Toyota fails to win consumer reports recommendation for Lexus IS

Toyota Motor Corporation Chairman of the Board Takeshi Uchiyamada. ― Reuters pic
Toyota Motor Corporation Chairman of the Board Takeshi Uchiyamada. ― Reuters pic

NEW YORK, Oct 22 ― Toyota Motor Corp failed to win the coveted “recommended” rating for its new Lexus IS 250 sedan from Consumer Reports magazine, citing reasons including fuel economy and handling.

The Lexus IS 250, which starts from US$35,950 (RM114,051), is “neither sporty nor luxurious” and had the “worst road test score posted by any Lexus sedan in recent memory,” Consumer Reports said in an e-mail. The handling is “short on finesse” and road noise is elevated, according to the magazine, which tested the 2.5-liter V6 version of the car.

The poor review undermines efforts by Toyota to regain its lead in the US luxury-vehicle market, which it lost in 2011 to Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Daimler AG’S Mercedes-Benz following production disruptions from natural disasters in Japan. Review published by the Yonkers, New York-based Consumers Union, a non-profit group, are considered the most objective because of policies of accepting no advertising and buying every vehicle it tests.

“As the Consumer Reports evaluation includes many factors, Lexus is unclear on the cause for the low rating,” Brian Lyons, a Toyota spokesman, said in an e-mail. “We look forward to engaging in a discussion with them to get more direct feedback on their experience with the car.”

Honda Motor Co rolled out a new version of the Civic sedan in about 19 months, in the quickest turnaround of a car in the company’s history, after failing to win the “Recommended” status from Consumer Reports for the model in 2011.

Nissan Motor Co’s Infiniti Q50 sedan also failed to get the “Recommended” rating, Consumer Reports said today. While the car posted a “very good” score for its overall road test, it gave an “underwhelming driving experience” compared to its predecessor, according to the magazine’s review.

Toyota’s US Lexus sales have gained 12 per cent in the first nine months of this year, while Nissan’s Infiniti brand deliveries declined 6.6 per cent, according to industry researcher Autodata Corp. That compares with the 14 per cent increase in BMW sales and 11 per cent for Mercedes, the Autodata figures show. ― Bloomberg