It’s been 28 years since the first-generation Lexus LS premiered at the 1989 Detroit Auto Show, making the debut of the all-new 2018 LS luxury saloon all the more symbolic.
The all-new 2018 LS boasts a bold new appearance, with a coupe-like silhouette that still allows for luxury-levels of interior roominess, while adding what the automaker calls “visionary technology.”
In terms of design, the new LS is meant to reflect a “strong, uniquely Japanese identity and approach to luxury,” yet it’s been imagined as more of a global luxury saloon, which will be made available in no fewer than 90 countries.
“Not only will the LS symbolize the Lexus brand, it will become the definitive new-generation luxury car embodying Japanese tradition and culture,” said Toshio Asahi, chief engineer for the new LS. “As such, this global pinnacle must go far beyond what the world expects from a luxury car.”
The new LS sits on the company’s premium rear-wheel drive platform, which is an extended version of the one used for the new LC 500 coupe. Furthermore, much like the original LS from 28 years ago, the new model is also meant to anticipate what luxury customers want, rather than simply amplifying what other luxury brands are offering.
“We set previously unheard of targets and resolutely pushed ahead towards these ambitious goals,” added Asahi. “The customers who are going to want to own a Lexus flagship are already surrounded by luxury on a daily basis, people who have a sharp eye for authenticity to begin with. We wouldn’t turn their heads with a conventional premium product.”
Overall, the new LS is about .6 inches (1.5 cm) lower than the current/old model, while the hood and truck are approximately 1.2 inches (3 cm) and 1.6 inches (4 cm) lower, respectively. This is also the first Lexus sedan with a six-side window design. Buyers will ultimately be able to choose between five new wheel designs as well, including two new 19″ and three 20″ wheel design.
Size-wise, the car measures 206.1 in (5,235 mm) in length, 74.8 in (1,900 mm) in width and 57.1 in (1,450 mm) in height, making it roughly the same size as a long-wheelbase BMW 7-Series. The wheelbase on the LS measures 123 in (3,125 mm), which again is much closer to what you get in a long wheelbase 7 or S-Class, rather than their regular-wheelbase versions.
In terms of performance, the GA-L platform is the stiffest in Lexus history, helping the new LS achieve a superior ride and handling balance compared to its predecessor. When it comes to its ride, there’s also the latest generation Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management technology to consider – a system that implements cooperative control of all vehicle subsystems such as braking, steering, powertrain and suspension. Handling is also boosted by the active stabilizer bars as well as the Lexus Dynamic Handling System with independent front and rear steering. The VDIM is capable of aiding stability when the LS is driving over split-friction surfaces such as dry pavement and ice.
Another performance improvement comes from the lightweight materials used, more specifically the ultra-high tensile sheet and aluminum that cut over 200 lbs (90 kg) from the current LS platform and body.
Powering the 2018 Lexus LS is a new 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine, developed through the company’s F1 technology, offering V8-level power without sacrificing fuel economy – while also minimizing noise and vibration. Total output sits at 415 HP and 442 lb-ft (600 Nm) of torque, allowing for a projected 0-60 mph (96 km/h) acceleration time of just 4.5 seconds in RWD configuration.
The new LS also debuts the first-ever 10-speed automatic transmission for a premium passenger car (from the LC 500). While it is a torque-converted automatic, Lexus say it can shift about as quick as modern-day dual-clutch transmissions.
Inside, the new LS features new seating designs, which include available 28-way power front seats with heating, cooling and massage functions. Furthermore, the so-called “organically-shaped” dash design has the information display at uniform height in order to support the “seat-in-control” layout. Out back, customers can opt for the wider rear seat luxury package which offers more legroom than any previous-generation LS. Furthermore, the seat behind the front passenger can be reclined up to 48 degrees and raised up to 24 degrees to help the rear-seat passenger exit the vehicle more easily.
Because the new LS is lower than any previous version, Lexus also added an access function to the available air suspension. It’s activated by unlocking the car with the smart key and automatically raises the vehicle and opens the seat bolsters to welcome drivers behind the wheel.
As for on-board tech, the 2018 LS features a 3D surround Mark Levinson audio package with in-ceiling array speakers, a next-gen remote touch display with supported handwritten input, a 12.3″ sat-nav display, but also an optional 24″ color heads-up display, the largest in the world. Active safety technologies present inside the new LS include the world’s first system with Intuitive Pedestrian Detection and Active Steering within the lane – which means the car can automatically brake and potentially steer around a person while staying in the lane.
The all-new 2018 Lexus LS flagship will go on sale in the US near the end of 2017.