Lexus LS400

The Lexus LS400 helped the Lexus brand make a name for itself in 1989. Along with later generation derivatives, the 400 has always been the flagship of the Lexus fleet.

More on the Lexus LS400
Lexus LS400 Origins

Debuting at the International Auto Show in Detroit, the first generation of the LS400 began in model year 1990 and continued through 1994. The second generation looks very similar to the first, but only contains 10 percent of the components used in the first generation models. This generation lasted from 1995 to 2000. The following year, the Lexus luxury flagship’s name was changed to LS 430, although it is only a redesign of the LS400 and really should be considered the model’s third generation.

Always meant to be the top-of-the-line for this carmaker, the LS400 competes in the same class with the BMW 7 Series, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the Jaguar XJ, and the Audi A8. Lexus decided in the early years that the best way to lure new customers and instill brand loyalty was to low-ball on the price. In its initial year, this Lexus flagship sold for about $36,000, making it highly competitive compared to other makes and models in the full-size luxury sedan market. The tactic works and Lexus, along with the LS400’s spiritual descendent—the LS 460, are still around to this day.

New dealerships accompany the new model and brand, offering top-drawer service to help solidify a place in the American automobile market. The early models have very quiet cabins and generous appointments, but combine with a lack of handling and performance and an uninspired, traditional appearance.

About the Lexus LS400

The reputation of the LS400 is that of a refined and luxurious sedan that offers top-notch comfort and features, along with a fanatic attention to detail and fit. The build quality helps build the Lexus reputation in general, and the LS400 is still known as a remarkably well-constructed vehicle. The vehicle offers materials as fine as those of pricier and more reputable models. Over the course the 11 years that the LS400 saw production, the competition had no choice but to improve value, and by the end of the LS400’s run, most vehicles in its class were similarly priced to this luxury sedan.

This car does not scream off the line or hug curves like a racecar. Lexus intends it to be a competitively priced alternative to European flagship luxury rides, giving the buyer every bit of comfort and quality he expects (so long as those expectations don’t include driving thrills).

Always viewed as a somewhat plain looking, the 400 offers one of the most pleasant rides in the car world. Quiet and smooth, this sedan will forever be thought of as an absolute comfort machine. The entire history of the LS400 has been marked by consistently high customer satisfaction.

The LS400 ended its reign as the top-of-the-line Lexus sedan in 2000. That year, it became the Lexus LS 430, and by 2012, it changed names again to the Lexus LS 460. Major revisions have occurred but the 460 has the same soul, goal, and place in the Lexus lineup as the 400 once had.

Lexus LS400 Evolution

The first generation that was produced from 1990 to 1994 contains a 4.0-liter, 32-valve V-8 engine capable of producing 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It links to a new four-speed automatic transmission with electronically controlled shifts. Compared to target BMW and Mercedes-Benz models, the LS400 is quieter, reaches a higher top speed, has lower drag and curb weight, and avoids the U.S. gas-guzzler tax.

The interior for these first years boasts about 300 technological innovations, most of which improve comfort. It is one of the first cars to have SRS airbags. Fine details include a memory system that remembers the driver's seat, side mirror, steering wheel, and seat belt positions. Luxury options include a Nakamichi premium sound system and an integrated cellular telephone with hands-free capabilities, all of which show up later in other makes.

The second generation LS400 looks the same but includes a lot of redesigned features. It rides even quieter, with more interior room. Brakes, suspension, body strength, and fuel economy all show improvement. The engine provides more horsepower and lb-ft of torque. More detail-oriented innovations for the interior include rear seat cup holders, dual-zone climate controls, and improved seat comfort. The second generation continued until 2000. After that, the LS400 underwent another major redesign and became the LS 430.

Select a Lexus LS400 Year

2000 Lexus LS400

Luxury, Sedan

The Lexus LS400 first rolled out in 1989.

1999 Lexus LS400

Luxury, Sedan

The Lexus LS has been in the automaker's lineup for a long time and was even the first model and main forerunner.

1998 Lexus LS400

Luxury, Sedan

The 1998 Lexus LS400 debuted in September of 1989 as part of the second generation and experienced strong sales, eventually launching the brand’s success.

1997 Lexus LS400

Luxury, Sedan

The 1997 Lexus LS400 is the company’s flagship full-size luxury sedan, which was introduced in 1995.

1996 Lexus LS400

Luxury, Sedan

The 1996 Lexus LS400 is an impressively-designed luxury sedan and a well-engineered example, which more than holds its own against the competition.

1995 Lexus LS400

Luxury, Sedan

The 1995 Lexus LS400 provides more than adequate luxury and impressive safety.