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Motoring: Lexus LX 400 - 1990

The name Lexus is said to be short for "Luxury Export to the US market", and clearly identified the target market to which the car was created by Japanese car mamufacturer, Toyota. In Australia, as in other markets, the first Lexus, the LS 400 (released in Australia in 1990), went head to head with the BMW 5 and 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

On its release, the automotive press thought it didn't have a chance against the likes of Mercedes and BMW. Toyota knew how to build great economy cars and small family sedans but this is the big league. Jokes circulated about this folly, one of which told of a car thief who specialized in stealing expensive cars, pulled up with a Lexus. When his partner saw him and gave him a look, he said "it was dark, I thought it was a Mercedes." As its owners, and the only LS 400 any of them have ever known to breakdown was in the 1991 movie "The Grand Canyon" starring Danny Glover.

It took less then a year for everyone in the automotive industry to change their attitude and give this car the respect it deserved. Lexus became the standard by which other cars are judged. Only the Mercedes S Class and the BMW 7 Series could rightly claim to be better cars. The marque achieved Toyota's goal when it became the highest-selling brand of luxury cars in the US. Four generations of the sedan have been produced, all equipped with V8 engines and rear-wheel drive, although since 2006 all-wheel drive, hybrid, and long-wheelbase variants have also been offered.

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