Lexus’ largest and most comfortable executive sedan has long been a benchmark for ride comfort and build quality, and minor adjustments for 2021 help this boat stay on course.
- Effortless comfort
- Luxurious and high quality interior
- Twin-turbo V6 get-up-and-go
I do not like
- Everything about the Sport mode
- Cabin aging technology
- Losing ground on value for Genesis
Infotainment: repeal and replace
Perhaps the most important update to the 2021 Lexus LS 500 is the 12.3-inch infotainment display, which has been removed from its cave on the dashboard and brought much closer to the driver, allowing for the first time the use of a touch screen. To put it nicely, he is extremely late. Lexus’ awful trackpad still exists and still works as before with its artificial latches and generally sloppy finger tracking, but I don’t know why you’d use it instead of just touching the thing you want. Lexus has made some other much needed quality of life updates in this arena, including a button that finally offers quick access to the heated seat and steering wheel controls.
Despite this new (for Lexus) way of fiddling with the display, I can’t help but feel that the software as a whole has to go. The graphics are very much in step with the times, and while the features like it, and Amazon Alexa integration are always welcome, the system offerings are behind the latest and most flashy telematics from Audi, Genesis and Mercedes-Benz. A pair of USB-C ports in the center armrest to match the pair of USB-A ports wouldn’t hurt either.
The 2021 Lexus LS 500 F Sport is spirited for something this big
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Just in front of the driver is a small intelligent display, with a large central tachometer that can move sideways to expand the information being relayed to the driver, whether it is basic things like speed and road turns or more auxiliary things like fuel economy. It’s old too, but gets the job done. On the newer side, the optional $ 1,220 head-up display above the gauges offers a whopping 24-inch space, more than enough to include just about any pertinent information your eyes could want. One thing I will never tire of seeing in the LS, or any Lexus for that matter, is the optional Mark Levinson audio system, which costs $ 1,940 on my tester and includes 23 speakers and 2,400 watts of power – and yes, it does. the absolute business.
Regardless of the trim level, every 2021 Lexus LS 500 is equipped with a standard suite of active and passive safety systems including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance, control Adaptive Full Speed and Automatic High Beam. Earn an extra $ 3,000 and get my tester’s improved safety package that adds cross traffic warnings at intersections, the ability to reduce adaptive cruise speed in bends, and active lane change. As expected, all of these systems work flawlessly – keep your hands on the wheel and let the system guide you along the highway in comfort.
While the forward luxury variants of the Lexus LS allow you to load the interior with five figures of cut glass This and brocade that, my F Sport tester keeps things a little more grounded, albeit not by much. The turned aluminum trim on the doors is interesting without being screamed, which pretty much describes the interior in general. It’s a kind of conservative luxury that’s built on one or two strong claims: the metal strips that stretch across the width of the dashboard and lead to some of the most interesting door panels in the industry. I’m also a big fan of the smart model built into the 28-way electric seats that come standard in the F Sport. Wherever my hand lands it feels expensive and the build quality is top notch.
The rear seats are also lovely, as they should be in a car for both drivers and the driver. You can sit three in a row, or you can ditch the salts and fold down the center armrest to reveal a wide range of switches to control everything you might need, including the position of the front passenger seat. Legroom and headroom abound, and the bench itself is as luxurious as the buckets out front.
While the trunk is definitely bulky at nearly 17 cubic feet, outperforming most of the segment, throwing out the trash isn’t much more difficult in the cabin. The center console compartment under the armrest complements the door pockets that are deep enough, although I wish the cup holders were large enough to hold larger-sized water bottles and the like.
Pillow that is not afraid to push
The days of the V8-powered Lexus LS are over, but that doesn’t matter. The 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine under the hood does that More that’s enough to motivate this big cruiser, sending 416 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels (AWD is a $ 3,250 upgrade) through a 10-speed automatic transmission. The engine is content with delivering almost no soundtrack in its normal operating range, partly due to an extremely well-insulated cabin, but the liberal use of my right foot elicits a fairly aggressive growl as revs pick up.
However, despite its F Sport designation, I wouldn’t recommend whipping this rig. Moving the dash-mounted mode switch to Sport or Sport Plus has a noticeable and immediate effect; active suspension stiffens and throttle response wakes up, but someone forgot to warn the transmission. Shifts remain the priority for smoothness which means the slush really lives up to its nickname despite everything else behaving more lively. You can spend $ 7,800 on the Dynamic Handling Package which adds rear-wheel steering, variable-ratio power steering, and active anti-roll bars, but I don’t think it’s worth it.
The throttle also does this weird thing where a quick lift of my right foot doesn’t exactly register right away with the engine, so the momentum continues to build for about a quarter of a second before the weight moves forward and the engine brake come into play. It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the switchbacks.
But that’s okay, because even in the F Sport version, the LS 500 is built for long and steady cruising, and in this task it absolutely dominates. Leave everything in Comfort mode and let this sedan pamper you all day. My tester’s optional air suspension ($ 1,400) eliminates all the little annoyances that would have tried to make their way to the cabin, and the pedal modulation makes every time you start and stop the quality of a limo. It’s clear how the LS prefers to operate, and it’s also clear that Lexus has made a huge effort to make this one of the smoothest rides in the segment, which is pretty tough. It’s so damn comfortable.
Not using a V8 also has the side benefit of tolerable fuel economy. My tester’s F Sport RWD setup is rated at 18mpg in the city and 29mpg on the motorway, which isn’t too shabby for a £ 5,000 bank vault. The LS 500h hybrid beat 25 in the city and 33 on the highway, but what are a couple of emm-pee-gees between friends?
Up to brass tacks
In the large executive luxury sedan segment, nothing is really cheap, but the 2021 Lexus LS represents a good deal. My tester starting price of $ 80,625 including target rings well below the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series, and is way under the latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which at the time of writing requires a six-figure entrance fee. Almost fully charged, the LS on my driveway carries a $ 98,630 window sticker. If anything, Lexus’ biggest cause for concern is just across the Sea of Japan; the latest Genesis G90 is almost as good as the LS, with aggressively similar pricing and a far superior infotainment system.
When change is a daily constant, it’s nice to experience something that feels a little more right. This is the 2021 Lexus LS 500 in a nutshell; you don’t need all the latest techno-doodads to make a great luxury car that’s high in build quality and ride comfort. Lexus leans on all of its strengths with the LS, and it shows. Now let’s do something about that infotainment …