2015 Lexus RC F
Now stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Lexus, known for purveying ultra-plush luxury, is now stepping into the performance ring. Okay, so it’s not their first, or even second attempt to shed the soft image for a harder-core one. But, will the results be any different? Let’s hit the track in the new Lexus RC F and find out.
So up until now, Lexus performance, with the exception of the limited production and very exotic LFA, has been more like a karate chop at a gun fight. But this 2015 Lexus RC F coupe just might even the odds.
Indeed, after 3-days of relentless round-da-rounds at the hands of our test team, we can say the RC F definitely has the goods to take on a road course; impressing all of our drivers with a great V8 bark, and nimble chassis bite to back it up.
That V8 is a 5.0-liter with roots that go back to the IS F sedan. Much tweaking has been done since then however, and output is now 467-horsepower and 389 lb-ft. of torque.
As a rear driver only, the transmission is a beefed up, 8-speed direct shift automatic that worked very well through Roebling Road’s nine turns, even when left in straight-up auto mode.
While clearly based on the RC 350, Lexus claims that 70% of the RC F’s suspension componentry is new or updated.
Another value added feature is the available torque vectoring rear differential that makes a huge impact on both the RC F’s performance and personality, helping put maximum power to the pavement in corners when in Track mode. Left in Standard mode, it feels like an entirely different vehicle that likes to power-on oversteer more than cling to an apex.
At around 4,000-pounds, the RC F is certainly no lightweight. But it feels and responds much lighter. Through the corners, the bolstered RC F sport seats kept our drivers squarely in place. Yet, they still delivered the comfort that Lexus owners demand.
Though overall highly capable, we could do with less initial understeer at turn-ins. And, the quietness of the RC F’ proficiency makes it less exciting to drive than we’d hoped.
But, those are nitpicks. If there’s one significant weak point, it’s the brakes. Initially they felt great. But after only a few laps, they grew soft and uninspiring.
Off the turns, and on the straight, this raucous V8 also proved its metal. It loves to rev. There’s not as big a hit of torque right off the line as you might expect, but rather a nice build that gets you fast rather quickly. 0 to 60 takes just 4.4-seconds.
Despite relying on a true automatic for transmission duties and not a sequential manual; shifts are quick and smooth, with power mostly uninterrupted. Helping us clear the ¼ in 12.8-seconds at 114 miles-per-hour.
Body enhancements galore certainly make the RC F a stand out. There are plenty of both air inlets and outlets, an active rear wing, optional carbon fiber roof, and stacked exhaust tips that give the hind quarters a truly maniacal look.
Its stance is both wider and lower than the RC 350, and you have a choice among 3-different 19-inch wheel patterns. Tire width is staggered, with 255/35s up front and 275/35s in back.
Despite the comfy seats, the overall interior comes off tighter than a typical Lexus buyer would be accustomed to. But, then, this is everything but a typical Lexus. Still, the usual leather coverings, high quality materials, and high-tech niceties are mostly included.
An F-specific gauge set alters screens depending on driving mode, and the multi-information-display hosts a wealth of info including lap times and even rear wing position.
Now, the real bonus. Even with all of its track prowess, the RC F is also a pleasant street car. The ride is never harsh, and great chassis response means you don’t have to be driving super-fast to enjoy yourself. Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 16-City, 25-Highway, and 19-Combined.
RC F pricing starts at $63,325. That undercuts the benchmark BMW M4 by about 2-grand.
And the F story certainly won’t end here, as Lexus recently debuted a bigger and badder GS F Sedan at the North American International Auto Show.
But, back to the M4. The 2015 Lexus RC F may be a bit cheaper, but is it also a close contender? Well, we think it is surprisingly close on the street, and yes, on the track as well. Who ever thought we would say that! And that is just how far Lexus performance has come.
- Engine: 5.0 liter
- Horsepower: 467
- Torque: 389 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 4.4 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 12.8 seconds @ 114 mph
- EPA: 16 mpg city/ 25 mpg highway
2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid
Crossed Up Corolla Gets More Efficient
Toyota offers a hybrid powertrain in just about everything they make, so it did seem odd that last year, when they debuted an all-new SUV version of their long-time best-selling Corolla, a hybrid was nowhere to be found. Well, it didn’t take long for Toyota to correct that situation, delivering this Corolla Cross Hybrid for 2023.
With prices for everything seemingly going up daily, we can all use a little more cost efficiency in our lives. That’s a mission that Toyota has been undertaking for some time now and continues to do it with this 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid.
The Alabama-built Corolla Cross arrived just last year as Toyota’s attempt to bring their best-selling nameplate into the SUV era, and give them an additional entry into the most popular automotive segment going right now, small crossovers.
There are some RAV4 styling cues here, but the Corolla Cross is mostly its own deal, and the Hybrid is more than just a fuel efficient option, it has added performance too. So, it’s offered only in Toyota’s S line of trims S, SE, and XSE, where the standard Corolla Cross is available in base L, LE, and XLE.
There are some differences outside, most notably unique front and rear fasicas; the front with a much more aggressive look, with larger grille and blacked-out trim.
Black trim and logos in back too, along with a redesigned bumper; plus, you can optionally go 2-tone by adding black paint to the roof.
Great packaging has it feeling roomier inside than most small 5-seat utes, straddling the line between subcompact and compact. And seats are way more comfortable than your typical urban-minded utility.
In fact, the entire interior feels quite upscale, and the layout will be very familiar to those stepping up from an actual Corolla.
Those who put off buying a Corolla Cross until now will be rewarded with upgraded infotainment, as all Hybrid’s will come with Toyota’s latest 8-inch touchscreen multimedia system standard.
The Hybrid’s small battery is located under the rear seat, so there’s minimal loss of rom, with a good 21.5 cubic-ft. of cargo space available; expanding to 61.8 with rear seatbacks folded.
Getting to the heart of the matter, the Corolla Cross Hybrid’s fuel-sipping ways are courtesy of the 5th generation of Toyota’s Hybrid System which outputs a combined 196-horsepower through its trio of electric motors and naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine. One of those motors operating strictly the rear axle for standard all-wheel-drive.
At our test track, there was a nice little chirp of the tires off the line, but that’s where the excitement ended.
So while a 7.5-second trip to 60 may not raise your blood pressure, it’s a full 3-seconds quicker than the standard Corolla Cross we tested last year. We’ll take that!
CVT automatic means engine revs and engine noise both hang relatively high throughout the whole ¼-mile, which took us 15.6-seconds to complete, finishing at a reasonable 90 miles-per-hour.
The Hybrid also gets a “sport-tuned” suspension, and indeed it felt light and nimble through our cone course, very neutral too, with no noticeable understeer or oversteer. Steering was light but still provided good feedback. With some grippier tires, this would certainly give the best handlers in the segment a run for their money.
But the real reward comes in Government Fuel Economy Ratings which are 45-City, 38-Highway, and 42-Combined. We averaged a great 43.3 miles-per-gallon of Regular; that’s a 40% increase over the 30.9 miles-per-gallon we averaged in the standard Corolla Cross last year.
But, that does come at a cost, though it’s difficult to make direct comparisons with separate trim families, but pricing starts at $29,320 for the Hybrid, about 3-grand over a base all-wheel-drive non-hybrid. Top XSE comes in at $32,400.
As influential as Toyota is in spreading the hybrid doctrine, it was indeed odd that the Corolla Cross arrived last year without a hybrid option. Smartly, it didn’t take them long to right that wrong, as it was always part of the plan, and the Corolla Cross has benefitted from it greatly. The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is not just more efficient, it’s more capable, and a much better small utility all around.
- Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
- Horsepower: 196
- 0-60 mph: 7.5-seconds
- MW Fuel Economy: 43.3 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: e-CVT
- Torque: 139 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 15.6-seconds at 90 mph
- EPA: 45-City, 38-Highway, and 42-Combined