As the flagship model of Lexus, the LS 400 has been one of the most reliable vehicles ever built. With its strong V8 engine and rear-wheel-drive, the LS 400 achieved the highest rankings for vehicle dependability in Consumer Reports. Its development through the years gave it the top ranking in J.D. Power and Associate’s U.S. Vehicle Dependability Survey for fifteen years straight, from 1994 to 2009.
First generation: 1990 – 1992
Debuted in 1989 for the 1990 model, the Lexus LS 400 was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show. The first generation LS 400 came with a 4.0-liter 1UZ-FE 32-valve V8 engine, producing an astounding 250 hp with 260 lb-ft of torque. Matching the V8 was a four-speed automatic transmission with electronically controlled shifts. /p>
The first gen stood up to its rival targets, the BMW 735i and Mercedes-Benz 420 SE, with its quieter cabin, higher top speed, lower drag coefficient and curb weight, and the fact that it avoided the U.S. Gas Guzzler Tax. Being one of the first luxury sedans, the LS 400 had an automatic tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with SRS airbag, power adjustable shoulder seats, and an electronic rear-view mirror.
From 1990 through 1992, the LS 400 received some 300 technological innovations to improve its operation and aid in the vehicle’s silence. These changes included fluid-damped cabin fixtures, vibration-insulating rubber mounts, and airflow fairings.
Second generation: 1994 – 2000
Equipped with an updated 4.0-liter 1UZ-FE V8 engine, the second generation LS 400 produced 260 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. The LS 400 received a redesign, with improved sound insulation, a strengthened body structure, suspension upgrades, and improved brakes. It came with a longer wheelbase though main attributes from the first gen were retained, keeping with the tradition that the first LS 400 had started.
With the 36mm increase in wheelbase length, the second gen offered more interior space and rear-seat legroom. The trunk capacity was slightly reduced, but the general profile and contours of the first gen LS 400 were retained. New features added to this generation include varying dual-zone climate controls to rear cup holders, a newly patented seat cushion design, enlarged crumple zones, and a new collapsible steering column.
A five-speed automatic transmission came with the redesigned 1997 LS 400. With increased engine output of 290 hp, variable-valve timing, and an additional 30 lb-ft of torque, the new LS 400 offered improved acceleration times and fuel economy. In 2000, the limited “Platinum Series” LS 400 was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show, featuring most luxury options standard.