Lexus Reevaluating the Existence of the GS and IS

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

While Lexus hasn’t confirmed anything, there’s growing speculation that the brand’s ES sedan will ultimately replace the GS. The model’s sales have trended downward since 2015, going from 23,117 U.S. deliveries that year to just 7,773 in 2017.


The brand hasn’t announced any plans to update it. Considering the fourth generation has been around since 2011, you’d think Lexus would have said something by now. But the company — like most luxury manufacturers — is preoccupied with moving utility vehicles. There’s now a three-row RX, and the smaller UX should help attract the younger demographic while allowing Lexus to dabble in a subscription-based sales model.

If it succeeds, the IS could be the next vehicle in the brand’s lineup to be tied to a tree and shot.

While the fate of the GS is practically guaranteed (the company has already discontinued it in Europe), the IS does better business overall. Still, annual sales have dropped each year since 2014 and the brand’s new U.S. general manager, David Christ, recently told Automotive News that Lexus is considering the future of both models.

That said, he also reiterated the company’s earlier promise not to betray consumers who prefer sedans and stated Lexus has high hopes for the ES. “There are still a lot of luxury cars being sold,” he said, “and we’re not going to abandon that market.”

However, it’s that market that will dictate just how true a statement that is. GS sales are almost trivial at this point and the IS has lost about half its strength. Both models are growing old and there’s no replacements scheduled that we know of. That’s going to result in the brand’s sedan lineup looking extremely lean, and it’s hard to imagine an explosion of sales for the RC or LC coupes as a result — but it’s a nice thought.

[Image: Lexus]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • DeadWeight DeadWeight on Jun 13, 2018

    I don't have a lot of time today, so I'll make this short (for now) - Phuck Lexus! They are starting to circle the drain, and may just end up like Acura before too long!

    • See 1 previous
    • DeadWeight DeadWeight on Jun 13, 2018

      @sportyaccordy Not true. I may be more critical than the average person, and expect more of vehicles, but I discuss vehicles I like and that I believe are genuinely good, often. It's just that I speak more frequently and critically about the MANY vehicles that subpar and/or overpriced, many from formerly excellent and consistent manufacturers (e.g. Acura, e.g, Toyota, e.g, BMW, etc.), because this is a site devoted to critiquing vehicles, and I can't control what manufacturers decide to design/produce, which is sadly ebbing, as a whole, towards a new malaise era compared to the 1994 to 2006 era, which was a glorious time for the top quality/design manufacturers. It has not helped that the overall landscape has changed in such a way that the CUV, many (not all) of which are antiseptic, sterile and truly bland, has come to account for such a huge % of overall vehicle sales in the last decade.

  • Sal Collaziano Sal Collaziano on Jun 13, 2018

    Lexus had a great niche in the pure luxury department - and lost their Mojo chasing after sportiness. People don't buy Lexus for sporty characteristics - there are plenty of other makes for that. Lexus dropped the ball big-time and there will never be another opportunity to crush the market like there was in 1989.

    • See 1 previous
    • Sal Collaziano Sal Collaziano on Jun 13, 2018

      @volvo 100%. I'd buy a G90 over an LS500 right now... Hyundai sees Lexus losing its vision just like Lexus saw Cadillac and Lincoln do the same decades back. History continues to repeat itself...

  • ChristianWimmer Yes, but with a carbureted 500cid V8. None of that fuel-injection silliness. 😇
  • VoGhost Fantastic work by Honda design. When I first saw the pictures, I thought "Is that a second gen Acura NSX?"
  • V16 2025 VW GLI...or 2025 Honda Civic SI? Same target audience, similar price points. Both are rays of sun in the gray world of SUV'S.
  • FreedMike Said this before and I'll say it again: I'm not that exercised about this whole "pay for a subscription" thing, as long as the deal's reasonable. And here's how you make it reasonable: offer it a monthly charge. Let's say that adaptive headlights are a $500 option on this vehicle, and the subscription is $15 a month, or $540 over a three year lease. So you try the feature for a month, and if you like it, you keep it; if you don't, then you discontinue it, like a Netflix subscription. In any case, you didn't get charged $500 up front the feature. That's not a bad deal.In my case, let's say VW offers an over the air chip reflash that gives me another 25 hp. The total price of the upgrade is $1,000 (which is what a reflash would cost you in the aftermarket). If they offered me a one time monthly subscription for $50 to try it out, I'd take it. In other words, maybe the news isn't all bad.
  • 2ACL A good car, but - at least in this configuration -not one that should command a premium. Its qualities just aren't as enduring as those of Honda's contemporary sports cars. For better or worse, this is a formula they remain able to replicate.