DETROIT—Lexus took the wraps of the all-new fifth-generation version of its flagship LS large sedan at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The 2018 Lexus LS rides on the company’s new global architecture for luxury vehicles (GA-L), a platform that is shared with the recently unveiled LC 500 coupe.
The new LS’s 123-inch wheelbase is 1.3 inches longer than the current LS long-wheelbase model. It’s lower too, by .6 inches at the roof, 1.2 inches at the hood, and 1.6 inches at the trunk.
Initially, the LS will be available in LS 500 trim. Rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are offered, both with an all-new 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6/10-speed automatic transmission combo developed specifically for the LS. The engine puts out an impressive 415 horsepower and 442 lb-ft. of torque; the rear-drive model has a projected 0-60-mph time of 4.5 seconds. The driver can tailor powertrain performance settings between selectable Normal, Sport, and Sport+ modes.
In keeping with the muscular new engine, Lexus aimed give the new LS a much more athletic driving character. The company says the new GA-L platform is the stiffest in Lexus history and utilizes aluminum and ultra high-tensile steel to shed 200 pounds compared to the current-generation LS. Also enhancing handling are a lower center of gravity; active stabilizer bars; the latest generation of Lexus’s Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system; and the Lexus Dynamic Handling System with independent front and rear steering.
As you’d expect, the LS is loaded with available luxury features, such as a 3D-surround Mark Levinson audio system with in-ceiling array speakers; Active Noise Control; 12.3-inch-wide navigation display; 24-inch color head-up display (the world’s largest); a choice of several natural-wood interior-trim treatments; 28-way power front seats with heating, cooling, and massage; and rear seats with heating, cooling, Shiatsu massage, a raised ottoman, seatback recline up to 48 degrees, and the ability to be raised up to 24 degrees to assist the rear passenger in exiting the vehicle. Also available is an air suspension with an access mode that automatically raises the vehicle for easier entry when the vehicle is unlocked via the key fob.
The 2018 Lexus LS is scheduled to go on sale near the end of 2017. Pricing will be released closer to the launch date.
If the previous-generation Lexus LS had a weakness, it was that it appealed a bit more to the head than the heart. The 2018 model’s sleek, low-slung styling and increased focus on performance should hit a few more emotional chords among luxury-sedan shoppers, while maintaining the Lexus brand’s characteristic serene driving experience and impeccably finished cabin. We’re especially curious to see where pricing comes in on the new LS, and how it compares to competitors such as the Audi A8 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Lexus looks to have a real winner on its hands here.