Stick Shift: 2019 Lexus LS 500 F Sport

For any auto manufacturer, the ultimate luxury sedan is a chance for the entire team behind the brand to demonstrate what they’re capable of. When the price tag is high, and you have room to deliver with few budget restraints. The challenge becomes what you’re able to contribute to a market already chalk full of some impressive specimens of luxury. For Lexus, the high-end arm of the automotive mega-giant Toyota, that car, that opportunity, comes in the form of the LS 500. 

2019 brings us the second year of the fifth LS generation. Completely revamped in 2018 with extensive exterior and interior transformations. In its new skin, the LS sets itself firmly alongside the likes of European luxury rivals like Volvo, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. With its big reinvention in 2018, the list of changes for the new year is small. New Apple CarPlay and Alexa functions are integrated. The optional safety package adds semi-automated lane-changes as well.

The LS 500 boasts ultra aggressive styling. Sharp lines over a stretched body that rides long and low to perfectly communicate an elevated level of grace and sophistication. Every inch is sculpted with purpose. A gaping hourglass grille is surround by huge air vents and angry looking headlights. Ready to swallow up the competition. The whole package is statement making to say the least. 

If the statement needs to be especially big and loud, than the F Sport package will deliver the extra volume. 20” split five spoke wheels in dark graphite are a beautiful match. An F Sport rear muffler, front bumper and mesh grille inserts round off the look perfectly. On the inside, the F Sport package continues to enhance with leather trim around the steering wheel and shift knob. The head rests on the front seats are embossed with the F badge. An ultra suede headliner and aluminum trim and pedals make an appearance as well.

Photo via: Lexus

The interior space of the new Lexus LS 500 F Sport is beautiful in its attention to detail and high level of craftsmanship. Quality materials are layered on top of each other in a way that invites touch. Different colors, textures, stitching patterns and finishes that all compliment and work together to create a space that’s a pleasure to commute in. Full customization is available to the consumer desiring creative control. Though not as polished and impressive as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Lexus has demonstrated its undeniable comprehension of class-leading luxury. A weak area that continues to beg improvement is the clumsy infotainment system. Its complex menu design make many of the climate, seat, audio and general vehicle adjustments difficult to find and change. It’s not helpful that these settings are buried within the infotainment system. The overly-sensitive, hard-to-control touchpad controls make things even worse. 

Photo by: Brandon Randall

A 3.5L twin turbo V6 churns out 416 hp. The LS 500 is no lightweight, but even so, acceleration is impressive. With good low-end power. Pedal response felt a little delayed. The general impression is that two turbos bolted up to a powerful V6 is good, but ultimately, I miss the former V8. A 10-speed sequential automatic transmission will ensure that you’re always in the optimal gear. It was a little reluctant to downshift at times in Normal mode. Sport and Sport Plus modes help increase engine and transmission responsiveness though. They also add necessary heft to the steering, which could feel overly light and detached otherwise. 

Through the corners, the expected levels of body-roll manifest. Especially when entering a tight turn with speed. It’s understandable for a vehicle of this size, and is far from excessive. If spirited driving is more your beat, the F Sport package, with its more aggressive driver settings, will be the better choice. A nimble, tight chassis and crisp, responsive steering isn’t the aim of the Lexus LS 500 though. It’s a plush ride in a sound-insulted cabin that’s assembled with all the best in mind. It’s top tier safety and state of the art technology. If you want something with a mischievous personality and rough edges than you’re looking in the wrong place. The 2019 LS 500 may look a little naughty from the outside, but a quick drive around the block is all it needs to demonstrate that it wants to treat you to as many nice things as it can. German rivals beware. Lexus has shown what it’s capable of, and the new LS 500 is measuring up more than ever.

Price as tested: $101,685.00

By: Brandon Randall

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