if some weren't aware of the Lexus naming convention...got the RC explanation wrong in it being an "IS coupe"
The automotive reign comes with a lot of funky names, some of which you can easily learn, while others will give you a pain in the back and a sprained tongue (with the Koenigsegg CCXR being one of them). Some automakers like to name their cars after girls, or just give them random names. Some could be very precise and use numerals or lettering to also giveaway the class they’re part of (see ze Germans) while others will just pick a few letters out of a sock and call that a new model.
For some, Lexus models could be one of those whacky automakers that randomly places some letters and numbers at the back of their cars. But the truth is every nameplate in its range has its own meaning.
And as for that, we decided to do a bit of research and provide you with the exact meaning of every badge you’ll find on one of Lexus’ models. So, without further ado, let’s start with the first model Lexus ever made.
About 25 years ago, Lexus decided to enter the automotive world with a large sedan that would be both luxurious, smooth looking and could stay on the roads for decades. The result? You can find a first generation LS on the streets even today.
That’s because 60 designers, 1,400 engineers, 2,300 technicians, more than 200 support workers and some millions of dollars were used to create the LS, which means “Luxury Sedan” if you haven’t figured it out by now.
The next popular sedan in Lexus’ lineup is the IS model, which means “Intelligent Sports”. That’s because the car is smartly packaged to offer both practicality and a decent dose of sportiness, thanks to its V6 engine.
Note that the first IS generation was also powered by the 2JZ-GE powerhouse from the Toyota Supra. It was the non-turbo version but that didn’t stop tuners to turn the IS into a hot rod.
Step it up one notch and we have the mid-size GS, which stands for “Grand Sedan”. It’s not the biggest in the range as the name says, but the “grand” designation aims more at luxury and comfort than actual size.
The first two GS generations were sharing their platform with the Japanese-market Toyota Aristo, so you can find a lot of these things riding low to the ground on big rims in the VIP/stanced communities.
Some say that GS could also mean “Grand Sport”, which makes a bit of sense too if you look at the car’s spec sheet and coupe-ish shape.
Next up in line is the ES, which represents the “Executive Sedan” of the range. That’s because it’s mainly an entry-level luxury sedan aimed at corporation fleets.
It’s also cheaper, because it uses a front wheel drive configuration, but don’t underestimate the car. It’s still luxurious and offers enough grunt to please its clients.
Another sedan in the range, but this one is a bit different. The name stands for “Hybrid Sedan”, or ”Harmonious Sedan” and as you can expect, it’s powered by a hybrid system.
The HS is slightly bigger than the CT model, meaning it comes with a bigger boot and more rear legroom, while power comes from a 2.5-liter inline-four aided by an electric motor, all being sent to the front wheels as well.
Speaking of, the CT is short for “Compact Touring” or even better, “Creative Touring”. And we prefer to stick to the latter, because the CT was the first compact to come with a hybrid powertrain.
It also offers class-leading head and shoulder space at the front, while the boot can be expanded to 985 liters. Under the hood you’ll find the same hybrid plant on the Toyota Prius - a 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle four-pot and and an e-CVT attached next to it.
This one is pretty easy, as it’s the company’s “Sport Coupe/Convertible”. It’s quite roomy, has a classic front-engine-rear-wheel-drive configuration and the hardtop can be smoothly electrically folded into the boot.
The first generation was offered only in coupe shape and was closely related to the Toyota Supra. Unfortunately, the model went off the production line in 2010, mostly because some considered it was looking non attractive compared to its rivals.
Continuing with the coupes, the new RC model should stand for “Racing Coupe” or “Radiant Coupe”, because of it’s gorgeous looks and performance.
The car is also meant to be a coupe version for the IS sedan, so it does borrow most of its styling cues and even its powertrains.
The automaker’s only supercar, which also made Lexus gain a lot of respect, translates into Lexus F-Sport Apex. It is by far, the most complex machine the luxury automaker ever created.
Extensive use of carbon fiber and lightweight aluminum defined the 2-seater along with a 4.8-liter V10 engine mounted at the front and mated to an automatic transmission at the back.
The X in SUVs
The X letter in Lexus’ SUV and crossover names like the GX, LX, NX and RX could either mean “crossover”, because it’s basically a “cross”, or it could be the “x” in “4x4” representing the more utilitarian part of the range.
Still, the luxuriousness can be found here as well and the letters before the X designate the same things as with the sedan models. Except for the NX, which means “Nimble Crossover” due to its compact silhouette, sporty suspension and new turbocharged 2-liter engine.
Along with these names you will find numbers sticked to them, which usually disclose the engine size. For example the IS 250 will say it has a 2.5-liter engine, but that’s not the case with all the models, especially with the hybrids.
h - this letter is usually found after the number in the nameplate (GS 450h) and obviously stands for “hybrid”.
F - this letter is found on the performance models, and stands for Fuji Speedway, the racing circuit in Japan, where these machines are usually tested. The track also inspired the shape of the “F” emblem using the shape of the first corner, 27R. It could also mean “Flagship”.
F Sport - do not confuse this with the single “F”, this is only a sporty package inspired by the F performance branch. Sort of an M Sport like BMW has.
L - this is found on long wheelbase models like the LS 600h L and obviously stands for “Long”.
LF - apart from the LFA model, the LF designation is for concept cars and it stands for “Lexus Future”.