Lexus is Toyota’s luxury car division. Established in 1986, Lexus is one of the newest car brands in the world. It is marketed in over 70 countries on six continents, and it is also Japan’s largest-selling luxury car brand. Lexus sold its first car in Japan in 2005, 16 years after Lexus cars were first made available in the USA. This is because Toyota’s intention with the Lexus brand, right from the start, was to give the established luxury car brands in the USA a run for their money. Even today, the USA remains Lexus’ largest market.
The Lexus brand traces its roots back to 1983, when Toyota chairman Eiji Toyoda challenged Toyota’s top designers and engineers to build a luxury car that would challenge the best luxury cars of the day. It was codenamed the F1 (“Flagship One”) project, and it resulted in the creation of over 400 prototype vehicles. Toyota even sent a team of F1 designers and researchers to Laguna Beach, California, in 1985 to study the tastes and preferences of US luxury car buyers. After a lengthy design process, Toyota finally signed off on the ultimate design for the LS car. The extensive research also determined that a separate, luxury-focused car brand would best serve the new luxury car. So, in 1986, after sifting through many potential car brand names, Toyota decided to go with “Alexis”, which was later morphed to “Lexus”. Hence, the Lexus brand was born.
The V8-powered LS 400, the final product of the F1 Project, was launched in 1989. Even today, it is still considered one of the best luxury sedans ever made. It set new standards for luxury-car quality and value, and it also pioneered many new innovations like special hydraulic-pneumatic engine mounts, a computer-controlled automatic gearbox with its own ECU, and many more. With this car, Lexus declared to the world that it was committed to its pursuit of auto-engineering perfection.
Lexus also launched the ES 250 premium midsize sedan in 1989. In 1991, it launched the slightly more powerful ES 300 sedan along with the SC 300 and SC 400 sport coupes. The GS 300 luxury sport sedan then came along in 1993, just before the launch of the completely redesigned, 2nd-generation LS 400. After that came the LX 450 SUV, the RX 300 SUV (which is said to have started the luxury crossover SUV market segment), the LX 470 SUV, the IS 300 compact sports sedan, the SC 430 hardtop convertible, the GX 470 SUV, the RX 330 SUV, and many more. Today, Lexus offers many more luxury cars and SUVs, including the likes of the large LS 500 sedan, the LX 570 SUV, the ES sedan, the LC 500 luxury sports coupe, and the IS F, RC F, and GS F performance sedans.
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