DetN's Burgess: Lexus Drivers Are America's Worst

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
detn s burgess lexus drivers are america s worst

“While I have no statistical data to support my theory that Lexus drivers collectively exhibit the worst roadside manners in the U.S.,” The Detroit News‘ Scott Burgess writes, “I have plenty of anecdotal evidence: The Lexus driver on her cell phone in California who nearly ran me off the road in Westwood. The South Florida Lexus driver on his cell phone using the emergency lane to bypass traffic. Other Lexus drivers cutting me off, tailgating me or the never even seeing me. Somehow, Lexus can take a nice guy and transform him into Mad Max.” Whoa! Lexus? Mad Max?

I’ve been writing the truth about cars (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) since the turn of the century. During that time, I’ve heard many a brand-related meme. BMW drivers as arrogant pricks. Volvo drivers as jerks. Buick drivers as zombies. But I’ve never heard anyone say Lexus drivers are aggressive. Lexus builds cars for people who don’t like to drive. They want to waft on the automotive embodiment of their well-fed 401K. Burgess’ slur makes no sense. Or does it?

Would it happen to me, I wondered, as I prepared to test the 2009 GS 450h. This vehicle had the double potential to make me believe the roads come with a “Scott only” lane. First, there was the L on the trunk, and, second, there was blue around the L, meaning this sedan is a hybrid. This would allow me to cut off a Chrysler minivan and then feel contempt for the owner in that he-just-doesn’t-know-any-better way.

Sorry; I’m not feeling this at all. I’ve driven Lexus’ hybrid mothership and not once did I feel like an imperious son of bitch. You want imperious? Drive an S63 AMG. Or a Bentley Arnage. Or, for that matter, a Dodge Challenger SRT8—which floated Burgess’ boat but good. To wit:

I pushed the start button again and everything switched off. Ugh, this is a hybrid, I reminded myself; the engine doesn’t always rumble awake when you hop into it (it can propel itself by silent electric power).

Ugh? I like the aural sex of a snorty V8 more than the other guy. But c’mon, Scott. Lexus introduced the no-idle gas-electric RX 400 four years ago. Not to mention the Prius’ 2001 debut. God forbid.

Needless to say, Mr. B proceeds to take his usual shot at The Sierra Club (not a Euro Ford fan group, BTW), grudgingly admits that the 2009 GS 450h is a superb, not to say Japanese, automobile (handsome, fast, smooth, comfortable, well-equipped, well-built and fun) and closes with more cheap shots for the cheap seats.

Every brand carries a certain attitude. Chevy means one thing while Lamborghini means something different. That’s half the fun of testing these machines.

While I initially thought it was the drivers who were tarnishing the Lexus brand, I realized that it’s Lexus that creates these self-important drivers.

Of course they don’t pay attention to traffic rules—the Lexus makes you oblivious to them—70 mph or 90 mph, it all feels the same. The insanely quiet ride means you don’t hear the rumble strips as the tires roll across.

There’s nothing wrong with a car spoiling the driver. I only wish they’d think about using their turn signals from time to time. They work just fine.

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  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Feb 02, 2009

    I agree with him. Lexus drivers are snots who need to take some remedial driving courses.

  • Bjcpdx Bjcpdx on Feb 03, 2009

    Update: Well, no sooner do I diss Volvo station wagon drivers than I am rear-ended by, you guessed it, a Volvo station wagon. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. Of course, the truth is that we can only generalize about drivers of certain cars. I'm sure there are plenty of non-aggressive BMW drivers and plenty of attentive Lexus drivers out there. But really, this Volvo thing is a pretty weird coincidence.

  • Analoggrotto Only allow Tesla drivers to race, we are the epitome of class and brilliance.
  • Wjtinfwb When my kids turned 16 and got their Operators, we spent $400 to send both (twins) to 2 driving schools. One held by the local Sherriff was pretty basic but a good starter on car control and dealing with police officers as they ran the school. Then they went to a full day class in N Atlanta on a racetrack, with the cars supplied by BMW. They learned evasive maneuvers, high speed braking, skid control on a wet skid pad and generally built a lot of confidence behind the wheel. Feeling better about their skills, we looked for cars. My son was adamant he wanted a manual, Halleluiah! Looking at used Civics and Golf's and concerned about reliability and safety, I got discouraged. Then noticed an AutoTrader adv. for a new leftover '16 Ford Focus ST six-speed. 25k MSRP advertised for $17,500. $2500 above my self-imposed limit. I went to look, a brand new car, 16 miles on it, black with just the sunroof. 3 year warranty and ABS, Airbags. One drive and the torquey turbo 2.0 convinced me and I bought it on the spot. 7 years and 66k miles later it still serves my son well with zero issues. My daughter was set on a Subaru, I easily found a year old Crosstrek with all the safety gear and only 3k miles. 21k but gave my wife and I lots of peace of mind. She still wheels the Subaru, loves it and it too has provided 7 years and 58k miles of low cost motoring. Buy what fits your budget but keep in mind total cost over the long haul and the peace of mind a reliable and safe car provides. Your kids are worth it.
  • Irvingklaws Here's something cheaper, non-german, and more intriguing...
  • Wjtinfwb Happy you're loving your Z4. Variety is the spice of life and an off-beat car like the Z4 intrigues me as well. More than anything, your article and pictures have me lusting for the dashboards of a decade ago. Big, round analog gauges. Knobs and buttons to dial up the A/C, Heat or Volume. Not a television screen in sight. Need to back up? Use the mirrors or look over your shoulder. If your Z4 had the six-speed manual, it would be about perfect. Today's electronified BMW's leave me ice cold, as do the new Mercedes and Audi's with their video game interiors. Even a lowly GTI cannot escape the glowing LED dashboard. I'm not a total luddite, Bluetooth streaming for the radio would be nice and I'd agree the cooled seats would be a bonus on a warm day with the top down. But the Atari dashboard is just a bridge too far for me.
  • Craiger Honestly I was incredibly disappointed by the lack of steering feel. I dropped off my 530 at the dealer in New Jersey and picked up the Z. Driving all of my familiar roads I was just shocked at how much info wasn't coming through the wheel. Because of that I was never able to push the Z like I did the 530.