I also wonder if the corporate demand for the look of the dealerships is keeping some buyers away from the brand. I was in Tulsa , OK recently and saw the new location for the Lexus dealer . It is so far out there and expensive looking that my first thought was they are not going to be easy to deal with because they have a very large building site debt to pay for.
The dealership from which I have bought my Subarus used to be a multi-line dealership, handling SAABs as well as Subies. Shortly after GM bought-out SAAB, they demanded that the dealership be relocated to a major highway, and that its exterior be built according to GM’s newly-prescribed look for SAAB dealerships.
The dealer told GM to pound salt, and he willingly dropped his SAAB affiliation. Within a few years, SAAB was gone, and the dealer was laughing all the way to the bank because of the money that he had saved.
I dunno, I think that’s smart. People buying luxury cars don’t generally want to be in a waiting room that looks worse than the Ford dealership, which is how all the Acura dealerships are around here. That wouldn’t have prevented me from buying an Acura this last go-round, but I’ll admit the dealership look and feel was much more upscale and pleasant at Lexus. That’s gonna matter to some people (and I certainly won’t be sad about the upgraded waiting room with better coffee and pastries when I get the oil changed).
But Lexus also needs to realize that it needs to keep up with the times. My Lexus is 9 years newer than the Acura it replaced, and the technology isn’t all that much better. It adds parking sensors, which is nice, and blind spot monitoring/etc which is also nice, but you can get that stuff on Hyundais too. Its main advantage is that the interior noise level and ride is several levels above what Acura is offering (though in fairness, Acura will run circles around it in the handling department).
But in the SUV market, Lexus is pretty pathetic. The GX starts at $53,000, and it’s basically the same freaking truck as when it came out in 2003. A few more tech doodads added on, and that stupid Predator-mouth grille, but not much change in the chassis/drivetrain. People buying vehicles that start at 50 grand don’t want that, and they have the means to take their money elsewhere if you don’t provide what they want.
Another problem - they slapped that new grill on old designs. That approach typically doesn’t work out well, and it didn’t. Their 3-row RX stretch was a band-aid, they need a clean-sheet model with 3 rows, without it being a giant Landcruiser clone.
True! I’m not a fan of the grille on my car (not that I had a choice unless I wanted to go with another brand), but it actually sorta, almost works on the LC (though I’d still rather see something different), which was designed with the grille in mind.
When people stop buying them, Toyota will bring out a redesigned vehicle. As an example, the Tacoma is a very old design, the second generation ran from 2005-2015 and the current generation is 5 years old. The Tacoma finally gets CarPlay and Android in 2020. Toyota must not be too excited about the Tacoma. They were offered a chance to participate in a medium size pickup test by Cars.com and Motorweek. They declined, but Honda, Ford, GM, and Jeep participated.
The Lexus dealer we bought my wife’s 07 Lexus at was a Lexus/Toyota/Scion dealer - at one huge location.
While their market is shrinking - their overall sales have increased. That just means as more and more people are replacing their cars with SUV’s - more of them are buying other vehicles. More and more companies are getting into the luxury SUV market place.
When I worked at DEC back in the 80’s - at one point we had a 80% market share of all digital network devices world wide. Then networks really started to take off. 5 years later our network sales almost doubled, but our market share shrank from 80% to less then 30% due to a lot more players to compete with.
Back when the Lexus brand was relatively new, and had been around for a few years, I remember Lexus suffered from a reputation as being either an expensive Toyota (minus the reliability, plus expensive repair costs) or a cheap Mercedes. I suppose it was a formula for success since they’re still around. They found a niche for people who wanted a luxury car without having to pay Mercedes prices.
The LS400 (not related to any Toyota) shocked Mercedes with its lower cost, great reliability, and driving characteristics. It’s one of the most reliable luxury cars out there. I bought an ES300 (upgraded Camry) because it was a bit better in every way I liked over the Camry, for not much more $$.
@MikeInNH. I have never driven or ridden in a Lexus. I have ridden in Toyota Avalon, and it seemed quite luxurious to me. (Keep in mind that I am no judge of luxury vehicles. I consider a vehicle luxurious if it has a passenger side sun visor). I do wonder if the Toyota Avalon may be too close to the Lexus as far as luxury is concerned, and potential Lexus customers don’t want to spend the extra money.
When you mentioned DEC, I was really happy when the university where I was employed bought a DEC 10 for research and instruction. I had a split assignment teaching statistics and computer science classes and serving as a research design consultant in the computer center. Before the DEC 10, research and instruction shared an IBM 360 with administrative data processing. Research and instruction was confined to a specific partition on the IBM 360. The DEC 10 really decreased the time it took to run a program. The assembly language on the DEC 10 seemed much more logical than the IBM assembly language. The DEC 10 was replaced by a VAX cluster. Unfortunately, the companies that produced the statistical software insisted we purchase a license for each node. We had three nodes, but we bought a license for only one node and had to specify the node when getting on the system.
I finally was able to get a desktop computer. It was connected to the network. A lot of my data was on tape. I would call for a tape mount, download the data to my desktop computer, analyze the data, print out a couple of pages on the small dot matrix computer attached to my desktop computer. If the results seemed correct, I would upload the file to the VAX cluster to be printed on the big printer.
As the power of the desktop computers increased, the VAX cluster was phased out. I always thought DEC should have gotten into the desktop market.
I wonder, like DEC, if Lexus was too slow in getting into the luxury SUV market. Maybe Lexus thinks like me–a luxury sport utility vehicle is a contradiction in terms. Luxury doesn’t imply utility.
When Lexus designed their first large sedans, Mercedes was their design target, albeit at a lower price. Infiniti–which launched its large sedan in the same year–used BMW as their design target.
Even though Lexus’ market share is shrinking of late, they have done much better over the years–in terms of both sales figures and reliability–than Infiniti, so I guess that Toyota must have done some things correctly with their luxury line.
Isn’t that kind of a low bar, like saying “I was the smartest guy on my wrestling team”?
You’ll get no argument from me in that respect. That’s what I meant when I said:
Sometimes something can be very high even if it only has to cross a low bar.
Lexus has consistently been, especially mechanically, exceedingly reliable for any car segment, not just luxury. They’re gussied up Toyotas. My Lexus is a fancified Avalon. It has the same drivetrain as the Avalon. I have no doubt that this thing will be as, or if possible more, reliable than my Acura was (which was a dolled-up American-market Accord).
There is, in fact, a niche for people who want luxury cars without the headaches typically associated with luxury cars, and that niche is addressed by Lexus and Acura. BMWs are great until you get the overly frequent repair bills. Even if you’re not worried about spending money on it, having to deal with getting it fixed overly-often is obnoxious.
My mother made the mistake of buying a BMW. She could easily afford to keep it on the road because, frankly, she’s loaded. But she dumped it after less than 2 years because it was constantly breaking in one way or another. She replaced it with an Acura and she’s been much happier despite the so-called “lesser status.”
Myself, even if I had Bill Gates money, I’d stick with Lexus or Acura for my daily drivers. A great car isn’t great when you can’t enjoy it because it’s being fixed, again.
That’s been the case since day one. The Lexus ES350 /Camry and Avalon all share the same platform. We chose the Lexus because they were they gave us a better deal then the Avalon…even though we bought the Lexus at the same place they were selling Avalon’s. So I’m not convinced that because they are too close that Lexus market share has declined.
Like @shadowfax said, the LS400 is crazy reliable, regardless of type. It’s the ‘go to’ recommendation for somebody wanting a cheap(er) used luxury car, kind of like how the Miata is for sporty convertibles.
Well, sure. The smartest guy on the wrestling team might be valedictorian, so I guess the point is we don’t need the “luxury” qualifier when we discuss Lexus reliability. It sounds like it’s more accurate to say Lexuses are reliable, especially for a luxury car.
I knew Lexus had surpassed its early reputation issues when I read a review of the Toyota Sienna, and the reviewer called it a mislabeled Lexus due to its refined traits.
Now that you mentioned Acura, I saw an article recently (I don’t remember where) that showed Hondas were slightly more reliable than Acuras. The same is likely true of Lexus. When you add luxury equipment, you give up a little reliability. It’s a trade a lot of people are willing to make, but I’m not one of them. I’d rather have the Honda than the Acura, or the Toyota rather than the Lexus.
That doesn’t surprise me. One thing Honda does to separate Acura from Honda is that it puts more powerful engines in the Acura. My TL had around 20 more hp than its Honda variant and was available with an even more powerful Type S variant.
Sometimes they’re even more extreme - at a time when Civics were coming with 125hp motors in the top trim, Acura was putting 170hp into the second-from-top trim Integra, and 195hp motors in the Type R. Different drive trains can return different reliability results.
But with Lexus, the ES350 has the exact same engine as the Avalon. So if the Avalon is mechanically reliable, the ES will be equally so.
As for the luxo equipment, that’s really a term that needs redefinition. $20,000 Hyundais come with as many technical toys as luxury cars these days. The real differentiation between a regular car and a luxury car is in the materials (real leather vs vinyl, elimination of hard plastic on certain surfaces, etc), and the comfort level of the ride, including cabin noise level. That, btw, is why Lexus is still able to sell cars, because as far as the electronic fun-toy doodads go, they’re woefully behind other makes including non-luxury brands, but they’re fantastic in the ride and noise insulation.
But while tech toys used to break a lot, it’s much less of a concern nowadays. That’s true of any tech industry, really. Computers used to break all the time because they were the size of a room and had tons of vacuum tubes that would blow, or would get insect infestations that would short out connections (and that, I am not making this up, is where the term “bug” comes from). It didn’t take long before they were insanely reliable. The Atari 2600 my parents bought me in the very early 80’s still works today (Asteroids is awesome on a 65 inch screen )
The tech toys in cars are much less likely to break these days than they used to be. I have no worries that my nav system will die. My speakers might blow, eventually, but that’s true of any car. With the exception of Tesla (because they don’t use automotive-grade displays) I’m fully confident in modern car displays. I have no doubt that the display in my car will still be working fine the day I sell it, just like it was in the Acura I sold.
Something Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Jaguar and Mini owners know very well…
All 4 give great driving experiences until they break!