DealershipsHistoryLexus LS: First Generation

A Brief History of Lexus

Lexus LS 400 OG

Steve Finlay from WardsAuto has written about the origins of the Lexus brand, and it’s a must-read for enthusiasts:

Launching a premium brand made sense to Toyota on a number of levels. One of them was to offer a premium-vehicle option to keep Baby Boomer Toyota owners in the fold as they became more prosperous.

As loyal Toyota owners became more affluent, they had no place to go for a luxury vehicle except back to the usual luxury brands, says [Lexus senior product manager Michael] Moore.

The need for a world-class Toyota luxury vehicle became a new priority, focusing on the U.S. market first. Norman Lean, a Toyota U.S. executive, penned a historic memo to the home office: “We need something bigger, and we need it today.”

In 1984, a 15-person planning team was assembled. Its mission was top secret, even within the company. A man on a mission, chief engineer Ichiro Suzuki’s ambitious product-development targets included: 155-mph top speed, 0.28 drag coefficient and 58 decibels at 60 mph.

(Photo from the Car & Driver review of the original LS 400.)

Lexus RX: Fourth GenerationReviews

Reviewed: The Updated 2020 Lexus RX Crossover

Lexus RX 2020 Reviews

Reviews for the updated 2020 Lexus RX crossover have been posted on automotive outlets online, here are a few choice cuts for your perusal.


Dan Frio from Edmunds likes the handling improvements, but admits the differences are minor:

Thanks to a stiffer body structure and revised suspension settings, the RX’s handling has a little more bite and immediacy changing direction when setting up for quick turns. It’s a subtle change aided by the RX’s new torque-vectoring system, which brakes the inside wheel during cornering to keep the RX on its line.

Fundamentally, the RX’s dynamic character isn’t altered. The RX hasn’t morphed into an Audi Q5 or even an Acura RDX. And that’s OK. Knife-edge handling has never been the RX’s bag, and we think it’s far more valuable for its smooth and absorbent ride.

Lexus RX Side Profile

Aaron Gold from Automobile Magazine struggled to tell the difference between the 2019 RX and the updated 2020 model, but didn’t really mind:

Whether or not we’d recommend the RX is beside the point; we expect it to keep plowing its way through the sales charts, at least until gas prices spike and the NX and UX start to eclipse it (as they are primed to do in markets outside of North America). The RX is handsome and competent, and thanks to the freshened infotainment systems, it’s now much easier to use. If we were in Lexus’s position, we wouldn’t have changed more, either.

Lexus RX Rear

Matthew Askari from Robb Report was effervescent in his praise of the RX’s quiet cabin:

And while the RX handled itself admirably on beautifully winding roads near the Peninsula Papagayo, where this crossover will really earn its keep is in big-city traffic. Perhaps nothing—shy of a Rolls-Royce, Bentley or S-Class—makes for such a pleasant environment as the cocoon the RX provides when stuck in a stop-and-go commute. Everywhere you touch is cushy, padded leather and, with superior insulation, you feel removed and in your own decadent bubble.

Lexus RX Interior

Antuan Goodwin from CNET confirms the findings from the other reviews:

On the road, the changes the driving dynamics are subtle enough that I had a hard time noticing any improvement with a back-to-back ride in the 2019 model. Turn-in feels a hair sharper and more responsive, but overall this still feels like the same RX as before. New “active corner braking” stability control should aid at near the limit handling, but there wasn’t much of that during my fairly relaxed day of driving.

However, I did notice a much larger reduction in cabin noise at speed. There’s a lot less road and wind noise and the thump over bumps is also less pronounced, which makes the SUV a much more relaxing commuting cocoon.

Lexus RX Tail Light

Miguel Cortina from Motor Trend scores a scoop or two with his review:

The Lexus RX won our very first SUV of the Year award back in 1999, and it’s a pioneer in the crossover segment, becoming the first unibody SUV that delivered a “carlike” ride with the seating position and interior space of an SUV. Since then, it has thrived in the segment, becoming Lexus’ most popular model by far, surpassing all of the brand’s sedan sales combined. With its updated styling, better technology, advanced safety, and Pura Vida attitude, the 2020 Lexus RX will continue to be the brand’s sales leader when it arrives at dealers at the end of August. This much-needed update will bring a breeze of fresh air to the crossover. A full redesign is expected in the next two to three years.

CommercialsEuropeTech

Commercial: How Lexus Sells Hybrids in Europe

Lexus Hybrids Europe

Lexus has adopted “self-charging hybrid” as a way to market their gas-electric powertrains in Europe, showcasing the technology’s key benefit over pure electric vehicles:

According to Lexus Europe executives, there’s still a percentage of consumers that believe that hybrids need to be charged like an EV vehicle. This campaign exists to educate about the differences between gas-electric and pure electric, with the main benefit of hybrid being that the gas engine charges the battery.

Due to the price of gas, the average European customer cares more about efficiency and less about horsepower, especially in comparison to North Americans. With Lexus being hybrid-only in most European markets, this is a key selling point and brings a different dynamic to the brand’s performance story.

The Lexus Europe strategy for selling hybrids appears to be working — last year marked five consecutive years of growth, combining for a 76% increase in sales since 2013. Sales are also up 5% overall in the first six months of 2019 with 40,450 units sold, and hybrids make up a stunning 70% of total volume.

(This year’s growth is driven by the launch of the UX crossover. After just 5 months of sales, the UX has sold 8,532 units and already makes up 21% of total European volume.)

ConceptsLexus GX: Second GenerationMods

Introducing the Lexus GXOR SUV Concept

Lexus GX OR Concept

Lexus has revealed the heavily modified GXOR concept, an off-road monster inspired by overlander owners:

This is a concept through and through, as it’s unlikely the Lexus GXOR will ever be available in dealerships. Even so, there’s nothing to prevent owners from customizing their GX in a similar way (except a lease agreement, I suppose). This concept also opens the door for a off-road sub-brand within Lexus, similar to the Toyota TRD Pro series.

The breadth and detail of the modifications is impressive, here’s a full breakdown in a handy graphic:

Lexus GXOR Concept Details

Finally here’s a massive photo gallery showing off the GXOR from all angles:

AwardsUSA

Lexus Ranks Highest for Luxury Brand Loyalty in the USA

Lexus LX Brand Loyalty

Lexus was the highest ranked luxury manufacturer in the inaugural J.D. Power USA Automotive Brand Loyalty Study, with 47.6% of buyers returning to purchase or lease another vehicle. Let’s see how Lexus ranked alongside its competitors:

Lexus Brand Loyalty

The study used proprietary data to calculate whether an owner purchased the same brand after trading in an existing vehicle. Calculations are based on transaction data from June 2018 through May 2019 and include all model years traded in.

Tech

More Details on Upcoming Lexus Automated Driving Technology

Lexus LS Highway Teammate

Lexus has released more details on their Automated Highway Teammate technology that will debut in 2020 — from CNET:

When asked about the SAE level of autonomy for the system, [Executive Vice President Koji] Sato responded: “Officially, Level 2 is the reality… starting out, the project will release at level 2 in 2020.”

That means hands-off highway cruise control under certain conditions, but also the requirement for the driver to remain at attention with their eyes on the road while the system is active with some sort of driver attention monitoring in place. Similar to Cadillac’s Super Cruise system, Highway Teammate will steer itself to stay between the lane markers and adjust its throttle and braking to follow a leading car.

The system that debuts in 2020 will also have the ability for dynamic updates, meaning the technology will see new functionality as Lexus improves the system.

Lexus has a very specific idea of what autonomous driving looks like, and it’s not a robot nanny:

Sato went on to explain that Lexus sees autonomy as only part of the experience that it will offer to future drivers and that engaging, human-piloted driving will continue to be a large part of the Lexus experience.

“The technology in a future Lexus will be ‘my co-pilot that helps me live my most amazing life,'” Sato continues. “We will continue to offer a human-focused Lexus driving experience. We will never forget the value of driving for luxury customers.”

AutoshowsConceptsRumors

Lexus to Show Electric Vehicle Concept at Tokyo Motor Show

Lexus Concept LF-SA Tokyo

Lexus will show a concept for their first all-electric vehicle at the Tokyo Motor Show later this year — from Motor1:

There’s not much to report about the study itself at this point, but we know it’s going to take the shape of a small hatchback-like vehicle with a somewhat radical design language. Lexus hasn’t released a teaser image yet (and we expect to get one in the weeks before the show).

That said, the concept appears to take the brand’s spindle grille to the next level. The now-ubiquitous shape totally dominates the front end, as it bleeds from the front fascia and merges with the windshield of the EV concept.

The fact that this vehicle doesn’t fit into a clearly defined segment means it will a concept in the truest sense of the word. Even so, it’s likely the concept will be powered by the in-wheel electric motors Lexus is currently developing, making it a technology showcase.

(The Lexus LF-SA concept is the only vehicle that remotely comes close to the description provided, the image above is a sketch from one of that car’s designers.)