Lexus is a renowned luxury division of Toyota that has earned a well-deserved reputation around the world. And if there is one Japanese brand that combines exaggerated styling and superb craftsmanship, it has to be Lexus. The brand is responsible for the production of a wide range of refined prestige and luxury vehicles – the perfect alternatives to German premium sedans and SUVs.
Updated October 2022: Every true gearbox must have at least driven or heard about Lexus, a Japanese manufacturer of premium cars, from sports cars and SUVs to sedans and coupes. And while everyone only knows the good side of the brand, we’ve updated this article to show you that Lexus has also produced some awful vehicles. Read on for five of the best and five worst Lexus models.
While its reputation was built on its flagship luxury sedan, the Lexus LS, the automaker has grown thanks to highly successful SUV models from its lineup, such as the original Lexus RX. The brand is now marketed in more than 90 countries and territories around the world. And it is ranked in the top ten largest Japanese brands in the global market value.
While these stats only point to the bright side of Lexus, there is a dark story with this premium brand. A story that says Lexus has also produced some of the worst cars the world has ever seen. To balance the equation, we’ve highlighted five success and failure stories of the Lexus brand in the form of the best and worst models the brand has ever made.
10/10 Best: Lexus GX
The GX is a mid-sized luxury SUV and one of the best Lexus models. The vehicle has a powerful 4.6-liter V8 engine and a well-behaved five-speed automatic transmission to deliver 310 horsepower. The GX also comes with a full-time four-wheel drive system.
The Lexus GX shares a similar front-end styling with its SUV cousin, the Toyota Prado, one of the longest-running Japanese vehicles in production. This mid-sized SUV also has unique technical features such as Lane Departure Warning, Active Knee and Head Airbags, Driver Control Warnings and Pre-Collision Systems.
9/10 Worst: Lexus LS 460
By all standards, the Lexus LS 460 is a great luxury sedan. It was Lexus’ flagship and offered another facelift over its underpowered predecessor. The LS 460 is a successfully modernized sedan with lots of character and comfort, but that’s about it.
While the new LS 460 has been significantly updated and improved, the 2007 and 2008 models were some of the worst. There were numerous complaints about the melting dashboard and windows, the high repair costs and problems with the average mileage. Some of the worst problems with the sedan also have to do with its safety features. According to numerous NHTSA complaints, the vehicle’s ABS actuator tends to fail more often than it should.
8/10 Best: Lexus RX
The Lexus RX is the perfect crossover choice for those seeking a luxurious driving experience with a premium vehicle. Many confuse the aggressive sports design with a crossover intended for the track, but it isn’t. The Lexus RX is not a track car; it is graceful yet stylish and comfortable. Buyers have two options to choose from.
There is either the RX450h that comes with a hybrid powertrain or the RX350. The Lexus RX offers a uniquely relaxed acceleration and driving experience, whatever the combination. The RX350 has a reliability rating of four out of five stars and has minimal annual repair costs.
7/10 Worst: Lexus GS 450h
Lexus made a great debut in 2013 with the new GS 450h. The GS 450h triumphed over the regular F-Sport version and was arguably one of the most powerful members of the GS family. And while Lexus enthusiasts expected a powerful, sports-focused car, the Lexus GS 450h was a hybrid.
Hybrids can be excellent cars, but not always. While the GS 450h is one of the most powerful hybrids out there, it’s also one of the least sporty. It came with many issues, including fuel leakage issues caused by hardening mufflers deemed incendiary by the NHTSA, leading to massive recalls. The Lexus GS 450h is known for its infamous battery failure.
6/10 Best: Lexus IS 300
Ask gearheads what their favorite sports sedan is, and the BMW 3 Series will probably be one of the best answers. BMW isn’t the only automaker building great sports sedans, though, because there is the incredible Lexus IS 300, a car specially designed and developed to compete with BMW sports sedans. The IS 300 first came with a 215 hp 6-cylinder in-line engine with a rear wheel system.
Lexus also made a manual transmission version of the IS 300, which was available for the 2002 models. Current IS models have visual styling with a sporty pretentiousness. The Lexus IS 300 may not live up to the performance cues it once had, but it’s an exciting alternative to its closest rivals. And it offers smooth and comfortable rides, even on rough roads.
5/10 Worst: Lexus IS 250
The Lexus IS 250 is a good car by any standard. However, unlike the IS 300, the IS 250 cannot be called an excellent car. While it has an excellent build quality that offers benchmark steering feel, it also has some notorious flaws that are hard to ignore. After all, when the negatives outweigh the positives, that car becomes a failure.
For starters, it’s not as athletic as the aggressive design makes it out to be. The infotainment system is frustrating thanks to the demanding remote touch function, and the stiff F-Sport suspension doesn’t do enough to improve its agility. It was a fine car; a good reason why the newer IS 200t has phased it out.
4/10 Best: Lexus LS XF40
Most Lexus LS models are widely acclaimed for their reliability and high performance. The XF40 is the fourth generation of the LS and features many of the best features of this line of full-size luxury sedans. The first thing you notice when an LS XF40 rolls up is its adventurous and chiseled styling, both on the outside and inside.
The new-age design complements the cushioned and insulated way it rolls on the road. The LS XF40 comes with a new twin-turbo 3.4-litre V6 with a good output of 416 hp. The performance-oriented V6 engine is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission with rear or four-wheel drive. In addition to these premium goodies, the LS XF40 is considerably inexpensive to purchase and maintain.
3/10 Worst: Lexus IS 350
The Lexus IS350 is a fantastic car; it feels faster off the line compared to the BMW 335i, but stunned when you make even more comparisons to the German giant. The IS 350 has a powerful V6 that sounds extremely good when you press hard on the accelerator, and it handles like a pro.
But that’s where all good things end with the Lexus IS 350. The 2006 to 2013 models had massive recalls that affected 115,000 units in the US. The problem was fuel leaks which, according to the NHTSA, were a fire hazard.
2/10 Best: Lexus RX Hybrid
The Lexus RX Hybrid is one of the best and arguably one of the most popular luxury SUVs on the market for a reason. It may not be athletic, but it offers a comfortable and stable riding experience. The SUV has two and three row body styles, stylish interiors and spacious cabins.
The RX Hybrid also boasts a host of exciting technical features. It has a hybrid powertrain of 308 hp, consisting of a V6 petrol engine and several electric motors. And to complete the package, the Lexus RX hybrid is equipped with a smooth-shifting CVT transmission. The RX hybrid has a touchscreen infotainment system that supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
1/10 Worst: Lexus ES 350
While the Lexus ES 350 is an excellent car, not all model years are built the same. Examples of the worst years are all models between 2007 and 2015, except 2009, 2010 and 2012. At first glance, the ES 350 can easily be confused with a sports sedan. The car is sleek and beautiful enough to attract attention.
In addition to the good stuff, this Lexus has reportedly experienced some excessive oil leaks. This is a common problem with older ES 350 models. And while newer versions don’t seem to have many problems, oil leaks and excessive oil consumption are just a tip in the Lexus ES 350 problem pool.