2018 Lexus LS 500 sedan is a masterwork of engineering and
luxurious, the 2018 Lexus LS 500 sedan is a masterwork of
engineering and design wrapped around a jumble of needlessly
complicated and fussy controls.
The big sedan’s
looks and comfort can easily stand alongside the best in the
industry. It uses an all-new architecture that will be the basis for
Lexus cars — and perhaps an SUV or two — for years to come. The
architecture is called, you guessed it, GA-L or global
architecture-luxury. Flights of poetry like that are enough to make
you glad Lexus uses strings of letters and numbers rather than
creating names for its vehicles.
Most new cars
that are going on sale now are labeled 2019 models, but don’t let
the LS’s 2018 tag bother you. The car is all new. Toyota built a
few before Jan. 1, so it had be called a 2018.
competes with sedans like the Audi A8, BMW 7-series, Cadillac CT6,
Jaguar XJ and Mercedes S-class. You might be able to stretch a point
to call the Lincoln Continental Black Label AWD a competitor, but
Lincoln’s engineering, price and image are so different that few
if any buyers considering the Lexus sedan are also shopping Ford’s
2018 Lexus LS
five-passenger large luxury sedan
tested: $102,640 (excluding destination charge)
(Out of four stars)
buy: Styling; ride; interior look and feel
Controls; voice recognition; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto not
Prices for the
2018 Lexus LS start at $75,000 for a rear-wheel-drive model.
All-wheel drive starts at $78,220. A 3.5L V6 engine is standard,
replacing the V8 that powered the previous generation. A 10-speed
automatic transmission is standard.
offers a hybrid, the LS 500h. Prices start at $79,510. It comes with
a different 3.5L V6, two electric motors, lithium-ion battery and a
fancy transmission that combines aspects of a traditional automatic
with the continuously variable unit most hybrids use to mimic the
I tested a
nicely equipped LS 500 with a leather-wrapped interior, Ultrasuede
headliner, wood trim, panoramic sun roof, 23-speaker Mark Levinson
audio; collision alert, autonomous emergency braking, power trunk
lid; 10 air bags; LED head and tail lights; navigation; voice
recognition, heated and ventilated front seats and more.
for $102,640, excluding destination charges.
$75,000 base price is far lower than its competitors’, but it’s
a unicorn: You’re never likely to see one, and I’d be a bit
surprised if Lexus actually builds a totally base LS. The
as-equipped price of the car I tested is competitive with the A8,
7-series, CT6, XJ and S-class.
transmission, all-wheel-drive models where available)
Lexus LS 500
Audi A8 L 4.0T
Platinum 3.0L AWD: $88,295
Jaguar XJ L
supercharged (rear-drive): $96,300
Continental Black Label 3.0L AWD: $67,415
The LS is
easily the most elegant sedan Toyota’s ever built. Its long nose,
short rear deck and flowing roof line and fenders ooze power and
is equally lovely. My car had the optional luxury package. You’d
think you could assume luxury over $70 grand, but the $12,270
mega-option brings with it semi-aniline leather trim, 28-way
massaging power front seats, heated power reclining outboard rear
seats and more.
the top rear-seat package. An executive package includes more power
back seat adjustments, foot rests, power butterfly head rears and
more. It goes for $17,080 or $23,080, depending on whether you opt
for the Kiriko glass etched crystal trim.
The list of
rear seat options shows what matters to Lexus owners, but the LS’s
running gear is impressive, too.
The 3.5L V6
— the first turbo in Lexus’s flagship sedan — is smooth and
powerful, producing more torque and horsepower than the 2017 LS’s
4.6L V8. The 10-speed automatic transmission is fast and seamless,
delivering imperceptible shifts even when accelerating hard.
optional air suspension was extraordinarily effective, cushioning
bumps so thoroughly that even traffic bumps were unobtrusive.
features include steering assist, which aims to help keep the car
centered in its lane and even swerve to avoid pedestrians when the
automatic braking can’t prevent a collision. The
pedestrian-avoidance feature was not totally effective in a
demonstration Lexus staged with dummies.
controls for features like smartphones, navigation and audio are
cumbersome and frustrating. The voice-recognition system was slow
and inaccurate with destination addresses and naming contacts for
hands-free phone calls. Even things as elementary as turning on the
heated or ventilated front seats requires the touch pad.
If you can’t
dictate your destination’s address, you have to use a touch pad in
the center console. It’s time-consuming and frustrating. For
safety reasons, you can’t input an address while moving. That’s
good, but I’m convinced other actions you can do in motion, such
as turning on the heated seats, are more distracting and
time-consuming than a touch screen or dedicated button would be.
and Android Auto are not available. Lexus does offer its Entune
system, but I’m not a fan of automakers that inconvenience owners
by insisting on their branded interface rather than the very good
universal systems that are already available.
The LS 500 is
a heavy car. My AWD model with air suspension had the worst
weight-to-power ratio in the group, tipping the scales at 4,905
pounds, hundreds of pounds more than the competition. That, and
Lexus’s prioritization of comfort over sportiness, shows up in
steering and handling that are perfectly competent, but less lively
The trunk is
the biggest in its class, but the short rear deck contributes to a
narrow opening that makes it hard to load large objects.
twin-turbo 24-valve V6
horsepower at 6,000 rpm; 442 pound-feet of torque at 1,600-4,800 rpm
The LS 500’s
all-new 3.5L V6 produces 416 hp at 6,000 rpm and 44 lb-ft of torque
from 1,600 to 4,800 rpm. It’s horsepower output is so strong that
I compared the Lexus V6 to V8-powered models of the A8, 7-series, XJ
and S-class because none of their V6s approach 400 hp. Only the
Cadillac and Lincoln V6s cross that bar, but they’re both smaller
3.0L engines that don’t match the Lexus.
The LS 500’s
fuel economy is excellent, particularly given its weight. The EPA
rates it at 18 mpg in the city, 27 highway and 21 combined, using
combined figure beats all the competitors except the Cadillac CT6
and Mercedes S560, which tie the Lexus at 21 mpg. The Continental is
thirstier, but less expensive to fuel, since the EPA rated it at 19
mpg combined using less expensive regular gasoline.
EPA fuel economy ratings
transmission, all-wheel-drive models)
Lexus LS 500
AWD: 18 mpg city/27 highway/21 combined. Premium gasoline
Audi A8 L 4.0T
Sport: 16/26/19. Premium.
xDrive: $16/25/19. Premium
Platinum 3.0L AWD: 18/26/21. Premium
Jaguar XJ L
supercharged (rear-drive): 15/23/18. Premium
Continental Black Label 3.0L AWD: 16/24/19. Regular gasoline
4Matic: 17/27/21. Premium gasoline
The 2018 Lexus
LS sedan has the looks and power to run with the world’s best
luxury sedans. The interior and exterior designs set new highs for
the brand’s opulence. The controls are needlessly fussy and
difficult to use, a disappointment in a car that’s loaded with
much of the latest safety technology. But if you don’t care much
about using your smartphone and entertainment systems, it’s hard
to imagine a more comfortable sedan.
on vehicle tested
equipment: Antilock brakes; stability control; brake assist;
electronic brake force distribution; front seat knee air bags;
side-mounted front and rear seat air bags; curtain air bags;
adaptive cruise control; pedestrian detection; lane departure alert
and assist; automatic high beams; blind spot and cross traffic
alert; LED headlights, taillights and turn signals; rain-sensing
wipers; navigation; touch pad; backup camera; 4GB WiFi; three months
SiriusXM satellite radio; memory for driver settings; wood trim;
leather seating surfaces; power sun shades; power trunk; heated
steering wheel and side mirrors; power locks, windows and mirrors.
Steering assist for pedestrian avoidance; automatic braking for
crash avoidance; road sign recognition; front cross traffic alert;
24-inch head-up display; adaptive air suspension with height
adjustment; 20-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels; adaptive front lighting
system; perforated aniline leather interior trim; Ultrasuede head
liner; 28-way massaging front seats; 18-way power reclining outboard
rear seats; 23-speaker 2,400-watt Mark Levinson audio; four-zone
climate control; panoramic sun roof; 360-degree monitor.