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Lexus Teases New LS Flagship Ahead of Detroit Show Debut

New sedan to deliver “dynamic experience” and “visionary technology.”

by on Dec.08, 2016

A teaser image of the 2018 Lexus LS sedan.

We’re expecting three big announcements from Toyota at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month, and the Japanese giant says the unveiling of an all-new Lexus LS flagship will be one of the headline-making events.

It’s an appropriate place to preview the sedan, the maker reminds us, noting that the very first Lexus LS 400 made its debut in Detroit in 1989 – the debut of the then-new Japanese luxury brand helping mark the very first “international” show in the Motor City.

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Considering the current Lexus LS is the oldest full-size premium luxury vehicle on the market and desperately needs an update, big expectations are in order for a vehicle that Lexus promises will deliver both a “dynamic experience” and “visionary technology.”

“Built on the company’s all-new global architecture for luxury vehicles (GA–L), the premium rear-wheel drive platform—an extended version of that used in the LC 500—will offer a more dynamic experience on the road,” says a brief statement from Lexus, accompanying the teaser image.

The current Lexus LS 600h hybrid.

The release goes on to suggest that, “Inside the spacious cabin, luxurious appointments and visionary technology will provide drivers with the luxury experience they expect from a global flagship sedan.”

(Lexus/Toyota lead in 2017 IIHS Top Safety Picks. Click Here for the latest.)

Set to make its first public appearance on January 9, 2017, this will be the fifth-generation LS sedan – and it will serve as a very clear statement about the direction the Lexus brand intends to take going forward.

That starts with a much more aggressive design clearly inspired by Toyota Motor Corp CEO Akio Toyoda’s call for more “passion” in the Lexus brand’s design. Like the LC 500 coupe, the 2018 LS sedan appears – from the teaser image – to be adopting a more rounded and sculptural shape, while tweaking the now-familiar Lexus spindle grille that.

The LS clearly needs an update. Though the Lexus brand has dominated the luxury charts this year, the big sedan is a vague after-thought for most premium sedan buyers, lagging well behind the newer Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series and Audi A8.

Design is one reason, but the three German competitors have also been showcasing the latest in advanced infotainment, safety and driver assistance technologies. That had once been a strongpoint for Lexus and it is clearly intending to catch up with the debut of the new LS.

(Lexus spices up LA Auto Show. Click Here to check out the new IS.)

The original 1989 Lexus LS 400.

Though it isn’t saying what’s in store, we’re expecting to see some significant developments in the Advanced Driver Assistance System, or ADAS category, possibly nudging Lexus close to what Tesla is doing with its semi-autonomous Autopilot.

We’ll also look for plenty in the way of in-car entertainment, and not just on the infotainment side. Could Lexus possibly find a way to one-up the hot-stone-like massage Mercedes offers on the S-Class?

Another question is what will Lexus do under the hood? Along with the big V-8 it now offers, there’s an LS Hybrid. Odds are high it will expand its powertrain range, reflecting steps that we’ve seen from the Europeans, as well as from Cadillac, with the array of alternatives on the CT6. Expect to see an updated Lexus LS hybrid, and perhaps even a plug-in variant, at least at some point during the lifecycle of the Gen-5 sedan.

Though sales in the premium sedan segment are modest, at best, the new Lexus LS sedan will be a critical update for the brand, especially as Lexus now markets its products in 90 countries. We’ll certainly have more to report in just over a month.

We’ll also have a first look at the next-generation Toyota Camry that will be making its debut at the 2017 NAIAS.

(Click Here to check out the new Camry.)

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