The LS 500 was redesigned for 2018 with an upgraded interior and new sweeping body lines. Returning for the new model year is the LS 500h, an effective hybrid that improves economy and earns an Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle rating. Reconfigured to complete with the European high end cars the new Lexus LS 500 and LS 500h blend luxury and technology raising the bar for personal luxury sedans.
Longer and lower than prior years the LS improves interior space with a large comfortable cabin for all passengers particularly in the Executive Package, 4 seat model where rear seat riders are treated to all the comforts usually reserved for the adults in the front. Semi-Aniline perforated leather trim wraps the seats and surrounds the cabin treating the car’s guests to unexcelled comfort and ease. The 28 way power adjustable front seats include extendable thigh bolsters, heating and cooling as well as a shiatsu massage feature. Rear seats also include heat and cooling, power 18 way adjustments with 48 degree recline and on the Executive Package an ottoman for the right rear passenger.
The LS 500 is all about rider comfort and ease.
To improve the experience Lexus starts with entry and exit enhancements. The air ride control raises the low slung sedan to make entry easier while the outboard lower seat bolster deflates to make slipping into the seat effortless. The easy entry includes moving the steering column all the way forward and the seat all the way back eliminating obstacles to driver access.
Small things can make a big difference and the LS 500 abounds with thoughtful enhancements. Lighted seat belt buckles makes
finding the latch easier, even in the daytime. Rear seat climate control vents placed in the B pillar at chest height improve air flow and comfort for back seat riders. Powered window shades on both rear doors and the back windshield help to reduce heat and improve privacy. LED lighting, individual vanity mirrors for all passengers, illuminated cupholders and ample storage make traveling a relaxed adventure in the LS 500.
The LS 500 has always been Lexus launching platform for the latest technology and the new LS 500 series continues the tradition melding technology into comfort, safety and performance throughout the car. A Mark Levinson 2400 watt, 23 speaker audio system creates a mobile concert hall while the variable air ride suspension smooths out the savage beast of the road. Low speed cornering lights illuminate the dark and scary corners not flooded with light from the new LED intelligent headlamps. Lexus Safety System + A includes emergency braking, distance keeping cruise control, front and rear cross traffic warnings and pedestrian alerts. This is integrated with the industries largest full color heads up display that paints a 24 inch wide information screen on the windshield. Road sign recognition and speed alerts help to keep the driver’s attention focused.
The 12.3 inch horizontal infotainment screen is high center in the dash making it easy to see without dropping your eyes much below the safe sight line to the roadway. Entune is improved for 2018 making connections faster and easier to set up and reconnection time amazingly quick. Alexa is now available through your Lexus and many function of the LS 500 or your home can be controlled from the ubiquitous home servant. Mapping and navigation are excellent, and as Lexus chooses not to embrace Apple or Android you are dependent on the built in system.
The glaring shortfall of an otherwise excellent system is the touch pad controller that is difficult to master and because of its location easy to inadvertently touch sending Entune off in unwanted directions.
The new power plant for the LS 500 is a twin turbocharged 3.5 liter V6 making 416 horsepower coupled to a 10 speed automatic transmission. Power and acceleration is smooth and consistent, shifts are positive without being intrusive and fuel economy is decent. Unfortunately the Hybrid edition is slightly different. The LS 500h employs a 3.6 liter V6 without turbo boost and couples it to a multistage hybrid motor to make 354 horsepower and mates that to a four speed transmission. I found the power curve to be less friendly, shifts to be uncertain and noise level to be noticeably higher. The plus of the hybrid is an Ultra-low emissions rating and 28 mpg combined mileage rating. The non-hybrid enjoys the same emission rating, but returns only 23 mpg overall. With a $4500 price differential it would take a few miles to save the cost on fuel and in the meantime you would have to put up with a less than expected drive experience.
Fully equipped as our test LS 500h was it stickered at 103,000 dollars. While that is out of most new car budgets it is a car for consideration if you are looking at Mercedes or BMW alternatives. The Lexus history of excellence is well earned and untarnished. The dealership network support is about the best in the business and includes technology lessons to help master all of the features included in this marvelous machine.
The 2018 LS 500 is better that flying first class, and almost as good as owning your own jet.
Listen to the on air review done November 17, 2018