After more than twenty-five years of sales, the Lexus LS still holds a very special place in the Japanese automaker's heart. The full-size luxury vehicle serves as the flagship model for Toyota's luxury division, and is credited with the successful launch of the Lexus marque due it's overwhelmingly positive reception. It marked the first successful entrant of a Japanese auto manufacturer into the European- and American-dominated luxury arena. It also reshaped Toyota's pure utilitarian image into one that offered class and performance. Now in its fourth generation, the LS continues to be a top contender in the luxury sedan marketplace.
What It Used To Be
The development of the LS stems back to 1983, when a team of hundreds of designers, engineers, and technicians embarked on a clandestine vehicle-development project referred to as F1. Toyota's chairman at the time wanted the brand to create a luxury sedan that could compete in international markets. After hundreds of thousands of miles of testing and several years of work, the Lexus LS 400 debuted for the 1990 model year with a V8 engine good for 250 hp and plenty of luxury touches from leather trim, to power-adjustable seats, and soft touch controls. It was among the first luxury vehicles to feature tech like automatic tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, SRS airbag, power adjustable shoulder seat belts, and an electrochromatic rear-view mirror that would darken when shined on by the headlights of tailing cars.
By 1991, the LS 400 was the brand's top-selling model, helping it overtake Mercedes-Benz and BMW in overall U.S. sales. It was refreshed for the 1993 model year with over 50 changes made in response to customer and dealer feedback. The new LS sported larger disc brakes, wheels, and tires, with a revised grille, and standard passenger front airbag. Buyers also had a greater variety of paintjobs to choose from, and the front and rear suspension was tweaked for better ride comfort. But as the LS got fancier, its price tag also rose to over $50,000 for the base by 1994. The second generation LS 400 kept similar specs to its predecessor, but the biggest change was the elongated wheelbase by 1.4 inches. Overall length stayed the same, though, so while there was more cabin space and legroom for rear passengers, trunk cargo space decreased a bit. But a strengthened body structure help the LS lose 200 pounds, making it lighter and quicker on its feet, which led to savings at the gas pump. The interior also got upgraded with dual-zone climate controls, and the option of an in-dash CD changers (one of the first), and GPS navigation.
As technological advancements were made over the years, they were debuted in the LS with the third generation offering adaptive cruise control in the 2001 model. A new 4.3-liter V8 boasted higher power (290 hp) and lower emissions. The LS was also offered in a greater number of model configurations and options, from sport-tuned suspension with the Touring variant to the Ultra Luxury edition. The GPS navigation system was redesigned with a liquid crystal display touchscreen interface. Voice controlled navigation, semi-aniline leather, backup camera, and Pre-Collision Sytem were just some of the upgraded tech made available in the third gen LS.
What It Is Today
The fourth and current generation LS debuted in both standard and long-wheelbase versions. A 4.6-liter V8 cranking out 380 hop was paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission for a 0-62 mph time of 5.7 seconds. Lexus had taken on a new design direction called the L-finesse that manifested in certain styling cues on the new LS, from arrow-shaped chrome trim, to a lower-set grille and crystalline adaptive headlamps. The interior was now bathed in a host of standard comforts like a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, and power moonroof. Enhanced safety features like Lane Departure Warning were also available. Lexus also added a hybrid powertrain to the LS lineup in the spring of 2007. Throughout its continuous improvements, the LS has become a well-known name in the luxury market, offering a smooth V8, handsome styling, and ample room. It remains a standout choice in Lexus' lineup of sophisticated vehicles.
Here's what the 2016 Lexus LS has to offer:
- Two powerful V8 options are available, either a 4.6-liter or 5.0-liter, putting out 386 and 438 hp, respectively.
- The LS is offered in three sharp styles, from the luxurious 460 base, to the sporty 460 F Sport, and the hybrid 600h L. Rear-wheel drive comes standard with available AWD.
- A 12.3-inch display comes standard, providing access to various systems including navigation, up-to-date traffic and weather information, 3D city views, and nearby gas stations.
- Lexus Enform also comes standard offering access to mobile apps, in addition to providing service information about your vehicle's maintenance needs. An available Lexus Enform Remote that looks like a iPhone can be added to the mix to help you control vehicle functions remotely such as starting the engine or checking the fuel level. It also will send you instant alerts if you loan your vehicle to another driver and they violate a preset, for instance a speed preset.
- A 10-speaker premium sound system comes standard for an all-around listening experience with crisp sound quality.
- Bluetooth with voice command and Siri Eyes Free come standard to help you keep your attention on the road.
- Available personal luxuries abound from wood- and leather-trimmed heated steering wheel, to executive-class seating, massaging seats, and rear seat entertainment with a Blu-ray/DVD player.
Find Local Discounts on the Lexus LS
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