Some options are easy. Formula One surpasses IndyCar. Craft beer, not Bud Light. The despair of Foo Fighters. As for the Lexus four-door sedan, it is the LS 500h sedan, which is a country mile away, and is on the LS 500h hybrid.
After driving on the LS 500 sedan for about 10 minutes, my choice became clear. This is Lexus’s motivation to revitalize the already obsolete and obsolete flagship four-door series. I have sampled the Lexus hybrid powertrain twice and spit out a suspicious mixture both times: once in Spain, the better LC Coupe, and then in New York, the LS sedan. These hybrid Lexii are powered by Toyota Camry’s 3.5-liter V6 engine, which further saves fuel by running on the Atkinson cycle. To this end, Lexus added dual motors. The combination of a continuously variable transmission and a traditional four-speed gearbox creates the illusion of 10 forward gears. However, any amount of engineering magic or cabin sound insulation cannot completely cover up the Wal-Mart roots of the Camry V6, or the clumsy hybrid power system and the operation of the system. Regrettably, neither of these are suitable for luxury cars, which start at about $80,000 and can soar as high as $120,000.
But the standard LS 500 changed my attitude with the car to a great extent. It does not even rely on the clumsy 471-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine (although it powers the beautiful LC Coupe engine), but only the V6 engine to achieve this feat. Ah, but V6: This long-stroke, 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged engine can output 416 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of considerable torque-44 pound-feet higher than Coupe’s naturally aspirated V8. Compared with the 386 hp and 369 lb-ft of the 4.6-liter V8 powered by the previous generation LS460 sedan, the new direct injection V6 adds 30 horses and 73 lb-ft to the party.
Fuel economy has skyrocketed with power, from the 16/24 mpg (city/highway) of the old LS 460 to the frugal 19/30 mpg; pay special attention to the astonishing 6 mpg on the highway. (Adding AWD to Lexus will reduce the EPA rating to 18/27 mpg unchanged). This mileage class is the highest level of all non-hybrid cars in the flagship class, including the 2-mile/gallon roadside on the Mercedes-Benz V6-powered S450. Mercedes has only 362 horsepower and Lexus has only 416 horsepower.
Credit Lexus’s carefully designed 10-speed automatic transmission can meet some of these mileage increase requirements and keep the V6 in the best position for careful operation and eagerness to move forward. Lexus’ claims of 4.6 seconds to 60 mph may be a bit optimistic-0.8 seconds faster than the V6 Mercedes-but the LS is very suitable for a nearly 5,000-pound, V6-powered sedan, which is almost 206.1 inches long. With the big Benz.
Where the distracting hybrid system seems to exacerbate Lexus’s shortcomings, the V6 model enhances its advantages. These include a well-designed chassis and precise, powerful handling, and the LS is rarely associated with the LS like the traditional Stay Puft marshmallow car. The new platform has dropped its center of gravity. It uses riveted cast aluminum shock towers at the front and rear, and uses advanced double ball joints on the upper and lower front control arms to handle input more safely. As before, there is an auto-leveling air suspension system (a $1,500 option), as well as adaptive shock absorbers, and the driver can choose a wider range of responses. Lexus touted its proprietary laser screw welding technology to improve the rigidity of panel joints. The body panels themselves-the entire car-show the tight fit that the brand is known for.
Pointing north from Manhattan, this LS 500 swallowed miles in a relaxed, super confident manner. After entering its Sport Plus setting, LS shines on some of my favorite road repairs north of New York City, including Highway 301 that connects towns such as Carmel and Cold Spring. The tire grip at the corners is significantly stronger than before, and the body remains flat. I dare say that there are even some real feelings coming from the steering wheel.
Lexus’ hourglass-shaped “spindle grille” is still a design element worth discussing, although it works well on the LC Coupe. In addition to the controversial schnoz, this Lexus also brings the unique design and outgoing attitude that GM LS calls. As with the hybrid version, what surprises me is that people often walk to Lexus or roll down their car windows and praise the style. At least three or four people said straightforwardly: “That’s a beautiful car.”
To be honest, although the performance of LS has been greatly improved, but the eye-catching new body may make Lexus return to people’s shopping list. This particular LS gets a separate style and performance boost from the F Sport package, which is priced at $9,700, and its main features include variable ratio and active rear steering. The body is more ethnic, including mesh grille inserts, sports front fascia and rear diffuser; the interior features a super suede roof lining, aluminum pedals and plaques, 28-way sports seats and perforated Leather seats, steering wheels and shift knobs have high internal temperatures.
Now, I will tell you that too many automatic comments about this new LS are seriously damaging its performance and processing power. It is by no means a sports car, but this LS500 F Sport is definitely more attractive than the typical (non-AMG) Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8 or Genesis G90. I suspect it will compare well with the BMW 7 series. In this flagship level, only Jaguar XJ with optional supercharged V8 or radical tuning of Cadillac CT6 can show excellent dynamic beauty. Lexus’ V6 feels stronger than Caddy’s 420 hp six-cylinder motorcycle and sounds more outgoing. The bark of the V6 might make you mistake it for a small V8, and the rich exhaust regulation is one of the car’s most surprising surprises. As for the sound, the refreshing Mark Levinson audio system has a powerful 2400 watts of power and 23 speakers. It is one of the more affordable advanced audio systems at a price of approximately $1,940.
Oh, I’m still very hurry, starting from the hell-like remote touchpad infotainment controller, it turns every simple input into a creepy adventure. (I have learned about some of the solutions to the Lexus system, including using its knurled metal dashboard knobs to scroll through radio stations instead of using the touchpad). There are still some useless design weirdness, including the backlit graphics on the passenger side dashboard, which looks like a tacky artistic leftover. This new head-up display is the largest display I have ever seen, with a 24-inch viewing area, but its potential is diminished due to its low priority for actual display content. When I stopped in Brooklyn, the stop sign was often covered with huge animated arrows, which puzzled me. Does the car want me to hang a right? I quickly discovered that this was actually a visual crossing warning ahead, and I was crazy about overtaking that I had no intention of crossing it. However, on the forefoot-friendly Taconic Parkway, where I like to pay close attention to speed, the HUD speed reading is squeezed in a corner, and the screen dominates instead of the almost useless lane keeping information. Like the infamous touchpad infotainment system, this is another example of Lexus engineers coming up with interesting ideas or technologies but not spending enough time thinking about how people use them in the real world.
Finally, for all work on the platform and suspension, Lexus allowed some unexpected sidewalk chop in the cabin on particularly harsh surfaces (for example, my cobblestone streets in Brooklyn). This is my S No experience on a class car. (My intuition is that the optional 20-inch wheels of the LS 500 are related to this). However, this kind of interior left a deep impression. From the door trim to the stitched leather around the dashboard, some stylish and avant-garde interiors are undoubtedly beautiful. The seats are luxurious, spacious and comfortable. In general, the noise level of the road and wind will impress any German engineer.
All in all, this LS 500 F Sport is included in the undervalued car market along with the mid-size Lexus GS F Sport. It starts at $81,995, which is $9,000 cheaper than the Mercedes S450; the payment price for my tester is $101,675. For luxury yachts that do not advertise Benz, BMW or even Audi badges, this is still a lot of money. But Lexus’s excellent reputation for quality and showroom service, as well as a new 10-speed transmission and engine (the latter is just one of the best luxury car V6 engines I’ve driven), is reasonably priced. For the mixed version, this is more than I can say.
Lawrence Ulrich, the lead car critic of The Drive, is an award-winning car journalist and the former chief car critic of The New York Times and the Detroit Free Press. This Detroit native and Brooklyn gentleman owns a troubled ’93 Mazda RX-7 R1, but may wish to provide it with a good home. Email him Lawrence@thedrive.com.
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Post time: Nov-24-2020