Lexus SUV Concept Portends Limitless Possibilities in Detroit

Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept

CARS.COM — Lexus will unveil a concept for a new top-of-the-line unibody crossover SUV in January at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. With the announcement, it revealed a teaser photo of the LF-1 Limitless concept, which it calls "a flagship crossover that redefines the boundaries of luxury" and "reflects the next genre in luxury crossover vehicles."

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The teaser shows that the sporty concept, created at Toyota's Southern California design center, has a swoopy roofline and back pillars not unlike the latest Lexus RX, with a sculpted liftgate. And you can bet the front has a show-car version of the Lexus spindle grille. The photo shows wraparound LED taillights and LED lighting in the roof spoiler that could be a fancy rendition of the required center high-mounted stop lamp.

Visible through the rear window and moonroof are screens that could be rear-seat displays. There is a lighted Lexus logo on the liftgate — and why not? After all, Mercedes-Benz gets buyers to pony up an extra $500 to light the star logo on its flagship GLS SUV.

Like the LF-LC design concept unveiled in Detroit in 2012 that later morphed into the Lexus LC flagship coupe, the LF-1 Limitless concept could well be headed for production in some form. It's needed: Lexus has been slower to redo and expand its high-end SUV offerings than some European luxury rivals, including Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar Land Rover. And BMW has a new, bigger flagship SUV in the offing.

Lexus has the NX and RX crossover SUVs, including a newly unveiled, slightly stretched version of the RX with a small third row. But that RX is its largest car-based crossover SUV. From there it has the aging GX and LX, truck-based SUVs with more off-road cred than some rival high-end SUVs, but less space efficiency and less polite suburban cruising manners than those car-based crossover SUV models.

Lexus calling the concept a new "genre" of vehicle could be a hint that it's a sportier, more coupelike vehicle versus a traditional SUV.

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