By on October 19, 2009

Toyota Mark X (courtesy:Autocar)

Since it’s shaping up to be Luxury Sedan Day here at TTAC (actually, it’s water-heater explosion day here at TTAC West, but that’s another, less-interesting story) we thought we’d show you Toyota’s Mark X [via Autocar], a sedan it figures could be a budget competitor to the BMW 5 series. But rather than getting hung up on what Toyota wants this car to be, let’s take a look at what it actually is: a Toyotaized version of the GS-series Lexus. This is the same strategy Toyota has taken with its HS250h, offering a JDM-only Toyota version of a Lexus product, although the Mark X’s differences go beyond a cheaper interior. Detuned versions of the 2.5 and 3.5 liter V6s found in the IS-series are offered as engine choices, in hopes of not intruding too much on the GS’s territory. And though none of this is likely to impact the US market, it’s worth noting that this is a questionable strategy at best. Lexus has succeeded in this country because of Toyota’s diligence in differentiating them from pedestrian T-branded offerings. If Toyota ever gets the brilliant idea of offering quick-and-dirty, down-economy rebadges of Lexus vehicles, it will find itself in a GM-sized branding nightmare before it can say “Buick.” And don’t think for a second that nobody at Toyota is thinking of making this the next Toyota Avalon. Just say no!

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31 Comments on “Toyota Mark X Marks The Spot...”

  • avatar

    The new GS? I like the old one, but it is overdue for a change. I am perplexed as to why the current one has gotten mixed reviews though…

  • avatar

    It may be bad for Badge addictive buyer’s ego, but its honest and appreciated. If Toyota won’t do it, the Hyundai will, Pontiac (sorta) did, so do used cars. The CTS is kinda big also.

    Its too bad if people have issues with branding and such. A car purchase is worth my time to study. I think its pretty sad that deals and cars like this are not afford because our economy depends of sick patronizing people who think very little of themselves. This is a not a healthy cultural practice.

    That being said, the Toyota Crown is a great looking car, sad again this dysfunctional society is so messed up. I like the interior of the MarkX a bit, not so much the exterior.

  • avatar

    Avalon is a dismal failure for Toyota due to its price point. Will history repeat itself?

  • avatar

    If Toyota bores us to death with such offerings, they will die – but slowly.

  • avatar

    My mom called. She wants her ES back.

    Seriously, if Toyota does go ahead and market this everything-but-in-name Lexus as the Avalon here in North America, then it is confirmed: Toyota is suffering from a case of the GM Flu.

    Surely there is someone within Toyota who saw that classic Lincoln ad mocking all the lookalike GM cars.

  • avatar

    Why is the steering wheel on the wrong side? I wouldn’t want a car that poorly engineered.

  • avatar

    Another free oportunity to state the obvious…

    Toyota is the new (old/new/whatever) GM.


  • avatar

    In China (and probably elsewhere outside the US) they also sell a RWD Toyota Reva that is essentially a LWD IS. It’s shorter and narrower than a Lexus GS.

  • avatar

    Toyota is suffering from a case of the GM Flu.

    Which might explain why, if you just glance at the photo of this car, you’d think it’s a Buick.

  • avatar

    Man, has Toyota ever lost its way.

    This is abhorrent. Really.

  • avatar

    Is this a Camry?

    I’ve seen that greenhouse for a decade now. It’s not new.

  • avatar

    The Avalon needs to be a cheaper competitor for the S and 7, not the 5. With the cost cutting done mainly in areas where they are meaningful only at above US speed limits, and at above average American’s driving aggressiveness on back roads.

    Big back seat, front wheel drive with small to no center hump, soft suspension and loads of amenities. With a large trunk to boot. And sufficient reliability, cheap (common with Camry) repair parts and stodginess to sway some Town Car fleet operators into taking the bait. Perhaps even a hybrid option. The focus needs to be on big, smooth, comfortable and problem free, not look at me or sporty like a 5.

  • avatar

    So you think that the entry luxury Avalon is better off sharing mechanicals with the Camry instead of the GS? Why?

  • avatar

    And though none of this is likely to impact the US market, it’s worth noting that this is a questionable strategy at best. Lexus has succeeded in this country because of Toyota’s diligence in differentiating them from pedestrian T-branded offerings.

    Considering that, up until the previous model, the erstwhile-successful Lexuses were JDM premium Toyotas and no one cared, this is irrelevant.

    The JDM is fast-paced, ADD-inducingly-hypercompetitive and flat-out weird. Cars pop in and out of existence regularly, under multiple badges and with all sorts of trim lines and options. None of this matters to North America. You will never see this in North America because it makes no sense here, much as we’ll never see an A-Class Merc or Audi A1. Saying that this has any likelihood of affecting the US market is pretty speculative, unless the intent was to stir up a little Lexus Brand Destruction discussion.

    If you want to do that, the HS and LX already provide better fodder.

  • avatar

    You realize they’ve been doing this in Japan for decades, right?

  • avatar

    The Mark-X is the successor to the Mark-II/Cressida/Cresta/Chaser cars of yore.

    Not as good as those, but better than reading from the Toyota Bible of Avalonians.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    The Japanese market is completely different from ours: they have been making the Mark II/X / Aristo / Crown / Chaser / Soarer etc. simultaneously for years.

    This will not be an Avalon; it’s rear-wheel drive.

  • avatar

    Mr. Niedermeyer, condolences on your exploding hot water heater. If you decide not to go for a tankless unit, here’s an old link I bookmarked on how the right tank (and a few extra parts) can help your new water heater last a long time:

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Methinks the Venza is replacing the Avalon in Toyota’s lineup. Although one is a sedan and the other is not, there’s lots of overlap, price and size-wise.

    Venza sales were more than double the Avalon’s last month, and are almost double for the year. PDF

  • avatar

    Not to mention this looks like a derivative of the not-so-hot current Acura TSX, sans guillotine grille.

  • avatar


    Price, mainly. I feel the Avalon has potential to be the Town car of the post Detroit, Pacific Rim century. Making a bigger back seat GS would likely encroach too far on the LS’ market, unless it was priced beyond reason.

    With a cheap to put together, reliable, common parts with Camry, front drive car, Toyota can offer pretty much the same rear seat, and even front seat, space and comfort and utility as the big boys, without cannibalizing sales of Lexus to more aspirational buyers. The whole notion that large need necessarily mean expensive, is just silly, and may have contributed to the needless growth of the SUV market.

    Absent the Avalon, and with the once big 3 gone or soon to be, what else would someone needing, or wanting, a large, quiet, luxurious and comfortable sedan, but who couldn’t give a hoot about 90+ performance, high price, and up market brand status, buy?

    As it stands now, the Avalon limited plus one year of a weekday chauffeur (2 years if you count Au Pairs) to take you to work, drop off your kids, run your errands, pick up your kids and pick you up after work, costs about the same as just the car if you buy an S or a 7. And it isn’t really any less well suited to the job. And, unlike the Town Car, it doesn’t make you, or your Au Pair, look like a Mafia Don.

  • avatar
    Via Nocturna

    Was anyone else put off by the massively bulging hood? It looks ridiculous on a car as soporific as this, not to mention eats into forward visibility.

  • avatar

    And don’t think for a second that nobody at Toyota is thinking of making this the next Toyota Avalon. Just say no!

    I say YES!! Now this is a real Toyota. F@@k Lexus.
    If Lexus can’t find its nitch without Toyota decontenting its cars and quality to the level that they have done, then Lexus needs to go. Don’t kill the goose that layed the golden egg…if they haven’t already.

  • avatar

    This is JDM only. All US lexus models are Toyota models in the Japanese market. The ES and Camry are the only Toyota/Lexus siblings in the US (that aren’t SUVs… simply makes no sense to develop 2x the SUVs when they really only move in the US market).

    Heck, the RX and Highlander are very closely related, but I seriously doubt many people crossshop them because they are such different vehicles. The Venza and RX are the only place I see Toyota cannibalizing themselves. Even then, though, the prices and equipment are so different that if you can afford the RX, you typically don’t look at the Venza.

    As said above, the Venza has likely stolen many sales from the Avalon. That is one spacious and comfortable car and it looks great for a station wagon on stilts.

  • avatar

    All US lexus models are Toyota models in the Japanese market.

    Not true since about 2005. Every model that’s a Lexus here has debuted as a Lexus in Japan. That doesn’t mean that Toyota hasn’t rebadged Lexuses as JDM Toyotas, just that the GS, for example, is no longer a JDM Aristo with an L on the grille.

  • avatar


    You are correct about Lexus and very similar Toyotas existing in Japan together for a long time. Toyota has a massive slice of the Japanese domestic market (something like 50%, last time I checked), and they offer a hell of a lot of VERY similar cars. The product overlap is no worse now than it ever was. While the Lexus SUVs and the ES are closely related to Toyota models sold in the US, we’re never going to see a cut-price LS460 with a Toyota badge on it.

    I wouldn’t count out the A1 or the A-class though. Audi and Mercedes have been watching the success of the Mini, and they are trying to figure out how to compete with it using their own badges.

  • avatar

    Yet another derivative mess. That same ol same ol greenhouse, that same ol same ol plain slab sided sedan look, that same ol same ol Toyota bland front end. They are really screwing the pooch hard with there dull lackluster cars lately!

  • avatar

    Lexus just recently entered the Japanese market and has so far not been successful. (There it lacks the cachet value that it has here.)

    I’m willing to bet that this is part of a plan to reduce excess capacity. Badge engineering does not seem to pose a problem in that market, and since it isn’t particularly a profitable place to do business anyway, it may not matter much what it does. Perhaps this is a signal that Lexus will eventually withdraw from Japan and focus its efforts elsewhere.

  • avatar
    John R

    The Mark X is not a new car. It’s been around for ages and has never showed up here in anything other than Lexus digs. The Mark X will never show up on US shores.

  • avatar

    Cressida Mk II?

  • avatar

    Id just like to know..

    What happened to the distinctive GS with the set of tail lamps that peek through the sheetmetal?

    This.. is boring as hell.

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