Monday, April 23, 2018

IN THE DRIVEWAY: 2018 Lexus LS500

The LS. The one that started it all for Lexus, the luxury division of Toyota. Lexus and the LS first made the automotive scene back in 1989, and ever since, the LS has been referred to as one of the best automobiles ever made. Since then, we have seen four generations of the LS, each one out-doing the previous one. 2018 marks the debut of the LS500 - an all-new flagship vehicle for the brand, replacing the LS460 (and the extended length LS460L).

The Lexus LS500 has nicely evolved from the previous LS460. Sporting a new iteration of the brand's signature “spindle” grille, to powerful lines that flow gracefully over the fenders, the design of the new LS is unapologetic.  Add in the optional F-Sport package and the LS takes on some further aggression to the styling of the car by blackening out the grille, adding mesh grille inserts along with a rear diffuser.

The LS500 is easily the largest LS ever made. Measuring in at 206 inches long, it has a wheelbase of 123 inches - that is 2 inches longer than last year's LS460L. Only the one wheelbase will be offered.

Under the hood of the LS500 is an all-new motor - and a first for the LS. Since it's inception, the LS has always been powered by a V8 engine. Those days are gone - as the LS500 is now powered by a new 3.4-liter twin-turbo V-6 mated to a ten-speed automatic transmission. Pumping out 416hp and 442 lb-ft of torque, the new engine easily out powers the previous 4.6 liter V8, which made 386 hp and 367 lb-ft. Not only is the new engine more powerful, it brings in better fuel economy - 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway compared to the V8's 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.

But the real prize of the new LS500 is it's interior. It’s graced with the highest levels of detail that I have ever seen in a luxury vehicle. Exterior curves are simulated inside in the door panels. The leather around the gauges is stitched to perfection and the horizontal trim that spans the dash and into the vents looks (and feels) like artwork. And while it's all magnificent to look at, all the features and functions are simple to use. The Remote Touchpad, the mouse-like pad controller is used to navigate through the audio, climate, navigation and phone systems- yet most systems do have buttons on the dash. And the enormous 12.3 inch high-resolution display makes things appear crystal clear. The audio system – custom tailored by Mark Levinson, has 23 speakers, 2,400 watts and practically transforms the cabin into a symphony hall.

Most of my initial hours with the new LS500 were spent in awe of the vehicle.  From it's super-luxurious cabin to it's drivetrain which is not only incredibly smooth and quiet, it's also very powerful - needing just over 5 seconds to reach 60 mph. Quite an achievement for a vehicle of this size. It's looking like I will continue to stand firm on my belief that the LS is probably the best built, best all-around car to ever grace our roads. Strong words, I know. But acquaint yourself with one and you will most-likely agree.