Lexus’ LS 500 remains a performance luxury leader
By Jeff Mitchell
While the majority of the automobile world these days seems obsessed with sport utility vehicles, I, for one, can still have my head turned by a sleek-looking sedan.
There’s just something special — and maybe a little refreshing — about a vehicle that was purpose-built for highway cruising performance and passenger comfort — as versus one designed for hauling kids, pets, garden tools and pallets of sod from the local nursery.
Recently, I spent an enjoyable week with a Lexus LS 500 and came away confident that great sedans offering refined luxury are still being made.
The flagship of the Lexus fleet, the LS 500, with its handcrafted interior, exudes a level of luxury not commonly found elsewhere.
On the road my tester, which came in “Atomic Silver” paint, provided a stable, compliant and composed ride. While the LS 500 is no doubt big, trust me, it’s no land yacht. Mash the accelerator and this big boy shows that it’s ready to run.
Under the hood of my LS 500 was a twin-turbo V6 engine generating 416 horsepower and 442 pound-ft. of torque. That power plant is mated to a smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission replete with steering wheel paddle shifters.
Inside the spacious cabin was heated and ventilated leather seating, power rear sunshades, a premium 23-speaker Mark Levinson audio system and a 12.3-inch central display screen featuring connectivity with Amazon Alexa and Apple CarPlay. A large retractable glass roof is perfect to let the sub, wind and moon in when you’re in the mood.
With the optional Executive Package, you will also get heated leather seats that can be adjusted 28 ways and which can massage you — a nice feature on longer road trips.
My tester came sitting on handsome 20-inch, 10-spoke steel alloy wheels which featured a cool “vapor chrome” finish.
The interior is a feast for the senses, featuring wood inlays, ambient lighting and cut glass insets.
Some rear passengers might find they need a skosh more headroom but most will just sink into the comfort of the heated leather seats and enjoy the experience. Trunk space is generous — large enough for a set of golf clubs and some carry-on suitcases.
And, yes, we long for Lexus (and other manufacturers) to re-embrace rotary knobs in cabin controls. As I have commented before, the Lexus trackpad-style controller for the infotainment system is onerous and even possibly distracting.
My LS 500 featured the Lexus Safety System 2.0 which includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection; lane departure alert with steering assist; and all-speed adaptive cruise control.
My rear-wheel-drive tester also came with an air suspension and adaptive LED headlights. I appreciated the big 24-inch head-up display projected onto the windshield.
Mileage for a sedan this size was pretty good. I got 23 miles per gallon overall, 19 mpg in the city and 30 mpg out on the open highway. The LS 500 competes with the Audi A8, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the BMW 740i. The total manufacturer’s suggested retail price for my tester, as equipped, is $106,555.
Final Thoughts: The simple truth is that Lexus makes great cars and the LS 500 represents the pinnacle of the company’s engineering and design thinking. Sure, the vehicle has its faults but they are few. Buy with confidence and enjoy your new ride!
Jeff Mitchell is a Los Angeles-based automotive writer and reviewer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org