As the first model developed by Lexus, the LS 400 debuted in January 1989 with the second generation debuting in November 1994. The LS 430 debuted 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 (Japanese: トヨタ・セルシオ, Toyota Serushio), 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 LS began in 1983 as the F1 project, the code name for a secret flagship sedan. At the time, Toyota's two existing flagship models were the Crown and Century models - both of which catered exclusively for the Japanese market and had little global appeal that could compete with international luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Jaguar. 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 numerous 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.
Since the start of production, each generation of the Lexus LS has been manufactured in the Japanese city of Tahara, Aichi. The name "LS" stands for "Luxury Sedan", although some Lexus importers used the backronymic name, "Luxury Saloon". The name "Celsior" is taken from Latin word "celsus", meaning "lofty" or "elevated".
In August 1983, Toyota chairman Eiji Toyoda initiated the F1 project ("Flagship" and "No. 1" vehicle; alternatively called the "Circle-F" project), as a clandestine effort aimed at producing a world-class luxury sedan for international markets. The F1 development effort did not have a specific budget or time constraints, and the resulting vehicle did not use existing Toyota platforms or parts. 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. During development, the 60 designers with 1,400 engineers in 24 teams, 2,300 technicians and over 200 support workers built approximately 450 flagship prototypes and 900 engine prototypes. The teams logged 2.7 million kilometres (1.7 million miles) of testing on locations ranging from winter Europe roadways, to deserts in Arizona, Australia, or Saudi Arabia, to U.S. highways and wilderness areas.
An early Lexus LS design sketch
In May 1985, designers started work on the F1 project. 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. By 1986, the sedan used a three-box design with an upright stance, more prominent grille, and a two-tone body. Extensive modeling and wind tunnel tests resulted in a low drag coefficient for a conventional production vehicle of the time (Cd 0.29). For the passenger cabin, the materials-selection tests evaluated 24 different kinds of wood and multiple types of leather for two years before settling on specific trim combinations. By 1986, the Lexus marque was created to support the launch of the flagship sedan, and the vehicle became known as the Lexus LS. Following eight design reviews, subsequent revisions, concept approval in February 1987, 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 20 February 1987 and 13 May 1987.
In Japan, the launch of Lexus was complicated by Toyota's existing four domestic dealership networks at the time of its introduction. The Toyota Crown and Toyota Century were exclusive to Toyota Store locations. During the LS 400's development, local dealers' requests for a Japanese domestic market version had grown, and a right-hand-drive Toyota Celsior-badged version was introduced shortly after the LS 400's U.S. debut, and introduced 9 October 1989 and only available at Toyopet Store locations. The Celsior, named after the Latin word for "supreme", was largely identical to the LS. Models came in either basic "A", upgraded suspension "B", or fully equipped "C" trim specifications. 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. The Celsior introduced two world firsts: high-performance twin-tube shock absorbers and an air suspension combined with an upgraded version of Toyota's semi-active dampers Toyota Electronic Modulated Suspension, called Piezo TEMS. This was ahead of its time: Mercedes-Benz first introduced a similar electronically controlled air suspension on the 1999 Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W220) (Airmatic).
Adding incentive for early U.S. sales was a base price of US$35,000, which undercut competitors by thousands of dollars and brought accusations of selling below cost from rival BMW. Being a flagship luxury sedan in the full-size segment, the relatively low starting MSRP was actually targeted to be at $25,000 during initial stages of development. However, the depreciation of the Yen vs. the Dollar resulted in a climb to $35,000. Lexus division general manager Dave Illingworth admitted in an interview with Automotive News that many in product planning were concerned about the price hike and the potential effect it could have on sales success. Part of the concern was due to the fact that the Lexus nameplate lacked the heritage and brand recognition of German rivals such as Mercedes-Benz. Similarly, luxury cars competing in a class slightly below that of the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes S-Class averaged in the 25000 dollar range. However, once the LS400 was released, sales figures were very positive, as the vehicle was nearly universally praised for its high standards and levels of specification. Lexus' parent company Toyota had already established a strong reputation of reliability and quality among economy cars, and the Cressida sedan gave the American market some evidence that Toyota was capable of building competent, larger luxury flagships with equivalent reliability.
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. By 1990, U.S. sales of the LS 400 had surpassed those of competing Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Jaguar models. Production of the first-generation LS 400 totaled over 165,000 units. The LS 400 made Consumer Reports 2007 list of recommended vehicles that regularly last 320,000 km (200,000 mi) or more, with proper maintenance.
1992–1994 Lexus LS 400 (UCF10 II)
Debuting in September 1992 as a 1993 model, the refreshed LS 400 (designed through 1991) was introduced with more than 50 changes, largely in response to customer and dealer requests. The vehicle received larger disc brakes, wheels, and tires, and adjustments were made to the suspension and power steering systems to improve handling. Stylistic changes included additional body side moldings and a revised grille, along with a greater selection of colors. For the interior, a standard passenger front airbag (first Toyota-built series production car available with passenger front airbag), an external temperature gauge, digital odometer, seat belt pretensioners, and chlorofluorocarbon-free refrigerant were added. In 1992, the Celsior introduced the world first GPS navigation system with voice instructions, supplied by Aisin. 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. 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.
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. 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. Internally, over 90% of the redesigned LS 400's composition was new or redesigned, with increased sound insulation, a strengthened body structure, suspension updates (first LS/Celsior with Skyhook adaptive computerized air suspension), and improved brakes. The redesigned model was 95 kg (209 lb) lighter than its predecessor and achieved slightly better fuel economy. The 0–100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) time improved to 7.5 seconds.
1994-1997 Lexus LS 400 (UCF20; United Kingdom)
Development of the second-generation LS 400 began after worldwide launch of the first generation under program code 250T. 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"). 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. However, as the overall length remained the same, trunk capacity was slightly reduced. The more aerodynamic body (Cd 0.28) retained the general profile and contours of the original LS 400 and was the work of the Calty Design Research center in the U.S. Designers had evaluated 20 competing concepts, including several with a radically changed body, before selecting a winning entry in 1991 that included forms and contours similar to the original LS 400. 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. More prominent side lines provided a reference point for parking maneuvers, and forward visibility was improved. Production development lasted from 1991 until conclusion in the second quarter of 1994. Design patents were filed at the Japan Patent Office on October 14, 1992 under registration number 732548, using a prototype.
1997 Diamond White Pearl Lexus LS 400 (UCF20 pre-facelift; USA)
Second-generation LS 400 cabin (UCF20)
The redesigned LS 400 interior received upgraded features, varying from dual-zone climate controls to rear cupholders. A newly patented seat cushion design, similar to the car's suspension, used lightweight internal coil springs and stabilizer bars to improve comfort. One of the first in-dash CD changers was offered as an option. Safety enhancements included enlarged crumple zones, three-point seat belts at all positions, and a new collapsible steering column. 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. Several optional features, such as a compact disc-based Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation system and reclining rear seats, were available only in Japan.
1997-2000 Toyota Celsior (UCF20 facelift; 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. However, cost differences had narrowed following more aggressive pricing and added feature content from rival manufacturers. To promote their new flagship, Lexus launched a US$50 million advertising campaign, the most expensive marketing effort since the launch of the division. 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. Subsequent negotiations averted the sanctions by the second quarter of that year, and sales recovered in the following months. Ultimately, second-generation LS 400 sales were lower than the original model; production totaled approximately 114,000 units.
Production of the UCF20 ran from October 1994 to July 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.
1997–2000 Lexus LS 400
Designed through early 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 kW (290 hp), with variable valve timing (VVT-i), and an added 41 N⋅m (30 ft⋅lbf) of torque. Acceleration times and fuel economy were improved as a result. The suspension and steering also received minor tweaks to improve feel and handling. Stylistically, the vehicle sported a new front fascia, side mirrors, and updated wheels; a rear window diversity antenna replaced the conventional power mast. The cabin received upgrades, including a trip computer, HomeLink, retractable rear headrests, reading lamps, and ultraviolet-tinted glass, while the climate control gained a micron filtration feature with a smog sensor.
In August 1997, the first production laseradaptive cruise control on a Toyota vehicle was introduced on the Celsior version (Japan only) It controlled speed only through throttle control and downshifting, but did not apply the brakes. Because of laser technology limitations, it deactivated in bad weather.
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 with a host of new interior and technological features. The interior design was inspired by the guest room of the luxury hotel (Imperial Hotel, Four Seasons Hotel, The Ritz-Carlton) and the seat was inspired by the first class seat of British Airways and Japan Airlines.
It was the first US market Lexus with adaptive cruise control (called Dynamic Laser Cruise Control). It employed a lidar sensor and (unlike the laser ACC introduced in 1997 on the Celsior) was able to activate brakes for deceleration. However, because of laser technology limitations, it would deactivate in bad weather.
The sedan was equipped with a new 4.3-liter 3UZ-FE engine generating 216 kW (290 hp) and 434 N⋅m (320 ft⋅lbf) of torque. The LS 430 was one of the first gasoline V8 vehicles to be certified as an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV). The standard suspension had been completely redesigned, with a double-wishbone setup at all four wheels; a tuned suspension was offered for the first time. A new torque-activated electronic control unit made throttle adjustments based on vehicle speed, engine revolutions per minute, and pedal position. The LS 430 sported a 0–100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time of 6.7 seconds. Sales began in October 2000 in the United States.
2003 Lexus LS 430 (UCF30; pre-facelift, United Kingdom)
Heading into the planning of the LS 430, division executives concluded that the previous LS redesign had been too restrained in its approach. The LS 430 development team, led by chief engineer Yasushi Tanaka, accordingly opted for a more thorough exterior, interior, and technological redevelopment. The development of the LS 430 took four years. Selected from 16 different concept designs, the resulting vehicle of December 1997—when the final design (by Akihiro Nagaya) was approved—saw the sedan's dimensions increase in terms of wheelbase and height. 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), and was the product of wind tunnel testing at facilities used for Shinkansen bullet train development. A 76-millimetre (3.0 in) wheelbase stretch resulted in more interior volume and allowed the engine to be positioned further aft for better balance. Trunk space was increased by one-third due to repositioning of the fuel tank.
Compared to previous generations, the LS 430 featured a greater number of model configurations and options. While sharing the same body style, variants were differentiated by chassis configuration and onboard equipment. Models with the tuned sport suspension, sold as the "Touring" package in the United States, featured larger, high-speed brakes. These brakes were also standard on European market models. Fully optioned models with height adjustable air suspension, tuned for a combination of soft ride and responsive handling, were sold in the United States as the "Ultra Luxury" edition.
The GPS navigation system was totally redesigned. A liquid crystal display with touchscreen on the upper center console served as interface. First LS with voice controlled navigation. First system featuring DVD (instead of CD-ROM) maps on a luxury sedan.
The LS 430 first went on sale in the United States with an initial base price of US$55,000, ranging up to US$70,000 when fully equipped. 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. Sales for the LS 430 surpassed the previous generation, and production exceeded 140,000 units. 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 from August 2000 until March 2006, when the long-awaited introduction of Lexus Japan saw the arrival of new generation Lexus models. XF30 design patents were filed by Toyota in domestic Japan on 8 March 1999 at the Japan Patent Office under patent number 1080448.
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), and the highest recorded scorer in the history of J.D. Power's Vehicle Dependability Survey.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.
Lexus LS 430 (UCF30; facelift, United States)
Lexus LS 430 (UCF30; facelift, Spain)
Designed through early 2002, the LS 430 update launched in September 2003 as a 2004 model.
The first radar (instead of previous lidar) sensor on a Lexus sedan allowed the new Dynamic RADAR Cruise Control to work in any weather conditions. The millimeter-wave radar technology also enabled the first Pre-Collision System (PCS) on a Lexus sedan (with partial autonomous braking only on the Japanese market Toyota Celsior version). A "low-speed tracking mode" was added in 2004. The low-speed tracking mode was a second mode that would warn the driver if the car ahead stopped and provide braking; it could stop the car but then deactivated.
Introduced a new six-speed automatic transmission and revised styling. The powerplant remained the same as before. Exterior changes included restyled front and rear fascias, light-emitting diode (LED) taillights, and different wheels.
Development on fourth generation LS began in 2001 under program code "250L", with the design process being done under Yo Hiruta from 2002 to late 2003, with the final production design being frozen in 2004. In October 2005, Lexus premiered a gasoline-electric hybrid concept car, the LF-Sh (Lexus Future-Sedan hybrid), at the Tokyo Motor Show, 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, 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. The fourth-generation models' technical specifications were shown in greater detail at the Geneva Motor Show in February 2006. A hybrid version, LS 600h L (UVF46), was previewed at the New York International Auto Show in April 2006. At its introduction in 2006, it won the Car of the Year Japan award for the second time.
The LS 460 and LS 460 L are both equipped with a new 4.6-liter 1UR-FSEV8 producing 283 kW (380 hp) and 498 N⋅m (367 ft⋅lbf) of torque, coupled to the first production eight-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration from 0–100 km/h (62 mph) is listed at 5.7 seconds.
The development of the LS 460 and its variants, led by chief engineer Moritaka Yoshida, began as Lexus was shifting its design strategy towards a more diversified product lineup, with new-vehicle launches largely focused on global markets. Plans called for the next-generation LS to differentiate itself further beyond previous models in terms of design and technology. A "Super LS" model, priced above the US$100,000 ultra-luxury category, was also considered. Externally, the Lexus LS received the styling cues of Lexus' new design direction, called L-finesse. 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.
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. 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. The climate control offered the first infraredbody temperature sensors in an automobile; it also featured ceiling air diffusers. An "Executive" seating package on the LS 460 L included a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, swivel tray table, and a shiatsumassaging ottoman seat.
The long-wheelbase, 2006–2009 Lexus LS 460 L (USF41)
The LS 460 and LS 460 L arrived at dealerships in Japan, the U.S., and Europe in late 2006, and the vehicle reached Australia, East Asia, and the Middle East in 2007. The U.S. base prices for the 2007 LS 460 and LS 460 L were US$61,000 and US$71,000, respectively. 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.
2007–2009 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, 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. This system uses a continuously variable transmission and generates an output of 327 kilowatts (439 hp). 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. Features specific to the LS hybrids include the first production low beam LED headlights, a leather-trimmed dash, and blue-tinted hybrid badging. In April 2007, Lexus announced that the base price for the LS 600h L would be over US$104,000, surpassing the V12-equipped Toyota Century as the most expensive Japanese luxury car ever produced. A standard-wheelbase version destined for Asia and Europe, the LS 600h (UVF45), was launched in Japan in May 2007. 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.
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. New technology included automatic high beam lights and a self-repairing clear coat for the exterior paint. 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. 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. The Sport model received the Sport Direct Shift transmission, also found in the Lexus IS F, with downshift rev-matching capability and manual mode. A new interior customization program, "L-Select", also became available for LS customers in Japan.
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. 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 is being offered. 'Nanoe' technology is used in the air conditioning system where 20–50 nm ions are bonded to water molecules.
Fifth generation (XF50; 2017–present)
This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(March 2019)
Developed under the 200B program, the fifth generation LS made its debut at the January 2017 North American International Auto Show. This model was previewed by the LF-FC concept that was first shown at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show. It is the second Lexus to ride on the GA-L platform, after the LC 500 grand tourer. Dubbed as LS 500 (VXFA50/55), it is the first LS to be powered by a V6 engine. The 3.4 liter twin-turboV35A-FTS V6 produces 309 kW (415 hp) and 600 N⋅m (440 lb⋅ft) of torque. The wheelbase is 33 mm (1.3 in) longer than the previous long-wheelbase model, the LS 460L. The height is also 15 mm (0.6 in) lower, with the bonnet and boot measuring 30 and 40 mm (1.2 and 1.6 in) lower, respectively.
In a couple of Lexus firsts, the fifth-generation LS is the first Lexus sedan to feature a six-sided window design, while the flush-surface windows integrate smoothly with the pillars. In the company's efforts to reconcile two conflicting goals, sufficient headroom with a low roofline, the new LS employs an available outer-slide-type panoramic moonroof instead of the conventional, internally retracting item.
The fifth-generation LS also features 3D-surround Mark Levinson audio with in-ceiling array speakers. The next-generation, remote touch infotainment interface called Lexus Enform, is said to be designed to mimic smartphone operation, with support for handwritten input. Alongside the 12.3 inch navigation display, the fifth-generation LS can be specified with an optional 24 inch, colour HUD for the driver's view. The fifth-generation LS was launched in Japan on December 18, 2017 and globally in the first quarter of 2018.
The LS 500h (GVF50/55) uses the Multi Stage Hybrid System that debuted in the LC 500h. Like the LC 500h, it uses a lithium-ion battery rather than the nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery used in the previous LS 600h.
Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 will be fitted as standard to the LS. The available Advanced Safety Package will introduce Lexus CoDrive, which will help actively steer the vehicle should it detect a pedestrian.
At the 2017 Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau International Auto Show, Lexus unveiled the Chinese-market LS 350 (GSF50), which uses a naturally aspirated2GR-FKS V6 engine from the GS 350, producing 237 kW (318 hp) and 380 N⋅m (280 lb⋅ft) of torque. Hong Kong models uses an 8GR-FKS engine producing 232 kW (311 hp) and 380 N⋅m (280 lb⋅ft) of torque.
The Lexus LS has been consistently produced on dedicated Lexus assembly lines at Toyota's flagship Tahara factory, located in the city of Tahara, in Aichi Prefecture, Chūbu region, southwest of Nagoya, since 1989. Tahara remains the sole production site, having inaugurated its new line number four specifically for assembly of the original LS 400.
For the Lexus LS, the Tahara plant developed new molds and enhanced assembly techniques and instituted measures aimed at increasing the precision of the sedan's fit and finish. The 1989 LS 400 became the first production automobile to receive extensive laser welding, allowing for seamless steel welds. A large sheet metalpress was developed to reduce or eliminate panel gaps by stamping large sections whole instead of singly. Separately installed parts, such as exterior lights, were also spring-loaded for a tighter fit. On the LS 400, engineers reduced door panel gaps in half versus Toyota-brand vehicles, from 7 to 4 mm (0.28 to 0.16 in), with measurements made within 0.01 mm (0.00039 in); on the LS 430, measurement margins were increased tenfold, to 0.001 mm (3.9×10−5 in). When production switched to the LS 460, the number of laser welds was doubled.
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. With the LS 460, a hand-sanded paint process was introduced. 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.
The Lexus LS marked the first successful entrant of a Japanese manufacturer into the prestige luxury arena, a market that had long been dominated by established European and American brands. By 1991, with the LS 400 its top-selling model, Lexus had overtaken Mercedes-Benz and BMW in overall U.S. sales, and in 2000, the marque passed Cadillac as the luxury sales leader in the largest automotive market. Rival manufacturers responded with lower prices and added features. In particular, Mercedes-Benz reorganized its operations, shifting to a targeted-cost process similar to Lexus production methods, and dropped competing U.S. base prices by nearly 10 percent. To rival the LS 400, extra features were rushed for the launch of the 1991 Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W140), causing budget overruns and costing the job of Daimler-Benz's chief engineer, Wolfgang Peter. Approximately 5 percent of 1989 LS 400 sales went to buyers employed by rival manufacturers, including GM, Ford, and Chrysler. When the LS 400 was disassembled for engineering analysis, Cadillac engineers concluded that the vehicle could not be built using existing GM methods. Industry publications noted the LS 400's precise panel gaps, and the subject became a common evaluation standard in road tests. The LS 430's interior noise level was later used by rival makes as a measure of cabin quietness.
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. This stood in contrast to the predictions of early detractors, including rival manufacturers who dismissed Toyota as incapable of producing a competitive luxury vehicle. Japanese contemporaries from the luxury divisions of Honda (Acura) and Nissan (Infiniti) had differing degrees of success. 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. Marketed as the Acura Legend in the U.S., the sedan initially sold well, but subsequent models (renamed Acura RL) performed below sales expectations. Launched by Nissan in December 1989, the V8-powered Infiniti Q45 closely rivaled the LS 400 in specifications and price, but was unsuccessful in sales (attributed to unconventional styling and marketing), leading to its discontinuation in 2006. 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. 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.
Sales and production
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. In Japan, the next-largest market for the Lexus LS, the introduction of the 2007 LS 460 attracted 12,000 pre-orders, and the Lexus LS has gone on to sell successfully in its class. Following the introduction of the LS 460 and Lexus' expanded global launch in 2007, 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, and over half the total coming from outside the U.S. market. In 2008, U.S. sales fell 42% amidst the late-2000s recession, mirroring the overall decline of the luxury car market.
The Lexus LS has not sold as well in Europe, where Lexus suffers from smaller brand recognition, image, and a less-developed dealership network. In European markets, the Lexus LS has ranked behind Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW in flagship luxury car sales. 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. 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.
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