It wasn’t all that long ago when Lexus dominated the U.S. luxury market, but despite its continuing strength in quality and customer service surveys, the Toyota luxury brand has been losing momentum to European makers BMW and Mercedes-Benz, never mind upstarts such as Audi.
It doesn’t help that the buzz around its vehicles has shrunk to something like a very faint hum, its sales more and more dependent on its primary crossover vehicle, the RX. While that may be propping up the numbers, it also might trigger a sense of déjà vu for the sepia-tinged era when station wagons ruled the road.
Company officials, notably including Toyota President Akio Toyoda are clearly worried and looking for ways to kick-start the brand. Among other things, they’ve been talking a lot about passion, these days, something that Lexus translates as the more sporty design language that one finds on the newly restyled Lexus IS. The good news is that with this entry-level sedan beauty is more than skin deep, the 2014 IS reminding us why Lexus soared to the top of the U.S. luxury market in the first place.