Alex Conley MediaWorks
Multi-Media Content Creator

Blog

2014 Lexus 350 F-Sport

So, if you are anything like me. You love the idea of a fast 4-door car. It makes you seem like a responsible grown-up while enjoying all the trappings of a 300hp rocket. See, 2-door owners get a bad rep. They are either seen as being in the middle of a midlife crisis or being a boy-racer. Many guilty parties exist in both camps, so the only true way to avoid the entire stereotype? Buy a sports car that is all business on the outside and all fun in the inside.

The Lexus 350 F-sport looks very executive both inside and out. It has all the right bodylines and wears all the proper badging. But, It does not display its sport car nature on the cuff; it quite frankly tucks it all in and waits for you to get behind the wheel to show you what’s in store

Exterior

Love or hate the Lexus grille, its distinctive and sets apart the brand from everything else on the road. Which is a great brand strategy when you consider how watered down the word “luxury” has become. Brands like KIA and Ford even talk about the luxury offered in their lineup of vehicles. Frankly, they do have a point. The modern family sedan can offer you 75% of the amenities you will find in a car costing six-figures more.

What separates the King from the unwashed masses? Well, for car designers it all comes down to attention to detail and radical designs. Something manufacturers can’t afford to do with a beige grocery wagon looking to be sold at bargain basement price. So, I get it and I respect it. But, I am not sure I love it quite yet.

The rest of the sheet metal on the IS350 F-Sport is superb. It simply holds the right balance of attitude and sleekness to make it a future classic.

Performance

Out of all the vehicles I have driven this year. This was the only one that I really wanted to test its RWD variant. But, the stars did not align and we were given the AWD model. I have probably driven more AWD cars than anything else in my life. So, I know what to expect and the grip levels were impressive from the jump.

That was the problem. I wanted to get the car loose and hold it on the edge of its handling limits. With an AWD vehicle, the limit is about as fun as riding a stationary bike. Take a turn too fast and the car will understeer like crazy and you will track off the race line in a very predictable and neutral manner.

The 306hp V6 is a potent and great sounding engine. It develops power like any other V6; you gotta hit the revs in order to wake it up. The star of this whole ensemble is the very well tuned suspension. Everything is balanced and it even handles Michigan potholes like a champ

Final Words

The 350F-Sport was one of my favorite sedans. It is equipped to be a versatile daily driver that is far away from boring. The 3.5L V6 is a good performer and the suspension is great. We would like to see a bit more power in the future model years, specifically in the AWD variant. The driveline losses and added weight deserve an extra 40hp to 50hp over the RWD version. The interior is well done for its class and it has all the gadgets you need and not one button more. Interior space is going to be comfortable, but don’t expect four full-sized adults to be happy on a long road trip. Just remember that with all sports cars, passengers are optional.

Alex ConleyComment
2016 Lexus RX350

The 2016 Lexus RX350 is a significant update the already popular RX lineup. Most notably, the emergence of the “spindle grill” which updates the looks of the RX to match the rest of the Lexus sedan offerings. Love it or hate it, to me it gives a bit of attitude to an SUV market that can be downright boring. But, does the RX350 provide enough new pizzazz to produce similar sales numbers of past RX models?

Exterior

The exterior of the RX350 is for sure eye-catching, but the spindle grill is a bit overdone in my opinion. The edgy and sporty feel of the Lexus sedans does not translate well to the SUV chassis. I think the previous model year struck the perfect balance of brand recognition without a simple copy-paste adaptation of the sedans front grill. That being said, the rest of the RX350 has been modernized accordingly, providing fresh styling and a bit more edginess to one of the brand's top sellers. If you are looking for a bit more look and style, the F-Sport trim option offers an even more aggressive front grill and headlights, plus other sporty styling cues.

Interior

The interior treatment is all very classically Lexus. You have your handy-dandy mouse type mater control with force feedback . The entertainment system was easy to navigate and sounds crisp, but nothing to really write home about. Its interior is almost too good to deserve the ground up animal crackers and apple juice spills it will encounter. But, for the adults the leather is plush and the ergonomics are just right for long road trips.

Powerplant

I am relieved that this vehicle has a proper gearbox and not some CVT nonsense. The power is properly put down though an 8-speed automatic transmission with push button 4-wheel drive. A slight increase in horsepower makes the RX350 feel snappy and spirited, but still far from being described as sporty. Overall, its a good balance of fuel economy and power at 16/26 mpg. If you desire a hybrid option the RX450H might be the right choice for you, of course it will cost you a little bit more upfront as well.

Final

I really like the RX350 overall, the upgraded space and power handle common issues I had with previous model years. The edgy redesign is half good and half bad, but without a doubt distinctive and edgy. If I had a small family the RX350 would be a vehicle I would highly consider.

Alex ConleyComment
2016 Hyundai Azera Limited

Hyundai has been producing fantastic automobiles for a while now. Gone are the days of the regrettable econo-boxes, made for people on the most limited of budgets. Hyundai has proven that great cars can be made at an affordable price, without sacrificing safety or luxury when compared to other brands. Most of us who pay attention to the automobile market understand this, the general public....not so much.

The Azera has all the qualities of a Luxury sedan and it competes well with the competition, but the sales are not optimal. I wish I could come up with a fancy explanation as to why, but it really comes down to ignorance of the brand. Not enough people have owned or even driven the Azera to form an opinion for the good, which is a shame.

download (1).jpg

The Azera is awesome, but awesome on a budget. The model we tested came in a just a hair over $40,000, not exactly cheap. But, when compared to offerings from other manufacturers, its clear that the Azera is a steal. I honestly can't walk away from this vesicle and feel justified paying more for the same amenities in another brand.

To be fair, no....its not on the level of a BMW, Mercedes or Lexus in the handling or power department. But, when you compare the Azera to vehicles in its class, it comes away looking better and better. Not to mention you are getting something new and exciting in the looks department without the big money label attached to it.

Alex ConleyComment