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Two 4 the Road

Lexus revamps their image with a pair of performers

Never before has Lexus had a vehicle as sexy looking as the RC range.

Never before has Lexus had a vehicle as sexy looking as the RC range.

Back in the late Bill Clinton-era, days were numbered for such things as answering machines, cassette tapes, and the “personal luxury coupe.” Cars like the Cadillac Eldorado and Lincoln Mark VIII were last of a dying breed that lost-out to large SUVs. Now, it seems that those salad days are back, thanks to Lexus, with their new “personal luxury coupe,” the RC series and their trailblazing “personal SUV,” the NX range. 

A New Era For Lexus

he new Lexus RC series is not only a luxurious, personal luxury coupe for modern times; it’s also a road-stormer! Lexus’ signature “spindle grille” is the “tip of the arrow” on this slick, elegant machine. The car’s sides evoke the sinew of a jungle cat, and this Lexus’ rump will surely stay in the minds of those who’ve been passed at speed. There are two choices for the RC’s motivation: a six-cylinder engine, with 306 horsepower or a V-8 with 467 ponies in the corral. Opting for the latter will also transform the car’s looks: a massive fender flare bulges at the front and Lexus’ legendary, double-stacked, quad-exhaust pipes are out back. Says Ed Baur, General Manager of Kuni Lexus, “The customer base in this new, growing market also had one major request for Lexus: Supply a stunning coupe that not only reflects their personal success, but also inspires their need to have a dynamic driving experience.”  

On the road, the RC is in its element: its handling is taut and precise, while the ride is never jarring, which puts it in the minority of sport coupes. As with most high-end, modern luxury coupes, the buyer can opt for either rear-wheel drive or full-time four-wheel-drive. On the V-6, that is. The thumping V-8 RC-F only comes in RWD. 

Whichever RC one chooses, the interior is a cockpit focused on luxury and performance, with two rear seats that offer practicality in the way that most coupes can only dream of. In terms of standard interior features, Lexus has always given-away more bells and whistles as standard than its European competitors, so the more esoteric options receive attention here: a “moving bezel” tachometer with a crisp digital display; a rear “cross traffic” alert system; intuitive parking assist; special apps that allow you to start your RC 350 via your smartphone; and oh yeah, a moonroof for those romantic Rocky Mountain nights. Yes, luxury coupes are back, and this time Lexus has made them personal. 

Crossing-Over, Elegantly

et’s face it: crossover utility vehicles, or CUVs as they’re usually referred to, have been as exciting-looking (and performing) as a pair of Uggs. As in, not very pulse-pounding. As makers of one of the most capable large SUVs on the planet (the LX series) and one of the most luxurious conveyances money can buy (the LS series sedan), surely Lexus has an answer. The new NX 200t is that solution.

When one approaches the NX (which is also available in sporty “F Line” trim and as an efficient hybrid), it just doesn’t feel like the approach to an “ordinary” truck or car. In short, other CUVs look like something one can buy on a used car lot; the NX looks like a “prototype show car.” “With a change of affluent customers becoming younger and more diverse, Lexus knows the importance of embracing our rapidly changing marketplace,” remarks Baur. 

The NX 200t boasts a turbocharged, four-cylinder engine that makes 235 horsepower. This smooth mill is mated to either all four wheels or just the front ones, depending on which option box one checks. The hybrid has a CVT transmission and the gasoline version totes a six-speed automatic. 

Stepping inside, the tech just gets higher. Available options include a wireless charging system for your smartphone; a navigation system controlled by a touch-sensitive finger pad; dynamic radar cruise control; triple-beam L.E.D. headlamps; the aforementioned intuitive parking assist; an electric tailgate; and Siri Eyes Free, which works with iPhones. In the F-sport package, the happy occupants even get a “G-meter,” which displays the NX 200t’s handling prowess. 

The NX 300h is the hybrid choice, and with 194 horsepower, it’s a peppy performer and an environmental cheerleader, all rolled-up into a 35-mpg package. That’s 35 in the city; on the highway, the fuel is sipped at 31 miles per gallon. The NX 300h is also blessed with an active damping system that actually uses the electric motor braking to counter the roll and pitching that’s associated with “car sickness.” In addition to improving the ride, this also makes the vehicle an even more responsive handler. 

It seems as if Lexus’ latest wonders are tailor-made for the Colorado Springs market: two-wheel or four-wheel drive to brave the elements; opulent interiors to brave traffic; and stylish skins to show the world one is brave on the roads. Ed Baur sums it up nicely: “These two new vehicles bring a combination of characteristics that you no longer have to sacrifice one over the other.”