Lexus impressed me in 1989 when the first Lexus luxury car was introduced, the 1990 Lexus LS400 flagship sedan. The car’s styling was fresh and the car’s price was refreshing, significantly less than European luxury car competitors. In addition, the manufacturer advertised its new brand’s mission: “The relentless pursuit of perfection.”
Lexus automobiles arrived at a time when America’s luxury car business was ripe for a top-to-bottom makeover. Luxury cars were expensive. Their cost of service was high and the quality of service was a familiar complaint. To put it bluntly, luxury car owners were fed up with service costs and the treatment they received for service from luxury car dealers.
Along with many others I applauded the arrival of the Lexus brand and the company’s enlightened commitment to customer service and overall customer satisfaction The Lexus arrival woke up the American luxury car business and was the equivalent of an automotive shot heard around the world.
One of the smartest things that Toyota’s management did at the outset was to separate its new Lexus marque from Toyota’s brand. It enabled the new Lexus enterprise to develop a separate culture focused on its own market, the luxury car market.
In my opinion, this decision defined the special qualities that are the Lexus brand and uniquely American.
It’s interesting to note the origin of the Lexus name. It was chosen from a list of 219 candidates, including Vectre, Verone, Chaparral, Calibre and Alexis. A marketing manager pointed out that Alexis was the name of the conniving Joan Collins character on the television show Dynasty. The “A” was then dropped to create “Lexis”. Then on to “Lexus”, which sounded more luxurious and connoted a high-tech vibe. Thus, a new luxury brand was born.
Early on, Lexus management decided to treat Lexus customers as guests. A service loaner car would be a Lexus, not a compact. Customer cars that came in for service would be washed before going back to the owner. The first two scheduled maintenance visits would be free.
Lexus managers also committed themselves to provide the highest levels of product quality and customer service and defined their commitment by signing onto “The Lexus Covenant” credo.
The Lexus brand was eagerly welcomed by many new luxury car buyers and Lexus soon received high customer satisfaction ratings.
Those high ratings continue today. Lexus recently offered me one of its 2017 vehicles for a week. I chose a Lexus LX570 5-door sport utility model for my fall issue review. The large SUV is the brand’s flagship SUV whose parentage is the iconic Toyota Land Cruiser, after several generations of Lexus refinement.
The 2017 LX has a 5.7-liter V8 engine that generates 383 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission and full-time all-wheel drive. This big brute of an SUV has a 7,000-lb. towing capacity. It also has a power-folding third row seat.
Behind the wheel I am surrounded by outstanding Lexus craftsmanship and premium features. Among these are the Mark Levinson 19-speaker surround-sound audio system, full-color multi-information display and a color heads-up display. This is luxury writ large! All on the robust bones of a wonderfully tweaked Land Cruiser for challenging off-road conditions.
Seating is comfortable and made of high grade leather. Seats are heated and ventilated up front and in the second row.
The wood around me feels like natural wood, but Lexus tells me that the steering wheel is the result of 67 steps of craftsmanship in 38 days. The interior detail offers many other perfectionist attributes, a Lexus hallmark.
The robust V8 engine, which is the only one available in the LX model, delivers terrific acceleration on demand and smooth road manners on the interstate. It is the largest engine in any Lexus and I found it had eager power for my Hunt Country outings.
I never asked my LX test model to show me its mountain climbing ability or maximize its superb off-road traction capability. I took its word that it could as stated on the window sticker: Crawl Control Mode. This feature uses its antilock brakes and electronic throttle to bravely ascend or descend very steep and slippery slopes while the driver steers … probably with white knuckles.
Abundant safety features are standard in my LX570. These include front and second row side airbags, roll-sensing curtain side airbags, pre-collision automatic braking system, lane departure alert, blind spot monitor and trailer sway control.
The Lexus LX570 competes with the Cadillac Escalade, Land Rover Range Rover, Lincoln Navigator and Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class. Lexus sells three other SUV’s: NX, RX and GX.
The EPA fuel rating for the LX is 15 mpg (13 city/18 highway).
The Lexus LX570 has basic, powertrain and corrosion perforation warranties.
The base price of my 2017 Lexus LX570 is $89,380.
My Lexus LX sport utility vehicle with its several options: wheels, heads-up display, premium leather, heated/ventilated seats, audio system and heated steering wheel brought the total window sticker price to $95,765.
Pricey; but one of the most muscular sport utility vehicles that will take you across some of the most challenging terrain in style.