Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) failed to win the coveted recommended rating for its new Lexus IS 250 sedan from Consumer Reports magazine, which cited reasons including fuel economy and handling.
The IS 250, which starts from $35,950, 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 V-6 version of the car.
The review undermines Toyota’s efforts to regain its lead in the U.S. luxury-vehicle market, which it lost in 2011 to Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) and Daimler AG’S Mercedes-Benz following production disruptions from natural disasters in Japan. Reviews published by Yonkers, New York-based Consumer Reports are considered 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, 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. (7201)’s Infiniti Q50 sedan also failed to get the recommended rating, Consumer Reports said. While the car posted a “very good” score for its road test, it gave an “underwhelming driving experience” compared with its predecessor, according to the magazine’s review.
“Infiniti’s engineering team is currently reviewing their test of the Infiniti Q50,” Stefan Weinmann, an Infiniti spokesman, said in an e-mail, referring to Consumer Reports. “Q50 scored well, but in line with CR’s normal practice, is still too new for the publication’s reliability results which is necessary to categorize the car as recommended.”
Infiniti is confident it can obtain the recommended rating “once the reliability results are in,” Weinmann said.
Toyota’s U.S. Lexus sales gained 12 percent in the first nine months of this year, while Nissan’s Infiniti brand deliveries declined 6.6 percent, according to industry researcher Autodata Corp. That compares with a 14 percent increase in BMW sales and 11 percent for Mercedes-Benz, according to Autodata.
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