Cars & Bids Bargain of the Week: 1999 XF20 Lexus LS 400

Today, Lexus is practically a by-word for dependability and quality among luxury brands. And while Genesis is vying for its ‘affordability’ crown, Lexus is still a solid choice for reasonably-priced luxury. But you know what’s cheaper than a new Lexus? A used one. Plus, in some cases, used Lexus cars arguably offer more value than their new counterparts. And if you want an inexpensive way to get into reliable used luxury, the 1999 Lexus LS 400 currently listed on Cars & Bids could be just the ticket.

The XF20’s tweaks refined the game-changing Lexus LS 400 even more

A gray 1999 Lexus LS 400 parked on a marina
1999 Lexus LS 400 front 3/4 view | Lexus
Spec1995-2000 ‘XF20’ Lexus LS 400
Engine4.0-liter ‘1UZ-FE’ V8
Power1995-1997: 260 hp
1998-2000: 290 hp
Torque1995-1997: 270 lb-ft
1998-2000: 300 lb-ft
Transmission1995-1997: Four-speed automatic
1998-2000: Five-speed automatic
Drive typeRear-wheel drive
Curb weight1995-1997: 3650 lbs
1998-2000: 3890 lbs
0-60 mph time1995-1997: 7.0 seconds (MotorTrend)
1998-2000: 6.3 seconds (MotorTrend)

It’s hard to overstate the effect the first-gen Lexus LS 400 had on the luxury car market. Here was a RWD premium sedan that offered the same or greater level of luxury than Europe’s and America’s best at a lower price. It worried Mercedes-Benz enough that it spent almost $1 billion developing the W140 S-Class to rival it, MotorTrend notes. And the LS 400’s solid durability and reliability laid the foundation for Lexus’s modern reputation.

Still, while the first-gen LS 400 was a solid hit, Lexus had to update it as the competition evolved. So, following a mid-cycle refresh in 1993, the LS 400 got a full redesign for the 1995 model year.

At first glance, the ‘XF20’ LS looks similar to the outgoing ‘XF10’ model. However, the two models only share about 10% of their parts, MotorTrend reports. The second-gen LS 400 is slightly longer, so it has more rear legroom. It’s also lighter and stiffer and has better brakes, upgraded suspension, and more power. Plus, more sound-deadening material and safety features.

Midway through its production cycle, Lexus refreshed the XF20 LS 400 for the 1998 MY. The 4.0-liter V8 got more power and torque as well as a new transmission. Lexus also installed thicker glass and sound-deadening material and reinforced the body. Plus, it tweaked the styling and suspension. And in addition to newly-standard traction control, the 1998 Lexus LS 400 offered optional GPS navigation.

While it has more tech, the XF20 Lexus LS 400 is just as stalwart as its predecessor. Case in point, The Smoking Tire’s Matt Farah drove a second-gen LS to a million miles without opening the engine. And even by modern standards, these cars are impressive cross-country cruisers, Hagerty says.

There’s a low-mileage 1999 example up for auction right now on Cars & Bids

A silver 1999 Lexus LS 400 parked in a driveway
1999 Lexus LS 400 | Cars & Bids

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The 1999 Lexus LS 400 currently listed on Cars & Bids hasn’t piled on the miles like Farah’s car did. Although it has some scratches, scuffs, discolorations, and a cracked front bumper from a minor collision in 2005, it has less than 43,600 miles on the clock. And apart from some dead pixels in the radio display and a missing front-passenger-side door puddle light lens, everything on it works.

While this XF20 Lexus LS 400 doesn’t have a navigation system, it does have a built-in cell phone. It’s also this sedan’s only modification.

The gray-leather front seats and gray dashboard of a 1999 Lexus LS 400 with an aftermarket phone
1999 Lexus LS 400 front interior | Cars & Bids

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As standard, the 1998-2000 XF20 LS 400 came with leather upholstery, heated power-adjustable front seats, walnut wood trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, ABS, and multiple airbags. Plus, UV reduction glass, a power-tilting telescopic steering column, the previously-mentioned traction control, and stability control (dubbed ‘Vehicle Skid Control’). This 1999 example also has the Premium Package, which includes the power-tilting sunroof, six-disc CD changer, and HID headlights.

Although this 1999 Lexus LS 400 has some defects, it also has some service history. The most recent service, dated December 2020, involved replacing the front brake rotors and pads, Cars & Bids says.

An XF20-gen Lexus LS 400 like this is a near-classic reliable luxury bargain

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As of this writing, this 1999 Lexus LS 400 is listed for $10,000 with two days left in the auction. Although that seems rather high for a used Lexus, as of this writing, there’s only one LS from this generation with similar mileage listed on Autotrader. And it costs about 50% more. Plus, first-gen LS 400s are now considered classic cars, with prices ranging from $10,000-$20,000.

While the 2018 LS had some issues, overall, the sedan lives up to its reliable reputation. The only “maintenance nightmares” involve changing the starter motor and EGR pipe. And that’s not because the parts fail quickly, but because of where they’re located, Jalopnik reports. As long as you take care of age-related issues like worn bushings and gaskets, dirty throttle bodies, and failing O2 sensors, these sedans still serve as reliable commuters, Autotrader notes.

In short, this LS 400 has all the hallmarks of a solid luxury bargain.

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