Thursday, February 27, 2014

What Were They Thinking?: 2014 Lexus IS

Toyota's Lexus luxury brand has been in the American market for a quarter of a century as of 2014.   The original styling was rather bland, but the marque was successful from the start probably because of Toyota's reputation for build quality and reliability.   Japanese rivals Infiniti (from Nissan) and Acura (Honda) never sold as well as Lexus.

As the years passed, criticism mounted that Lexus styling (and Toyota styling in general) was too bland compared to that of rivals.  So Toyota has been making efforts to establish a more fashionable product portfolio.

An example is the latest version of its Lexus IS line.  Its grille continues the current "spindle" or back-to-back "L" theme.  This is supported by other wedge-shapes.  Examples are the headlight housing and the rearmost side window, as the images below indicate.

I do not like Lexus' grille theme, but what bothers me about the 2014 IS in particular is the character line that begins below the front door and rises steeply to the rear while being interrupted by the rear wheel opening.  Take a look:


Above are publicity photos of the Lexus IS 350 for 2014.

This is a 2014 Lexus IS F Sport.

Here is a publicity image of the 2014 Lexus IS.

That character line is certainly dramatic and difficult to ignore.  But I think it is too extreme, throwing the design out of balance; the car's rear seems to be comprised of two unrelated elements grafted together.   I would have had the line rise to the level of the crease just below the trunk opening and then come up with a different tail light treatment.  Yes, that would be a more conventional solution, but it would yield a better-integrated, more balanced design.

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