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The 2018 Lexus LS, now based on Toyota's new modular architecture for rear-drive cars, breaks cover at the NAIAS 2017. (Kami Buchholz photo)

NAIAS 2017: The 2018 Lexus LS gets twin-turbo V6, 10-speed and Shiatsu

The flagship sedan that inaugurated the Lexus brand in 1990 ups the power and luxury quotient for its fifth-generation iteration with an all-new turbocharged V6, a 10-speed automatic transmission, and available Shiatsu massage for front and rear seats.

Power and torque output for the 2018 Lexus LS climbs to a claimed 415 hp (305 kW) and 442 lb·ft (599 N·m) with a Lexus-first application of a twin-turbo 3.5-L V6 that handily outpaces the current LS model’s 386 hp (288 kW) and 367 lb·ft (496 N·m) 4.6-L V8. A 10-speed Aisin AWR10L65 planetary-type automatic transmission, which debuted on the LC 500 coupe, replaces an Aisin 8-speed sequential-shift automatic.

“By utilizing the V6 twin-turbo engine mated with a 10-speed automatic transmission, we are able to achieve fuel efficiency that is beyond our competitors,” Toshio Asahi, chief engineer of the new LS, told Automotive Engineering through an interpreter immediately following the car’s world debut at the 2017 Detroit auto show.

Jeff Bracken, Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager, noted that the new twin-turbo V6 was derived from the automaker’s F1 development program. “And it signifies the future direction at Lexus,” Bracken added.

Riding on a 123-in (3125-mm) wheelbase, the 2018 LS has a lower, longer, and wider stance from its GA-L platform, Toyota's new global architecture for luxury vehicles that is shared by the LC 500 coupe.

The 2018 car has the lowest-ever LS ride height. An available air suspension automatically raises the vehicle approximately 1-in (25.4 mm). Activated via the car's smart key, this ‘access mode’ feature also widens the seat bolsters to assist with vehicle entry.

Rear-seat occupants will have more legroom than any prior-generation LS. When equipped with a specific luxury package, occupants can choose heating, cooling, or Shiatsu ("finger pressure") massage—an ancient Japanese massage procedure aimed at promoting circulation and muscle relaxation. This same luxury package enables the rider behind the front passenger seat to recline up to 48° and raise the seat up to 24º to assist with vehicle egress.

The new LS uses a mixed-materials lightweighting strategy combining ultra-high-tensile steel, aluminum and composite plastics to slash more than 200 lb (91 kg) in curb weight compared to the incumbent model, Ashai said.

An all-new, front-high-mounted multi-link suspension increases rigidity, while the upgraded rear low-mount multi-link suspension reduces friction by 62%, Bracken claimed.

The LS debuts what Lexus claims is the world’s first intuitive pedestrian detection with active steering. According to Asahi, this pre-collision pedestrian detection system provides automatic braking and if needed, automatic steering around the pedestrian to avoid a collision while staying in the lane.

When the car is equipped with the optional 24-in color head-up display, an alert appears on the HUD if potential for a pedestrian collision has been detected.

The 2018 Lexus LS goes on sale in the U.S. in late 2017. It will be sold in about 90 countries.

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