DETROIT -- Lexus' new crossover concept defines a fresh segment for the luxury automaker: a light truck focused more on style and driving dynamics than utility.
The LF-1 Limitless is described as a flagship crossover and the spiritual brother of the new-generation LS flagship sedan hitting showrooms next month, and it could be built on the same platform, dubbed GA-L for Global Architecture, Luxury. In its concept form, Lexus said, the LF-1 could be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, a gasoline-electric hybrid system, a battery or, yes, regular old gasoline.
Kevin Hunter, president of the Calty Design Research studio that pens Toyota and Lexus vehicles, told Automotive News that the LF-1 marks the continuing evolution of the Lexus design language found in the new LC 500 halo coupe and the LS sedan, with more fluid lines and fewer sharp creases than Lexus' other crossovers, the NX and RX.
"We clearly wanted a break from the current direction of where RX styling and NX styling is and move it into a more sexy, fluid direction," Hunter said, using the word "exotic" to describe the combination of liquid-metal shapes and a few sharp edges.
The long hood, the relative low center of gravity, minimalist gauge cluster and seating for just four occupants are meant to put the focus on luxury and performance over utility, he said in an interview prior to the official unveiling Monday morning.
"With this one we wanted to have amazing, exhilarating driving performance," he said, along with exotic design. The LF-1 is lower, for example, than the automaker's big LX SUV but taller than the LS sedan.
"We roughly fashioned this on an LS platform," Hunter said. "You could also imagine it as a brother to an ultrapremium LS. This would be its crossover brother, something like that."
It's still a concept vehicle, but in recent years Lexus has been putting concepts that are well-received by the public and dealers on a path to becoming production vehicles.
"We create all of our concept cars to be expressions of something that we think is achievable," he said. "This isn't some far-off looking concept. It looks very doable and produceable."
Between the midsize RX and compact NX, Lexus sold 167,648 crossovers in 2017. Both models lead their respective segments, but Lexus has far less variety in its crossover lineup than rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Lexus' larger utility vehicles are the GX and LX SUVs built on aging body-on-frame platforms shared with pickups. That platform limits the on-road performance of the vehicles.