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William Maley

Lexus News: The Uncertain Future of the Lexus GS and IS

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Lexus finds itself in a bit of a bind. With demand for crossovers growing, Lexus is doing a serious look at its product lineup and deciding what needs to be added and what needs to taken out.

"We're more focused on maximizing the opportunities we have than comparing ourselves," said David Christ, the new general manager for Lexus to Automotive News.

"Our product plan is what I would call a work in progress."

The current focus for Lexus is the upcoming launches of the ES and the subcompact UX crossover. The ES is expected to keep current Lexus owners happy, but the new F-Sport package will hopefully bring in younger people - Lexus expects a quarter of ES sales to be the F-sport. The UX though is seen as what will bring the majority of young buyers to the brand.

But this focus has Lexus doing "a strategic look" at two of their older models, the IS and GS. Both models are late into their lifecycles: IS was launched in 2013, while GS dates back to 2011. The two aren't big sellers either. In 2017, Lexus only moved 7,773 GS models and 26,482 IS models. Rumor has it that the GS could go away if the ES gets all-wheel drive. Christ wouldn't comment on that.

"We can't do it all at once, but we're certainly evaluating both vehicles," said Christ.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)


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Makes sense to offer an AWD option for the new ES, Dump the GS and refresh the IS as that is still a decent sellar.

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Dropping cars isn’t how you get more sales.  There is no rule that says Alexus can’t keep every sedan and build 10 crossovers.  The real issue here is the GS is ugly, has a poor interior and dated powertrain sand the same can be said for the IS.  These cars just aren’t good.  I hope they drop them, more market share for Mercedes who continually invests in their sedans.

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i think there was a blip that suggested all these lux carmakers needed BMW 3 sized cars to have a legit lineup.  Caddy even took the bait.  When it comes to brass tacks now, who even buys 3 series sized lux sedans and what brands do they really only look at?  

I think the original CTS was a perfect entry level caddy and so to reincarnate that as a CT4 would make sense.  But if the new CT5 is a little larger, then i am ok with that being Caddy's entry level sedan.  What does that have to do with Lexus?  To me it means that IS was always a poseur even if it was a good car.  The ES was bread and butter but now crossovers may have supplanted ES buyers base.  And where does that leave the LS and the GS?

To circle the wagons for Caddy and Lexus, they probably could survive on 2 sedans each.  CT5 / CT6 and GS / LS.  An IS and CT3 will always not sell like an A3/A4, 3/4 series, or C class.

 

I think the other reason these smaller lux sedans proliferated so much last 15 years is the idea that young punks would buy / lease them and they were sort of the new age 'hey look how cool i am' cars.  That the younger set due to preference and urban living wanted smaller cars.  I don't think that logic carries through to Caddy and lexus like it does BMW and Audi.  And maybe never will.  And especially if neither is big in Europe.

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That blip was around 2004 when Cadillac finally produced a car that handled very well and could compete on the track with a smaller 3-series.  The domestic haters needed a reason to dislike the CTS and thus the “It’s too big” mantra was born... and though the CTS was a perfectly capable and comfortable handler, the drum beat started for Cadillac to produce a “true” 3-series competitor... basically, do the CTS, but make it as cramped as a 3-series of the day.  The same drums are being pounded at the CT6, a car that competes with the 5-series, but is larger, more comfortable, and in more than a few ways, more advanced. But “OMG it’s 8 inches longer... there is no way it could possibly compete with a 5-series”. :rolleyes: Fun Fact: The CT6 Platinum has a turning radius and inch and a quarter smaller than the RWD 5-series. The CT6 without 4-wheel steering has radius slightly less than the AWD 5-series (20.0 v. 20.1)

The original IS was sold as a Toyota in Japan and was renowned for its handling, but with tinny doors and no sound deadening, it didn’t fit the Lexus theme. Queue up the “we want a 3-series” drums and Lexus increased the weight, and started dumbing down the handling. 

The first few generations of GS were fantastic vehicles. The I6 base models were melted butter smooth and with the legendary Lexus reliability.  But they weren’t “Teutonic”.... for those of you playing at home, that means “German”.  

This has always been about moving goal posts so the whole industry has to copy what the popular kids are doing.  I’m sure the guy who bought a 10 year old Benz will be in here soon to give us his take on what new car buyers should do. (They’re shopping for a Corolla... he’ll tell them they should buy an S-Class)

 

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Hmmmmm.

 

They could merge the GS and IS and get a tweener sedan, and I'd like them to actually do that, because they don't need 2 sedans whether FWD or RWD that are almost the same length.

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Some may recall that Infiniti went the other direction. They dropped the relatively popular I30 in favor of the M35 in a bid to look "credible" to the BMW-Über-Alles kids. Look where it got them.

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3 hours ago, Drew Dowdell said:

Some may recall that Infiniti went the other direction. They dropped the relatively popular I30 in favor of the M35 in a bid to look "credible" to the BMW-Über-Alles kids. Look where it got them.

Had to look those up, completely forgot about them...the i30 was the Maxima variation, kind of Infiniti's ES equivalent I guess....for 2000s Infinitis the G35 and G37 are the ones I remember (US versions of the Skyline). 

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15 hours ago, smk4565 said:

Dropping cars isn’t how you get more sales.  There is no rule that says Alexus can’t keep every sedan and build 10 crossovers.  The real issue here is the GS is ugly, has a poor interior and dated powertrain sand the same can be said for the IS.  These cars just aren’t good.  I hope they drop them, more market share for Mercedes who continually invests in their sedans.

Yea like everyone wants a crappy C, B or A class MB. Badge snobs with crap products is all that MB makes there in addition to the E-Class Taxi cab of the world with a 52% depreciation loss in the first 3 years.

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1 minute ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

Had to look those up, completely forgot about them...the i30 was the Maxima variation, kind of Infiniti's ES equivalent I guess....for 2000s Infinitis the G35 and G37 are the ones I remember (US versions of the Skyline). 

Yes, the I30 was the ES equivilent, and IMHO, a nicer vehicle than the ES of the time. 

2005_infiniti_i_manu_03.jpg 2005_infiniti_i_manu_09.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

2004_lexus_es_330_base-pic-6228509891184683830-640x480.jpeg 2005 Lexus ES.jpg

But they dropped that to try and pursue German car drivers who will never defect their brands and built this instead.

2006 Infiniti M35.jpg

The Lexus GS was still a pretty attractive piece at the time, but had just given up its inline 6 in favor of a V6.

2006_lexus_gs_430_base-pic-238576478807836544.jpeg

 

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16 hours ago, Drew Dowdell said:

That blip was around 2004 when Cadillac finally produced a car that handled very well and could compete on the track with a smaller 3-series.  The domestic haters needed a reason to dislike the CTS and thus the “It’s too big” mantra was born... and though the CTS was a perfectly capable and comfortable handler, the drum beat started for Cadillac to produce a “true” 3-series competitor... basically, do the CTS, but make it as cramped as a 3-series of the day.  The same drums are being pounded at the CT6, a car that competes with the 5-series, but is larger, more comfortable, and in more than a few ways, more advanced. But “OMG it’s 8 inches longer... there is no way it could possibly compete with a 5-series”. :rolleyes: Fun Fact: The CT6 Platinum has a turning radius and inch and a quarter smaller than the RWD 5-series. The CT6 without 4-wheel steering has radius slightly less than the AWD 5-series (20.0 v. 20.1)

The original IS was sold as a Toyota in Japan and was renowned for its handling, but with tinny doors and no sound deadening, it didn’t fit the Lexus theme. Queue up the “we want a 3-series” drums and Lexus increased the weight, and started dumbing down the handling. 

The first few generations of GS were fantastic vehicle. The I6 base models were melted butter smooth and with the legendary Lexus reliability.  But they weren’t “Teutonic”.... for those of you playing at home, that mean “German”.  

This has always been about moving goal posts so the whole industry has to copy what the popular kids are doing.  I’m sure the guy who bought a 10 year old Benz will be in here soon to give us his take on what new car buyers should do. (They’re shopping for a Corolla... he’ll tell them they should buy an S-Class)

 

Well I bought a 5 year old Benz, 5 years ago.  But nevertheless, you are right about the copy cat industry.  But that is the followers problem for copying the leader, not creating the next trend.

Mercedes built the first luxury SUV, then everyone else jumps in, BMW had the 3-series, Lexus and Cadillac had to copy, Lincoln even tried copying the 5–series with the LS, now every sedan is a 4-door coupe because the Mercedes CLS did that in 04.  People laughed at BMW and Mercedes for crossover coupes, and he come Audi and Porsche with them and you know Lexus and Cadillac will follow.  

Lexus has a dated lineup because there is no imagination or creativity in it and because the Lexus LX570 and GX460 latterly haven’t had an update since 2007.

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1 hour ago, dfelt said:

Yea like everyone wants a crappy C, B or A class MB. Badge snobs with crap products is all that MB makes there in addition to the E-Class Taxi cab of the world with a 52% depreciation loss in the first 3 years.

The cars that Lexus would be dropping aren't A or B class cars. 

Mercedes only makes one bad product, CLA. Everything else is competing for or already best in class. 

6 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

now every sedan is a 4-door coupe because the Mercedes CLS did that in 04.

I agree with that to a degree. But, I feel like the mainstream cars that are doing that has a lot to do with aerodynamic efficiency as they're a more "slippery" design and fuel economy is key for the Ford, Chevy, Honda, etc. buyers.

8 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

People laughed at BMW and Mercedes for crossover coupes, and he come Audi and Porsche with them and you know Lexus and Cadillac will follow.  

Well, they are the worst segment of automobile on the planet. Hideous.  Just absolutely HIDEOUS. 

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9 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

Lexus has a dated lineup because there is no imagination or creativity in it

Have you opened your eyes and looked at a Lexus? You might find them ugly but you can't say those front fascias aren't creative or imaginative

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2 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

Have you opened your eyes and looked at a Lexus? You might find them ugly but you can't say those front fascias aren't creative or imaginative

True...bold and violent.  Lexus is the leader in rage face styling, though Audi and others are catching up..

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar

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49 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

Have you opened your eyes and looked at a Lexus? You might find them ugly but you can't say those front fascias aren't creative or imaginative

They are BIG FANS of the Predator Movies I think! :P 

See the source image

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17 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

Well I bought a 5 year old Benz, 5 years ago.  But nevertheless, you are right about the copy cat industry.  But that is the followers problem for copying the leader, not creating the next trend.

No. It's the fanboi's problem for promulgating the idea that every car has to be exactly the same in order to compete. You are one of the most guilty of this phenomenon.  You cannot accept the fact that cars can be different sizes, favor comfort over handling, use technology in a different way than your pet brand.  You cannot admit that the CT6 is a competitor to the E-Class and 5-series because you can't get over the extra room it offers... somehow that disqualifies the car even though it is in the same price range.

 

20 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

Mercedes built the first luxury SUV, then everyone else jumps in.

No, they didn't. This is why you have no credibility. 

Luxury SUVs released before or the same time the M-Class (1997):
Acura SLX (1995)
Oldsmobile Bravada (1990)
Infiniti QX4 (1997)
Land Rover Range Rover (1994)
Jeep Grand Wagoneer (1980) - say what you will about the brand, it was definitely a luxury suv with its pricing. It cost more than a base Eldorado or Mark VII. 
Jeep Grand Wagoneer (1993) - the Grand Cherokee based Grand Wagoneer was a separate nameplate and the luxury version. 

 

33 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

BMW had the 3-series, Lexus and Cadillac had to copy

No they didn't. People like you insisted they had to copy... that the only valid entry in that class had to be certain dimensions and certain suspension tuning, and certain number of gears in the gearbox.  You have repeatedly insisted that the old CTS and 3-series didn't compete because the CTS was 4 or 5 inches longer.  Well, you're flat out wrong.  I leased a CTS because I didn't want the cramped interior of the 3-series. I leased the CTS because it was a bit more compliant over these awful pittsburgh roads.  Cadillac went from near zero in that segment to selling 60k CTSes a year. They were taking sales from someone.

 

37 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

every sedan is a 4-door coupe because the Mercedes CLS did that in 04

There is no such thing as a 4-door coupe. What you're thinking of is a 4-door fastback and Cadillac was doing those way back when Germany was being turned into a pile of rubble.  Oldsmobile has done them multiple times, Eagle has done them, Rover has done them, Citroen has done them.  You even owned a nameplate that previously was a 4-door fastback. 

46 minutes ago, smk4565 said:

People laughed at BMW and Mercedes for crossover coupes, and he come Audi and Porsche with them and you know Lexus and Cadillac will follow

I laugh at the term as there is no such thing as a 4-door crossover coupe.  First, if we're going to call them that, then again, none of the Germans were first. Even if you don't want to count the AMC Eagle SX, there is still the Acura ZDX (2010) which came out 5 years before the GLE coupe and the same year as the X6.   Furthermore, if that Audi Q8 is a crossover coupe, then someone needs to send a memo to Infiniti about changing their marketing because they've been building that body style since 2002 with the FX/QX70. And then still, there is the Suzuki X90, an ugly looking SUV that by being 2 doors and 2 seats has more of a claim to the "crossover coupe" name than any of the modern vehicles.

In short, Germany is in no way the leader for this completely misnamed body-style

So still.... wrong all around.

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Jeep Super Wagoneer would be the first luxury SUV, came out in 1966.

Mercedes absolutely copied tons of features and types from others. Sometimes it took decades to follow the trends, sometimes they literally had to buy components from other OEMs. And they blatantly copied the 3-series- now it's their highest volume sedan. They massively fudge RE "inventing" the automobile and most lazy ass journalists just numbly nod along.

The "4-door coupe" thing is a hoot- it's literally a fastback-esque 4-dr, nothing remotely new. The worst thing about it is the gross inaccuracy of the term.

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4 hours ago, ccap41 said:

I agree with that to a degree. But, I feel like the mainstream cars that are doing that has a lot to do with aerodynamic efficiency as they're a more "slippery" design and fuel economy is key for the Ford, Chevy, Honda, etc. buyers.

Well, they are the worst segment of automobile on the planet. Hideous.  Just absolutely HIDEOUS. 

Except the S-class is the most aerodynamic Mercedes and it has 3 box design so 4-door coupe must not do anything.  

I do think SUV coupes are ugly but Mercedes and BMW have so Audi and Porsche want it.  And if the Germans do it then every other luxury brand will copy it.  

And I have said before that I think the CT6 is more an e-class competitor than S-class competitor.  The E-class still has a better interior and more performance than the CT6, the CT6 has a larger back seat.  Customer can pick what matters most to them.   But then what is the CTS become, other than irrelevant?  From 60k sales a year to 12k sales a year, it is in the same boat as the Lexus GS.

Edited by smk4565
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37 minutes ago, balthazar said:

^ It's easier to make a longer vehicle have lower drag, all else being equal.

"want" what? There's nothing there to 'copy'.

I was literally scrolling down to type that and saw your comment. 👍🏼👍🏼

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1 hour ago, smk4565 said:

Except the S-class is the most aerodynamic Mercedes and it has 3 box design so 4-door coupe must not do anything.  

I do think SUV coupes are ugly but Mercedes and BMW have so Audi and Porsche want it.  And if the Germans do it then every other luxury brand will copy it.  

And I have said before that I think the CT6 is more an e-class competitor than S-class competitor.  The E-class still has a better interior and more performance than the CT6, the CT6 has a larger back seat.  Customer can pick what matters most to them.   But then what is the CTS become, other than irrelevant?  From 60k sales a year to 12k sales a year, it is in the same boat as the Lexus GS.

Your E-Class is the world's best in YOUR EYES, The only reason it is successful is the cheap purchases MB makes for the mass Taxi community to buy them. Otherwise just a Meh car, clearly no time spent in a CT6 as it is superior in many ways and equal in others to the E-Class.

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5 hours ago, balthazar said:

Jeep Super Wagoneer would be the first luxury SUV, came out in 1966.

Mercedes absolutely copied tons of features and types from others. Sometimes it took decades to follow the trends, sometimes they literally had to buy components from other OEMs. And they blatantly copied the 3-series- now it's their highest volume sedan. They massively fudge RE "inventing" the automobile and most lazy ass journalists just numbly nod along.

The "4-door coupe" thing is a hoot- it's literally a fastback-esque 4-dr, nothing remotely new. The worst thing about it is the gross inaccuracy of the term.

 

2 hours ago, smk4565 said:

Except the S-class is the most aerodynamic Mercedes and it has 3 box design so 4-door coupe must not do anything.  

I do think SUV coupes are ugly but Mercedes and BMW have so Audi and Porsche want it.  And if the Germans do it then every other luxury brand will copy it.  

And I have said before that I think the CT6 is more an e-class competitor than S-class competitor.  The E-class still has a better interior and more performance than the CT6, the CT6 has a larger back seat.  Customer can pick what matters most to them.   But then what is the CTS become, other than irrelevant?  From 60k sales a year to 12k sales a year, it is in the same boat as the Lexus GS.

It's being downsized also to be a tweener car. 

There is nothing at all wrong with the CT6 interior aside from seats that might be a bit too firm. Plus, it drives itself, has 4 wheel steering, and a plug in hybrid capable of 40+ miles of EV range. Benz doesn't.

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4 hours ago, Drew Dowdell said:

 

It's being downsized also to be a tweener car. 

There is nothing at all wrong with the CT6 interior aside from seats that might be a bit too firm. Plus, it drives itself, has 4 wheel steering, and a plug in hybrid capable of 40+ miles of EV range. Benz doesn't.

Which are all good attributes and in profile view the CT6 has good presence and looks good.  There are plenty of reasons to buy it.

The E63 can do 0-60 in 3.0 seconds, that is the exact same time Car and Driver got for the Corvette ZR1.  Performances win for the E-class over the CT6.  But besides that the E-class has plenty of attributes to sell on too, that is why it has been the best selling mid-size luxury car for decades.  Plus the E-class has 4 body styles and 5 if you count the CLS, so that works in its favor too.  More choices for the customer = more sales.

Lexus, Infiniti and Cadillac sedans aren’t bad cars, it is just to have a successful sedan now you need to be lights out good otherwise the sheeple will just buy a crossover.

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Most E class sales are 4 cylinder. The E63 is irrelevant to the sales mix. They could drop it and you wouldn't notice the difference in the numbers.

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I believe except for the US market, most E-Class sales are still into the Taxi Business in Europe.

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      It isn't a good sign when a fair number of automotive writers (myself included) looks at a new vehicle and wonders, what's different? That is the case with the new 2021 Lexus IS which was unveiled last night.
      The exterior for the most part is unchanged from the current IS. The only changes we can spot include,
      a new "three-dimensional" version of the Spindle Grille spilt headlight arrangement has been dropped for a new single headlight setup more prominent shoulder line 18-inch wheels are standard on the IS, while 19-inch BBS wheels are optional for F-Sport versions full-width LED taillight bar that seamlessly integrates with the rear lights grows in length and width by 1.2-inches, and is 0.2-inches lower in ride height Not much has changed with the IS' interior aside from new 8 and 10-inch infotainment systems finally getting touchscreens, along with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa intergration.
      The engine lineup is unchanged with the turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder (badged as IS 300) with 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque serving as the base. Next is a detuned version of 3.5L V6 with 260 hp and 236 lb-ft for the IS 300 AWD. Completing the lineup is the regular 3.5L V6 pumping 311 horsepower and 280 pound-feet for the IS 350. RWD models get an eight-speed automatic, while AWD models make do with a six-speed automatic.
      So what has changed for the 2021 IS? It is all under the skin. The suspension has been reworked with lighter a-arms, coil springs, and stabilizer bar. There is also a new Dynamic Handling Package for F-Sport models. This includes adaptive dampers and a Torsen limited-slip differential (only for RWD models).
      No word on pricing, but expect to see the 2021 IS arrive at Lexus dealers sometime in late fall.
      Source: Lexus
      Press Release is on Page 2
      2021 LEXUS IS: AGILITY AND ATHLETICISM EXPAND PURE DRIVING PERFORMANCE
      New 2021 IS first Lexus to debut Lexus Driving Signature Tested and developed at new technical center in Shimoyama, Japan Driving performance enhanced through rigidity, chassis and suspension enhancements New Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 offers enhanced standard safety features New multimedia system with available 10.3-inch touchscreen PLANO, Texas (June 15, 2020) – Writing yet another chapter in the book of compact luxury sports sedans, the new 2021 Lexus IS was unveiled today via a unique and engaging online virtual reveal. Since its debut nearly 20 years ago in the U.S., the IS has thrived on creating exhilarating driving performance in the form of a true rear-wheel-drive luxury sports sedan. The IS has served as a whetstone to help sharpen Lexus driving performance across the lineup but, more directly, it has forged indelible bonds between driver and machine that reach into the hundreds of thousands. It’s no wonder the IS has earned worldwide adoration for its extraordinary driving performance.
      There may be no greater fan of IS than Toyota President Akio Toyoda, who notes the vehicle’s special place in his heart during the introduction to the Art of Lexus book, where he credits the IS as “The car that really taught me what performance driving was, and it was the moment when my love affair with Lexus began.”
      The new 2021 IS, which is expected to arrive in dealerships in late fall of this year, looks to expand upon the legacy it has carved out in the compact luxury sports car segment over the previous two decades. Truly a global vehicle, it will be available for sale in approximately 40 countries around the world, including the US, Japan, and other countries in Asia.
      The Lexus Driving Signature Lives at Shimoyama
      From day one, the IS has left a lasting impression in the compact luxury sports sedan segment, where dynamic capability and driving performance are mandatory attributes. The 2021 IS looks to further cement the bond between driver and vehicle by providing an enhanced linear driving characteristic that provides clear and direct feedback to the driver. In order to achieve this objective, Lexus engineers needed the proper tool with which to hone the vehicle’s skills.
      Enter the Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama. More than merely a new test facility, this asphalt track signals a change in Lexus’ product development course and speaks to the brand’s commitment to its human-centered nature.
      Since Lexus launched, the tactile feel, behavior, and execution for each model has been driven by the vision and efforts of the Chief Engineer. Moving forward, the efforts of the CE will be focused on elevating the vehicles to a new standard of performance and handling as developed by Lexus International President Koji Sato and Chief Branding officer Akio Toyoda. The ultimate goal is to deliver a new generation of Lexus vehicles that is more balanced, refined in control, and confident than ever before. Linear steering, brake responses, and optimized handling with exceptional ride quality is the result of heightened focus on tuning of the chassis and its interactions with the control surfaces through diligent evaluation at a test facility unlike any other.
      By establishing a uniform Lexus Driving Signature across the entire lineup, the hope is to continue propelling the brand’s evolution and reinforce its identity in the luxury space. This cultural shift within Lexus product development builds on the learnings and improvements seen on the F brand cars, and the latest models of the flagship vehicles (LC, LS, LX) that involve an “Always On” philosophy for continual, running enhancement. Over the past 30 years, Lexus has been defined by the detail-oriented and thoughtful nature of its products. The latest IS represents the first step down a path that has evolved into a uniquely Lexus tarmac testbed that will affect the trajectory of every Lexus product that comes next.
      “What we had foremost in mind in developing the new IS was to make it a car that excelled in communicating with the driver regardless of the road conditions or driving situation,” said Chief Engineer Naoki Kobayashi of Lexus International. “We aimed to make the new IS a Lexus compact sports sedan that provides high-quality riding comfort while offering a high level of vehicle control.”
      Opened in 2019, the Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture is near Lexus’s global headquarters. Its country road test course is inspired by Lexus’s many years of experience driving on Germany’s Nürburgring Nordschleife, famous throughout the world for its grueling driving conditions. Much like the IS itself, Nürburgring is near and dear to Akio Toyoda’s heart since it played a key role in his quest to become a master driver. The 3.3-mile test course at Shimoyama is designed to take advantage of the local topography, and it features a nearly 250-foot change in elevation, a wide range of curves and corners, and multiple types of road surfaces. Developing the new IS in such a severe driving environment made it possible to infuse an ever-higher dimension of vehicle performance.
      Maturation of Driving Performance
      With a new tool at its disposal, Chief Engineer Kobayashi’s team worked tirelessly to make the new IS the best to date. The Lexus philosophy of continuously improving meant no stone was left unturned. Countless test hours at the Shimoyama track and other test facilities were conducted on various road surfaces and conditions to identify ways to increase responsiveness and reduce unnecessary movement from unsprung mass. The “relentless pursuit of perfection” has always been a guiding philosophy for the brand, but also at stake is the mission to create a uniform Lexus Driving Signature, and that objective begins with the new IS.
      One of the first things engineers targeted was enhancing body rigidity. This was done in key areas such as reinforcing the radiator side supports, increasing the number of front-side-member weld points, and optimizing reinforcement structures from the C-pillars to the sides of the roof. The increased rigidity not only helps reduce unwanted noise and vibration, but it also helps improve riding comfort and driving performance with enhanced response to steering input.
      For the first time, the new IS will be available with larger 19-inch wheels to improve cornering force and provide a greater contact patch with the road. Engineers revised the suspension layout and front pickup points to help accommodate the larger tire-and-wheel package. Overall two different 19-inch wheels are available on F SPORT models, including a unique BBS wheel specific to the F SPORTs equipped with the Dynamic Handling Package. Standard 18-inch wheels will replace the outgoing 17-inch wheels on all other models.
      Taking a cue from the Lexus LFA supercar, engineers took rigidity enhancements one step further by employing lighter weight hub bolts to secure each wheel to the new IS. The use of hub bolts allows for improved fastening strength and therefore an increase to rigidity to further enhance braking and handling. What’s more, the move to hub bolts sheds approximately 2 pounds of total unsprung weight. The new bolts also feature a black coating so as not to draw any attention away from the attractive new wheel designs.
      Complementing the enhancements to overall rigidity, multiple refinements were made to the suspension setup. For starters, engineers targeted a reduction in unsprung weight. The new IS features coil springs that are 20 percent lighter than the outgoing model. New A-arms are employed as well that feature a forged aluminum material versus the outgoing steel composition, resulting in an 18 percent weight reduction. Engineers also opted for a new material for the suspension stabilizer bar to optimize the diameter and thickness to provide a 17 percent weight reduction.
      With unsprung weight reduced, engineers equipped the IS with new swing-valve shock absorbers equipped with ultralow-velocity valves in their pistons to manage oil flow in response to the most minor of road irregularities. Even when the stroke speed of the shock absorbers is low, the new velocity valves provide excellent responsiveness to apply appropriate damping force on all varieties of road surfaces. The result is consistently even ride quality. New bound stoppers are also employed to help manage the sprung weight more effectively for enhanced ride comfort.
      Fast, Fun, Ferocious – Putting the “F” in F SPORT
      The IS F SPORT lineup is restructured in the 2021 model year, as F SPORTs will only be offered on the IS 350 powered by the 311-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine. F SPORT features a host of visual and performance cues that immediately set it apart, including a unique front bumper with functional aerodynamic enhancements, rear bumper, grille surround, rear lip spoiler, rocker molding and more. Along with F SPORT 19-inch wheels, a unique center cap and larger rear tires for added performance (265/35R19), they are also equipped with a cool air intake with sound generator and an F SPORT exhaust and diffuser. In addition, unique F SPORT badges adorn the sides and rear of the vehicle as well.
      Inside the new IS, stainless-steel scuff plates adorn the door sills. Eyes are immediately drawn to the stylish F SPORT front seats, especially when dressed in the available new Circuit Red option. The front seats also offer standard heated and ventilated functions. A heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with unique center ornament, perforated leather-wrapped shifter and F SPORT combination instrumentation meter await the driver, as do unique F SPORT accelerator pedal, brake pedal and footrest. The distinctive front seats offer available two-way power adjustable lumbar support as well as four-way adjustable headrests. Unique F SPORT door accents are highlighted with black geometric film window switch surrounds. Active Sound Control has been improved to further enhance the exhilarating performance notes of the V6 engine while reducing unpleasant tones.
      F SPORT models can be further augmented with the addition of a Dynamic Handling Package (DHP) that includes Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS). For 2021, engineers have optimized the damping force of the AVS system to help enhance performance. In addition, the DHP also includes lighter 19-inch forged alloy BBS wheels finished in matte black. Not only are they impressive looking, the 19-inch BBS wheels are approximately 4 pounds lighter per wheel compared to the standard 19-inch F SPORT wheel.
      The RWD F SPORT models with the DHP are equipped with a Torsen® limited slip differential (LSD) that improves handling and performance thanks to enhanced traction when cornering or exiting turns. The LSD helps maintain straight-line stability as well. F SPORT models equipped with the DHP also feature drive select mode Sport S+, which provides advanced engine and transmission mapping to enhance performance. Sport S+ also adjusts the amount of EPS steering assist and damping force to deliver sportier handling to match the updated powertrain settings. Custom Mode is available on DHP models, offering multiple combinations for powertrain (Normal/Eco/Power), chassis (Normal/Sport) and air conditioner (Normal/Eco).
      F SPORT models equipped with the DHP receive a unique carbon-fiber rear spoiler and side-view mirror caps, center console knee pad with contrast stitching, and a Lexus Card Key.
      Athletically Inclined & Designed
      The bold new exterior styling of the 2021 IS not only aims for a provocative design, but its athletic silhouette is also meant to signify the agile changes that have taken place below the sheet metal. Overall, the new IS evokes lower, wider proportions. It is slightly wider, with muscular fenders that extend to enhance and accommodate the larger available 19-inch wheels and larger diameter tires. The wide and low form nods to the inherently high level of driving performance the IS possesses, but the sleek lines are also complemented with overtly aggressive sharpness carved into the side and shoulder character lines.
      2021 IS Specifications

      Starting at the front of the new IS, a newly designed spindle grille features a three-dimensional, polyhedral structure that originates from the foremost tip of the grille to emphasize a sense of presence. On F SPORT models, block forms based on a spindle motif combine with a mesh pattern to achieve a sporty impression. F SPORT models also feature a grille-bottom air intake that allows air to flow through to assist in cooling the brakes, a design inspired by the RC F.  Standard IS models feature a new grille that includes mini spindles within its design. This intricate pattern required six different types of cutting tools in order to create the mold.
      New slender headlamps are fitted on the IS that feature daytime running lights with a sharp L-shape signature that runs across the lateral axis just above the newly developed compact and lightweight lamp units. These new headlamps help contribute to expressing a low center of gravity through low-positioned areas around the grille, and they are matched by lowered side character lines that carry all the way through to the rear of trunk. Available triple-beam LED headlights are also redesigned to complement the low-profile hood.
      New rocker panels accent the side profile of the new IS with a design that kicks up in the rear, featuring a sharper overall contour that carries into the muscular shoulders over the rear wheel wells. Gently sloped rear-quarter pillars, which help form a firm cabin silhouette that wraps around from the sides, contrast with the rear fenders to further enhance the aggressive look.
      Moving toward the back of the IS, lines of the rear fenders blend into the extended, lowered rear deck to create a low stance that enhances the wider hips. The three-dimensional form of the rear deck design is created with a stamping technology called press-in mold construction. No question eyes will be drawn most immediately to the L-shaped blade-style lightbar that spans across the rear of the vehicle.
      There are five new exterior colors available on the 2021 IS, including Iridium, Cloudburst Gray, Matador Red Mica, Infrared*, and Grecian Water. These new colors will be added to other popular exterior options that include Ultra White, Eminent White Pearl, Atomic Silver, Caviar and Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0*.
      *Colors unique to F SPORT models, includes a premium paint charge of $595
      Bask in Cabin Comfort
      Luxury and performance are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and yet the two live in harmony in the new IS. The interior features standard NuLuxe®-trimmed seating, with 10-way power driver and 8-way power adjustable front passenger seats, a dual-zone automatic climate control system with touch-sensitive controls, an available power moonroof, and SmartAccess with push button start.
      New trim adorns each door in F SPORT models with a graphic pattern of embossed intersecting lines, representing a new form of Lexus decorative expression and Takumi craftsmanship. Decorative ornamentation is finished for the first time in Black Metallic paint, Black Geometic Film, or the unique Ash ornamentation exclusive to F SPORT models equipped with the Dynamic Handling Package. Piano Black accents also can be found on surface elements for cabin atmosphere that is both dignified and sporty. Standard NuLuxe interior color options include Black, Glazed Caramel and Rioja Red. On F SPORT packages the options include Black, Circuit Red, and two-tone White/Black, while the F SPORT Dynamic Handling Package is available in Black or Circuit Red interior.
      The IS features a standard 8-inch touchscreen nearly 3 inches closer to the driver for easy access to the controls. An expansive new 10.3-inch touchscreen is available on vehicles equipped with navigation or Mark Levinson with navigation. The new multimedia system features Apple CarPlay® compatibility, Android Auto™ compatibility, and Amazon Alexa integration.
      With Apple CarPlay compatibility, customers can access the familiar interface from their iPhone through the vehicle’s multimedia display. Simply connect an iPhone to get directions, make calls, send and receive message via Siri®, all hands free, and get access to favorite apps like Spotify, Audible® and Apple podcasts. With Android Auto, Android users can seamlessly cast their device’s interface onto the vehicle’s multimedia display, play music via apps such as Spotify® and Pandora®, send messages through a range of commonly used apps like WhatsApp®, navigate with Google Maps™, and request information—all with just the sound of your voice—through the Google Assistant™.  With Lexus+Alexa integration, you can bring all the convenience of Amazon Alexa on the road. Just ask Alexa for the same access to information and the thousands of skills available with Alexa at home. Listen to audiobooks, play favorite music, make lists, check the weather, get news briefings, and much more. Users can also control compatible smart-home devices such as lighting, thermostat and security systems. Offering added in-vehicle convenience, Alexa even syncs to the navigation system to provide on-the-go recommendations.
      The available Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System is also enhanced, with the previous system expanding from 15 speakers with 835 watts of power to a 17-speaker system with a new amplifier offering an impressive 1,800 watts. The new Mark Levinson system aimed to reduce interference, improve output (aided by the addition of two speakers), and improve overall sound quality with new EQ tuning. Rear surround speakers have been changed to tweeter/mid-range combination Unity speakers. The audio amplifier has enhanced Quantum Logic Surround for playback of compressed sound sources and to provide a 7.1 surround sound listening experience.
      Drivetrains and Powertrains
      Although, for some, the IS can only be viewed as a rear-wheel-drive compact sports sedan, others reside in climates where all-wheel-drive is a necessity. Fortunately, the 2021 IS will be available in both rear- and all-wheel drive options, and there are three distinct powertrain options available depending upon the grade.
      The rear-wheel drive IS 300 features a 2.0-liter, turbocharged and intercooled inline four-cylinder engine. The 2.0-liter engine is updated for 2021, featuring an adaptive transmission control that helps determines the most appropriate gear for each driving situation based on driver input to achieve linear response. Rated to deliver 241 horsepower, the stout four-cylinder also produces a solid 258 lb-ft of torque across a flat torque range from 1,650 rpm all the way up to 4,400 rpm. It’s not only powerful, it’s efficient, too, thanks to a sophisticated Variable Valve Timing intelligent – Wide (VVTi-W) system which allows the engine to switch between the Otto and Atkinson combustion cycles to maximize efficiency. It comes equipped with an eight-speed Sport Direct Shift (SPDS) automatic transmission. It integrates an advanced G-force Artificial Intelligence (G-AI) system that monitors multiple performance parameters to determine the optimum gear selection.
      For added traction in cold-weather climates, the IS 300 is also available with all-wheel drive. The IS 300 AWD is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 260 hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The electronically controlled all-wheel drive system is designed to help enhance traction and grip by automatically varying front-to-rear torque distribution. On dry roads it maintains a 30:70 front-to-rear torque split for maximum performance, but it’s capable of sending as much as 50 percent of the power to the front wheels in certain conditions.
      For buyers who crave maximum power, there’s the IS 350 in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 311 hp and 280 lb.-ft. of peak torque. The rear-wheel drive model uses the same eight-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission found in the IS 300 RWD, while the AWD version sends power through a six-speed automatic. If there’s any question about the performance-minded nature of each vehicle, look no further than their 0-60 times, as the IS 350 RWD covers the ground in 5.6 seconds while the IS 350 AWD goes from 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds. 
      Enhanced Lexus Safety System+
      The standard Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+) found on the new IS receives additions for 2021 in the form of the new LSS+ 2.5. A number of key features that are part of the Lexus Safety System+ have been enhanced, along with the addition of a few key features.
      For starters, the Pre-Collision System (PCS), which include Frontal Collision Warning (FCW), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Pedestrian Detection and Bicyclist Detection, features an enhancement to the single-lens camera and millimeter-wave radar elements to expand the response range. By enhancing the radar and camera capabilities it is now possible for the system to help detect not only the vehicle ahead but also a preceding bicyclist in daytime and even a preceding pedestrian in daytime and low-light conditions. At intersections, the system has improved recognition of an oncoming vehicle or pedestrian when performing a left-hand turn and may activate typical PCS functions if needed. Additional PCS functions include Emergency Steering Assist (ESA), which is designed to assist steering within the vehicle’s lane as cued by the driver.
      All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) can be activated above 30 mph and is designed to perform vehicle-to-vehicle distance controls down to 0 mph and can resume from a stop. DRCC also includes a new feature that allows for smooth overtaking of slower vehicles. If traveling behind a vehicle traveling slower than the preset speed, once the driver engages the turn signal the system will provide an initial increase in acceleration in preparation for changing lanes; after changing lanes, the vehicle will continue acceleration until it reaches the original preset driving speed.
      Lane Departure Alert is designed to help notify the driver if it senses the vehicle is leaving the lane without engaging a turn signal via steering wheel vibrations or audible alert. When DRCC is set and engaged, Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) is designed to provide slight steering force to help steer to the center of the lane to assist the driver with staying in the lane using lane markers or a preceding vehicle. LTA alerts the driver with a visual warning and either an audible alert or steering wheel vibration. In the new IS, the lane recognition performance, which makes LTA possible, has been improved with enhanced recognition of line and road edge, lateral G performance, and enhanced control and stability after lane change.
      Additional LSS+ 2.5 features include Intelligent High Beams, which detects preceding or oncoming vehicles and automatically switches between high beam and low beam headlights. Road Sign Assist (RSA) is designed to acquire certain road sign information using a camera and navigation maps and displays them on the multi-information display (MID). With DRCC engaged and activated, RSA can also adjust speed up to the posted speed limit if driving slower or down to the posted speed limit if driving faster than posted.
      To help IS drivers change lanes with confidence, the standard Blind Spot Monitor is designed to help detect and warn you of vehicles approaching or positioned in the adjacent lanes. Standard Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) can offer added peace of mind by helping to detect vehicles approaching from either side while backing out with a visual and audible warning.

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