There was a time when folks would say a car rides like a Cadillac. That talk ended when the Lexus 500 LS debuted. This full-size luxury sedan is the carmaker’s flagship that possesses a luxurious interior plus exceptionally smooth and quiet riding comfort (better than a Cadillac).
LS 500’s exterior is striking with its “spindle” grille, large air intakes, triple beam LED headlights and slippery smooth overall design. It’s offered in FWD, AWD, LS 500h hybrid and F Sport version that has a beefier suspension among other attributes. We were privileged to test the AWD version that is necessary here in the Snowbelt.
LS 500s interior accommodations are first class in quality material that includes Active Noise Control for a hush quiet cabin.
Classy Kinko cut-glass adorns the door handles along with tufted cloth. The heated/cooled perforated leather front seats with massage function, are super comfy and nicely bolstered.
Atop the dash, a large 12.3-inch infotainment screen is encased within a 16×5.75-inch overall display that serves the gamut of Mark Levinson audio w/23 speakers, apps, functions, alerts, climate selections, navigation, Wi-Fi connectivity, rearview camera with an overhead 360-degree revolving camera view, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and Smart Watch plus Alexa Skill integration.
HVAC controls are in a horizontal array on the vertical stack and below the touchscreen wherein all selections are displayed.
The console houses a stubby 10-speed automatic transmission gear selector that shares he console with a touchpad for display selections. The touchpad is super sensitive and tricky to use while driving. Some selections require multiple moves and clicks for an item, and that can take the eyes off the road. There’s also the optional and nifty digital rearview mirror on our LS 500.
Instrumentation is contained in a single round gauge with digital speedometer encircled by the tachometer. When selecting any of the driving modes of Sport/S/S-Plus, Normal, Custom, Comfort and Eco, the speedometers outer ring turns color such as Sport is red, Sport Plus is red/grey, while Comfort is grey.
On either side of the gauge hood are two rotary stalk switches. The one on the right is the driving mode switch while the left one is for Snow mode.
The rear seats recline and have an ottoman. The seats are exceptionally padded and comfy. Shoulder room is ample as is headroom and leg room for two adults. Because of a tall transaxle hump, a third passenger (other than youngsters) wouldn’t have any appreciable leg room. So furnished, the LS 500 could nicely serve as a corporate limo.
LS 500s trunk is rated at 17 cubic feet for 43.5 inches of cargo loading depth. Unfortunately, the rear seatbacks do not fold to expand the space. Beneath the trunk floor is a narrow foam bin to stow a few small items. It shares the space with the starter battery.
Our LS 500 AWD came with the standard 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 that generates 416-hp and a whopping 442 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 17 city, 27-highway mpg. Coupled to the 10-speed automatic transmission, acceleration and passing power made is feel like there was a big V8 under the hood. There’s certainly no want for power. Transmission shift points were quick and virtually imperceptible.
Ride quality was exceptionally smooth with the optional air suspension system that soaked up all minor and major road imperfections.
Handling too was excellent for a full-size, heavy sedan. There was nary any body lean in sharp, tight turns. LS 500 AWD remained stable when pushed hard.
The LS 500 AWD came with a long list of standard safety features such as Lexus’ Safety System with pre-collision system, pedestrian detection, lane tracing assist, lane departure alert w/steering assist, blind spot monitor w/rear cross traffic alert, intuitive parking assist w/auto braking and more.
Amenities included power moonroof, power rear sunshade, hands-free power open/close trunk, rain sensing wipers, headlamp washers, satellite radio and many more.
The option list is long and pricey, the most expensive of which was the Executive Package that adds $23,580 to the price. There are 10 more extra cost amenity and feature items that took the base price of $79,250 to $115,175 with delivery. Yes, this is a lot of money. But the LS 500 is a lot of luxury sedan that is loaded with a huge amount of content along with the latest in safety features all car buyers want. It competes and excels among comparable luxury sedans from Bentley, Benz and BMW.