Lexus LF-1 Limitless Concept hints at super-luxe crossover to come

Chris Davies - Jan 15, 2018, 8:32 am CST
Lexus LF-1 Limitless Concept hints at super-luxe crossover to come

Lexus has revealed its new vision of a luxury crossover, the Lexus LF-1 Limitless Concept, and the idea is all about flexibility. Revealed today at the Detroit Auto Show 2018, the LF-1 Limitless is longer and wider than the current Lexus RX SUV, and even more aggressively proportioned, with a long hood and steeply raked rear glass.

That exaggerated dash-to-axle ratio, Lexus says, makes it more akin to a sports car than a station wagon in profile. The automaker – and its designers at the CALTY Design Research studio in California responsible for the LF-1 Limitless – calls it “molten katana,” borrowing ideas from both Japanese steel and liquid metal.

22-inch wheels help, certainly, as does the low roofline paired with a higher ride height than most station wagons would offer. At the front, the spindle grille has a three-dimensional design, with deep ridges flowing from the central Lexus badge. What you don’t get is the usual chromework: instead, Lexus has illuminated the edges of the grille with LED lighting, which brightens as you near the car.

On the sides, deep creases and scalloped edges flow through from the grille, across the hood, and down the doors of the car. Meaty rear wheel arches emphasize the fact that, despite the trend in crossovers, the LF-1 is actually rear-wheel drive not AWD. There’s a split spoiler on the rear, while the openings at the corners resemble tailpipes at first glance but are in fact aerodynamic vents.

Inside, maximum luxury is the key. That means a satin finish version of the champagne-tinted exterior, with contrasting dark Cocoa Bean leather trim and seats finished in Chiffon White perforated leather. The driver nestles in a cockpit surrounded by the key controls, all activated by motion and gesture rather than physical buttons.

In contrast, the front passenger space has been left more open, with the dashboard unobstructed. In the back, Lexus has used the same seats from the front, and given each passenger their own display screen for infotainment and climate control. All the way through, there are tiny perforations in the wood trim through which LED light glows.

Lexus sees the LF-1 as an ideal candidate for autonomous or at least semi-autonomous driving, and so there’s a Chauffeur mode. That relies on the by-wire steering, braking, acceleration, lights, and signals, to take over the day to day piloting and leave the person behind the wheel as more of a supervisor. If, however, you want to take over yourself, all of the powertrain controls have been mounted on the steering wheel. That includes both paddle-shifters and the transmission mode buttons; there are also haptic touch controls for operating the infotainment system.

The navigation system uses what Lexus is referring to as a four-dimensional interface, factoring in time of journey and predicting what the LF-1’s occupants might want along the way. That ranges from fuel and other maintenance, through to rest breaks, restaurants, and hotel reservations. All the information is shared not only on the car’s own screens, front and back, but wirelessly sent to passengers’ smartphones and tablets. Haptic-enabled touchpads are embedded in the leather-wrapped center console, front and rear.

Lexus is keeping its options open when it comes to possible powertrains. Gasoline is the obvious possibility, or a hybrid like the current hybrids in the RX line-up; however, it could just as easily be a plug-in hybrid, a hydrogen fuel-cell, or an all-electric car, the automaker points out. For now the Lexus LF-1 Limitless is just a concept, but the company is likely to be watching its reception closely as it weighs how a production version could slot into its range.

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