30th June 2008

Lexus IS facelift (2009): the spy photos


Lexus will relaunch the IS compact exec with a facelifted version in autumn 2008. Expect to see the new saloon in the third quarter, which points to an unveiling at the Paris motor show 2008. 

This isn’t a big facelift, with only some minor visual tweaks centering on the front end – hence the disguise around this prototype’s snout. It’s the sort of facelift where the indicators move to the door mirrors, that sort of minor detail shuffling.

Lexus IS facelift: the new engines

Lexus will also revise the range structure, with a simpler model ladder and we hear the current range of engines (a 2.5- and 5.0-litre petrol, plus 2.2-litre turbodiesel) will be only lightly revised.

Although every other Lexus model range now includes a hybrid, there are no plans for a petrol-electric IS just yet. However, CAR Online understands that a folding hard-top IS convertible is very much on the cards.

The IS is the mainstay of Lexus’s UK range, selling around 8000 units a year. Expect prices to stick close to today’s range of £24,000 to £51,000 for the madcap IS-F.

Click here to see CAR Online’s video of the IS-F in action against the BMW M3 saloon and Mercedes C63 AMG.

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30th June 2008

Herbert wins one for his boys

Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals
Summit Motorsports Park, Norwalk, Ohio

Top Fuel: Doug Herbert, who lost his two sons in a traffic accident earlier this year, earned his first win of the season, finally achieving his goal of winning one “For My Boys.” Herbert, who had lost 12 times in 14 races with Brandon Bernstein, won this one on a holeshot, 4.63, 311.70 mph to 4.61, 313.58 mph.

Funny Car: Tony Pedregon defeated low qualifier Robert Hight in the final with a pass of 4.88 seconds, 306.26 mph. Pedregon, who defeated Ron Capps in the semifinals, took over second place in the standings, 151 points behind Tim Wilkerson.

Pro Stock: Greg Anderson kept the event and his car sponsor happy by defeating Larry Morgan with a pass of 6.074, 206.04 mph. Anderson, driver of the Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac GXP, earned his 55th career win and is the leader in the points standings with a 52-point edge over Kurt Johnson.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: Hector Arana, who had not reached a final since 1997, finally collected his first career victory, defeating Craig Treble. Arana, who was the No. 13 qualifier on his Lucas Oil Buell, defeated No. 4 Matt Guidera, No. 5 Matt Smith, and No. 1 Eddie Krawiec en route to the final.

Full results can be found here. Read more about the event here.

– Michele Vincze

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30th June 2008

2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

I’m a sucker for fuel-efficient, moderately-sized-yet-totally-spacious, attractive-looking cars. The 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid delivers on all fronts. That’s a good thing, because with high gas prices, a budget to stick to, a wild toddler, a new baby on the way, a dog, a husband, a personal belief that style matters, and lots of accessories to tote around, I need all the vehicular help I can get.

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30th June 2008

TTAC Called It: Toyota to Hike Prices

First, this was an easy call. Commodity costs have jumped significantly in the last year, eating into Toyota’s– and everyone else’s– profits. Second, as the new world leader, ToMoCo is best positioned to pass on those costs. Quoted by Automotive News [sub] CEO Carlos Ghosn admitted as much. “It’s very, very difficult to move in a market without somehow the leader of the market (making a) move.” Third, you gotta read between the lines here. “Our basic principle is to continue to work on cost reductions within the company first,” said Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco. “But we won’t be able to avoid thinking about price hikes in the future considering a recent jump in raw materials costs.” How… inscrutable. As I reported in General Motors Death Watch 182, here’s real deal: Toyota wants to see what happens to the other guys– specifically GM– before upping its profits. “We’ll make a final decision after evaluating April-June sales and production costs,” a “top Toyota official” told The Nikkei business daily. 

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30th June 2008

Daily Podcast: Off-Topic







Back when we started the TTAC news blog, I posted an item about the Maine DMV issuing drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants. The site took a real beating from our proto-Best and Brightest for entering the realm of partisan politics. Frank Williams and I paused, thought about it, and pressed ahead. As long as a post had something to do with cars, we considered it fair game. Still do. And I’m glad we did. In the last week alone, I’ve read (and enjoyed) dozens of passionate discussions about politics, religion, free speech, foreign policy, economics, energy policy, international trade, sexual morality and much more. ALL of it car-related. All of it respectful. That’s no small point. Although I’ve banned some 300+ commentators from this site and warned hundreds more, I have only deleted two commentaires flambé in the last 14 days. Clearly, we’ve reached a tipping point. We’ve succeeded in creating a safe place for vigorous, car-related debate. As this long hot summer continues, as the U.S. car industry undergoes paroxysms of change, I commend our Best and Brightest for keeping it real, keeping it civil and keeping us– all of us– entertained. Thanks.

[As always, please report objectionable comments to robert.farago@thetruthaboutcars.com.]

Listen Now:

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30th June 2008

Feds Looking Into Mandatory Breathalizers

Eric Peters’ blog at the National Motorists Association explores efforts to make breathalyzers mandatory on all U.S vehicles. Peters zeros-in on the Driver Alcohol Detection System For Safety (DADSS), a $10m taxpayer-funded partnership between the  industry-funded Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. DADSS is hot for new, “less intrusive” breathalyzers; specifically gizmos that measure blood alcohol content (BAC) through the driver’s skin (via steering wheel-mounted sensors). While acknowledging America’s 9k annual drunk driving deaths, Peters is not pleased at the prospect of treating every motorist like a convicted drunk driver, He’s also displeased that consumers would be expected to shoulder the additional costs of this new “standard equipment.” More proof that freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

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