Depressing New Lexus IS Commercial Basically Gives up on Behalf of All of Us


2017 Lexus IS commercial screenshotWe’ve got more than a few years of driving remaining, don’t you think?

It’s 2017. People still grasp steering wheels, still prod throttle pedals, still check blind spots (sometimes), still use their left hand to flick a signal stalk, and still stop for red lights by firmly pressing a right foot against a brake pedal. Last I checked, in my driveway sits a two-seat convertible with a six-speed manual transmission.

But in a 30-second spot that aired repeatedly during the final game of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Hockey Night In Canada, Lexus strikes fear into the soul of drivers everywhere in order to get you into a 2017 Lexus IS today. Today, before they — whoever “they” are — come for your manual transmissions and your steering wheels and your pedals. Before your driver’s car is replaced by an autonomous pod.

“Enjoy the thrill of driving,” Lexus says. “While you still can.”
Call this number now. While supplies last. For a limited time only.

Is it really all that bad, already? Are we just around the corner from mutinous robots overtaking our roadways? Is tomorrow my Miata’s appointment with the Waymo car?

No, of course Lexus is dramatizing. “It was exhilarating,” the Lexus owner says in the past tense, clearly speaking about that one time only a few years prior when his beard wasn’t grey and he steered his 2017 Lexus IS up a mountain pass on the other side of the world.

“That feeling of pure driving… it was amazing,” he says, forgetting that his Lexus IS, just like all the other ISs of the same generation, didn’t even offer a manual transmission. So pure.

Perhaps the issue here is the advertisement’s utilization of the Lexus IS. Lexus didn’t use the RC F or the new LC500, let alone feature the silhouette of an LFA in the background. The Lexus IS — the third-generation Lexus IS with its blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert and intuitive parking assist — is supposed to generate in the viewer’s mind memories of pure driving experiences.

But the Lexus IS? It’s not exactly the car that comes to mind when the professor in Automotive Engineering 101 asks the class to define, “Enemy of the autonomous car.”

Even though Lexus is clearly just presenting an extreme, futuristic vision of a robotic age in which we’re all ferried to and from work in self-driving capsules, there’s admittedly more than an ounce of realism in the commercial’s final plea. Yet the current Lexus IS isn’t your last chance to get into a car you can enjoy driving. The next Lexus IS won’t be, either.

Granted, it’s just advertising, so what’s the big deal? Either Toyota’s marketers are serious, or they’re exaggerating for the purposes of making a joke that’ll benefit the company’s entry-luxury sports sedan. Problem is, if it’s the former, this 2017 Lexus IS commercial is disingenuous at best; a traditional advertising fear tactic at worst. Lexus knows you can enjoy the thrill of driving for many years yet.

And if it isn’t intended to be a serious warning about future of autonomous driving but rather an attempt at humor, well, it’s just not funny.

[Image capture: Lexus Canada/YouTube]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.



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