By on January 16, 2017

2018 Lexus LS

The next-generation Lexus LS flagship’s top-to-bottom revamp took some fans by surprise when it was revealed ahead of the Detroit auto show. Not only did it do away with a formal roofline, a V8 engine — which has powered the model since its inception — was no where to be found, replaced by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6.

It appeared as if convention wasn’t the only thing Lexus planned to ditch, as a hybrid model was neither announced, nor teased. As it turns out, Lexus did tease an upcoming hybrid variant — we just needed to look closer.

The current-generation LS 600h runs in the same circles as other top-zoot hybrid luxury sedans, employing a 5.0-liter V8 mated to an electric motor for significant power gains, though its fuel economy remains less than impressive. We’ll likely be able to erase that powertrain from our memories.

While there’s no word on what form the new electrified model will take, it’s clear that Lexus is planning something. Press photos of the next-gen LS contained an Easter Egg. In an interior shot, an “EV” button can be seen just aft of the gearshift and touchpad.


Not only is it a clear indication that a hybrid model will return, it also signals that the upcoming hybrid system will be more capable than before. The existing LS 600h operated as a conventional hybrid, with no ability to run purely on electricity — not even on short jaunts, like the company’s famed but far less luxurious Prius.

For 2018, the LS switches to a variant of the platform used by the LC performance coupe, which just happens to field a hybrid model. Toyota hasn’t said if the 354-horsepower Multi Stage Hybrid System found in the LC 500h will take up residence in the redesigned sedan. If it does, its output would pale next to the 415 hp available from the LS 500’s twin-turbo V6. That doesn’t seem right for a range-topper. Certainly, not when its predecessor placed performance above gas mileage.

[Images: Toyota Motor Corporation]

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28 Comments on “The Gas-powered 2018 Lexus LS Won’t Be Lonely for Long...”

  • avatar

    I say go fully electric and compete with the Model S.

    Probably way too late from a design standpoint, but I bet it would get lots of buzz and the Lexi faithful would do Carl Edwards-style back flips for it so they can drive their “better” version of the in-vogue S (even if it wasn’t, the badge says it is).

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      That’s pretty unlikely, since Toyota has regularly bashed BEVs in favor of their soon-dead hydrogen fuel cell cars. (1106 Mirai FCVs sold in 15 months, all in southern CA).

      When Toyota finally sells a BEV, it will be interesting to see how they pitch it.

      Toyota’s conservative nature means they’ll never go after Tesla, in my opinion. They like to make money, not take risks.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, they went after Mercedes with the original LS, and even chased/chases BMW with its sportier cars.

        I conceed that Toyota is risk-adverse, and has been timid about BEVs. But I still think a fully electric versions of LS as well as LC would be absolutely amazing.

  • avatar

    All of the signals coming out of Lexus have been that this hybrid won’t be a range-topper like the previous LS600hL, but an alternative like the LC500h or ES300h. I expect it to be called LS500h and use either the LC500h powertrain or a new hybrid powertrain that uses the same gas engine as the LC500h but skips the LC’s complicated transmission in favor of the usual planetary gear setup found in most Toyota hybrids.

    I think there will be a range-topper but it will be gas-powered. There are lots of rumors of a new twin-turbo V8, and that would make a fine LS600 and LC F.

    • 0 avatar

      “twin-turbo V8…that would make a fine LS600 and LC600.”

      Yes, please.

      And, the Mark X as an Avalon replacement.

      (I’m going to keep asking for that last one until somebody gets a call through to Mr. Toyoda and the wheels start turning. :D)

      • 0 avatar

        Mark X as an Avalon replacement would be amazing.

        However, given all indication that the next generation Mark X will go FWD, it’s entirely possible that the next Avalon will be a Mark X replacement. =(

        • 0 avatar

          For a while there, I was hoping Nissan would make the Maxima a downmarket RWD G37. Not gonna happen.

          • 0 avatar

            VoGo, not a bad idea.

            I actually kinda like the newest Maxi’s face, I just wish it were in front of a longitudinally mounted engine followed by a multi-speed automatic with flappy paddles.

        • 0 avatar

          Varezhka, I hope you’re wrong! But it won’t surprise me if you’re not.

          The Mark X would shame the CVT FWD Maxima into retirement or a new, true sports sedan.

      • 0 avatar

        Why would Toyota bring the Mark X as an Avalon replacement? It’s smaller than a Camry.

        • 0 avatar

          Because one is a Toyota Buick, and the other is a Toyota 5 series. I could see them adding a little more space and such, but I don’t think it must be bigger than Camry to be a successor to Avalon as Toyota (brand)’s best car.

          Mark X would replace Avalon theoretically as a range topper. A sportier, RWD/AWD alternative to the sedate Camry. It may cannibalize Camry sales somewhat, but Avalon does too and I’m sure the Mark X would have a thicker profit margin considering it will be more expensive tban Camry XLE.

          If Toyota is serious about giving their image a much-needed makeover, that’s a good place to start.

          • 0 avatar

            As much as I’d like a return of a Mark to our shores (the last one being a X80 body Cressida), that’s solidly Lexus territory (RWD IS, GS sedans). The Avalon’s roomy interior, optional hybrid powertrain, and good reliability record is making it the darling of black-car cab operators and the Uber set. I’d strongly consider scooping up a used one in a year or two, a 3.5L ’13-’14 car can be found for barely any more than a Camry of the same year, and has a noticeably nicer interior.

          • 0 avatar

            Well, you guys are probably right that it doesn’t make sense as a direct replacement, but I can always hope.

            I know I would LOVE to be an Uber driver if my ride was a Mark X. Whereas in an Avalon, I’d feel like I was being punished lol.

            Of course its good for what it is, but if I were to choose a FWD fullsize, it would be a new Impala or Taurus. I love driving the 2012 Taurus, and nobody needs to list all the reasons why its the most horrible car ever to exist because I’ve heard them all, and they don’t jive whatsoever with my personal impressions of driving and riding in one semi-regularly for five years now.

          • 0 avatar

            Poor rearward visibility, surprisingly non-compliant ride, mediocre rear seat with a really upright seatback and less legroom than a Camry. Those are my impressions from a used ’14 SEL that I test drove. Having said that, for $15k that they fetch ex-fleet, it’s a hell of a lot of car for the money. Nice smelling leather interior, and it feels like a freaking tank going down the road, good V6 power.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Getting there on looks. The side profile is quite good.

    Now, if Lexus can find, torture, and send into the sun the designers of that horrid front end, they’ve got something I’ll buy.

    • 0 avatar

      I think that the market for sedans, even luxury versions, is shrinking rapidly.

      It’s no fun riding in a low sedan with everything else on all sides of you towering over you. You have NO visibility.

      I would advise against buying ANY sedan. For safety’s sake a driver needs to sit higher and have a better view of the road.

      • 0 avatar

        “It’s no fun riding in a low sedan with everything else on all sides of you towering over you. You have NO visibility.”

        Because sitting up 6 inches higher in an HR-V gives you all the visibility in the world.

        Every vehicle short of a plane with a helmet mounted HUD that lets the pilot see through the plane has varying degrees of visibility issues. You gotta make your peace with it or get a lifted truck and accept you’ll still be agitated around semis.

        “For safety’s sake a driver needs to sit higher and have a better view of the road.”

        Hilariously, I see people buy SUV for visibility’s sake only to look 8 feet ahead of their hood when they drive down the road, or bury their nose in their phone. Oh well, it’s keeping the lights on for Chrysler.

  • avatar

    “The existing LS 600h operated as a conventional hybrid, with no ability to run purely on electricity — not even on short jaunts, like the company’s famed by far less luxurious Prius.” This information is incorrect. The outgoing LSh does have a an EV mode. you can see it being driven in EV for the first 49 seconds of this video.

    Up to about 22 mph

  • avatar

    Not a fan either. Lexus (and Toyota) front ends look like a Largemouth Bass, Catfish or Grouper.

  • avatar

    Just give them an “EV” button. Most of those who can afford a hybrid Lexus flagship new won’t know the difference.

  • avatar

    Holy fudge, who cares? They sell, what, 12 of these per month?

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Looks like a stretched Infiniti Q70 or Hyundai Azera, which is actually attractive car, that Zorro used his sword on with great glee. Then they exaggerated the spindly grill and facade.

    Who knows if I saw it in public it might grown on me but I much prefer the stately looking 1st and 2nd generation.

  • avatar

    This isn’t an LS. This is some sort of fish-faced Avalon. Give me the Toyota Century with the 5.0 V12.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    How can cars like the the Corvette and the La Ferrari et al avoid the ‘Safer Pedestrian Collision’ front end but a monster like Toyota can’t? Imagine what that car would look like with half the radiator opening, with the bonnet following the fender character lines. Oh, and a bigger bustle. Crap, I just designed a 2006 M5.

  • avatar

    What’s with Toyota’s and Lexus’ Darth Vader look? “May the Force be with you”?…

  • avatar

    Whatever it runs on, it looks more like a Buick LaCrosse than ever.

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