There was a time, in the not so distant past, when Japanese luxury cars didn’t exist. Then, in 1986, Honda changed that with the introduction of Acura. The first Japanese luxury car brand, those Acura models caused quite a sensation. In fact, in its early years, Acura outsold both BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Following closely on Acura’s heels came Lexus and Infiniti from Toyota and Nissan. Both of those bowed in 1989. Flash-forward to 2015, all three marques market a full range of cars, along with crossovers and SUVs. Here’s a listing of all the Japanese luxury cars for 2015.
2015 Japanese Luxury Cars
Acura’s RLX flagship offers just about every state of the art tech feature available today. Standard equipment includes a surround audio system, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, keyless start and a multi view rear camera system. Options include lane keep assist, smart cruise control, voice recognition, and collision mitigation. Power comes from a 310-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6, with 272 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. Acura also offers an all-wheel drive hybrid version of the RLX for 2015, although it’s designated a 2014 model. Pricing starts at $48,450 for the standard RLX, $59,950 for the hybrid.
Replacing TSX and TL in Acura’s lineup, the 2015 Acura TLX is the marque’s mid-sized offering. Presented with a choice of two engines, front-drive and all-wheel drive powertrains; the TLX is quite the versatile choice. Base models use a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine making 206 horsepower and 182 ft-lbs of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. The V6 option is a 3.5-liter, 290-horsepower V6 with 267 ft-lbs of torque, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and a choice of front-or all-wheel drive. Available features include collision mitigation, lane keeping assist, and smart cruise control. Pricing starts at $30,995.
Acura’s entry luxury model, like all Acura cars, is fun to drive and nicely equipped. ILX is offered with a choice of two engines. A 2.0-liter inline four with 150 horsepower and 140 ft-lbs of torque is the base offering paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. The other choice is a 2.4-liter inline four with 201 horsepower and 170 ft-lbs of torque, paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Both powertrains use front-wheel drive. Standard features include leather upholstery, a sunroof, automatic headlights, active noise cancellation, keyless entry and pushbutton start—along with heated front seats. Pricing starts at $27,050.
The model formerly known as the Infiniti G37 becomes the Infiniti Q40 for the 2015 model year. Largely unchanged, the engine choice is a 328-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 with 269 ft-lbs of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission feeds either the rear, or all four wheels. There is speculation the model is being sold alongside the new Infiniti Q50 basically to fill a gap in the company’s pricing structure. That said, everything good about the G37 comes with the name change; a wealth of luxury features, the spacious interior, and a terrifically engaging driving experience. Pricing starts at $33,950.
Introduced as a replacement for the Infiniti G37 sedan for the 2014 model year, the Infiniti Q50 goes into 2015 relatively unchanged. Engine choices are a 328-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 with 269 ft-lbs of torque, or a 360-horsepower hybrid system. A seven-speed automatic transmission feeds either the rear wheels or all four wheels. Available features include forward collision warning, backup collision intervention, adaptive steering, an air purification system, and Infiniti’s “In-Touch” electronics interface offering dual touchscreen displays and smartphone application integration. Pricing for the standard 2015 Infiniti Q50 starts at $37,150, while pricing for the Q50 Hybrid starts at $44,400.
Infiniti’s luxury sport coupe is offered in three guises; as a convertible with a retractable hard top, a higher performance IPL convertible, and the fixed-roof Q60 Coupe. A 3.7-liter V6 engine powers all Q60 models, but output varies by application. For the standard Infiniti Q60 Coupe, the engine produces 330 horsepower and is paired with either a six-speed manual, or a seven-speed automatic transmission. For the base 2015 Q60 Convertible, the engine makes 325 horsepower. In IPL Convertible trim, it makes 343 horsepower. Both rear-drive Infiniti Q60 Convertible models use a seven-speed automatic transmission. Q60 pricing starts at $40,850.
Handsome, powerful, luxurious, and comfortable, Infiniti’s Q70 is the model previously known as Infiniti M. For the 2015 model year, Q70 is offered in two wheelbase sizes (standard and the long wheelbase Q70L), as well as with both rear- and all-wheel drive. Three powertrains are presented—with a 3.7-liter V6 making 330 horsepower as the base offering. The 5.6-liter V8 makes 420 horsepower, while the hybrid system teams an electric motor with the V6 to make a total of 360 horsepower. Each powerplant is offered with all-wheel drive. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard. Pricing starts at $48,950.
Photo Credit: Lexus
Lexus CT 200h
The first luxurious hybrid-only sporty coupe, the Lexus CT 200h is highly regarded for its entertaining handling—if not the output of its powertrain. A Toyota Prius in disguise, the CT 200h is based on a solid set of mechanicals, even if its acceleration leaves something to be desired. The CT 200h uses a 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine combined with a pair of electric motors to produce 134 horsepower. Standard equipment includes keyless entry and pushbutton start, dual-zone automatic climate control, and Bluetooth; pretty pedestrian in this company. But 42 mpg combined is anything but. Pricing starts at $32,050.
The Lexus ES is aimed at drivers more interested in a quiet and smooth ride than performance and handling. For 2015, the Lexus ES gets a new multimedia display audio system with a backup camera. Two models are offered, the Lexus ES 350 and the ES 300h Hybrid. A 3.5-liter V6 producing 268 horsepower and 248 ft-lbs of torque powers the 2015 ES 350. The front-drive sedan uses a six-speed automatic transmission. The hybrid’s 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder mates with an electric motor to produce 200 horsepower. A continuously variable transmission feeds the front wheels. ES 350 starts at $37,550.
Photo Credit: Lexus
The Lexus GS models are luxuriously appointed performance-oriented sport sedans. Three trim levels are offered; the base GS 350, the even more sporting oriented GS 350 F Sport, and the hybrid GS 450h. Power for the standard powertrain comes from a 3.5-liter V6 making 306 horsepower and 277 ft-lbs of torque. Both GS 350 models can be had with all-wheel drive. An eight-speed automatic feeds the rear drive models, while a six-speed automatic feeds the all-wheel drive versions. The rear-drive only GS 450h Hybrid adds an electric motor to the mix to produce 338 horsepower. Pricing starts at $47,700.
The feisty 2015 Lexus IS sedan offers a choice of two engines and two trim levels. Lexus IS 250 models get a 2.5-liter V6 good for 204 horsepower, while IS 350 models use a 306-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6. By the way, both engines can also be had with all-wheel drive. The 2.5 uses a six-speed transmission regardless of the driven wheels, while the 3.5 goes with an eight-speed automatic for its rear-drive iterations. Both engines can also be had with the Lexus IS F-Sport package, which tightens the suspension system and adds other sporting-oriented enhancements. Pricing starts at $36,550.
The other two-door model in the Lexus lineup is based on the IS sedan. Offered strictly as a retractable hardtop convertible, the 2015 Lexus IS-C is presented with the 3.5-liter V6 (IS 350 C) and the 2.5-liter V6 (IS 250 C). Just as in the sedans, the 3.5 is good for 306 horsepower, while the 2.5 is good for 204 horsepower. Rear-drive and a six-speed automatic transmission complete both powertrains. Also just as with the sedans, the Lexus F Sport package enhances the performance appeal of each version of the convertible. Pricing starts at $42,960.
The nicest Japanese car ever offered, the Lexus flagship is one of the most formidable luxury models produced anywhere. It is also highly versatile, presented in standard wheelbase, ultra-luxurious long wheelbase, or performance-oriented F Sport formats. Yes, and hybrid too. The base 4.6-liter V8 is good for 386 horsepower. Standard equipment includes smart xenon headlights, power door closers, power folding mirrors, and front and rear parking sensor arrays. Options include adjustable ride height, rear cross traffic alerts, plus the entire array of lane keeping and warning, as well as collision warning and mitigation systems. Pricing starts at $72,140.
The all-new Lexus RC coupe promises exceptional handling and strong performance. At launch, the model will feature the Lexus 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, with an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive will be offered too—with a six-speed automatic. Plans have been announced for an ultra-high performance RC-F version of the car as well. This model will boast in excess of 400 horsepower. Until then, performance-oriented drivers can content themselves with the RC 350 F-Sport’s adaptive variable suspension and dynamic handling system incorporating four-wheel steering. As of this writing, pricing has yet to be announced.