Launched with the tagline, “ The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection” along with ads showing a pyramid of champagne glasses sitting undisturbed on the hood of a LS 400 running at redline on a dynamometer, it was plain from the beginning this was a smooth running, luxurious car for buyers with champagne tastes.
Introduced alongside the rear-drive V8-powered LS 400 was a V6-powered front-drive model called the ES 250, based on the then-current Toyota Camry’s platform. This gave the marque a more affordable car to sell, one with an already bulletproof powertrain.
The new Lexus models were noted for their quietness, luxuriously well appointed and ergonomically correct interior treatments, engine performance, build quality, aerodynamics, fuel economy, and value. It was one of the few times in the history of the automobile all of those qualities could be ascribed to the same car simultaneously.
Following the introduction of those new Lexus cars was the sporty two-door SC 400 coupe in 1991. Featuring all of the luxury accoutrements of the new LS models, as well as theV8 engine and rear drive powertrain, it was an immediate hit. That same year, Lexus also revised the ES 250 to create the ES 300. Still Camry-based, the car was a solid hit. Thhe ES became the best-selling of the new Lexus cars and remains so to this day.
To go toe to toe with BMW, Lexus introduced the GS 300 sports sedan in 1993. This also gave it a model to slot in between the LS and the ES in terms of price. The Lexus certified pre-owned program rolled out that year as well, giving used car buyers an opportunity to benefit from the Lexus customer service experience. The first of the new Lexus SUV models was offered in 1996—the uber-capable LX 450—based on the hugely respected Toyota Land Cruiser. Smaller SUVs quickly followed, giving the brand a full range of both SUVs and passenger cars. The 1998 Lexus RX 300 is notable for being the world’s first luxury crossover SUV.
In recent years, in addition to their luxury, new Lexus models have become more performance oriented, with the LFA supercar sitting atop the brand as its halo model. Meanwhile, Lexus is simultaneously appealing to eco-minded drivers with a full range of hybrid models. In fact, every one of the Lexus cars has a hybrid variant.
In other words, the new Lexus models have indeed managed to become everything to just about everyone.