The Lexus LS full-size luxury sedan has a 31-year history as the brand’s flagship. Following a complete makeover two years ago, there are no major changes to the LS 500 for 2020. There is, however, a new LS 500 Inspiration Series model, with production limited to 300 units. It has Deep Garnet red paint, a white semi-aniline leather interior, 20-inch black chrome wheels, Kiriko glass trim and other embellishments.
The LS 500 has a long, low, streamlined exterior with oversized wheel arches and a big, bold Lexus spindle grille as a vanguard. The design strongly proclaims that this automobile is powerful, luxurious, and expensive.
I felt out of place in the LS 500 driver’s seat in my signature fashion statement, Jeans and Keens, accessorized lately by an omnipresent baseball cap to hide my corona coiffure. No question that I looked like someone hired by the car’s actual owner to take it in for servicing.
The 2020 Lexus LS 500 is available with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $76,475 including a $1,025 destination charge. All-wheel drive is an extra $3,220. There is an F Sport model, also offered in RWD and AWD versions, for $82,475 and $85,695 respectively.
Pricing for a hybrid model, the LS 500h, starts at $81,035.
The LS 500 derives its impressive energy from a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine generating 416 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. With rear-wheel drive it consumes premium fuel at the rate of 19 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined. AWD numbers are 18/27/21 mpg. According to Lexus, with rear-wheel drive the LS 500 can go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. The engine’s performance partner is a 10-speed automatic transmission.
I took the LS 500 on Highway 2 up into the Cascades, a perfect route for it to demonstrate its expertise. High-speed uphill straightaways were taken in stride without roughness or undue cabin noise, and sharp turns handled with utmost stability.
The LS 500 with all-wheel drive was used for this report, and my test car was full-boat. Expanding on a healthy supply of standard features, the unbridled list of its optional equipment totaled $36,275. One item alone was the price of a second car: an Executive package with Kiriko glass, for $23,080. Most noteworthy are some touches turning the LS 500 into a mobile art gallery, including door trims of Kiriko glass and hand-pleated fabric. And for your listening pleasure, a 23-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, for another $1,940.
Unfortunately for the 2020 LS 500, it is saddled with a vexing infotainment system with center console touchpad operation, and even the climate control system is caught up in it. Vehicle settings, too. Ugh. The 12.3-inch display is great, but it isn’t a touchscreen. I’m not even a touchscreen fancier and I wished for one all week.
Substantial interior dimensions and advanced connectivity technology make the LS 500 suitable for use as a traveling office or celebrity transport. With my LS 500’s power sunshades covering the rear and side windows – including the tiny triangular windows above the rear wheels – I could have chauffeured Russell Wilson around Snohomish County all week and y’all never would have known.
2020 LEXUS LS 500 AWD
Base price, including destination charge: $79,695
Price as driven: $115,970
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.