The 2019 Lexus LS 500 F Sport isn’t your grandfather’s LS, or your father’s. It’s all-new and ready for the modern world.
Lexus knows what it’s doing these days. It’s at the top of the rankings for quality and reliability. Gone are the days of people bemoaning the brand’s bland styling.
Lexus is hip. Lexus is doing a lot of things right, and the LS 500 is the perfect example of that.
However, in an automotive age when the cash cows are pickup trucks and SUVs, it’s somewhat surprising that the company would spend so much of its time and effort on another car instead of another crossover SUV.
Still, I’m not complaining. The market still needs sedans, and I like them. The LS fills a hole in the market, one that lies below the Mercedes-Benz and BMW cars, but above the new players from Genesis.
You might think you know what to expect from an LS, the 2019 LS 500 F Sport will surprise you. It’s different than the LS that came before it, and in all the right ways, it’s very similar, too.
What Is It?
Based on the same GA-L platform as the Lexus LC 500, the LS 500 is the Lexus’ flagship luxury sedan.
It comes with either a 415 hp twin-turbo V6 under the hoodor a 345 hp hybrid powertrain that combines a V6 with two electric motors.
You can get the sedan with either rear or all-wheel drive. Our tester came with all-wheel drive, and we could feel it making a difference on twisty roads.
A Modern Car With Modern Styling
Lexus offers the sedan with an F Sport package, which adds F Sport-tuned suspension, F Sport seats, and various other F Sport cosmetic additions to the interior and exterior of the car. Our tester came with the F Sport package, and it adds visually to the car.
Speaking of visuals, the LS 500 takes cues from the LC 500 coupe. It has the large Spindle corporate grille, curves, and creases that make it stand out from its siblings without placing the model outside of the family.
In short, it looks like a modern Lexus. It’s the best-looking Lexus with four doors.
An Interior Fitting for a Flagship
The interior is a high-class but busy place to be from a styling standpoint. The materials Lexus uses are superb—Soft, smooth, and durable leather covers the seats, steering wheel, gear shifter, parts of the doors and dash.
The rest of the interior is made up of machined or brushed aluminum, wood trim, piano black plastic, and “kiriko” cut glass should you choose it.
Will It Satisfy the Technophiles?
The technology is modern and up to date, too, with the latest iteration of the Lexus Enform infotainment system with Wi-Fi, Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay, dynamic navigation, Enform App Suite, and Enform Service Connect.
The optional Mark Levinson 23-speaker system in the car is simply superb and offers good sound quality at any volume. We assume the base system to still be quality, though not quite as good.
Unfortunately, Lexus continues on with its touchpad infotainment controller. The system is better than ever before. It’s slightly more precise and easier to use, but it lacks the precision of its competitor’s controllers and requires far too much of your attention while driving.
Plenty of Safety Technology
From a safety standpoint, you get 10 airbags, road sign assist, vehicle dynamics integrated management, vehicle stability control, brake assist, traction control, ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution.
You also get the Lexus Safe System+, which bundles most of the advanced collision sensors and pedestrian sensors and driver assist features together.
How Big Is It?
You can expect a Luxury flagship sedan to be larger than most cars on the road, and the LS 500 is no exception.
Big On The Outside
If there’s one thing true about the Lexus LS 500 it’s that it’s long. The wheelbase is long, which makes for a smooth ride, but the sheer length of the car can make it difficult on tighter roads and parking lots.
Having said that, its competitors are close if not longer, though. For comparison, the LS 500 measures about 206 inches or more than 17 feet long.
That’s still shorter than the Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan, which is about a half an inch longer. The Audi A8 is longer, too, at nearly 209 inches long.
Big On the Inside, Too
Interior dimensions are comparable, too. The Lexus LS offers 41 inches of legroom up front and 38.9 in the rear.
The Mercedes-Benz edges out the Lexus for front seat legroom but comes up short against the LS’s generous rear seat legroom. The Audi A8 wins by a landslide here, offering 41.5 inches of legroom up front and 44.3 inches in the rear.
Where the A8 comes up short though is in the trunk space. The Audi only offers 12.5 cubic feet whereas the Lexus offers 16.95 cubic feet. The Mercedes wins by offering 18.7 cubic feet in the trunk.
Overall, the LS does a good job when compared to the competition in terms of size.
Having said that, the much less expensive Lexus ES sedan actually offers more front and rear legroom, headroom, shoulder room, and hip room than the bigger LS. Its trunk is only a quarter of a cubic foot smaller, too.
Does It Work?
In a word, yes. The LS 500 fulfills its mission.
It’s a unique Luxury sedan that offers most of what any other flagship luxury sedan can but at a lower price. Also, if the Lexus reputation for quality and reliability holds true with this model, it’s a car you can drive until you’re too old to drive.
The Lexus LS is happy leisurely traveling around the city or suburbs. It is a consummate highway cruiser with plenty of power and fantastic seats for those long drives. It even offers more than a modicum of sportiness on even the most challenging of twisty roads.
The twin-turbo engine is smooth, strong, and sounds good. The 10-speed automatic transmission knows what it’s doing and never feels like it’s in the wrong gear.
The car is heavy but doesn’t let you know it too often, and it gets a respectable 19 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined—right on par with the competitors, and better than some.
It’s a fantastic car, and when you compare it to the competition, it not only holds up but does so in a way that helps it stand apart, especially in the price department.
Is It Worth It?
The new design for the Lexus LS came out in 2018. Sales in that year more than doubled the previous year’s numbers in America. That would suggest that people found it to be a car worth buying.
Also, worth noting is that sales for 2019 are going strong so far. The model is on track to perform well again in 2019.
With a $75,300 starting price tag for the rear-wheel-drive model, the LS is more affordable than its immediate competition. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan starts at $91,250. The Audi A8 starts at $83,800. The BMW 7-Series starts at $83,650.
If you want to beat the Lexus LS 500’s price tag you have to go to Genesis or Cadillac.
Is There a Better Option?
Well, that really depends on what you want. If you want a well-appointed, luxury sedan and don’t care if its front-wheel drive, I’d suggest looking to the Lexus ES instead of the LS 500.
The ES isn’t quite as powerful or prestigious, but it offers more interior space and only gives up a tiny bit in terms of cargo space.
The Lexus ES is the best it’s ever been, too. Lexus reworked it on the new Toyota Camry platform. It may be a front-wheel drive car, but it’s sportier than ever before and easier to maneuver due to its smaller overall size than the LS.
However, if you must own a flagship sedan and are looking for something that you know will run forever and still offers good value, then the LS 500 might be a good choice for you.
The Lexus brand comes with plenty of prestige and the LS is a true presence on the road.
What’s the Verdict?
The Lexus LS 500 F Sport is the kind of car you’re going to smile at almost every time you come out to the garage. Its demanding presence, stylish good looks, high levels of comfort, and superb fit and finish make it an excellent car.
It’s not the sportiest large sedan out there. It’s also not the smoothest pillowy-riding sedan out there. The model walks a fine line between comfortable cruiser and sports sedan, and it does so while swaddling you in some of the best interior materials in the business.
For the money, this sedan is an excellent choice. It gives you much of what the most expensive models at a noticeably lower price. It’s not perfect, but the complaints are few, and the pros far outweigh the cons.
Note: This car was provided for review by Toyota USA for the purposes of this review.
Base Price: $75,300
Price as Tested: $88,605
Drive Type: all-wheel drive
Engine: twin-turbocharged V6
Transmission: 10-speed automatic with paddle shifters
Power Output: 416 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque
EPA: 19 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined
Optional Equipment: F Sport package, 24-inch head-up display, Mark Levinson audio system with 23 speakers