By on February 1, 2021

Lexus enjoyed years of uninterrupted success as the preeminent purveyor of reliable Japanese luxury. However, the current lineup has become somewhat antiquated and the brand can no longer rest assured that it will be at the summit of every reliability ranking the industry manages to produce. Though usually still within the top five, management feels it’s time to update the “brand vision” and redefine how people see Lexus.

While the evolution of an automotive brand is an essential aspect of its survival, a lot of automakers have gone the popstar route of reinventing themselves based on the latest trends. This explains the sudden influx of minimalist logo redesigns utilizing slimmer fonts and monochromatic color schemes, though it hardly forgives the industry’s general lack of imagination. Despite Lexus giving us few details to work with, its latest release has us wondering if it could be plotting a similarly dull trajectory for itself.

Lexus recently issued a teaser photo of a concept vehicle — scheduled to debut this spring — showing some revised typography looking as though it came from an EV design studio. The standard L roundel is nowhere to be found and the vehicle’s silhouette isn’t immediately reminiscent of anything from its existing lineup. While we’re willing to bet it’s an electrified crossover (just playing the odds) using the new DIRECT4 system, there’s not sufficient evidence to guarantee anything — especially in reference to how Lexus will be changing overall.

But the car will ultimately become the flagbearer to the new-and-improved company, according to a release issued on February 1st.

“This Spring, we will unveil our new brand vision, along with a new concept, which illustrates our intentions for the future and marking the beginning of the next generation of Lexus,” boss Koji Sato explained, adding that a new production model would also be made available by 2022.

There was also some empty corporate-speak about how the company was “aiming to make the diversified lifestyles of [its] customers more rewarding.” This was countered by the separate announcement of a premium retail experience, entitled Lexus Monogram. Explained by the company as a way to provide consumers improved flexibility in how they lease, finance, or purchase their new vehicle, the main goal seems to be further integration of the Lexus website and physical dealerships. Ideally, the brand wants to make it so customers can begin, resume, or complete the purchasing process anywhere. But Lexus eventually plans to update the service to offer a pathway for shoppers to buy a car without ever having to set foot inside a showroom. Monogram is currently being piloted in select markets with plans to “aggressively accelerate availability through 2021.”

[Image: Lexus]

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19 Comments on “Lexus is Reinventing Itself This Spring...”

  • avatar

    The “Spindle Grille” (AKA “The Predator’s mouth”) front end was enough to prevent me from buying a Lexus, even though they’re one of the few luxury brands I find appealing.

    (I won’t consider paying luxury-car prices for any vehicle less reliable than a Toyota, and so Lexus gets to parity by default.)

    However, I’ll be able to afford a Tesla before Lexus re-invents itself, and I would very much prefer an EV. This may be too little too late for Lexus to sell me a car.

  • avatar

    Hmm. I wonder how Lexus will make my diversified lifestyle even more rewarding than it already is.

    I await further details with bated breath.

  • avatar

    “I won’t consider paying luxury-car prices for any vehicle less reliable than a Toyota”

    “However, I’ll be able to afford a Tesla before Lexus re-invents itself”


  • avatar

    My prediction: Lexus will struggle heavily in the luxury EV market, and the luxury market is all-in on electric (I live in LA and am seeing this happen in real-time. Tesla started it an it’s only accelerating. There are 4 e-Trons within 2 blocks of me and dozens of Teslas.)

    I think Lexus will continue to sell legacy gas and hybrid models to their traditional, graying base of buyers, but any younger buyers they captured with UX and NX (and IS / RC) will defect to a brand will better electrics (therefore making the whole wild spindle grille style rather unnecessary). Their momentum will continue them forward for a while but then they will suddenly lose steam, much like Oldsmobile did. Full circle.

  • avatar

    There are five Teslas in my hood, which is about 20 families. And only one Lexus.

  • avatar

    First picture: In some languages, we read the characters from right to left. (Be careful not to do that here.)

    General comment: Lexus is ok I guess, but with all the consolidation going on in the automotive industry, how can companies like Lexus ever compete with giants like Toyota?

    • 0 avatar

      There are many thoughtful people out there wondering the same thing: Lexus versus Toyota, hard row to hoe. Tough one. How do you think Lexus will cope? Also, it’s funny that nobody else in thirty years has seen that bad word in the Lexus name when one reads it backwards. Well spotted!

  • avatar

    Lexus followed in the footsteps of Cadillac and became the “old man’s car”. Maybe even the “white old man’s car” by the concerns noted about diversity. Their interiors remind me of grandma’s house and their body styles are so rounded they look like shapes my dog extrudes out on the front lawn. I consider a Lexus for quality and resale but get carded at the door for lack of an AARP card. Toyota really marketed the Scion brand well…. maybe they can get that crew to turn around the Lexus business model….

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Toyota owns Lexus. The Scion brand was managed so well it went away. Lexus already has some some hybrids. I wouldn’t be a bit shocked to see an EV or two rolling out of TMC Tahara. Toyota also has oodles of cash to push EVs forward. Lets not even get into if they decided to let loaded Tundras sell for 35K.

  • avatar

    For a 2000 GS driver, Lexus is frustrating lately. I’ve driven a number of new models and I find all of the SUVs I’ve driven (NX, UX, RX) to be beautifully made, expertly assembled utter crap. The 3rd-gen IS is tolerably better. I drove a GS350 F-Sport for three days and found the engine/trans combination to be tiresome. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the best new Lexus I’ve driven is the ES, it’s the only one that the driving dynamic exceeds the expectation. So, what’s the difference between my old GS400, which I love, and the new Lexus? I think it’s what they paid attention to and what they let slide. My old car is about doing simple things really well – a smooth, powerful effortless V8, a smooth consistent shifting transmission and a simple comfortable quality interior. The new cars seem wheezy and breathless, constantly shifting gears, sacrificing engineering honesty for the trickery of a knob with ‘sport’ and ‘sport-plus’ modes. They just don’t seem as honest as before.

    • 0 avatar

      There are a couple intervening factors in the 20-year span between models you’re comparing. Namely, 1) cars designed “for the US” as opposed to a JDM vehicle altered for US import, 2) fuel economy regulation mandating lots of transmission gears, and 3) everyone is roughly “reliable” now so you have to stand out with infotainment garbage.

  • avatar

    Sounds like the latest, unfortunately all too common, attempt, by an iconic Japanese manufacturer, to drum up some excitement among the dwindling number of Japanese who are still less than 80, to come start a career with them.

    The quality of the domestic workforce which Japanese manufacturers have learned to rely on and take for granted, is incredibly high. Not just individually, but also organizationally. It has taken forever to build up to that. And now it all risks being torn apart. Simply from lack of younger recruits available and willing to start the journey which eventually led their been-wanting-to-retire-for-a-decade-or-more current elders to their current status as true “masters” of their field.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Lexus current styling reminds me of an old man (like I am!) breaking out the flared trousers, boots and gold chains while cueing up disco music on his 8-track.
    “Lightspeed” hits the problem on the head AFIAC. The original cars were elegant in their simplicity, the high quality of the materials used in them and their assembly quality. They weren’t BMW and didn’t try to be.

    At the time, Lexus introduced then then radical concept of “luxury” being a car that didn’t have to be within reasonable towing radius of a competent mechanic.

    The big problem for them today is that new luxury cars are almost always leased, so if they can hold together for 3 years or so (and even then, some can’t) or perhaps 5 years so that CPO program warranties don’t become too expensive that’s all that is required. The manufacturers don’t care what happens after that . . . as the rapid depreciation of these vehicles shows. When buying a used luxury car, the purchase price is just the down payment on the cost of ownership.

    • 0 avatar

      Very much agree on the lease vs buy aspect of ownership. I would bet that historically far more Lexus were owned than leased as compared to German luxury cars. This is why Bring a Trailer is full of mint, low-mileage LS400s. While I wouldn’t touch any Benz but a W126 with a ten foot pole, I will gladly buy and daily drive another old Lexus.

    • 0 avatar

      “The big problem for them today is that new luxury cars are almost always leased, so if they can hold together for 3 years or so (and even then, some can’t)”

      Hey, my buddie’s F30 resembles that remark! It’s on its 3rd head gasket.

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