If you think Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo have the market on the full-size luxury segment, Lexus is making a bold statement with the LS 500. When Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said he wanted to change the Lexus culture, he wasn’t kidding. The 2018 Lexus LS 500 says Europe doesn’t have a lock on world-class luxury any longer.
The Lexus LS 500 is redesigned and all-new for 2018. The new, fifth-generation LS 500 is longer, lower, and wider than its predecessor, the LS 460, and with a new coupe-like profile, it looks slimmer and sportier. A new suspension design yields sportier handling.
Features & Options
The 2018 Lexus LS 500 ($81,000) comes standard with 19-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, LED headlights, a sunroof, a hands-free trunk, power-closing doors, leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, magnesium paddle shifters, 16-way power-adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, and a power rear sunshade.
Technology features include a 12.3-inch color display, navigation, a trackpad-style interface, a Wi-Fi hotspot, Lexus Enform smartphone app integration, Enform emergency and convenience services, Bluetooth connectivity, and a 12-speaker audio system. Safety features include a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and rain-sensing wipers.
The optional F Sport package ($9,700) on this tester added 20-inch wheels, larger brakes, a re-tuned suspension, unique styling elements, exclusive leather upholstery, and 28-way power-adjustable seats.
The Safety System+ A package ($3,000) adds adaptive cruise and automatic steering that can detect and “trace” the path of the vehicle in front, forward cross-traffic alert, road sign recognition, and a panoramic rearview monitor.
Other options included a premium 23-speaker Mark Levinson sound system ($1,940), an enhanced heads-up display ($1,220), adaptive air suspension ($1,500), a panoramic rearview monitor ($600), and a panoramic sunroof ($1,000).
Total MSRP including destination: $101,575.
Stepping inside reveals a roomy, luxurious, and comfortable place to spend time. We played with the 28-way power-adjustable seats for 20 minutes getting them set just right for our week-long drive. The 2018 Lexus LS 500 gets stretched with a longer wheelbase, giving passengers more legroom than the outgoing model. Four passengers will fit comfortably for long distances even with the raked roofline, which makes the sedan look smaller than it is.
Extravagance abounds in the new LS cabin, from the dark hardwoods and aluminum trim on the dash, to the ambient lighting and quilted seat fabric. The door panels even feature curved stitching, finished with free-floating door handles and armrests. The large central display screen is beautiful and we think the optional Mark Levinson premium sound system is worth the cost.
The F Sport gets heavily sculptured seats that kept us firmly in place as we tossed the big sedan around mountain curves. In the back, rear passengers will need to duck to get in, but the reclining seats helped our guests sink in and enjoy the ride. The rear seats are perfect for two adults or three kids. We noticed the air suspension raising the car more than an inch making for easier entry/exit.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2018 Lexus LS 500’s all-new turbocharged V6 delivers more power than the outgoing model (416 horsepower and 442 lb-ft. of torque) and comes mated with a quick-shifting, 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive comes standard; all-wheel drive is optional.
EPA fuel mileage estimates come in at 19/30 city/highway and 23 combined for rear-wheel drive models. By comparison, all-wheel drive models are 18/27 city/highway and 21 combined.
From behind the driver’s seat, the 2018 Lexus LS 500 doesn’t feel as big as it really is. The sedan feels like a much smaller sports car. We pushed the pedal down and the 416 horsepower V6 came to life, sounding more like a V8 than anything. The newly-upgraded engine’s power and low-end thrust kept us entertained and never left us wanting more the whole week as we pushed it hard in the high-altitude west of Denver.
The 10-speed sequential automatic transmission’s gear shifts are smooth and imperceptible, and the two work well together. If you want a sporty ride, opt for the F Sport’s adaptive air suspension setup. We tossed the big sedan around tight mountain corners, and experienced very little body lean.
On the open road, the air suspension’s ride is buttery smooth and road noise is kept to a minimum inside the comfy cabin. Road manners are excellent, overall, with the adaptive setup, and the active rear-wheel steering on the F Sport reduces the turning circle, easing maneuverability in the city and into tight parking spots.
The air-suspension’s ride and quiet, luxurious interior are made to pamper drivers and passengers. The 2018 Lexus LS 500 F Sport delivers a sportier experience for driving enthusiasts who want the best of both worlds. The 2018 Lexus LS 500 promises extra comfort, plenty of storage space, lots of luxury, the latest safety equipment, and a sizable helping of technology and performance.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy