New Cars for 2017: Lexus
GS: A limited-slip differential joins the options sheet for the rear-drive version of the GS350 F Sport.
IS: The IS comes in for its mid-cycle facelift this year, gaining an even gape-ier maw to go with its new bumpers, exhaust finishers, and taillights. LED headlamps now are standard on all models, while F Sport versions get functional front brake ducts. Inside, a new 10.3-inch infotainment display is available. The powertrains are the same as last year’s, meaning a turbocharged 241-hp four-cylinder for the IS200t, and a 3.5-liter V-6 making 255 horsepower in the IS300 and 306 horsepower in the IS350.
LC (shown above): The successor to the late and unlamented SC430, the LC coupe goes on sale in the spring. Lexus won’t call it a sports car, but it nevertheless incorporates lots of exotic materials and offers a stiffer body than even the LFA hypercar. The LC’s exterior styling is both sinewy and extreme, with a massive grille and undulating sheetmetal that leads back to a pair of prominent hips. And the cabin offers aesthetic delights unexpected from once-staid Lexus. We particularly like the interior door panels with their flowing lines and sculptural handles. The LC500 features a 5.0-liter V-8 producing 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque, hooked to a 10-speed automatic. The hybrid model, the LC500h, pairs a 295-hp 3.5-liter V-6 with two electric motors. Both motors can contribute to propulsion, though the smaller one is primarily a starter/generator. The LC500h’s real party trick is a multistage transmission that combines a CVT and a four-speed automatic transmission to mimic a 10-speed automatic in manual mode. It also acts as further gear reduction for the car’s primary electric motor, improving operating efficiency. The upshot, according to Lexus, is a more natural-feeling hybrid system and fuel economy that could touch 40 mpg on the highway, as well as a zero-to-60-mph time that should be in the 5.0-second range. Pricing for the gas model is expected to come in at about $100,000 with an increase of less than 10 percent for the hybrid.
NX: The front-wheel-drive versions of the NX200t and NX300h have been axed.
RX350/RX450h: The basic front-drive hybrid is no longer available, but both versions of the best-selling RX now offer front-drive F Sport versions. You know, for added sportiness.
Minor trim changes: GS F, GX, LS, RC, RC F
Unchanged: CT200h, ES350/ES300h, GS450h, LX