Lexus is the luxury automaker that is owned by the Japanese company Toyota. They currently sell in over 70 countries and have become the largest-selling premium car from Japan. According to market value, they are ranked among the top 10 largest Japanese brands. Their headquarters are in Nagoya, Japan with operational locations in Plano, Texas and Brussels, Belgium.
They’ve sold coupes, sedans, convertibles, and SUVs since their start in 1983. The United States is the largest market for this automaker. Their popularity continues to increase as their technology grows and they release new innovations. They are also gaining traction in the hybrid market.
Lexus is known for their high levels of reliability, exceptional customer service, and attention to detail. That’s what continues to make them one of the most popular luxury brands in the nation.
A Brief Summary Of Lexus History
The creation of Lexus came during the time that fellow Japanese automakers were developing luxury brands. Nissan started the Infiniti line while Honda released Acura. During that time, the government of Japan imposes some export restraints on the United States market. Because of this, it became more profitable to the Japanese companies to ship their expensive cars overseas.
Eiji Toyoda, the chairman of Toyota in 1983, challenged the company to create the world’s best car. The name of this project was called F1, or Flagship One. Because of this assignment, the company came up with the Lexus LS 400 which led Toyota into the premium market.
During 1985, researchers from Toyota made a trip to the United States. Their purpose was to conduct market research and focus groups on customers that might purchase luxury vehicles. The F1 designers also rented a place at the beach in California where they were able to note the tastes and lifestyles of the upper-class customer. Then, the engineers went to work testing their prototypes on several U.S. highways and roads as well as the autobahn in Germany. Toyota concluded that they needed a distinctly different brand to adequately market their new sedan. Plans were created to develop dealerships throughout the United States.
An advertising agency helped launch the brand in 1986. They played around with several names but later chose Alexis. After some time, concerns were aired that this name applied more to people than automobiles. That’s when they removed the A and changed the I to a U to become Lexus. Many people believed the name was a combination of two words: luxury plus elegance. Before releasing their first vehicles, LexisNexis, a database service, filed a temporary court order to stop them from using the name. The order was later lifted.
Launching the New Brand
Their first slogan was, “The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection.” The F1 assignment ended in 1989. In total, there were 24 teams of engineers, 60 designers, over 2,000 technicians, 1,400 engineers, 220 support staff and about 450 prototypes. The cost was over $1 billion. The result of all that work was the Lexus LS 400. It was a rear-wheel drive car with a 4.0-liter V8 engine. It debuted at the North American International Auto Show in 1989. They started selling it at the 81 Lexus dealerships that had been set up in the U.S. They also added the ES 250 to the lineup, which was a rebadged Toyota Camry.
Overall, the LS 400 received praise for being quiet, offering an ergonomic interior, quality, fuel economy, plus its engine performance. On the other hand, a few columnists criticized it for its suspension and derivative styling. Car and Driver said it was a better vehicle than the Mercedes 420 SEL as well as the BMW 735i, which were both higher priced. It also received numerous awards from publications such as Wheels Magazine and Automobile Magazine. It quickly helped the company establish loyalty with customers. Both Mercedes and BMW’s sales figures plummeted drastically.
By the conclusion of the year, there were over 16,000 ES 250 and LS 400 vehicles sold. That was only in a four-month period.
Expanding the Company
In the first complete year of sales, the company sold over 63,000 of the two models just in the United States. They also started sending some to the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Switzerland. Then, in 1991, they launched the SC 400, their first coupe. It shared the V8 engine that the LS 400 had plus it featured rear-wheel drive.
Their next vehicle was the ES 300 sedan. This took the place of the ES 250. It quickly became the company’s top seller. By the end of 1991, Lexus was the best-selling premium import for the United States market. They also ranked the highest in the J.D. Power vehicle quality testing and customer satisfaction surveys.
The next launch was in 1993 with the GS 300 mid-size sports sedan. It was priced lower than the LS 400. At the same time, they launched a certified pre-owned program. They were one of the first automakers to make that leap.
In 1994, the second generation of the LS 400 was launched. Just a year later, the United States government talked about imposing tariffs on high-end Japanese vehicles. They exempted SUVs from the sanctions. To counteract this, the automakers agreed to invest heavily in America and the government backed off on the tariffs.
In 1996, they debuted the first Lexus SUV, the LX 450. They also added their first luxury crossover SUV, as well as the RX 300. It quickly became the best-selling vehicle in the lineup. By 1999 they sold their 1 millionth vehicle in the United States and became the top-selling premium automaker in the States.
The New Century
As the new century began, they introduced there IS line, which was a sports sedan series at the entry level. Just a year later, they also released the company’s first convertible. In 2002, the GX 470, their mid-size SUV also made its first appearance. By 2004, the company reached 2 million vehicle sales. They also released the RX 400h, the first hybrid SUV. This vehicle utilized the Hybrid Synergy Drive system from Toyota which combined an electric and gasoline engine.
In 2005, Toyota and Lexus finished an separation on the organizational level from one another. This provides dedicated engineering, design, training and production centers for each division. This helped them to launch the vehicles in their home country as well as reach other markets like China. They quickly became the top-selling brand in both Taiwan and South Korea.
In 2007, they introduced the F-Sport performance trim level. They did this to specifically compete against the BMW M division as well as Mercedes Benz’s AMG line. Both the GS 400 and SC 400 received accolades for their design, handling, and comfort.
In 2008, there was a recession that slowed the car market. When this happened, the company’s sales fell 16 percent.
In the Modern Age
Early in 2010, Lexus began recovering their sales in the North American market. They worked on adding some new models including various hybrid engines. The first turbocharger used in the company’s history occurred in 2014 with the NX crossover.
Since the early days, Lexus continues to offer a wide range of automobile options for consumers. Sedan models range from the IS, ES, GS, and LS varieties. SUVs include the NX, RX, GX, and LX. Coupes include the RC and LC. Performance models include the RC F, GS F, and LC. Several of the models are also available with hybrid powertrains.
Alternative Propulsion Methods
Lexus has done a lot of work with looking for alternative means of propulsion over the years. In 2006, they began selling the GS 450h which was a hybrid V6 performance sedan. They also launched the LS 600h and LS 600h L versions as well.
Just a few years later, in 2009, they launched their HS 250h which was a dedicated hybrid sedan just for the Japanese and North American markets. They also released the RX 450h, which was a hybrid SUV. As the popularity grew, they announced plans to shift their European vehicles to only hybrid powertrains. As of now, they offer hybrid sedans, SUVs, and coupes.
Lexus Safety and Crash Ratings
The Lexus CT 200h has been ranked as the number one vehicle with a perfect safety record. That’s because from 2012 through 2015, there were no reported driver deaths in this car. On top of that, in the list of ten automobiles, Lexus also earned the eighth spot with the RX350. With the upgraded body integrity and high-reliability scores from Consumer Reports, it proved to be worthy of mentioning. On top of that, it was picked as a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS.
For the 2018 IIHS Top Safety Picks, Lexus also earned several spots. For midsize luxury cars, the ES 350 and IS were both mentioned. Finally, in the large luxury car category, the Lexus RC earned a top honor. For midsize Luxury SUVs, both the NX and RX earned spots.
Lexus Safety Equipment
It’s clear by the rave ratings from safety ratings that Lexus takes their safety technology seriously. That’s easy to tell when you look at the wide array of innovations they offer in their vehicles. The Lexus Safety System+ comes standard on many vehicles and includes an integrated suite of advanced systems to protect passengers. It consists of the Pre-Collision System, Lane Assistance, Intelligent High Beams, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
Their Safety Connect System enables a GPS tracker when your car is in an accident, stolen, or you are suffering from an emergency. They also come with multiple airbags and visibility systems.
They also build their vehicles with reinforced materials and crumple zones. This includes impact-dispersing reinforcements and energy-absorbing crumple zones which distribute impact force. With these systems, the cabin is harder to penetrate and it maintains its integrity in most crash situations.
Lexus Safety Recalls
Both Forbes and Wards Auto place the Toyota Company (Lexus owner) near the middle of automakers rated by recall rate. With that said, Lexus has had its share of recall history. In fact, they recalled 9 million vehicles which included several Lexus models in 2009. The problem had to do with an accelerator pedal that would stick and become lodged. There were more than 60 cases of this occurring and 30 of those cases involved a death. They ended up paying a record $16.4 million federal fine on top of the settlements for the deaths.
Then, in 2018, over 100,000 more Lexus vehicles were recalled because of the potential for a fuel leak which might lead to a fire. This involved the IS and GS models from the years 2006 through 2017.
Consumer Satisfaction Reports & Dependability Ratings
Depending on which studies you look at, you’ll receive conflicting reports. For example, the J.D. Power Customer Service Industry Index for 2017 lists the Lexus brand in the number one spot. On the other hand, if you go by what Consumer Reports said in 2017, you see that Lexus is in the 17th spot out of 30.
In the 2018 J.D. Power Dependability Study, Lexus again took the top spot. Consumer Reports also surveyed the cost of ownership and found the Lexus ranked in a reasonable range. They listed that after three years, it cost an average of $220 to own the brand. After ten years, the estimate was $590 which was much lower than other luxury brands such as Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW.
Lexus has been the proud recipient of many awards. Here are some of the most notable.
- 2018 Lexus LC 500 was crowned the overall Car of Texas at the Texas Auto Roundup.
- 2018 Lexus RX named the Best Luxury Mid-Size SUV/Crossover from KBB.
- The 2018 Lexus LS Wins EyesOn Design Award.
- 2018 Lexus LC 500 Named to 2017 Wards “10 Best Interiors” List.
- 2016 Lexus RX Hybrid Named Green Vehicle of Texas at Texas Auto Writers Auto Roundup.
- 2016 Lexus NX Receives U.S. News Best Cars for the Money Award.
Lexus models have been named alphanumerically with their own system of using two-letter assignments followed by an additional three digits. The first letter in the model’s name stands for the range or ranking determination.
The second letter of the model refers to the type or body style. For example, an LS stands for a luxury sedan.
Then, the three-digit determination is given regarding the engine displacement. This is measured in liters with the factor of a hundred. For example, a 3.5-liter would be a 350.
They leave a space between the numbers and letters. There are also times when a letter is used for more than one purpose. For example, the S sometimes refers to a sedan and other times it means sport. The X stands for an SUV.
For hybrid vehicles, the three digits are in terms of the gasoline-electric combined output. There might also be a lower case letter which determines the power type. h stands for hybrid, d stands for diesel, and t is for turbocharged.
If there is a capital letter at the end, it indicates the vehicles subtype. They use an L to distinguish a long-wheelbase, C stands for coupe, while AWD means that it’s an all-wheel-drive vehicle. When an F marque vehicle is written, it will have the two-letter signification and then the F, but no hyphens or numbers.
Lexus Charitable Causes
Lexus gives to numerous charitable causes that it believes in. They feel strongly that it’s their way to give back to the community around them. Even before their first vehicle was created, they invested in several charities. In total, they’ve donated more than $334 million to various organizations throughout the world. Currently, they work with over 400 different nonprofit charities and companies.
One thing they are passionate about is helping the lives of children. The Lexus Pursuit of Potential is their pledge to invest in children’s lives. The company aims to help children reach their dreams. They do this, in partnership with their dealerships. Together, $2.5 million has been given to many children’s charities.
They also have the Lexus Eco Challenge. It’s aimed at secondary students through $500,000 worth of yearly scholarships. This program generates $3.25 million each year for school STEM programs. They want the future of America focused on science, technology, engineering, and math.
The corporate level isn’t the only part of the company that is focused on giving. At the dealership level, there’s a golf tournament series that raised more than $325 million since it started in 1987. Champions for Charity is something many of the dealerships look forward to each year. They also partner with local charities to serve as well.
The Lexus Company also sponsors the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors. This group consists of over 400 community leaders that want to end cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. They commit to continuing research in ways to treat these diseases. They estimate that by 2025, they will have contributed almost $2 billion to this cause alone.
Snapshot of the Company
Lexus headquarters are located in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Lexus USA is headquartered in Plano, Texas. The international division is managed by Tokuo Fukuichi. In the United States, operations are overseen by Jeffrey Bracken, the general manager and group vice president.
The first vehicles were manufactured in the Tahara plant owned by Toyota. They created separate assembly lines since the quality control was different from Toyota. Through the 2000s, most of their sedans and SUVs continued to be produced at the Tahara plant plus the Miyata plant located in Fukuoka.
Lexus has an estimated 57,000 employees worldwide. They are also ranked as #69 on the Forbes World’s Most Valuable Brands List.
In 2015, the company reached a global sales record of 652,000 units sold. This was a 12% increase over the previous year. They also achieved their 1 millionth hybrid car sale in 2016.
All of the models for the United States come from Japan other than the RX which is produced in Canada. This model is the company’s bestseller in the American market as far as crossovers go, while the ES is their most popular sedan.
Their United States sales totaled 305,229 units sold in 2017. While the company doesn’t disclose their financial data openly, it is estimated that Lexus sales make up half of Toyota’s annual profit for the United States market each year.
Toyota owns Lexus. In 2017, they were the second-largest auto manufacturer in the world. They were also the first automaker that produced more than 10 million automobiles in a year. They continued to reach this goal every year since 2012.
The Lexus emblem came to life in 1987 and was the work of Hunter Communications and Molly Designs. It features a stylized “L” that’s surrounded in an oval with a steel gray finish. The design signifies perfection, modernity, sophistication, and creativity.
Lexus appeals to luxury consumers with their targeted marketing strategies. During the first round of commercials, from 1989 through 1999, words such as “pursuit,” “perfection,” and “relentless” were repeated. During the 2000s, the company began to show the various features.
Their marketing success has been a combination of the lower perceived quality of some competitors plus the lower cost to own. They continue to have a reputation for dependability where some of their competition doesn’t.
They also sponsor numerous events throughout the year. From 2005 through 2009, they were the event sponsor for the U.S. Open Tennis Grand Slam Event. Since 2007, they back the United States Golf Association’s U.S. Open, U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Amateur Tournaments, and the U.S. Women’s Open. They’ve also organized the annual Champions for Charity event every year since 1989. They’ve signed endorsements from professional athletes such as Peter Jacobsen, Annika Sorenstam, and Andy Roddick.
In 2018, the company aired a fake partnership on Saturday Night Live with 23 and Me. It said that dealerships would now customize the vehicles based on DNA. It turned out to be an April fool’s joke.
Some of their most famous slogans include The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection (2001-2010), The Pursuit of Perfection (2010-2016), and finally, Experience Amazing (2017–present).
Lexus has been involved with motorsports since 1999 with Team Lexus. They started in the Motorola Cup North American Street Stock Championship and fielded two of their GS 400 race cars. During their first year, they achieved a victory at Road Atlanta. It was only their sixth race.
Then, they won the IS 300 victory at the Virginia International Raceway. Just a couple years later, they took home the Team and Drivers’ Championships in the Grand-Am Cup ST1.
In 2005, they entered four of their SC 430 sports coupes in the Super GT Series during the All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship. They won in 2006 and again in 2007.
They’ve also made themselves available with some endurance racing. This includes the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. In fact, they’ve won 15 of the Rolex Series races. Toyota has won before, but Lexus marked the first time that a luxury automobile became the winner. By 2008, they earned their third consecutive win.
Other endurance races they’ve completed include the VLN races, 24 Hours Nürburgring, and the Adenauer ADAC Rundstrecken-Trophy.
The Toyota USA Automobile Museum is located in Torrance, California. It’s next to the headquarters for the company and takes up 45,000-square feet of space. It’s the only Toyota museum that’s located outside of Japan and features numerous Lexus vehicles on display.
The purpose of the museum is to preserve significant models and milestones that make up the brand’s history. TMS Corporate Communications Department is responsible for maintaining the collection which has reached to over 100 Toyota, Scion, and Lexus automobiles.
One of the special exhibits includes the futuristic Lexus created for the Tom Cruise movie, “Minority Report.” The museum is only available for tours by appointment.
Lexus Financial Services is another division of the Toyota Motor Credit Corporation (TMCC). It’s also a service mark of Toyota Motor Insurance Services Inc. They are based out of Carol Stream, Illinois.
Their main purpose is to help consumers who find a Lexus on lease or a Lexus for sale that they want, but can’t pay for outright. Their convenient plans make it easy to afford a Lexus for lease. They also have several end of lease options to keep you in your favorite vehicle.
What makes them unique with some other automakers is their reward and incentive plans. They have a College Graduate Program for recent grads. There’s also a Military Reward Program for those that have served the country. Repeat customers also receive special benefits when looking to finance or lease a new Lexus.
New vehicles are covered by numerous protection plans offered by the company. Their four protection programs include Vehicle Service Agreements, Guaranteed Auto Protection, Prepaid Maintenance Plans, and Tire & Wheel Protection.
There are three levels to the Vehicle Service Agreements. They are Lexus Extra Care Platinum, Lexus Extra Care Gold, and Lexus Extra Care Powertrain. If you suffer a total loss with your new Lexus, the Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP) pays the balance or waives it (minus some fees and charges) between the amount still owed on a finance contract and the auto insurance settlement.
It also makes sense to consider a Prepaid Maintenance Plan. Plans range from 2 years or 20,000 miles all the way up to 5 years or 90,000 miles. The program includes all of the oil and filter changes,plus 2 multi-point inspections, tire rotations, as well as any additional services that are involved in the scheduled maintenance. With the Tire & Wheel Protection, consumers are covered against damage from eligible road hazards.
When you are looking to find a new Lexus for sale, you’ll want to research the dealership you head into. There are several awards given out that will help you know you are working with a reputable dealer. The Elite of Lexus is the highest award given to dealers. The company uses it to recognize a dealer which exceeds the standards of excellence in sales, customer satisfaction, and business management.
There’s also the Lexus Financial Circle of Excellence award. This is given for outstanding dealer performance and offered by Lexus Financial Services.
You will also want to check the J.D. Power Dealer of Excellence List which names all the best dealerships in the country based on service and sales. Currently, there is one dealership on the list from California. It’s the DCH Lexus of Oxnard. There are also two located in Maryland. They are Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis and DARCARS Lexus of Silver Spring. Another two on the list are from Massachusetts. They are Herb Chambers Lexus of Hingham and Herb Chambers Lexus. The last two on the list are Johnson Lexus of Durham and Johnson Lexus of Raleigh, both located in North Carolina.
What Lexus dealerships are most known for is their service after the sale. Waiting rooms contain tons of amenities from indoor putting greens to refreshment bars. They also offer free loaner cars and free car washes. The service bays features large windows so clients can watch their vehicles at all times.
Employees are expected to treat consumers by the “Lexus Covenant,” which states that “each customer is treated as a guest in the home.”
7 Interesting Facts about Lexus
1 – The leather draped seats inside the automobiles come from cow hides raised on farms without any barbed wires.
2 – The former CEO of Ford, Alan Mulally drove a Lexus even while working for the other automaker. He admitted that the reason was that he couldn’t find anything comparable to his favorite vehicle.
3 – Yamaha used some of their sound technology to help tune the sound coming from the engine of the first Lexus model.
4 – To be a painter at Lexus, you must pass your exam four times each year.
5 – In 1990, the American press hailed the LS 400 as the best-imported vehicle to ever come from Japan.
6 – Lexus has had the most amount of hybrid vehicles among any luxury automaker. In fact, in Great Britain, almost all of their vehicles are hybrid.
7 – Steven Spielberg is a fan of Lexus. He owned an LX 470 and requested a special car for this movie, “Minority Report.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Lexus Made? What Country Makes Lexus? All of the models are produced in Japan. The only exception to that is the RX when its delivered to North America. Then, it is built in Canada. This model is the company’s bestseller in the American market as far as crossovers go.
Is Lexus Reliable? The company consistently tops the charts of reliability and is often hailed for being one of the best automobiles on the market. They also tend to sweep the top safety picks as well.
Does Lexus Make Toyota? No, it’s the other way around. Toyota is the parent company of Lexus. They created the brand to compete against Honda’s Acura and Nissan’s Infiniti brands.
Is Lexus American? No, they are headquartered and produced in Japan as part of the Toyota Motor Company.
Is a Lexus Expensive to Maintain? According to studies that have been conducted, Lexus vehicles tend to cost less than the majority of luxury vehicles. The surveyed cost of ownership after three years was an average of $220 to own the brand. After ten years, the estimate was $590 which was much lower than other luxury brands such as Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW. Lexus Financial Services also offers the Prepaid Maintenance Plan for those worried about maintenance costs.
Does Lexus Make a Convertible? They have had convertibles in their lineup previously, but don’t currently have one now. The company states that one is in the works.