The Lexus LF-1 Limitless flagship concept CUV was created at Toyota's CALTY Design Research in California. (Matt Borst)

2018 NAIAS: Lexus unveils concept flagship crossover

A key product missing from the portfolio of Toyota's luxury division is a flagship crossover utility vehicle. That’s likely to change, given the world debut of the Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept at the 2018 North American International Auto Show.

“We always design our concept vehicles to be imagined as production vehicles to really push our company to think beyond the auto shows. One great example is the 2012 Lexus LF-LC concept car, which became the 2018 Lexus LC 500 production vehicle,” noted Kevin Hunter, President of CALTY Design Research in Newport Beach, CA. Hunter spoke with Automotive Engineering prior to the reveal of the LF-1 Limitless in Detroit.

Creating a modern interpretation of a premium front engine/rear drive proportion as a new type of lifestyle luxury vehicle was the design goal for the LF-1, he said.

“The proportion of the LF-1 Limitless is very striking. It conveys an authentic, super-premium performance image. It has a very long dash-to-axle ratio with a long hood and with the cabin set back into the car. It’s high-lift yet low-gravity at the same time,” Hunter explained.

Like other Lexus vehicles, the concept’s large spindle grille is paramount to the overall styling theme. But the concept’s three-dimensional grille design cues are enhanced with colors developed by CALTY. In the rear, a split-spoiler protrudes over the top of the liftgate glass while sculpted corner openings vent the air passing over the 22-in- (558.8 mm) diameter rear wheels. The body sides emphasize deeply scalloped front doors that embellish a full form at the rear.

The concept rides on a 117.1-in (2974 mm) wheelbase. Overall  length is 197.4 in (5014 mm); width is 78.2 in (1986 mm), and the vehicle height measures 63.2 in (1605 mm).

A production Lexus flagship CUV could be powered by any fuel source: gasoline ICE, hydrogen fuel cell, gas-electric hybrid or plug-in hybrid, or battery electric. Lexus officials previously announced that every model sold globally will be available as a dedicated electrified model or be offered with an electrified option in the 2025 timeframe.

Inside the LF-1 concept’s cabin and elsewhere are a few new-for-Lexus advanced conceptual ideas. For example, Hunter noted that the digital side view mirrors are built into the spindle structure located on both sides of the [center gauge] meter for ease of viewing.

Making a hand-gesture motion to the right side of the center gauge meter registers a command for a specific driving mode (eco, normal, sport). A hand movement to the left side of the meter signals the drivetrain to accommodate rain, sand, or snow roadway conditions

“Lexus provides vehicles for a global audience, so the Lexus LF-1 Limitless was designed with that in mind,” Hunter noted.

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