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Lexus LS Generations

Evolution of the LS Series
By Lexls.com

 

Overview

The Lexus LS series has been in production for over 18 years now. Throughout this period of time it has gone through several complete redesigns. A complete redesign is called a "generation." Changes in LS generations are very easy to recognize and I will show you the differences shortly. To make things more complicated, there are design changes within the generations.

The changes made within an LS generation are designated as a "series." Sometimes the changes were minor and sometimes they were more drastic. What they have in common is that they were not a complete redesign and therefore they cannot be called a generation change. The official Lexus UK website is where we see that Lexus uses the term "series" to distinguish the changes within a generation.

It is important to note that sometimes minor improvements have been made year-to-year but they are not enough to warrant a designation. For example, the brakes were slightly improved in 1991 but we still refer to a 1991 as a First Generation Series I LS400.

Now that you know the terms you can see why people often get them mixed up. There are currently only four LS generations according to Lexus! It's pretty easy to see this just by looking at the model numbers, UCF10, UCF20, UCF30, and UCF40. The official Lexus website and Toyota press release site mention that the LS430 is the third generation LS several times (1, 2, 3). The LS460/LS460L is referred to as the fourth generation LS (1).

I have seen that the 2000 LS description says, "The 1998 LS 400 was the third-generation LS, receiving numerous exterior and interior refinements." Confused? Well, if you count from the Series II LS400, which was the first refinement of the LS, you will see that the Series IV LS400 is indeed the third time the LS400 received numerous exterior and interior refinements. Also note that third-generation is hyphenated in this quote. In all the other mentions of a generation change on the official Lexus sites you do not see a hyphen. Then take a look at the context; they did not say it was a complete redesign. I think this proves they were referring to the third time the LS400 series was refined. Whoever wrote that description could have made a better word choice in the quoted sentence but it does make sense if you know your LS history. If the 1998 LS was truely the third generation then it would be called the UCF30, but it's not. In official terms, meaning by looking at the model number, there are currently only four LS generations.

There are four model codes for the three LS generations - the UCF10, UCF20, UCF30, and UCF40. You will also here about the UCF11, UCF21, UCF31, and UCF31 model codes. These are LS model codes for markets other than the USA and Canadian markets (and possibly a few others I don't know about). Below I have listed the model codes next to the LS generation and series so you can understand what I'm talking about.

 

First Generation - LS400 = UCF10/11
Series I: 1990 - 1992
Series II: 1993 - 1994

 

 

Second Generation - LS400 = UCF20/21
Series III: 1995 - 1997
Series IV: 1998 - 2000

 

 

Third Generation - LS430 = UCF30/31
Series I: 2001 - 2003
Series II: 2004 - 2006

 

 

Fourth Generation - LS460/LS460L = UCF40/41
Series I: 2007 - Unknown

 

 

 

Visual Evolution of the LS Series

In this section I have put together a collection of photos for each LS series. This way you can easily see how the LS series has evolved throughout the years. In the next section of this article you can find a very detailed list of changes throughout the years.

If you click on a thumbnail a larger version the picture will pop up in a new window. By clicking "next" in the window you will advance to the next image in the table. Side by side comparisons can be done by clicking two thumbnails. I tried to find similar shots for comparison but some aren't perfect.

 

UCF10 I
UCF10 II
UCF20 III
UCF20 IV
UCF30 I
UCF30 II
UCF40 I

 

 

Evolution of the LS Series

1990
- Introduction of the First Generation LS400 Series I.
- Top speed = 149.1 mph; 0-60 = 8.2 seconds; 0-400m = 15.8 seconds.

1991
- Improved emissions.
- Front brake calipers were upgraded from single to twin piston for better performance.
- Key-off operation function was added to the power windows and moon roof.
- Daytime running light system was added for all Canadian models.
- Larger switch on the key for increased keyless entry ease of use.
- Conventional flat horn was replaced by a spiral horn to improve sound.
- Top speed = 149 mph; 0-60 = 8.2 seconds; 0-400m = 15.8 seconds.

1992
- Basically there were no changes. 1992 LS400's are virtually the same as 1991 LS400's.
- The daytime running light system for Canadian models was slightly changed so that they illuminate at 80-85% of capacity instead of full.
- Top speed = 149 mph; 0-60 = 8.2 seconds; 0-400m = 15.8 seconds.

1993
- The LS400 Series II debuts with more than 50 changes, many as a direct response to dealer and customer requests.
- Slightly refined front grille. The vertical bars are less prominent so the horizontal lines show more.
- Headlight beam pattern improved.
- Front lower spoiler and rear undercover colors now matched with vehicle body color.
- Side body molding thickness was increased and larger rocker moldings with body matching color.
- Outside rear view mirror visors were slightly elongated and mirror adjustability increased.
- Larger 16" wheels with a new design.
- Leather door trim inserts became standard.
- Front roof headliner, sun visors, and center visor were changed to fabric.
- Steering wheel was slightly changed and the overdrive switch on the shifter was moved to the side.
- Minor stereo improvements.
- Aluminum radiator.
- EGR and EVAP systems now controlled by the engine ECU.
- A secondary air injection system was added to the emission control system on California spec models.
- Fluid temperature sensor was added to the transmission.
- Revised differential mounts.
- Bigger brakes and electronic brake-pad wear warning system added.
- Front and rear suspension improvements for better ride comfort.
- Steering shaft increased and steering characteristics were revised.
- Automatic light control system added.
- Illuminated entry system revised.
- Instrument cluster revised. Illumination adjusting system, electronic odometer, and exterior temperature gauge added. Warning lights were added and relocated.
- R134a became standard in the air conditioning system. A clean-air filter with odor-removing function was added.
- Keyless entry system revised.
- Lumbar support and vertical adjustments were added to the front passenger seat.
- Front passenger SRS air bag added.
- Seat belt pretensioner functions were added to the front belts.
- Cruise control system revised.
- Trunk lock improved.
- A few other minor improvements....
- Top speed = 149 mph; 0-60 = 7.9 seconds; 0-400m = 15.8 seconds.

1994
- Basically there were no changes. 1994 LS400's are virtually the same as 1993 LS400's.
- An EGR gas temperature sensor was now used on all models to conform to OBD-I requirements.
- The daytime running light system for Canadian models was slightly changed so that it now only operated the low-beam headlights.
- Top speed = 149 mph; 0-60 = 7.9 seconds; 0-400m = 15.8 seconds.

1995
- Introduction of the completely redesigned Second Generation LS400 Series III.
- Basically the second gen LS is bigger, slightly more powerful, and a new design all around. Since it was completely redesigned pretty much everything looks different on both the interior and exterior. Take a look at the pictures above to note these changes. I will list some less visible differences below....
- The 1UZ-FE engine was improved in several areas. Headers were changed from the single type to semi-dual type for better exhaust flow.
- Bigger and better brakes. The front brakes were changed from a single-sided 2-piston type to an opposed-cylinder 4-piston type.
- A few suspension improvements.
- LS400 emblem added to the trunk.
- Body is more rigid and made of anti-corrosion steel.
- More sound deadening to further reduce engine and road noise.
- The power tilt and power telescopic steering column became standard.
- 4-headlight system.
- Light auto turn-off system now standard.
- Automatic light control system became standard.
- Headlight cleaner became standard on Canadian models.
- Vehicle-speed sensing control was added to the intermittent wiper with an adjustable time function.
- 3-jet type windshield washer nozzles.
- A one-touch slide-open function was added to the moonroof (optional) and the tilt-up reminder function was discontinued.
- A windshield heater became standard for Canadian models.
- Dual airbags became standard.
- Space for a portable first-aid kit designed into the driver's side front seat.
- Rear armrest now equipped with a push-open type cup holder.
- A 3-point seat belt for the rear center seat was added for the first time on a Lexus.
- A front passenger side temperature control switch was added to offer dual front climate zones for better control.
- The electronic odometer was moved to the bottom center of the instrument cluster and the warning lights were lined up in a straight line on the bottom of the cluster. The temperature gauge is now separate and not in the instrument cluster.
- The optional CD changer was now mounted into the upper glove box.
- A trunk lid opener button and panic button were added to the wireless door lock system remote.
- And more...
- Top speed = 149 mph; 0-60 = 7.7 seconds; 0-400m = 15.2 seconds.

1996
- Basically there were no changes. 1996 LS400's are virtually the same as 1995 LS400's.
- A diagnosis function was added for the evaporative emission control system.
- Slight change in the cruise control system.
- Top speed = 149 mph; 0-60 = ? seconds; 0-400m = 15.2 seconds.

1997
- Lexus and Coach, the renowned manufacturer of distinguished leather products, announce the production of a distinctive limited edition LS400 sedan.
- A power outlet was added in the lower center console box to enable accessories like a cell phone.
- The engine control system was partially changed.
- An engine immobilizer was added to improve the vehicle's theft prevention performance.
- ABS and TRAC actuators were changed.
- Reinforcements were added around the cabin to improve body rigidity.
- Air conditioning system slightly refined.
- SRS front side airbags were added into the front seatbacks.
- Top speed = 149 mph; 0-60 = 7.7 seconds; 0-400m = 15.2 seconds.

1998
- The LS400 Series IV debuts with many improvements.
- Redesigned front end. Changes to the hood, fenders, grille, front bumper, and front lights.
- Discharge headlight became standard equipment on Canadian models and optional equipment for US models.
- Slightly refined rear lights.
- Outer rearview mirror was changed to reduce wind noise.
- Wheels were redesigned and now have 5 spokes.
- A retractable headrest was added to the rear center seat.
- Another rear personal light was added to the rear quarter pillar area.
- A leather & wood steering wheel and wood shifter were introduced as optional equipment.
- VVT-i (variable valve timing-intelligent) system and the ACIS (acoustic control induction system) was adopted in the 1UZ-FE engine to improve fuel economy, improve performance, and reduce emissions. ETCS-i (electronic throttle control system) was also added to ensure excellent controllability of the vehicle and improve its comfort. Worlds first production V8 engine with VVT-i.
- 290 hp @ 6000 rpm and 300 ft-lbs of torque @ 4000 rpm.
- The 4-speed automatic transmission was replaced by a 5-speed transmission.
- Propeller shaft was slightly changed.
- The differential gear ratio was reduced to improve fuel economy. 2 mounts were used on both the front and rear of the differential to further reduce vibration and noise.
- The VSC (Vehicle Skid Control) system was added.
- Suspension and brakes slightly revised.
- The hydraulic circuit of the power steering system changed.
- More work on the body and sound dampening material to further reduce vibration and noise.
- An automatic headlight beam level control system was added to models with HID headlights.
- A headlight off delay system was added to keep the headlights on for a set period of time after occupants exit the car.
- A multi-information display was added to the instrument cluster to display vehicle data and warnings. The design of the shift indicator was changed.
- An automatic recirculation system was added to automatically switch the air inlet mode in accordance with the level of concentration of harmful elements in the air.
- An all-door one-touch auto up and down function was added.
- A jam protection function was added to prevent a person's hand or other object from becoming caught in the door window.
- A function to operate all windows was added to the door lock remote control.
- Changes were made to the engine immobiliser system. The starter cutoff function was discontinued. The theft deterrent system was slightly changed.
- The construction and operation of the inflator for the front passenger air bag was changed.
- A garage door opener was added to the map lamp area.
- A seat belt warning for the front passenger was added. The display method for the seat belt warning system changed from the illumination type to the flashing type.
- A navigation system was offered for the first time as an option.
- Some changes to the audio system. A diversity rear window imprinted antenna system started to be used.
- Top speed = 149 mph; 0-60 = 6.3 seconds; 0-400m = 14.9 seconds.

1999
- The wood shift knob became standard equipment.
- A few engine refinements.
- Steering column was slightly refined.
- The daytime running light system became standard equipment. This is basically the same system the Canadian models had been using for years.
- A blank mode was added for the instrument cluster where no cruise information appears.
- A change was made to the reverse shift function linked to the outer rear view mirrors.
- Top speed = 149 mph; 0-60 = 6.3 seconds; 0-400m = 14.9 seconds.

2000
- Three tether anchor brackets for mounting the CRS (child restraint system) are provided.
- ORVR (on-board refueling vapor recovery) system was added to the engine.
- A brake assist system was added to ensure for enough braking force in emergencies.
- The seat memory system was slightly changed.
- Top speed = 149 mph; 0-60 = 6.3 seconds; 0-400m = 14.9 seconds.

2001
- Introduction of the completely redesigned Third Generation LS430.
- Basically the third gen LS even better...slightly more powerful and a new design all around. Since it was completely redesigned pretty much everything looks different on both the interior and exterior. Take a look at the pictures above to note these changes. I will list some less visible differences below....
- Intelligent front air conditioning swing register vents.
- A solar sensor for rear air conditioning control was available as an option. A cool box in the back of the rear center armrest came with this option, it used cool air from the rear A/C.
- The audio system included a tape player and a in-dash 6-disc CD changer under the head unit as standard equipment.
- For the first time, the Mark Levinson audio system was available as an option. It was possible to include this option with the navigation system (optional).
- The navigation system (optional) was improved.
- The adaptive laser cruise control system was available as an option.
- A park assist system was available as an option.
- The outer rear view mirrors are linked to a number of systems and include outer foot lights.
- Automatic wiper system.
- A door closer system is available as an option.
- Power trunk closer.
- Automatic door look control system. All doors lock at once when the shifter is moved out of P.
- Rear sunshade is standard for Canadian models and an option for US models. Rear door window manual sunshades were available as an option.
- 4-link hinges are used on the trunk door to provide more cargo room.
- Lexus Link was available as an option.
- The 3UZ-FE 4.3 liter Four-Cam, 32-valve V8 engine was now used.
- Side front and rear curtain SRS airbags.
- Front and rear seat belts now have pretensioners with force limiters.
- Laminated door glass was available as an option. This prevents shattering in the event of an accident and also reducing UV rays by 100% which helps preserve the leather interior.
- Improved safety characteristics of the body.
- Rear brake calipers are now 2 piston.
- Front and rear seat heater system available.
- Phosphorescent emergency trunk release handle
- Plenty of other changes too...
- Top speed = 130 mph; 0-60 mph = 6.3 seconds; 0-400m = 14.7 seconds.

2002
- The one-motion open function was added to the passenger's side.
- A dual stage SRS airbag system was adopted for the driver's airbag.
- A compass display was added in the inner rear view mirror on Canadian models without GPS voice navigation systems.
- A GPS voice navigation system was added to Canadian models as optional equipment.
- A voice recognition system was added in the audio system to enable the radio, tape player, and CD changer.
- Top speed = 130 mph; 0-60 mph = 6.3 seconds; 0-400m = 14.7 seconds.

2003
- 17" wheels became standard equipment.
- The front stabilizer bar was changed from the solid type to the hollow type.
- Top speed = 130 mph; 0-60 mph = 6.3 seconds; 0-400m = 14.7 seconds.

2004
- The LS430 Series II debuts with many changes.
- Redesigned front bumper, grille, hood, fenders, headlights, and fog lights.
- Redesigned rear bumper, trunk door, license plate garnish, and brake lights. An exhaust baffle was added.
- The 5-speed transmission was replaced by a new 6-speed transmission.
- The differential was improved.
- SRS front driver and passenger side knee airbags added.
- Smart key system.
- Tire pressure warning system.
- Climate control system for the rear seat.
- Top speed = 130 mph; 0-60 mph = 6.2 seconds; 0-400m = 14.5 seconds.

 

Notes: Whew, this took forever to research, write, and design! I hope this clears up any confusion about LS generations and you've learned at least one new thing by reading this. If you find this article helpful please link to it, do not cut and paste my text. Donations are even better ;)

 

 

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Last revised: Sunday, 16-Mar-2014 17:48:52 CDT