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Lexus Aims to Set New Benchmark with 5th-Gen LS

But has the luxury world moved on?

by on Jan.10, 2017

The fifth-generation Lexus LS flagship may not be as impactful as when it debuted in 1989.

When the original Lexus LS made its debut at the 1989 North American International Auto Show, it stood the luxury automotive market on its head. Now the Japanese automaker is back at the NAIAS and hoping that the fifth-generation remake of its flagship sedan will once again set an industry benchmark.

But things have changed dramatically in the intervening years, and the question is whether the new 2018 Lexus will have the relevancy of the original, despite all its refinement and features and a design that is far more cutting edge than almost any other Lexus product before it.

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“It is the car that launched a company,” said Jeff Bracken, the U.S. manager of the Lexus brand, as the 2018 LS sedan rolled onto the stage at Detroit’s Cobo Center. (more…)

Luxury SUVs Outselling Sedans for the First Time

Redefining luxury.

by on Dec.12, 2016

Mercedes' C-Class sedan was the top selling luxury sedan in the U.S. this year, and Mercedes was the top selling luxury brand.

Barring an unforeseen December setback, Mercedes-Benz will top the U.S. luxury market this year. And its C-Class will top the sedan sales chart, as well.

But that’s not the victory it might seem, at least when it comes to the C-Class. So far this year, SUVs, not sedans, have been dominating the American vehicle luxury market, the Lexus RX outselling the Mercedes C-Class by about 35%.

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“Low gas prices, changing consumer tastes and attractive new vehicles are creating the perfect environment for luxury SUV sales to grow,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis for research firm Edmunds. “Given that luxury brand loyalty rates are typically higher than for volume brands, this trend has the potential to affect this vehicle segment for years to come.” (more…)

Lexus Teases New LS Flagship Ahead of Detroit Show Debut

New sedan to deliver “dynamic experience” and “visionary technology.”

by on Dec.08, 2016

A teaser image of the 2018 Lexus LS sedan.

We’re expecting three big announcements from Toyota at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month, and the Japanese giant says the unveiling of an all-new Lexus LS flagship will be one of the headline-making events.

It’s an appropriate place to preview the sedan, the maker reminds us, noting that the very first Lexus LS 400 made its debut in Detroit in 1989 – the debut of the then-new Japanese luxury brand helping mark the very first “international” show in the Motor City.

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Considering the current Lexus LS is the oldest full-size premium luxury vehicle on the market and desperately needs an update, big expectations are in order for a vehicle that Lexus promises will deliver both a “dynamic experience” and “visionary technology.”


Lexus Teases UX Concept Ahead of Paris Debut

Look Ma, no mirrors.

by on Sep.08, 2016

Lexus is teasing its UX Concept that will be shown at the Paris Motor Show soon. The SUV could join the LX and NX in the line-up.

Lexus is offering up a tease of the new UX crossover-utility vehicle concept coming to the Paris Motor Show later this month and, in the process, giving us a hint of the new design direction it will be taking.

For now, Toyota’s luxury arm isn’t saying much about the UX, beyond signaling that it was developed at its ED2, its European Design Center and noting that, “Its strongly differentiated identity is meant to appeal to a progressive, urban audience living in a connected environment.” That would suggest it could be taking aim at such upscale competitors as the Audi Q2.

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Ever since Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda declared the need to add more “passion” to the Lexus brand, its designers have been pushing the boundaries, sometimes a little too far, say the critics, with show cars like the original NX prototype. The new Lexus UX doesn’t appear to be backing off of that trend. (more…)

Lexus Debuts Third-Gen IS in Beijing

Latest iteration of the brand's entry-level car gets styling upgrades.

by on Apr.25, 2016

The next generation Lexus IS gets a substantive exterior update from its predecessor, but designers stopped just shy of a complete makeover.

It appears that the folks at Lexus know a good thing when they see it because the brand’s newly unveiled IS entry-level model gets an exterior makeover that borrows heavily from its predecessor and that was by design.

“Because the original styling of the current IS has proved so popular, Lexus has kept the essence of car’s exterior appearance intact,” the company noted at the debut of the new model at the Beijing Auto Show.

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That said, the words “borrow” and “unchanged” aren’t the same. The third-generation model sees upgrades to the front fascia with new headlamps, large air intakes and a new take of the brand’s “spindle” grille. (more…)

Lexus Teases New IS Ahead of Beijing Debut

New model will "bring exciting breakthroughs," maker claims.

by on Apr.20, 2016

The teaser image suggests the new Lexus IS will adopt the brand's L-finesse design language.

Lexus is the latest automaker to tease its upcoming announcement at the Beijing Auto Show, where it will reveal an all-new version of the entry-luxury IS line.

One of the oldest models in its line-up, the fourth-generation Lexus IS will “bring exciting breakthroughs,” the maker suggested in a terse statement. Among other things, it is expected to adopt a more dramatic design than the current model based on the maker’s new L-finesse styling language.

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“The bold evolution of design with greatly enhanced visual impact will absolutely ignite people’s desire to put their hands on the steering wheel,” declared the breathless release.


Toyota, Lexus to Add Auto-Braking to Almost All Models by 2017

Move to come five years ahead of industry-wide plan.

by on Mar.22, 2016

Toyota's auto-brake system relies on the pairing of laser and artificial vision sensors.

Toyota and its luxury brand, Lexus, plan to make automatic emergency braking, or AEB, standard equipment on virtually all models and trim levels by the end 2017. That move would come five years ahead of the industry-wide rollout agreed to by a consortium of automakers earlier this month.

The technology is designed to recognize potential collisions and sound a warning to alert the driver. If there’s no immediate response, the system will apply the brakes automatically to avoid the crash or, at the least, reduce its severity. A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS, found AEV can prevent up to 40% of police-reported rear-end collisions.

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“High-level driver assist technologies can do more than help protect people in the event of a crash; they can help prevent some crashes from ever happening in the first place,” said Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America. “We are proud to help lead this industry in standardizing these systems and bring automated braking to our customers sooner rather than later.” (more…)

Reliability Woes Worsen, Warns New J.D. Power Study

Tech issues now make up 20% of reported problems.

by on Feb.24, 2016

Lexus topped the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, the 2013 GS also a segment winner.

Two things seem to be true about the newest cars coming to market these days: they’re likely to have lots more high-tech features than the vehicles they replace. But they’re also likely to have more reliability issues, largely as a result of problems with those new tech features, according to J.D. Power’s 2016 Vehicle Dependability Study.

The VDS queried owners of 2013 model-year vehicles and found that, on average, dependability dropped 3% year-over-year. It found that one in five of the problems owners reported involved audio, communication, entertainment and navigation technology. Collectively known by the acronym ACEN, these systems are, collectively, the single largest source of trouble owners reported.

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“The increase in technology-related problems has two sources,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive research at J.D. Power. “Usability problems that customers reported during their first 90 days of ownership are still bothering them three years later in ever-higher numbers. At the same time, the penetration of these features has increased year over year.”


Lexus Set to Reveal Hybrid Version of New LC 500 Coupe

New Multi Stage Hybrid System to boost performance factor.

by on Feb.15, 2016

Lexus will reveal the new LC 500h at the Geneva Motor Show early next month.

When Lexus unveiled the new LC 500 coupe at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month Toyota President Akio Toyoda said it was a preview of the brand’s future direction, with an emphasis on “passion and distinction.”

The new coupe’s 467-horsepower certainly fits that bill, but how about the Lexus LC 500h set to debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month? It likely wouldn’t if Lexus were simply offering up another mileage miser. But it’s hinting that this hybrid will be another matter entirely.

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In a teaser release, Lexus promises the new Multi State Hybrid System debuting in the LC 500h will deliver “enhanced driving pleasure, more performance, and greater efficiency” than the current gas-electric technology used by the Lexus line – which is little more than a glorified version of what Toyota offers in the Prius model.


Exclusive Update: Lexus to Add LC 500 Convertible, Other Variants

Higher-performance LC F in works, fuel-efficient LC hybrid may shatter perceptions.

by on Jan.13, 2016

The new Lexus LC 500 is just the beginning of a significant design change for the brand, according to Akio Toyoda, Toyota president.

It’s being billed as “the strongest statement yet about Lexus’ future product direction,” but the slick LC 500 sports coupe the Japanese luxury maker revealed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week is only part of the story.

Expect to see “a number of additional variants,” according to a senior executive at Lexus, something backed up in conversations with several other officials at Lexus and its parent, Toyota. They’re all getting the blessing of Toyota President Akio Toyoda, who is intent on shedding the brand’s plain vanilla image.

Among the other versions of the Lexus LC 500 under development, a convertible is expected to follow about a year behind the coupe’s debut. An even higher-performance LC F is still under development, as is a hybrid version that may shatter perceptions, suggested one source, by proving that gas-electric vehicles aren’t only about saving fuel.

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“A few years ago, we decided to guide the future of the brand with products that had more passion and distinction in the luxury market,” explained Toyoda – the grandson of Toyota’s founder – during a Cobo Hall news conference. His goal, he said, is to make sure “that the words, ‘Lexus,’ and ‘boring,’ never appear in the same sentence again. (more…)