And one that will drive you crazy.
The 1990 LS 400 is the car that put Lexus on the map and three decades later, the 2020 Lexus LS 500 carries on its predecessor's tradition of offering flagship luxury combined with clockwork reliability. The fifth-generation Lexus LS has been on the market since the 2018 model year, receiving only minor updates since then. But we recently had a chance to drive a 2020 model with all of the available tech and luxury goodies to see how the LS stacks up against its competitors from Germany and South Korea.
We've come up with our five favorite features in the LS 500 that will make your jaw drop and one that will get your blood boiling. If you have read any of our Lexus reviews recently, our lone hated feature may come as no surprise but we have confidence that Lexus will roll out a solution imminently.
Lexus sure knows how to craft an interior, that's for sure. From the moment you step into the cabin of the LS, you know you are in for a treat. The LS offers nine different interior color schemes plus two additional schemes for the F Sport. Buyers can opt for combinations with natural, laser-cut woodwork or Naguri-style aluminum, both of which look fantastic. Our tester included the optional 28-way adjustable seats with quilting and perforation, further adding to the luxurious feel. No matter how you configure your LS, it will feel like a high-quality item.
As part of a $23,080 Executive Package, our tester included Japanese Kiriko glassware in place of the wood and aluminum. This is the only time we can recall seeing glass used as interior trim and the results are stunning. Each piece of glass is cut using laser data copying and polishing technology to mimic the hand-cut style of the Japanese Kiriko glass cutting technique. Your passengers will be amazed when the light reflects off of this beautiful trim which is paired with hand-pleated cloth upholstery on the doors.
For more than the price of a new Toyota Corolla, the Executive Package provides Executive rear seats, which feature power reclining, heating, ventilation, massage, and even a recliner on the passenger side. Using the included touchscreen in the armrest, the right rear occupant can slide the front passenger seat into its furthest position, yielding enough room for the leg rest. The touchscreen also controls the car audio, climate, and window shades.
Flagship sedans like the LS are often used as a showcase for a company's best technology. The LS features an optional 24-inch color head-up display for just $300, a must-have option in our eyes. Lexus' HUD is among the largest in the auto industry and it features clever functions like front cross-traffic alert, using yellow arrows to show drivers when there is oncoming traffic. The HUD also displays information such as speed, speed limits, and the status of the driver aids.
The LS 500 is the first iteration of the LS to ditch the V8 engine in favor of a 3.5-liter V6. In the hybrid, the V6 is naturally aspirated but it comes twin-turbocharged in the standard car. Total output is 416 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque, easily outproducing the old 4.6-liter V8 while improving fuel efficiency. We don't miss the two extra cylinders because this V6 is buttery smooth. Some of that smoothness can be attributed to Lexus' 10-speed automatic transmission, which never exhibits a jarring gear change.
The V6 even sounds pretty good, especially when the car is placed in Sport+ mode, activating the enhanced engine noise. Lexus has also announced plans to introduce a new twin-turbocharged V8 engine, which could eventually find its way into the LS producing around 600 hp.
We hate to keep harping on it, but the Lexus Enform touchpad controller ruins what is otherwise a nice infotainment experience. The 12.3-inch display in the LS 500 feels massive and boasts high-resolution graphics, but it can only be controlled using the touchpad, which feels finicky and is distracting to use while driving. Lexus has already listened to customer complaints and re-introduced a touchscreen back into the 2020 RX.
Sadly, the new touchscreen hasn't made its way to the LS just yet, but we have high hopes Lexus could make the change in the coming model years. And while we are complaining about one of the only major flaws in the LS, we'd like to see Android Auto continue to find its way into more Lexus models, as only Apple CarPlay is available here for the 2020 model year.