Lexus LS

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Lexus LS
LS 600h L Verdigris Mica.jpg
Lexus LS 600h L
Overview
Manufacturer Lexus (Toyota)
Also called Toyota Celsior (Japan)
Production May 1989–present
Assembly Japan: Tahara, Aichi
Body and chassis
Class Full-size luxury car
Body style 4-door sedan
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Front engine, all-wheel drive

The Lexus LS is a full-size luxury sedan that serves as the flagship model of Lexus, the luxury division of Toyota. Four generations of the sedan have been produced, all equipped with V8 engines and rear-wheel drive, although since 2006 all-wheel drive, hybrid, and long-wheelbase variants have also been offered. The original Lexus LS 400, the first Lexus to be developed, was introduced as the premium marque's debut model in September 1989. Subsequent redesigns included the second-generation LS 400 in November 1994, the LS 430 in January 2000, and the LS 460/LS 460 L series in 2006. A domestic-market version of the LS 400 and LS 430, badged as Toyota Celsior, was sold in Japan until the Lexus marque was introduced there in 2006. In 2006 (for the 2007 model year) the fourth-generation LS 460 debuted the first production eight-speed automatic transmission and an automatic parking system. In 2007, V8 hybrid powertrains were introduced on the LS 600h/LS 600h L sedans.

Development of the Lexus LS began in 1983 as the F1 project, the code name for a secret flagship sedan effort. The resulting sedan followed an extended five-year design process at a cost of over US$1 billion, and premiered with a new V8 engine and multiple luxury features. The Lexus LS was intended from its inception for export markets, and the Lexus division was formed to market and service the vehicle internationally. The original LS 400 debuted to strong sales, and was largely responsible for the successful launch of the Lexus marque. Each successive iteration of the vehicle has ranked as the best-selling flagship luxury sedan in the United States.

Since the start of production, each generation of the Lexus LS has been produced in the city of Tahara, Aichi, in Japan. The LS name stands for "Luxury Sedan".[1] However, some Lexus importers use the backronymic name, "Luxury Saloon".[2]

First generation (XF10)[edit]

First generation (LS 400)
Lexus LS 400 UCF10 I.jpg
Overview
Also called Toyota Celsior (Japan)
Production May 1989 – September 1994
Model years 1990–1994
Designer Kunihiro Uchida (1986)
Powertrain
Engine 4.0 L 1UZ-FE V8
Transmission 4-speed A341E automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,814 mm (110.8 in)
Length 4,996 mm (196.7 in)
Width 1,821–1,829 mm (71.7–72.0 in)
Height 1,405–1,415 mm (55.3–55.7 in)
Curb weight 1,705–1,750 kg (3,759–3,858 lb)

1989–1992[edit]

In August 1983, Toyota chairman Eiji Toyoda initiated the F1 project ("Flagship" and "No. 1" vehicle; alternatively called the "Circle-F" project), a clandestine effort aimed at producing a world-class luxury sedan for international markets.[3][4] The F1 development effort did not have a specific budget or time constraints, and the resulting vehicle did not utilize existing Toyota platforms or parts.[5][6] Instead, chief engineer Ichiro Suzuki sought to develop an all-new design, aiming to surpass rival American and European flagship sedans in specific target areas, including aerodynamics, cabin quietness, overall top speed, and fuel efficiency.[7] During development, 3,900 F1 personnel built approximately 450 flagship prototypes and 900 engine prototypes[8] and logged 2.7 million kilometres of testing on locations ranging from winter Europe roadways; deserts in Arizona, Australia, and Saudi Arabia; to U.S. highways and wilderness areas.[9][10]

An early Lexus LS design sketch

In late 1985, designers presented the first exterior study models to F1 management, featuring a sports car-like design with a low-slung hood and narrow front profile.[11] By 1986, the sedan used a three box design with an upright stance, more prominent grille, and a two-tone body.[11] Extensive modeling and wind tunnel tests resulted in a low drag coefficient for a conventional production vehicle of the time (Cd 0.29).[12] For the passenger cabin, materials selection tests evaluated 24 different kinds of wood and multiple types of leather for two years before settling on specific trim combinations.[13] By 1986, the Lexus marque was created to support the launch of the flagship sedan,[14] and the vehicle became known as the Lexus LS.[9] Following eight design reviews, subsequent revisions, and over US$1 billion in development expenses, the final design for the production Lexus LS 400 (chassis code UCF10) was frozen in May 1987 with design patents filed on May 13, 1987.[8][15]

In January 1989, the LS 400 made its debut as a 1990 model at the North American International Auto Show, in Detroit, Michigan.[16] U.S. sales began in September 1989, followed by limited exports to Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.[17] The LS 400's new 4.0 liter 1UZ-FE 32-valve V8 engine, capable of 190 kilowatts (250 hp) and 353 newton metres (260 ft·lbf) of torque,[18] was linked to a new four-speed automatic transmission with electronically controlled shifts.[19] The chassis used an independent, double-wishbone suspension setup,[20] and an air suspension system was optional.[21] The LS 400's 0–100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) time was 8.5 seconds, and its top speed was 250 kilometres per hour (160 mph).[22] Compared to the rival target BMW 735i (E32) and Mercedes-Benz 420 SE (W126), the LS 400 had a quieter cabin, with 58 dB at 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph); a higher top speed; a lower drag coefficient and curb weight; and it avoided the U.S. Gas Guzzler Tax.[23][24][25] At its introduction in 1989, it won the Car of the Year Japan award.

First-generation LS 400 cabin (UCF10)

The LS 400 was among the first luxury sedans to feature an automatic tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with SRS airbag, power adjustable shoulder seat belts, and an electrochromic rear-view mirror.[26][27] The five-passenger cabin included California walnut and leather trim, power-adjustable seats, and soft-touch controls. A back-lit electroluminescent gauge cluster featured a holographic visual effect, with indicator lights projected onto the instrument panel.[26][28] The memory system stored the driver's seat, side mirror, steering wheel, and seat belt positions. Available luxury options included a Nakamichi premium sound system and an integrated cellular telephone with hands-free capabilities.[19][29][30] The LS 400 further contained some 300 technological innovations to aid smooth operation and silence,[19] including fluid-damped cabin fixtures,[31] vibration-insulating rubber mounts,[32] airflow fairings,[33] and sandwich steel body panels.[32]

1990–1992 Lexus LS 400 (UCF10R; Australia)

In Japan, the launch of Lexus was complicated by Toyota's existing four domestic dealership networks at the time of its introduction.[34] The Toyota Crown and Toyota Century were exclusive to Toyota Store locations.[35] During the LS 400's development, local dealers' requests for a Japanese domestic market version had grown,[11] and a right-hand-drive Toyota Celsior-badged version was introduced shortly after the LS 400's U.S. debut, and introduced October 9, 1989 and only available at Toyopet Store locations.[36] The Celsior, named after the Latin word for "supreme", was largely identical to the LS.[36] Models came in either basic "A", upgraded suspension "B", or fully equipped "C" trim specifications.[37] The Crown and the Crown Majesta, which appeared later in 1991, were only available at Toyota Store locations which carried Japan-only Toyota luxury models, like the Century.[35]

Adding incentive for early U.S. sales was a base price of US$35,000, which undercut competitors by thousands of dollars[38] and brought accusations of selling below cost from rival BMW.[19] In December 1989, shortly after the LS 400's launch, Lexus ordered a voluntary recall of the 8,000 vehicles sold so far, based upon two customer complaints over defective wiring and an overheated brake light. All vehicles were serviced within 20 days, and the incident helped establish Lexus' customer service reputation.[19][39][40] By 1990, U.S. sales of the LS 400 had surpassed those of competing Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Jaguar models.[41] Production of the first-generation LS 400 totaled over 165,000 units.[42] Years after its introduction, the LS 400 remained a reliable choice for a used car, making Consumer Reports' 2007 list of recommended vehicles that regularly last 320,000 km (200,000 mi) or more with proper maintenance.[43]

1992–1994[edit]

1992–1994 Lexus LS 400 (UCF11)

Debuting in September 1992 as a 1993 model, the refreshed LS 400 (designed in 1991) was introduced with more than 50 changes, largely in response to customer and dealer requests.[44] The vehicle received larger disc brakes, wheels, and tires, and adjustments were made to the suspension and power steering systems to improve handling.[45] Stylistic changes included additional body side moldings and a revised grille, along with a greater selection of colors.[45] For the interior, a standard passenger front airbag, an external temperature gauge, digital odometer, seat belt pretensioners, and chlorofluorocarbon-free refrigerant were added.[45][46] By 1994, the LS 400's U.S. base price exceeded US$50,000, a figure that had steadily risen since the vehicle's introduction. Customer demand for the vehicle and shifts in foreign exchange rates contributed to the increase in price.[47] The growing popularity of the LS internationally was an asset to Toyota, as Japan had entered into an economic recession in 1991, that later became what was called the collapse of the Japanese asset price bubble or "bubble economy". Production of the first-generation LS ended in September 1994 to make way for production of the second-generation model in October.

Second generation (XF20)[edit]

Second generation (LS 400)
Lexus LS 400 UCF20 I Moonstone Pearl.jpg
UCF20 LS 400
Overview
Also called Toyota Celsior (Japan)
Production October 1994 – July 2000
Model years 1995–2000
Designer Makoto Oshima (1991)
Powertrain
Engine 4.0 L 1UZ-FE V8
Transmission 4-speed A340E automatic
5-speed A650E automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,850 mm (112.2 in)
Length 4,996 mm (196.7 in)
Width 1,829 mm (72.0 in)
Height 1,420–1,435 mm (55.9–56.5 in)
Curb weight 1,659–1,764 kg (3,657–3,889 lb)

1994–1997[edit]

The second-generation Lexus LS 400 (UCF20) debuted in November 1994 (for the 1995 model year) with a longer wheelbase and similar specifications as the original model. The public unveiling of the vehicle occurred in a gala ceremony held at the San Francisco Opera House in California.[48] The sedan was equipped with an updated 4.0-liter 1UZ-FE V8 engine, producing 194 kilowatts (260 hp) and 366 newton metres (270 ft·lbf) of torque.[49] Internally, over 90% of the redesigned LS 400's composition was new or redesigned,[49] with increased sound insulation, a strengthened body structure, suspension updates, and improved brakes.[49] The redesigned model was 95 kg (209 lb) lighter than its predecessor and achieved slightly better fuel economy.[49] The 0–100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) time improved to 7.5 seconds.[50]

1994–1997 Lexus LS 400 (UCF20)

Development of the second-generation LS 400 began after worldwide launch of the first generation.[51] Given the first-generation model's successful reception and high level of customer satisfaction with its design, replicating the original LS 400's attributes with its successor was one of chief engineer Kazuo Okamoto's primary goals (he stated that "a tradition cannot be founded if you reject the first generation").[52] Externally, the most significant change was an increase in wheelbase length of 36 mm (1.4 in), resulting in more interior space and an additional 66 mm (2.6 in) of rear seat legroom.[49] However, as the overall length remained the same, trunk capacity was slightly reduced.[49] The more aerodynamic body (Cd 0.28) retained the general profile and contours of the original LS 400[45][52] and was the work of the Calty Design Research center in the U.S.[52] Designers had evaluated 20 competing concepts, including several with a radically changed body,[52] before selecting a winning entry in 1991 that included forms and contours similar to the original LS 400.[52] Upon final approval in 1992, an evolutionary redesign was the ultimate result, with new design features consisting of sharper angles, curved body lines, and a beveled grille.[53] More prominent side lines provided a reference point for parking maneuvers, and forward visibility was improved.[53] Production development lasted from 1991 until conclusion in the second quarter of 1994.[51][52][54]

Second-generation LS 400 cabin (UCF20)

The redesigned LS 400 interior received upgraded features, varying from dual-zone climate controls to rear cupholders.[45] A newly patented seat cushion design, similar to the car's suspension, utilized lightweight internal coil springs and stabilizer bars to improve comfort.[49] One of the first in-dash CD changers was offered as an option.[49] Safety enhancements included enlarged crumple zones, three-point seat belts at all positions, and a new collapsible steering column.[49] In Japan, the Toyota Celsior equivalents were offered in the same "A", "B", and top-spec "C" configurations as before, along with an additional selection of exterior colors.[55] Several optional features, such as a compact disc-based Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation system and reclining rear seats, were available only in Japan.[56]

1994–1997 Toyota Celsior (UCF20; Japan)

At its U.S. debut, the redesigned LS 400 retained a pricing advantage over European competitors in its largest market, launching with a base price of US$51,000.[49] However, cost differences had narrowed following more aggressive pricing and added feature content from rival manufacturers.[52] To promote their new flagship, Lexus launched a US$50 million advertising campaign, the most expensive marketing effort since the launch of the division.[52] In mid-1995, sales slowed as the U.S. government threatened tariffs on Japanese luxury cars over the widening U.S.-Japan trade deficit, potentially raising the price of a fully optioned LS 400 to over US$100,000.[57] Subsequent negotiations averted the sanctions by the second quarter of that year, and sales recovered in the following months.[57] Ultimately, second-generation LS 400 sales were not as voluminous as the original model;[52] production totaled approximately 114,000 units.[42]

Production of the UCF20 ran from October 1994 to June 1997. For 1997, a limited "Coach Edition" LS 400 was produced in partnership with American leather manufacturer Coach Inc. The edition featured Coach leather seats; embroidered emblems on the exterior, floormats, and armrest; special colors and added trim; and a Coach cabin bag. Production was limited to a yearly run of 2,500 units.[58]

1997–2000[edit]

1997–2000 Lexus LS 400

Designed in 1996, in September 1997 a revised LS 400 was introduced for the 1998 model year. Changes were a five-speed automatic transmission, increased engine output (to 216 kilowatts (290 hp), with variable valve timing (VVT-i), and an added 41 newton metres (30 ft·lbf) of torque.[45] Acceleration times and fuel economy were improved as a result.[45] The suspension and steering also received minor tweaks to improve feel and handling.[59] Stylistically, the vehicle sported a new front fascia, side mirrors, and updated wheels;[45] a rear windshield diversity antenna replaced the conventional power mast.[59] The cabin received upgrades, including a trip computer, HomeLink, retractable rear headrests, reading lamps, and ultraviolet-tinted glass,[59] while the climate control gained a micron filtration feature with a smog sensor.

In August 1997, the first commercial adaptive cruise control radar system was introduced on the Toyota Celsior.[60][61] Toyota further refined their system by adding "brake control" in 2000 and "low-speed tracking mode" in 2004.

A disc-based GPS navigation system became an option in the U.S. Added safety features included front side airbags, vehicle stability control, and in 2000, brake assist.[45] The headlights were also equipped with a programmable delay feature for proximity illumination.[45] In February 2000, the limited "Platinum Series" LS 400 was introduced at the Chicago Auto Show in partnership with American Express. The edition featured most luxury options standard, along with separate exterior colors, wheels, badging, and two years' no-fee use of an American Express Platinum Card.[62][63]

Third generation (XF30)[edit]

Third generation (LS 430)
Lexus LS 430 Black Onyx.jpg
Overview
Also called Toyota Celsior (Japan)
Production August 2000 – July 2006
Model years 2001–2006
Designer Makoto Oshima (1997)
Powertrain
Engine 4.3 L 3UZ-FE V8
Transmission 5-speed A650E automatic
6-speed A761E automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,926 mm (115.2 in)
Length 4,996–5,014 mm (196.7–197.4 in)
Width 1,829 mm (72.0 in)
Height 1,491 mm (58.7 in)
Curb weight 1,812–1,810 kg (3,995–3,990 lb)

2000–2003[edit]

The third-generation Lexus LS 430 (UCF30) debuted at the North American International Auto Show in January 2000 as a 2001 model, introducing a new body design and a host of new interior and technological features. The sedan was equipped with a new 4.3 liter 3UZ-FE engine generating 216 kilowatts (290 hp) and 434 newton metres (320 ft·lbf) of torque.[45] The LS 430 was one of the first gasoline V8 vehicles to be certified as an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV).[64] The standard suspension had been completely redesigned, with a double-wishbone setup at all four wheels; a Euro-tuned suspension was offered for the first time.[45] A new torque-activated electronic control unit made throttle adjustments based on vehicle speed, engine revolutions per minute, and pedal position.[65] The LS 430 sported a 0–100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) acceleration time of 6.7 seconds.[66] Sales began in October 2000 in the U.S.[67]

2000–2003 Lexus LS 430 (UCF30; Europe)

Heading into the planning of the LS 430, division executives concluded that the previous LS redesign had been too restrained in its approach.[52] The LS 430 development team, led by chief engineer Yasushi Tanaka,[68] accordingly opted for a more thorough exterior, interior, and technological redevelopment. The development of the LS 430 took four years.[69] Selected from 16 different concept designs, the resulting vehicle of December 1997—when the final design was approved—saw the sedan's dimensions increase in terms of wheelbase and height.[65][70] The exterior featured a larger grille with rounded edges, quarter windows on the rear doors, and rounded trapezoidal headlamps. The body was also more aerodynamic than previous LS sedans (Cd 0.26; 0.25 with air suspension),[67] and was the product of wind tunnel testing at facilities used for Shinkansen bullet train development.[70] A 76 mm (3.0 in) wheelbase stretch resulted in more interior volume and allowed the engine to be positioned further aft for better balance.[71] Trunk space was increased by one-third due to repositioning of the fuel tank.[45]

Compared to previous generations, the LS 430 featured a greater number of model configurations and options.[72] While sharing the same body style, variants were differentiated by chassis configuration and onboard equipment. Models with the Euro-tuned sport suspension, sold as the "Touring" package in the U.S.,[73] featured larger, high-speed brakes.[31] These brakes were also standard on European market models.[31] Fully optioned models with height adjustable air suspension, tuned for a combination of soft ride and responsive handling, were sold in the U.S. as the "Ultra Luxury" edition.[73]

Third-generation LS 430 cabin (UCF30)

The LS 430 interior featured walnut wood trim on the dashboard and upper doors, along with semi-aniline leather and oscillating air conditioning vents.[65][67] A liquid crystal display touchscreen on the center console was incorporated with the DVD-based GPS navigation system, which added voice recognition capability. New options ranged from a Mark Levinson premium sound system to laser cruise control.[65][73] In its highest trim specification, the LS 430 included Lexus Link telematics, power door and trunk closers, heated and cooled front seats, and power reclining massage rear seats equipped with audio controls, power sunshade, a cooler, and air purifier.[45][67] Several rear seat features adopted for the LS 430 had been previously available in Japanese market luxury vehicles.[72] Safety features added to the LS 430 included front and rear side curtain airbags, park sensors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and electronic brakeforce distribution.[45] The vehicle also gained water repellent windshield and side glass.[45]

2003–2006 Toyota Celsior (UCF30; Japan)

The LS 430 first went on sale in the U.S. with an initial base price of US$55,000, ranging up to US$70,000 when fully equipped.[67] At the high end, the LS 430's pricing encroached on European rivals as Lexus became increasingly able to command higher price premiums for its vehicles.[26] Sales for the LS 430 surpassed the previous generation, and production exceeded 140,000 units.[42] The LS 430 was produced until July 2006, marking the last occasion the Lexus flagship was produced in a single body style. In Japan, the equivalent Toyota Celsior was also sold until 2006, when the long-awaited introduction of Lexus Japan saw the arrival of new generation Lexus models.[74]

In every year of production, the LS 430 was the most reliable luxury sedan in the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Survey (with the early and late models of this series the best performing),[75][76][77] and the highest recorded scorer in the history of J.D. Power's Vehicle Dependability Survey.[78] Thatcham ratings data via the UK Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre listed the theft-prevention capabilities of the LS 430 as a maximum 5 stars, with the LS 430 being the first automobile to achieve the maximum theft-deterrence rating in 2001.[79][80]

2003–2006 Lexus LS 430

2003–2006[edit]

Designed throughout 2002, the LS 430 update debuted in September 2003 as a 2004 model, introducing a new six-speed automatic transmission and revised styling.[81] The powerplant remained the same as before. Exterior changes included restyled front and rear fascias, redesigned adaptive headlights that swiveled the projector headlamps in the direction of vehicle turns, light-emitting diode (LED) taillights, and different wheels.[81] The interior received knee airbags, lighted rear-seat vanity mirrors, and new trim selections, including bird's eye maple wood.[45] New options included an updated navigation system, Bluetooth, a backup camera, and a pre-collision system. A driver-programmable electronic key feature allowed the vehicle to detect the key fob in the owner's pocket and unlock the doors by touch.[82]

Fourth generation (XF40)[edit]

Fourth generation (LS 460, LS 600h)
Lexus LS460.jpg
Overview
Production August 2006–present
Model years 2007–present
Designer Yo Hiruta[83] (2003, 2004)
Body and chassis
Platform Toyota N platform[84]
Powertrain
Engine 4.6 L 1UR-FE V8
4.6 L 1UR-FSE V8
5.0 L 2UR-FSE V8
Transmission 8-speed AA80E automatic
8-speed L110F CVT
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,969 mm (116.9 in) (SWB)
3,091 mm (121.7 in) (LWB)
Length 5,029–5,060 mm (198.0–199.2 in)
5,151–5,179 mm (202.8–203.9 in)
Width 1,875 mm (73.8 in)
Height 1,466–1,481 mm (57.7–58.3 in)
Curb weight 1,925–1,965 kg (4,244–4,332 lb)
Main article: Lexus LS (XF40)

2006–2009[edit]

Development on fourth generation LS began in 2001, with the design process being done under Yo Hiruta from 2002 to 2004 when the final production design was frozen.[83][85][86] In October 2005, Lexus premiered a gasoline-electric hybrid concept car, the LF-Sh (Lexus Future-Sedan hybrid), at the Tokyo Motor Show,[87] publicly previewing the next Lexus flagship with a concept version for the first time. Introduced at the January 2006 North American International Auto Show for the 2007 model year, the fourth-generation Lexus LS became the first Lexus model to be produced in both standard and long-wheelbase versions. Using an all-new platform,[88][89] the LS 460 (USF40) uses the standard 2,969 mm (116.9 in) wheelbase, while the LS 460 L (USF41) features a stretched 3,091 mm (121.7 in) wheelbase.[90] The fourth-generation models' technical specifications were shown in greater detail at the Geneva Motor Show in February 2006.[91] A hybrid version, LS 600h L (UVF46), was previewed at the New York International Auto Show in April 2006.[92] At its introduction in 2006, it won the Car of the Year Japan award for the second time.

The Lexus LF-Sh concept at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show

The LS 460 and LS 460 L are both equipped with a new 4.6 liter 1UR-FSE V8 producing 283 kilowatts (380 hp) and 498 newton metres (367 ft·lbf) of torque,[90][93] coupled to the first production eight-speed automatic transmission.[94] Acceleration from 0–100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) is listed at 5.7 seconds.[95]

The development of the LS 460 and its variants, led by chief engineer Moritaka Yoshida,[96] began as Lexus was shifting its design strategy towards a more diversified product lineup,[97] with new-vehicle launches largely focused on global markets.[97] Plans called for the next-generation LS to differentiate itself further beyond previous models in terms of design and technology.[93] A "Super LS" model, priced above the US$100,000 ultra-luxury category,[98] was also considered.[97] Externally, the Lexus LS received the styling cues of Lexus' new design direction, called L-finesse.[99] First shown on the LF-Sh concept, the vehicle gained body forms running the length of the car, wheel arches, arrow-shaped chrome trim, a lower-set grille, and crystalline adaptive headlamps.[99]

Fourth-generation, 2006–2009 LS 460 cabin (USF40)

The LS 460 interior gained a push-button start, thin-film transistor instrument display, and numerous luxury options, ranging from a hard disk drive-based GPS navigation system and song library to a heated steering wheel and XM NavTraffic.[90] Standard equipment included power 16-way driver and 12-way front passenger seats with lumbar adjustment and seat heaters, leather upholstery, premium sound system, power moonroof, and trunk pass-through.[90] The climate control offered the first infrared body temperature sensors in an automobile; it also featured ceiling air diffusers.[100] An "Executive" seating package on the LS 460 L included a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, swivel tray table, and a shiatsu massaging ottoman seat.[90][101]

The long-wheelbase Lexus LS 460 L (USF41)

The addition of an automated parallel parking assist feature, the first of its kind in the U.S., allowed the LS 460 to steer itself into preselected parking spaces.[102] Other drive-assist features included a brake-hold system, radar cruise control, electric variable gear ratio power steering, and electronically controlled braking.[90] The new stability control system was improved to anticipate skids and alter steering assist and gear ratios. The suite of new safety features extended from an eye-tracking driver monitoring system to a lane departure warning system.[103][104] The pre-collision system added the first production image processing chip in a car capable of identifying vehicles and pedestrians in real time,[105][106] along with millimeter-wavelength radar, stereo cameras, and infrared night vision projectors.[105] A rear pre-collision system with whiplash-preventing active seat headrests and dual-chamber front airbags was also introduced.[103][107]

The LS 460 and LS 460 L arrived at dealerships in Japan, the U.S., and Europe in late 2006,[108] and the vehicle reached Australia, East Asia, and the Middle East in 2007.[109] The U.S. base prices for the 2007 LS 460 and LS 460 L were US$61,000 and US$71,000, respectively.[101] In 2006 and 2007, the average price paid for U.S. market LS 460 L sedans exceeded US$80,000, due largely to added options packages, placing the Lexus LS in the same average price range as its long-wheelbase Audi, BMW, and Jaguar rivals for the first time.[101]

Lexus LS 600h L hybrid (UVF46)

After debuting a hybrid powertrain with the 2005 LF-Sh concept, Lexus began sales of the LS 600h L (UVF46), the first production V8-powered full-hybrid vehicle,[110] in May 2007 for the 2008 model year. The long-wheelbase LS 600h L is equipped with Lexus Hybrid Drive, featuring a 5.0 liter 2UR-FSE V8 engine mated to a high-output electric motor with nickel-metal hydride battery packs.[96] This system uses a continuously variable transmission and generates an output of 327 kilowatts (439 hp).[96] Fuel economy is slightly higher overall than the lower-powered non-hybrid LS, and the hybrids achieve a U.S. Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) rating.[111][112] Features specific to the LS hybrids include the first production low beam LED headlights, a leather-trimmed dash, and blue-tinted hybrid badging.[92] In April 2007, Lexus announced that the base price for the LS 600h L would be over US$104,000,[113] surpassing the V12-equipped Toyota Century as the most expensive Japanese luxury car ever produced.[113] A standard-wheelbase version destined for Asia and Europe, the LS 600h (UVF45), was launched in Japan in May 2007.[114] The first 100 LS 600h L sedans sold in the U.S. were offered as "Launch Edition" models via the Neiman Marcus catalog for InCircle members.[115]

Lexus LS 460 Sport

In 2008, all-wheel drive versions of the non-hybrid LS 460 (USF45) and LS 460 L (USF46) models premiered at the Moscow International Motor Show.[116] Debuting at the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance,[117] the LS 600h L "Pebble Beach Edition", limited to 50 units, was produced in partnership with the Pebble Beach Company.[118] A specialized Lexus LS 460 was installed as a driving simulator at Toyota's Higashifuji Technical Center, in Shizuoka, Japan, for automotive safety testing,[119] and in 2009 at Tokyo's Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS-Safety) exhibition, the LS 460 ITS-Safety concept was unveiled showing road-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-vehicle information-exchange technologies.[120]

2012–present Lexus LS 460 (USF45; Europe)

2009–2012[edit]

Debuting in late 2009 for the 2010 model year, the revised LS 460 and LS 460 L included restyled front and rear fascias, side mirror turn signals, and new wheel designs.[121] New technology included automatic high beam lights and a self-repairing clear coat for the exterior paint.[122][123] The standard cabin received additional chrome trim, an optional DVD entertainment system behind the center armrest, and in certain markets, an all-digital instrument panel with night vision capability.[121] The LS 460 Sport—a performance variant equipped with a sport-tuned air suspension, Brembo brakes, forged wheels, paddle shifters, body kit, and a unique interior—was added.[121][122] The Sport model received the Sport Direct Shift transmission, also found in the Lexus IS F, with downshift rev-matching capability and manual mode.[124] A new interior customization program, "L-Select", also became available for LS customers in Japan.[121]

2012–present[edit]

Lexus released an official photograph of its restyled XF40 series in July 2012. The substantial update incorporates the new Lexus corporate fascia, comprising the "spindle" grill and consequently sees the fitment of a redesigned hood, reshaped front fenders and headlamps, plus a new bumper.[125] These styling revisions see the retention of the side profile and doors, including rear fenders. Thus, the newly designed tail-lamps, trunk lid, and rear bumper are only partially modified. For the first time, an F-Sport variant will be offered. Nanoe particle[clarification needed] moisturising has also been incorporated which reduces dry eyes after prolonged periods in air-conditioning.[126]

Manufacturing[edit]

Further information: Tahara plant

The Lexus LS has been consistently produced on dedicated Lexus assembly lines at Toyota's flagship Tahara factory,[127] located in the city of Tahara, in Aichi Prefecture, Chūbu region, southwest of Nagoya, since 1989.[93][128] Tahara remains the sole production site, having inaugurated its new line number four specifically for assembly of the original LS 400.[129]

Lexus LS UZ V8 engine exhibit at the California Science Center

For the Lexus LS, the Tahara plant developed new molds and enhanced assembly techniques[130][131] and instituted measures aimed at increasing the precision of the sedan's fit and finish.[16] The 1989 LS 400 became the first production automobile to receive extensive laser welding,[130][132] allowing for seamless steel welds.[131] A large sheet metal press was developed to reduce or eliminate panel gaps by stamping large sections whole instead of singly.[131] Separately installed parts, such as exterior lights, were also spring-loaded for a tighter fit.[132] On the LS 400, engineers reduced door panel gaps in half versus Toyota-brand vehicles, from 7 mm (0.28 in) to 4 mm (0.16 in),[131] with measurements made within 0.01 millimetres (0.00039 in);[67] on the LS 430, measurement margins were increased tenfold, to 0.001 mm (3.9×10−5 in).[67][133] When production switched to the LS 460, the number of laser welds was doubled.[134]

Despite Tahara's large-scale automation, Lexus LS production also involves specialized personnel who are tasked with key production points, such as testing each vehicle's V8 engine via dynamometer and stethoscope for calibration before installation.[93][135] With the LS 460, a hand-sanded paint process was introduced.[93] The production standards used on the Lexus LS were eventually adopted by the manufacturer for other vehicles; in 2007, the assembly of Toyota Corolla economy cars used the same panel gap measurements as the LS 400 did eighteen years earlier.[136]

Industrial significance[edit]

LS 400 cutaway model displaying internal construction at the Wroughton Classic

The Lexus LS marked the first successful entrant of a Japanese manufacturer into the prestige luxury arena,[41] a market that had long been dominated by established European and American brands. By 1991, with the LS 400 its top-selling model,[137] Lexus had overtaken Mercedes-Benz and BMW in overall U.S. sales,[138] and in 2000, the marque passed Cadillac as the luxury sales leader in the largest automotive market.[139] Rival manufacturers responded with lower prices and added features.[140] In particular, Mercedes-Benz reorganized its operations, shifting to a targeted-cost process similar to Lexus production methods,[141] and dropped competing U.S. base prices by nearly 10 percent.[142] To rival the LS 400,[143] extra features were rushed for the launch of the 1991 Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W140),[141][144] causing budget overruns and costing the job of Daimler-Benz's chief engineer, Wolfgang Peter.[143] Approximately 5 percent of 1989 LS 400 sales went to buyers employed by rival manufacturers, including GM, Ford, and Chrysler.[137] When the LS 400 was disassembled for engineering analysis, Cadillac engineers concluded that the vehicle could not be built using existing GM methods.[145] Industry publications noted the LS 400's precise panel gaps, and the subject became a common evaluation standard in road tests.[143] The LS 430's interior noise level was later used by rival makes as a measure of cabin quiet.[146]

According to industry observers, the introduction of the Lexus LS reshaped Toyota's image from that of an "econobox" manufacturer to the builder of an automotive standard bearer.[147][148] This stood in contrast to the predictions of early detractors, including rival manufacturers who dismissed Toyota as incapable of producing a competitive luxury vehicle.[148] Japanese contemporaries from the luxury divisions of Honda (Acura) and Nissan (Infiniti) had differing degrees of success.[149] Honda had entered into a joint venture with Britain's Austin Rover Group in November 1981, launching Project XX with an Austin Rover–Honda XX letter of intent to replace the Rover SD1 with the Rover 800 and to provide a midsize, V6-powered luxury sedan for Honda, called the Honda Legend.[150] Marketed as the Acura Legend in the U.S., the sedan initially sold well, but subsequent models (renamed Acura RL) performed below sales expectations.[151][152] Launched by Nissan in December 1989, the V8-powered Infiniti Q45 closely rivaled the LS 400 in specifications and price,[153] but was unsuccessful in sales (attributed to unconventional styling and marketing), leading to its discontinuation in 2006.[154] The success of the Lexus LS became a test case for mainstream manufacturers targeting upscale segments. By investing in a separate marque, Toyota was able to avoid the stigma attached to a mass-market brand's charging premium prices.[155] The effect of the LS 400 on the automotive industry led Automobile Magazine to add the sedan to its "24 Most Important Vehicles of the 20th Century" list in 1996.[156]

Sales and production[edit]

2013 Lexus LS 600h (Japan)
2010–2011 Lexus LS 460 (USF45; Australia)
2010 Lexus LS 600h L (UVF46; Japan)

In its largest market, the U.S., the Lexus LS was the top-selling flagship luxury sedan for 15 of the first 17 years following its debut.[94][157] In Japan, the next-largest market for the Lexus LS, the introduction of the 2007 LS 460 attracted 12,000 pre-orders,[74] and the Lexus LS has gone on to sell successfully in its class.[158] Following the introduction of the LS 460 and Lexus' expanded global launch in 2007,[159] sales of the Lexus flagship have increasingly come from outside the brand's traditional U.S. strongholds. By 2007, the Lexus LS ranked second globally in flagship sales, next to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class' 85,500 units, with 71,760 Lexus LS sedans sold worldwide,[160] and over half the total coming from outside the U.S. market.[161] In 2008, U.S. sales fell 42% amidst the late-2000s recession, mirroring the overall decline of the luxury car market.[162]

The Lexus LS has not sold as well in Europe, where Lexus suffers from smaller brand recognition, image, and a less-developed dealership network.[163] In European markets such as the Czech Republic, the Lexus LS has ranked behind Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW in flagship luxury car sales.[164] Automotive analysts have suggested a possible rationale for the sales disparity, in that European buyers place less emphasis on vehicle reliability and have more brand loyalty to established domestic marques.[163] In contrast, the Lexus LS has ranked second in sales to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (and ahead of rivals from BMW, Audi, and Jaguar) in markets outside Europe, such as South Africa.[165]

Calendar year Sales Exports, production
US Global
1990 42,806[166] 41,901[42]
1991 36,955[166] 41,228[42]
1992 32,561[166] 32,472[42]
1993 23,783[167] 28,187[42]
1994 22,443[167] 21,390[42]
1995 23,657[168] 22,433[42]
1996 22,237[169] 22,810[42]
1997 19,618[170] 17,782[42]
1998 20,790[70] 22,730[42]
1999 16,357[70] 17,198[42]
2000 15,871[171] 11,098[42]
2001 31,110[172] 31,473[42]
2002 26,261[173] 27,033[42]
2003 23,895[174] 21,461[42]
2004 32,272[175] 31,697[42]
2005 26,043[175] 28,902[42]
2006 19,546[176] 34,833[160] 30,908[177]
2007 35,226[178] 71,760[160] 72,279[179]
2008 20,255[178] 31,823[180]
2009 11,334[181] 18,369[182]
2010 12,275[183]
2011 9,568[184]
2012 8,345[184]
2013 10,727[185]

Technical specifications[edit]

Drivetrain specifications by generation
1989–1994 1994–1997 1997–2000 2000–2006 2006– 2007–
Engine 4.0 L V8 4.0 L V8 4.0 L V8 4.3 L V8 4.6 L V8 5.0 L V8 hybrid
Gears 4 4 5 5–6 8 CVT
Power 190 kW (250 hp)[186] 194 kW (260 hp)[187] 216 kW (290 hp)[188] 216 kW (290 hp)[189] 255 kW (342 hp)[190]
283 kW (380 hp)[90]
327 kW (439 hp)[96]
Torque 353 N·m (260 ft·lbf) @4400 rpm[186] 366 N·m (270 ft·lbf) @4500 rpm[187] 407 N·m (300 ft·lbf) @4000 rpm[188] 434 N·m (320 ft·lbf) @3400 rpm[189] 455 N·m (336 ft·lbf) @4100 rpm[190]
498 N·m (367 ft·lbf) @4100 rpm[90]
520 N·m (380 ft·lbf) @4000 rpm
Model configurations by region
Chassis code Model no. Model year(s) Drivetrain Transmission Engine type Engine code Region(s)
USF40 LS 460 2007– RWD/AWD 8-speed
automatic
4.6 L petrol V8 1UR-FSE United States,[90] Canada,[191] Japan,[192] Europe,[95] Middle East (2011–)
1UR-FE Middle East (2007–2010)[193]
USF41 LS 460 L 1UR-FSE United States,[90] Canada,[191] Japan,[192] Middle East (2011–)
1UR-FE Middle East (2007–2010)[193]
UVF45 LS 600h 2008– AWD CVT 5.0 L hybrid V8 2UR-FSE Japan,[192] Europe[95]
UVF46 LS 600h L United States,[96] Canada,[191] Japan,[192] Europe,[95] Middle East (2010–)

Awards[edit]

Notable examples of awards received by the Lexus LS include (2007) World Car of the Year, International Car of the Year, (1991) Canadian Car of the Year,[194] Wheels Car of the Year,[195] and Top Gear Limousine of the Year.[196] The Lexus LS has been the highest-rated luxury car in Automobile Magazine,[197] Car and Driver,[198][199] Consumer Reports,[200][201] Fleet World,[202] and MotorWeek.[203] In J.D. Power's long-term Vehicle Dependability Study, the Lexus LS has been the most reliable car for fifteen consecutive years,[204][205][206] the most for any manufacturer,[207][208][209] and Consumer Reports has ranked the sedan as the most reliable vehicle tested.[210][211][212][213] Safety awards include Auto Bild's 2007 Innovation Prize for the LS 460 pre-collision system,[214] consecutive first place rankings in the What Car? Security Supertest,[215][216] and Kiplinger's "Best in Safety for Cars $40,000 and Over".[217] Technical honors range from Ward's 10 Best Engines,[218][219] and Edmunds.com's "Best Sound System in Cars Over $30,000".[220]

In U.S. consumer publications, Lexus' flagship model is recognized as one of the most reliable vehicles ever built, having held the top ranking in J.D. Power and Associates' U.S. Vehicle Dependability Survey for fifteen consecutive years (1994–2009), again in 2012,[221] third place in 2013,[222] and top again in 2014.[223]

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Bibliography[edit]

  • Dawson, Chester (2004). Lexus: The Relentless Pursuit. NJ: Jon Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-470-82110-8. 
  • Long, Brian (2001). Lexus: The Challenge to Create the Finest Automobile. Cardiff: Veloce Publishing. ISBN 1-901295-81-8. 
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  • Wakefield, Ron (1989). LS 400: The Lexus Story. George Rice and Sons. OCLC 033120592. 

External links[edit]