2019 Lexus LS Expert Review

Editor's Overview

The 2019 Lexus LS is comfortable, not just in the usual high-quality flagship-sedan way, but also how it presents itself to the world. There’s a pride in its lofty Japanese values, a depth of engineering, and an attention to detail and construction that isn’t compromised by offering so much at relatively reasonable prices.

You'll Like The 2019 Lexus LS If...

If under-cushioned is worse than understeer, if cosseting is more important than cornering, if status symbol is preferred over quick and nimble, then the 2019 Lexus LS could be your dream car.

You May Not Like The 2019 Lexus LS If...

You feel that, at this level, you ought to have everything -- including a driving thrill or two. The BMW 7 Series is shockingly good at achieving this dual personality. The AMG S-Class versions are magnificent, and the Porsche Panamera can kick or soothe. No doubt some will prefer the classily understated European styling as well.

What's New

A partially autonomous lane-changing function is added to the optional bundle of driver aids. A 24-inch head-up display (that’s huge) becomes an individual option. Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa integration also join the long list of tech features in the 2019 LS.

Interior Features

Allow us to expand upon one of our favorite features. While previous LS generations have always enjoyed well-assembled cabins with quality materials, the new LS brings a certain character. Instead of imitating European marques, there’s a justifiable pride in its nation of origin, fusing traditional values with modern high-tech features. The LS offers Kiriko cut-glass/hand-pleated origami-inspired cloth panels in the doors. Alternatively, the more conventional wood trim is exceptionally classy. In addition to exemplary construction, the cabin also features Active Noise Control to keep sound levels subdued.

Exterior Features

Considering the 2019 LS is a large flagship sedan, a class whose customers tend to be on the conservative side, Lexus is taking quite a risk with this latest (and what seems like largest) iteration of its “spindle grille” design feature. Then again, it’s one of those situations where playing it safe would also draw criticism. Working on the premise, then, that not all people can be pleased all the time, perhaps some will find that the seemingly contradictory elements of jagged, angular headlights and smooth curves down the sides combine to form a pleasing whole.

Driving Impressions

The turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 in the new LS has more than enough muscle, which is evident when accelerating off the line or executing a passing move. The 10-speed automatic transmission is beautifully refined, its shift actions barely perceptible. Even though the 2019 LS isn’t particularly sporty, among the selectable driving modes is a Sport Plus setting that sharpens responses of the steering, throttle, transmission and suspension for extra liveliness while remaining essentially comfortable. The F Sport treatment in the LS 500 doesn’t add power but includes a firmer suspension, quicker transmission shifts, and stronger brakes that feel confident without being grabby. For ultimate comfort, an adjustable air suspension is available. The LS 500h hybrid is almost as quick as its regular counterpart, but has the advantage of lower fuel consumption and fewer emissions.

Pricing Notes

The 2019 Lexus LS 500 starts with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $75,200, to which a destination charge of $1,025 is added, making $76,225 before options. The 2019 Lexus LS 500h starts at $80,735 (including destination). The F Sport package is an extra $6,000, while all-wheel drive costs $3,220. The new LS sticks with the usual Lexus approach of providing a lot of standard equipment for the price. These figures are well below the German flagship sedans (about $84,000 for the BMW 7 Series and the all-new 2019 Audi A8; around $92,000 for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class) and similar to the aging Jaguar XJ. Going lower means a Genesis G90 costing just under $70,000, but not in the Lexus league. Check out KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Lexus LS. Lexus also has a stellar reputation for retaining strong resale values.



Notable Equipment

Even the entry-level 2019 LS comes with a ton of features. The range begins with rear-wheel drive, 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive suspension, leather upholstery, heated/ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, soft-close doors, hands-free trunk lid operation, navigation, Wi-Fi, 12.3-inch infotainment screen, parking sensors front and rear, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers, and automatic high beams. The infotainment system’s interface is a touch pad and can be a minor distraction while learning to use it (it’s not particularly intuitive). But don’t be put off, since there are many handy functions.

Notable Options

This is where things like the 28-way front seats, Kiriko glass/folded-cloth door panels, massage functions, reclining/heated rear seats, quad-zone automatic climate control all come into play. A more sophisticated driver-aid package includes front cross-traffic alert, active steering, road-sign recognition, Lane Trace Assist (bringing partial autonomy) and the aforementioned lane-change function. Things like all-wheel drive, air suspension, and the F Sport package (including 20-inch alloy wheels, rear-wheel steering, variable-ratio steering, and active anti-roll bars) seem more prosaic, but still have their appeal.

Favorite Features

SUMPTUOUS INTERIOR

The interior of the 2019 LS is full of details inspired by traditional Japanese craftsmanship, while making occupants feel like the most important people in the world. Options include 28-way power-adjustable front seats, Shiatsu-influenced massage functions, a reclining rear seat with an ottoman, and an ear-thrilling 23-speaker audio setup.


HYBRID POWERTRAIN

Hybrid cars make sense in stop/go traffic, not just for saving fuel (although the LS 500h can average a respectable 28 mpg) but also in reducing emissions. The other hybrid advantage is that the LS 500h’s total output of 354 horsepower brings a useful turn of speed -- standstill to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds.


Under the Hood

The 2019 LS 500 employs a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that develops a forceful 416 horsepower. Drive goes through a 10-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels (RWD) in basic form, or all four when all-wheel drive (AWD) is optioned. The 2019 LS 500h augments its 3.5-liter V6 with two electric motors for a total system output of 354 horsepower (Lexus doesn’t give torque figures for its hybrid vehicles). In this instance, a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is matched with a 4-speed automatic gear set. It’s been engineered to simulate the feel and response of a conventional 10-speed automatic, but doesn’t quite convince.


3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6

416 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm

442 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-4,800 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/30 mpg (RWD), 18/27 mpg (AWD)


3.5-liter Atkinson cycle V6 + 2 electric motors

354 total system horsepower

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/33 mpg (RWD), 23/31 mpg (AWD)

Editors' Notes

Having debuted last year as an all-new generation, the 2019 Lexus LS large-luxury sedan comes with a conundrum. On one side of the argument are impeccable build quality, wonderful materials, bet-your-life-on-it reliability, attention to detail, convenience features, safety equipment, space, comfort, technology, golden resale values, relatively reasonable pricing, and pleasurable dealer experience. For those with the funds, a new LS should be a no-brainer. The reasons why are a lack of driving feel (even the optional F Sport package for the non-hybrid LS 500 doesn’t improve matters much) and the designs -- both exterior and interior. We’re not saying these are bad things, but each buyer has to decide whether such aspects are acceptable. Many people will find the pros outweighing the cons.

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