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Lexus Flexes its Muscle

2008 Lexus LS600H
2008 Lexus LS600H

When I got the latest list of the fastest selling vehicles from J.D. Power, something jumped out at me. No, not the fact that 9 of 10 fastest selling vehicles is a foreign brand. It's the strength, again, of Lexus. According to J.D. Power, the Lexus LS, ES and GS models all moved off of dealer lots in less than 20 days during the month of March.

This is the latest sign that the latest designs of the Lexus cars are connecting with buyers. In March, Lexus car sales jumped 31%. Year to date they are up 27%.

Why?

Two things are working at Lexus. First, the company's reputation for quality is convincing buyers these are the cars they want. Quality has long been a hallmark at Lexus, but the Japanese brand's strength is even more of an advantage given many of the other luxury auto brands do not rank as high in quality. Second, Lexus has stepped up its designs to be more stylish and less conservative. One of the knocks against Lexus has been that its cars look very nice, but seldom get the heart racing. That's less of the case with latest designs. Take the LS 460. Sales are up 133% thanks to an exterior that is more progressive and an interior that is more refined. It's a step up in the overall package, complete with some cutting-edge technology, like the parallel parking assistance.

What's next for Lexus?

The company is working towards a performance line of cars, and eventually a sedan that will cross the $100,000 threshold. If Lexus stays as on target as it has in the last two years, the luxury brand's momentum will continue to build.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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