Lexus, a car that beat most luxury cars

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/18/2006 | Auto and Trucks

Lexus is one of the greatest success stories in the luxury segment in the US. The car, manufactured by the Toyota Motor Corporation, was inspired by the success of Toyota Supra sports car and the luxury Toyota Cressida. Both these were rear wheel drive cars with the awesome 7M-GE/7M-GTE engine. But Lexus overtook them very soon.

Lexus made its appearance in the US in 1989 and in the UK and Australia in 1990. There are several theories as to how Toyota came up with the Lexus name. One is that the name comes from Alexis, a popular character in the 1980s primetime drama, Dynasty. Another is that Lexus stands for luxury and elegance, which the car packs in abundance. Yet another explanation is that Lexus stands for Luxury Export United States, the project name that Toyota gave for the production of this car. Whatever may be the right explanation, there is little doubt that Lexus has emerged as Americas top luxury car.

The car was launched in Japan as late as in 2005. In countries like New Zealand, Ireland and the UK, some other Toyota models are sold as Lexus, having been retrofitted with Lexus badges. But, they are largely different from the officially imported ones. The main competition for Lexus comes from Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Volvo, Cadillac, Lincoln, Acura and Infinity.

The LS400 is the flagship model of the Lexus. It has a 4.0 liter, V8 engine and is acclaimed for its smooth, excellent interiors, performance, build, quality and value. On its launch, it gave a tough competition to the mid-sized Mercedes Benz and BMW models as it was comparatively better in size, performance, quality and price. Although European automobile experts criticized the LS400 for some of its drawbacks, it eventually went on to win many major automobile awards.

The subsequent versions of the LS400 include LS430, IS 200, IS 300, LX 470 SUV and the GS models. Lexus has the credit of building the worlds second mass production hybrid SUV. Lexus first coupe, the SC 300/400 which was based on the Toyota Soarer, made great strides in the United States. Later on, the SC 430 became the first convertible from Lexus. For almost five years, Lexus has been the top selling luxury car brand in the US.

Lexus has got a great image and the service is a treat. The company service outlets have waiting areas that offer refreshment bars, highly-efficient business centers and many other amenities. This leaves the customers happy and satisfied, even before they have bought a car.

Lexus is a regular contestant in endurance races such as the 24 hour Daytona racing. It was the runner-up in 2005 and later won the championship in 2006. Lexus also plans to run the 12 hrs Sebring, which is a part of American Le Mans. There is news that Lexus may also foray into Formula 1 in 2007, may be as an engine supplier to the Williams F1 team. Whatever the speculation, Lexus has become a distinctive brand in the automobile world. Its name stands for quality and performance.