The Forgotten Lexus. All Photos by Randy Stern
Let’s call this the “Marcia Syndrome.”
If you were a fan of “The Brady Bunch,” you will understand where I am going with this. The middle sister, Jan, would always be jealous of Marcia, the eldest, because of all of the things she would get away with. In frustration, Jan would bellow “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” It was her vent in questioning her unimportance to the Brady family – or the perceived unimportance of Jan.
Twenty-five years ago, Lexus sold “Marcia” and “Jan” alongside each other as their first offerings as a brand. “Marcia” was the LS 400, the most touted car of 1990. It challenged the notion of what a flagship was at the time with advanced technology, a solid powertrain and luxury that matches up with the rest of the world. It became the first car from Japan to compete on an equal playing field with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
“Jan” was the ES 250.
Many people paid attention to the LS 400, as it was the star attraction at Lexus. They passed up the ES 250 simply because no justified its price. Of course some pundits ruined the car by pondering whether that price justified a gussied-up Toyota Camry without a B-pillar.
As Lexus celebrates its quarter century of existence, it seems that the tables have turned on its original models. “Marcia” is sold at a steady rate and has been equaled, if not exceeded, by its competitors in the flagship field. However, one would argue that the LS 460 and LS 600h L are still serious players in a game where trumping each other with more advanced technology, active safety features and levels of luxury is the name of the game.
Meanwhile, “Jan” has become the big seller amongst passenger cars at Lexus. Though second behind the RX crossover, the ES lineup found plenty of consumers who find its high value and great comfort major plusses. For every LS sold, 7-8 ES models also drive out the same dealership.
Looks like “Jan” got her revenge.