Lexus: Performance Out, Hybrids In

lexus performance out hybrids in

ToMoCo's fears of "big company disease" seem most credible when looking at its non-Toyota brands. While Scion fails to capitalize on increased demand for smaller, more efficient cars, Lexus is struggling to adjust to the changing market conditions. Automotive News [sub] reports that Lexus has relied too heavily on SUV and crossover sales, allowing its car offerings to wither on the vine. The IS isn't due for a restyle until 2012, the GS and ES models are two and three years away from redesigns respectively, and the aging SC430 is [still] dead in the water (1,373 sales year-to-date). On the performance front the GS-F's on hold and the LF-A development project has failed to hit performance benchmarks in line with its $160k price tag. Delaying the LF-1 production model until 2010 seems a foregone conclusion. Even then there's no guarantee that there'll be a market for Lexus' halo model. No wonder, then, that Lexus is amping-up its hybrid options. Not only does "the power of H" give the brand unique cachet, but it also returns hefty profits on ToMoCo's hybrid platforms, helping the Japanese automaker drive down costs on Toyota-branded hybrids.

Comments
Join the conversation
4 of 20 comments
  • Jerseydevil Jerseydevil on Aug 12, 2008

    Lexus has always confused me with the alphabet soup of model names - i cant tell one from another without a picture, kinda like a Bob Evans restaurant menu. So i really dont know what most of the commenters are talking about. Let alone lexus itself.

  • Rix Rix on Aug 12, 2008

    Lexus meets my absolute first requirement of a car: It must start each and every time I want to go somewhere. Even if it is cold out. Even if I spill coffee out of the cupholder. The only thing I want to deal with is an oil change and tire rotation every few thousand miles and occasional scheduled maintenence. Acura, Lexus, and perhaps to some degree Inifinit are the only luxury brands that give me the feeling that I do not have to worry. Second, I don't care that the $40k car that I buy has a $70k luxobarge sibling with an eight cylinder. It doesn't matter to me. I am at a point in life where I am looking to cruise in comfort, not turn heads. For the record, I own an older Infiniti and a newer Subaru. Third, this is real differentiation. There are a LOT of good 40k cars on the market. From Acura to Volvo (ok, maybe not Volvo) there are worthwhile choices. And all of them are pretty similar. But Lexus will have a real advantage with some differentiated product. I will seriously consider buying this for my wife, if it has a normal amount of power and Lexus luxury and ride.

  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Aug 12, 2008
    Either way, they are still a bore to drive. That's not really fair. The IS is actually very well-balanced in 250/RWD form, though the previous IS was more raw; I'd say it compares more than favourably with the 323i. The IS350 had the misfortune of coming out just before the 335i and G37, and didn't really get a fair shake; it's a pretty good performer, too, probably as well-balanced as an equivalent G35 or C-Class, better than the A4 and not quite as nice as the 3-Series. The GS misses the mark set by the M and 5-Series, true, but no more than the A6 or E-Class. The LS is actually very, very good, again, compared to an equivalently-priced A8 or S-Class. Again, the 7-Series is more fun, but is that really the mission of a car so massive? Then you get into cars like the GX and LX, which are stupidly capable off-road for something as civilized as they are. They're like a nicer Land Rover, but without the "break down every six hours" habit, or a G-Class with a modern ride. I've never had seat time in the IS-F or SC430 can't speak to either. I think a lot of people extrapolate the ES and RX's attributes onto the rest of the line. Both are easily Lexus' most pedestrian models (and they sell very well for it, thank you very much!), and really aren't a fair comment on what is otherwise a very good lineup. That lineup tracks Mercedes' and Audi's equivalent models for driving fun, but where Lexus falls down is the lack of an AMG/S/M division. The IS-F is a nice start, but as I understand it, it was developed without real, formal support from Toyota--it's more a skunkworks project than a polished effort from a dedicated in-house tuner. If I had the money, I'd buy a GS hybrid.

  • Patapon Patapon on Aug 13, 2008

    @drewpsb How do you compare the driving dynamics of an E46 to an RX? If the new E46 was a direct replacement for the RX, I'd say the RX was the wrong car for you to begin with. I agree with psarhjinian. I have the original IS300, and it is not boring to drive at all. Is it perfect? Of course not, but which car is? When I'm at the pump, sometimes I wish I had a 4-cyl. When traffic is backed up, sometimes I wish I had softer seats. When the roads are clear, sometimes I wish I had a bigger engine. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Next