Lexus’ LS500 sedan is the personification of luxury. It’s so endowed that it could qualify as a limo with its inherent comfort and extra-ordinary amenities. The only thing lacking is a back seat bar.
As for amenities, how about sofa soft massaging 28-way front and 22-way rear seats with the latter having a recline feature and ottoman plus plenty of leg and headroom and two ceiling mounted vanity mirrors. A sure way to pamper driver and passengers.
But there’s more. The doors are adorned with hand pleated door panels replete with Kiriko glass trim that sparkles like diamonds when exposed to sunlight. And when speaking of sunlight, there are powered shades for the rear side windows and rear window if back seat riders want to nap – or not be seen.
LS500 is offered with but one trim level and in RWD and AWD, the latter of which was in the test car. There’s also an F-Sport model that gives the LS sporty handling and an LS500h hybrid version for greater fuel economy.
LS500s’ cockpit is jet-like. A large 12.3-inch display serves the audio system, rearview camera, Wi-Fi, Enform infotainment with Smart Watch and Alexa integration, climate selections, XM radio, navigation, Apple CarPlay and a customizable triple-view screen for drivers’ preferences. It also provides a nifty revolving birds eye camera view around the vehicle to check for any obstacles.
The display gets commands verbally or from a touch pad that is very sensitive and really not good to use while driving as it takes the eyes off the road because certain functions require multiple clicks and selections. Fortunately, most major HVAC controls can be selected by easy to see and use switches on the dash.
Sharing the console with the touch pad is a stubby shifter for the standard, slick shifting 10-speed automatic transmission. Shifting into selected gears is notchy and sometimes frustrating when trying to find reverse gear. Ironically, park gear features a “P” push button. So Lexus engineers, why not use push buttons for all the gears? Seems it could save console space and make gear selections quicker and easier. A lot more carmakers are now replacing handle shifters with push buttons for these reasons.
The sedans’ gauge cluster features a centered digital gauge with vehicle speed embedded within the digital dial tachometer. The gauge also serves as a driver information display for operating functions, features and alerts.
On the sides of the gauge panel are a rotary knob on the left for Snow/Traction Control modes, while the right side is for S-plus (sport), Normal, Custom, Comfort and Eco selectable modes. There’s also a Head-Up-Display on the lower driver’s side of the windshield that shows vehicle speed, oncoming stop signals, a compass and posted speed limits.
Cargo wise, the trunk is rated at 16.95 cubic feet with a load length of 44 inches. It can easily hold two large rollie bags and some smaller bags. A golf bag can fit but the long clubs must be pulled and stacked atop the bag. The rear seatback does not fold. If the car needs a battery jump, the battery is located beneath the trunk floor.
LS500 offers two powertrains. The standard is a 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 producing an impressive 416-hp and 442 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 18 city, 27-highway mpg. Coupled to the 10-speed automatic transmission, performance is exhilarating for a 5,137 pound AWD sedan. The sensation when acceleration from a dead stop and for passing situations gives the impression there’s a V8 under the hood. And it does so ever so quietly.
The other option is the hybrid version that uses a 3.5L Atkinson cycle V6 with two electric motors that provides 354 total system horsepower for EPA mileage estimates of 23/31 mpg for AWD models.
Ride quality on large 20-inch Bridgestone tires is typical Lexus silky smooth and quiet. It’s unmistakably the best riding sedan on the market thanks in part to its optional air suspension system.
Handling wise, it’s not a sportster nor is it intended to be. There is some lean in sharp turns but they’re controlled motions. Despite its size, LS500 parks easily with a 39.4 foot turning radius.
Now for the bad part. This much luxury doesn’t come cheap.
With a lengthy list of standard features such as radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring w/rear cross traffic alert, intuitive parking assist with auto braking, smart stop technology and many more, LS500 options are pricey. For example, Lexus’ Safety System Plus ($3,000) adds pre-collision w/active braking, pedestrian detection, lane tracing assist, lane departure alert with steering assist; front cross traffic alert, lane change assist; adaptive variable air suspension with rapid height ($1,500); 20-inch alloy wheels ($2,450); head-up display ($1,200); LED headlamps w/adaptive front lighting ($300); Executive Package ($23,080) adds a myriad of aforementioned amenities like massage seats, Kiriko glass/door trim and many, many more. Then there’s the Mark Levinson audio with 23 speakers ($1,940); panoramic sunroof ($1,000); panoramic view monitor ($800); heated wood trimmed steering wheel ($410) and delivery ($1,025) that took the bottom line to a whopping $115,375. Perhaps shaving off a few extra cost options can get this price below $100K.
In so doing, LS500 is still a formidable sedan that offers supreme comfort, Lexus quality, AWD for here in the Snowbelt and a high resale value.