Now into generation 5, the big Lexus LS500 has morphed into something different from previous generations, moving away from V8 power to V6 in the LS500 and now with a petrol/electric hybrid model LS500h for the same price as the twin turbo V6.
Two grades are available; F-Sport and Sport Luxury in either powertrain.
It looks stunning especially around the frontal area with multi element LED headlights adding drama to the face. A huge car, the LS is long, low, sleek and has sharp creases down those lithe side panels that really make it stand out in a crowd.
There is some Toyota DNA about the rear end particularly the tail lights but everything else is specific to the top of the line Lexus.
How many will they sell?
Not many because just about everyone these days goes down the SUV road.
Pity, because this car, apart from an annoying infotainment system, features all the desirable kit currently available to Japan’s biggest car maker. Goes great too.
Wow, “get out of my face” screams the front…. and they do, with punters quickly moving over after glancing in the rear view mirror.
It is an intimidating beast but still has plenty of glamour as befits a limo’ of this stature.
The lines are more like a coupe in profile with an extended wheelbase, huge 20-inch wheels and a so called “notch” back to the boot lid. My personal preference is the F-Sport hybrid with bigger wheels and other sporty touches.
All are very impressive to any onlooker.
Inside could be straight out of Europe with metres of leather and a straked treatment to the dash fascia. Screens everywhere, a cockpit driving position with just a tacho and digital speed readout in the middle crowned by a pair of knobs on top that look like small horns.
The look is modern and classy with plenty of soft feel surfaces and quality materials including real wood and high grade leather.
Generous legroom particularly in the rear allows passengers to stretch out and enjoy the car’s ambience.
This is a challenge because the features list reads like an epic novel.
Here’s some of the kit you get with your LS500h
- 12.3-inch multimedia screen
- Mark Levinson 23 speaker audio
- Auto door close function
- Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management
- Air suspension
- Dual zone climate control
- Keyless start and smart entry
- Multiple drive modes
- Large sunroof
- Leather upholstery with heated seats
- Active LED headlights
- CVT combined with four speed auto
- Heads up display
Drive and Engine
The LS500h uses the same 3.5-litre, naturally aspirated V6 engine with hybrid drive as the stunning Lexus LC500h coupe.
There’s a lithium ion battery pack powering the two electric boost motors that deliver a kick like a turbo. It’s good for 264kW and possibly 550Nm combined output but better still is the 6.6-litres/100km fuel economy in the LS500h than can also clock a mid 5.0 second 0-100kmh sprint.
That’s due to the size and weight of the top of the range Lexus sedan…. big, big, big.
Ride and handling is aided by adaptive air suspension and the F-Sport LS500h hybrid driven not only looks the business but is a decent corner carver once you get used to the size of the beast.
A key word with the LS is adaptive – suspension, stabilisers, transmission and headlights to name a few.
For all intents and purposes, the F-Sport LS500h hybrid is all you need.
Will be five stars all the way thanks to the new chassis and a full suite of driver assist technology complementing extensive safety kit in both versions.
Some of the really good safety stuff is pre-collision preparation, blind spot monitoring autonomous emergency braking, radar cruise, cross traffic alert, lane keeping and adaptive high beam.
The car is engineered for protection as it’s a new chassis/platform that uses all the latest engineering to optimise occupant protection. The tidy dynamics assist crash avoidance in the first place.
- Excellent performance
- Astonishing fuel economy from hybrid
- Tidy dynamics thanks to adaptive air suspension
- Striking appearance
- Roomy interior
- Crammed with luxury kit
- Crammed with high tech safety kit
- Passes EU6 emissions regs
- Has European feel inside
- Pricing policy is democratic
Not So Good Bits
- Noisier than expected
- Super annoying trackpad and infotainment system that can only be operated with car stopped
- Weighs up to 2300kg
- Styling might be too much for some
- No V8 soul
This is a really impressive car from Lexus. I jumped straight out of the LS500 into the latest Audi A8 and the Lexus is at least its equal, has more cut through on the street, possibly a better ride and costs around the same.
Pity most of this class of car end up as hire car limos
Facts And Figures: 2018 Lexus LS500h
- Engine: 3.5 – V6 petrol with dual electric booster engines and Li battery pack
- Transmission: CVT and 4-speed auto
- Safety: 5-star
- Origin: Japan
- Warranty: 4yr/unlimited km
- Price: From $190,500