There’s something to be said for having, or at least aspiring to have, “the best” of anything. Edward Lewis (played by Richard Gere) in the movie Pretty Woman was asked “why do you have the penthouse if you’re scared of heights”. He astutely responded, “because it’s the best”. Aside from the achingly pretty LC500 coupe and convertible, (and the aging LX 570) the LS 500 sedan is the most expensive vehicle in the Lexus lineup, from a starting MSRP perspective at least. Since the LC is a bit of a niche model, and the LX is almost old enough to drive itself, I consider the LS 500 the top of the Lexus lineup. So, when they dropped a new LS off for a week, not long after driving its baby brother ES 250, I was excited to tool around DC in it.
LS 500 Overview
The Lexus sedan lineup is actually pretty simple. IS, ES. LS. If you remember your alphabet, you’ll get the picture; the higher the letter, the larger and more luxurious the car. The LS dates back to the late 1980s and established Lexus as a company that could actually build a full-size luxury car. With a long hood, big engine, and incredibly comfortable interior, in my opinion, the “personal luxury car” never left. It just sprouted some back doors, and actually got a bit smaller. The 206 inches long LS seems more “personal” than 230 inch Mark V coupe.
Anyway, the LS is currently in its fifth generation, and while it’s not nearly as aged as the LX, it’s been around since the 2018 model year. For 2021, it comes in three trim levels including base LS, LS F Sport, and LS Hybrid variants. Starting price is $76,000 for a RWD LS and $79,250 if you want AWD.
All non-hybrid models have a 3.5L twin-turbo V6 with 416 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. That, according to Lexus, is enough to push the big car to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. That’s not just fast for a full-size sedan, that’s just fast. Especially in a vehicle without sporting pretensions that weighs 4,700-4,900 pounds. As James May once said, a great luxury car should just be about effortlessly getting up to speed. More on the driving experience later, but that’s pretty spot on for the LS 500. Add an adaptive suspension, 10-speed automatic, big brakes, and big wheels, and you’ve got yourself a pretty solid option in the full-size segment.
Features are extensive, some of my favorites included:
- 28-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with multifunction massage and cushion extender (optional)
- Four-zone Climate Concierge with climate-comfort front and outboard rear seats, infrared sensors, and air purifier
- 22-way power-adjustable rear seats with butterfly headrests, memory, and multifunction massage with heat (optional)
- Kiriko Glass with hand-pleated interior door trim (optional)
- Semi-aniline leather-trimmed rear armrest with 7.0-in touchscreen controller (optional)
Any car with massaging seats, from this LS to the last Expedition I tested, is going to get my aging body’s attention. This sucker even has them in the back, my daughter stretched out in the reclining seats, dropped the rear shades remotely, and lounged. It’s a great place to spend some time.
Our car specifically included the Luxury Package which gets you a lot of stuff, but it’s a $12,710 add-on and requires the addition of the adaptive air suspension ($1,400) and the panoramic view monitor ($800).
- Adaptive Variable Air Suspension with rapid height function
- UV- and infrared-cutting window glass
- Power full-coverage rear window sunshade and power rear window sunshades
- Panoramic View Monitor
- Ultrasuede headline and sun visors
- Semi-aniline leather-trimmed seats with premium stitching design
- Semi-aniline leather-trimmed door armrest and center console trim
- Semi-aniline leather-trimmed rear center armrest
- Power-adjustable front headrests
- Premium Wood
- 28-way power and pneumatic driver’s and front passenger’s seats with cushion extender
and massage feature
- Automatic power lift-up buckle for front driver’s and passenger’s seats
- 18-way reclining power rear seats, including two-way cushion tilt and memory feature
- Four-zone automatic climate control with infrared temperature sensor
- Heated and cooled rear seats
- Rear 7.0-inch high-resolution touchscreen controller
- Rear seat cushion airbags (2)
Here is the final breakdown of our Lexus LS loaner’s pricing. It starts at $76,000 even and then adds:
- Lexus Safety System+ A(AP) $3,000
- Digital Rearview Mirror (DM) $200
- Head-up Display (GH) $1,200
- Luxury Package (LL) $12,710
- Mark Levinson (ML) $1,940
- Panoramic Glass Roof (PR) $1,000
- Heated Wood and Leather-Trimmed
- Steering Wheel (WS) $410
- Premium Paint $595
- Delivery, Processing, and Handling $1,025
Price as Tested – $98,080