went bumper to bumper and floor to roof, changing or re-engineering nearly 2,000 parts. Only the roof remains unchanged, and it caps off the boldest Camry body ever. That provides an idea of the scope of the transformation that also endows the new Camry with a stiffer body structure, enhanced aerodynamics and its quietest ride ever. The redesigned, upscale interior and advanced instrumentation with intuitive controls help keep the driver safely focused on the road. The redesigned interior also looks and feels much more upscale, featuring premium, soft-touch materials throughout. The 2015 model is easily the best-handling and most comfortable-riding Camry ever. Beneath the bolder body lines, the Camry’s body structure has been bolstered with additional spot welds to enhance rigidity. Retuned suspension systems in all models put an edge on handling agility while taking the edge off bumps.
The exterior of the Camry just keeps getting sexier and the 2015 model is like no Camry we’ve ever seen before. An aggressive looking front bumper and grille, pronounced side character lines and low-profile LED headlamps give the new Camry a far more expressive style. It’s a sleeker look that’s also slightly longer (1.8 inches / 45 mm) and features a widened track (0.4 inches / 10 mm) that communicates a dynamic stance and presence. In profile, a pronounced body line starts from the Camry’s muscular front fender and spans across the doors and rear quarter panel, conveying a sense of motion. The fun doesn’t stop there, as the new cabin takes this segment upscale and will surely have some rivals looking for the medicine cabinet! Everywhere you look and touch, the Camry presents premium materials, an overall roomier feel and enhanced amenities.