Grumbles, Gripes and Grievances and what Toyota/Lexus can do to earn your loyalty?

internalaudit

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About me:
I am relatively new to the Lexus Enthusiast forum and have never owned a Lexus vehicle in my life but ideally want to get a Lexus BEV a few years down the road (hopefully between 2022 and 2025). My dad's dream car was a Mercedes Benz and so I was fortunate to have driven some of his cars -- 1978 300D, 1985 190E, 1989 260E and a 2005 C280. He had Japanese cars too and his first was a 1972 Corolla.

He even bought from a friend a used 1985 318i (for me) which was gutless even with the manual transmission but boy, back in those days, his 190E and 260E kicked some ass on the road when the norm used to be those Toyota Corolla's with carburetors (this was back when I was in Asia Pacific).

I was never a car enthusiast (like my brother back home who owns a 911 Turbo S, has a Acura RLX, A4, NX200t, etc.) but I read (Car and Driver, Motor Trend, Road & Track) and watch (savagegeese and Alex on Autos predominantly and more recently on cars I have interest in) car reviews. I have only owned that flaky 318i, a 1997 Honda Civic 5MT and currently have: 02 CIvic 5MT, 11 Accord I4 5AT coupe and a 16 RAV4H.

During my teen years, I have had to bring my dad's cars to his mechanic mostly for repairs and I have had those episodes where the engines would stall while in traffic so I think I am quite predisposed to seek out more reliable vehicles to avoid similar experiences. It's amazing how far cars have come (in terms of reliability), when in the 70's and 80's, many cars were like **** shacks. But then with all these CAFE and emissions requirements, we now see lots of unproven (HCCI, ActiveXXX, etc.) or complex technologies being introduced just to get the EPA numbers up.

My ask:
Over the past few years, I have slowly gravitate towards Toyota/Lexus after realizing not all cars (even Japanese) are made equal in terms of reliability. So although I haven't been jaded and slapped around by Toyota/Lexus, I would like to hear your stories on why you initially went with Lexus, how long you remained a loyal Lexus fan and why you may now be thinking of jumping ship and switching to other brands. After perusing the Yacht and Jet threads, I noticed a few long-time members here voicing out their complaints and "threatening" to leave (or have left) Lexus because the company has lost its focus and way.

Thank you so much in advance. I will take all your stories to heart. There are no right or wrong answers or experiences, especially to a newcomer such as myself.
 
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CIF

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I am a long-time Lexus fan since the 1990s. I do not currently own a Lexus. For a multitude of reasons, I have lost passion for Lexus lately. To summarize why, it is essentially because Lexus has philosophically strayed from their original philosophy as a brand. I don't want, nor do I care for Lexus to become a 'lifestyle' brand. I don't want, nor do I care for more sport in regular (non F-Sport, non F) Lexus models. We have way, way more than enough mainstream sporty luxury or near-luxury brands in the world today. Acura, Infiniti, BMW, Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover...they are all fairly sporty to a degree, or they mainly like to focus on sport. You can now throw Lexus into the mix. Mercedes I would argue is the only mainstream luxury brand that still tries to focus on pure luxury (in some of their models). I am not a Mercedes fan though for other reasons. Then of course there is Bentley and Rolls Royce, who admirably also still put a lot of focus into pure luxury, but they are high end niche luxury brands beyond the reach of most luxury car buyers.

I feel that Lexus has spiritually and philosophically lost its way. The only thing that would bring me back to the Lexus brand is a renewed and rock-solid commitment to making very refined, very isolated, and very comfortable regular Lexus models, on top of the core attributes of quality, reliability, and durability. Also a renewed commitment to physical buttons in the interior. Fancy technology ages poorly in interiors, we can see that from old luxury interiors of the 1980s and 1990s. However what remains timeless are physical buttons, controls, and knobs. It is only my opinion, but that is part of true luxury and timeless luxury. As part of that, I also feel true luxury includes being able to drive virtually any type of road or environment in great comfort and isolation. I feel that the current obsession with the abundance of technology in luxury interiors will lead to many of these interiors aging very poorly into the future...unless the intent of many of these luxury brands is planned obsolescence, which I am strongly against.

I am not against sport and sporty models, but keep that away from regular Lexus models and keep that strictly to F-Sport and F models.
 

James

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I have two Lexus. My father in has like 4 or 5 Germans (MB, Audi, BMW) from an SLS to a Q7 to S4 and like Z4. Honestly the amount of times those cars are in the shop is crazy. Absolutely mind boggling and I’ve dropped them off before at service department (Audi) and they’ve told me you can only drive 50 miles a day with our rental. He’s a doctor and drives way more than that in a day but since he has another car no big deal to him but I find that such BS. Lexus has never told me that (parents own two Lexus for 15+ years and they have told them to drive it to a Chicago for the weekend from Michigan no problem at all). German cars are faster maybe better looking but from how Lexus makes me feel as an owner wouldn’t change it for any other company. Lexus for Life!
 

ssun30

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Thank you for this thread so that not every thread turns into a rant against Lexus.

First thing first I would not call myself a Lexus loyalist since I have only owned one, a XV40 ES350. That ES was a really poor sample because of constant glitches after just 100,000 km. So unfortunately I am not a Lexus owner who would proudly say the car never fails me. But I've referred more than a dozen friends and colleagues to Lexus purchases. I currently own a JK Wrangler project car and a Volvo XC60. I am considering a ES300h Executive but the launch of the FAW Avalon really made me think twice. With the crazy wait time and markup it's not a wise time to buy the ES right now.

I am very pleased with how well the parent company is doing. They are pushing new models on the new TNGA platform at a healthy pace and venture into new segments to expand their lineup. All of the new TNGA products are so convincing that the competition can only respond with a price war. These may not be the best at one particular trait but provide the best overall package at the same price, all thanks to the cost-reducing power of TNGA.

I am displeased that they pulled the FJ Cruiser and the LC200 out of China four years ago, a move that the offroad community will never forgive them for. They stopped import of the LC200 because they were too lazy to modify the engines for new emission regulations. This just benefits the grey importers, who went out of their way to put emission kits on all 30,000 Land Cruisers they import each year. Now we have to pay huge premiums because supply is so limited. There is no other place in the world where a base 4.0L GRJ200 costs more than a F-150 Raptor. That's how much trust the chinese offroad community has for the Land Cruiser. It sounds like a miracle to me that Toyota still sells the URJ200 in U.S. at just 3,000 sales per year, while they think it was a genius idea to pull out of a market where they sell an extra zero. Dealers are also outraged that billions of sales went into the pockets of grey importers.

That being said I don't feel the age of their BOF products is a serious problem. The J150 and the J200 were so ahead of their time they are still the most capable at going places and hauling stuff today. The only part that is outdated is the fuel economy. If it takes time for them to develop the J300 so be it, since the Land Cruiser is one thing they cannot afford to mess up.

As to Lexus:
Yes they are making huge gains in China but that's less about the merit of their products. It's mostly due to the fact that it is the last premium car brand to have a full import lineup. This may sound ridiculous to you but the chinese people have a general distrust in the quality of made-in-China, more than people in any other nation. The almost religious trust in made-in-Japan is what boosts Lexus so well. And of course, their recent exterior designs are really good. They aren't lying when they say design is the No.1 driver of sales. American auto journalists base too much of their impressions of cars on a movie which is really stupid.

Yes the sales numbers stay strong in its home market (US not Japan), but the distribution of their sales is way too skewed. All of the products that sell well are those without a direct competition (ES, RX, and GX). Wherever they have to compete the hard way they lose terribly.

I've always said that Lexus operates under a completely different strategy compared to the likes of BBA. It focuses on a few core products to maximize sales figures and margins. It is a very efficient way to operate a generic car company. But its competitors chase the total addressable market (TAM) instead of outright volume. That's why they keep such a diverse lineup with all kinds of body styles, sizes, and powertrain options. This way of operation is quite vulnerable to economic recessions due to inherent inefficiencies. But variety allows them to spread sales across a wider price range, which actually boosts profitability.

Under the Lexus model, the strengths of its core value products are detrimental to the health of the overall lineup. That's why almost all of their sales are concentrated at the lower end. And it just becomes a negative feedback loop in which less popular models see less sales, get cancelled, and the lineup becomes even less diversified. We all know the LS is objectively a superior product to the ES. But how many of us paused for a moment to actually think the latter may be the better purchase because of its value? I know many of other Lexus owners had this struggle. A Mercedes buyer will not even for a second think it's a good idea to buy a C-Class over a S-Class.

In general I agree Lexus does fine just from the overall numbers. But the brand is not healthy by any means. But a dead horse is a dead horse and I won't beat it again. The only way for me to restore faith in the brand is if they show a really convincing electric vehicle with autonomous driving in the immediate future. That's the next big thing so they better be really ahead in the game. A rushed "me-too" project like the Mercedes EQC or Audi e-Tron is not enough. It needs to be an affordable EV with technological sophistication comparable to Tesla and with the Lexus quality and reliability.
 
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Levi

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I am not a fan TMC’s diminishing fuel tank sizes. I know it is industry wide, but it does not mean it is a good thing, especially for BOF vehicles.

Also, the trend of subscriptions should be refused. I knew some new TMC cars were compatible with Apple Key, that this is a subscription is scandalous. I won’t pay 15 bucks a month for that. Rather 2.5k for whole life of vehicle.
 

Gecko

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This is a cool thread - somehow I never saw it before.

I know I'm hard on Lexus but I think that's normal as a 20 year+ enthusiast of anything who has seen ups and downs, and companies at their worst or their best.

I loved Lexus before I could even drive, so being in a stage of my life now where I could buy almost anything I want, I've asked myself a few times, "Why don't I branch out? Why don't I just try something new -- for once?" I've flirted with Audi but for me it comes down to a few key things:
  • Quality: To me, above all else, quality is luxury. High quality materials like wood and leather, stitching and lighting, tactile feel of knobs and buttons, tight panel gaps, low NVH, and all of the little experiential pieces and details to car ownership that Lexus gets so right are the things I value most. As for long term ownership, if you've been in a 4 or 5 year old (or older) Lexus and compared it to an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes of a similar age... you quickly see and understand how quality manifests itself over time, and what that feels like as an owner.
    • So many of Mercedes' new interiors are beautiful leather stitching or trim made to look appealing over cheap, thin plastic that squeaks or sounds like it'll crack with little pressure. BMW interiors tend to squeak and wear poorly over time -- contact surfaces like seats, door panels, trim, and steering wheels seem to wear out and discolor quickly. Audi interiors do wear well IMO. I owned a GS 300 to ~126k miles with no problems, I bought a 10 year old LS 430 that felt like it just rolled off the assembly line... I couldn't say anything similar from my friends'/family experience with other vehicles, and those are the experiences where I've really seen Lexus quality in a different light compared to the competition.
  • Reliability: I'm extremely busy - I don't have time to bother with warranty repairs even if the manufacturer pays for them. I barely have time to get my cars over for scheduled service as it stands. Something that I know will always work, never leave me stranded, and mostly only need scheduled maintenance is extremely important to me.
  • Resale value: It's one thing to sit and compare cars on the internet - it's another to put your own money into them when one will be worth 70% in 3 years and the other will be worth 40%.
  • Just me: Unlike most folks my age, I am highly disinterested in the trend of cars becoming expendable pieces of technology. The world of vehicles becoming rolling networks of screens, cameras, and computers is a complete turnoff to me and there is still enough "analog" left in Lexus that it feels like the experience of owning something special and long lasting (see points above about quality and reliability). The fact that Lexus offers the features I care about but still feels like a special vehicle purchase instead of some disposable piece of supertech is something I value a lot.
Even today when I have plenty of gripes, Lexus still does those things better than anyone else.
 

Gor134

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Audi interiors do wear well IMO. I owned a GS 300 to ~126k miles with no problems, I bought a 10 year old LS 430 that felt like it just rolled off the assembly line...

140k on my 2013 A4 Allroad and coilover suspension.. doesn't rattle or make any noise and still hauls ass eating up miles on my out-of-state roadtrips!

Can't say the same about newer Audi interiors though, they are nice but they generate rattles in the dashboard that I've never heard from mine.
 

CRSKTN

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Take a hammer to the knuckles of most dealership owners, management and staff.

The entire industry is basically zero-value-add (sorry) aside from servicing convenience, while they take the lion's share of economics. Why else do people value the rare, few, GOOD dealerships so much? Selling cars these days doesn't even take any effort with the backlogs. Why do they even have sales people? They rarely know anything about the cars anyway, it's actually embarrassing.

Imagine having a job where you can break $100k a year, and you only really need to know about 6 or 8 different products, and you still know next to nothing about them.

It attracts such a particular "type" that it has made car buying like pulling teeth. It's like I'm going to overgrown highschoolers for a large purchase.

They need to make Lexus sales centers basically just be like stepping into a Japanese luxury boutique straight out to Tokyo.
You have all this talk about history and craftsmanship and manufacturing and then I go into a Lexus dealership and it feels like a fancy walmart and the "Lexus Boutique" is a bunch of white labelled trash like umbrellas and tumblers.

How can a company this well resourced be this out of touch? How can their marketing always be so cheese-ball and terrible despite such compelling products?

Could you imagine how well the company would do if they didn't have the stodgy image?
The weird, stilted, awkwardly worded voice overs on generic montages of boring looking nepo trash going on "adventures".

I'm sure they have all sorts of data to show that this is effective for appealing to the lowest common denominator who can just afford their cars, but it doesn't make the whole situation any less terrible.

/rant.
 

Sulu

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I would like to see Toyota improve its interiors (although this may be a problem specific to North American-assembled vehicles). The current- and last-generation of Camrys and Corollas have interiors that look and feel terrible, and much worse than Camrys and Corollas of 15 or so years ago. I thought it was the all-black interiors (that seem to be the only choice in Canada) that are bad but the dark interior of a Crown Crossover and my wife's new Prius Prime I recently sat in look and feel better than my Camry; both the Crown and Prius Prime are assembled in Japan and not in North America.

I have not sat in a Lexus in some time (since my 2015 ES was totalled two-and-a-half years ago now) but do remember the interiors of the current model ES (assembled in Kentucky) loaners I drove when I took my older ES (assembled in Japan) in for service; the interior of my ES was not the best quality but still much better than those newer loaners.

I would also like to see Toyota and Lexus go back to the future to become less conservative and more willing to take risks, like they once did, when they first introduced the hybrid-electric Prius or when Lexus offered self-parking cars.

My high school music teacher was fond of saying "If you are going to make a mistake, make it a big one!", i.e. do not be afraid of trying (and possibly failing). I see Hyundai-Kia offer all these BEVs and not afraid that they may not be very good, but they are trying. Toyota and Lexus are not even trying.

In line with this, I would like to see Toyota offer something new to counter the current technology that seems to make their vehicles so easy to steal. Toyota and Lexus vehicles are among the most stolen vehicles in Canada; it cannot just be because they are popular and fetch a pretty penny on the black market, it must also be because they are relatively easy to steal.
 

RAL

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Lexus has FINALLY listened to customers ... moving away from the polarizing spindle grille towards spindle design! And yet some of the latest grilles??? ... How is it the styling of the vehicle can befit the Lexus brand (trendy and refined) and yet the front fascias be so under/over styled? How about doing something not too ridiculous or polarizing to give people what they want ... something commensurate with the styling of a Lexus? The styling of the new GX is a good start, but NOT the beluga whale hump of the RX fascia or the bland new TX fascia ...
 

ssun30

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The entire industry is basically zero-value-add (sorry) aside from servicing convenience, while they take the lion's share of economics. Why else do people value the rare, few, GOOD dealerships so much? Selling cars these days doesn't even take any effort with the backlogs. Why do they even have sales people? They rarely know anything about the cars anyway, it's actually embarrassing.
The terrible dealership experience is why I have not bought a single Lexus product since I moved to America. Zero effort, little to no knowledge of the product, don't want to serve a customer unless there is clear intention of purchase, no custom order.

If Lexus US dealership can have even 1/4 the hospitality of a Japanese dealership, nobody would be buying BBA again. The experience is simply night and day.

I remember once in a Japanese dealer I saw they custom order their furniture to match the interior trim of their cars and use special scents that match the cabin of the car, so you have an exact feel of your car when you are talking to the salesperson. In Chinese dealers they have an experience area where you can touch all the trim pieces and inspect color samples. I guess they don't need it since it seems every car Lexus sells in America is a cookie cutter black/black or black/white combination.

So far I've only seen similar levels of service in one Porsche dealer and one BMW dealer (but not all of them). The best thing I've seen from any American Lexus dealer was Lexus-badged hand towels in their restroom.
 
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Sulu

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Customer service is so dependent upon a society's culture. The Japanese (and other East Asians) have a selfless, community-oriented, community-service (I serve You) culture, whereas here in North America, it seems we are becoming an ever more selfish (You serve Me) culture.
 

internalaudit

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With much higher reliability, I'd also want to avoid the dealership experience (no matter kind it is and I wouldn't mind driving farther for a more decent experience -- likely related to the culture over at the services uniti) as much as possible except for that once a year (hopefully once every two years after the warranty period) visit. :)
 

CRSKTN

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Customer service is so dependent upon a society's culture. The Japanese (and other East Asians) have a selfless, community-oriented, community-service (I serve You) culture, whereas here in North America, it seems we are becoming an ever more selfish (You serve Me) culture.

It doesn't help the automotive dealer's association(s) are so moneyed and lobbied up that they're basically an extortion/organized crime group.
 

mikeavelli

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In Japan you can experience the real Omotenashi from Lexus

Totally different tho. In Japan you have to custom order your car. No inventory. People are fine with waiting. In the states people complain about everything and want the car for 20 grand under msrp or they will post on social media while also wanting the car yesterday.

I agree some dealer experiences could be better but as customers many people aren’t exactly a thrill to work with lol.
 

CRSKTN

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In the states people complain about everything and want the car for 20 grand under msrp or they will post on social media while also wanting the car yesterday.

I agree some dealer experiences could be better but as customers many people aren’t exactly a thrill to work with lol.

I am ecstatic about high interest rates, as someone who lives well within their means, it will be nice not to be mixed up with people who exist via excessive leverage at car dealers, home sales and elsewhere.

Low interest rates were such a detriment to everything. They rewarded vicious, greedy stupid people who blindly bid up home prices, propped up zombie businesses or bad business practices, and flooded the market with 'luxury products' that meant nothing any more. They empowered terrible businesses that then owned them via debt, who then took those proceeds and starting hoovering up assets and pressing down on salaries/money for real people who are now overburdened.

I really hope these changes lead to a bloodbath at dealerships, purging all the dead weight.