27 years after Lexus reinvented the luxury sedan marketplace, its flagship LS sets new standards for horsepower and high tech
by Evan Monroe
It’s possible that no single car has, upon introduction, upended its category as decisively as the Lexus LS when it launched the Nagoya, Japan-based brand 27 years ago. The 1990 LS 400 won critical acclaim for comfort, powertrain performance, build quality, and dependability, and has, over four design iterations, maintained excellence in those categories with solid sales figures and remarkably few hiccups. The all-new, fifth-generation LS sedan for 2018, unveiled at the 2017 North American International Auto
Show in Detroit, was designed to be the maker’s latest “global citizen,” as it’s available in no fewer than 90 countries.
Longer and lower than the model it replaces, the LS debuts a strikingly bold design with a coupe-like silhouette. Lightweight materials, including ultra-high-tensile steel sheet and aluminum, shave more than 200 pounds from the old platform and body. These
savings, along with the new V6 engine (415 horsepower) and enhanced body rigidity, produce a notably sportier driving experience. The new platform also lowers the car’s center of gravity by placing most of the mass, including the engine and the occupants, in a position more centralized and lower in the chassis. Special braces in the engine compartment, stiff aluminum front and rear suspension towers, and other features help bolster the feeling of solidity. Additional chassis engineering, known in Lexus circles as Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management, includes cooperative control of critical subsystems (braking, steering, powertrain, and suspension) to control longitudinal, lateral, and vertical motion as well as yaw, roll, and pitch. Another debut in the LS is the first-ever 10-speed automatic transmission in any premium passenger car.
The serenity of the cabin—which includes interior ambient lighting inspired by Japanese lanterns and armrests that appear to float next to the door panels—provides an ideal stage for the standard premium audio system or optional (and audiophile-worthy) Mark Levinson 3D surround package with in-ceiling speakers. Its next-generation remote touch is designed to mimic smartphone operation, and also supports handwritten input. In addition to a 12.3-inch wide navigation display, the LS can incorporate an optional 24-inch color heads-up display (the largest in the car making world) that projects a variety of information into the driver’s forward view.
Best guess at starting price is $76,000.
Ray Catena Lexus of Monmouth
2135 NJ-35, Oakhurst / 732.493.5000