The flagship LS built the Lexus brand’s reputation by offering quality on par with the Germans and a V8 engine that was smaller and more advanced than those fielded by the Americans.

The model continued on a relatively fixed course for the next 26 years, slowly increasing the displacement of its V8 and giving a nod to environmental pressure with a hybrid variant. Even in the LS 600h, the battery is still strapped to a 5.0-liter V8.

However, a trademark application uncovered by AutoGuide suggests that the LS’s drivetrain tradition is due for a shakeup.

The application, filed in Japan, lists a new model name: LS350. The significance of the number should be immediately clear to anyone remotely familiar with the Lexus brand and its well-established powerplants. Perhaps the bean counters at Lexus have decided that eight is more than enough?

A next-generation LS is on the way, and is expected to bow in early 2017 as a 2018 model. The model should break with the conservative styling of past generations, echoing the design language of the LF-FC Concept unveiled at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show.

If the trademark reaches to models offered on this side of the Pacific, expect a new base model equipped with the venerable 3.5-liter V6, which already finds a home in several Lexus models. Depending on the application, that engine currently makes 268 to 306 horsepower. A hybrid model should remain in the lineup.

The Detroit Auto Show will likely bring our first glimpse of the next-generation LS, as well as details about drivetrains and price points.

[Image: Toyota]