Tuesday, April 30, 2019

2019 Lexus LS 500 F-Sport: The Brand's Flagship Luxury Sedan Adds Curves and Flair

Highlight: The LS is only available with a 6-cylinder engine.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $101,905 (Base model: $76,325)

Seating Capacity: 4 or 5 (depending upon trim)

Standard Safety Features: ABS; airbags; a back up camera; heated dimming exterior mirrors; a tire pressure monitoring system; a pre-collision system; a radar activated cruise control system; a lane departure alert system with a lane keep assist; an automatic high beam automatic headlamp system; blind spot electronic mirrors; a rear traffic cross alert system; a pre-collision braking system; a parking assist system with an auto-stop system; stability control system; and rain-sensitive windshield wipers

Standard Equipment: 19-inch wheels; a 10-speed automatic transmission; a push button ignition system; a heated leather steering wheel; steering wheel paddle shifters; power front seats; a rear seat power control mechanism to control the from passenger seat; power front headrests; leather seats; a dual zone automatic climate control system; a power rear sunshade; leather trimmed assist grips; ambient airplane-like interior lighting;  a power moonroof; 4- illuminated visor vanity mirrors; a variety of driving modes; a navigation system; in-vehicle Wi-Fi; a 12-inch infotainment screen; a hands free open and close trunk with a kick feature; an automatic soft touch door closer; a remote touchpad; LFA-inspired digital instrumentation; memory feature settings for both front seat occupants; access fuel updates, sports scores and stock (prices) picks

Standard F-Sport Equipment: 20-inch wheels; darkened chrome lower trim; dark Graphite finish; larger front brakes; larger rear brakes; bolstered sport front seats; an ergonomic steering wheel trimmed in leather; and a race inspired instrumentation

Options On Test Vehicle: 20-inch wheels; pre-collision active braking; active steering assist; pedestrian alert; front cross traffic alert; and a lane change assist system; adaptive variable air suspension with a rapid height adjustment; a windshield wiper de-icer; headlamp washer; enhanced interior heater; a heads up display system; a 23-speaker Mark Levinson audio system; mesh grille inserts; a rear diffuser; ultra-suede headliner; aluminum pedals; variable gear ratio steering; active rear steering; active stabilizer; a panoramic glass roof; panoramic view monitor; and a F-sport leather heated steering wheel

Other Trim Level: a hybrid

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 12-speaker AM/FM/CD/HD satellite radio

Apple CarPlay/Android: Only Apple CarPlay

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 6 years or 70,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 3.5-liter, 6-cylinder/416-hp

Recommended Fuel: Premium

Standard Fuel Mileage:

What’s New: The current generation LS was overhauled during the 2018 model year. The brand’s fifth generation LS continues to push the envelope in terms of styling, technology and luxury accouterments.

The LS 450 has been replaced by the more fuel-efficient LS 500.

For the 2019 model year, the LS is now outfitted with both Amazon Alexa and Apple CarPlay.

Why: The brand’s flagship sedan is available in a rear wheel drive or an all-wheel drive configuration. The fifth generation luxury sedan is available in a base trim and a sportier performance-oriented F-Series.

In reimaging this big body Lexus, the brand borrowed exterior design styling cues from Porsche’s Panamera, with its new curvaceous fastback rear roofline. Styling cues are also borrowed from Jaguar's XJ and the brand's flagship coupe, the Lexus LC. Also the brand's massive signature spindle grille finally seems fitting with this new design.

For this luxury stalwart, this is a break from the traditional stodgy styling one usually attaches to today’s flagship sedans, especially Lexus. Like Porsche, this Japanese automaker has made great strides to push the LS, or more specifically, the F-Sport, toward being a performance luxury vehicle, with its lower and wider profile. This stance is due to the hood and trunk approximately 1.2 inches and 1.6 inches lower, respectively. In order to compensate for the wider look, the brand’s flagship is available with an optional air suspension system, which raises the vehicle, making it easier for occupants to enter and exit (being that the previous model literally appealed to older buyers). Also the air suspension also aid the driver from avoiding scraping curbs, when parking.

Lexus has also literally pushed the luxury envelope for those who prefer to be chauffeured with several optional packages.

An Executive Package is available, which adds two passenger side seats that can recline up to 48 degrees. With the reclining seats, buyers can enhance the comfort with optional heated and massaging seats. Optional 20-inch chrome wheels are also an additional cost and available with this package.

Also an optional rear seat touchscreen control, which assists rear seat occupants in controlling both the climate control and massage seat settings, is available too. For those seeking aesthetics, Kiriko glass interior door trim is designed by hand to catch the eye and light. Each piece of glass requires up to 147 points of polishing.

And to up the ante with other luxury accouterments, Herringbone trim is available, which involves embedding individual pieces of natural wood in varied colors and grains, are arranged and sliced by hand. Also a hand-pleated interior door trim is available, too.

Finally, as we move into the self-driving movement, the all-new LS is also adding a co-pilot assist steering system. Just like Volvo, the LS require one to gently keep their hands on the steering wheel, when the system is activated. The system is not as advanced as Cadillac’s Super Cruise, which allows one to drive in most instances, without keeping one’s hand on the steering wheel. However, unlike its competitors, the optional Lexus Safety System plus system includes an all-speed radar-activated cruise control system, combined with Lane Trace Assist (LTA) provides steering support on a highway.

In instances, where line markers on the road are somewhat sketchy, the Lane Trace Assist system traces the path of the vehicle ahead of it. The system can also assist on more dynamic roads. For instance, if the speed at which an LTA-equipped vehicle entering a curve is deemed to be too fast, the driver will be altered by way of the vehicle’s heads up display system and multi-information display system... and the vehicle automatically slows down.

Furthermore, when the radar activated cruise control system is activated, the Lane Change Assist System (LCAS) determines if it is safe to change lanes and steer the vehicle into the next lane, if it is clear to do such. All of these systems working together collectively makes driving almost effortless and less stressful.

The all-new LS is also powered by a new 10-speed automatic transmission, which is matted to a smooth shifting 3.5-liter, twin-turbo 6-cylinder engine. The previous model was powered by a 4.6-liter, 8-cylinder engine that only pushed out 386-horsepower. With the new twin-turbo 6-cylinder engine and new transmission, traditional V8 buyers won’t miss the underpowered, inefficient engine. The all-new LS also offers a variety of driving modes too. Based upon the mood of the driver, the driver should be able to find the right setting to suit their needs.

But: One of the continuous complaints with Lexus is that the design engineering team should consider adding dials and knobs to the infotainment system. The remote touch pad, which is designed, to operate the ventilation and audio system seemed to be overly sensitive.

In fact, we had difficulty cancelling the directions we requested from the voice activated navigation system and turning off the ventilated driver’s seat. It took us several tries, before we were able to turn off the ventilated seats. Buttons and knobs could have resolved this issue. And, unfortunately, the engineering team for the LS didn’t design a touchscreen system.

Also the LS should borrow a feature from BMW, which allows one to lock all of the doors from a switch which is located on the power trunk.

Moreover, like all Toyota and Lexus models, the LS is not compatible with Android smartphones.

Lastly, for buyers seeking an 8-cylinder engine, a wireless charging pad and an automatic perpendicular/parallel parking system, they’ll have to defer to their competitors.

Verdict: As car buyers shift toward luxury trucks, SUVs and crossovers, the big body LS continues to be a dream to drive (or ride in) despite consumers shift in the market. With the bold red leather seats, the technological enhancements, the more fuel-efficient engine and the Panamera-like exterior design, the LS  F Sport we reviewed is virtually a hit in our eyes. Lexus continues to push the envelope in building and designing world class vehicles. Furthermore, the new co-pilot assist steering system pushes the LS toward being a stress-free driving vehicle.

Competition: Audi A8; BMW 7-Series; Genesis G90; Jaguar XJ; Kia K900; Mercedes-Benz S-Class; and Porsche Panamera

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