2020 Lexus LS500 Review
The Road Beat, March 6, 2020
Lexus LS500, it has become the best of the best
Lexus has always produced conservative, bullet proof cars, cars that were as reliable as annual income tax and offering world class comfort with take no chances styling. As said in Brooklyn, “fuhgeddaboudit.” The newest LS blew me away in its first go-round and will still most likely do the same for you. New styling, new engine, new transmission, new suspension and a boat load of new tech and electronics has remade the new LS into the best value in world class luxo sedans.
But it doesn’t stop there (and it can stop with huge 14-inch, four piston ventilated disc brakes). In the F Sport model it gets 16 inch six piston brakes, it becomes a world class sporting sedan and then some. More on that later.
First is the all new body which is sleek with softly rounded edges and shapes such as the way the rear fenders blend into the rear deck. I can see some of the new Camry in this new Lexus and that is a good thing as the Camry has become the most sophisticated mid-size ride in its class. LS doesn’t have a bad angle, it’s all so good, maybe except for the grille, although even that is much improved.. And it has grown now stretching out 206 inches long with a huge 123-inch wheelbase. Its beam is a svelte 75 inches while standing a tish over 57 inches tall with air suspension
An all new Lexus V-6 of 3.44L with all the bells and whistles resides under the hood, but this is no ordinary V-6, it is a blown twin turbo yet with a still sky high 10.5:1 compression. But it is not an over square unit but a long stroker (3.37X3.94 inches) so it has amazing efficiency with an expanded power stroke as well as prodigious power. It cranks out 416 of the biggest horses you ever felt at 6,000 rpm backed up with a stump pulling 442 pounds of twist made from 1,600 to 4,800 rpm meaning it makes massive power from just off idle to redline.
When you connect that massive motive force to a super slick 10 speed auto cog-swapper you have an amazing power train that drives the rear wheels or all wheels if you opt for the AWD option. My tester was RWD. Even with RWD, this Lexus is no light weight tipping the scales at 4,784 pounds. In spite of the diminutive engine and significant weight, the new LS can rocket to 60 mph in a scant 4.63 seconds. That’s World Class. But it doesn’t stop there as it will run from 50-70 mph in just 2.14 seconds and a 6-7 percent grade only slows that time to 2.68 seconds. Those numbers are a bit improved over my last Road Beat two years ago which posted numbers of 4.71/2.25/2.85 seconds
In normal operation, the LS is incredibly smooth in the way it goes about its business. Silky, positive shifts, a smooth, silent engine with superfluous power, a firm, yet super compliant suspension, super accurate steering and a flat cornering attitude has transformed the LS into a world beater bargain among the MBZs, BMWs and Audis of the world. When driven aggressively, shifts become a bit more abrupt, but never mind as your eyeballs flatten and the big LS accelerates like a rocket sled with a JATO bottle. Sure, there is some throttle mapping issues sometimes causing a Nano second of hesitation, but that has been exaggerated as a result of spending a week with a Lexus GS F with its super-wonderful 5.0L, 467 hp ultra-smooth V-8 with perfectly linear, fabulous response. Only matters if you are racing.
I’m not done yet with amazing. While fuel economy is EPA rated at 19/30/23 mpg city/highway/combined, you can throw those numbers away. In a two-way highway run at 70 mph the big LS turns only 1,400 rpm returns 34 mpg!!!. Even going up a slight grade it returns better than 29 mpg. Overall for 270 miles the LS averaged 20 mpg, in mostly stop and go very aggressive driving, including all performance testing. It’s slick with a 0.28 CD. Fuel capacity is a large 21.7 gallons.
Handling is like no other LS. It flat out corners flatly. Wide track (64 inches) and big 20 alloys shod with some real rubber (245/45X20) hang on with tenacious fervor. Steering is quick at 2.9 turns lock to lock and its turning circle is a tight 37.4 feet. Suspension is beyond state of the art and employs air.
Ride quality in my LS tester was also ground breaking. It is unlike any other LS that has preceded it. It is exceedingly smooth, but firm and solid. It is definitely not a “float your boat” but has a buttoned-down Euro feel. It absorbs bumps and road irregularities with aplomb, but the control is amazing and the body feels like its carved out of a steel ingot. Passengers remarked about its ethereal smoothness both from the road and powertrain. Of course, there is no wind, tire, road or engine noise, especially with the engine spinning a remarkably low 1,400 rpm at 70 mph.
Safety is there in spades. First every acronym known to mankind is present. Second the brakes are strong and could probably used in grand prix racing with the F Sport Headlights are also excellent, some of the best yet. Auto high beam is standard.
Inside is a sublime leather interior with front chairs I should have converted into my office chair. The leather is sumptuous and the balance of the interior is exquisite with special mentioned being made for the dash and door covering as well as the interior accents. Some of the best ever. The instrument panel is business like and what looks to be borrowed from the LC Lexus. A big tach surrounds a digital speedo with an info center also contained therein. There are controls for setting driving modes and more. Good stuff.
Rear seating is limo like with its long wheelbase and the trunk is large. But there is one item that should be corrected and that is the radio and other center stack controls. It is done with an inaccurate mouse pad. Can we go back to button and knobs? The AC is still controlled that way.
While base pricing starts at about $75 large, my F Sport, well equipped LS500 stickered for $82, 795 plus $995 for the luxury suite for the boat ride from Japan. For what you receive, the LS becomes one of the biggest bargains in the luxo sedan category. Kudos to Lexus for creating a new benchmark in so many ways.
Specifications Price $83,790 (as tested)
3.44L turbocharged, direct and port injected, DOHC, 24 valve V-6 416 hp @ 6,000 rpm
442 l.b-ft. of torque @ 1,600-4,800 rpm
10 speed torque converter automatic
Longitudinal front engine/RWD/AWD
Wheelbase 123 inches
Length 206.1 inches
Width 74.8 inches
Height 57.1 inches
Track (f/r) 64.2/64.4 inches
Ground clearance 5.5 inches est.
Weight 4,784 pounds
GVWR 5,920 pounds
Weight distribution 53/47 percent
Wheels 20 alloys
Fuel capacity 21.7 gallons
Passenger volume 99.4 cubic feet
Trunk capacity 17 cubic feet
Steering lock to lock 2.9 turns
Turning circle 37.4 feet
Co-efficient of drag 0.28
0-60 mph 4.63 seconds
50-70 mph 2.14 seconds
50-70 mph uphill 2.68 seconds
Top speed electronically limited to 136 mph (ungoverned would be about 160-175 mph)
Fuel economy EPA rated 19/30/23 mpg city/highway/combined. Expect 20-24 mpg overall in urban/suburban/rural driving and 34 mpg on the highway at legal speeds.