Lexus is back in the US luxury sales race thanks to revamped IS sedan and GX SUV

Article by Christian A., on June 9, 2014

Lexus was the best-selling carmaker in the United States for 11 years until 2011. Now, the market has been dominated by German luxury carmakers for three years in a row, with BMW pacing the pack. But Lexus is slowly but surely catching up. In fact, Lexus outsold Mercedes-Benz in May for the second time in five months.

It also managed to trim the lead of BMW to around 12,000 units in the year to date. The luxury unit of Toyota Motor Corp. might be able to trim the gap further as it is set introduce this year its first compact crossover, the NX, and the RC sports coupe.

Mark Templin, executive vice president of Lexus, told Bloomberg in an interview that the volume is not their goal, but “to do the right things." He said that it was nice to know that consumers are responding to the newly launched products.

Lexus is moving to be back in the game by introducing the revamped IS sedan and GX SUV, despite deciding not to launch entry-level models priced at less than $30,000, like when Mercedes rolled out the CLA.

Christopher Richter, an auto analyst at CLSA, told Bloomberg that Toyota has already made the argument that Lexus will not go down market, since it would risk diluting and lessening the brand.

Toyota produces all Lexus model in and ships them from Japan, save for the RX SUV. The Japanese yen’s 23-percent drop in value against the dollar in the past two years allowed Toyota and Lexus to increase their earnings from exports.

The new Lexus IS has a dramatic design, tight athletic proportions as well as sleek surfacing – all of which reflect the improvements implemented to premium compact sedan’s performance and capabilities.

The sleekness of the new Lexus IS comes from the fact that the premium compact sedan measures 4,665 mm in length with a wheelbase of 2,800 mm. Compared to the previous model, these numbers represent an 80 mm extension in terms of overall length and a 70 mm growth in wheelbase. The front overhang of the new IS has also been increased by 10 mm. In addition, the new Lexus IS is 10 mm wider than its predecessor.

Just like the new generation of the Lexus GS, ES and LS models, the new Lexus IS has the premium brand’s new spindle grille. This gives the new IS a frontal design that exudes dominant elegance and a more dynamic road presence. Furthermore, the new spindle grille gives the IS a stronger brand identity. The new Lexus IS is also provided with a new pop-up hood design that allows the premium compact sedan to have the lowest possible vehicle front profile while also optimizing pedestrian impact protection.

Flanking the new spindle grille are headlamp clusters positioned higher than the grille. These new dynamic headlamps are accentuated by Lexus’s signature L-shaped LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL). These DRLs are below the headlamp cluster, lending the new IS a distinct visual signature.

When viewed from the sides, the new Lexus IS reveals a strong horizontal beltline that makes the rear tires appear larger while conveying the premium sedan’s lower center of gravity. As designed, the mass of the passenger cabin is biased to the rear, thereby visually applying weight to the rear tires for a greater perception of traction. The profile of the new IS also reveals a rising crease line that runs on the lower body and flows through rear wheel arch to the rear lamp.

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