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2015 Lexus NX 200t | Reviewed

The perfect car for the Williamsburg yupster.

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Story by Will Sabel Courtney

If you needed any further proof that the days of the big-box SUV are behind us, feast your eyes on the Lexus NX 200t. When the time came to toss their hat into the booming small-yet-stylish-sport-utility-vehicle category, Lexus management apparently served their designers a big plate of ‘shrooms and told them to go buck wild.

And amazingly enough, the result came out looking pretty good. Lexus’s hourglass front grille seems just right on the NX’s face, and the creased edges Lexus’s designers favor these days look far more at home on the compact, upright NX then they do on the brand’s sedans or bulkier sport-utes. The whole look makes the NX 200t look like some sort of bionic boar. (In the best way.)

The NX 200t also marks Lexus’s first (American) use of a turbocharged motor. It was probably inevitable, given how turbo fours are in vogue these days; thankfully, the effort produced a solid performer, serving up plenty of power with minimal lag. It did deliver a surprising amount of torque steer, though—rather odd, considering the NX I drove had all-wheel-drive.

Speaking of driveline oddities—it’s time for Lexus to ditch the NX 200t’s six-speed automatic. Sure, it works fine, but seven or eight speeds have become the standard in the luxury-car classes. Six forward cogs seems dangerously outdated, especially in a brand-new car. It’s not like you don’t have an eight-speed lying around, Lexus—it’s sitting between the engine and the wheels in the RC F and the LS. Chrysler sells a $17,000 car with a nine-speed automatic. Your $35,000 one should at least try to keep up.

The shift mode controller that toggles between “Eco,” “Normal” and “Sport” mode comes in handier than most similar gizmos: Sport does a solid job of keeping the engine closer to the turbo’s boost when driving, uh, vigorously; Eco smooths out the stop-and-go traffic herky-jerky; and Normal mode works quite nicely for, y’know, normal driving. If there’s a bug in the actual driving experience, it’s the passive-aggressive e-brake, which automatically activates when the car shifts into park. Ohhhh, it looks like you forgot to turn on the parking brake…I’ll just take care of that for you.

No, NX. I just don’t want it on.

The driving experience, all told, is as unremarkable as the exterior is futuristic—which is probably just what the average NX buyer’s looking for. What he/she does want, though, is comfort and technology—and like every Lexus, the NX is jammed full of both. The interior packs the usual new-era Lexus combination of modern, slightly busy design and a complex center console stretching from the dashboard to the armrest. (The shifter is also mounted unusually high, which may give fond memories to former seventh-gen Honda Civic Si and Porsche Carrera GT owners.)

(Not that there are probably many people moving from a Carrera GT to a Lexus NX.)

The NX also comes with the latest version of the infotainment control, which involves a laptop trackpad and a crosshair cursor. It remains frustrating; luckily, there are big buttons and physical switches for most of the major functions, such as the radio and the climate control. Still, when the nicest thing you can say about an infotainment system is “you don’t have to use it too often,” it may be time to switch things up.

Odds are good NX owners will make extensive use of the trucklet’s surprisingly roomy interior, though. The acutely angled rear hatch cuts into the rear cargo bay a little harshly, but the remaining space is still more than enough to hold two couples’ bags for a week’s vacation. And both front and rear rows are roomy enough for a pair of yupsters. (Yuppie hipsters.)

And that’s just who the NX is for: yupsters. It’s perfect for stylish urbanites who want all-weather ability, empowering ride height, and a luxury nameplate, but also need something small enough to maneuver into tight parking spaces and won’t guzzle gas the way Donald Trump goes through hairspray. I’m already seeing them popping up around Brooklyn with surprising frequency. The Lexus NX, really, is a car for the Williamsburg of 2015—it’s edgy, tech-centric, pricey, and perfect for the kinds of folks who like to stay on top of the latest trends without straying too far from the mainstream.

Considering how quickly Williamsburg is growing…I can’t say Lexus has the wrong idea.

Price as Tested: 44,148
0-60: 7.2 secs. (FWD model)
Power: 235 hp, 258 lb.-ft.
Gas Cash: 22 city, 28 hwy
Miles Driven: 40

June 25, 2015 at 01:10 PM

2014 Lexus IS-F Reviewed

An Ode To The Dragon

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By: Richard Melick

“It’s just a Lexus.”

That was my initial thought really, as I opened the door to the 2014 Lexus IS-F. I’ve always enjoyed the Lexus vehicles, but have never really thought they were something to write home about. Classy, comfortable, semi-affordable, and made with strong quality, the rides have always been related to the newly promoted managers and stay-at-home moms to me. And I wasn’t giving this ride in front of me much more of a thought. Yes, I knew what it was, what it had inside, and had seen the hilarious Top Gear episode with Clarkson driving it like mad man. But for some reason I could not look past the Lexus name.

And I am sorry for that.

I am sorry to this car that is more than what I could have ever imagined. 415 hp at my disposal, all pushed through the rear wheels, was insane. I’ve handled high powered vehicles before, but nothing has invoked the amount of fun that the IS-F did. Every start-up, every acceleration, every corner – the world had become my race track. I was finding myself looking for reasons to take new routes home, finding longer roads to stretch the legs on, the really get the full taste of what this car was supposed to deliver. No car has ever invoked that emotion in me. It became an adventure, an opportunity to see the confused looks on the faces around me of the people who, like me originally, only saw a Lexus.

And that’s why it saddens me to write this article. Lexus ended production of this dragon 2 weeks after I had the vehicle. The moment of reading that news was bittersweet for me. I felt blessed to have experienced that ride, knowing that if ever an opportunity for me to own a RWD high-power sedan came up, it would be my number one choice. No questions about that. But on the other end, I feel cheated, as if Lexus showed the world just what it could do with a sedan, launching the F-Sport branding, but then taking away the true heart and soul. There is no word if this engine, this mastered piece of Japanese engineering, will return in some form, and that stings.

The moment I started this car, the first hard pull off the light, the cornering with the tires squeaking just as if they were egging me on, was pure bliss. The noise of the exhaust, bark of the shifts, was like pure adrenaline being pumped into my system. I became an addict of speed in this car. Let that sink in. A Lexus made me fall in love with pure horsepower.

But there was one moment of pure bliss with that car. My best friend was having his bachelor party that weekend, and I offered to drive him and two others to the many festivities. As we drove through the empty streets, I looked around and saw the grins on 3 non-motor head faces. These gentlemen, owners of cars that get them from A to B, were hooked. Every corner, every acceleration, every bark in the shift made their smile even more permanent. I felt bad, as if I had just introduced them to a new, addicting drug, but at the same time, welcomed them to the party.

It’s a series of mixed emotions I have with this car. It’s not practical for me, but that’s only because I live in Colorado. Any other state, such as Arizona, and I would have this in my garage in a heartbeat. But as I look around at the other rides on the market, I am not seeing anything that will truly fill this need, this missing part of my addiction to speed. And every bit of it was caused by a Lexus. No more was I looking at this as a grocery-getter for the upper middle class. No longer did Lexus fit in the ‘kind of cool’ category as they have proven they can delivery something that invokes pure motor head emotions. Now, instead, I wait to hear of the next insane ride that will grace the streets. And I only hope it exceeds the top-class that the IS-F delivered.

One day, I will find a way. I will justify this ride. I am sorry I ever doubted it.

August 20, 2014 at 07:41 PM
BY: Bix

Quick Drive: 2013 Lexus CT 200h

The nicest Corolla money can buy.

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If I’m being honest here—and well, as a journalist, I probably should—if somebody asked me to pick out my favorite Lexus based solely on looks alone, and assuming the defunct LFA is off the table, the CT 200h would probably be my pick. (more…)

February 04, 2013 at 06:26 PM