By on September 19, 2016

2013_Lexus_LS_460_017

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]

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61 Comments on “Next-generation Lexus LS Could Break with Tradition, Offer a V6...”


  • avatar
    Tosh

    Fare thee well, Infiniti.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I hope they make a version with a 2.0L turbo I4, a 10-speed dual-clutch transmission, and AWD.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    The first sentence is not quite correct, Lexus quality sent the Germans back to the drawing board and I don’t want to see anymore 4 cyl motors in any luxury car

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Bow our heads and pour out a little premium for our fallen V8 brethren, Yo.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Yes, in no time, we’ll be telling our grandkids of the time RWD V8s ruled the roads, and they won’t believe us. The quintessential American powerplant (rightly copied by them furriners as true luxury) is about to be vanquished by CAFE and emissions made most penal so butterflies don’t get dizzy.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Yes, they’ll be astounded that your generation went gaga over cars with the acceleration of a Prius but the fuel consumption of a tank.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          The last V8 passenger car with the acceleration of a Prius was probably built in the ’80s. Car and Driver says the latest Prius does 0-60 mph in 10.5 seconds. The obsolete LS 460 did it in what, 6.5 seconds? Close enough for your line of BS. George Bernard Shaw wouldn’t have tolerated your presence.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I can always count on you to miss the point.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            “I can always count on you to miss the point.”

            The point seems to be that you assume others know as much about cars as you do.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Todd is no better or smarter than the CJ that he replaced.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Closer to five and a half seconds.

            To be apolitical, Lorenzo wrote “of the time RWD V8s ruled the roads” and that indeed would be the slow unmissed land barges of over 30 years ago. The loss of the modern RWD V8 $90K luxury sedan will be missed by a privileged few. That’s a bummer for them, but the more likely loss of driving enjoyment for the grandkids will be from perpetually gridlocked roads extending across the hundreds of miles of ever-expanding suburban sprawl. Driving enthusiasts are being assaulted from many fronts, some of them driven by free markets and the exercise of personal liberty.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I’d like to think that future generations will have some affection for transportation history.

          A ’32 Ford or a ’49 Cadillac or a ’89 LS400 are all significant vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The 911 and Audi Quattro and MR2 all managed to be significant without having eight cylinders.

            The tanks of the 50s and 60s that Lorenzo misses were interesting but they were poor performers by today’s standards. One can achieve the same or better results today with fewer cylinders.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “The tanks of the 50s and 60s that Lorenzo misses were interesting but they were poor performers..”

            Their job was to perform visually, not dynamically. Even today’s wet-lipped, drooling car guys will crowd around them sitting stock still in a car show.

            They were rolling American flags of the Great Bubble era.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            LS wasn’t available until MY90!

  • avatar
    Trucky McTruckface

    How seriously is the LS taken by luxury buyers anymore? It’s struck me as an old person’s car for ages…I can’t imagine that the nouveau riche badge snobs would touch it with a ten foot pole.

    If they absolutely must downsize to a six, at least spend the bucks on developing an inline motor. The Toyota 3.5 has always been a nice motor, but it’s been around seemingly forever and the flagship deserves something more. Besides, Toyota has a great heritage with inline sixes that they could get some mileage out of reviving.

    But whatever, it’s not like the Lexus LS is a car I’m in danger of buying even if I bumble into excessive wealth overnight.

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      Old person’s car, RIGHT?! When I sat in my first LS400, I couldn’t wait to become an old person so I could also have one. And here we are, over 25 years later.

    • 0 avatar
      whitworth

      I think you could make the case that most flagship sedans are “older person’s” cars.
      Almost every new S-Class Mercedes I see is driven by someone who’s been getting Social Security for a while.

      As much as car ads would love for you to believe 25 year old models are getting out of them, it’s not reality.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @whitworth… ding ding ding ding ding

        In 1965 when Cadillac was a top dog I don’t think too many 30 year olds were buying Sedan Devilles for personal transportation.

        • 0 avatar
          Trucky McTruckface

          30 year olds may have aspired to someday own Cadillacs in 1965 or an LS 400 in 1989, but now not so much. Getting the cheapest lease from Stuttgart, Munich or Ingolstadt is where it’s at.

          Lexus still makes a great car, especially if you value comfort/isolation and ease of ownership above all else. That’s probably why their demographics skew older – buyers who already went through the ringer with the worst Detroit and Europe had to offer in the ’70s-’80s. Younger buyers either never lived through that crap or are too badge conscious to care about the still-terrible German ownership experience.

          For what it’s worth, as a 30something, I actually really like the new IS and RC, but not enough to pull the trigger on one when I was shopping earlier this year. The new crossover (NX?) isn’t bad either. I couldn’t even tell you what the LS looks like anymore. I know it wears the dopey corporate grill now, but that’s about it. Ditto on the GS. But at least they continue to compete in these segments which is more than I can say for every non-German besides (kinda sorta) Cadillac.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            For me (27yrs old), I found that the perfect way to get my foot in the door to Lexus nirvana in a stupid-cheap way was buying a religiously maintained 20 year old ES300 with over 200k miles. I’m absolutely floored at how well it drives, the drivetrain refinement (how it accelerates, shifts, sounds) will seriously give many current near-luxury cars a run for their money. No direct injection clatter, no fuel economy optimization for the transmission, just butter smooth and controlled shifts and a whisper of an idle. Acceleration doesn’t set the world on fire (7.7 0-60 IIRC), but it is very confident and smooth, and more than keeps up with traffic.

            I also prefer the simple styling of the early 90s with large windows and thin pillars, and the Japanese quirks such as the pillarless doors.

            It’s funny that my previous commuter for a few years, a 2012 Civic that I had purchased for $15k almost new, never ever brought out any true emotion or excitement in me. This $1600 Lexus on the other hand, I’m excited to walk up to it across the parking lot for the comfy ride home.

          • 0 avatar
            Fordson

            Nobody goes through a ringer, 30-something. It’s a wringer…as in a wringer washing machine that you put clothes through to get the excess water out of them. Also called a mangle.

            And there is no such thing as a pillarless door…it’s a frameless door.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I thought mangle was that type of dirty Japanese anime with boobies.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Fordson right you are, frameless. If I had something like a Toyota Mark II Hardtop Grande G, then I’d really be stylin’ on ya.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          In 1981, when Cadillac began starting every day by urinating on its reputation, the Coupe DeVille was driven by exactly the same sort of people that drive M4s and A7s today. Young Bridge and Tunnel people with credit drove them universally.

          If you want to see many examples of the Lexus LS today, go to the sort of neighborhoods where for-sale signs are illegal. They’re all over the place.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            ‘In 1981, when Cadillac began starting every day by urinating on its reputation, the Coupe DeVille was driven by exactly the same sort of people that drive M4s and A7s today. Young Bridge and Tunnel people with credit drove them universally.”

            Not really, they’d have driven Eldorados/Toronados/Rivieras, or Mark V’s, or a Benz. DeVilles were old-fogie cars even then.

            And Cadillac’s self-urination began a LONG time before 1981. Put a mid-70s Sedan DeVille right next to a Caprice/Bonneville/88/98/LeSabre/Electra of the same vintage and you’ll see clearly how wrong-headed Caddy was even then.

      • 0 avatar
        kmoney

        Yeah, isn’t the average age of an S-class buyer something like 80 years old. Based simply on averages, the people buying $80,000+ cars aren’t going to be 25 year old recent college grads…

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      “Old Person” here: For someone who’s tired of “sport sedans” that almost never can be exercised in “sporty” fashion and is bored with the plethora of 4–wheeled blobs (aka “CUVs”) there might be a place for a large sedan with some serious road presence and effortlessness that once defined the breed.

      That, my friends, is not a V-6 engine. It’s either an electric motor or a straight-6. V-6s are about packaging and nothing more. A 4- liter straight 6, turbocharged to make lotsa torque by 1500 rpm — say in the vicinity of 400 lb-ft — that’s “wafting” and its a certain kind of “luxury” that has been lost to the Walter Mitty throttle jockeys with money burning a hole in their wallets.

      Now, get off my lawn! :-)

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        That’s the problem: the inline six is dead, and now they’re coming after the V8. The long hood and high grille suited to the straight six is gone, and even a slant six won’t fit under those sloping people-catchers. The V8 still fits, but it has other enemies, people who think Kafka stories are how-to books, bedeviling automakers into giving us what the gatekeepers want instead of what WE want. The Dark Ages approach.

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          Oh c’mon. If you drive a truly modern supercharged or turbo v6 paired to a modern chassis in a luxury car the result is going to be whatever the engineering department had a budget for. These are hardly e30’s.

          Lexus, even more than toyota, needs to keep up with the Jones’. That 280 – 300hp v6 is exactly the displacement and output of every competitors 6 cylinder that they are putting into mid sized sedans in the mid 30’s. They need a more modern engine.

      • 0 avatar
        Jerome10

        Hey, I’m 35 and I’m right there with you. Presence, long and low. But I’ll still take that V8 over any 6….but will agree if its gotta be 6 make it straight.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    If they go with the 3.5 for the LS, I just see a lot of buyers going with an ES350 . The ES line actually has quite a bit of passenger room, they expanded it more to the dimensions of the Avalon.

    If it has the same engine as the ES, very little to really make it “flagship”.

    I’m sure though flagship luxury buyers looking at an $85,000 car will appreciate the $50 a year in gas savings that the less smooth Camry engine gives them.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “If it has the same engine as the ES, very little to really make it “flagship”.”

      Very little? Have you driven/riden in both? There is a huge gap between the two.

      • 0 avatar
        Corollaman

        They might buy GS models instead of LS, but no way can you put the ES in the same league as its bigger siblings.

      • 0 avatar
        whitworth

        I’ve actually owned both, and the newer models, the gap has closed significantly.

        Not worth around twice the price for the LS.

        • 0 avatar
          yamahog

          I drove a brand new ES350 with 2000 miles on it earlier in the spring while my LS430 was getting a timing belt, and I was very surprised by how nice the ES350 felt. It was no LS, but it was something different and something good, and for half the price, it’s compelling.

          The ES350 felt much more Japanese – it was lighter and more precise and I really liked that. The LS430 has a heft to it that seems teutonic – sometimes I like it. But after a skressful day of work, I wish I had an ES300h.

          The ES350 is a real gem and it’s a bummer that people say “oh lmao it’s a 50k CAMRAY” without the critical thought of “why is it that Toyota can move serious amounts of ’50k camrays (sic)’ and Chrysler can’t move 200s at sub-20k price points”.

          What I saw in the ES350 was a car that was quieter than my LS400, faster than my LS400, got about 2x the milage of my LS400, was definitely safer than my LS400, and a loaded ES350 costs less money (in nominal terms, not inflation adjusted) than a base 1995 LS400.

          You made a smart choice and you have an excellent car.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Some of the quips about the newer ES are warranted IMO. Namely the (relatively) cheap hard plastic in the rear seat area, and basically anything below knee level in front. Also, the suspension has sadly departed from the traditional Lexus emphasis on smoothness in pursuit of “sporty.” Mind you it isn’t harsh per se, just stiffer than what I think many Lexus customers are used to. On bad roads and expansion joints, it is noticeable. That is a mistake IMO. Finally, the ES300h variant gives up some of its refinement just due to how the powertrain sounds strained under stronger acceleration and the 4cyl gas motor is working hard. The V6 is definitely the way to go IMO unless you do a lot of sitting in traffic.

  • avatar
    la834

    This makes sense; the LS, once Lexus’s bread and butter, has become almost a niche player in the shrinking market for big luxury sedans. A six-cylinder will boost volume and help justify continuing to build them.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    What’s all the hubbub?

    Wiki and Tim both show 2015 LS sales as only 7,165 and Tim shows 2016 YTD as only 3,768.

    For 2015, that’s only about 0.0007 LS’es for every residential swimming pool in the US.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Fools!

  • avatar
    Spartan

    It’s about time. I’ve known people who have owned Lexus LS’s and would gladly take V6 power and V6 fuel economy. The LS isn’t exactly great on gas.

    I would happily trade the V8 for the 3.5L V6. I would really like a PHEV with the 3.5L V6. These cars aren’t bahn burners. They sit in traffic and eat up highway miles. A V6 is just fine for that.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Well, 6 is still 2 more than what MB S250 has. No big deal.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    I believe there has been a serious misunderstanding. The V8 is NOT being discontinued!

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    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.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    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.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    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.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    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.


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