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Is the Lexus brand quality still there?


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The more posts I read in the ES, LC and UX sections it leads me to believe that Lexus quality might perhaps be on the slide.

This is contentious and I’m sure there will be some strong views on both sides of the argument but I think we should discuss.

I’m seeing plenty of threads about trim rattles, things not working as well as they should, Lexus taking an age to find fixes, etc. Add these issues to the relatively poor media systems in a Lexus and the relative lack of performance available in the majority of Lexus vehicles, are they now actually as good as we’ve always believed and expected them to be?

I love my NX - perfect car at my time of life - but where do I go next if I wanted to stay with Lexus? The new NX may not be as bullet proof as the current one based on issues people are reporting with the recent new Lexus models.

I still love the marque but I do wonder where the brand will be in 2-3 years.

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Certainly agree with your comments regarding the infotainment systems, my IS300h is my first Lexus, had it about a year so too soon to comment on long term reliability but mechanically everything is ok and it is comfortable etc but coming from BMW and previously Mercedes (both of which were faultless) the infotainment is miles behind, Mirrorlink!!!!, sat nav, miss having constant tyre pressure readings etc although there are some good safety systems on my Lexus (does anybody know if the brakes are applied automatically I if an impending collision is detected? The manual says dependant on region, how on earth do you have a trial run) One thing that does annoy me is 5 year warranty  on Toyota and only 3 on Lexus, is that a reflection on there own perception of the quality of Lexus.

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12 minutes ago, Derant said:

One thing that does annoy me is 5 year warranty  on Toyota and only 3 on Lexus, is that a reflection on there own perception of the quality of Lexus.

No, it is a reflection that the competition (BMW, MB, Audi, Jag etc.) in this country only provide 3 years.

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2 minutes ago, ColinBarber said:

No, it is a reflection that the competition (BMW, MB, Audi, Jag etc.) in this country only provide 3 years.

A reflection of Lexus quality is the fact that Electrical and Mechanical breakdowns can be covered for 10 years and unlimited mileage at an extremely modest cost Antony..

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12 minutes ago, ColinBarber said:

No, it is a reflection that the competition (BMW, MB, Audi, Jag etc.) in this country only provide 3 years.

Not thought of it in that way, thanks

why not take the fight to the competition and offer 5?

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9 minutes ago, royoftherovers said:

A reflection of Lexus quality is the fact that Electrical and Mechanical breakdowns can be covered for 10 years and unlimited mileage at an extremely modest cost Antony..

I have just taken the 2 year extended warranty so agree with your general sentiment but I still maintain that if the parent company can offer 5 years then paying a premium for a posher Toyota should get you the same deal

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1 hour ago, Derant said:

I have just taken the 2 year extended warranty so agree with your general sentiment but I still maintain that if the parent company can offer 5 years then paying a premium for a posher Toyota should get you the same deal

Certainly might generate more private sales and generate more goodwill amongst private owners too at little or zero cost, given that the Marque is so reliable Antony.

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Tend to agree with all the above comments. Prior to retirement, I had a couple of Prius as a taxi for 6 years.

Bought an ISF when I retired, and now have an RC300h, both purchased as a step up from Toyota. 

When service time comes along, I've had a demo Lexus as a courtesy car, and on all occasions, been glad to get back in to my own. 

I can't see myself purchasing another newish Lexus, as I don't think the quality is there now. Add in the fact I won't have an SUV style of vehicle, and I won't have an opportunity for a CT sized car as they don't do one now. 

So back to Toyota in the future. As I see it, the premium for Lexus over Toyota has gone now, and if I buy a 3 year old Toyota, I won't have to pay a grand for an extra 2 years warranty. 

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I’m more bothered by the reports of rattles and creaking trim on the UX. there seem to be quite a few of these. Also by the faults with the ES. Quite surprised by some of the issues reported in the LC section too, including the dreaded can’t open the fuel filler flap on the forecourt fault. Have Lexus cut back on the amount of development miles they do with their new models perhaps? Are they rushing cars to market? Are they prioritising tech above quality?

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During time, I noticed a slight descent of quality, even during  restyling of same model, but with a substantial improvement in real prices. When a new model enter the market, first cars appear being more verified in all particulars, in time some option only present in top versions are furnished in lower ones too, at same price or less, but the overall quality is always maintained. Another reason of this light worsening in building accuracy may be that some models are not made in Japan, where the working philosophy pays more attention to perfection and continuous improvement; even the model is the same, there could be a difference in precision accordingly to the plant. About restyling, may be there is costs optimization too to diminish a bit the perceived quality of some less important features, but only the not important ones. 

Everyone can make a premium car without budget limits, making a premium car  that has costs reliability and lastingness like Lexus is a typical Japanese  job.

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3 hours ago, Zotto said:

Another reason of this light worsening in building accuracy may be that some models are not made in Japan

All Lexus vehicles sold in Europe have always been built in Japan.

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On 1/10/2021 at 12:18 PM, paulrnx said:

..... Lexus quality might perhaps be on the slide..... etc.

Interesting post, Paul.  The survey currently being run by the LOC shows that a third of members' cars are at least ten years old and almost two-thirds of

them more than five, so that it is only natural that quality-related complaints should have been growing in number and might have become more severe in

nature.  That a good number of recent grievances should regard models of a low average age like the LC, ES and UX is, on the other hand, a very negative

development, though it remains to be seen whether the impact on Lexus' reputation for reliability will be sufficient to weaken the marque's historically

dominant position in customer satisfaction surveys.

As for me, the few quality issues I have had over the years, starting with an IS200 and continuing with two IS250s and two IS300h's before two RC300h's

including my present one, all of them regularly serviced, have been almost entirely confined to defects with some of the cars' bought-in components (i.e.

ones not manufactured by Lexus itself or, as far as I know, within the Toyota group) such as corrosion-prone alloys and condensation-prone headlights.

These were replaced no-questions-asked under warranty and usually reasonably promptly.  I have had no build-quality issues except for a mysteriously

noisy folding wing-mirror on an RC, and this too was replaced under warranty.  Issues with electronics have been minor and always quickly resolved.

Admittedly, since none of the cars were more than 3-4 years old or had done much more than 100000km when I changed them, wear-and-tear has never

been an issue for me.

I have always found it vexing that Lexus does not give a 5-Year warranty though I fully understand why it doesn't when its direct competitors also don't.

And it could reasonably be argued that any move to lengthen the warranty would be to downgrade the marque's image by placing it in the same bracket

as Mazda, Honda et al., besides Toyota itself.  Ultimately, though, I think the main reason for Lexus' decision not to offer a 5-Year warranty from its

easiest days was the serious (and continuing) risk of encouraging significant numbers of customers to keep their cars longer, thereby postponing repeat

purchases and reducing new car sales. 

 

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On 1/10/2021 at 11:18 AM, paulrnx said:

The more posts I read in the ES, LC and UX sections it leads me to believe that Lexus quality might perhaps be on the slide.

I would say there is truth in the statement, but it is not universal.

For example LC is bet best quality car I have ever been inside by far... and I mean that in comparison to Royce Royce, Bentley or S-Class - yes they will have something silly inside like thick planks of wood and starry sky headlining, but overall quality will be hit and miss. I mean the will be uneven stitching and especially with wear and tear, there will be creeks and rattles etc. In Lexus LC there are none - it is just perfect... or at least as perfect as I have seen to the date.

Just before current lock-down I was enquiring on BMW i8 went for test drive, but they didn't have it ready so ended-up just looking at it on the lot and trying new 8-Series instead. Inside it feels solid... but just as solid as new 3-Series... Lexus LC on the other hand feels special, every button and every stalk feels like custom made and fitted to perfect fitment. I cannot compare it to anything, because there are no comparison to my knowledge. If I would need to guess then maybe some higher-end Porches are similar in build quality (not in terms of design which is quite basic/boring), but I am not big fan of them so I don't know. Last one I been in was like 2006 997, so not exactly worth comparing.

Next thing, I feel like RX is very well built car, generally Lexus SUVs seems like segment where Lexus pays special attention, better than similar BMW/Audi SUVs... again probably the only comparable cars would be Porsche SUVs, I am sure Cunnilan and Bentayaga are in the level of their own, but so is the price. Going further down the tier list the NX for example is much better equipped (base equipment and options) and more solidly built than say RC or IS, both of which I consider to be worse built quality than mk2 IS. It is weird as NX in the price range sits nicely between IS and RC, but RC is by far the worst equipped car from all 3 and NX is best put together at the same time. GS was probably the last saloon (I consider LS a limousine) with true Lexus quality and roughly equivalent to RX overall.

However, there are few models where I feel Lexus quality is not that great. The mentioned IS/RC were not as well built as models preceding them. CT from the begging was not a Lexus, even when compared to say Golf or especially Audi A3... it felt far closer to Toyota than any other Lexus at the time (and still does). I have tried both UX and it's twin Toyota CHR and they are exactly same quality, both ugly but I consider Lexus less ugly, especially inside, but quality is the same. Same goes for another badge engineered car - ES... just feels like a model of Toyota. In blind test I would say it is definitely Toyota and not Lexus.

One model I don't know is LS, I have once driven very tired LS460 in Bahrain and wasn't impressed. Not sure if it was the condition of the car or because rental company provided it as "equivalent" to IS-F which I rented. I would assume LS ~ LC, but I don't know speak from experience here.

So in conclusion, I think the overall trend is that Lexus is becoming less special and more like badge engineered Toyota, but there are still some exceptionally well build models which they offer.

In terms of quality I would go from the best:

  1. LC
  2. ~LS?
  3. RX
  4. NX
  5. GS
  6. IS ~ level of new 3 Series which is kind of baseline for "Luxury cars"
  7. RC
  8. ES
  9. UX
  10. CT
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I guess we’ll have to see how this goes as we likely won’t know for a few years. For me a Lexus hardly ever goes wrong and so I was just surprised at the number of faults owners of the three newest models are reporting.

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28 minutes ago, paulrnx said:

I guess we’ll have to see how this goes as we likely won’t know for a few years. For me a Lexus hardly ever goes wrong and so I was just surprised at the number of faults owners of the three newest models are reporting.

I`ve not done any research Paul, but the faults you refer to, do any of them refer to Steering, Engine, Transmission, or electrics or are they mainly to do with build matters or design omissions ? Thanks.

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Quality can be measured in many ways. Some posts above consider the CT to be a step down, which I agree with if you are considering quality to be how nice it feels at the key touch points and in perceived fit and finish, yet if you measure quality by reliability you will consider the cheapest car in the Lexus range to be the best quality as it regularly tops reliability surveys. 

I’ve only every owned CTs from Lexus and they are a big step up in quality to what I have had before, both in reliability and just the feeling of the cabin. I’ve driven the UX, IS 300h and NX as courtesy cars. I could could see myself in an IS but they discontinued it, the NX was lovely but too big for my needs and I really disliked the UX (felt cheap in places and SUV styling is not my bag). SUVs have been very popular in recent years but that might be beginning to change as efficiency becomes more important to buyers and Lexus have little to offer a not insignificant slice of the market that used to be met with the IS and CT (I haven’t seen an ES except in the showroom).

I’m beginning to wonder if they will ever bring out a CT replacement as the new Corolla is already pretty good and making it a Lexus would bump the price up even more. The Corolla would sell much better if it was a bit cheaper as it struggles against the traditional competition of Golf, Astra and Focus but doesn’t quite match the 1 Series or A Class, at least not to badge snobs. 

I shall be sticking with my CT for now 🙂

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17 hours ago, colin79666 said:

yet if you measure quality by reliability you will consider the cheapest car in the Lexus range to be the best quality as it regularly tops reliability surveys. 

I’m beginning to wonder if they will ever bring out a CT replacement

But is it more reliable than Toyota Auris (not Corolla) it is based on? And if not, then what does Lexus offer in terms of value for the extra price if we compare the cars just by reliability alone? 

I appreciate Lexus is inherently just more "fancy Toyota", but at the same time I expect that extra price for Lexus will buy some extra feel or better materials, fit and finish. This is not the case with CT and that is why I score it worst out of all cars Lexus has offered, closely followed by UX and ES which equally don't offer any tangible improvement. So exactly as you mentioned - "how nice it feels at the key touch points and in perceived fit and finish". On these 3 models there is no such perceived improvement over similar Toyota.

I am not saying CT is overall "poor quality car", but again even Auris is relatively nice car compared to wast majority of cars in the segment, certainly better than all french or italian compact cars, Skodas, Seats, Nissans, Hondas, Fords...  The only cars which is quite nice in that segment are Mazda 3, CT, Auris as well as class-leader Golf. Then we have MB A class, BMW 1-Series and Audi A3, all of which meant to be competitors for CT, but are substantially nicer inside and more luxurious. Taking Audi A3 as example it offers substantially more than Golf and even thought it is same car it feels quite a bit more luxurious. CT hardly offers any improvement on what arguably is already decent fit and finish in Toyota Auris and as such I am struggling to see what extra value you get for paying more.

They have already brought CT replacement, sorry if you missed that memo... as I have spoiler alert for you - it is Lexus UX. After driving both side by side I consider UX to be substantially nice than CT in both "perceived quality" and driving, but that is not very surprising for nearly 10 years never car. Especially, UX250h is far nicer to drive, faster, more responsive and still more fuel efficient. And again as I said - even Toyota CHR would be substantially nicer, because it and UX feels almost the same car.

Image

Now compare above with "true" Lexus cars - for example there were no comparable car in Toyota line-up to Lexus GS, RC or IS... and even when compared to direct competitors like BMW 3 or 5, Lexus felt better built and more reliable. CT does not feel better built than Auris, never mind Audi A3.

And again when it comes to cars like LC, LS or RX - then it becomes clear what that extra money for "dressed-up Toyota" buys you. Those 3 cars alone can justify Lexus brand existence because they are noticeably on the different level from anything Toyota has to offer (bar Century) and in most cases on the different level from the rest of the market.

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Linas.P said:

I appreciate Lexus is inherently just more "fancy Toyota", but at the same time I expect that extra price for Lexus will buy some extra feel or better materials, fit and finish. This is not the case with CT

It absolutely is the case, or certainly was. Look at a 2010 Auris hybrid compared to a CT. The CT has higher quality, softer touch materials, improved NVH, better specifications where certain options just aren't available on the Toyota, and it is assembled in a plant which has higher quality control standards for paint finish and panel gaps etc.

Where the CT has fallen away is that it is essentially the same vehicle now as it was when launched whereas the Toyota went though a complete redesign with the later Auris and now again with the Corolla - each time improving.

Reliability is the same - the vehicles underneath are the same. Differences between the two in surveys are normally down to statistical insignificance due to sample size.

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Kia offer a 7 year warranty, although strangely the basically similar Hyundai only offer 5.  From at one time being regarded in company with the pre VW Skodas or Ladas, these cars have improved vastly generation on generation in all major respects.  We read that having secured the services of some of the top names in the motor industry, their top arm 'Genesis', are about to start a major drive in the UK.  It will be interesting to see what warranties they will offer on top models.

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2 hours ago, ColinBarber said:

It absolutely is the case, or certainly was. Look at a 2010 Auris hybrid compared to a CT. The CT has higher quality, softer touch materials, improved NVH, better specifications where certain options just aren't available on the Toyota, and it is assembled in a plant which has higher quality control standards for paint finish and panel gaps etc.

Where the CT has fallen away is that it is essentially the same vehicle now as it was when launched whereas the Toyota went though a complete redesign with the later Auris and now again with the Corolla - each time improving.

First of all you need to consider that my response was specifically to the previous post where it was stated that "perceived quality" is NOT what matters and only reliability does. You could argue that better QC attributes to theoretically better reliability in CT, but I think we can both agree that in practice that is not going to have any significant impact to either car.

The specific thing I said what that CT does not represented substantial improvement over Auris, or substantial enough to justify separate brand/model and certainly price difference. And indeed price is another big thing - indeed some options offered on CT were not offered on Auris, but they were not essentially there for CT being more premium, but rather just because you literally paid for them to be there 2 times over. The difference was akin upper trim level for the same model. It would not be much different if Auris just had 2 more top trims - and that is exactly how market reacted to the model as well. It never really competed with Premium hatches from other premium brands, rather just top of mid-price market... 

Compare Golf and Audi A3 and you see exactly what I mean - difference is substantial. Not only completely different engine choice (especially more powerful ones), but overall whole car is fundamentally different, more luxurious...  bar some insignificant details, nuts and bolts underneath, small generic switch gear etc.

Again apply same test for Lexus IS - what is the car in Toyota range it was based on... none... one just didn't exist. Lexus IS was fundamentally different car in different segment, different engines, different suspension, different power-train layout. Sure it shared some of the same components, but there was no car in Toyota line-up which would be anything alike IS.

For the same reason you can see I listed all Toyota derived models EX, UX and CT as the worst quality within Lexus range. This is not coincidence and actually not something I deliberately planned. The list is based purely on my experience with all cars and they feel substantially worse than cars which I consider "true Lexus". There is nothing specifically wrong with them, but first mind I have when I get into them is "is this fancy Toyota"? 

Yes they have little bit softer and premium materials inside, but fundamentally they don't feel as solid or as premium than other Lexus models which do not have direct twin in Toyota. Maybe there is a difference between purpose designed and built premium car and the car which is simply had make-up and was cosmetically upscale beyond it's true quality.

It is actually hard to describe, or even more give specific examples, but I definitely feel the difference. Be it just closing the door - Lexus door will fell heavier, more sturdy, the shun will be more firm with no secondary rattles. Small detail, but leaves experience of the premium car.

Finally, I agree that whereas CT was somewhat decent at launch, but it became increasingly worse as the years gone by. If at launch it was just slightly better than gold and just slightly worse than MB A or Audi A3, then by the end I would say even Mazda 3, Golf and even cars like later Focuses are nicer/better equipped.

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After many secondhand cars, my first new car was a 2002 Skoda Fabia. Close inspection by myself and friends showed that virtually every part was stamped or labelled VW. We all know why, and it gave the impression to many people that the Skoda brand was a reliable bargain.

Indeed today, Skoda has a better reliability record than Audi because older 'sorted' technology is passed down.

So my lowly Skoda had just one spelt Skoda name on the hatch, with nearly all other parts saying Volkswagen.

My Lexus has one spelt badge on the boot lid, and just about every other part stamped or labelled TOYOTA.

If you go into a Lexus dealer to purchase screen wash, it comes in a Toyota bottle!! So, yes the present and future Lexus models, will really be a re badged Toyota.

I hope Lexus don't go the same way Mercedes has. Most think the W124 and W201 series were the best they produced. Now they just churn stuff out for the leasing market.

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8 hours ago, Linas.P said:

First of all you need to consider that my response was specifically to the previous post where it was stated that "perceived quality" is NOT what matters and only reliability does.

That isn’t what was said. My point was there are various factors that can be considered as to what constitutes quality and the balance between them isn’t the same for everyone. 
 

I’m sorry, the 2011 Auris was a very different experience in the cabin to the CT even if the drivetrain is the same. It was better after a facelift and the Corolla is a big improvement, hence my point that now there isn’t such a gap to justify the Lexus brand being attached. Perhaps we will just have to disagree on that. Also keep in mind on price you have to compare the top end hybrid Auris and not the base model with manual gearbox and no hybrid system where there is a much larger price gap. 
 

No doubt the “true” Lexus cars are another leap up in quality but so is the cost, putting them out of reach of most of the new car buying market. 

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I think we (both) just focusing to much on the words rather than substance. 

To be clear I never said CT was "poor quality", what I said is exactly that:

3 hours ago, colin79666 said:

No doubt the “true” Lexus cars are another leap up in quality

I just expect any car with Lexus badge to be at that level of "true" Lexus. CT quality is good, but it is overall closer to Toyota Auris, then it is to say Lexus IS... that is my point .

Upon the launch of CT, it was the only Toyota derived car in range with this noticeable step down from Lexus quality. So if somebody is asking - "are Lexus quality is becoming worse?"... my answer is "yes in some cases - like introduction of CT, ES and UX", but "no in some other cases, like with introduction of LC... the rest LS, RX and NX are still representing the Lexus quality).

I guess in summary, it is not that Lexus quality is becoming worse, it is more like their range is diverging in terms of quality - high-end models are becoming better, low-end models are becoming worse.... and they just removed all the middle ground.

 

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On 1/11/2021 at 4:19 PM, royoftherovers said:

I`ve not done any research Paul, but the faults you refer to, do any of them refer to Steering, Engine, Transmission, or electrics or are they mainly to do with build matters or design omissions ? Thanks.

Rattles, creaking trim and things not working the way they are supposed to. These are what caught my eye.

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36 minutes ago, paulrnx said:

Rattles, creaking trim and things not working the way they are supposed to. These are what caught my eye.

What are these strange things you write about, should I get them? am I missing out on something wonderful? 

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