2019 Lexus LS 500 F Sport AWD Review

Designed to be different... and beautiful


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Sleek and edgy exterior is truly attractive, interior style breaks from the Germans in a big way, seriously plush and quiet ride.
Negatives: Vague infotainment controls, throttle response feels empty, too much body roll, infotainment controls still vague.
Bottom Line: The LS holds its own in the luxury sedan game not by performance or big V8 power but via excellent design and high levels of build quality. If the Germans are off putting to you, the LS makes a solid case for a premium Japanese luxury sedan.
The biggest sedan in the Lexus was redesigned for the 2018 model year, but it seems no one really noticed. The LS was once dominant in the segment when it first arrived a quarter century ago, but it seems to have faded into near-obscurity compared to BMW and Mercedes counterparts. But that doesn't mean it's not an excellent luxury automobile because the LS aims for beautiful design and near-peerless quality. It's on par in terms of pricing with the BMW 7-Series and the Audi A8, but it's about $10K less than a new Merc S-Class. We drove it in F Sport trim that provides styling and suspension upgrades, as well as an additional Sport+ driving mode. Read on for our full review.
 

Driving Experience

8

 

Even in F SPORT trim, the LS isn't what you'd consider sporty, and that's geared toward the target market that's older and more conservative with their driving habits. The LS is more for cruising than carving, and it's damned good at it.

Ride Quality: The LS is really a limo of a luxury sedan with a seriously compliant ride. Nothing seems to upset its great shock absportion.

Acceleration: 0-60 comes in 5.8 seconds, which might seem quick, but its competitors are quicker. The transmission is also slow to downshift, and the throttle response takes a second to kick in after you press the gas.

Braking: The brake pedal feel isn't really there, but it slows down well at lower speeds. At highway speeds, this lack of feel means you have to really push the brakes to come to a stop.

Steering: The steering is definitely on the light side, but Sport+ mode helps provide a little more effort. There's almost no feedback an there's no increase in effort when turning. Response, however, is decent.

Handling: There's less body roll in the F Sport than the standard LS, but you can still feel it. The car weighs almost 5,000 pounds, so this is no surprise. The Germans are more agile.

Technology

7.9

 

Lexus has struggled with infotainment for a while, and the struggle continues. They keep improving their system with better graphics, bigger screens, and more intuitive menus, but the controls are still distracting while driving. This car deserves better.

Infotainment System: The Enform system looks great on the huge 12.3" screen with a nice linear menu at the base. Now the system comes with Apple CarPlay compatibility for 2019 and and Amazon Alexa functionality. The huge color heads-up display is also wonderful to look at, providing key driving data in crisp form.

Controls: Other than the vague touchpad that still plagues the big Lexus, the rest of the controls are excellent, from the steering wheel controls to the unique and easy climate control toggles. The dual-function audio knob feels great in the hand and brilliantly incorporates volume and tuning in a single knob. The shift knob is also one of the best we've ever come across with its perfect sizing and low height, and the control stalks at the top of the instrument binnacle from the LFA supercar are fun to use, as well as great to look at.

Styling

8.8

 

Though Lexus's spindle grille and angular styling isn't everyone's cup of tea, the LS exhibits the design language remarkably well and with cohsiveness, compared to the last LS where the angularity was definitely an afterthought. The interior is one of the best in the industry with fresh styling that shows Lexus's originality in the industry.

Front: Everything looks pulled toward the center of the facia thanks to the big F Sport black mesh spindle grille. It looks great here with compact LED headlights and big intakes.

Rear: The rear is less dramatic but still handsome. It borrows some of the taillight styling from the IS sedan with the corners of the tailight dropping down into the rear quarter panel.

Profile: The long lines are punctuated by elegant muscularity with the front and rear haunches. We also love the big dark wheels, as well as the steep rake of the front and rear glass.

Cabin: We love what Lexus has done with the LS. It's special in its own way with fluid lines along the dash and materials that are top notch. Leather, glass, and metal are prevalent, and everything looks and feels sublime. It's a special cabin worthy of praise.

Comfort

9.6

 

There's ample room inside the LS for front and rear occupants, as well as some of the best seats in the industry. The angled greenhouse can make ingress and egress difficult, but once you're inside, it's a great place to be.

Front Seats: The F SPORT seats have plenty of support and good bolstering, and the adjustability is excellent. Drivers of all sizes will feel right at home.

Rear Seats: Though our tester didn't have the Executive Package with its premium buckets, the rear seats are nonetheless very comfortable with plenty of legroom.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Even at high speeds, the LS 500 is whisper-quiet. Its sublime ride is mated with a very quiet cabin.

Visibility: Visibility is good, but the steeply raked rear glass compromises rearward sightlines. The cameras are a huge help.

Climate: The system is quick, powerful, and very effective at heating and cooling. It's one of the best ones we've used.

Safety

7.5

 

The LS has not been crash tested by either body, but it does have a ton of standard and optional safety equipment, including automatic driving aids that work to its advantage and is expected at this price point.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: The LS comes with the superb Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 that includes such features as a Pre-Collision System, an adaptive cruise control system that works at all speeds, and semi-autonomous Lane Tracing Assist, to name a few.

Optional Tech: The big 24" color heads-up display puts important data right in front of you. We loved it.

Storage/Cargo

9.5

 

There are some great storage options in the cabin, well done given the fact that the interior is design-centric. The trunk is massive and can hold two full-sized golf bags.

Storage Space: Though there are no open cubbies in the center stack or center console, the huge armrest and retractable-door cupholders offer plenty of concealed space for smaller items. The door pockets are good, too.

Cargo Room: The trunk is wide and deep, offering almost 17 cubic feet of cargo space.

Fuel Economy

7.3

 

The big Lexus is no miser, but it's not bad for a large sedan. We drove it in Sport+ mode 100% of the time, so our mileage suffered. If you want better efficiency, go with the LS 500h hybrid model.

Observed: 18.2 mpg

Distance Driven: 192 miles.

Audio

9.7

 

The 23-speaker Mark Levinson system is one of the best in the business, rivaling Bang & Olufsen and Harman Kardon with rich, full sound that bathes the interior regardless of your musical tastes. The fact that it's less than $2K as an option is remarkable.



Final Thoughts

Though the LS 500 F Sport may not offer the driving thrills of the BMW 7-Series with a Sport Package, it's a great luxury sedan that's worth taking a look at. It's definitely a different flavor when it comes to big, premium sedans, but it's a great departure. It lacks the pretentiousness of the Germans and is bigger and more luxurious than the Volvo S90. If only they can dial up the handling and throttle response, as well as work on the infotainment controls, it would be just about perfect.
Shopping for a new
Lexus LS 500?

(844) 801-8526
Call our vehicle experts for
assistance with your research.