The 2019 Lexus LS500 is a continuation of the all-new fifth generation model that was introduced in 2018, larger and more technologically advanced than ever. This is my first time testing the new generation, a car quite different in form and function from the one it replaced.
Styling is more daring and less formal I think. Its lines are less taut and ironed out, more curvature and sheet draped over furniture forms.
This is evident in its silhouette that has a much more raked roofline and the addition of a third cabin window at the rear quarter. It looks longer and sleeker because it is, now actually an inch and some change longer than the previous generation long-wheelbase model.
While I generally feel the overall style has come down a few notches in it’s panache, I like some of the expensive details like its flush side glass which lends itself to the themes we have seen on Tesla cars.
The interior too is wildly outfitted with ovations of artistic form, expensive materials, and a boat-load of technology that lists way too long to touch on here. Suffice it to say it has just about everything available in a car in the way of its creature comforts, information technology and in audio.
Materials are exquisitely chosen and executed with a wide selection of woods, metals, and leathers. It’s pleasing to the eyes in the sense of being a living room but less cock-pit like and driver oriented than before. There is nowhere for instance to conveniently lay your phone, you have to stow it somewhere – gaffe.
It’s $1,900 Mark Levinson 3D sound system is the one of many options on our LS500 tester that I found well worth the investment. It really makes you forget just about everything around you when its crisp deep and rich sound hits all of your chakras with its power. Woof.
Driving the LS500 was the one area that honestly let me down a little. First off, they have replaced the old V8 with a new 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6. It bests the old V8 in power with 416 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque and it works well delivering its power through a new 10-speed transmission.
Lexus quoted 0-60 in 4.6 seconds which is plenty quick for a sedan this large and one weighing in at over 4,700 pounds. The problem I had is that it just doesn’t have the rich smooth and delectable thrum of a V8.
I mean, you pay $100,000 plus for a luxury car, you expect some kind of sin. Should for this kind of money we expect to be able to rise above the plebeian EPA pleasing BS all the rest of the commoners in cars must deal with? Why does my high-end luxury car need to be watered down like this? Mercedes and BMW don’t do this to their customers.
This driving experience is added to a chassis which to me feels less connected and sharp than its predecessor in terms of road feel and precision. It waddles over bumps and undulations, shaking its fanny side to side when accelerating over bumps.
The structure feels less tight than the previous generation too, creaking and flexing in a way you can feel when driving around in town, sometimes causing interior trims to snap and crackle – especially when the suspension is set on its stiffer mode as is available in the F-Sport variant.
In the end my key takeaway is that this car while very nice and well though out, misses the mark in light of its competitors from Germany. They for the same money still offer a V8. They for the same money offer a tighter and more driver oriented road feel.
The one thing Lexus can likely guarantee you over most is a better long term owner ship experience with reliability and customer service. If you planning to lease short term however, go see the Germans and hand your car back before the warranty is up.