Lexus vs. Infiniti…everyone’s got their favorite…
There are two titan players in the luxury automobile market backed up by years of innovation and creative design. Lexus and Infiniti, the Japanese premium automaker wings of Toyota and Nissan respectively, focus on producing high quality cars built around their more affordable and popular parent models. Every year, the choice gets harder and harder to crown the better car manufacturer, especially when price is not an issue and luxury is the top priority. With sporty coupe configurations for younger drivers, hybrid fuel economy and green technologies for the environmentally conscious, and active-safety measures that react before an accident occurs, Lexus and Infiniti have changed the way people experience comfort and versatility.
Before we can crown an overall champion for best luxury automaker on the planet, it would be criminal to ignore the impressive rise of these two offshoot divisions of Toyota and Nissan, especially in a market no one knew existed before they released their first concept models. Both brands were born at relatively the same time after years of research finding out what drivers wanted out of a premium vehicle.
Building the Premium Dream
Lexus was originally conceived by Toyota in 1983 even though they did not have the official name figured out yet. What they did have was a secret concept sedan codenamed the F1, which was designed to serve the luxury consumer niche. Toyota appropriately conducted research groups and rented homes in high class American neighborhoods to study the needs of its core target audience. A separate marketing firm was hired in 1986 to raise brand awareness for the eventual Lexus line by developing a total of 219 prospective names. Lexus was finally chosen as the new division name because it was the combination of the words “luxury” and “elegance,” two core attributes Toyota needed to expand its product line beyond practical Japanese cars. The F1 eventually evolved into the production model Lexus LS 400, which was finally released for sale in 1989.
Similarly, the Infiniti premium automobile division of Nissan was launched in 1989 to compete with Toyota and Honda in the upper class markets. Originally conceived in 1985 by a secret development group within Nissan codenamed “The Horizon Taskforce,” the effort was made to compete against European luxury brands. In 1987, the Infiniti name and logo design were first introduced to show off Nissan’s commitment to moving forward and developing new ideas for infinity. Their first two production models, the Infiniti Q45 and the M30 were instant best sellers in the American market. Along with their trademarked “Total Ownership Experience,” which among other benefits included a complementary loan car when an owner’s Infiniti was in for repair, free roadside assistance, and financial services for optimized payment, customer satisfaction was never higher for a new luxury brand.
Fast-forward to the 21st-century and you have two titans competing for the top premium Japanese automaker spot. Both brands rely on their history of innovation and longevity as proof of their superiority, especially among their American and European counterparts. But which one is better when they’re competing head-to-head? Lexus has a slight edge over Infiniti when it comes to sales numbers because just like parent company Toyota and their award-winning Camry model, the Lexus ES has consistently been the best-selling luxury sedan in the United States since its initial launch in 1989. However, Infiniti has been consistently named the best luxury brand for customer satisfaction since its launch in 1989. In order to properly crown a winner for 2013, a comparison must be made between these two luxury brands’ flagship sedan models. So here for your reading pleasure, our reviews of the 2013 Lexus ES and 2013 Infiniti G37.
2013 Lexus ES 350
The Lexus ES series has a long history dating all the way back to when Lexus first introduced their line of premium sedans. After six generations of tweaks and improvements, the latest child of comfort and luxury has made a definite impact by firstly switching out their Camry-like platform and replacing it with a more modernized shell. Still the best-selling sedan in its class, the 2013 ES 350 comes with an optional hybrid engine (the ES 300h) for amazingly long fuel economy and smooth handling.
The exterior features the same kind of soft curves as the Toyota Camry but with much more elongated headlights and a smaller front grille. The windows are also a little narrower to provide an almost wraparound feel around the sedan rather than appearing like attachments to the frame. The interior features many of the same designs and luxury options expected from a Lexus model like all leather seats and LCD touchscreens. The driver’s dashboard is beautifully simple with no added flair to distract the driver while the centre console for controlling audio and temperature is easy to reach. There is plenty of leg room in the 2013 Lexus ES for up to five adults, although you’d probably only manage four.
Some of our complaints about the 2013 ES include a lack of rear-view camera in the basic model (we are paying for a premium sedan after all), the limited upgrade options beyond a hybrid engine, and the limited cargo space for the size of the sedan. However, if you opt for the hybrid engine option, you’ll be happy to know it saves a ton on fuel and keeps you going for up to 39 mpg combined. For a larger sedan, those numbers alone are worth the purchase.
2013 Infiniti G37 Sedan
The Infiniti G37 series is a smaller compact sedan than its competitors, but with a sportier hook for younger drivers and a timeless design that’s still going strong after several generations. Unlike most other luxury sedans on the market, the G37 doesn’t want to sacrifice a powerful engine or the exhilarating feeling of a sporty coupe just because it’s a four-door sedan. While not a major bestseller outside of the United States, this compact car still has its loyal following because of its unmatched performance combined with luxury interiors.
From the outside, the Infiniti G37 is all about masculinity with sharp curves and mean-looking headlights to match what’s under the hood. There’s also a sports coupe feel to the body’s frame, curving down towards the back to make for a slender profile. The interior is defined by luxury with premium leather seats and ample leg room in the front, although people seating in the back may feel a little cheated. The driver’s dashboard features a nice blue-lit trim while the center console conveniently places one-touch buttons along the left side for easy access. Seriously, Infiniti makes some of the best interior cabins of any automaker.
Our complaints are varied and depending on how many people you’re driving with, a minor annoyance to possible buyer’s remorse. The sports coupe design makes the G37 sedan feel sometimes like a hatchback, which means people sitting in the back may not get much leg room. There’s also the issue of backing up when there’s two heads in the backseat blocking your view. Without a hybrid option like the Lexus ES, the most mpg you’re going to find is 19 in the city and 27 on the highway. This isn’t necessarily bad. It’s just we were expecting a little more from a premium automaker.
Here’s Your Winner
It should come to no one’s surprise that in 2013, Lexus reigns supreme. While there are many different models from both premium automakers that we did not review, we felt an honest comparison between their two flagship sedans was good enough to crown a winner. In either case, you’re going to find a lot of luxury to match the increased price you’re paying. For some buyers, Lexus makes more sense when you compare the two brands in terms of overall quality. For others, you simply can’t compete with phenomenal customer care from Infiniti. Whatever your choice, know that luxury and comfort awaits you.