To stay competitive you need to provide the same as your competitors and sometimes better for the same price, your example was perfect. My son just purchased a genesis coupe V6 and it was for that reason value for his buck. He looked at the IS and did not see value when comparing. So yes I will say they are cocky, and the competitors are slowly catching up and Hyundai is a perfect example. GM is a perfect example once # 1 and trying to catch up now, I guarantee GM never thought that Toyota and VW would creep over them. GM now is improving on quality and more for your buck.
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A lot offer you way more for your buck. Just look at the Hyundai Azera. You can pick up a fully loaded Azera, which comes with everything found in the ES and more, including the panoramic sunroof, for around $33k. There's more to it than just bang for your buck. Reliability still ranks high on buyer's lists. That takes time to build and instill in people's minds. The competition is starting to make progress in this direction, which is good for all of us (consumers).
This leads me to your next statement of Lexus and Toyota getting "cocky". If you mean, reducing costs in certain areas, it's kind of a reaction to the above. They need to stay competitive in this economy.
I'll admit if Acura made something with performance like the 300h (acceleration and gas mileage) I'd probably get the Acura as I feel I get a little more bang for my buck. They are coming out with a hybrid but I'm guessing it will either have slow acceleration or mediocre gas mileage.
One thing I can guarantee if Lexus keeps on cutting corners, people will realize it and move to other manufactures, GM learned that the hard way. Perfect example the company I work for has for the past 8 years providing Toyota Camary to the sales team. As an organization we have gone with the Sonota as for value for our bulk as an organization and the funny thing the sales rep really like the Sonota versus the Camary. At the end of the day wether it is one person or a company purchasing a product you want value for your money.