The Lexus LS serves up comfort, technology, and elegance as if each were the primary goal. Add to that its exceptional build quality and effortless operation, and it’s easy to see why the LS has become a benchmark of luxury travel. The flagship of the brand since day one, the Lexus LS has faithfully delivered what buyers desire most in a luxury sedan for nearly 30 years.
Improvements for 2016 include a more convenient infotainment interface and remote access to vehicle operation reports. The current generation of the LS was introduced as a 2013 model.
The Lexus LS moves with sheer serenity, so free of noise and vibration that you’ll wonder whether it’s actually running. The ride is plush. There are three driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport) that tweak the car’s performance to your taste, but the differences are subtle so as not to interfere with the LS’s luxury mission.
The Lexus LS 460 is powered by a 4.6-liter V8 with 386 horsepower, matched to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Takeoffs are smooth and swift, with the LS 460 reaching 60 mph in a luxuriously quick 5.4 seconds.
Even more power lies under the hood of the LS 600h L, namely a 5-liter V8 and pair of electric motors that together produce 438 horsepower for more powerful acceleration performance. The hybrid system uses a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and delivers an EPA-estimated 20 mpg Combined city and highway. Trunk space suffers.
The L models benefit from five additional inches of wheelbase for sprawl-out freedom in the back, and can be equipped with first-class passenger amenities.
Most drivers will revel in the big sedan’s silky drivability, but for those with sporting bones Lexus offers the LS 460 F Sport.
The Lexus LS competes with the BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
The Lexus LS 460 ($72,520) comes with a 4.6-liter V8, an 8-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. (All prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.) The LS comes loaded with leather upholstery, navigation, integrated smartphone apps, driver and passenger memory, satellite and HD radio, and other luxury features.
All-wheel drive is available, and comes with de-icers for headlamp wipers and washers.
The LS 460 L ($78,820) rides on a longer wheelbase for more rear-seat space. The L models receive ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a power trunk lid, and a power rear sunshade. These features are optional elsewhere in the lineup. The Executive Class Seating package transforms the rear compartment with individual seats, a center console, power side shades, and a video entertainment system. The passenger-side seat features additional massage functions and a power ottoman with an integrated knee airbag.
The LS 460 F Sport features a sport-tuned suspension, steering, brakes, wheels and tires.
The LS 600h L ($120,440) uses hybrid gas-electric power and comes standard with all-wheel drive and the Ultra Luxury package.
Options include a 19-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system. The Ultra Luxury package furnishes rear seat passengers with a refrigerated compartment, individual climate and audio controls, and power climate-controlled seats with massage function.
Safety features include rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, and a full complement of airbags. The standard Lexus Safety Connect system provides automatic crash notification, emergency assistance, and a vehicle locator. Optional technology includes blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, and a front collision mitigation system with pedestrian detection and automatic braking.
The Lexus LS is an attractive luxury sedan. Its simple, conservative lines offend no one. More controversial is the giant hourglass-shaped grille that ties it in with other Lexus models. It’s distinctive.
As expected in this class, there’s full-size room for five adults and their luggage, and the supportive seats are covered in the finest leather Lexus offers, complete with contrasting stitching.
The environment is subdued and finely detailed, yet reassuringly solid. You’ll find a beautifully rendered wood and leather steering wheel, mirror-like chrome accents, and large (12.3 inches) high-resolution displays. Most infotainment functions can be controlled through the Lexus Remote Touch interface, in which the driver uses a touchpad to call up menus and make selections on the central dash display. Even power soft-close doors are standard.
The interior trim is attractive, with materials varying by model. The LS 460 comes with walnut, maple, or dark gray wood trim. The F Sport uses aluminum. The LS 460h gets pretty bamboo trim. All come with attractive leather upholstery.
The battery back for the LS 600h L cuts trunk space down to about 10 cubic feet, less than you get in most compacts, reducing its value as an airport shuttle.
Lexus LS models glide down the road on a magic carpet.
The standard 4.6-liter V8 is smooth and easily propels the big, rear-wheel-drive sedan with its 386 hp. The automatic transmission is barely felt when it changes gears.
The LS 460 is EPA rated 16/24 mpg City/Highway, or 19 mpg Combined. The LS 460 AWD gets 16/23 mpg, or 18 mpg Combined. The LS 600h L is rated 19/23 mpg City/Highway, or 20 mpg Combined.
Although it generates higher EPA numbers, the LS 600h L isn’t about efficiency per se. It’s designed to provide the output and acceleration performance of a turbo V8 or V12 without the usual mileage penalty.
The Lexus LS 460 F Sport comes with a sport-tuned air suspension with additional driving modes, firmer steering, performance brakes, larger wheels with summer performance tires, and sportier trim throughout. The F Sport package makes the LS more assertive and responsive in spirited driving, though it doesn’t transform it into a sports sedan. This Lexus is meant to thrill in other ways, like pleasing the senses.
We can’t help but be impressed, even awed, by the level of refinement and quality baked into the LS. There are no weak spots, no compromises to mull over. While there are plenty of sportier, sexier alternatives in this class, none of them understands luxuryâ€”or luxury car buyersâ€”quite like the Lexus flagship.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. John Diether contributed to this report.