The Coolest Lexus Features Of All Time

Ten Lexus technologies that shocked competitors and helped change the automotive world.

12/13/2012—This was an extremely difficult article to write. Pick the top 10 coolest Lexus features and technologies of all time? Not easy, but we gave it a shot. The Lexus components listed here either introduced the world to something new, changed how drivers think about car design, or were, and still are, just plain amazing to behold:

1. The First LS 400 Engine: Two words—champagne glasses. The reason they didn’t break in Lexus’ now iconic 1989 TV ad is because Lexus engineers had created something never before seen: a production engine so meticulously crafted that 15 stacked glasses, filled to the brim with champagne, not only didn’t topple as the speedometer reached 140 mph—they didn’t spill a drop. And this was just the beginning.

2. Self-Repairing Paint: When the 2010 Lexus LS arrived, so did its approach to exterior body paint. Rather than make the vehicle’s paint coating harder to protect against light dings and scratches, Lexus engineers went the other way—they made it softer and more elastic at the molecular level. The result: paint that can actually spring back to its original shape and gloss when nicked.

3. A car that can stop by itself (from speeds below 24 miles per hour): This is a recent one. As part of its capabilities, this newly available feature in the latest Advanced Pre-Collision System (APCS)[1] is designed to bring the 2013 LS to a stop at speeds below 24 miles per hour.

4. Remote Touch: Adding computer-mouse dynamics to an automobile is an idea so simple and intuitive, we’re sure engineers working for other premium automakers were kicking themselves for not thinking of it first. But the fact remains: Lexus came up with the idea—a mouse-like device that controls several functions in the audio, navigation, and climate systems—because of its driver-centric design focus.

5. Carbon Fiber: There are umpteen reasons why the Lexus LFA set a record for the quickest wet test lap ever recorded on the Top Gear test track, and its carbon fiber chassis tops the list. The material’s diamond toughness but lighter weight make its body shell extremely rigid without a loss of strength. That means the car can move faster, turn quicker, and operate more efficiently—and break a few records in the process.

6. Shiatsu Massage/Reclining Ottoman Seat: Okay, these are actually two features, but they’ve continued to go hand in hand ever since Lexus combined them in an optional Executive-Class Seating package back in 2007. They’ve been a hard combo to improve upon—until the 2013 LS package came out with a Blu-ray disc player for watching movies. While leaning back. While getting a massage.

7. Lexus Hybrid Drive: A few years ago, when we interviewed Lexus Hybrid Drive boss Shinichi Abe, we were initially surprised to discover that he was a bit nervous about Lexus’ decision to move forward with hybrid technology in the early 2000s. But then it made sense. After all, at stake was the opportunity to help change the auto industry forever by creating a luxury car with a hybrid powertrain. And that’s exactly what Abe and Lexus did.

8. Wide-view Front and Side Monitor[2]: Five years ago, if somebody told you a car would come out that could help you see around corners, you’d likely laugh, shake your head, and look for saner conversations. People still couldn’t believe it when Lexus introduced this optional system on the LX 570. A quick reminder on how it works: When the vehicle approaches an intersection where side visibility is reduced, a front-grille camera—when activated—captures a broad view of the forward-peripheral surroundings, which the system shows on the navigation screen.

9. Crawl Control[3]: Speaking of amazing Lexus SUV technologies, this one literally took the cruise control concept to a new level. When activated at slow speeds, the optional Crawl Control allows the driver to take the foot off the pedals and just steer while the vehicle smoothly climbs its way up uneven ground.

10. The Lexus IS C roof: Finally, let’s think of some amazingly fast things for a moment. Michael Phelps. The speed of light. Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking skydive in October. And, of course, the Lexus IS C’s roof, which retracts in a mere 20 seconds—proving that even convertible technology isn’t immune from Lexus engineers’ ability to make things faster, better, and more graceful.

Okay, now your turn. What did we miss? Lexus drivers are the experts, so if you disagree with any of the picks or think another Lexus feature qualifies, tell Lexus on Facebook or Twitter.

Legal disclaimers

[1] The Advanced Pre-Collision System is designed to help reduce the crash speed and damage in certain frontal collisions only. The included Driver Attention Monitor is designed to alert the driver if a potential hazard is detected ahead and the driver’s face appears to be turned away. They are not collision-avoidance systems and are not substitutes for safe and attentive driving. System effectiveness depends on many factors. Please see your owner’s manual for further information.Vehicle may show optional equipment.

[2] The Wide-view Front and Side Monitor does not provide a comprehensive view of the front and side areas of the vehicle. You should also look around outside your vehicle, and use your mirrors to confirm clearance. Cold weather will limit effectiveness and view may become cloudy.

[3] The vehicle is designed to meet most off-road driving requirements, but off-roading is inherently dangerous. Abusive use may result in bodily harm or vehicle damage. Lexus encourages responsible operation to protect you, your vehicle and the environment. Seatbelts should be worn at all times.

Vehicle(s) shown may feature optional equipment.