Depressing New Lexus IS Commercial Basically Gives up on Behalf of All of Us

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
depressing new lexus is commercial basically gives up on behalf of all of us

We’ve got more than a few years of driving remaining, don’t you think?

It’s 2017. People still grasp steering wheels, still prod throttle pedals, still check blind spots (sometimes), still use their left hand to flick a signal stalk, and still stop for red lights by firmly pressing a right foot against a brake pedal. Last I checked, in my driveway sits a two-seat convertible with a six-speed manual transmission.

But in a 30-second spot that aired repeatedly during the final game of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Hockey Night In Canada, Lexus strikes fear into the soul of drivers everywhere in order to get you into a 2017 Lexus IS today. Today, before they — whoever “they” are — come for your manual transmissions and your steering wheels and your pedals. Before your driver’s car is replaced by an autonomous pod.

“Enjoy the thrill of driving,” Lexus says. “While you still can.”

Call this number now. While supplies last. For a limited time only.

Is it really all that bad, already? Are we just around the corner from mutinous robots overtaking our roadways? Is tomorrow my Miata’s appointment with the Waymo car?

No, of course Lexus is dramatizing. “It was exhilarating,” the Lexus owner says in the past tense, clearly speaking about that one time only a few years prior when his beard wasn’t grey and he steered his 2017 Lexus IS up a mountain pass on the other side of the world.

“That feeling of pure driving… it was amazing,” he says, forgetting that his Lexus IS, just like all the other ISs of the same generation, didn’t even offer a manual transmission. So pure.

Perhaps the issue here is the advertisement’s utilization of the Lexus IS. Lexus didn’t use the RC F or the new LC500, let alone feature the silhouette of an LFA in the background. The Lexus IS — the third-generation Lexus IS with its blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert and intuitive parking assist — is supposed to generate in the viewer’s mind memories of pure driving experiences.

But the Lexus IS? It’s not exactly the car that comes to mind when the professor in Automotive Engineering 101 asks the class to define, “Enemy of the autonomous car.”

Even though Lexus is clearly just presenting an extreme, futuristic vision of a robotic age in which we’re all ferried to and from work in self-driving capsules, there’s admittedly more than an ounce of realism in the commercial’s final plea. Yet the current Lexus IS isn’t your last chance to get into a car you can enjoy driving. The next Lexus IS won’t be, either.

Granted, it’s just advertising, so what’s the big deal? Either Toyota’s marketers are serious, or they’re exaggerating for the purposes of making a joke that’ll benefit the company’s entry-luxury sports sedan. Problem is, if it’s the former, this 2017 Lexus IS commercial is disingenuous at best; a traditional advertising fear tactic at worst. Lexus knows you can enjoy the thrill of driving for many years yet.

And if it isn’t intended to be a serious warning about future of autonomous driving but rather an attempt at humor, well, it’s just not funny.

[Image capture: Lexus Canada/ YouTube]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

Join the conversation
3 of 19 comments
  • BklynPete BklynPete on Jun 13, 2017

    Lordy, those Lexucs ads suck.

  • Rick Astley Rick Astley on Jun 13, 2017

    1) "People still grasp steering wheels": While technically true, observe the "average" motorist in a corner as they hunt and plead with even the most pedestrian corner to figure out how to utilize their steering wheel. Steering with the throttle? Drivers skill need not apply. 2) "Enjoy the thrill of driving": This cannot be actively achieved in any Lexus product outside of a LFA. My mother has had multiple Lexus and absolutely looooooooooves the "Lexus driving feel", which is A) Numb, B) Isolated, C) Boring, and D) Vague. A barcalounger would be the most apt description of "Lexus driving feel", IMHO. 3) This numb and isolated driving "experience" is incredibly dangerous. Driving that car for more than an hour has caused me to become so drowsy and bored that it must have surely reduced my reaction time and powers of observation.

    • Bikegoesbaa Bikegoesbaa on Jun 13, 2017

      3) This numb and isolated driving “experience” is incredibly dangerous. Data to support this? From the numbers I can find it appears as though cars that are "numb and isolated" are significantly less likely to crash than ones which are thrilling and reward driver skill.

  • TheEndlessEnigma In 2022 I put my college (then 21 year old) daughter into a 2022 Mirage SE, this year I put my college age 21 year old son into a 2023 Kia Soul LX. They are both very happy to have and both very happy with their vehicles, both are low cost to run and insure.
  • CEastwood If there are 10 laps or less left after a crash and a red flag only let the first ten cars finish the race . I watched the race from about the halfway point and the crashes caused near the end were caused by drivers who had zero to very little chance to finish in the top five .
  • Alan I blame COVID, the chip shortage, container shortage and the war in Ukraine. This aggression is evident in normal daily driving of late.
  • Alan $10 000 is a bit rich for a vehicle that most likely been flogged all its life, plus it's a VW. Lots of electrical gremlins live in them.
  • Alan Mitsubishi, Hino and Izuzu trucks are quite common in Australia. Another factor that needs to be taken into account are the cheap Chinese trucks and vans that are entering the market in Australia and becoming more popular as reliability improves, with huge warranties. Businesses want the cheapest logistics. Plumbers, concreters, builders buy many of these in their lightest versions, around 2.5 tonne payload. Hino/Toyota could use the cheaper competitor in Mitsubishi as a competitor against the Chinese. You don't see too many of the Japanese/Asian trucks in the rural areas.