2020 Lexus LS 500 Review by Rob Eckaus +VIDEO
Luxury At What Price?
By Rob Eckaus
San Francisco Bureau
THE AUTO CHANNEL
This elephant in the room was the price, being a surprise to multiple passengers, with most guessing the $70-$80k range, and they were mostly right, the base price is $75,450 before offering hybrid power, all-wheel drive or F-sport features. The refinement for the driver and passengers is quite wonderful because this model featured the $17,100 Executive Package which offered a combination of front and rear passenger amenities. This included quilted-stitched, perforated, semi-aniline leather seating and trim, twenty-eight (not a typo, actually 28) way power driver’s seat with multi-function massage, Ultrasuede headliner, power front seat buckles for easier reach, heated rear seats that the left and right sides also power recline with a matching padded leg rest/ottoman, four zone climate control with a 7” touch screen controller for two rear passengers (it’s in the center armrest) and power side window shades. More on the pricing later.
Featuring a 12.3” navigation display, it is configurable for language, split screen for display, and the interface combined with Amazon Alexa, offers many services including smart home access and of course, monitoring your conversations for targeted advertising opportunities. Lexus also offers Enform wi-fi in the vehicle, Enform Remote via smartphone or smartwatch with Alexa or Google, and multiple apps for fuel prices, sports scores, stocks, etc.
A huge 24” heads-up display shows audio selection, speed, current gear and rpm. It also ties into the Pedestrian Alert and Cross-Traffic Alert systems. One interesting safety feature is the 4-point hood pop-up system in case of a pedestrian collision. How significant is this system? The latest ZR1 Corvette could not be sold in Europe due to engine to hood clearance. Raising the hood height changes every design aspect of the car, a system like this could be a huge styling savior.
The touchpad is a clever alternative to a touchscreen, but doesn’t have the precision placement of a dial, one reason why some don’t like it. But it’s easier than a touchscreen due to the small size and higher visual field. It also doesn’t show fingerprints on your visual display. It also worked well with Apple CarPlay.
Switching the drive mode from Sport, Normal, Comfort, made noticeable changes but with a 206” length and 4707 pounds, just how sporty are you trying to get? But road noise, bumps, vibrations are minimal. The Sport mode does provide a more aggressive mode, holding the gears longer but it’s still a luxury sedan first. The isolation from the road really pacifies all occupants. It offers a suite of safety and convenience features like lane keeping assist, a clever road sign indicator on the dashboard display, pre-collision warning, and adaptive cruise control. The adaptive headlights with the automatic dimming work so quickly its possible someone observing might think you flashed the brights as surroundings and lighting constantly change at night on busier roads.
The Lexus front grill generates frequent commentary, but it isn’t a detriment to its function, the LS 500 has a drag coefficient of .28. The sophisticated powertrain and low drag contribute to its 19 mpg city rating and 30 mpg highway rating. With a fuel tank capacity of 21.7 gallons, smooth ride, quiet interior and a 23 speaker Mark Levinson sound system, it may be one of the ultimate road-trip cars on the road.
The conflict is the pricing although the reliability is approaching legendary. There’s a nice Lexus branding on the headlights and the top of the rear bumper, but why are the calipers so plain vs. a gloss black with distinguished lettering? Beautifully made and well crafted, its pricing is comparable to the competitors, but one wonders if expectations for the $100k mark are higher. Shouldn’t it have 550-600 horsepower for that much money? Maybe buyers who spend that much on a sublime sedan who want big horsepower already have it sitting in the garage.