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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