Seeking to reinvigorate the magic that defined the introduction of the original LS sedan at the 1989 North American International Auto Show, Lexus celebrated 28 years of LS production by unveiling the 2018 LS500 under the bright lights of Cobo Hall.
The exterior styling of the 2018 LS500 is a bold departure from the previous generation car, and wheras that model looked like its sporty bits were tacked on with glue. This new LS features a unified look and boldly incorporates a coupe like silhouette which helps the car look much more aggressive, and also helps it stand out against the BMW 7-Series, Audi A8, and the decidedly more elegance oriented Mercedes S-Class.
The interior of the 2018 LS500 has also been improved, and it is easily perhaps one of the most beautiful interiors currently offered in the luxury flagship class. Lexus designers fully embraced the Omotanashi principle, and sought to raise the bar in terms of comfort and luxury. All new seat designs lead the charge, and can now be equipped with heat, cooling, and massage capability. They can also be adjusted 28 different ways, and do a great job coddling occupants in world class comfort.
The rest of the cabin is a lush swath of leather, metal, and wood trim elements with Lexus designers trying to achieve a “seat in control” layout which means that drivers can operate all the various functions without changing posture. This nice touch is further accented by an organically designed dashboard that is a big time improvement over the previous generation car. Lexus designers paid very close attention to detail, and it shows in the ambient lighting elements which were said to be partially inspired by Japanese lanterns, and also accent the door mounted arm rests, which appear to float in the air when viewed from certain angles.
The woodwork however truly steals the show, and was inspired by Shimamoku wood patterns. The cross-grain appearance of the wood helps it visually pop when compared to traditional Shimamoku wood, thanks in part to the bolder patterns and the greater transitions between light and dark.
Lexus engineers clearly thought outside the box when it came to performance. Wheras the old car (as well as its rivals) feature V8 engines, Lexus pitched the eight cylinder, and instead replaced it with an all new 3.5 liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine. Good for a healthy 415 horsepower and an equally impressive 442 lb-ft of torque, the twin-turbochargers in this engine were developed with input from the brand’s F1 program, and incorporate race ready technology in their design. The end result is not only sizable gains from the current generation LS, but also a lightning quick 4.5 second 0 to 60 time. The new engine featured here in the LS is a clear indicator of the dynamic approach being taken by Lexus especially in regards to its mission of offering V8 like performance but without sacrificing fuel economy.
The 2018 LS is also the second Lexus in the lineup to come equipped with a 10 speed automatic transmission. This makes sense considering that its GA-L platform is a derivative of the underpinnings that define the two door LC500 coupe. The transmission is a conventional torque converter type unit, but yet, it aims to deliver shift times that would put some dual-clutch transmissions to shame. This would be awesome if it is true, and we look forward to seeing first hand in the near future.
The 2018 LS500 features steering wheel mounted shift paddles, but expect the majority of its elite clientele to let the computer do the work for them especially since the electronic control system monitors braking, acceleration, and lateral g-forces in order to help pick a gear ratio that is suitable for whatever driving situation is thrown at it.
While Lexus chose to not release any pricing data for today’s unveiling, the company did reveal that the LS500 will go on sale towards the end of the year with more information including fuel economy, and other figures being released closer to its official launch date.