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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Review: 2019 Lexus LS 500 F-Sport

      ..Going Drastic is Sometimes Required..

    The last-generation Lexus LS felt a bit lost. It had many of the qualities of previous LS models, but it could not fully compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, and BMW 7-Series. People pointed out the somewhat plain design, lackluster performance of the V8 engine, or the confounding infotainment system as possible reasons. But I think the reason comes down to Lexus not having something that made the LS stand out. How do you right the ship of what many considered to be at one time, the best luxury sedan on sale? If you’re Lexus, that means making some very drastic changes.

    Lexus has tended to play it safe with the LS’ design to fit with the general idea of a flagship sedan - providing a presence without shouting. But this new generation decides to stray away from that idea. The front end features a lot of inspiration from LC coupe with a wide grille, protruding cutouts for the faux vent, and a lowered hood. A set of Z-shaped LED headlights help the LS stand out from other Lexus models. The rest of the design looks to be an evolution of the previous model with slightly wider fenders and a new trunk lid design. 

    One of the places that LS surprised me was the interior. The layout is quite attractive with a flowing dash and contours on the door panels. A clever touch is the horizontal slat pattern used on the center part of the dash that somewhat disguises the center vents. Material quality is top-notch with leather, real wood, and metal used throughout. 

    This particular test vehicle was equipped with perforated leather upholstery which had a unique snakeskin pattern. I quite liked it, but some who rode in the vehicle found it to be a bit gaudy. This seat pattern is only available on the F-Sport, all other LS models have a plain design. The front seats are quite comfortable and provide numerous power adjustments, along with heat and ventilation. Rear seat passengers will find plenty of legroom, but tall passengers will be annoyed by their heads touching the roof liner, a major downside to the lower roofline.

    The interior also houses a big disappointment; Lexus Remote Touch. The touchpad controller is still confounding and distracting to use as you need to be precise with your finger movements to correctly select the function you want. Otherwise, you’ll end up on another screen and want to scream. This is disappointing considering that Lexus Enform has improved a lot. The system is noticeably quicker in various functions and can use Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa.

    Despite the 500 designation, there is not a 5.0L V8 under the LS’ hood. Instead, Lexus is using a twin-turbo 3.5L V6 engine with 416 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. A ten-speed automatic routes power to either the rear or all four wheels like in my test vehicle. The twin-turbo V6 is disappointing when leaving a stop as there is a considerable amount of turbo lag between pressing the accelerator and the engine responding. Once you get past this, the V6 provides plenty of scoot. Never once did I think that the V8 would be better whenever I need to merge or speed out of a corner. It is also noticeably quieter and more refined than the old V8.

    Fuel economy is rated at 18 City/27 Highway/21 Combined if you opt for AWD. Stick with RWD and the numbers rise to 19/30/23. My average for the week landed at 20.2 mpg on a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving.

    Picking the F-Sport trim will get you a revised suspension setup and uprated brakes. It will not transform the LS into something like an Alpina B7 or a Mercedes-AMG S63, but it does make the vehicle feel a bit more poised on a winding road. When put into S+ mode, Body roll is kept in check and the steering is quick to respond. The coil springs used on the LS F-Sport are a bit stiff, which will provide a more choppy ride. An optional air suspension is reportedly better at dealing with bumps and other imperfections, but I will need to try it out before saying it is better or not.

    This drastic move by Lexus with the new LS could have gone wrong, but it pulls it off. The new model is more interesting to look at, luxurious and offers improved driving dynamics when ordered with the F-Sport package. There are still some thorns Lexus needs to extract such as the poor initial performance of the twin-turbo six and the mess that is Remote Touch. If you’re willing to deal with these issues, then the 2019 LS is a very viable alternative to the Germans.

    How I would configure an LS 500: Most likely I would build one similar to the one seen here, although I would get it in red as I think the paint really makes the design pop. 

    Alternatives to the LS 500

    • Mercedes-Benz S-Class: The S-Class is still considered by many to be the best of the best. Considering its wide range of engines, very smooth ride, and impressive interior quality, it is tough to argue this. But the LS comes very close to matching the S-Class's interior quality, along with a more eye-catching design. It doesn't help that the S-Class is about $7,000 more than the LS.
    • Genesis G90: Still the bargain in the flagship sedan class with a base price of $69,350 and coming with almost every feature you would expect. The twin-turbo 3.3L V6 offers better off-the line performance than the 3.5 found in the LS. But the LS offers higher quality interior materials than what is available in the G90.

    Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the LS 500, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2019
    Make: Lexus
    Model: LS
    Trim: 500 F-Sport
    Engine: 3.5L Twin-Turbo 24-Valve DOHC V6
    Driveline: 10-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 416 @ 6,000
    Torque @ RPM: 442 @1600 - 4800
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 
    Curb Weight: 5,027 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
    Base Price: $84,420
    As Tested Price: $88,605 (Includes $1,025 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Mark Levinson Audio System with 23 Speakers - $1,940.00
    24-Inch Heads-Up Display - $1,220.00

    Edited by William Maley

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    I like the LS, but even though it's big it still feels more like a personal luxury sedan along the lines of the Jaguar XJ short wheelbase. It doesn't have the room inside of the G90 or S-Class.  I didn't notice the turbo lag myself when I drove it, but I didn't get to have it as long as William did. 

    I think this is one of the few Lexus vehicles that pulls off the predator mouth grille well. 

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    This car seems more like what the GS should be.  The interior is more inline with mid-size luxury cars, the turbo V6 would be a nice optional engine for a GS with a base engine below it.  I don't think the LS has big luxury sedan presence or good looks either.

    I think the GS is supposed to die at the end of this generation and the LS will have to fill he void, so maybe they don't want to push it up market much.  The new G90 I think looks better inside and out than the LS, but the G90 has dated engines too.   That Hyundai 5.0 V8 hasn't seen an update since 2012 model year, that is 8 years now.  

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      Make: Lexus
      Model: RC F
      Trim: -
      Engine: 5.0L DOHC 32-Valve V8
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 467 @ 7,100
      Torque @ RPM: 389 @ 4,800 - 5,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/19
      Curb Weight: 3,958 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $64,900
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      Orange Metallic Brembo Brake Calipers - $300.00
    • By William Maley
      The 86's exterior has undergone some significant changes. The most apparent is the front where the front bumper has been swapped to give the coupe a slightly more aggressive look. There are also new headlights with the "86" logo seen on the outside edge. These changes, along with a rear wing really help the 86 still look quite fresh. A feat when you take into consideration that this car, along with its sister, the Subaru BRZ has been around for eight years. The interior boasts a new steering wheel, updated instrument cluster with a color trip computer; and a seven-inch touchscreen radio featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.  Trying to find a comfortable position the 86 took longer than I expected due to the limited amount of adjustments on offer. The sport seats provide excellent bolstering to hold you in during enthusiastic driving but falter in terms of comfort when it comes to long drives. As for the back seat, I would only recommend it for either very small kids or extra storage space. We come to the key weak point of the 86, the engine. It is the 2.0L Flat-Four from Subaru which produces 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque when equipped with the six-speed manual - figures drop by five when equipped with the automatic. Not much has changed in the performance department. At low speeds, the 86 goes along merrily. But then the power band falls off a cliff and you're left wondering when it will come back.  It doesn't help that the engine note of the 2.0L sounds like a bucket of bolts dumped into a dryer. This doesn't encourage wanting to climb higher in the rev band and giving the illusion of going faster - something Mazda does quite well with the MX-5 Miata. On my test car, an optional TRD exhaust was fitted and it somehow makes the noise worse. It sounded like a group of cats fighting one another to get that prime spot in the box from an Amazon delivery. The manual transmission does not like being shifted quickly as it becomes slightly stiff and bulky. Go slowly and the gear lever responds with a smooth and positive feel. An option that was ticked on this vehicle was the TRD handling package which adds a set of SACHS dampers. The SACHS do make an improvement in terms of body control as the 86 doesn't really exhibit any sort of roll. What you get a vehicle that is fun to toss in the corners. Helping out is the steering that responds quickly and provides a decent feel. But there is a downside to the TRD Handling package and that is the ride quality. I found the FR-S to be quite stiff and transmit most bumps and road imperfections. This package only increases the frequency and impact them. I would highly recommend driving a standard 86 against one with the Handling Pack to see which one you would prefer. The 86 GT starts at $30,115 and my tester with the two TRD options and some other items stickers at $34,783. If you drop the TRD options, then it becomes slightly better at just under $32,000.  Who is the 86 for? The obvious answer to this is someone who wants something fun to drive but doesn't have that much to spend. Of course, there are other options that offer more performance, the 86 shines on a winding road. But as someone pointed out in our interactive review, the 86 is a good option for someone who wants a blank canvas. This and the BRZ have a large aftermarket which means an owner can build their coupe to their desires. Want to upgrade the suspension and brakes? There are parts available. Feel like dropping in a larger engine? That is possible. It's a blank canvas ready for someone to make it their own. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the 86, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Toyota
      Model: 86
      Trim: GT
      Engine: 2.0L DOHC D-4S 16-Valve Flat-Four
      Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 205 @ 7,000
      Torque @ RPM: 156 @ 6,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/28/24
      Curb Weight: 2,817 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Ota, Gumma, Japan
      Base Price: $30,115
      As Tested Price: $34,783 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      TRD Handling Package - $1,270.00
      TRD Exhaust System - $1,100.00
      TRD Sway Bar - $550.00
      Special Color - $425.00
      Center Armrest - $199.00
      All-Weather Floor Mats - $169.00

      View full article
  • Posts

    • Looks like a real life Traxxas E-Maxx truck like I used to have. 👍🏼  
    • Can't wait to see the hardcore Prius owners heads explode from overthinking the Hummer name and EV together as one. 🤪🤯 Like I previously stated, GM (and other manf's) will still build the high profit vehicles that sell really well in North America for decades to come...fullsize ICE BOF pickup trucks and SUV's, but will start to offer a BEV truck based on this HummerEV as well. 
    • My dream car garage would definitely be heavy on the 80s-90s hardware..
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