Coming from the Lexus LS full-size luxury sedan class serving as the flagship model of Lexus, the LS 430 was released in January 2000. It was marketed as the Toyota Celsior in Japan until the Lexus marquee was introduced there in 2006. As a third-generation vehicle to the Lexus LS lineup, the LS 430 has a considerably more developed set of features and has accumulated more innovations in technology over the years than its predecessors. Let’s find out what these are and trace the LS 430’s inception into the luxury class and what it has in store for present-day Lexus lovers.
2000-2003: The Beginning of Luxury
The third-generation Lexus LS 430, debuting at the North American International Auto Show in 2000 as a 2001 model, introduced a new body design to the LS series and a host of new interior and technological features. The LS 430 development team, led by chief engineer Yasushi Tanaka, opted for a more thorough exterior, interior, and technological redevelopment, which took four years to accomplish.
Compared to previous generations, the LS 430 featured a greater number of model configurations and options, such as walnut wood trim on the dashboard and upper doors, along with semi-aniline leather and oscillating air conditioning vents. The LS 430 also included Lexus Link telematics (a subscription-based safety and security service); power door and trunk closers; heated and cooled front seats; and power reclining massage rear seats equipped with audio controls, power sunshade, a cooler, and air purifier.
Safety features added to the LS 430 included front and rear side curtain airbags, park sensors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and electronic brakeforce distribution, which automatically varies the amount of force applied to each of a vehicle’s brakes based on road conditions, speed, load, among others.
A base price of $55,000 first greeted the LS 430 when it first went on sale in the United States and went as high as $70,000 after the model had already been fully-equipped. Its sales surpassed that of the previous generations (first- and second-generation Lexus LS 400), with production exceeding 140,000 units.
Up until July 2006, the LS 430’s last production date, the JD Power and Associates Initial Quality Survey, showed the LS 430 to be the most reliable luxury sedan and was also the highest scorer in the history of JD Power’s Vehicle Dependability Survey. Thatcham, an approval ratings system for car security systems, via the UK Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre, gave the theft-prevention capabilities of LS 430 a maximum of five stars, with it becoming the first vehicle to achieve the maximum theft-deterrence rating in 2001.
2003-2006: Continuing the Legacy
The LS 430 redesign debuted in September 2003 as a 2004 model, introducing a new six-speed automatic transmission. It boasted a top-notch interior, a superb ride, excellent build quality, and an impressive array of features which included restyled front and rear fascias, redesigned adaptive headlights that swiveled the projector headlamps in the direction of vehicle turns, light-emitting diode (LED) taillights, and different wheels (for the exterior). For the interior, changes included knee airbags, lighted rear-seat vanity mirrors, and new trim selections including bird’s eye maple wood.
The newer LS 430s also came with adaptive cruise control, a smoother-riding air suspension, power-adjustable rear seats, and a separate rear air conditioning system, perfect for excelling in both urban commuting and long-distance road trips.