Lexus LS400 (1989 – 1994) Review

Lexus LS400 (1989 – 1994) At A Glance


+Supremely refined, well-built saloon brimming with luxury and quality

-High running costs, particularly on items that wear out such as tyres and exhaust. Lack of steering feel

The Lexus LS400 represented a huge leap into the unknown for parent company, Toyota. It was a luxury four-door saloon, built with the sole intention of beating automotive blue-bloods from Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar at their own game. It was also Japan's most convincing attempt yet at a national flagship, too, powered by a 4.0-litre quad-cam V8 that soon earned a reputation for being the smoothest engine in the industry. But where the LS400 really scored was in its all-round excellence, and lack of fussy Japanese detailing that marred so many upmarket products from the country before the new Lexus.

So, yes, it was packed with features, and had some pretty cutting-edge options, too, such as air suspension, but the overall design and look of the car was deliberately low-key in order not to frighten off S-Class or XJ6 customers. Of course, cracking the European luxury car market was not the work of a moment, and the LS400 initially failed to make great sales inroads in the UK market - but in the USA, where customers are equally demanding but less status conscious, it was an instant out-of-the box hit. Lexus stuck to its guns with the LS400, it was facelifted in 1992, and replaced in 1994 by an all-new car that looked pretty much the same. Strong points are other-worldly refinement, cool instruments, cossetting ride, excellent reliability and build quality - and that's why so many are still in daily, despite typically V8 fuel consumption...