The Lexus LS is old. Sure, it received a refresh for model year 2013, but it hasn't had a clean-sheet redesign since George W. Bush was in office. It's the oldest vehicle in its segment, debuting in 2007, a full year before the current-gen BMW 7 Series, two years before the Hyundai Equus and Jaguar XJ and three years before the Audi A8.

This is particularly troubling as buyers flock to the heavily redesigned Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which debuted late last year, and the all-electric Tesla Model S. Despite this move, though, Lexus is (worryingly in our minds) not at all concerned.

"We don't feel it's a problem with the car," Brian Smith, VP of marketing for Lexus, told Wards Auto. "Many of the buyers in that segment want what's new and they're trying it."

Um, we aren't totally certain, but if people "want what's new" and they aren't buying your car because of it, that means there is a problem with the car. In fact, Smith's general attitude towards the increasing gap between the LS and the competition is oddly dismissive.

According to Wards, Smith believes the luxury segment is roughly even, with no particular standouts in terms of performance, handling and aesthetics. He also questions the loyalty of Tesla customers, when asked about those that defected from the LS to the Model S.

"They'll probably come back," Smith told Wards. "I think the question remains to be seen how many people will buy a second Tesla."

Lexus has only sold 2,149 of its LS sedans through May, a decrease of 19.7 percent over the same period last year. Compare that with Mercedes, which is up a whopping 81 percent, to 6,381 units through five months, and Tesla, which while down 6.2 percent through May, has sold more than twice as many Model S EVs as Lexus has LS sedans.

Overall, the Wards piece is an interesting insight into the internal thinking at Lexus.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 111 Comments
      KC
      • 5 Months Ago
      Even if they were worried, why would they admit to being worried?
        TopGun
        • 5 Months Ago
        @KC
        Well…OK…so then why bother talking to them if they are going to give you useless information. I say at least good on Autoblog for calling them out on it.
      Carguy
      • 5 Months Ago
      It's possible that the thinking was that the redesigned grill would bring in executives in their 30s-50s but instead they may have pushed out their core 60plus consumer.
      • 5 Months Ago
      I own a 2013 LS 460. Still have a 2004 LS 430, and a 2012 Caddy SRX. When shopping for the 2013, I tested the Caddy XTS, Bimmer 6 Series Gran Coupe and 5 Series, and MB CLS 550. With the exception of the XTS, each was impressive in it's own way. When push came to shove, I chose the Lexus again. Why? Because it was large, incredibly comfortable, smooth, had every feature that I could possibly want/need, a better monetary value (though certainly not cheap), and above all, mechanically flawless. I used to own several MBs, and every one of them had electrical issues. My Range Rover was a disaster. The Lexus dealership is fabulous, and to me, a huge part of the luxury experience is having a vehicle that solidly built and runs flawlessly, and a sterling reputation. To my way of thinking, that trumps cutting edge any day of the week.
      SquareFour
      • 5 Months Ago
      Remember this guy's position, Brian Smith is the VP of Marketing. He doesn't get paid to speak the truth nor his personal opinions. His job is paint Lexus in a positive light at all times. Not saying he's lying, but he's definitely spinning...that's what marketing is. So we need to take what he says with a grain of salt and not as something representative of "the internal thinking at Lexus."
      Patrick
      • 5 Months Ago
      Time for an overhaul for this car. It's an elegant design but theres just too much competition out there for them to just sit on this. Changing the grill and the tail light design in the rear is not going to cut it.
      Indubitably
      • 5 Months Ago
      "New" ALWAYS sells... C'mon, this is a no brained that the new S-Class and Tesla are at the top of the charts. People always want the latest, even when it might not be the greatest. Also, you can't compare a Model S to any of these luxobarges just because it costs the same. Common sense!
      fabianbond
      • 5 Months Ago
      I think the issue is the exterior the interior is really nice but the back looks square and imo bland and the front tries way too hard to be aggressive.
      skablaw
      • 5 Months Ago
      As an LS460L owner I'm admittedly biased, but I'll say a couple of things that I hope retain a trace of objectivity. The LS460 as a platform is old by "car" standards, but as a flagship luxury vehicle, I don't think it's unusually so. Bear in mind that the previous-generation Audi A8 ran from 2002-2009 (global market, not just domestic) with little more than an engine update and a new grille. The Bangle 7 ran from 2001-2008 and the last S-Class, which debuted in 2006 was just replaced this year so a vehicle that bowed in 2007 is hardly a Jurassic fossil 7 years later. The Lexus is on on its second year of a very substantial interior redesign and a significantly updated exterior - enough so that, if I had the means today, I would go out and purchase the refreshed model just for the added content and more modern look. The more important point, however, is that the LS460 in its present state is an incredibly well-executed car. In the "kitchen sink" content wars, it now sits at the back of the pack, missing some whiz-bang technology features, but it has absolutely everything that I can think of wanting or needing on a daily basis. You can't use your finger to write an address into the navigation system, but would you honestly rather have that than effective voice commands? It's whisper quiet in spite of a 386 hp V8 upfront and has so much leg-room in front of the reclining rear seats that, at 6 feet 4 inches I can set the driver's seat for my own comfort then sit behind it and cross my legs while stretching out. The interior materials are impeccably finished with hand-buffed leather, wood with enough layers of lacquer you could measure them with a ruler, an Alcantara headliner and deep, soft carpets. The cabin is a wonderful place to spend time and my extended family always asks to borrow the car for road trips or when transporting out-of-town guests around because it is just so comfortable and refined. All that said, it's naive to think that the LS can simply sell itself anymore. It remains a compelling value at current prices and I genuinely believe there are people who shop for the LS that actually can no longer put the S-Class on their must-try list because it has become prohibitively expensive, even in its most basic form. Granted, Mercedes is more than justified in asking the premium - the new car is an absolute paradigm shift in this segment, in my opinion, but it isn't quite apples-to-apples. The current A8 interior is much more interesting to look at and it's more satisfying to drive than the LS. The BMW, though it has begun a return to aesthetic Nirvana, doesn't have much that stands out. It's a very competitive and competent car, but not an outstanding one. The author is correct, though - the numbers speak for themselves, and it's clear that the LS has far passed its zenith. My real concern isn't that the current car is bad, it's that Brian Smith didn't even hint at a forthcoming replacement.
        ihyln
        • 5 Months Ago
        @skablaw
        People who cross shop Lexus, Audi, Mercedes, and BMW are generally going to go with one of the germans. Lexus is not a sought after brand like the ones previously mentioned.
          dea5787
          • 5 Months Ago
          @ihyln
          @skablaw I enjoyed your first comment (the lengthily one about being a current LS owner) and gave you a bit of credit, but all of that credit is being taken away by your narrow minded , generalized second comment (which clearly illustrates you as a Lexus fanboy) and your immature attempt of a put-down on someone else's potentiality for affording a vehicle in question. "half of C-class and 3-Series buyers are 20-somethings with more credit card debt that the average baby boomer has earned in a lifetime and primarily shop for clothes, tequila and cars based on recommendations from Akon lyrics" and "You probably also can't afford any of these cars so I'm not sure why anyone would be interested in your opinion of them" Firstly....while I will agree that most C-Class, 3-Series AND IS (don't forget about Lexus) buyers aren't as affluent or as old as S-Class, 7-Series, and LS owners, your comment about half of them being in their 20's and laden with credit card debt is most certainly incorrect. Even so, according to your logic almost anyone can afford to bring home those cars, so why so quickly excuse 'ihyln's ability to have one? Even if he couldn't afford one, does that mean his opinion has no merit? I actually tend to agree that Lexus is not as highly desirable and sought after as Mercedes and BMW. I'd imagine that more people lust and dream over the German brands than the Japanese brands. Lust doesn't equal sales. BTW, I'm a 20-something that drives a 335i, doesn't have any credit card debt, owns a home, doesn't like tequila, and definitely doesn't listen to Akon.
      • 5 Months Ago
      I've never seen a statement more wrong than this one: He also questions the loyalty of Tesla customers, when asked about those that defected from the LS to the Model S. "They'll probably come back," Smith told Wards. "I think the question remains to be seen how many people will buy a second Tesla." As a Tesla owner, I can say that I'll probably never buy another car that *isn't* a Tesla.
        jphyundai
        • 5 Months Ago
        No long road trips then? No mountain driving, no long drives through the Badlands, Death Valley etc...... When it comes to long road trips you probably fly then rent a car. How sad......
          19nomad56
          • 5 Months Ago
          @jphyundai
          Two words: Tesla superchargers When cars were brand new in the early 1900s, there were few gasoline stations. Now there are lots. As more cars go EV, the density of charging stations will also increase. I would have no problem owning a Tesla and nothing else.
          Barry Hubris
          • 5 Months Ago
          @jphyundai
          It's sad he flies? Love to drive but if you said 300 mile road trip or a quick flight, I'll take the flight. No car makes 300+ miles pleasurable. Driven all around europea - the alps, autobahn, etc - and USA and while it was fun and a great experience, I hope my kids never endure the agony of a 3-4-500 mile road trip. Yuck. The current Tesla can do 300 miles on a charge. That's more than adequate for most 2 hour drives.
        tj.james8
        • 5 Months Ago
        The EV and PHEV market is going to change so much in the coming years with more makes and models that to assume Tesla will still be "the" EV choice for luxury buyers is a bit narrow minded.
          Winnie Jenkems
          • 5 Months Ago
          @tj.james8
          Until the Tesla, most EVs looked like freaking insects or eggs or dorky spaceships. Until such time as automakers follow Tesla's lead and build something that looks like a proper luxury car, Tesla will remain the EV of choice.
      Sir Shagsalot
      • 5 Months Ago
      So if Lexus says "we don't feel it's a problem with the car" then Lexus is really saying "we feel it's a problem with the customers." Sounds like a place I'd like to give my money too ... yeah.
      hokkaido76
      • 5 Months Ago
      How naive can the author of this article be. Clearly, Lexus is directing it's attention (and R&D money) towards it's smaller sedans (IS, GS) and crossovers (NX), which is appropriate, given that future growth within the luxury category is within those segments. If the car is still relevant (competitive in specs) and is good, then there really isn't a need to change it. To suggest based on the LS that Lexus is "standing still" when it comes to advancement (which Turkus seems to be implying) is silly and dumb.
        • 5 Months Ago
        @hokkaido76
        A luxury car company always needs a flagship sedan with the latest technology, it increases the desireability of the lower models. In fact because the Lexus flagship model is so outdated and only desired by nursing home crowd, discourages a huge number of buyers who are flocking to Audi and Mercedes in droves.
          Barry Hubris
          • 5 Months Ago
          jessesrq - the only reason the market shrank: Lexus stopped making a car that was too hard to pass up. In the early 90s our neighborhood transformed from a sea of Jags, Bimmers and Benzes to a bunch of Lexus LS and SC models. Everybody recognized Lexus was a big step up from the competition at the time and for a better value. Now... not so much. What is Lexus' top selling car? The RX. A Camry-based CUV that costs 40-50k. It's over 45% of Lexus sales. At one time Lexus dominated the luxury car market with just 2 cars. Now they've got a range of bland sedans and bland SUVS. Nothing sporty. Nothing like the AMGs, Ms and RS models of the competition. It's like Lexus gave up.
          jessesrq
          • 5 Months Ago
          I have often read that logic about halo and flagship models, but really I question how important that is for an established brand. The existence of a 7-series or i8 had no bearing on my decision to drive a 3-series, and I cannot see how the LS affects sales of volume models like the RX350. I wonder whether Lexus will even replace the LS in the U.S. market, as there is so much competition for a slice of a very small pie. Ego and the JDM market might keep them in the game.
      Barry Hubris
      • 5 Months Ago
      Many young folks probably don't remember the launch of the Lexus line and how it was a world beater. The original LS redefined luxury and transformed the market. Now that Toyota has people thinking of Lexus on the same level as long term players, they've simply taken the American-style of product development (make it good enough). Sad. The new LS is invisible because it's no longer a standout for being a technical tour de force and is no longer an exceptional bargain. Just another player. Just another Lincoln/Caddy.
        Trevor
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Barry Hubris
        "The lexus LS redefined luxury".......... LOL, try again, it has ALWAYS had the worst interior in its class
          JaredN
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Trevor
          No, it hasn't. The original LS400 interior was the finest in the market.
          Barry Hubris
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Trevor
          Oh and by the way, the Lexus LS400 Gen1 and Gen 2 were renowned for interiors well beyond anything sold at the time by BMW and MB. Jag had a good rep for pretty interiors at the time. Audi was barely alive during that period.
          futurecars
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Trevor
          USA market that is, in other part of the world benz was known for haven the finest and got the car of the year award. Do not get me wrong the LS is a good car but every market got its taste.
        futurecars
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Barry Hubris
        how was it a world beater? north America is not the whole world, I agree Lexus LS set a standard in north America, but not in Europe, China and other part of the world.
          Barry Hubris
          • 5 Months Ago
          @futurecars
          futurecars - you're talking about 2007...that's not really my point at all. I'm talking about when Lexus launched. They changed luxury. In the 1990s Lexus dominated luxury car sales by offering exceptional cars with great service, great reliability, great technology. They did it all for far less than MB, Audi, BMW. Do you understand that? This isn't conjecture. It's historical fact that Lexus upended how luxury cars were built and sold in the 90s. Today, Lexus is a lazy brand with no joie de vivre. They resemble the Caddy/Lincoln attitude of the 80s and 90s. They build good enough cars. Nothing that challenges anybody. Nothing that offers overwhelming quality, technology and value. They are now just an also ran in the segment. And if you're not growing, then you're dying. For the largest auto maker in the world to have a luxury brand that's stagnant, it's kinda sickening/sad. But then again, GM did it too. So it shouldn't be a shock to see Lexus where it is today.
          Barry Hubris
          • 5 Months Ago
          @futurecars
          Futurecars are you being funny? The Original LS400 transformed the luxury landscape in 1989. The debuted a car that had more refinement, luxury, comfort, and quality than Jag, BMW, MB or Audi were offering at the time. And did it with a price point 20-40% lower than the competition. Their dealers were renowned for exceptional service especially vis-a-vis the dealers of the other luxury brands. Lexus sold over 140k copies of the first gen LS. Nobody in the luxury market could touch how it was flying off lots. Lexus once blew away the competition with luxury, refinement, style, quality and price. The LS and then the SC were cars well ahead of their time. Nothing Lexus builds today offers the same kind of holy moly that's a great deal kind of reaction. The current LS is very much a reminder of Toyota's American-style of car building: make it good enough. There is no effort in the LS to be better than the competition. They just trundle along now, content with selling ho-hum cars for the segment.
          futurecars
          • 5 Months Ago
          @futurecars
          Am i been funny? I am sorry but lexus LS is not a top seller in world wide. But it is a American market car. By 2007, the Lexus LS ranked second globally in flagship sales, next to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class' 85,500 units, with 71,760 Lexus LS sedans sold worldwide, and over half the total coming from outside the U.S. market. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexus_LS http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2009/01/05/346214.html So tell me how are they moving off the lots world wide when it is out sold by the S class?
          futurecars
          • 5 Months Ago
          @futurecars
          Just to add in 2011 Daimler move 440k unit since 2005,how many LS lexus moved since that? http://www.emercedesbenz.com/autos/mercedes-benz/corporate-news/mercedes-benz-cars-set-record-worldwide-and-in-u-s-for-2011/ I told you north america is not the whole world.
          futurecars
          • 5 Months Ago
          @futurecars
          I know what they done by offer the car at a lower price given an option, but the S class was rated higher the the Lexus LS in when it was launch world wide, I keep telling you USA is not the world. The S class was car of the year in 1989 and 1990 won several awards. seven time ranking as What Car? "Best Luxury Car" and five times as Fleet News "Luxury Car of the Year". The S-Class was Wheels Magazine Car of the Year for 1981 and 1999, U.S. Highway Loss Data Institute "Safest Passenger Car of the Year" in 1988 and 1989 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_S-Class
          futurecars
          • 5 Months Ago
          @futurecars
          @barry Hubris the S class out sold the lexus LS by a very wide margin in 1990, and will be more than happy to post figures, that the LS sold 42K units in USA and 41k units global,and S class sold over 100K units. Out of that over 100 K units 22K unit was sold in USA and 22K unit in germany. You see Europe loves diesel, there was none made by lexus.
    • Load More Comments