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2024 Lexus LX 600 First Drive: A Tale of Two SUVs

The new 2023 Lexus LX 600 — the all-new one-stop-shop replacement for the Lexus LX 570 and Toyota Land Cruiser siblings — is finally here. It’s a welcome update to Lexus’s full size SUV platform; despite the outgoing model’s off-road prowess, the LX 570 is now old enough to be entering its freshman year of high school. When it debuted 14 years ago, it did so in a market nearly devoid of competitors approaching its abilities and comfort.

Now, as it rides into the sunset, it leaves behind a stacked field for not just ultra-plush full-size SUVs, but ones packed with trail-running promise. The newest LX needs not only to carry on the Land Cruiser’s legacy, but compete with tougher rivals than Lexus has ever faced in the segment.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

And so with these high stakes, Lexus has chosen the wise strategy of incremental — but marked — improvement for the LX 600. The least noticeable place to spot revisions, however, is perhaps by staring at it. It’s big and brawny to behold, as every Land Cruiser ever created has been. Aside from perhaps its towering front grille, though, nearly every physical dimension is identical to the outgoing model, with length and width only increasing roughly half an inch, and wheelbase remaining unchanged from the LX 570.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

Much to the relief of Land Cruiser enthusiasts, the LX 600 retains the true-SUV body-on-frame format. All of the off-road strengths that made the Toyota SUV a cult classic — full-time 4WD with hi/lo gearing, crawl control with a locking center differential, adaptive height control — are retained. It’s a proven format, and Lexus has wisely decided not to try to fix what isn’t broken.

Poke around inside, however, and it becomes clear this is a full-size for a new decade. Lexus has done away with the beefy yet inefficient 5.7L V8 that powered the LX 570, instead choosing to nestle their new 3.5L twin-turbo V6 (shared with the newest LS 500) under the brute’s hood. And yet, despite losing nearly half its displacement, power and torque still improve over the old model: the forced-induction V6 puts out 409 HP and a very noticeable 479 ft-lb of torque that is on tap from nearly a standstill.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

If the power improvements weren’t noticeable enough on their own, Lexus has thrown two more gears in the transmission, giving it a 10-speed automatic over the previous 8-speed. And if any straggling Land Cruiser devotees still aren’t on board with the newest flagship, the LX 600 shaves a more-than-respectable four hundred forty pounds from the old 570’s curb weight, getting it down to a mere 5,665 pounds in base trim, while still being able to tow eight thousand pounds. All these improvements and the LX 600 gets a solid 19 combined MPG, over the less-than-stellar 14 miles per gallon the Land Cruiser attained. It’s a marked – and much needed – drivetrain modernization all around: more efficient, yet more capable.

Image: Jade Nelson / Lexus

Time, focus, and improved engineering has made the LX 600 a more compelling package under the hood, to be sure. But the easiest place to notice these improvements – and indeed, Lexus’ new ethos for their lineup in general – is in the cabin. The LX 600 starts at $86,900 (plus a $1,345 destination fee), actually thirty dollars less than the outgoing model, and for that price buyers get a 5-passenger, nicely equipped full-size SUV.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

Every trim level gets a 12.3″ upper touchscreen for infotainment and a 7″ lower touchscreen for vehicle status; the opportunity to keep an eye on wheel slip on the lower monitor while choosing the latest bangers from my Spotify playlists on the upper screen was welcomed. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard, too, as is wireless charging.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

An even more welcome addition to the LX 600 is Lexus’ Safety System 2.5, their newest-generation driver aid suite. The 14-year-old LX 570 only featured forward collision prevention and lane departure warnings, which were excellent in 2008, but presented a significant weakness for an $85,000 truck in 2023. Now, however, lane keep and emergency steering are standard, as is emergency braking for rear cross traffic. The newest model also comes equipped with four cameras to allow for 360 degree views when parking, as well as front-wheel and underside views for the trickiest blind sections of trails.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

When I finally got behind the wheel of the LX 600, it was in the gorgeous mountain landscapes of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and proving its off-road prowess in the Land of Enchantment was a cinch. This is the Land Cruiser that Toyota devotees know and love; tackling loose, rocky descents is an afterthought in 4 low with crawl control engaged. As it always has, it makes its considerable heft and mass seem like misprints in the brochure. The trail cameras made blind crests a breeze and its 25 degrees of approach meant I could drive straight off a mountain onto level ground, no sweat.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

The only complaint I really had was that the active height control, which offers a staggering 6″ of travel via hydraulic suspension, is now optional on all but the highest trim — rather than standard as it was on the LX 570 — and isn’t even offered on the two lowest trims. You’ll be dropping at least six figures to even get the privilege of spending another $1,300 on the extremely useful package. Why such a capable vehicle keeps an objectively great off-road feature on its highest trims — those arguably least likely to ever leave the pavement — baffles me.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

But, with the LX 600 having more than proved its prowess off-road to me, I headed back to the winding pavement connecting New Mexico’s gorgeous landscapes together. Also, as expected, it remained excellently composed. In the moments I had the objectively incredible Mark Levinson sound system silenced, the cabin remained virtually free of noise or drone; even with my foot to the mat urging the twin-turbo V6 to get me up on-ramps, engine noise was minimal.

Image: Jade Nelson / Lexus

The transmission’s shifts are incredibly smooth; steering – now controlled with an electric rack for the first time in the history of the Land Cruiser line – is a bit heavy in Sport modes, but in Comfort or Eco, I found it much gentler on the forearms, without swerving too far into numbness.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

But driving is only half of the story. The LX 600 comes in five trims, ranging from base at a tad under eighty-seven grand, all the way to a whopping $126,000 for the Ultra Luxury tier. In its fully-kitted form, it transforms from a very plush off-road runner to a VIP limousine (chauffeur, sadly, not included). The middle seat disappears entirely for the Ultra Luxury and the SUV becomes a four-seater; the rear seats turn into diamond-stitched captains’ chairs with recliners and full body massagers built in, all controlled through a center touchscreen. Both rear occupants can stay occupied with a pair of 7.0″ seat-back touchscreens that can control the 2,400-watt, 25-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, as well as a host of infotainment options.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

If this doesn’t sound thoroughly relaxing yet, the rear passengers’ side seat also can fold up the front seat and extend an ottoman. Sitting in the back in complete bliss, letting the massager undo the damage the inbound CRJ 700 had done to my lanky frame just hours before as my favorite music played at an absolutely obscene volume with perfect clarity, the $127,940 as-equipped sticker of my tester felt eminently justifiable. Sorry, new Range Rover Autobiography, Lexus just scooped you.

Image: Victoria Scott / SlashGear

These two vastly different perspectives make the new LX 600 a tale of two SUVs. Hop into a base model, and go wheelin’ with the greatest hits of the Land Cruiser lineup with more power, mileage, and comfort for the same price it’s clocked in at for the past decade and a half. Have your chauffeur bring around an Ultra Luxury, and enjoy the finest creature comforts Lexus has ever offered in the LX – not to mention the best sound system this side of an opera hall. The 2023 LX has you covered either way: just maybe skip the 22″s if you want to get real relaxed in those captains’ chairs.

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2024 Lexus Ls 500 First Drive: The Luxury Of Identity

2024 Lexus LS 500 First Drive: The luxury of identity

If it’s usually your thirties when you discover your real identify, you could argue the 2023 Lexus LS 500 and LS 500h are ahead of schedule. The fifth-generation of the automaker’s flagship luxury sedan arrives just before the car’s thirtieth birthday, promising more refinement, more technology, and – arguably most important – more character. If the original LS defined Lexus as a luxury upstart in 1989, the new LS finally sees the automaker come to terms with its Japanese roots.

It’s no stretch to say that some generations of LS have been anonymous in their design. This, after all, is the car that for several years was the vehicle-of-choice for the clandestine agents in the BBC series “MI-5” when they wanted to remain surreptitious around London.

Lexus’ answer was the addition of a controversial grille in 2012, officially keeping the sedan in line with the “spindle” design of its range-mates, but quickly compared to the gaping maw of the Predator. It also added an F SPORT edition to the line-up, with tuning to the suspension as well as a more aggressive body kit. Still, one of the lingering complaints – the quality of the interior compared to Lexus’ German rivals – remained.

It’s all change for the fifth-generation LS. The spindle remains, but it’s more curvaceous than before: a bow-sided hourglass more akin to the cinched waist of an elegant ballgown than the battle grimace of an interstellar warrior. Chief designer Koichi Suga says the 2023 LS was “forged from passion” and the car’s more flowing lines and curves reflect that. It leaves it looking smaller, too, even though it’s actually a little longer and wider than before, albeit lower.

Some key considerations remain. Rear seat headroom proved to be a particular obsession, and the wheelbase grew 1.3-inches, predominantly stretching legroom for those in the back. As a result there won’t be an “L” long-wheelbase version, at least for now.

There’s a heritage story to be told, too, something Lexus has at times struggled to achieve. If the first LS was Toyota’s attempt to out-German the Germans, each subsequent car has tried for an uneasy balance between directly competing with Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi, and honoring the automaker’s own Japanese heritage.

So, Lexus turned to master craftsmen to develop traditional decorative glass panels, which it used as the molds for interior door trim. Rather than just wrapping sections of the cabin in leather, it used origami-style folded fabric. The woodwork is laser-cut, bonded woodgrain slices for symmetrical grain, nestling among swathes of grooved aluminum that echo the blades of a tea whisk. One woman spent eight hours a day, for six whole months, computer-generating the surfaces on the grille: 5,000 of them on the regular LS, and 7,000 on the F SPORT.

It’s possible that Lexus has gone a little overboard. Indeed, the interior of the LS can be an overwhelming place, full of shapes, curves, overlaps, and layers. Happily there’s been a focus on choice as well as craftsmanship: none of the cars I sat in were entirely subtle, but there were certainly more sedate trims compared to the Japanese glass and origami options.

Either way, it might run the risk of feeling tacky had Lexus not taken a noticeable step up in materials and the quality of its fit and finish. As the Lexus LC coupe demonstrated, the automaker is absolutely capable of putting together a cabin that’s aeons away from that of your Toyota. Happily, that has translated over to the new LS.

It’s not a completely clean sweep, mind. Lexus gives its new dashboard a vast display atop the center console, but then squanders its potential with its Enform infotainment system.

Enform looked dated on the old LS, and it looks positively archaic on the new car. Where Mercedes, Audi, and BMW give you crisp graphics and smooth transitions, Lexus’ system is visually clunky and overloaded with iconography. As in the LC you get a touchpad in the center console with which to navigate the UI. It’s better than the joystick other Lexus cars use, but with its bizarre achievement of being somehow both too sensitive and not sensitive enough, that’s still faint praise.

The experience is all the more frustrating given how much time you’ll spend navigating through the UI. The 2023 LS isn’t short of physical buttons for things like HVAC and multimedia, which is welcome, but most of the electronics rely on digging through Enform to access them. A second control panel, this time a touchscreen, lives in the armrest between the rear seats and has a better interface, and I can’t help but wish it had been carried forward to what those in the front use.

It’s a shame, because Lexus hasn’t stinted on technology. The Lexus Safety System+ is standard, with pre-collision with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure alerts and lane-keep assistance, and auto high-beams, together with a 12-speaker Pioneer audio system. Go digging through the options list, though, and there’s plenty to choose from.

A 23-speaker, 2,400W Mark Levinson audio system with 7.1 surround sound that uses speakers embedded in the cabin’s roof sounds tremendous. The four-zone climate control uses sixteen sensors spread across the four main seating positions to track occupant temperature, adjusting both the HVAC, seat heating and cooling, and steering wheel heating to maintain a comfortable level. The driver’s seat is 28-way adjustable, with five massage programs and a clever easy-exit system that partially deflates the outer side cushion.

An Executive power rear seat has a fold-out ottoman with adjustable leg-rest angle and extra seat recline, together with massage. Both moonroof and panoramic moonroof options are offered, plus a hands-free power trunk with both open and close features, and a vast color head-up display. More cameras than the average TV studio give a full 360-degree perspective along with close-ups of the corners of the car.

The Lexus Safety System+ Advanced Package adds in pedestrian alerts and active steering assistance that can help swerve the LS around someone who has wandered off the sidewalk and into your lane. It also gets front cross traffic alerts and – courtesy of better front and rear radar coverage and a stereo front-facing camera array – road sign recognition. Lexus is talking up its ability to track road markings, too, with Lane Tracing Assist, that can minimize steering input required to keep the LS in the center of the lane.

What it isn’t is the semi-autonomous driver assistance that Audi, BMW, and Mercedes have begun offering, among others. The 2023 LS can keep you dead center in the road, but Lexus is clear that it’s a “co-driving” system and that you still need to have your hands on the wheel. A few fingers should be enough to satisfy the sensors, but this isn’t Tesla Autopilot or Cadillac Super Cruise.

Happily being behind the wheel of the new LS isn’t as somnolent as was at times the case with previous generations. Lexus has two engines for the 2023 model year, a 3.5-liter V6 with 416 HP and 442 lb-ft. of torque, and a 3.5-liter hybrid with 354 HP. Both can be had in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive forms; the LS 500 gas-only car has an F SPORT option and a Performance Package option.

I spent time in both LS 500 and LS 500h, and came away generally impressed. The former has a 10-speed automatic with closely-spaced ratios, and isn’t shy about gear changes. There’s a smooth surge of power when you apply your right foot, though I’m not entirely convinced that the car really needs so many gears. Switch from normal mode to Sport or Sport+ using the dial mounted up on the side of the instrumentation binnacle and things get more eager. Just as the LS looks smaller from the outside compared to the outgoing car, it shrinks around you a little more from behind the wheel, too.

As for the hybrid, though it’s not the first time the LS has offered an electrified powertrain, Lexus does expect a much higher percentage of buyers this time around. It too promises a 10-speed transmission, though it’s achieved with some engineering and electronic magic. In fact, there’s what amounts to a four-speed automatic which then simulates ten gears by chopping those four speeds into individual chunks.

The result, Lexus says, is the “rhythmic shifting” of a regular car without the rubber-band feel of a CVT. As with its gas-only counterpart, I’m just not convinced it’s required, however, though it does pay dividends when it comes to economy. Lexus is quoting 25 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 28 mpg combined with the RWD hybrid, adding up to the potential of 600+ miles from a full tank of gas. You lose a little of the urgency of the more powerful car – 0-60 mph comes in 5.1 seconds, rather than 4.6 – but it’s a hushed, smooth place from which to do your bit for Mother Earth.

Not, though, entirely as smooth as I might have expected. The firmer suspension of the F SPORT is one thing, and Lexus will offer an air suspension option atop the standard adaptable variable suspension with its 650 levels of damping force adjustment, but I’m going to blame the standard-fit run-flat tires for being a little less cosseting than regular versions. Lexus says they’re more accommodating than most of their ilk – they even have certain alloy wheel designs that use clever hollow rims and resonator chambers to dissipate vibrations more effectively – and that’s probably true, but I’d still wager most rear-seat passengers would prefer a standard spare and squishier rubber.

Compared to the German cars, Lexus is counting both on a more memorable car and a competitive price to distinguish the new LS. Sales will start at an aggressive $75,000 when the car arrives in dealerships come February 2023, and the automaker expects almost three-quarters of all cars sold to leave the showroom under $80k. At that point, you’re still $10k behind a base-spec S-Class.

All the same, I suspect badge appeal will mean Audi, BMW, and Mercedes keep many of their sales. Lexus’ predicted conquest rate – the number of buyers it converts from rival automakers – is 40-percent, and I think that’s realistic. I just expect it to be brands like Acura, Infiniti, Lincoln, and Cadillac to bear the brunt of those losses.

If the old LS bordered on the forgettable, the new 2023 LS 500 and LS 500h are anything but. You may not like the grille, or the interior design, but at least Lexus has taken a stand, and it leaves the new cars feeling much less like formulaic interpretations of luxury. There are idiosyncrasies still, but competitive pricing and near-obsessive attention to detail make these the most appealing LS models in thirty years.

2024 Ram Power Wagon First Drive: Heavy

2024 Ram Power Wagon First Drive: Heavy-duty off-road apocalypse escape vehicle

The 2023 Ram Power Wagon is a full-size pickup that dares to answer the question, ‘what would you use to tow your house into the middle of the desert during a zombie apocalypse?’ After spending a full day flogging the P-Wagon on the hot sands an hour outside of Las Vegas, I can comfortably report that it takes a special kind of product planning bravery to create a heavy-duty truck capable of bludgeoning any obstacle in its path – undead or otherwise – on its way to saving your delicious brain-bacon from flesh-eating creeps.

What’s that you say? The Power Wagon was actually conceived way back in the mid-40s as a Hitler-stomping weapons hauler, in an era when reality was far more frightening than anything that might leap off a B-movie screen? Fair enough. I certainly didn’t seen any extras from ‘Thriller’ haunting the trailhead at Logandale, Nevada, and while that didn’t necessarily mean they weren’t there it did give me the confidence to go full-steam-ahead in Ram’s toughest truck without having to watch my back.

Not that I would have felt all that threatened inside the rolling fortress that is the 2023 Ram Power Wagon. Borrowing its rugged chassis from the Ram 2500 heavy-duty pickup, the Power Wagon adds Bilstein shocks, two extra inches of ground clearance, a front sway bay that can be remotely disconnected, 4.10 gear ratios in both solid axles, a Warn winch, and 33-inch DuraTrac all-terrain tires to go with military-grade underbody armor and POWER WAGON decals large enough to be seen from orbit.

I almost needed a rope ladder to climb up into the Ram, what with the 14-inch gap between its axles and the earth below, leading me to believe that I might be able to ride out the threat from an unholy horde simply by scampering inside and rolling up the windows. Barring that, I could always point the Power Wagon towards the nearest lake or river and plunge in – with 30 inches of water fording capability, the pickup might be able to out-swim even the reanimated corpse of Michael Phelps.

Of course, there was no water to be found amidst the red rocks of the Nevada desert, where both moisture and traction were at a premium. After a jaunt down I-15 took our group of monster trucks to Logandale, we paused to air the Ram’s tires down from 60 psi to 30 psi in a bid to spread out its footprint for maximum purchase on the shifting landscape that lay ahead. With the four-wheel drive system set to ‘High,’ our pack rolled out onto the sand at a spirited pace, with all 7,000 lbs of the Power Wagon’s curb weight happily beating each and every grain into submission beneath its 17-inch forged wheels.

Even wide open in the wide open, it’s impossible not to remark upon the Ram’s bulk. The truck is simply enormous in a way most other off-road rides aren’t, and much of its size is directly linked to its 10,030 lbs of towing capacity and the ability to haul over 1,500 lbs of gear in the bed behind it. I wasn’t kidding when I mentioned tugging along a house or two: the 429 lb-ft of torque produced by the Power Wagon’s standard 6.4-liter Hemi V8 are more than up to the task of lugging whatever you might hitch to its hardcore frame.

Does this mean that the Power Wagon is aimed specifically at contractors and power boat owners with an extreme desire to get away from it all? Yes and no. While Ram has maintained all of the 2500-series utility you’d find in its workhorse trucks, the Power Wagon leverages its overbuilt bravado to do more than simply haul the horses when you’re done playing in the mud. Its sturdy construction allows it to take more punishment than most other pickups when bashing down a dry riverbed, and you certainly won’t find the ability to lock both front and rear axles at the push of a button in any other full-size model on the market.

Crawl control also proved to be an asset when aiming the massive Ram down a sharp decline. Despite the prodigious amount of mass being sucked inexorably by gravity, it proved simple to use the truck’s steering wheel buttons to lock in a slow and safe forward pace and let the automatic braking feature handle the rest.

The 2023 Ram Power Wagon remains a singular choice for off-roaders seeking something altogether different than what you would get from a Jeep Wrangler or a Ford Raptor. Fashion-conscious preppers will notice that the Power Wagon gains a new grille, powder-coated bumper, and a freshened interior, but aside from these relatively minor changes the Ram forges ahead with the same tried, tested, and true mechanical package it offered the year before. If you’re anticipating the apocalypse, the time to snap up a Power Wagon is definitely right now, while its price tag sits at a reasonable $51,695. Once the zombies roll through town, chances are there won’t be enough cans of beans, shotgun shells, or jugs of homemade moonshine left in the world to trade for one.

2024 Jeep Gladiator First Drive: Pickup Artist

It only took a minute or so away from asphalt to realize where this pickup really shines. Faced with mud, rocks, and puddles of indeterminate depth, the truck’s softer suspension and lighter steering-feel immediately proved their worth.

Every Gladiator is 4×4 as standard, as you’d expect, but Jeep has two different configurations. The Sport, Sport S, and Overland have a Command-Trac transfer case, open front and rear differentials, and an optional Trac-Lok anti-spin rear diff. The Rubicon, meanwhile, gets a Rock-Trac transfer case with a better low range ratio, and Tru-Lok electronic locking differentials front and rear as standard.

Either way, there’s a lever to shift between 2WD High, 4WD High, Neutral, and 4WD Low. The Rubicon adds a separate control panel, with which you can lock either the Front + Rear or just the Front diff, disconnect the sway bar, or turn on Off Road+ mode. The latter automatically adjusts the settings depending on whether you’re on high- or low-friction surfaces like rocks or sand.

Automaker off-road courses typically aren’t all that challenging. After all, it’s in their best interests to show their truck clambering serenely over just-tricky-enough terrain, perhaps kicking up a back wheel for some suitably dramatic photos. Clearly everybody at Jeep had missed that memo.

As the lead Wrangler peeled off to the side, I found myself facing what resembled the aftermath of a rock fall, or maybe an earthquake-shattered Stonehenge. An unruly tumble of jagged stones, huge and uninviting, and with just enough mud left by earlier drivers to leave the glistening pile looking treacherously slippery. I’d expected chunky gravel; this was post-apocalyptic collapsed parking structure.

Gladiator in 4WD Low, the diffs locked and my nerves steeled, I pushed forward. The Rubicon’s optional front camera – complete with an entertaining little cleaning jet designed to wash dirt off the lens, and dynamic grid lines that move according to the angle of the wheels – suddenly stopped feeling like a gimmick and started making a lot more sense. With it, the two feet right ahead of the truck was instantly visible, useful given I could see nothing but sky over the hood. The only thing that would make it better would be a dedicated shortcut button; as it is, you have to dig into Uconnect to access it.

Tipping down over the opposite side, the rocks suddenly angled steeply. The Rubicon gets 17-inch wheels with 33-inch Falken Wildpeak LT285/70R17C rubber as standard, with either all-terrain or mud-terrain tread. I could feel them fighting gravity as the Gladiator leaned precariously to the right. “Slower!” bellowed Jeep’s spotter. My foot, already burying the brake to the wash-out floor, tried in vain to press even harder; any remaining movement was down to the unstable surface shifting beneath us. My co-driver may have squeaked with alarm.

By the point where we were level again, it was time to tackle the next obstacle. More haphazardly strewn rocks; more disconcerting angles; and more ruts and furrows. The Gladiator has 11.1-inches of clearance and can wade into water up to 30-inches deep. That, and the tenacious grip from the tires meant even the unctuous mud couldn’t hold me back.

The Gladiator’s only real shortcomings came in comparison to the Wrangler Rubicon ahead of us. The pickup has a 43.6-degree approach angle, 20.3-degree breakover angle, and a 26-degree departure angle in its Rubicon form, and it was the last two figures – the departure angle a full 11-degrees less than the 4-door Wrangler – which led to some of the more ominous grinding sounds as the rear scraped its way free. Happily Jeep slaps on plenty of underbody and rail protection.

First Drive In The New $103,200 Jaguar F

Their 2023 update of its $103,200 F-Type two-seat sports car (the convertible version costs $105,900) is a glorious return to form for a company that built its reputation on the 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning performance of its D-Type, and the voluptuous styling of its E-Type.

Carmakers like Jaguar, which enjoy the benefit of an illustrious heritage, risk being captured by that heritage and doomed to being thought of as “classics” even though they are new. When Jag returned to the market for proper two-seat sports cars with the F-Type in 2013, it understandably took a conservative approach that reminded prospective buyers of the brand’s history. But now that it has reestablished itself as a player in the sports car market, Jaguar designers were unshackled from heritage and freed to deliver a fresh, contemporary update.

New slimline LED headlights are now mounted below the hood’s shut line, lending the F-Type a sinister visage in place of the previous edition’s wide-eyed throwback styling. “The new headlight pulls your eye down, making the bonnet look much longer,” explains design director Julian Thomson.

His design team’s creativity is apparent in the new F-Type, and the ability of the styling to speak loud and clear perhaps encouraged the engineering team to dial back the engine’s voice a little bit. For 2023, the F-Type offers a “quiet start” mode that keeps the muffler bypass valves closed on startup to hush the bark of the 575-horsepower, 516-pound-foot 5.0-liter supercharged V8, saving drivers from their neighbor’s stink eye during early morning starts.

In regular driving, Jaguar has long touted the “theater” of the F-Type’s exhaust crackle on overrun. However, this carefully cultivated exuberance is excessive no more: Jag doesn’t say they’ve toned it down, but the F-Type’s V8 does wear close-coupled particulate filters on its exhaust manifolds, so maybe the pollution scrubbers also serve to put a sock in it.

However it happened, the over-the-top vocalizing of the previous model has been replaced by something that is dialed back just enough to seem more authentic in the ebb and flow of throttle application while slicing through Portugal’s Gardunha Mountains. Small changes to the V8 bump its output by 25 hp and 14 pound-foot from last year, contributing to a 0 to 60 mph acceleration of 3.5 seconds (which we experienced during the test drive) and an electronically limited top speed of 186 mph (which we did not).

Even more frugal buyers, or those seeking something a little more elemental, can choose the rear-drive P300, which is powered by a 296-hp, 295-pound-foot turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that delivers a suitably feline growl that sounds perfectly appropriate in a premium brand like a Jaguar. At 3,351 pounds, the four-cylinder, rear-drive P300 weighs 500 pounds less than the V8, all-wheel drive R model, which contributes to the car’s ability to squirt to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds. Its top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. Which seems like enough.

Traditionalists will be dismayed to learn that even the most stripped-down model of the 2023 F-Type is fitted with an 8-speed planetary automatic transmission. This gearbox enjoys clever programming to ooze between gears when driving in comfort mode and cracking off crisp shifts at just the right time in sport mode.

It responds instantly to squeezes on the steering wheel-mounted shift paddles, in contrast to the lag that plagued the previous-generation C7 Chevrolet Corvette, which employed a similar automatic transmission. But there’s no old-school H-pattern shifter and clutch pedal for those of us who’d rather do it ourselves. We have to believe the F-Type P300 convertible would be a really special car with a manual transmission.

“The new headlight pulls your eye down, making the bonnet look much longer,” says design director Julian Thomson. Jaguar

The real technical improvements for 2023 are in the F-Type’s suspension. The original car was good, but could feel vague when steering into turns and twitchy when accelerating out of them with the V8’s ferocious power.

Jag grabbed engineer Tanmay Dube from McLaren Automotive, where he recently oversaw development of that company’s spectacular 720S, and he applied his know-how to massage the F-Type’s suspension. Naturally, Dube fiddled with the spring rates, anti-roll bar stiffness and shock absorber damping rates to move the car in the direction he wanted.

That increased rigidity improved the accuracy of the car’s steering feel from the contact patches of the tires. And those are larger too, because the front and rear Pirelli P Zero tires are 10 mm wider than the ones on last year’s model. “The old V8 had a tendency to be a bit more scary,” says Dube during our trip. “This is more progressive.”

Despite all those hardware changes, for Dube’s money, the biggest upgrade came in the car’s software. “The real standout feature is the recalibrated power steering,” he says. “It has sharper on-center feel and more effort on turn in. It took us months and months tuning the steering with [test driver] Mike Cross.”

That meant engineers riding along in the passenger seat, data flowing from their laptop to make changes in response to Cross’s feedback as the car circulated Jaguar’s test track. (No word on the bill for engineers’ airsickness bags during this part of the job.)

The day behind the wheel in the 2023 F-Type underscores both the success of the car’s maturation into a more refined and contemporary sports car as well as the effectiveness of the hard work that went into making the car worth the hundred grand it costs to call one yours. All our journeys of philosophical self-discovery should be so successful!

Two Latest Google Patents Of Interest – November 6, 2023

Welcome back to another week for the geeks.

It was fairly quiet out there as far as Google search patents go, but I did see a couple worth sharing over the last few weeks.

So, let’s get into it.

Latest Google Patents of Interest

Filed: March 13, 2013

Awarded: October 20, 2023

Abstract

“Implementations include systems and methods for querying a data graph. An example method includes receiving a machine learning module trained to produce a model with multiple features for a query, each feature representing a path in a data graph. The method also includes receiving a search query that includes a first search term, mapping the search query to the query, and mapping the first search term to a first entity in the data graph. The method may also include identifying a second entity in the data graph using the first entity and at least one of the multiple weighted features, and providing information relating to the second entity in a response to the search query. Some implementations may also include training the machine learning module by, for example, generating positive and negative training examples from an answer to a query.”

Dave’s Notes

It’s interesting that this was filed back in 2013.

Why?

Because it deals with semantic elements, graphs, and entities.

A lot of SEO pros back then had no clue what that stuff was as it was rarely talked about.

In fact, to this day a lot of SEO folks don’t really “get” how Google deals with semantics.

Hell, recently I still see them talking about archaic approaches such as LSI.

To say a lot of the organic search profession is well and truly behind when it comes to how search actually works these days.

The core of this patent is discussing how in the past a lot of entity relations and graph data were actually cobbled together manually (Can you imagine?) and they were seeking to more automate this with machine learning.

Again, this is 2013, my friends.

It shouldn’t be a talking point over the last few years… but it has been.

Anyway, let’s look at some points of interest.

Notable

“(…) in a data graph, entities, such as people, places, things, concepts, etc., may be stored as nodes and the edges between nodes may indicate the relationship between the nodes. In such a data graph, the nodes “Maryland” and “United States” may be linked by the edges of “in country” and/or “has state.” “

“The knowledge extracted from the text and the data graph is used as input to train a machine learning algorithm to predict tuples for the data graph. The trained machine learning algorithm may produce multiple weighted features for a given relationship, each feature representing an inference about how two entities might be related. “

“Some implementations allow natural language queries to be answered from the data graph. In such implementations, the machine learning module can be trained to map features to queries, and the features being used to provide possible query results. The training may involve using positive examples from search records or from query results obtained from a document-based search engine. The trained machine learning module may produce multiple weighted features, where each feature represents one possible query answer, represented by a path in the data graph. ”

Filed: October 26, 2023

Awarded: November 3, 2023

Abstract

“Methods, systems, apparatus, including computer programs encoded on computer storage medium, to facilitate identification of additional trigger-terms for a structured information card. In one aspect, the method includes actions of accessing data associated with a template for presenting structured information, wherein the accessed data references (i) a label term and (ii) a value. Other actions may include obtaining a candidate label term, identifying one or more entities that are associated with the label term, identifying one or more of the entities that are associated with the candidate label term, and for each particular entity of the one or more entities that are associated with the candidate label term, associating, with the candidate label term, (i) a label term that is associated with the particular entity, and (ii) the value associated with the label term.”

Dave’s Notes

Nothing really earth-shattering here, but does give us a sense of how information cards, entities, knowledge bases, and structured data can play together.

For me, it’s one more example of how SEO has changed over the years and is far more than what seemingly meets-the-eye with practitioners and publishers in the biz.

Notable

“(…) a card trigger-term identification unit is provided that can identify additional trigger-terms for a structured information card. The card trigger-term identification unit allows the grammar of one or more structured information cards to be tuned, over time, by evaluating candidate terms for potential inclusion in the grammar of a structured information card.”

“For example, assume the grammar for a “Movie” structured information card includes the terms “movie time,” “movie ticket confirmation,” and “ticket confirmation number.” The card trigger-term identification unit may analyze the terms associated with the grammar of the “Movie” structured information card and one or candidate queries, and identify an additional trigger-term for the “Movie” structured information card such as the trigger-term “movie ticket.” Accordingly, subsequent queries that are received that include the terms such as “movie time”, “movie ticket,” or both will trigger the display of a “Movie” structured information card in response to such queries.”

That’s about it for this week folks.

As always, never forget the depth of how search engines work and constantly keep pushing the boundaries with your learning and strategies.

See you next week!

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