The Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept is gold, though in person it somehow doesn’t feel obnoxious. The exterior features nips and tucks and curves, but it doesn’t look overly ridiculous. The inside of the car is full of screens and gizmos, and yet it feels fairly realistic, almost familiar.
The UX Concept that Lexus brought to the Detroit Auto Show last year was all of these things that the LF-1 isn’t. It was brash, outlandish, and overdone, a concept car so aggressively futuristic that it was hard to see what parts Lexus would be able to translate to any future production vehicles. It honestly felt a little goofy.
That’s why the LF-1 is so refreshing. It’s a far more legitimate stab at what a near-future car could look like.
The cockpit is adorned with triangular screens, but they’re not particularly in the way. (They all sit below the driver’s line of sight.) Basic controls for phone access, menus, and features like lane assist all live on the steering wheel, while others can be accessed by a touchpad in the center console. Light and door controls live on a glass panel above and to the right of the driver’s head in the spine that splits the glass roof.
Not all its ideas are great, but this is the sharpest Lexus concept in a few years
Rear passengers of the LF-1 each have an infotainment screen of their own, and a touchscreen and touchpad in the rear center console offer additional controls for heated seating, lights, and more. There are some other touch-sensitive buttons hidden throughout the cabin on the doors and tucked under the dash. There’s even what looks like a heart rate monitor behind the steering wheel.
Not all of these choices are ideal, but I really like the look and feel that Lexus has draped them in. Something resembling the LF-1’s interior, done in a more approachable way, is an idea I can get behind.
But there’s a good chance I’m making some excuses for the interior because of how much I like the LF-1’s exterior. I don’t normally love crossovers, or really most vehicles from Lexus, but this one really struck me. The muted rose gold coloring (Lexus calls it “champagne-tinted” with a satin finish) is fun to ogle. I kept trying to find the angle where it would look too gold, but it never turned up.
I think that has to do with the way the lines and curves in the bodywork blend together so elegantly. Lexus completely walked away from the cheesy Hot Wheels style of the UX Concept and produced something far more refined and easy on the eyes. Lexus resisted dotting the exterior with chrome accents, and even the toothy grin of the grille has been toned down.
Inside and out, the LF-1 is deeply reminiscent of the LF-FC concept that debuted in 2015. Toyota and Lexus aim to push a production version of that car out before 2020, and so a similar years-long layover between the LF-1 concept and something more real wouldn’t be surprising. It’s clear that the new Lexus concept is a work in progress. The company said it hasn’t even settled on whether the SUV would be powered by hybrid, electric, or a traditional combustion technology. Whatever Lexus decides, I’ll be happy to hop behind the wheel.
Photography by Sean O’Kane / The Verge