The next-generation Lexus LS flagship’s top-to-bottom revamp took some fans by surprise when it was revealed ahead of the Detroit auto show. Not only did it do away with a formal roofline, a V8 engine â€” which has powered the model since its inception â€” was no where to be found, replaced by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6.
It appeared as if convention wasn’t the only thing Lexus planned to ditch, as a hybrid model was neither announced, nor teased. As it turns out, Lexus did tease an upcoming hybrid variantÂ â€” we just needed to look closer.
The current-generation LS 600h runs in the same circles as other top-zoot hybrid luxury sedans, employing a 5.0-liter V8 mated to an electric motor for significant power gains, though its fuel economy remains less than impressive. We’ll likely be able to erase that powertrain from our memories.
While there’s no word on what form the new electrified model will take, it’s clear that Lexus is planning something. Press photos of the next-gen LS contained an Easter Egg. In an interior shot, an “EV” button can be seen just aft of the gearshift and touchpad.
Not only is it a clear indication that a hybrid model will return, it also signals that the upcoming hybrid system will be more capable than before. The existing LS 600h operated as a conventional hybrid, with no ability to run purely on electricityÂ â€” not even on short jaunts, like the company’s famed but far less luxurious Prius.
For 2018, the LS switches to a variant of the platform used by the LC performance coupe, which just happens to field a hybrid model. Toyota hasn’t said if the 354-horsepower Multi Stage Hybrid System found in the LC 500h will take up residence in the redesigned sedan. If it does, its output would pale next to the 415 hp available from the LS 500’s twin-turbo V6. That doesn’t seem right for a range-topper. Certainly, not when its predecessor placed performance above gas mileage.
[Images: Toyota Motor Corporation]