North American Int’l Auto ShowDETROIT – Some 17 years after the first-generation model debuted here, the all-new Lexus LS 460 is unveiled today at the North American International Auto Show.

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. President Jim Press says it is one of 12 new Toyota, Lexus and Scion models launching this year in the U.S.

Notable features of the Lexus flagship include the world’s first 8-speed automatic transmission, mated to a new 4.6L V-8 making 380 hp and 370 lb.-ft. (502 Nm) of torque.

The vehicle also features reclining rear seats complete with ottomans, similar to airlines’ first-class seating, and a human temperature sensor.

The LS will go on sale this fall in the U.S.

“The new Lexus LS is the product of an advanced production process developed specifically for this vehicle, with remarkable new levels of accuracy, refinement, precision and craftsmanship,” Press says.

Lexus LS 460 unveiled.

More technical details, specifically about LS’s active safety system, will be discussed at the upcoming Geneva auto show in March.

The LS has been the best-selling prestige luxury sedan in the U.S. for 15 of the last 17 years, Press says.

He also announces a V-8 hybrid-electric version will debut at this spring’s New York Auto Show. Press declines to provide more information at this time, specifically whether the car will sport the same 8-speed automatic or rather a continuously variable transmission.

Fuel economy for the gasoline-powered LS is in the mid-20 mpg range (9.4 L/100 km) for combined driving, a level that Lexus was able to achieve due to its new direct and indirect fuel-injection system already seen on last year’s new IS sport sedan.

Lexus likely will not experienc much sales growth with the new model, Press says, because of the high level of quality and refinement Toyota tries to achieve with the vehicle.

Only about 2,500 to 3,000 units can be built per month at the auto maker’s Tahara, Japan, plant, which recently received an all-new build process.

The LS will be available in both long- and short-wheelbase versions. The long-wheelbase measures 203 ins. (516 cm), and is the model unveiled here today.

One notable feature in the plush backseat, which Press jokes, “there’s no reason to get out of,” is a hidden cooler. A 19-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system will be offered, as will a hard-drive music storage system capable of holding 4,000 songs.

Press says the vehicle’s chassis is new, and the multilink suspension system has been redesigned.

Lexus’ Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system will be standard on the LS. VDIM integrates a variety of safety functions, including electronic power steering; antilock brakes; and electronic stability control.

Meanwhile, Press predicts Toyota will see sales growth in the U.S. this year on the order of 5%-10%. Toyota’s sale rose about 10% last year.

“We’re basically growing at the rate our customers want us to,” Press tells the media.

Meanwhile, Press says consumers will get their first look at the next-generation Toyota Tundra pickup truck at next month’s Chicago auto show.

cschweinsberg@primediabusiness.com