The 2019 Lexus LS 500 is the flagship of the Lexus lineup, this one being the model’s fifth generation. There are 3 choices to choose from the LS 500 is the base model, but you would hardly call it that, there’s also a hybrid Lexus 500h and a sporty Lexus LS F, available in rear or all-wheel drive. At first glance the big Lexus (just over 17 feet) is striking to look at and boldly chiseled, with that spindle grille the showpiece mixed in with a host of creases and sharp angles. It works, the car looks long and slender but never bulky and is more aggressive than any previous edition.
Previous versions have been powered by V-8s, however, that’s now gone to be replaced by a twin-turbo V-6, alas I hear you say but wait, the V-6 has more power, 416 horsepower and 442 lb-ft. @ 1,600 rpm mated to a deliciously smooth 10-speed automatic.
Despite the added power the LS 500 still weighs in at a hefty 4,707 lb but this doesn’t stop it from going from 0-60 in 4.6 seconds, quick enough and with plenty of power for all occasions. The best part it does it in near silence, unless you turn the round knob to Sport or Sport +, then a better than expected exhaust sound tingles your ears. This car wants to play.
Lexus has moved the LS in a much more athletic direction, which is definitely well received, and in my opinion hasn’t compromised ride quality in Comfort or Normal mode. Handling response and steering is greatly improved especially the steering which actually has some feedback. There’s an edge to the suspension in Sport and Sport + mode which equates to fun when things get twisty. Yes, this Lexus will hustle if asked to and in Sport + it holds onto gears nudging the rev limit, eager to please.
What astounded me was not so much the acceleration off the line but the power and torque at speeds above 70mph, it pulls like a train. There’s one particular incline East of San Diego as you head into the mountains on the way to Tecate. There’s a straight bit with broken lines where the Lexus was able to pass 4 or 5 cars in a row and still kept pulling all the way to the top.
Take the speeds down to comfortable cruise and this car has the A8, 7 Series of S450 beat. The ride is pillowy, the cabin is supremely quiet and with the delightful Mark Levinson’s 23 speakers cranked up, you are in a world of you own. What Lexus has done here is created one of the best big luxury sedans on the market……..Save the sedans please!
If you can’t find a comfortable position in the 16-way powered driver’s seat, then you must not be human. I found the seats to be extremely comfortable on every trip I made, whether it was a commute, to pick a loaf of bread or a trip to the mountains, it always felt like an event.
Inside, the LS is radically different from everything else on the market especially as mine was equipped with the $23,000 Executive Package with Kiriko glass in the door inserts, it’s astounding, though not to everyone’s taste. Some in the office thought it was a trifle tacky. Everyone has an opinion, I guess.
The design is very bold with swooping, dramatic lines, pleated door panels, which are very elegant, the whole look is refreshing and contemporary. The main instruments are housed in a large central pod that rises from behind the wheel. The infotainment screen is wide and easy to read, the only real issue is with the infernal Remote Touchpad controller, which is fairly exasperating to use and it’s better to sit in your driveway and make adjustments rather than on the move.
The Executive Package offers rear seat passengers the most luxury especially in the seat behind the passenger; sit yourself in that seat, pull down the center armrest and a touchscreen, yes, a touchscreen (scratches head) offers power pleasure at every touch. A one touch button seamlessly glides the front seat as far forward as it can go, tilts the back rest forward and bows the headrest in deference. Now you can recline, raise the footrest and choose one of the Shiatsu massage options while listening to all 2,300 watts of the 23 speaker Mark Levinson audio system. It’s all simply joyous, so much so I had requests from folks in the office for massages throughout the week.
Sit tight there’s more, an optional head-up display ($1,200) works great and its view is one of the widest I’ve seen, rear and side powered blinds to keep your passengers cool and LED headlights with Adaptive Front Lighting system light your way.
All this does cost quite a lot over the standard base price of $75,000, with the Executive Package added, 20-inch wheels and a Panoramic Sunroof, my tester came in at $112,520.
Lexus has succeeded in not copying its German competition of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes, and have created a big luxury sedan that is distinctly different. It’s definitely not a sports sedan, but after driving it for a week this LS 500 is more fun than Cadillac’s CT6, the German offerings and its V6 plays a tune you wouldn’t have expected. Was I wowed? YES
p.s. Any chance of a twin turbo V8 Lexus LS500?
2019 Lexus LS 500 w/Executive Package Numbers
BASE PRICE: $75,200
AS TESTED PRICE: $112,520
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, RWD wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
ENGINE: 3.5 liter twin turbocharged V6, Aluminum block and cylinder heads,
POWER: 416 hp @ 6,000 rpm
TORQUE: 442 lb-ft. @ 1,600-4,800 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 10-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
0-60 MPH: 4.6 sec
TOP SPEED: 136 mph
CURB WEIGHT: 4,707 lb
CARGO VOLUME: 16.95 cu. ft.
OVERALL LENGTH: 206.1 in.
BRAKES – FRONT: 15.7 in ventilated rotors with six piston aluminum calipers
BRAKES – REAR: 13.1 in ventilated rotors with two piston aluminum calipers
WHEELS: 20 inch split 5-spoke forged alloy wheels
TIRES: Bridgestone Turanza 245/45
EPA COMB/ CITY/HWY: 23/19/30 mpg RWD
OUR OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 15.9 MPG
PROS: Beautiful and very different interior, sport mode is fun, tons of torque at higher speeds
CONS: Options get pricey, fiddly infotainment system