The New Lexus Headquarters Is So Nice that I Kind of Want to Live There
Toyota And Lexus Are Settling In At Their New HQ
Back in the early 2000s, internet companies were all the rage. Venture capital firms didn’t even require much of a business plan to throw money at a company with a flashy idea. Offices were jam-packed with twenty-somethings noshing on free food all day long and enjoying a myriad of benefits like dog-friendly offices, foosball tables, and nap rooms. It was a stark departure from the buttoned-up IBM-type environments of the corporate world.
Then the dot-com bubble burst, and the deluxe offices rode the wave into the sunset. And then they evolved.
Just last July, Toyota consolidated its headquarters from locations in northern Kentucky, Michigan, and California and built a complex in Plano, Texas, just off highway 121. My new friend Audrey from Lexus invited me to come by and visit, so I took her up on her offer and arranged a tour when I was in town for the DFW Auto Show.
Toyota and Lexus headquarters are side by side, shiny new buildings sprouting from a growing community. During my visit, everything was festooned in red, white, and blue to celebrate the Olympics. Fun photo ops areas were set up in the lobby and the Games were playing on TVs in every corner. We took the opportunity to take our picture as we pretended to ski down a snowy chalk slope and posed on a podium with substitute medals.
What was really impressive, to me, was the all-Japanese commissary inside the Toyota complex, where staff can buy anything they like. There is a Wal-Mart satellite inside the headquarters, as well as a giant rock-climbing wall and gym, complete with personal trainers. The cafeteria is well stocked. And there is a coffee or smoothie shop on several corners. All we would have needed to do was to pull up a couch and sleep there; everything else was available.
The sense of collaboration and contentment was apparent in the environment at Toyota/ Lexus HQ. There are spaces to work for everyone, in small, quiet corners, or wide-open areas with lots of natural light. If I could create the perfect office, this would be it.
Toyota Has Come A Long Way, Baby
Toyota was founded in 1937 in Japan, and established a US presence 20 years later. And Lexus was born in 1983, when Toyota chairman Eiji Toyoda issued a challenge to build the world's best car. From that challenge, a corporate project was born and code-named F1 (“Flagship One”); this project culminated in the premium Lexus LS 400, released in 1989.
The original Lexus slogan, developed after Team One representatives visited Lexus designers in Japan and noted their attention to detail, became "The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection." In 1986, Toyota’s advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi formed Team One to handle marketing for the new yet-unnamed brand, and image consulting firm Lippincott & Margulies was hired to develop a list of prospective names. There are two recurring theories on why the name Lexus was chosen. Some say it is a blend of “Luxury” and “U.S.” Another says that the name Alexis was the front-runner, but was quickly determined to be too close to the Dynasty TV show character with the same name, thus Lexus with a “u” was created.
In any case, Lexus was born around the same time that other Japan-based car manufacturers were spinning out their own luxury lines, and a new line of cars rose to the surface. There was a big opportunity for the push.
Putting Their Money Where Their Mouth Is
Lexus isn't just about their new home, though. They're serious about raising money to help contribute to the world, too.
Since 1989 (only a few years after Lexus was founded), Lexus has given over $334 million to organizations throughout the world; they work with over 400 nonprofit companies and charities. The Lexus Pursuit of Potential is Lexus' pledge to better children's lives—allowing them to pursue their dreams. Partnering with their dealers, they have contributed $2.5 million to children's charities. In addition, the Lexus Eco Challenge for secondary students grants $500,000 in scholarships per year and generates $3.25 million annually for STEM programs (science, technology, engineering and math).
“It’s not just our contributions to the automotive world that define us; it’s what we can give back. We’re passionate about empowering everyone to make the world a better place. And we work with like-minded partners on numerous fronts to build stronger communities everywhere.” — LEXUS.COM
I had an F-Sport for two weeks and enjoyed it thoroughly. The ride is smooth, the controls well laid out, and the body sleek. When driving the RX350 F-Sport, one has the sense that the pedal and one’s foot have become one unit. The pickup is zippy, and the seats are so comfortable, you might be tempted to pull over and take a nap. If you're looking for a crossover SUV with a more-than-capable engine to get you anywhere you want to go, the RX350 is a great choice.
Just the Facts, Ma'am:
Model: 2018 Lexus RX
MSRP: From $50,320
MPG: Up to 20 city / 27 highway
Dimensions: 193″ L x 75″ W x 68″ H
Horsepower: 295 hp
Curb weight: 4,222 to 4,387 lbs
Disclosure: Lexus provided us with an RX-350 for two weeks; all opinions are our own.