Where it started
Introduced in the fall of 1989 the LS400 was the beginning of Toyota's luxury car company Lexus. At the time the only options for someone who desired a luxury car were European brands like Mercedes, Jaguar and bmws, which were great cars but they had reliability issues and were very expensive. Toyota set out to make more reliable cars at a more affordable price. Toyota designers and engineers studied what people(mostly Americans) wanted in a luxury car and had done millions of miles in testing and spent millions investing into the LS400 and the result was a fabulous car not only in reliablity but in quality and luxury. In 1990 Lexus sold over 42,000 of them an by 1991 they passed both Mercedes-Benz and BMW in U.S sales!
The car used a 4.0L v8 with a decent 254 horsepower mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission and was RWD. The starting price was $36,000 US in 1990 which was a bargain back in the time compared to more expensive European alternatives that weren't as affordable to maintain. Fuel economy was good for 16mpg in the city and 22mpg on the highway which was strong at the time for a luxury car. The car had luxury features such as heated seats, sport mode suspension, suspension can raise and lower, "power mode" and overdrive which would keep the engine at lower RPMs to save fuel when on the highway.
Some cool Features
On the 1990 LS400 at the top of the dash were your dash lights that would project off the top and down on your gauges which was a feature that other cars did not have(picture 1). There was also a vallet feature where you could lock the ability to use the buttons to open your truck or your fuel door preventing the valet from getting to the fuel door or your trunk. It was one of the first cars to have a Valet feature or "mode"(picture 2). Most cars especially now, you can dim the Gauge cluster using a button/switch or a knob but oddly enough you could dim the Gauges to the point where you could only see the needles(picture 3). The Steering wheel also had a power telescoping and tilt steering wheel which at the time was a feature you would only see on Mercedes-Benz and Rolls Royce had in 1990.
The 1uz-fe V8 in the LS400 was capable of handling 500 Horsepower before having to upgrade other internals and the powertrain which is a great amount of power. The engine block has been proven to handle 1,000 horsepower! with correct internal parts which is incredible! and of course there are many modifications available like body kits and engine performance parts like camshafts, valves, intake manifolds, pistons and the whole nine yards!
The 1990 Lexus LS400 was an incredibly successful start for the new Lexus company that proved that Toyota could develop a more reliable, drivable, higher tech luxury vehicle then its massive competitors like BMW and Mercedes-Benz at a much cheaper price which is why the LS400 became such a success. Lexus continues to make the Lexus LS today and there know for their quality, technological advances, reliablility and decent performance.