When talking about luxurious sedans, we can’t but not mention the Lexus LS 400. We all know that the Mercedes Benz S-class is synonymous with luxury. There are others such as the BMW E38 series and Lincoln Continental. But there is another luxury sedan that is still considered one of the most luxurious vehicles. It basically changed how designers think and what constitutes a luxury sedan.
Of course, Lexus is today known for its luxurious vehicles and high-quality standards. But back then, when the LS 400 hit the market, it took the world by surprise. Its competitors noticed this and had to step up their game. The car has established a great reputation and is sometimes referred to as being nearly flawless. It still leaves an impression because it is dependable, quick, and opulent. It needs to top the priority list if someone is wanting to buy a sedan for a low price. Let’s take a closer look at what made this sedan so special.
How It All Started?
The Flagship 1 Project, or F-1 in short, was the code name for the LS’s early stages of development as a covert flagship sedan. The LS 400, which has an entirely new V8 engine and a bevy of luxury features, was Lexus’s first model after a five-year design process that cost over $1 billion US. Toyota launched Lexus to advertise its cars internationally while continuing to sell the same cars in Japan under the Toyota name until 2005.
The LS 400 performed admirably in its initial debut! The outstanding sales of the LS on the North American continent were mostly due to two factors. The first factor was Toyota’s stellar reputation. Toyota had a record for building durable vehicles while not being known for producing the most opulent vehicles. The cost of the car is the second factor. Up until recently, Americans could chose a good, opulent car like Cadillac or the somewhat pricey BMW and Mercedes produced by German automakers.
Popularity of the LS
Toyota produced the LS in Japan, where the Yen was depreciating annually against the USD, allowing them to offer the more opulent vehicle than both the Beemer and the Merc at far lower rates while still turning a healthy profit. Thus, the Lexus was more affordable than all three and faster than the BMW, and Mercedes, and featured more technology and amenities than the Cadillac. By the following year, the car had outsold both BMW and Mercedes in terms of sales!
The vehicle completely altered the luxury automobile market, not only in terms of sales! The quality of luxury vehicles significantly improved in 1989. The alternative for the rival manufacturers was to either lower prices or offer luxury levels that were either higher than Lexus’s, or at least comparable. In order to contend with the LS, many brands reduced the costs of their sedans.
Lexus LS 400 Restyling
The main selling point of luxury sedans was their comfort and amenities. Lexus made a stunt by stacking full wine glasses in a pyramid shape on top of the bonnet. After which they revved the engine up to 4000 rpm. No glasses fell obviously. The interior was very quiet and the ride was comfortable. Lexus did prioritize quality and durability instead of flashy features such as fragrances and starlight ceilings you could find on a Rolls-Royce. Not every high-end sedan could boast the comfort and smooth ride of the LS 400. The interior of the LS was its strongest point, despite the exterior’s stunning appearance.
Another accomplishment of the car was the overwhelming tranquility and smoothness that could be felt at 130 mph. That too on the shaky roads with constant potholes that existed at the time. In most luxury vehicles now, including those from Bentley, BMW, Cadillac, and many others, you can find similar smoothness, but in that price bracket in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was a novelty. The LS400 performed particularly well enough at high speeds even in the lack of wind noise, which just enhanced the overall premium atmosphere inside the cabin.
The car was ahead of its time thanks to features like an electrochromic rearview mirror and an automated adjustable steering wheel with SRS airbag. The back-lit electrical gauge cluster has a holographic visual effect for better sight. A memory system was also available, which could be used to save the driver’s preferred settings for the seat, side mirrors, steering wheel, and safety harness.300 technological advancements are crammed into futuristic features including an integrated cell phone with hands-free functionality to help with operation while driving. The cabin had excellent sound insulation. They achieved this by using sandwich steel body panels, rubber mounts, airflow fairings, and fluid-damped cabin fittings. All this back in 1989!
Lexus LS 400 Powertrain
Another beautiful object to behold is the engine. Toyota understood that it needed to produce a fast and comfortable sedan in order to stay competitive in the market. Toyota developed a new powertrain, the 1UZ-FE, as opposed to using its outdated inline engines to power the vehicle. A 4.0-liter V8 engine with 250 horsepower proved to be an enormous success in the LS 400 and many other upcoming automobiles. Its 6-bolt main bearings, DOHC system, and belt-driven quad-camshafts among other features make it one of the most sophisticated, robust, and dependable engines ever built.
Everything seemed to have been created by Lexus using the toughest materials, designed to last forever. The engine only improved and gained power over time. The 1UZ-FE was included for the Ward’s 10 Best Engines list for the years 1998 through 2000. Later on, turbocharged versions became available, for some extra boost. If you like high-performance cars, the LC 500 might be a good choice.
Lexus LS 400 Price
Initially, the price was set at $25000 at that time, but due to certain laws and import taxes, Lexus increased it to $35000. Which worked great since it meant they were building for literal pennies and selling it for a whole lot more. After 30 years, Lexus has created a heritage of incredibly dependable cars that began with the LS400. The basic price of the current Lexus LS is $76,000, with some models costing up to $89,260. Today, just as it was in 1989, Lexus is the name associated with luxury, dependable automobiles. The LS competes against the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (an old and storied fierce competition ), Audi A8, Audi S8, Genesis G90, and many more models. As a result, it is eternally regarded as the famous vehicle that single-handedly transformed the market for luxury sedans.