NEWS: The last of the V8 Lexus sedans

That was unexpected. At the Detroit Auto Show today, Lexus unveiled its newest flagship sedan, the 2018 LS 500. However, general manager Jeff Bracken dropped a bombshell soon after — namely, that the tip-top-of-the-line Lexus would no longer have a V8 under the hood, breaking a tradition that traces back as far a Lexus has existed. 

To be fair, the engine it does have is a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6, good for 415 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. Though Lexus didn’t confirm, there will likely be a hybrid option, but the V8 appears to have balanced its last wine glass pyramid.

This is a stunning change to The Way Things Have Always Been Done. We’ve had mad respect for the Lexus LS since forever — the original was probably the most overengineered car ever made by man — but a V8 seemed like an essential part of what made the LS (and Celsior) so cool.

For what it’s worth, the new LS looks pretty cool, even if its a bit of a let-down compared to the LF-FC Concept we saw at Tokyo. It probably integrates the spindle grille — inspired by the spindles of thread used in the Toyoda looms that launched the Toyota empire  — and L-shaped DRLs better than any modern Lexus before it. The interior is as properly gorgeous as Lexus’s should be, with a very cool grille that incorporates the vents and sweeps across the dashboard. But still, that engine.

As goes Toyota, so goes Japan. Is this the end of big V8-powered VIP sedans? Somewhere, Honda is thinking, smugly, “Told ya so.” In any case, that makes the USF40, to take a line from Mad Max, the Last of the V8 Lexus sedan-erceptors.

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10 Responses to NEWS: The last of the V8 Lexus sedans

  1. Legacy-san said:

    I wasn’t too surprised…it appears that the LS is the de-facto export version of the Crown Majesta, and the GS is the counterpart to the Crown, and both the Crown and Majesta no longer have V8’s as of 2013 for the Majesta and 2012 for the Crown…I can probably guess that the 1GZ-FE V12 in the Century isn’t going anywhere any time soon, except outside of Japan. To consolidate development costs, it appears that Toyota’s luxury sedans are becoming more alike by sharing things underneath the bodywork and leather…it is the Toyota Way of doing things…Lexus is for “Western tastes”…I would like to see Toyota phase out the front wheel drive ES (Camry) with the reintroduction of the Mark X as a renamed ES replacement with rear-wheel-drive and optional AWD like the other Lexus sedans…rear-wheel-drive/AWD for Lexus and front wheel drive for Toyota…

    • Mark Newton-John said:

      Not even close. The Toyota Crown and the Lexus LS though similar, are totally different cars and platforms.
      No, and the Mark X will never come to the US either. Same reason you won’t see Alphard/Vellfires either. You’re splitting a market, and the vast, vast majority of buyers are NOT concerned that the Camry is not rear drive.
      The North American market is unlike Japan, we don’t need five versions of the same car.

    • Dacia said:

      There’s already been rumours hat the Century is due for an update and will be a V8 hybrid. Toyota did have a hybrid V8 Century concept some years ago.

  2. Ant said:

    Part of me is disappointed, but then the LC coupe still gets a V8, as do the RC F and GS F, so eight-cylinder engines are still alive and well in the Lexus range.

    That, and I think the exterior and interior of the new LS look stunning. Real fan of Lexus’ current design language, which has given the company an identity it’s never really had before, without treading the easy path of just throwing the same grille on everything (i.e. even if you removed the spindle grille from the new LS, or the LC, or the IS etc, they would still be very clearly Lexus).

  3. Tygerleo said:

    I don’t know who is in charge of design in Toyota and Lexus. They are downright ugly, like the mid-70s Pontiac. The front gills are are more crazy mind expression than a artistic industrial design. Until now I come to realize they try to let us know it is Toyoda loom it once made. Who cares its history of textile machinery. Wake up Toyota, hire a real industrial designer to run your design department, making reliable appliance for Sears is not the world class business empire plan

    • Negishi no Keibajo said:

      Absolutely agree!!! Taking design cues from the Pontiac Aztec is not a good thing. Leave the origami for grade school. Those grills are hideous… not that I’m opinioned or somethin’. I think it’s more of a challenge to work subtle curves than a day of CAD Gone Wild!

      If you ever go to a design site, ever notice they speak an alien language, understood only among themselves? (like bad corporate speak)

      OK, I’ll shut up now…

      • Tygerleo said:

        One more thing, the grills is absolutely impractical, where do you put your plate? Slightly bump or hit means thousand dollar bill. Please bring back the 5-mph bumper

  4. CC said:

    After owning Cadillac De Villes and Lincoln Town Cars, I discovered the Lexus LS series. I found the perfect car for myself for many years with RWD and V8 power. I previously said I will always buy Lexus LS as I never had issues with them unlike the domestic counterparts.

    Well now, there’s no longer a V8. I enjoy luxury cars with smooth powertrains. Twin turbo engines do not have the same refinement. If I were simply seeking power, there are other cars for that. I buy the Lexus LS for the luxury. I’m on my third and apparently last one thanks to the de-contenting of this vehicle! Now I need to relentlessly pursue either factory ordering a 2017 or another vehicle line which remains undiminished!

  5. Joe Hornberger said:

    I’ve never been a “Lexus Guy”, but I did have an appreciation for the LS, especially the 1st generation model. And the V8 was a huge part of the car’s development, and image. But, its peers are going the downsize and forced induction route; so I’m not surprised, just a little disappointed. For me, the V8 doesn’t need to die. The engineering an manufacturing technology we have now, versus even just 10 years ago, could and should make “obsolete engines” such as the V8 better than ever.

  6. ahja said:

    Akio Toyoda showed off a sleek voluptuous concept in the LF-LC and everybody knows that car is supposed to come with a v8. Instead he delivers this overly busy crease-laden design (that doesn’t even have a proper LS greenhouse. Those windows behind the rear door look like a Camry) and offers some overstressed heat factory v6. Not even an i6. Sad!

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