2018 Lexus LS 500

New flagship Lexus LS loses some weight, yet doesn’t skimp on the luxury and tech

 What is it?

The remake of Lexus’ flagship sedan, the most luxurious car out of Japan and possibly the most reliable automobile on the planet. It is also the embodiment, says Lexus, of Omotenashi — Japanese hospitality — and, says the world’s largest automaker, much sportier than previous Lexus flagships.

Why does it matter?

Well, for one thing, the original LS 400 is the car that started the Japanese luxury sedan revolution way back in 1990 (Lexus, in uncommonly bold terms for the typically conservative automaker, called it a “luxury disruptor”). And this is no mere “refresh;” The LS in its current guise has been around since 2006 making it relatively long in the tooth and out of touch technology-wise.

No more. The 2018 LS will be based on the same ultra-light, multi-metal GA-L platform as the LC 500, which helps cut the LS’s overall weight by almost 90 kilograms compared with the current model. The 2018 LS also debuts an all-new engine for Toyota, a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V6. Yes, Toyota, long resistant of turbocharging — the LC 500, for instance, is powered by a no-longer de rigeueur high-revving, naturally-aspirated V8 — is going mainstream, the LS debuting turbocharging technology Lexus claims is based on Toyota’s Formula 1 technology.

Whatever the source of the engineering, the mid-sized V6 is good for 415 horsepower and, more importantly for a car that needs to waft along effortlessly, a V8-like 442 pound-feet of torque. Hooked up to its ten-speed automatic transmission, it’ll scoot a rear-wheel-drive version of the new LS to 96 km/h (60 mph) in about 4.5 seconds (all LS’s in Canada will feature all-wheel-drive, however no performance figures are available).

It’s also telling into the ambiance that Lexus is trying to set for the LS that it bragged as much about the fact that LS has been lowered some 15 millimetres as it did the now 28-way (which certainly must be a record) adjustable front seats and the heated, cooled and massaging rear perches. Nonetheless, on the safety front Lexus introduced what it claims is the world’s first intuitive pedestrian detection with active steering. If a pedestrian is detected in the lane ahead and a collision is imminent, the new LS will automatically brake and steer around the person while staying in the lane.

When is it coming?

Lexus Canada will only say that LS 500’s will be available sometime in the second half of 2017.

Should you buy it?

Well, if Lexus can somehow make its new flagship as sporty as the LC and the new turbocharged V6 is as silky smooth as the outgoing V8, then the LS should be a winner. After all, there was nothing wrong with the current version that a little personality and increased technology wouldn’t fix.