Every large, traditional Toyota and Lexus sedan seems to have hit that point in its lifespan where drastic surgery is needed to keep up with the younger crowd. Were these staid sedans people, they’d be milling about in the seating area of a local plastic surgeon’s office.
The first model to bend to Toyota’s desire for large cars that ooze dignified luxury but are also kind of green (and maybe kind of sporty?) was the 2018 Lexus LS flagship, appearing last year with a new platform and racy sheetmetal. The Avalon and ES will soon follow suit.
By revamping its LS, Lexus hoped to jam the brakes on a sales plunge that began after the recession and only got worse from there. Still, the automaker knew it couldn’t turn back the clock completely. There was a very specific sales goal mentioned during the launch, and it looks like the new LS delivered. Almost perfectly, in fact.
As we told you last year, Lexus expected to sell 1,000 LS 500 and LS 500h sedans each month in the United States. Modest figures, for sure, especially for a model that moved 35,226 examples in 2007, but realistic. The brains at Lexus weren’t thinking about 2007 or 2006 or any year before that. They were thinking of the past few years.
In 2017, Lexus sold 4,094 LS cars in the U.S. The tally proved far worse north of the border, where just 40 units drove off Lexus lots. Desperate times, as the saying goes, calls for a top-down redesign.
With a slinky body now in place, motivated by a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 making 416 horses (and mated to a 10-speed automatic), the LS now has a persona far removed from its conservative predecessor, which often seemed far more popular on the used market. 2018 models began trickling into dealer lots in February.
So, what did the new sedan do for Lexus’ sales goals? In March, Lexus sold 1,008 LS sedans in the United States. In April? 999. It would appear the brand hit the bullseye.
To put it another way, volume over the first two full months of sales were triple the monthly sales tally from a year before. You’d have to go back to December 2014 to find a month where the LS sold better. In Canada, where the LS had all but disappeared, the model sold 93 copies in the past three months. That’s more than double last year’s tally and just 2 units shy of 2016’s full-year sales.
Is this a temporary bump or the beginning of a sustained reappraisal of the large luxury sedan? Lexus hopes it’s the latter.