When the Lexus brand arrived in the U.S. way back in 1989, it was the LS sedan that paved the way. The big four-door emphasized precision to the point of obsession. The fact that it undercut its German competitors by thousands of dollars didn’t hurt either. The formula worked, and the brand took off.
Since then the LS has taken a secondary role to the more popular SUVs in the lineup. That’s about to change, however, with the release of the fully redesigned 2018 Lexus LS 500. It’s more than just an evolution of the current design as this LS gets a far more aggressive look. It’s the kind of styling that makes the LS recognizable from afar, something that can’t be said about the current model.
As you might expect, the new Lexus LS 500 is bigger than before, but not by much. The wheelbase has been stretched by just over an inch, so it’s now nearly as long between the wheels as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The LS also gets a lower roofline, so the overall look is of a car that is much more streamlined.
The styling departure continues on the inside where Lexus designers have pushed their ideas even further. From the unique shape of the dashboard to the intricate stitching throughout the cabin, this is one of the most lavish cabins you’ll find in any luxury sedan. And more importantly, it’s completely different from anything you’ll find in an Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz.
One element of the Lexus LS 500 that is similar to its competitors is the optional rear seat package. It upgrades the rear of the cabin with seats that are heated, cooled and adjustable. They’re almost as good as the front seats, except that the driver and front passenger can adjust their seats in 28 different directions.
Even with all the focus on luxury, Lexus made sure to give the LS the kind of performance to keep pace with its main rivals. It doesn’t offer a V8, however, instead choosing to go with a twin-turbo V6 that offers V8-like power. The numbers are solid, 415 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. A standard 10-speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels or all four wheels if you need the all-weather traction. Lexus said it will be good for a 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds, which is fast for any kind of car, let alone a sedan the size of the LS.
On paper this LS has all the makings of a top-tier luxury sedan. And this time around, it also looks interesting both inside and out. That’s an important factor for success in this category, so this could be a turning point for Lexus. It has upended this category once before, so don’t be surprised if it does it again when the LS goes on sale later this year.