Lexus is working on a plan to save the three-box sedan.
Kids born today might never get the opportunity to buy a brand-new sedan, according to Lexus. Insiders suggest the next GS has been canceled, and executives warn the sedan's future looks grim at best as customers increasingly flock towards crossovers.
Up until the late 1990s, high-riding models were best reserved for families who truly needed the space, the off-road prowess, or the towing capacity. They were big, not very engaging to drive, and they returned terrible gas mileage. Sedans were safe, it seemed.
The current crop of car-based crossovers are markedly less rugged, but they offer car-like handling and gas mileage while providing the high seating position and the spacious cabin buyers crave. Every year, crossovers capture a bigger slice of the new car market while traditional sedans continue to decline. This trend has Lexus worried.
Toyota's premium brand is putting together a plan to save the sedan. Tokuo Fukuichi, Toyota's global branding chief, explained crossovers and SUVs drive more like cars than ever before, so sedans need to be extra dynamic to stand out. The company also wants to experiment with more daring models, especially in terms of overall design and body styles.
There's no simple way to make the sedan popular again; all Lexus knows is that changes need to be made.
"Unless we can really offer a sedan experience you cannot have with an SUV or crossover, I think the sedan may not be able to survive if it does not evolve," Fukuichi told industry trade journal Automotive News. "At a certain point of time, the traditional square, three-box sedan will go away," he added.
The designer explained that's why the brand-new 2018 LS (pictured) introduced earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show has a fast-sloping roof line. It's not as sleek as the Mercedes-Benz CLS, but it's much more stylish than previous generations of the flagship.
Lexus' grand scheme to revitalize the traditional passenger car segment could include another wagon. The brand has only sold one station wagon in over the course of its existence. Called SportCross, it was version of the first-generation IS that was both sporty and family-friendly.
While a successor isn't officially in the works, Fukuichi envisions the Lexus wagon as a new kind of car that's shorter than a SUV but a little bigger than a traditional long-roof model.
"If we're going to do it, it can't just be an ordinary wagon," he explained. The model is far from being a priority, however -- Lexus is busy filling the gaps in its catalog of crossovers.