Lexus arms for luxury battle with updated CT, new crossover

Lexus has zoomed back into the race with its German competitors for the luxury sales crown that it once owned. But it’s not even close to matching the breadth of the product offerings that Mercedes-Benz and BMW, as well as fast-growing Audi, have shoveled into the U.S.

In the next few years, Lexus will fill some of the holes, with a rethought entry-level CT, a new three-row crossover above the RX and even a high-zoot coupe at the top of its lineup.

CT: Since this car is largely based on the Toyota Prius, a redesigned CT should follow the upcoming fourth-generation Prius and go on sale in 2016 as a 2017 model. This means it also will ride on Toyota‘s new TNGA modular platform. Given the recent onslaught of entry-level luxury sedans (Mercedes CLA, the upcoming BMW 1 series, Audi’s new A3 and the re-engineered Acura ILX), the CT could switch from its hatchback layout to a sedan.

IS: In 2016, the outdated 2.5-liter V-6 in the rear-wheel-drive IS 250 will be kicked to the curb in favor of a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, while the IS 350 will keep its V-6. An aesthetic freshening will follow in 2017 before a full redesign in 2019.

ES: This car gets a light freshening for the 2016 model year, details of which were revealed at April’s Shanghai auto show. As with the Toyota Avalon that the ES is based on, the V-6 sticks around, as it will when the ES is redesigned in 2019 and switches to Toyota’s modular platform.

RC: New for 2015, the RC 350 and RC F are based on a mix of the GS, IS and previous-generation IS convertible. The RC 350 comes with a 3.5-liter V-6, while the RC F packs a 5.0-liter V-8 that it will share with the upcoming GS F.

The GS F, packing a 5.0-liter V-8, will go on sale by the end of 2015.


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