On an annual basis, Toyota's luxury division, Lexus, is consistently the best-selling luxury brand in the U.S. market, typically followed closely by Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Though Lexus strives to bolster its sporty credibility, recently announcing the LFA supercar, the company hasn't succeeded in shaking a reputation for softness over sport, comfort over compulsion.
While there are a few exceptions, most Lexus models don't share platforms with Toyota products. Exceptions include the ES sedan, which is based on the Camry; the RX crossover, a sister of the Toyota Highlander; the GX midsize SUV, which is based on the Toyota 4Runner; and the LX, which is based on the Toyota Land Cruiser.
Lexus' entry-level car is the IS sedan, which comes with a choice of two engines and rear- or all-wheel drive. It also offers the IS C, one of Lexus' two convertibles. The other drop-top is the pricey retractable-hardtop SC. The IS was also the first model to get F-Series performance upgrades, resulting in an IS-F version, which is intended to compete with BMW's M3.
Lexus covers two bases with its ES and GS, both midsize sedans. The Camry-based ES has front-wheel drive and is soft and roomy. The GS, available with six- or eight-cylinder engines and rear- or all-wheel drive, is meant to be sportier. The full-size LS sedan, which launched the Lexus brand in 1989, remains a luxurious and more affordable alternative to large imported luxury sedans.
Lexus has a wider selection of luxury hybrids than any other automaker. There are hybrid versions of the GS, RX and LS, though the LS hybrid provides more power than efficiency -- at an astonishingly high price. Lexus has also added affordable dedicated hybrid models that deliver more impressive mileage: the HS sedan and CT four-door hatchback.
Lexus and parent Toyota Motor Corp. are headquartered in Toyota City, Aichi, Japan.
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