2019 LEXUS LS 500: A Polarizing Visual

2019 LEXUS LS 500: A Polarizing Visual

2019 Lexus IS500

Historically, the LS is the flagship of the Lexus lineup; this is the model's fifth generation. The LS 500 is the "base" model, but it is, as you'd expect, extremely well-equipped. There's also a hybrid Lexus 500h and a sporty Lexus LS F, but all are equipped with some form of 3.5-liter V6 -- there's no higher-displacement motor available as of this writing. The car is available in rear- or all-wheel drive. Our Opinion: Lexus made a name for itself building unimpeachably well-engineered and well-built luxury cars that were also, let's be honest, a little bit beige. Impressive values, sure, and cool in their own normcore way (I'd love to have a Floridian grandpa-style early 1990s LS, personally), but beige. This LS 500 is anything but beige, probably for the first time in the model's nearly three-decade history. It checks all the requisite boxes: Power is ample and linear, though I'm surprised that you can't get anything but a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 in any of the car's three existing variants. Not that you really need it -- the 416-hp/442-lb-ft output is plenty to make this heavy beast scoot. That Lexus hasn't take the German philosophy of more being more when it comes to trims, engines and variants is surprising. Overall, the LS 500 is wonderfully solid and heavy on the road, but in a good, bank vault sort of way. The interior is profoundly isolating and relaxing, thanks in part to the $12,270 (!) luxury package -- spendy, but totally worth it. But you'd get that solidity from any of this car's competitors. For me, the best part about the LS 500 is that it looks and feels different than the typical German offerings, especially inside. There are unique -- the good kind of unique, not the forced, pointless kind -- design flourishes everywhere in the cabin, from the flowing dash to the distinctive texture of the door cards and upholstery to things as small as the sculptural metal interior door handles. There's real attention to detail here. I dig the overall techno-teahouse effect. In fact, I'd say this is my favorite full-size luxury sedan interior on the market today. The only think I don't like in that cabin is the infotainment system. The Lexus setup, which now features a hypersensitive touchpad thing instead of that weird square joystick nub, is inelegant and clunky. After a few days of use I began to adapt to it, and I'm sure if I only drove Lexii it would become second nature to me. I try to be sensitive to this when reviewing a car I'm in only briefly. Still, it's an unfortunate weak point in an otherwise stunning interior. The bigger elephant (or rather, elephant-size spindle) in the room is that freakin' grille. It's going to turn off some potential buyers right from the start; it has to be the most polarizing styling element to ever appear on the traditionally superconservative LS since the model's initial appearance back in 1989. I'm not the biggest fan of that grille, especially when it's been grafted onto an existing Lexus. That LX 570 is really something else, for example. But the LS and the LC coupe are a much better home for the goofy fascia ........




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