Thoroughly redesigned Lexus IS, all-new Lexus LC Convertible for 2021.
More standard active safety features on several models in the lineup.
Black Line Special Edition trim added to select Lexus models.
There 2020 calendar year has been difficult for all manufacturers, but luxury brand Lexus outperformed the industry average, even if it capped off the year with sales decrease compared with the year before.
Nonetheless, things are moving along with new products unveiled during 2020 and more on the way, in addition to more electrified models for the North American market. By 2025, Lexus will introduce 10 models equipped with either plug-in hybrid, fully electric and even hydrogen fuel cell powertrains. For now, here’s what to expect from the Lexus brand in 2021.
The Lexus IS sedan is one of two new or redesigned models introduced for 2021, which received new sheetmetal and a reworked interior, while during on the same platform and keeping the same powertrains as before. The IS with rear-wheel drive is equipped with a turbocharged 2.0L inline-four developing 241 horsepower, while the AWD variant moves up to a 3.5L V6 with 260 hp. The IS 350 with RWD or AWD also relies on the V6 engine, but with an output of 311 horsepower, and the IS’ suspension has been returned for sportier driving dynamics. The cabin benefits from new trim choices and an available 10.3-inch infotainment screen in addition to a 17-speakers Mark Levinson sound system.
Meanwhile, the Lexus ES gains optional all-wheel drive for the first time, which is matched with a 2.5L inline-four that develops 203 horsepower in the ES 250 AWD. As before, the ES 350 is equipped with a 302-hp 3.5L V6 and the ES 300h includes a hybrid system consisting of a 2.5L four and an electric motor for a combined output of 215 horsepower. Also new for 2021 is the ES 350 Black Line Special Edition with a specific finish and a Zero Halliburton luggage set, while more active safety features are fitted as standard on certain ES trim packages.
The Lexus GS and its high-performance GS F counterpart were discontinued after the 2020 model year, leaving the ES as the only midsize sedan offering in the lineup.
The full-size Lexus LS receives a mid-cycle refresh with suspension tuning for a more comfortable ride, while the LS 500’s 416-horsepower, twin-turbo 3.5L V6 gets reshaped pistons for lower emissions and noise when the engine is cold, and the 10-speed automatic has been reprogrammed as well. The LS 500h’s hybrid powertrain that includes a 3.5L V6 has been tweaked for more electric power during accelerating, while retaining its combined output of 354 hp. The cabin features new materials, revised seats, more touchpoint padding and new colour schemes, along with a new 12.3-inch infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration as well as Amazon Alexa compatibility.
The brand offers coupe models, one of which is the compact Lexus RC, which offers a Black Line Special Edition for 2021 that includes specific trim and custom Zero Halliburton Luggage. The standard feature list now rounds up blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, along with heated auto-dimming outside mirrors and a new paint colour called Grecian Water. The RC 300 RWD (not available in Canada) is equipped with a 241-horesepower turbo 2.0L four, the RC 300 AWD gets a 260-hp 3.5L V6, and the RC 350 RWD/AWD variants relies on a 311-horsepower V6.
The high-performance Lexus RC F receives styling updates and more active safety features along with a limited-run Fuji Speedway Edition. It’s equipped with a naturally aspirated 5.0L V8 that develops 472 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque, while the Fuji Speedway Edition—of which only 60 units will be produced—gets Brembo Carbon Ceramic brakes, a titanium exhaust and carbon fibre aerodynamic add-ons, along with a weight reduction allowing for a 0 to 60 mph (0-96 km/h) time of 3.96 seconds.
The full-size Lexus LC coupe receives the same powertrain and suspension enhancements as the LS sedan, while adding Active Cornering Assist for enhancing handling characteristics, two new paint colours (Cadmium Orange and Nori Green Pearl) and new alloy wheel designs. There Circuit Red interior scheme replaces Rioja Red, while the Bespoke White Leather package has been discontinued, and Android Auto integration is now offered. The LC 500 gets a 5.0L V8 with 471 horsepower, while the LC 500h features a hybrid powertrain with a combined output of 354 hp. There are rumours of a 2022 Lexus LC F with a twin-turbo V8 engine, but nothing confirmed yet from the luxury brand.
The Lexus LC Convertible is the second new model for 2021, offered in a single LC 500 trim level with a 471-horsepower 5.0L V8 engine. The LC boasts a power-folding soft top that can be lowered in about 15 seconds and raised in 16, and can be operated while the car is moving at speeds of up to 31 mph or 50 km/h.
On the crossover side of things, the subcompact Lexus UX is once again available as the UX 200 with a 169-horsepower 2.0L four, and as the hybrid and all-wheel-drive UX 250h with a combined output of 181 horsepower. The 2021 model year brings the addition of Android Auto integration, paint colour changes and more standard active safety features, while a UX 250h Black Line Special Edition is available with unique trim and custom Zero Halliburton Luggage.
Like many other models in the brand’s lineup, the 2021 Lexus NX is now equipped as standard with blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, along with some paint colour changes. The NX 300 features a turbocharged 2.0L four with 235 horsepower, while the NX 300h combines a 2.5L four with electric motors for a total output of 194 hp. AWD is optional on the NX 300 in the U.S., standard in the NX 300h, while the Canadian market gets all-wheel drive on every NX. A Black Line Special Edition trim is offered on the NX 300h. An all-new NX might be revealed in 2021 as a 2022 model.
For 2021, the midsize Lexus RX receives standard blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, power-folding and auto-dimming outside mirrors, available wireless phone charging and a new interior colour scheme called Glazed Caramel. The RX 350, in FWD and AWD guise in the U.S., features a 3.5L V6 with 295 horsepower, while the all-wheel-drive RX 450h boasts a combined 308 hp with its hybrid powertrain. The slightly longer, three-row RX 350L and RX 450hL variants offer room for up to seven passengers. A Black Line Special Edition trim is offered on the two-row RX 350 (U.S. and Canada) and RX 450h (U.S. only).
After a moderate refresh for the 2020 model year, the Lexus GX rolls into 2021 with minor equipment and package changes, along with the addition of Amazon Alexa compatibility. The body-on-frame GX 460 relies on a 4.6L V8 engine that develops 301 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque, in addition to a four-wheel drive system, good for a towing capacity of 6,500 pounds or 2,947 kilograms.
The full-size Lexus LX SUV is also back for 2021 with the addition of Amazon Alexa compatibility, Nori Green paint and Glazed Caramel interior, while the available Sport package has been revised—while Canada gets a slightly different variant called the Black Line Sport Edition. The LX 570 features a 5.7L V8 that develops 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque, in addition to a four-wheel drive system, allowing for a maximum tow rating of 7,000 pounds or 3,175 kilograms. An all-new LX is said to be in the works for the 2022 model year, and it might be introduced sometime in 2021.