The camera is a 60D and the iso range I have used for landscapes or cars is no more than 400 under sunny or partly cloudy conditions. I do not use the expose to the right approach.
I understand that RAW images need some processing, and I think that has been my main problem, I am slightly embarrassed to say that I was expecting the images to be perfect (which clearly cannot be for objects in the distance). The sharpening I apply is minimal (i think), I use either the faces or landscape preset in Lightroom 3. I am also aware of the crunchy effect that can occur when oversharpening. I am a little ways away from coming to grips with expose to the right, I need to practice more.
On Flickr I have searched the 15-85 thread for landscape images at full resolution (1:1) and some do look like my images, however, it is difficult to discern if the user has processed them at all or whether they are straight out of the camera.
In end, I think I was expecting miracles, which I actually did get. The autofocus is lightning fast, initially I could not believe how fast the lens focused compared to the 18-135, in addition, I did back to back testing and realized that the 15-85 would have no problem focusing where the 18-135 somewhat hunted. And did I say it was very quiet?
I agree - I think the 15-85 is a fantastic lens. Take a look here http://daystarvisions.com/Docs/Tuts/DCExp/pg1.html for a really easy way to do expose to the right (even though he doesn't mention that term in the article, in effect what he does is the same thing). Once you calculate the exposure "headroom" you have for your camera, spot meter (or partial if the 60D doesn't have spot) on the brightest area of the scene in which you want to retain highlight detail, adjust the exposure upward by the number of stops/partial stops you've determined is the exposure headroom for your camera, and you're exposing to the right. Adjust the exposure downward in post processing if needed.