2018 Lexus LS Preview

2017_NAIAS_2018_Lexus_LS_500_005.jpg 2018 Lexus LS | Manufacturer image


Competes with: Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Genesis G90, Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Looks like: A lower, sleeker — but still recognizable — take on the outgoing LS

Drivetrain: 415-horsepower, turbocharged V-6 with 10-speed automatic transmission; rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: Late 2017

Boasting a coupe-like profile and “prestige sedan” cabin room, the redesigned Lexus LS rides a lengthened version of the platform that underpins Lexus’ LC coupe. Luxury features on the brand’s flagship range from 28-way power front seats to shiatsu massagers and an ottoman. The fifth-generation LS also marks the nameplate’s first car to lack a V-8, but the engine that replaces it — a turbo V-6 — is considerably stronger.

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Rather than a new direction of Lexus styling, the LS takes the brand’s current themes to new — and intricate — ends. The headlights have three separate bezels apiece, each with a descending strip of light below it. Each taillight has six distinct L-shaped veins. Up front, the LS has a new take on the brand’s hourglass-shaped “spindle” grille.

The sedan is longer and about a half-inch lower than its predecessor, with a wheelbase that’s 1.3 inches longer than the prior LS 460 L (that is, the longer-wheelbase version of the old LS) to roughly match long-wheelbase rivals, Lexus says. Overall length is up 1 inch over the LS 460L, but the hood and trunk are each more than an inch lower and overall curb weight is down more than 200 pounds.


Inside, Lexus takes its stacked design to even greater lengths, with a dual-shelf motif across much of the dashboard. Stitched trim abounds even in obscure places, such as inside the gauge cluster and around the power-seat adjusters. The door handles appear to float in an arcing section of wood trim; the vanes for the center air vents sweep across a portion of the dash, then flow into the gauge hood. As in the LC, two knobs flank that hood with controls for the stability system and driving modes.

Lexus says the “traditional Japanese aesthetics” directed the cabin’s design, with interior lighting inspired by Japanese lanterns and cabin trim inspired by Shimamoku wood patterns — something Lexus has used before. The standard navigation display measures 12.3 inches; a surround-sound Mark Levinson stereo is optional.

Of course, no flagship would be complete without a long list of luxuries. Lexus obliged: Among the available features are climate-controlled front seats with 28-way power adjustments, climate-controlled rear seats with an ottoman and shiatsu massagers for both rows. The passenger-side rear seat can recline up to 48 degrees — or up 24 degrees to help you get out, Lexus says.

Under the Hood

Yes, the LS now has a V-6 instead of a V-8, but don’t harrumph just yet. Most of the sedan’s rivals offer V-6s these days. They’re all turbocharged or supercharged, of course, and so it goes with the LS: The turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 makes 415 hp and 442 pounds-feet of torque. Those figures beat the outgoing LS 460’s normally aspirated V-8 (386 hp, 367 pounds-feet of torque), and they work through the same 10-speed automatic transmission employed in the LC coupe. An air suspension is optional.

Lexus estimates the new rear-drive LS scurries to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds — an acceleration time that trounces its predecessor (5.4 seconds with RWD) and even edges out manufacturer-estimated times for rival V-8 sedans like the 750i and S550. The proof is in the driving, of course, but Lexus’ numbers look stout. All-wheel drive is optional.


Details on safety systems are sparse, but Lexus says the LS will have an available system that can detect a pedestrian, hit the brakes and attempt to swerve around him or her “while staying in the lane.”

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