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Then and now: 1989 Lexus LS400 vs. 2019 Lexus LS 500

Few cars can brag about making the thunderous shockwaves the original Lexus LS sent across the automotive industry. Unveiled at the 1989 Detroit Auto Show after a lengthy, no-expenses-spared development process, it sent executives from rival brands running back to their respective board rooms to completely overhaul their product plans. The LS defined the Lexus identity, and the torch it lit has passed through the hands of four generations of flagship sedans developed to topple the Germans.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/09/12/1989-lexus-ls400-vs-2019-lexus-ls-500

LS Lexus’s bore me to tears. Excellent cars with no character; there is no joy to the driving experience; the closest thing to a Japanese Buick.

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Lexus made a huge mistake by grafting its weird, polarizing front end styling onto its flagship blue-hair cruiser. It works fine on the LC, but is an epic failure here. Classy styling is an LS trademark. This front end looks like it was designed by the styling team from JC Whitney.

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I’d take the ‘89 in a heartbeat, even with 117K miles. You can see out of it, and not feel embarrassed to be seen in it.

I find all the trendy gigantic grills to be epic failures. Lexus and BMW are racing to the depths of wretchedness. The Z4 is marginally acceptable.

Sadly Lexus has lost all the distinction it once had. The quality is no longer best in class. I had a safety issue with my brand new Lexus and Toyota refused to even investigate, let alone pay for the repair under warranty. The communication was worse than with an internet provider a few years ago.

The new LS looks pathetic - feels cheap, and I would never buy it over an S- Class.
The Lexus fanboys like to tout that reliability is much better. That’s wrong. Everyone else has improved and the suppliers are all the same now.

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My father in law bought the LS400 when it debuted. He could have bought any car, but could not pass up the amazing value. The car was clearly head and shoulders above the competition. It was fast for a sedan, yet rode like it was on a pillow. It cornered reasonably. The interior was fabulous, and made the comparably priced 300 from Stuttgart look like a Yugo ( hyperbole). I bought the car from him and enjoyed many years of trouble free driving. It was among the finest cars I have owned. It was to sedans what my Porsche 993 is to sports cars.

Japanese Cadillacs. Do people really buy these?

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I purchased a 1992 LS400 new in 1992. It is an amazingly comfortable and UNreliable car. I would tell you how many miles I have on it IF the odometer had not crapped out at 157k, LIKE MOST OTHERS. The list of known problems is huge. Bad capacitors in the ECM is so common you can buy replacement capacitor kits on ebay and the main reason most are now in junk yards! Leaking power steering down onto the unprotected alternator - all to common. AC evaporator and AC compressors - hey, they got me to learn AC. I can change out a compressor in under an hour now - sad. I could go on and on. But I love the quietness of the car so I keep fixing it. In other words, it’s luxurious crap, no better than any other car on the road for reliability. FYI - I have a Honda Accord for when I really need to get someplace.

My daily driver is a 1998 LS400, which currently has 195,000 miles on it. I’m the second owner. The previous owner put 82,000 mile on it. I hope to get at least 275,000 miles, if not more, on this vehicle. I have had no major problems or issues with it. The money I have spent has been for regular maintenance items, tires and fuel.
I have regularly driven both a 2006 LS430 and a 2012 LS460. The owners of those vehicles have ridden and driven mine. Both agree that the ride and feel of the older LS400 surpasses the ride and feel of their newer models. I haven’t driven the newest model, but I also don’t have any desire to do so.
I guess I’m the odd bird, but I do get “joy out of the driving experience” (whatever the hell that phrase means), no matter which vehicle in my collection I drive.
I agree with ‘defillis’, ‘russell’ and ‘srattner’ in that Lexus has really lost something in the styling with their current design.

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Have owned 3 Lexus LS and LX vehicles since 1998 and have enjoyed all of them w/a minimum of problems. I would agree that Lexus has really screwed up the front grill on current models and I won’t be buying another until they come to their senses. I also agree with others that the Lexus “experience” is no longer what it once was and cost of repairs is off the chart. They are just another luxury car competing with the German manufactures, some of whom have grown in leaps and bounds; and the LX’s, what’s with the totally antiquated navigation system. It’s still in the 90’s. Lot’s of other alternatives including some American ones i.e. Lincoln Navigator full size SUV.

I had a 1992 LS400. Put 330K miles on it. Only issues I had was the PS pump leak, had to replace the alternator twice due to the leak and once I replaced the PS pump with an aftermarket unit, no more leaks. Besides those issues, just normal maintenance for all 330k miles. Sold it to a friend and he drove it another 20K miles and sold it. It’s one of the most reliable car I have had. I had BMW’s and Mercedes but they were maintenance nightmares compared to the Lexus.

You still own a car after 27 years that you put tons of money into because it’s comfortable and quiet? Sounds foolish to me. I would have dumped that turd way before 157k. Glutton for punishment, for sure.

Hay guys & gals. This is an article about a luxury sedan. It isn’t a sports car or anything near it! I purchased a new LS-460L new in 2007. It was/is a wonderful car. The car has only been back to the dealership for normal maintenance and a campaign. It is the nicest car I have ever owned. It does have the older grill which I like better for that car. I just sold it to a friend of mine. He was really happy to get it. He told me from the day I purchased it that he wanted it if or when I sold it. Yes, I purchased another Lexus. A 2019 LC-500. The wonderful experience with my LS swayed my thinking of trying this sporty LC. Plus the fact you see very few LC cars around where I live. I really hope this new Lexus can live up to the reliability of the LS. I have heard of many people running their Lexus for 250- 300,000 miles and selling them. The dealer told me that very Lexus are traded in as someone like my friend is purchasing their used one from the original owner! In my opinion, the Lexus IS one of the nicest cars out there and they seem to have a better trade value that their competitors!