Next-generation Lexus LS Could Break With Tradition, Offer a V6

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

The flagship LS built the Lexus brand’s reputation by offering quality on par with the Germans and a V8 engine that was smaller and more advanced than those fielded by the Americans.

The model continued on a relatively fixed course for the next 26 years, slowly increasing the displacement of its V8 and giving a nod to environmental pressure with a hybrid variant. Even in the LS 600h, the battery is still strapped to a 5.0-liter V8.

However, a trademark application uncovered by AutoGuide suggests that the LS’s drivetrain tradition is due for a shakeup.

The application, filed in Japan, lists a new model name: LS350. The significance of the number should be immediately clear to anyone remotely familiar with the Lexus brand and its well-established powerplants. Perhaps the bean counters at Lexus have decided that eight is more than enough?

A next-generation LS is on the way, and is expected to bow in early 2017 as a 2018 model. The model should break with the conservative styling of past generations, echoing the design language of the LF-FC Concept unveiled at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show.

If the trademark reaches to models offered on this side of the Pacific, expect a new base model equipped with the venerable 3.5-liter V6, which already finds a home in several Lexus models. Depending on the application, that engine currently makes 268 to 306 horsepower. A hybrid model should remain in the lineup.

The Detroit Auto Show will likely bring our first glimpse of the next-generation LS, as well as details about drivetrains and price points.

[Image: Toyota]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Gtem Gtem on Sep 20, 2016

    For those not in the know, Toyota has offered their top models including the Crown with small motor options for their domestic market for quite a long time. From 2.0L naturally aspirated 4 cylinder motors, to supercharged variants of the same, to the famous 1 and 2 JZ series of naturally aspirated and turbo/twin turbocharged inline six motors (2.5L, 3.0L displacement). I feel like a silky smooth 3.5L V6 would work alright for a laidback retiree, 300ish hp is good enough even with that much weight. If I had enough money for an LS I think I'd insist on the V8 and as long as that option is still there I'm happy enough.

  • Sportyaccordy Sportyaccordy on Sep 20, 2016

    I don't think this is a bad thing. I was reading a review of the A6 2.0T, and they were callin it "slow". Meanwhile it's faster than the C5 A6 4.2 and not far off from the C5 S6, whle literally getting 50% better horsepower. Will a 4 or 6 run as smooth as an 8? Probably not but it would run smooth enough. My bigger concern is the mismatch in torque. Unless they slap this thing with a 9AT it's gonna scream and strain to make proper haste which will be at odds with the rest of the car. I know Toyota is resisting but it's time to bring out the twin turbos. Even bigger concern of mine is the market for the LS has pretty much dried up. Lexus would do better to make something manlier than the RX but built on a unibody. The old men who still see big sedans as luxury and have the means to buy them are not long for ths world. Brad Numonet wants a CUV coupe.

  • FreedMike FreedMike on Sep 20, 2016

    Bad news: no V-8. Good news: if there's one thing Toyota knows how to do, it's building engines, so I'm sure the V-6 in question will be pretty damn nice. I'd take a twin-turbo V-6 LS.

  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Sep 20, 2016

    There's a lot at play here. Pedestrian crash regs, emissions, fuel economy and profit. A V6 solves a lot of these more easily. But, it aint the same folks. I drive a GS400 and that 1UZ is an absolute gem. I've driven the new GS350 and it has the same power, is basically just as quick, but the sound sucks and the oomph just doesn't have that compelling V8 push. Lexus has found that they'll gladly sell you a V8, but it's now part of a very pricy F-sport package. While my 2000 GS400 could last another 8-10 years, it means my next V8 Lexus will have to be an LS or the last year of the GS460. Once you've gotten used to V8s there's just no going back.