Class: Premium Large Car
Miles driven: 1292
Fuel used: 53.6 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 24.1 mpg
Driving mix: 40% city, 60% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 23/31/26 (city, highway, combined)
Fuel type: Premium gas
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||B-|
|Power and Performance||B|
|Fit and Finish||A|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
Base price: $82,930 (not including $1025 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Luxury Package ($12,250), Mark Levinson premium audio ($1940), 20-inch “Split 10-Spoke” alloy wheels ($1200), adaptive air suspension ($1500)
Price as tested: $100,845
The great: Beautifully finished cabin; good selection of luxurious comfort and convenience features
The good: Satisfying acceleration; capable handling for a large car
The not so good: Finicky infotainment controls; less passenger space than some class rivals
The impact of the Lexus LS as a sales force for Toyota’s luxury brand may have withered over its nearly 30 years on the market, but it remains an impressive automobile. With a new fifth generation that sweeps in for 2018, it might even entice a few more customers—or so Lexus no doubt hopes.
Built from one of the family of “global architectures” that the corporation taps for its various product lines, the latest LS now comes in a single size, and that is “big.” Its 123-inch wheelbase is 1.3 inches longer than that of the previous long-wheelbase model, and overall length is 2.1 inches greater. The premium-large-class sedan is wider and lower, too.
Styling has been redone. Bodyside sculpting conveys a muscular sense of mass around the wheel openings, and there’s a 6-window side-glass arrangement with quarter windows added behind the rear door. Inside, the dash layout is dramatically changed.
The new “wrapper” encases changed powerteams. In lieu of the former 4.6-liter V8, there’s a more-powerful 416-horsepower twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 joined to a new 10-speed automatic transmission in LS 500 and sportier F Sport models. However, Consumer Guide’s test car was a 500h hybrid, the replacement for the 600h that was discontinued in 2016. It is powered by a naturally aspirated 3.5 paired with two electric motors that produce a system total of 354 horsepower at 6600 rpm. The transmission is also a hybrid of sorts, combining a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a stepped 4-speed-automatic gear set.
All LS variants are available in a choice of rear or all-wheel drive. An AWD 500h like the one that CG sampled rests near the top of the price ladder with a starting tab of $83,955 with delivery—only the all-wheel F Sport costs more. That price represents a $3220 premium over a rear-wheel-drive 500h, and according to Lexus, the AWD hybrid is 177 pounds heavier, 0.1 of a second slower to 60 mph, and requires a wider turning circle. EPA fuel-economy estimates are two mpg lower for the all-wheeler across the board as well.
Of course there is a raft of luxury and convenience items in the complement of standard equipment. Passengers occupy semianiline leather seats beneath a power moonroof. Wood trim adorns portions of the dash, doors, and console. The driver grips a heated steering wheel, and is further served by memory settings for seat, steering wheel, and heated side mirrors. Power sunshades and trunklid also add to comfort and convenience.
The navigation system registers on a big 12.3-inch dash screen. The audio system includes satellite radio, and there’s a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot. Curiously, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility remain out of the picture (though CarPlay will be standard on the 2019 500h). In their place is the Lexus Enform telematics suite with emergency and roadside assistance notifications, maintenance reminders, remote starting and door lock/unlock, vehicle finder, and dynamic navigation updates. Driving-assistance technologies include adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert and assist, automatic high-beam control, and blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts.
Headlights, taillights, and turn-signal lamps are LED units. Windshield wipers are the rain-sensing type. Underneath everything is an adaptive fully independent suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels with 245/50RF19 rubber, and—for AWD jobs—a Torsen limited-slip center differential.
Extensive options and extra-cost packages—some of which were on the test car—deliver additional luxury and technology. Among them are air suspension, pedestrian detection and alert with brake and steering intervention, “Lane Trace Assist” (an enhanced form of lane-keep assist), a 24-inch head-up display, an Executive Package with a right rear seat that reclines and has a retractable ottoman, massaging seats, 18-way power-reclining outboard rear seats, 23-speaker Mark Levinson audio, four-zone climate control, a rear-seat passenger control screen in the central armrest, and a 360-degree monitor.
It’s in the LS bloodline that ride quality is excellent, and the new model does not tarnish the family honor. It manages to be supple over many road surfaces without turning wallowy. Twisting the dash-top drive-mode selector to Sport S or Sport S+ turns up suspension and steering feel for an extra degree of ride and handling control; if these were the base settings we can’t imagine how any core LS customer could have a complaint with them. It is supremely quiet too.
The hybrid powerplant is smooth and nicely responsive. It gets away smartly from standing starts, passes with ease (the mixed-breed trans kicks down promptly), and cruises smoothly. Select one of the sport settings and it can actually feel a little racy with altered shift patterns. The test car’s federal mileage estimates are 23 in the city, 31 mpg on the highway, and 26 combined, but this reviewer clocked only 21.5 mpg after a test of 197 miles with 70 percent city-style driving.
Legroom is abundant for four (but just four) adults because while the rear seat is wide, a substantial floor hump rules out a middle passenger. Headroom is OK in front but tall passengers probably will think it borders on being skimpy in back. At least they will find themselves that much closer to the lighted vanity mirrors in the headliner. If the high-style interior has one major flaw it is the decidedly complex central audio/climate/navigation control system that requires a driver to use a console touchpad to sweep and tap around and through menus and control points. As for doing this while driving? Well, all we can say is it’s a good thing Lexus has packed in so many collision-avoidance technologies.
The owner’s manual takes up much of the large glove-box space, but there is a big console box with a lid that can open to either the left or right side. A small covered bin is included in the dash to the left of the steering column. Lined door pockets and covered cup holders also accommodate front-seat passengers. The backs of the front seats have hard-sided snap-back storage pockets that are fully as wide as the seats. The rear armrest houses a good-sized storage bin and cup holders, both covered. Hybrid-electric components rest under the trunk floor, which reduces overall cargo capacity to 15.19 cubic feet from 16.95 in a non-hybrid LS. Still, the trunk floor is flat and wide. The rear seat does not fold.
Competing with luxury SUVs and leading large prestige cars, the LS has become something of a limited edition. Perhaps the fact that you won’t see one everywhere is just another point in its favor.