Although it's been on the scene for only seven years, Toyota's Lexus division has built up an awesome reputation. Right from the start, the senior LS 400 model has been a major player in the luxury car class, combining the best features of its rivals into a single package, just as other members of the family have fit neatly--and successfully--into their own particular niches. The LS 400 opened to rave reviews, and continues to get them to this day. Judged by almost any standard--quality, reliability, comfort or performance--it has been given top marks by virtually every reviewer who has spent time at the wheel, including the test staff at New Car Test Drive. That kind of unanimity among critics is rare indeed. In the beginning, the LS was an exceptional value, too. Established luxury cars from Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and BMW cost substantially more than the Japanese upstart in 1989. That has changed. At current price levels, the LS 400 undercuts some rivals and costs more than others, particularly U.S. domestic offerings from Cadillac and Lincoln. But in most cases, the differences are small. And customers have more choices today. It's no stretch to put the new Lincoln Continental and ever-improving Cadillac Seville on your luxury-sedan shopping list. Both offer comparable amenities, plus good performance, and if neither quite matches the Lexus in fit, finish and general refinement, they compensate with smaller pricetags. Which leads to the logical question: Is the LS 400 still the cream of the crop, or just another member of the luxury car crowd?