Lexus IS: A look back in light of recall
Today, Toyota announced a recall of 1.7 million vehicles across the globe. One of these machines ordered back was the Lexus IS 250 and 350. The recall was caused by insufficient tightening of the fuel pressure sensor that, in some cases, can loosen and leak fuel.
While this is certainly big news, the IS sedan has become accustomed to such events. Lexus IS 250 and 350 were involved in the massive recall of 2009 that nearly destroyed Toyota’s reputation. This latest round of incidents will only add salt to a very open wound.
Founded in 1998, Lexus IS has been a moderate success here in the United States. For years, the sedan was quintessentially Japanese, but in 2005, a major redesign saw the vehicle undergo an Americanization. This overhaul helped the company achieve a 332% sales increase for 2006 and it was the best-selling entry-level luxury vehicle in the US.
The momentum didn’t last and in 2008, IS sales were behind the BMW 3 Series, new Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Cadillac CTS, and ahead of the Acura TL, Audi A4, and Infiniti G35 sedan. Something needed to be done to recapture the magic.
In 2009, Lexus overhauled the IS and introduced the IS250C at the Paris Auto Show. The more powerful IS350C was unveiled at a later date. The convertible went on sale in the United States in May of 2009.
For their third-generation IS, Lexus wanted to become, in a way, a bargain luxury brand, by offering amenities the Germans had as options. These included memory leather seats, lightsaber-like electroluminescent instrument display lighting and LED interior lighting accents, the choice of faux-metallic or optional Bird's Eye Maple wood trim, and SmartAccess keyless entry with push-button start. The IS also featured numerous safety features that helped it achieve a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Over the years, the IS has received more trophies than Derek Jeter, including Best Prestige Car in the Australia's Best Cars awards, Best New Technology award in 2006 from the Canadian Car of the Year Awards, the Intellichoice/AutoPacific Motorist Choice Award for Aspirational Luxury Cars and the 10 Best Engines awards in 2006 from Ward’s Auto.
Still, despite the praise from publications and strong sales, Lexus IS has been once again devalued by Toyota. While it might be a smart choice for car buyers, Lexus, along with Toyota, now has a less than stellar reputation. The Germans are smiling.
See also how Toyota Stock is doing after the recall news.