It doesn’t get any better than this.
The 2018 Lexus LS 500 F Sport all-wheel drive puts an exclamation point on the Japanese automaker’s signature model.
For nearly three decades the LS model has set benchmarks for powertrain smoothness, ride quietness, craftsmanship, attention to detail and long-term quality. F Sport adds a more engaging driving spirit through carefully applied chassis tuning and enhancements, while still emphasizing exceptional comfort.
They had me at 3.5-liter V6 twin-turbocharged engine, 415-horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. The engine delivers V8 performance and is paired with the first-ever, 10-speed automatic transmission in a luxury sedan.
The engine yields a broad torque curve and is perfectly in tune with the F Sport spirit. The new engine and transmission deliver instant acceleration and a constant buildup of torque toward the vehicle’s red line. The LS 500 is undeniably quick, with a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds.
In addition to all that, the driver can alter powertrain response and feel by choosing from Normal, Sport S or Sport S+ modes, and just enough of the exhaust note is heard to enhance the LS 500’s sporty feel.
That’s the blood and guts side of the equation. Lexus addresses the emotional needle with a performance-infused design inside and out. The LS 500 sports a coupe-like silhouette, 20-inch wheels, and a dramatic rendition of the brand’s signature spindle grille that shows greater design intricacy while maintaining the functionality of cooling performance.
Inside, my tester benefited from aluminum gas and brake pedals, suede headliner, door scuff plate, semi-aniline leather trimmed seats and scored aluminum trim. The driver faces a special F Sport steering wheel as well as a speedometer and tachometer in a movable meter with a ring that slides to display information – a design adapted from the limited-production Lexus LFA supercar – and another expression of the car’s dynamic intentions.
The LS 500 seats up to five adults without complaint, as leg, head and shoulder room are provided in abundance for both front- and back-seat passengers. The trunk was humungous, and I estimated around 20 miles per gallon in combined city/highway driving.
As one would expect, the Lexus list of creature comforts was lengthy. My favorites included the navigation system displayed on a 12.3-inch screen, backup camera and intuitive park assist.
Safety features were highlighted by the latest generation of the brand’s advanced chassis control technology, Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), which has been refined since its debut more than a decade ago.
The new VDIM system implements cooperative control of all vehicle subsystems – braking, steering, powertrain, and suspension – to control basic longitudinal, lateral and vertical motion as well as yaw, roll and pitch. Optimal control of these motions helps to enable exceptional ride comfort, enhanced traction and safety and handling agility, and allows for enriched flat vehicle posture during cornering as well as a more comfortable and stable ride overall.
Base Price: $84,220
Price As Driven: $85,215
Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.