2016 Best Drives: Sharp Dressed Ride Lexus RC Coupe

Recently I have the opportunity to sample two impressive models from the Lexus RC portfolio. Both the RC 200t with the F sport package and the RC 350 with rear wheels drive. With the exception of the limited edition mega dollar super car the LFA, the Lexus brand has never offered such dramatically styled and beautiful vehicles as the 2016 RC series. It is worthy of one of the top drives of 2016 awards.

Now in its second year, the luxury sports coupe gets two new engines, broadening its appeal as an alternative to to folks shopping for a BMW 4 Series a Cadillac ATS or the A5 from Audi. Unlike previous Lexus coupes like the SC 400 from the 1990s, along with awkward styled SC 430  convertible. the 2016 Lexus RC emphasizes performance over comfortable grand touring.

It’s one of the most expressively styled Lexus cars to come along in decades, filling a gap in the Lexus lineup to entice younger, well-heeled buyers  who are seeking a 4-passenger premium sports coupe. While there’s a Lexus RC available in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (RWD, AWD) for just about anybody, the truly power-hungry will want the V8-powered monster known as the RC F.

It used to be that to get Lexus levels of reliability you had to sacrifice personality. One look at the 2016 RC tells you those days are long gone, and this aggressively styled luxury-sports coupe has the goods and the attitude discerning buyers demand, all starting in the mid-$40,000s.

The 2016 RC is definitely snug, but it’s comfortable, at least up front. There are four seatbelts, but in reality the rear seat is way too small for most adults, but is fine for small kids or an occasional adult passenger. Up front is a much different story. The seats are comfortable in all trims and feature extra bolstering in RC Sport and RC F models. With the 7-inch display, rounded dashboard and angled audio/climate control interface, the dash is busy but a wonderful place like the rest of interior to spend time..

While it’s great that Lexus is pushing its styling envelope, not everyone loves the new direction. In fact, it’s a little hard to believe this wild-looking luxury coupe is a Lexus at all, which may be the point. For the most part I think it works  great here. The angles and muscular bulges are eye-catching at the very least, and give this coupe a distinctive look compared to its European and American competitors,  Everywhere I drove around the Orlando Fl area I got nothing but positive feedback from people from all age and demographic groups.. From the Lexus “spindle” grille to the fins on the sides paying tribute to LFA super car, and other details, there’s nothing else like it on the road especially at this price range.

The 2016 RC comes as nicely equipped as you’d expect of a luxury-sports coupe. There are standard automatic climate control, a self-dimming rearview mirror, and an infotainment system with a 7-inch display screen, rearview camera, and Lexus Enform Service Connect service. The 10-speaker audio system includes HD Radio, dual USB inputs and Bluetooth streaming with Eyes Free iPhone integration.  My test drive the four cylinder 200t RC was equipped with the optional F sport package which gets get standard variable suspension and Sport+ driving mode plus heated and ventilated front seats, a suspension tuned for higher performance, and a power-adjust steering wheel.

The options list starts with a navigation system that uses a touch-pad controller and includes an upgraded Enform suite with services such as Yelp, Pandora and stock prices. There are also heated/ventilated front seats, a leather interior, heated steering wheel and a moonroof. The Mark Levinson premium audio system makes even your iPod or bluetooth streaming digital device sound quite good.Advanced safety features include blind-spot monitoring and a pre-collision system that can automatically brake the car.

For one week I was treated with the 200t RC with the great F Sport package. Thos vehicle is propelled by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 241 horsepower along 258 lb-ft of torque. It delivers 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. The F sport package gives you access to the Sport + driving mode along with great deal of suspension tuning making the entry-level RC is a hoot to drive. Without the V6 engine under hood the weight savings add a playful feeling that was absent in the RC 350  model that I also drove for a week.

My other Lexus test drive for a week was the RC 350 with Rear wheel drive with a bit more power, but not much.  With two different incarnations of the 3.6 liter V-6 lineup my test vehicle put out 255 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque.  So it loses some torque bt gains a ew ponies over the turbo for an  EPA city/highway fuel economy of: 19/26 mpg

Like the ZZ Top song “Sharp Dressed Man: written and performed by good friend Billy F Gibbons the RC series is a sharp dressed ride and one of best of 2016.

You can’t go wrong with any model in the lineup. I hope one of the days I get to sample the V-8 powered RC F.

The Long Drive Rankings The RC 350 and RC 200T

Front Engine-RWD 8 speed automatic

Highlights

Styling

Performance

Stereo System

Navigation

Lowlights

Snug interior for some

 

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 9
Interior styling and quality 9

Handling 9

Braking 7
Fuel Economy 6
Stereo System 9

Performance 8
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 7

Navigation 9
Audio System 9

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2016 Best Drives: The Sexy Cat Jaguar F Type R

A rare combination that only happens a few times  in ones lifetime is in my driveway. A vehicle that is both memorizing to look at and a magic carpet ride to drive. A while back, I sampled the 2015 Jaguar F Type R coupe and loved every minute of my time behind the wheel. Recently, for my birthday week, I had the pleasure of sampling the updated 2016 F Type R Coupe and I am blown away.

Everywhere I went in the greater Orlando FL area, people were waving at me, blinking their headlights and giving me thumbs up. Let’s begin with the sound of its 5.0 liter supercharged 550 Horsepower V-8 engine. Switch the F Type into Dynamic mode or flip a switch on the center console and you will be rewarded with the most glorious exhaust note in the entire automotive world.

This beautiful British Royal princess burbles like a NASCAR V-8 being tuned in a Daytona garage, snorts like an exotic Ferrari on steroids and generally raises cane all over town, An automotive radio talk host colleague of mine says “Oh, its too loud”, he could not be more wrong. I feel like a 5 year old on Christmas morning when it makes this glorious “snap, crackle, Boom” sound and it’s legal straight from the factory. I had people in an auto body repair shop running outside to see the motorcycle that was revving its engine. No, that’s no Motor Cycle that’s the F Type R.

For 2016, F Type receives a number of serious updates including standard all wheel drive in the R. On the street, that translates into mash the accelerator pedal and you will launch to sixty in 3.9 seconds or less. Accelerate hard into a corner no worries the power is at all 4 wheels and a suite of electronic aids including an active rear differential and electronic-assisted power steering make it a breeze. The F Type R for 2016 makes a bad driver good and a good driver a super hero and is simply a joy to drive.

The design penned by the brilliant Ian Callum is the automotive equivalent of a super model. It is beautiful from any and all angles

The driver-orientated cockpit of the 2016 Jaguar F-Type separates the passenger and driver with a wide console, and provides a left-hand grip for the passenger. The coupe’s high roof means good headroom even for tall folks, plus adequate legroom, too. Drivers get a large, visually sharper TFT display between the two gauges, with orange paddle shifters, a start button, and Dynamic mode selector on some models.

The infotainment touch screen’s simple interface conveys what you want to know, without the “Tokyo by night” neon overkill so common in today’s vehicles. The beautifully assembled interior boasts stitched leather throughout, including the headliner in coupes. Jaguar Smart Key and a 14-way power driver’s seat are new this year, as is the panoramic glass roof on the coupes.

My test vehicle was equipped with a $12,000 carbon-ceramic matrix brake upgrade. It was my first weeklong exposure to these exotic brakes optional on Porsche and a few other brands. Now I get what the fuss is all about. The Carbon Ceramic brakes provide not only shorter stopping distances but also zero brake fade even after numerous high-speed stops. There are worth every penny. If you can afford the Jaguar F Type R Coupe what is another 12 grand on the bottom line?

The 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 that resides under its glorious hood puts out 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 15-mpg city and 23 highway. During my week I averaged low 20’s MPG remarkable for this kind of power and performance. The 8 speed automatic is lightning fast and perfectly matched to the engine.

Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls, this is one of the finest cars in the world at ANY price. Speaking of price my loaded F Type R Coupe came in at a little over $128,000. If you can afford it buy it, and if you can’t start buying a few lottery tickets and start saving up for a ride of a lifetime.

Now I can’t wait to sample the new ultimate F Type the SVR for 2017

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-AWD 8 speed automatic

Highlights

Styling

Performance

Stereo System

AWD

Lowlights

Cost

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 10

Interior styling and quality 9

Handling 9

Braking 10
Fuel Economy 5
Stereo System 10

Performance 10
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Navigation 9

The original Crossover Vehicle is still the Best…. Lexus RX-450H All New for 2016

By Bob Long

The Lexus RX is the crossover that started a whole new category of vehicle when first introduced in 1998.   The first generation RX 300 laid the ground work for one of hottest segments in the car buying world today the luxury crossover vehicle.

For the 2016 model year The Lexus RX is all-new.. Now in its 4th generation, this mid size luxury crossover features a bold new exterior design, revamped interior, and a bump in power over its predecessor. The vehicle has grown slightly and offers a lot of cool features.

Over the years the RX has become the Lexus brands best-selling vehicle and a benchmark for rivals such as the MDX from Acura, Mercedes GLE, Cadillac SRX  and the MKX from Lincoln.  My test vehicle of the week is a beautiful front wheel drive RX 450 H which combines a powerful  V-6 gasoline engine with electric hybrid drive for great fuel economy.

Styling wise Lexus calls the new  2016 RX as a “dramatic re-imagining”of the benchmark crossover.  In fact it is both bold and aggressive from many angles.  Keeping in step with the rest of Lexus lineup the RX wears the brands signature spindle” grille up front, fluid headlight housings with LED lights, a high belt line, and the 2016 RX’s most divisive element: a flowing, blacked-out C-pillar behind the rear windows. This element makes the Lexus’ roof appear to float. You’ll like it or you won’t. Personally I like the look of the new RX but admit some will find the RX face a bit polarizing.

There are many different favors of the RX but was great to sample the hybrid model for a week.  On the road the RX 450h hybrid model is super smooth and almost imperceptibly switches between gasoline and electric power.  The 450h hybrid pairs a 3.5-liter V6 with a battery-electric powertrain. Like a standard Prius, no plugging in is required, but premium unleaded gasoline is recommended. The 2016 RX 450h has total output of 308 horsepower and delivers great mpg numbers. The  gasoline engine alone cranks out 267 lb-ft of torque.  EPA  city mileage is rated at an impressive 31 MPG with a highway rating of 30 MPG.  Sticker price of my loaded RX450H model came to $60.359.00

Inside the all new RX-450H is great place to spend time.  Beautiful craftsmanship combined with is own unique style. One of the biggest changes for the new 2016 model is gear selector placement, which abandons its long-held position in the center dash to a more traditional spot in the console below. This opens space in the dash for easy-to-access climate and audio controls. The mouse controller just south of the gear selector is easier to operate. The seats are great, and there is plenty of legroom in back.  Cargo space is very impressive, with over 18 cubic feet behind the rear seats. That number expands to over 56 cubic feet with rear seats folded.

The Lexus RX has always been well-equipped, and the latest model is no different. My loaded 450H had the very cool huge 12.3-inch infotainment display, a heated steering wheel, heated/ventilated front seats, the touch-free tailgate, navigation, a treat for audiophiles like myself in the exquisite upgraded Mark Levinson audio system.  My vehicle also had a full color heads up display and the world first  Touch-Free Back Door option makes it go presto by merely placing a hand near the Lexus badge.

Driving the RX 450H is a real pleasure even if you are not hybrid fan. This is one of the best systems out there in the automotive world.  The RX-450H is smooth operator at all speeds much as they have been in previous generations.  The vehicle is: comfortable, quiet and confident. This is an SUV for those who long for a soft ride and serenity, vs. drivers who prefer blasts down twisty roads accompanied by a roaring exhaust note.  Lexus does offer an F Sport model for a more sporty flavor and sheer performance.

Bottom line if you are in the market for a five passenger high fuel economy luxury crossover SUV the all new 2018 Lexus RH-45oH is a grand slam home run.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-FWD 

 

Highlights

Styling

Luxury Features

Comfort

Fuel economy

 

Lowlights

60K may seem like a lot but is not in 2016

Bold Like it or not front grille

 

Scale 1 low-10 High

Exterior Styling 8

Interior styling and quality 9

Handling 7

Braking 6

Fuel Economy 10

Audio System 9

Performance 6

Trunk-Cargo Capacity 10

Navigation   8