By on June 12, 2018

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.

Ouch.

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]

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52 Comments on “Lexus Reevaluating the Existence of the GS and IS...”


  • avatar
    Mr. Monte

    Well the current GS and IS premiered as 2013 models not 2011 in North America, I love driving dynamics of both especially in F-Sport guise compared to the rest of the Lexus SUV and Sedan line current and past. I wonder based on the slower sales are Lexus buyers really interested in “Sports/Sporty” sedans or the old numb feeling sedans of yore and if this “sporty” phase is going to backfire with the newer “sportier” LS and ES.

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      Mr. Monte I partially agree with you. I think buyers in this sedan segment would prefer good handling and road feel but could do without the “in your face” boy racer appearance and may want a more subtle design. Sort of like the early LS models.

      • 0 avatar
        Truckducken

        Bingo. A less decontented interior would also help, along with a good infotainment interface. Until then, I guess we can run the old ones into the ground.

      • 0 avatar
        Truckducken

        Bingo. A less decontented interior would also help, along with a good infotainment interface. Until then, I guess we can run the old ones into the ground.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      The current GS was first unveiled late summer 2011, going on sale early 2012 as a 2013 model. There was no 2012 model year GS. The article never claims the current IS dates to 2011.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Granted, Lexus F-designated models have been outgunned by the Germans (and Cadillac) and don’t sell well in comparison, but don’t think the vast majority of Lexus buyers really care about handling/performance.

      Before it was dropped, the IS250 with its anemic V6 (which got panned by everyone, including Consumer Reports) made up 80% of IS sales.

      Another problem is that neither model sells in Japan or in Europe, so w/o significant US sales, there isn’t much hope for ROI.

      It certainly says something if Toyota ends up dropping both.

      However, if Toyota ends up dropping only 1 of the 2, likely would be the GS as it had already been on the chopping block before (Akio had to be talked out of it the last time around) and the IS sells better in the US and Europe (and younger buyers aren’t necessarily looking for a sedan the size of the ES).

      The only thing the GS has on its side is that there is a new Crown Series (of which it shares a platform/mechanicals).

  • avatar
    whynot

    The current GS was first unveiled late summer 2011, going on sale early 2012 as a 2013 model. There was no 2012 model year GS. The article never claims the current IS dates to 2011.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I would consider a new GS if it had an updated infotainment system (current one is horendous) and had a more tasteful grill. I would not consider a FWD ES under any circumstances.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I’m not up on it, but I thought I read the IS sucked so perhaps that’s why its having issues?

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      CR hates it. C&D used to love it and ranked it higher than a turbo-six BMW in a comparo. It’s getting a bit old and the new 2.0T isn’t earning praise compared with BMW’s or Audi’s. Reviews seem to converge on “Old but good 3.5 V6, uncompetitive base engine, great seats, great chassis, buy the F-Sport, when’s the redesign?”

      Who knows what real customers think. I’m guessing something banal and loathsome like infotainment annoyances rank far, far higher than “the 2.0T doesn’t do 0-60 in 5.5 seconds?!”, though.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’m surprised its been such a problem child for otherwise competent Lexus.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          The compact sporty-ish sedan segment seems to be a problem child for anything not Deutsch.

          The enthusiast press largely likes this car and it now has a usable rear seat. The IS350 is probably going to be the most durable and long-lived entrant in the segment, and you can get that big smooth linear NA V6 for the same price as a turbo-4 3-series. Resale value seems quite good; I thought about an off-lease IS350 before going off the rails for a 4Runner but the Lexus was quite a bit more than an equivalent 328 or A4.

          Looks like a great car to me, but the market likes the German Big Three.

          • 0 avatar
            Ban-One

            “The compact sporty-ish sedan segment seems to be a problem child for anything not Deutsch.” “Looks like a great car to me, but the market likes the German Big Three.”

            this is a false narrative, there is only a Big Two. Q50 & TLX both outsell A4 and have for some time. IS previously did too. Q50 already has a V6TT and TLX allegedly has one in the works. if the IS sales are lagging, it is Lexus fault for not upping the engine to something more than can be had in a Camry.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            I’ll agree with the Big Two, but the rest of your argument is a bit muddled. Q50 sales are down compared to the G37 before it. TLX is FWD and outsold by Lexus’s FWD offering, the ES. The IS250 always outsold the IS350. The TLX has Accord engines. Your logic isn’t holding.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            When comparing Q50 sales to that of the G, one has to take into account the drastic increase in popularity of CUVs, SUVs and pick-ups.

            While not attaining the sales heights of the G, the Q50, nonetheless, has largely retained (after a rough start) Infinit’s 3rd place finish in the segment.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Agreed, 30-mile, I was looking at a CPO IS250 a couple of weeks ago. Terrific car, except for the fact that I think I might be able to walk one in my Jetta. Lack of speed is a serious issue for a sport sedan, you know?

            The 350 would be a lot more than I’d be comfortable spending. Probably worth it, though.

            A CPO BMW 328 is damned nice to drive, but it’s obviously cheaped out. Obvious example: the interior door pull handles on a BMW – even a used one – shouldn’t make the same creaky plastic noise as the ones on a ten-year-old Kia.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Freed, I agree on the 250. The engine is a deal breaker. Smooth, refined, and sounds good while nearly losing the stoplight drag race to a well-driven $18k Jetta 1.4t. Lexus made a momentum car! I drove one 10 minutes after trying a G37, so you can imagine how slow it felt. But the seats are fantastic.

            New, a 350 is priced on top of a 330i. I know which I’d choose. Used, a 250 is similar to a 328i. I know which I’d choose there as well.

          • 0 avatar
            Ban-One

            “I’ll agree with the Big Two, but the rest of your argument is a bit muddled. Q50 sales are down compared to the G37 before it. TLX is FWD and outsold by Lexus’s FWD offering, the ES. The IS250 always outsold the IS350. The TLX has Accord engines. Your logic isn’t holding.”

            sales can be down all you want, but 3rd place is still 3rd place. as to your wonderful logic, please post a link to an AWD ES or a RWD A4 and i’ll shut up and go home.

            that’s what i thought.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Ban-one,
            Feel free to post a link proving that any of the reasons you’ve given are actually driving the respective sales of these cars. Otherwise you’re just arm-waving.

            But given that you’re kind of hypersensitive and trolling for an argument, feel free to go home regardless. First rule for having a conversation with someone is to not undermine yourself right out of the gate by being a combative juvenile. Are you capable of that?

            THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT.

          • 0 avatar
            Ban-One

            go eat a D, your false narrative (which in of itself was mindless parroting of what the trash car rags spew forth) was outed for its ignorance, and your condescending retort and feeble attempt to introduce an entirely new line of reasoning to your rambling, disjointed “conversation” was undermined by your poor choice examples of vehicles that nobody in their right mind would associate with “compact sporty-ish sedans”, and was thusly debunked, thusly

            i would tell you to go home but am of the belief i am conversing with a homeless person, so i will throw some change into your cup and bid thee farewell before you begin arguing and fighting with yourself

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          They should have made the bigger V-6 standard – the base version with the 2.5 V-6 is a dog. I tried out a ’15 not too long ago. I loved everything about it except for the complete lack of power, and the 3.5 models were going for way more than I’d be interested in spending.

          And that’s a shame – this car makes pretty much anything else in its’ class feel cheap (and I’m looking at you, 3-series).

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Considering the 80% take rate of the IS250 (before it was replaced by the 2.0T), don’t think buyers cared too much about performance.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Shows what the auto press knows. Lexus and Cadillac make legitimate efforts at BMW-beaters and it turns out BMW probably wasn’t sales king just because of the driving experience after all.

    Anyway, give ‘er another go Lexus. Dial back the IS’s frightful origami face a notch, rework the hated infotainment, see if you can’t squeeze just a bit more rear seat room into it, up your prestige factor by gouging your customers mercilessly for things like power & heated seats, and see if you can’t keep it afloat for another model cycle. Even the 3-series was down 50% in 2017 compared to 2015 and you’re not far off A4 sales.

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      The design does not matter: I’m okay with the current one, but in any case it’s not a deal-breaker. Yes on the infotainment. My 2009 has a much better one than the ones 10 years later. But HELL NO on the rear seat thing – it is already too large in the 2018. If anything, I’d rather them scale it back to what it was in 2009. If you want a big rear seat, buy an LS or ES, or whatever – maybe even RX. I’m not carrying anyone in the rear seat who has a right to complain. The heated _AND_ cooled seat was a big reason why 2009 won, BTW.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        “HELL NO on the rear seat thing…scale it back”

        See, that would have removed it from my list. I’ve had kids in car seats and it would work (barely) in the current model but not at all in the 2009. If my choice then becomes spending another 10 grand for a GS or looking at a boring ES, I’ll go buy the Infiniti instead.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Biggest issue for both (as well as the Jag XE) is the tight rear seating.

      Genesis is making the same mistake with the G70.

      With the upcoming CT5, Cadillac is going back to what it did with the 2G CTS (being a segment leader when it comes to rear passenger space).

  • avatar
    vanpressburg

    Lexus is 200t is a great car, AT is disaster, it just needs MT.

  • avatar
    ajla

    If the GS-f dies then I think that means the G80, G90, 300, and Charger will be the only naturally-aspirated V8 sedans left in the world.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I am a fan of the IS 350, is that what they are still calling to top engine model these days? Anyway, I think even think the predator grill is well suited to that particular model. It doesn’t translate well to the crossovers and SUVs though. Bottom line, the march of crossovers has most every sedan in it’s sights.

    As I’ve said before, and I don’t think it’s just a theory anymore, massive pickup trucks and their massive sales are responsible for crossovers….and the popularity of larger/taller vehicles in general. Being in a high riding vehicle makes pickup trucks slightly more tolerable, if only just. The rising number of large/high riding vehicles will just snowball as they make those driving smaller, lower vehicles miserable behind the wheel stuck in traffic where their only forward vision of the world is the tailgate of supersized vehicle in front of them. So if you can’t beat them, join them.

    Pickup trucks are a plague. This is the end result.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Screw it, pickups for all.

    • 0 avatar
      Sub-600

      This is how double decker buses propagated in England. Finally bus drivers were like, “Come ahead, mate, I can see over your bloody lorry now. Pip-pip.”

      • 0 avatar
        St.George

        They don’t drive them from the upper deck like a fly bridge fishing boat. The driver sits on the first floor (ground floor in UK parlance), just as in a regular vehicle!

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      Go drive a 1/2 ton pickup and go drive a modern sedan, compare the ride quality and you will understand why families are abandoning cars and climbing into trucks in droves.

      Remember the 2013 Avalon fiasco trying to turn a boulevard cruiser into a Euro style “handling” oriented car? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        Fairly recently I’ve driven a 2017 Sierra and 2016 f-150 each for about a day and we’ll over 100 miles both laden and unladen. Granted, both were probably mid level trims, not loaded. I appreciate their utility, but as a daily driver, they did nothing but cement my position. No thanks.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        If an Impala or G80 or 300 or Continental isn’t “cruiser” enough for you then I don’t know what you’re looking for.

        • 0 avatar
          TwoBelugas

          “If an Impala or G80 or 300 or Continental isn’t “cruiser” enough for you then I don’t know what you’re looking for.”

          Yes, the G80 and the Continental are just smashing sales successes.

          the 300 is so derided as an “ancient mercedes” by “never chrysler” people, who cares.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      I don’t buy that. Crossovers are also inexplicably popular in Europe, where pickups aren’t the size they are in the US and were traditionally commercial vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        It’s the same “bigger is better” instinct there as here. Euros are just a bit more restricted in how far they can take it. Give them US fuel prices and road/parking lot sizes, and they’d be shopping at Peterbilt for their high school daughter’s first ride as well.

        It’t no different in the Sedan world. Americans, and hence the Euros whose minds the Yanks have colonized, for a while espoused the notion that the Euros were somehow more “sophisticated,” and “preferred” smaller, better “handling” cars than fat Americans. But by now, as the Euros have caught up in wealth, it turns out their highest aspiration is big, bloated, blinged out sensory deprivation chambers of the Eldorade/7/S/A8 kind as well. Little different different than re-branded of 60s era Cadillacs.

        And it’s the same story in SUV land: Everyone wants the biggest they can sorta-kinda afford to purchase and feed, and almost fit into parking spots.

  • avatar
    W.Minter

    Ditch the IS. The IS-based RC will also disappear. Replacement could be a Lexus Supra. GS will go as well.
    To fill the IS & GS gap, a 4 door LC coupe could make sense, probably in SUV form. It’s beyond my (visual) imagination, of course.

    What I still wish for is some kind of Lexusized Prius, slightly larger, moar power, still with a practical hatch, they could call it “DS” (haw haw). Yes, I know, the answer is NX, but it’s a Crossover, it’s slow and it surely will grow in all dimensions with the next iteration and become more RAV4ish, while the UX is just a Corolla on platform shoes.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    I wish Lexus would reconsider the existence of the “spindle” grille.

    I like the idea of a luxury car that’s as reliable as a Toyota. But the spindle grille offends my personal taste.

    I’ll probably buy a Tesla instead, though. No spindle grille on Teslas. …And a futuristic drivetrain!

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    Pickup truck comparo is valid.

    Besides ride height consider practicality. Modern sedans have approach angle of 1 degree and a big piece of expensive, fragile, low hanging, painted plastc in front. The IS has even lower hanging air dam(n). This is like taping a 3000 dollar antique plate to your front bumper. And don’t forget about huge fragile $ wheels.

    A performance sedan used to have 60 profile tired and rubber air dam. Now they are a pain to own.

  • avatar
    ra_pro

    I was in a market for a premium sports sedan recently and IS didn’t even cross my mind. The only good IS ever made was the one with Yamaha V8. The current one is smallish, looks weird though better with the F package, the interior lags behind Germans in terms of design and quality and after all of this who cares how it drives? The driving is good on paper nothing exceptional in reality. So what does Lexus have to compete against the Germans or Jag or Alpha? Nothing but the reliability. But reliability is far down the list for premium car buyers. Hence Lexus has nothing not even price advantage. They can scrap all their cars, nobody will miss them.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    3/5/7 model doesn’t work for non-Germans. Lexus needs to price the GS like the IS (or slightly higher). I bet it would move then. As a new dad, IS would not even be in the running with its useless back seat. And frankly, with the goofy touchpad infotainment interface, GS wouldn’t work for me either. Probably why the Q50 is on pace to outsell the IS/GS combined this year in the US.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I cross shopped the IS before buying my g37S , but Lexus didn’t offer a manual and my feeling was that if it wasn’t going to be as fun by not being able to shift myself,it had better be faster than G, well it wasn’t that either.
    I purposefully avoided the Germans, as pricing would have put me into a 4cyl turbo.The A4 hadn’t changed since 09-and really still hasn’t, and the BMW was less BMW than BMWs I’d previously owned. Space wasn’t a concern for me,I grew up in the back seat of a Beetle and didn’t have any stunted growth, so I’m sure my 2 kids will be fine too.
    The ATS 6mt was a close second, but ultimately the 6mt/ V6 linear power won out.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    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!

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      You might as well write a standard response you can copy and paste into any article about anything.

      “Company X sucks and horrible things will happen to it!” -every DW post ever

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        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.

  • avatar
    Sal Collaziano

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      Bingo as you young’uns say. The niche occupied by the LS series of the 1990s is now occupied by Genesis G80 and G90 (a step down IMO but at this time the only game in town).

      • 0 avatar
        Sal Collaziano

        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…


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