It was held this past weekend at Santa Anita race park in their huge parking lot in Arcadia, California. For those of you that don’t know, that’s a horse track. It was pretty nice. Beautiful weather to do something like this on the weekend.
To be honest, I never actually considered Lexus. I do love the LS because big luxury sedan, but nothing they made piqued my interest ( I do have to say that the current gen GS is one of the best sports sedans I have ever driven) and the stuff that did or does I couldn’t afford. But this changed my perception..somewhat.
After checking in and getting wristbands, there was a waiting area inside of a tent where you waited with refreshments until being called into an intro presentation of the event by a rather enthusiastic British guy. From there, I was taken out to the main area.There were different tents set up for different activities that were pretty interesting: a city course that lets you experience the LS and ES (both Hybrid and standard);
an autocross course for the LC; a low speed autocross course for the RX and NX, and a final small urban like course for the new UX. Weirdly absent from the event were the IS, GS/GS-F and RC/RC-F (it didn’t surprise me that the GX and LX weren’t there). You would think with something like this they would want to showcase their performance models. But right now it seems that the top of the performance hill is the LC. There was an RC-F on hand, but it was on display and couldn’t be driven. But anyway, here’s my thoughts on the cars.
LS/ES: I drove the ES first. It was a hybrid version. Fantastic quality and luxury inside. It didn’t feel as boring and Camry like as the previous generations did. The hybrid system engaging was seamless. I brought that back after the city course and swapped it for the LS. The LS is AMAZING. Let me say this now: it has one of the most luxurious interiors you can get on a car outside of a Bentley or Rolls and this isn’t an exaggeration. It was a rolling library. This new gen also doesn’t have the old man feel other gens have had. It feels youthful. The V6 also pulls strong. It doesn’t make you miss the V8.
LC: Rolling sex in person. Seriously. It’s gorgeous inside and out in person.The damn car is a rolling concept car inside and out. It looks like something I would have thought of as a boy if I had to imagine what cars would look like in the 2020’s as a boy in the late 90’s.
The 5 liter V8 sounds like an American muscle car too. But honestly, I was underwhelmed by the drive. I was more impressed with the LS and that’s saying something. Autocrossing in it gave me the impression that it’s more of a cruise to Palm Springs or Vegas luxo barge that can handle a couple twisties than an outright performance vehicle, which is what Lexus seems to be trying to sell it as. I wouldn’t buy it new that’s for sure. And used versions seems to be already 20-30k off. I also overheard some of the reps there talking with a guy and apparently there was talk of developing the LC and Supra as platform mates. Weird.
RX/NX/UX: The RX was predictably boring. But a different kind of boring. Like it was boring, but I saw why the damn thing is like the #1 selling luxury crossover (a point the Lexus reps like to make). It was roomy and comfortable and my girlfriend loved it unfortunately.
The NX and UX are a conundrum because honestly both don’t need to exist. It just needs to be one or the other. Interior room between the 2 was so close it made you wonder what was the point? I think Lexus understood this ,which is why they kept pointing out that the U in UX stands for urban, and that it was for city dwellers. There was no explanation for the NX outside of its a smaller sibling to the RX. It’s also why the course they had set up for it showcased the UX’s ease of maneuverability in tight spaces. I came away though honestly kind of interested in the UX because they obviously designed it with younger/Millennial buyers in mind. But it’s under powered 2.0 I4 doesn’t even make 170 horses (169), which makes it slow and only fit for commuter duty. Even worse is that power is routed through a CVT. And in the lower trims, its Toyota cheapness (because it’s pretty much a Toyota hatch from Japan) starts to show through. And by the time you option it to make it Lexus like, it makes more sense to get the slightly bigger and more powerful NX.
Lastly, and this covers all the vehicles, Lexus needs to stop using that damn touch pad control in their cars, it’s terrible and not intuitive at all. For instance, in the LS, I tried to turn on the massaging seat function for the driver’s seat. But, because of the focus on them wanting you to use the touchpad, that means scrolling through menus that group functions together. But the touchpad scrolls too fast, skipping over things that you intend to click on and making you select or turn on things you don’t. So in trying to turn on the massage function for the seat, I missed it and turned on the heating for the steering wheel. But trying to turn the heat off I ended up turning down the ventilated seat. By the time I tried to undo those things and try the massage function, the drive was already over and it was time to get out. It’s something you would have to stop and pull over to figure out. I can say the touchpad does free up buttons on the dash, but that’s a downside as well.
Overall though it was a nice event and I did come away with a better impression of Lexus and would consider one. I wish I would have gotten someone to explain why the F vehicles and the GS/IS weren’t present though. It would have made more sense to autocross a GS-F than a LC.