Filed under: Hybrid , Sedan , Japan , Toyota Toyota first launched Lexus in the United States back in 1989, but it wasn’t until 2005 that it brought the luxury marque home to roost. But don’t think that Toyota didn’t find a way of selling many of its premium models in the Japanese Domestic Market in the meantime. The Lexus LS was sold as the Toyota Celsion, the ES as the Vista and Camry Prominent, and the SC as the Soarer. (We could go on, but you get the point.) These days Lexus sells in markets around the world, including Japan, but Toyota still spins off its own versions of Lexus models to sell domestically as well. Like the new Sai, for example. Sharing its platform, hybrid propulsion and much more with the Lexus HS (which you may remember as the world’s first dedicated luxury hybrid until it was pulled from the market early last year), the Sai was introduced to Japan at the same time as the HS was rolled out around the world. Now nearly four years on the market, Toyota has given it a bit of a refresh. Boasting a far more aggressive front end and a restyled rear, the revised Sai features LED headlights, 16-inch alloys and a higher-quality interior in which JDM buyers will find a new center console and trim, along with an optional 10-speaker infotainment system. Toyota also boasts that the new Sai is made of 20-percent Ecological Plastic and recycled resin. Power still comes from the same 150-horsepower 2.4-liter inline-four and 143-hp electric motor for a combined maximum output of 190 hp.
Filed under: Japan , Crossover , Lexus , Toyota , Luxury Japanese site CarWatch has revealed images of the next-generation Toyota Harrier , known to US and European buyers as the Lexus RX . The new model features a considerably more aggressive fascia in keeping with some of the latest Lexus design trends, while the back features a pair of wide, wraparound taillights. The profile features a revised greenhouse, with a rather complex rear window treatment, while a subtle character line connects the front and rear taillights. According to the badging, the model shown features a hybrid powertrain, although there’s little information on which engine is being used. We’d wager it’s an evolution of the same 3.5-liter V6 hybrid found in the current RX450h . This early look doesn’t have a great deal of other info, and there are no images of the interior. We’re not yet clear on how closely the North American RX will adhere to the Harrier seen here, but historically the two models have been quite close. That said, we’d expect a more prominent ‘spindle’ grille on the Lexus version than the baleen strainer on the vehicle shown here. A page on Toyota’s Japanese website says the new Harrier/RX will receive a winter 2013 debut. That makes for a difficult determination of what auto show the new CUV will arrive at.