Lexus makes a lot of cars, and for some reason, the Japanese luxury carmaker still insists on using letters to label their models, making it hell for the regular car buyer to differentiate between them.
While it may not seem obvious, each of these combinations of letters actually do mean something. So to help their customers out (or anyone who’s trying to win a pub quiz), Lexus UK has published an explainer for all of their model names. Here’s the full list, in alphabetical order.
Lexus introduced its first compact hatchback model back in 2010 and named it the CT, for Creative Touring. According to the carmaker, the CT was Creative as it “dared” to debut with a hybrid powertrain in a segment dominated by diesel-powered models, while Touring was used to counter the myth that hybrid cars meant sacrificing luggage and passenger space.
The Lexus ES – for Executive Sedan – was unveiled alongside the LS in 1989 as a younger brother to the marque’s flagship model, with a name that’s pretty self-explanatory.
Just like the ES and LS, the S in GS also stands for Sedan. The G suffix meanwhile meant Grand, which symbolises the mid-size model as the middle child in the Lexus sedan line-up when it was still in production.
For some reason, this model was left out of Lexus UK’s list. But based on our FBI-level deduction skills, we can definitively tell you that GX stands for Grand Crossover, which, like the GS, signifies the middle position in the marque’s SUV/Crossover line-up.
Confusingly, the S in IS doesn’t mean sedan, despite bearing the sedan silhouette. Instead, the Lexus IS stands for Intelligent Sport, and was meant to represent the Lexus traditional qualities, but in a smaller, more mechanically dynamic package aimed at younger customers.
Lexus LC/LC C
GC Mah once called the LC a work of art on wheels, and who can deny that? Made to combine the luxuries of the Lexus LS in a more “seductive” and sporty grand-touring coupe, the LC, or Luxury Coupe, was a car that was “engineered in every dimension to deliver a very special and rewarding driving experience”. The additional C denotes the convertible version.
The LFA is a bit of a weird one, because the name actually meant two different things at two different times. In concept form, the acronym stood for Lexus Future Advance, which, while a little cringy, does actually make some sense.
When the model transitioned to a production model, however, Lexus thought it’d be fitting to redefine it as Lexus F-Sports Apex, to represent the epitome of the F-Sports brand… but it just sounds way too forced in our opinion. At least the car itself is universally loved.
The Lexus LM stands for Luxury Mover. But despite being based on the Toyota Alphard/Vellfire twins, and having Mover in its name, the LM can only carry two (ultra-rich) passengers in the rear compartment.
The LS is the quintessential Lexus, and its name quite simply just means Luxury Sedan. It was the car that launched Lexus as a luxury brand back in 1989, and its sole purpose was to be the “finest luxury car in the world”, culminating the work of 60 designers, 1,400 engineers, 2,300 technicians and over 200 support workers.
Similarly omitted in Lexus UK’s round up, the LX stands for Luxury Crossover, making it the flagship model in the marque’s SUV/crossover line-up. We’d argue that ‘luxury four-wheel drive’ would perhaps be a more accurate description, since it’s based on a Land Cruiser after all, but L4WD just doesn’t look good as an acronym.
You probably don’t know this (we didn’t!), but Lexus makes yachts too. It was unveiled in 2019, and unsurprisingly, it’s called the LY, for Luxury Yacht.
Coming in at a smaller size, the Lexus NX name – for Nimble Crossover – was meant to represent its more agile nature compared to its bigger siblings, suitable for both urban and country routes.
Lexus RC/RC F
The Lexus RC, or Radical Coupe, was designed to challenge perceptions about what a self-charging, petrol-electric hybrid should look like. For the high-performance range-topping model, the F suffix is a reference to Fuji Speedway in Japan, where hundreds of hours of testing were done on the RC F.
Lexus RX/RX L
Designed to represent Lexus’ “new future” when it was launched at the start of the millennium, The Radiant Crossover, or RX, has quickly become one of the most popular models in the Lexus stable today. The L suffix is used to denote the larger seven-seat variant.
The Lexus SC was designed almost specifically to target the Mercedes-Benz CLK that was very popular at that time. Its name stood – quite obviously – for Sports Coupe, and it’s also one of the few Lexus models that doesn’t end with an S or X suffix.
The UX marks the first time Lexus has produced a real compact luxury crossover. As the smallest model in the marque’s crossover line-up, the Urban Crossover is “aimed to embody a free-spirited style that would appeal to modern urban explorers”, according to Lexus.
[Edit 7:00 PM 30 Dec: Added Lexus LM]