Lexus Got What It Hoped for With the New LS - At Least for Now

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Every large, traditional Toyota and Lexus sedan seems to have hit that point in its lifespan where drastic surgery is needed to keep up with the younger crowd. Were these staid sedans people, they’d be milling about in the seating area of a local plastic surgeon’s office.

The first model to bend to Toyota’s desire for large cars that ooze dignified luxury but are also kind of green (and maybe kind of sporty?) was the 2018 Lexus LS flagship, appearing last year with a new platform and racy sheetmetal. The Avalon and ES will soon follow suit.

By revamping its LS, Lexus hoped to jam the brakes on a sales plunge that began after the recession and only got worse from there. Still, the automaker knew it couldn’t turn back the clock completely. There was a very specific sales goal mentioned during the launch, and it looks like the new LS delivered. Almost perfectly, in fact.

As we told you last year, Lexus expected to sell 1,000 LS 500 and LS 500h sedans each month in the United States. Modest figures, for sure, especially for a model that moved 35,226 examples in 2007, but realistic. The brains at Lexus weren’t thinking about 2007 or 2006 or any year before that. They were thinking of the past few years.

In 2017, Lexus sold 4,094 LS cars in the U.S. The tally proved far worse north of the border, where just 40 units drove off Lexus lots. Desperate times, as the saying goes, calls for a top-down redesign.

With a slinky body now in place, motivated by a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 making 416 horses (and mated to a 10-speed automatic), the LS now has a persona far removed from its conservative predecessor, which often seemed far more popular on the used market. 2018 models began trickling into dealer lots in February.

So, what did the new sedan do for Lexus’ sales goals? In March, Lexus sold 1,008 LS sedans in the United States. In April? 999. It would appear the brand hit the bullseye.

To put it another way, volume over the first two full months of sales were triple the monthly sales tally from a year before. You’d have to go back to December 2014 to find a month where the LS sold better. In Canada, where the LS had all but disappeared, the model sold 93 copies in the past three months. That’s more than double last year’s tally and just 2 units shy of 2016’s full-year sales.

Is this a temporary bump or the beginning of a sustained reappraisal of the large luxury sedan? Lexus hopes it’s the latter.

[Images: Lexus]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Pete Zaitcev Pete Zaitcev on May 02, 2018

    I cannot stand the infotainment in the current Lexus. It was much better, even class-leading 10 years ago, when I bought mine. Admittedly, I'm basing my impressions on 2018 NX. Alex Dykes reviewed a new "Entune 3.0", which shows promise, but apparently it's only for mass-market Toyotas.

  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on May 07, 2018

    I was viewing one of Alex Dykes reviews and it got interrupted by a commercial for this bastardization of the LS. The commercial largely revolved around the "TWIN-TURBOS". (Face Palm) This is an LS gentlemen, not a GS/F-sport. Raving about twin turbos to an LS customer is like shooting a commercial for the LaCrosse and going on and on about the fact that there's an available "SPORT MODE".

  • Doug brockman hardly. Their goals remain to punish us by mandating unsafe unreliable unaffordable battery powered cars
  • Lorenzo It looks like the curves are out and the boxy look is back. There's an upright windscreen, a decided lack of view obstructing swoop in the rear side panels, and you can even see out of the back window. Is Lexus borrowing from the G-Class Mercedes, or the Range Rover?
  • Lorenzo Didn't those guys actually test drive cars? I was told that one drove like an old lady, another like a maniac, and the third like a nervous middle aged commuter who needs to get to work on time and can't afford big repair bills, and they got together to pass judgement within their individual expertise. No?
  • Lorenzo Aw, I don't care what they call the models, as long as they don't use those dots over the O's.
  • The Oracle GM just seems hapless lately