2018 Lexus LS 500 Concept

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Japan is a unique place. Where the Japanese see a delightful bowl of raw sea urchin and salmon roe, most Westerners see a slimy pile of bug and guts. And for the really fancy meals, you take off your shoes and sit on the floor.

It’s understandable, then, that Toyota strove for familiarity with the first-generation Lexus LS 400, which introduced the Lexus brand to the world in 1989. It was, in the words of one company representative, an attempt to “out-German the Germans.” In pursuit of this goal, Lexus went so far as to mimic the ­processes and chemicals used to treat leather in European tanneries to ensure that its interior smelled “right.” However, 28 years later, Lexus is now intent on distinguishing Japanese luxury from its European forms, and it’s betting the all-new Lexus LS can do it without boguing anyone out.

2018 Lexus LS 500 First Drive

When you think Japanese luxury, you should think of plump sofas. At least, that’s the message LS buyers will get, because the design team’s goal with the seats was to create the impression of sinking into a big, comfy couch or easy chair. They paid close attention to the relationship between the padded center-console lid and the door-mounted armrests, the latter seeming to float apart from the door panel with ambient lighting tucked behind to further the illusion. And if you happen to be sitting opposite the chauffeur in the right-rear easy chair, Lexus claims best-in-class legroom with the seat fully reclined and the front-passenger seat leaned up against the dash.

Seats aren’t the only place where the LS departs from other Lexus designs. The interior as a whole is warmer, more welcoming, and more organic in its forms than other Lexuses. Six thin bands of magnesium span the dash, beginning at the driver’s door before bunching up as they bend up and over the instrument panel, then fanning back out as they continue their stretch across the dash to the passenger door. Contrast-­stitched leather is de rigueur in a modern luxury car, but the LS is the first that we can recall to have it around the gauge faces.

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2018 Lexus LS 500 Interior, Exterior and Review

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25 Photos of the 2018 Lexus LS 500 Concept

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