2018 Lexus LS 500

2018 Lexus LS 500 Review

Bold, aggressive and distinctly Japanese in appearance, the LS 500 is traditional Lexus underneath.
7.6 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Don't let the sharp angles and bold style fool you: The 2018 Lexus LS 500 is traditional Lexus throughout. A comprehensive redesign inside, outside and underneath places the LS once again in the same rare air as recently updated large luxury sedan designs from Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. The cushioned ride and whisper-quiet interior are made to pamper, and the cutting-edge tech delivers increased driver safety. The LS 500 reminds you that Europe doesn't have a lock on world-class luxury.

The new fifth-generation Lexus LS 500 is longer, lower and wider than its predecessor, the LS 460, with a new coupelike profile that makes it look slimmer and more lithe — no small feat for a car that weighs more than 5,000 pounds. A new suspension design yields sportier handling, but we use that term loosely. This is, first, a luxury sedan better suited to arcing through turns than attacking them.

An all-new turbocharged V6 engine delivers more horsepower than the outgoing model, and it pairs with a quick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission. The new LS 500's longer wheelbase, longer even than that of the earlier extended model, ensures a cabin roomy enough to cosset weary leaders of industry or even just visiting in-laws, especially when you spring for the seats with up to 28 separate adjustments.

Even a base model LS 500 comes with enough appointments to satisfy most buyers, but those with a more discerning eye can opt for enhancements such as a lowering suspension to ease entry and exit, advanced driver safety aids, and an audiophile-grade sound system.



What's new for 2018

The 2018 Lexus LS 500 is redesigned and all-new.

We recommend

Choosing an LS 500 is simple: There's one well-appointed trim level with a handful of options and option packages. Although 28-way adjustable seats and adjustable air suspension sound nice, forgo those options and instead spring for the spectacular audio system upgrade ($1,940) and the Safety System+ A package ($3,000), which adds a host of useful driver assistance features.




Trim levels & features

The 2018 Lexus LS 500 is a full-size luxury sedan with seating for five passengers. It comes in a single, well-appointed trim level with a handful of stand-alone options and options packages. Even without a single option, the LS 500 comes loaded with the safety and comfort features you'd expect of this class. A hybrid version is reviewed separately.

Standard equipment on the LS 500 is extensive and begins with a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine (416 horsepower, 442 pound-feet of torque) paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive comes standard; all-wheel drive is optional.

Highlights include 19-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, LED headlights, a sunroof, a hands-free trunk, power-closing doors, leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, magnesium paddle shifters, 16-way power-adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, and a power rear sunshade.

Technology features include a 12.3-inch color display, a navigation system, a trackpad-style interface, a Wi-Fi hotspot, Lexus Enform smartphone app integration, Enform emergency and convenience services, Bluetooth and a 12-speaker audio system. Finally, standard driver aids include a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and rain-sensing wipers.

The LS 500 can be further tailored to your taste with a comprehensive options list. The Interior Upgrade package adds leather upholstery with quilted stitching, 28-way power-adjustable driver seat, and heated rear seats, among other items. The Luxury package adds a 28-way adjustable seat for the passenger, 18-way adjustable and reclining rear seats, four-zone climate control, power rear side sunshades, an armrest-mounted touchscreen controller for climate and seat functions, and rear-seat knee airbags.

Drivers seeking a more sporting flavor can equip the LS 500 with the F Sport package, which adds 20-inch wheels, larger brakes, a retuned suspension, unique styling trim, exclusive leather upholstery, and 28-way power-adjustable seats. The Performance package bundles all that and adds variable gear-ratio steering and rear-wheel steering.

The Executive package truly transforms the LS 500 into a luxury shuttle, adding butterfly rear headrests, individual climate control settings, heated and ventilated rear seats with massaging function, and an extendable ottoman footrest for the right-side rear passenger. The cabin is further touched with hand-pleated trim and stylized glass materials.

Additional safety aids come with the Safety System+ A package, which adds adaptive cruise and automatic steering that can detect and "trace" the path of the vehicle in front, for a semiautonomous driving experience. Other features include forward cross-traffic alert, road sign recognition, an enhanced head-up display, and a panoramic rearview monitor.

Notable individual options include an adaptive air suspension, a panoramic sunroof, adaptive LED headlights, upgraded wood trim, and a premium 23-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2018 Lexus LS 500 (turbo 3.5L V6 | 10-speed automatic | RWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.6 / 10

Driving

7.0 / 10

Acceleration7.5 / 10
Braking7.0 / 10
Steering7.0 / 10
Handling6.5 / 10
Drivability6.5 / 10

Comfort

8.0 / 10

Seat comfort8.0 / 10
Ride comfort8.0 / 10
Noise & vibration8.0 / 10
Climate control8.0 / 10

Interior

7.0 / 10

Ease of use4.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out7.5 / 10
Driving position8.5 / 10
Roominess8.0 / 10
Visibility7.0 / 10
Quality8.5 / 10

Utility

8.0 / 10

Small-item storage8.0 / 10
Cargo space8.0 / 10

Technology

6.5 / 10

Audio & navigation7.0 / 10
Smartphone integration4.0 / 10
Driver aids7.5 / 10
Voice control7.5 / 10

Driving7.0

Most will find that performance is perfectly adequate for this large, luxurious sedan, with a chassis that ably controls body roll at moderate speeds. Even with the car loaded with five passengers, acceleration is swift. Unfortunately, the transmission is slow to downshift when you want more power.

Acceleration7.5

The twin-turbo V6's low-end thrust and ample power won't make you nostalgic for the previous model's V8. It seems reluctant to tap into the power, however, with considerable lag between pressing the pedal and the car responding. A 0-60 mph run took 5.8 seconds — average for this kind of car.

Braking7.0

The pedal doesn't have much feel, but it's easy to slow the LS 500 thanks to the linear brake response at low to moderate speeds. At higher speeds, you really have to dig into the pedal to halt this beast quickly. It took the LS 132 feet to stop from 60 mph, a longer distance than many rivals.

Steering7.0

Steering effort is light in most drive modes and slightly heavier in Sport and Sport+. Effort does not build up much as you move the wheel from center, so you really don't know what the tires are doing. The LS isn't overly sensitive to fine adjustments, but it responds quickly to deliberate inputs.

Handling6.5

The LS 500 isn't terribly sporty, and hustling it around too many back-to-back corners can make you queasy. Body lean manifests immediately upon entering a turn with speed, but it's not excessive for this kind of vehicle. The F Sport model might be more appropriate for more spirited drivers.

Drivability6.5

It's hard to overstate how smooth gearshifts are. Upshifts are imperceptible, and you don't feel downshifts as you slow down. The car is slow to respond when you hit the accelerator in most driving modes. Sport mode quickens responses yet doesn't make the throttle overly jumpy and doesn't hang onto gears.

Comfort8.0

This class prioritizes comfort above all else, and the LS is no different. The outboard seats offer a wide range of adjustments, in addition to heating, ventilation and a massage function. The ride only feels floaty on undulating surfaces. Otherwise, the suspension soaks up all road imperfections.

Seat comfort8.0

Most seats have a seemingly endless number of adjustments. Even so, it takes a while to find the perfect position, and you'll have to make adjustments on long road trips. With the Executive package, all outboard seats offer a massage function. Unyielding padding makes the middle seat uncomfortable.

Ride comfort8.0

The optional adjustable air suspension, regardless of drive mode, produces a cushy ride on almost any road. At low speeds, you won't even realize you're driving over speed bumps. Only on severely broken pavement might the ride feel choppy, and large pavement dips cause noticeable movement.

Noise & vibration8.0

The LS is tomb-silent at cruising speeds, with virtually zero wind and engine noise. Tire noise is minimal, except for when you're rounding a corner — they squeal even at moderate speeds. The engine sounds awesome at full throttle, though much of the note is artificial.

Climate control8.0

Seven power sunshades and a multitude of vents work in concert to keep heat from radiating into the cabin. Good thing since seat ventilation functions aren't particularly powerful. The same goes for seat and steering wheel heating. The rear seats get heated massaging elements.

Interior7.0

There's an abundance of room for four passengers, though the low roofline gives the illusion of a tight cabin. It's easy to get into, but getting out is a little tricky. Many vehicle settings are located in virtual menus, and the infotainment controller is frustratingly difficult to use.

Ease of use4.0

Many of the seat, climate and audio adjustments are buried within the infotainment system's complex menu structure. Remembering where basic adjustments are located is difficult enough, but the hard-to-use touchpad controller exacerbates the issue. The touchscreen for rear passengers is slightly more intuitive.

Getting in/getting out7.5

The large door openings make the LS a cinch to get into. However, the wide doorsills require quite a bit of hip articulation to step over when exiting. The rear seat's easy-access function is a necessity if you recline the seatback. Otherwise, you'll have to scrunch up awkwardly to exit.

Driving position8.5

The driver's seat is highly adjustable, with multiple lumbar inflation points and side and bottom bolster modifications. Shame that you have to use the touchpad to access most of them. Tall drivers can use the armrests while cruising thanks to the generous steering wheel tilt-and-telescoping range.

Roominess8.0

Headroom is a little tight for tall passengers, but sub-6-footers will have no problem. There's a ton of legroom in the back; the occupant on the right can even move the front seat forward and deploy the leg rests to lounge. The middle seat is short on headroom and too narrow to fit an adult.

Visibility7.0

The roofline up front is a little low; tall drivers might have to lean forward to see a stoplight. A low beltline helps side visibility, and three side rear windows reduce blind spots. The short rear window means you won't see much behind the headrests. The 360-degree camera helps.

Quality8.5

As typical of many top-tier executive sedans, the interior is immaculately trimmed. The cabin features supple leather upholstery and dash coverings, wood trim and a minimal amount of plastic. The LS isn't as wondrous as a Mercedes S-Class, but it's nicer than budget-friendly large sedans such as the Lincoln Continental.

Utility8.0

The trunk is large and accepts plenty of luggage, provided you can work with sides that taper inward as you go forward, like a trapezoid. With bins under the armrests and cutouts in each door, there are plenty of places for small items inside. Reaching the upper tethers for car seats can be tricky.

Small-item storage8.0

Each door has a cutout large enough for a water bottle lying on its side, and there's a decently sized bin under the front and rear armrests. Of course, if you have a third person in the back, you have to flip up the armrest and you lose that space.

Cargo space8.0

At 17 cubic feet, the LS 500's trunk is one of the largest in the class. It's easy to load items into the cargo area thanks to the wide, tall opening. The sides taper inward as you get closer to the rear seatback, so consider the odd shape before you pack heavy.

Child safety seat accommodation7.0

Each of the outboard seats has two easy-access LATCH anchors hidden behind a piece of padding attached via Velcro. Three upper tethers are more difficult to reach since they are set far back on the rear deck, and there's not much clearance between the roof and the top of the headrest.

Technology6.5

Standard safety features abound, though some systems don't feel fully baked. Voice controls are OK, while the optional Mark Levinson audio system is well worth the extra cost. Device integration is poor; Lexus' Enform app suite doesn't hold a candle to Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

Audio & navigation7.0

The large central display screen looks gorgeous. The map is functional, though it can be cluttered and major streets aren't always labeled. Navigation directions are duplicated on the head-up display. Foul-weather warnings are frequent and excessive. The 23-speaker Mark Levinson system sounds fantastic.

Smartphone integration4.0

There are two USB ports in both front and rear armrest bins. Browsing for audio files on connected media is disabled while the car is moving. The Lexus Enform app suite does not support as many apps as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (which are not offered). More often than not, you'll use Bluetooth.

Driver aids7.5

There's a wealth of standard safety tech, and the optional Safety System+ A adds further semiautomated driving features. In our experience, these aids work well enough but aren't as advanced as those in competing systems from Tesla and Mercedes-Benz. Adaptive cruise is slow to identify stopped traffic.

Voice control7.5

The voice recognition software prompts you to use a structured menu path, but we found that it detects some free speech. Though it seems to be available, we were not able to use voice controls to browse a media player's audio files. Inputting a destination to the nav system is easy enough.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.