I do think it may be time for Lexus to get on the turbo train across the lineup. And competitively. All of the IS engine options are slow.
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OTOH, why Lexus is still in business? Some of their buyers are just buying them like they do Camrys like it was mentioned, or ignorant of the current state of the brand that they even accuse some Lexus forum mods of bias that the "sky is falling", when it sort of is. Hey, its good enough to keep the brand #3.
Last edited by got-rice; 03-23-2020 at 01:42 AM.
I think there are several realities at play here. Lexus (the only real competitor to Mercedes/BMW) sells vehicles, IMO, every bit as good as what the Germans sell on an objective level. Not everything needs to be capable of carving corners for example. And if I'm after a real luxury car experience, I would prefer a softer ride anyway. The reality is that the Germans still set the agenda across the industry. They have a much deeper history (both just building cars and in sexy things like factory race cars) and are FAR, FAR, FAR better at selling a dream than Lexus. Lexus is well, a sensible, very well built choice. BMW, Mercedes, and Porsche sell a dream and an experience. It's really just that simple IMO. Infiniti IMO doesn't really deserve to be in this conversation as they're about on the same level as Acura, IMO. They're ok cars, but they seem like a brand that exists to be much different than the Nissan brand.
Nissan is already on thin ice, as it is. I don't think they will try to keep Infiniti alive, while trying to save the overall company.
They can easily fold Infiniti's best selling models back into the Nissan brand, to still support those customers.
I don't even know what their best selling models are anymore, anyway!
The Armada/Patrol twin?
The largest crossover?
It looks like a GMC dealership!
I think Mercedes counts its van sales independently, at least in the US.
The commercial vehicle strategy is definitely a smart move, however, especially if personal vehicle sales start to decline.
As much as I'd prefer to not spend the premium on a Infiniti/Lexus over the comparable Nissan/Toyota (that you cannot buy in this country), the dealer experience seems to be far better with the luxury badged version. The "better' badge or brand is pretty much irrelevant to me, but you do get better service... as well as the bigger engine, better chassis, more depreciation, etc.
Something else I just thought of.
Usually when you create a segment or establish yourself as a benchmark in it, you pretty much have it for life. Once people associate a segment with a vehicle, as long as that vehicle doesn't go to complete ****, it pretty much has the segment on lock.
The clearest indication of this is the Camry. It couldn't have come at a better time, and Toyota worked extremely hard to establish it as the midsize mainstream benchmark. Once they did that, they took their foot off the gas for a good 20 or so years. The 5th gen ('98-02 I think?) was a huge step back from the baby Lexus '93-97 gen. The '07 was a big update, but then they literally didn't touch the mechanicals or platform for a decade. It was the same with the Corolla pretty much. When your brand is so strong you can basically change body panels and remain the top seller in a segment- what can your competition do to knock you off?
So I think the Germans have that same level of brand power. The F30 was not very good at many of the key things a 3 series is known to be good at. But it was the top selling generation in the US. Mercedes has had some design and quality missteps since the W123-6 generations that built their reputations. Still the top volume luxury brand decades later. The fact that VWAG even exists after the MK4 era shows how strong their brands are. What could the non-Germans do to overcome that? The market clearly has a double standard for brands that I'm not sure will ever change. It's not even a battle worth fighting IMO. Especially considering how saturated the luxury market is. The best any non German brand can hope for is to carve out a little niche that warrants the investment. But I don't think we will ever see the day when a non-German brand takes the top luxury spot around the globe.
There is no 3 row CUV from Lexus where the 3rd row is fit for actual humans. If Acura can figure this out, there is no reason why Lexus can't do it.
There is no 4 door coupes from Lexus if you desire something with 4 doors and a tiny bit of style. Again, ES is great but why is ES the only offering of substance from Lexus? Where is the ES coupe?
There is no CUV coupes that evidently is what Americans really want to buy from luxury brands right now.
And Germans knows how to play the soft ride pillow car games too. I haven't heard anyone say the 5-series ride is too stiff or the steering is too communicative lately
But I do agree about Infiniti... it's about as irrelevant as you can get for a supposedly luxury auto brand. There is no sizzle and the steak is overcooked.
I'm not even going to touch on Infiniti, which is a dumpster fire, or Acura, which is a dumpster fire outside of the RDX/MDX which are very much class-competitive.
I think for Lexus, the biggest issue is the rise of leasing in the luxury space. If you are a buyer, things like long-term reliability, MSRP/transactional price, and resale value are of critical importance. The luxury market used to be buy and hold, at least more so than now.
But now that it's lease all the things, no one cares about reliability past 36k miles, and things like resale value and MSRP can be thrown out the window as much as the automakers want to subsidize lease prices and put the lease payment wherever they want it, rather than where economics dictates it should be. So in that world, there's really no downside to buying German, and that removes the biggest advantage for Lexus.
On a personal note, there are three major and one minor reason I haven't/won't consider Lexus when shopping in that range:
1. Terrible and dated infotainment and UI/touchpad/mousething
2. Loooong model cycles and outdated models
3. Poor market segment choices; no real 3-row crossover (not willing to pay the penalties for a BOF 3-row), abandonment of the midsized sedan market outside of the FWD ES, awful powertrain choices in the smaller CUVs, etc etc
4. Front end styling (would overlook if it wasn't for 1-3)
We'll be in the market for a new CUV in the next year, somewhere in the $45-60k range. A Lexus should be squarely in our sights, but none fit the bill. Even if we skip the tentative 3-row desire (not requirement), the Lexus touchpad thingy is just terrible to use. And I can't with a straight face suggest my wife buy a new 2020 same-as-2012 GX.
Another though that just came to me: I have been watching Entourage the past few weeks, and in a couple of the middle seasons, Ari, the high-powered Hollywood agent, is driving an LS460 Hybrid instead of his E65 7-series or his MB S550. This was from maybe 10-15 years ago; any chance of that happening today, an LS as a stand in for an S class or 7? Not a chance.
1. I also wrote them off because of their infotainment, but everyone I know who has owned the cars for some time says it's something you get used to. Plus as a current Acura and Lincoln owner I have found that all that really matters for infotainment is having steering wheel controls, and at the absolute worst a place to mount your phone. I had a bad time with IDrive in the F30 rental I had.
2. Don't see why this matters. The Camry was a best seller while riding on the same platform for a decade.
3. The 3 row (and a RWD replacement for the GS) are legit complaints, but Lexus didn't abandon the midsize luxury sedan market, consumers did. No sense in throwing good money after the bad; a new GS would do about as well as the CT6. And IMO it's still one of the best entries in its segment due largely to its reliability.
4. Subjective, but BMW is doubling down on ugly faces too.
To be fair, I wouldn't bother with a Lexus crossover either- NX and RX are too slow, and the NX is cramped compared to its competition. But most luxury buyers aren't getting a crossover for thrills. RX hasn't remained #1 in its class with Predator face and all these problems for no reason.
On the other hand, Lexus is able to achieve the statistical margin mainly by offering outdated infortainment system. People have to live with outdated infortainment everyday and they can do the mental trade-off really well. Lexus is basically a victim of its own success. They've internalized the low JD Power reported issue scoring system that they have elected to not innovate. This is why Lexus has yesterday tech inside, a 15 years old ladder frame SUV going up against unibody CUV, and rather ho hum powertrain under the hood. These things help ES and RX stay at the top of the class for JD Power scores but people don't really care that much the marginal difference in reliability. Audi or Mercedes offering aren't catastrophically unreliable like they were in the 90s and they have fancy toys and endless turbo charged torque. BMW is so boring now, they are basically like Lexus so what is Lexus got to do to stand out? Lexus doesn't have that answer either BTW, which is why they are floundering.
Last edited by bzcat; 03-23-2020 at 05:03 PM.