The Lexus LS 500 is their flagship in its most expensive form, and it’s a luxuriously, long sporty sedan.
Lexus came out with its new LS 500 in 2018, and it wowed the world with its long wheelbase, sleek and sharp styling, elegant and swoopy interior, and twin-turbocharged V6 engine. It was a distinctly Japanese large luxury car. The model further established Lexus as one of the Premium automaker leaders.
Underpinned by the LS is the GA-L (Global Architecture for Luxury vehicles) that Lexus has for both the LS and the LC coupe. It’s the stiffest architecture yet for the brand and proves to be a competent basis for the rest of the car.
As for the rest of the car, Lexus tries hard to make the LS stand out. As good as it is at some things, it leaves something to be desired in other areas. Most of these things will only bother some drivers, and if you decide they don’t bother you, then the LS 500 F Sport AWD is a fantastic sedan in an age when the vehicle type seems to be dying a slow death.
Prodigious Power But Not Perfect
I’d read and heard the LS 500 F Sport is a fantastic-to-drive car for its size. Car and Driver noted it can pull a top-of-its-class 0.89 g’s on the skidpad. Pair that with the strong 416 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque the engine puts out and you have the makings of a true performer.
However, I got the feeling the LS 500 didn’t really like to be hustled about. The car handles challenging roads competently, but I had more fun driving the Jaguar XJ. The chassis is excellent, but the suspension was a little too soft in normal mode for cruising around; in Sport+ driving mode (which tightens the variable suspension system up) it was too stiff. I wanted an in-between setting and didn’t find one.
When you’re not pushing the envelope in the LS, it is superb. It’s a consummate cruiser and would be a pleasurable daily driver or a long distance machine. The car swallows up miles so well on the highway, that you’ll just want to keep going.
Wonderful Interior But Could Use Better Infotainment
There’s tons of room in the vehicle for each and every passenger. Both front and rear seats have plenty of room to stretch out and get comfortable. The near-17 cubic feet of storage space in the trunk of the car is on par with the competition and does a good job of swallowing luggage.
What truly impresses about the LS 500’s interior is the materials included. The car offers gorgeous metal trim, leather upholstery, and Alcantara. My tester didn’t come with it, but the LS is offered with some of the most beautiful wood trim out there and a unique Kiriko glass trim if you want it.
The technology is also impressive. Features like a large 24-inch HUD, LFA-inspired digital instrumentation, rear-seat touchscreen controls, and a 12.3-inch infotainment display place the LS securely in the modern age.
The infotainment system has all the features you could want: Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, dynamic navigation, Lexus Enform Wi-Fi, and Lexus Enform App Suite among other features. As well-equipped as the system is, there’s a major problem with it—the remote touchpad.
The touchpad is better than it has ever been before. It’s more precise and a little easier to use, but it still requires too much attention from the driver. I assume you’d get used to it eventually, but there’s a disconnect between what your fingers do on the touchpad and what happens on the screen.
Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I think this is a poor design. I’ve been reviewing Lexus cars for years now, and while the remote touchpad controller is getting better, it’s still one of the worst systems out there.
A Serious Contender in the Segment
Despite the mild performance pitfalls and the infotainment controller being seriously un-fun to use, the Lexus LS 500 F Sport AWD is an impressive machine. It has a presence on the road. People notice it, which has to count for something in a large luxury sedan.
Also, small performance quibbles aside, the car is a genuine joy in most situations. It’s supremely quiet, smooth (in normal drive mode) and comfy as all get out. The fact that it’s significantly cheaper than most of its competitors also helps its case considerably.
The car’s MSRP starts at $75,300 for the rear-wheel-version and $78,520 for the all-wheel-drive version. That’s nearly $16,000 cheaper than the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and $8,500 less than an Audi A8. For that reason alone, I would consider putting up with the mild gripes I had with the car.