Dear readers, rarely have I felt so relaxed and I owe it all to the Lexus LS 500. For you see, I don’t normally consider myself a leisurely driver, but the LS 500 all but makes you become one thanks to its luxurious oasis and supremely comfortable ride. Loaded with creature comforts, the LS 500 is pretty much all you need in life, except perhaps a chauffeur to go with it. There are some key updates for 2021, too. It gains the new Lexus Driving Signature that debuted in the 2021 Lexus IS I reviewed last year. A standard 12.3-inch touchscreen is also new.
The LS 500 is equipped with a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine that delivers 416-horsepower and 442 lb.-ft. of torque. I thought the power perfectly matched this 4,600+ pound sedan. It’s mated to an updated 10-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Acceleration was smooth and powerful, and shifting was smooth and responsive. My test vehicle is rear-wheel drive but all-wheel drive is available.
The LS 500 looks every inch like the flagship that is in a new for 2021 Iridium hue. It’s stately, polished and beckons you closer with its sleek profile and spectacular 20-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels with a gloss black and machined finish. A redesigned front fascia includes a new bumper and the grille is now finished in dark metallic.
Up front there are also new vertically stacked LED headlights. Chrome molding on the side windows and striping on the lower profile to the rear panel adds to its polished look. I love the look of the optional panoramic glass roof, too. Lexus wraps things up on the tail end with LED lighting and more chrome trim between the taillights and on the dual exhaust.
The LS 500’s multi-textured interior more than lives up to its promises of luxury with impeccable craftsmanship, quality switchgear and premium trims. This model features gorgeous white semi-aniline leather with a unique laser special black trim on the door panels. It also features optional premium wood trim.
The seat comfort level is off the charts, no surprise given Lexus added additional thicker cushioning material underneath the front seat surface as well as additional foam to the seat cushions, armrests and other touch points. The attention to the detailed soft-touch door panels is exceptional.
From the steering wheel you can see a center digital driver information display flanked by analog dials and a very large optional 24-inch color head up display with terrific graphics. The wood-trimmed leather center console area houses a short leather-wrapped gear shift knob, cup holders and a new switch to display the touchscreen controls for the seat heaters and steering wheel heater. At night, the LS cabin lights up very nicely with ambient lighting.
As if things weren’t luxurious enough, Lexus takes things to a whole new level with my test model’s optional $17,630 Executive Package with semi-aniline, quilted-stitch perforated leather trim, 28-way power front massage seats, power-retracting butterfly front seat headrests, an ultrasuede headliner and it even has power front seat buckles.
You’ll also never think of the rear seat in the same way again, after sitting in the LS with the Executive Package. It provides back seat passengers with 22-way power-adjustable, massage seats and it also comes with a right power recliner with sliding ottoman plus a power rear sunshade. Passengers also get power side window sunshades. A large rear seat drop-down semi-aniline leather center console with wood trim houses a 7-inch touchscreen with seat, headrest and climate controls.
I almost don’t have words for how amazing the optional butterfly power headrests are. I rarely pay headrests ANY attention at all and now the LS 500 has ruined me forever, as I’m certain to have extremely high standards for them moving forward.
If tunes are important to your drive experience, you will find the optional 23-speaker Mark Levinson Sound System delivers an exceptional audio experience.
As for trunk space, no worries there. There’s no lack of it in a sedan this size and you access via a hands-free power open/close trunk.
The big technology update for 2021 is a new 12.3-inch touchscreen multimedia display with navigation. Lexus’ multimedia system offers great graphics and is always very responsive. The system offers non-wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa. One way to control the system is with the Lexus Remote Touch Interface oft-maligned but improved touchpad on the center console. I’m also a huge fan of Lexus’ exceptional Dynamic Voice Command, standard in the LS. This LS is also equipped with a larger for 2021 Digital Rearview mirror with very sharp camera quality. I’d like to see that same quality applied to the backup camera and optional panoramic view monitor.
The LS is equipped with standard Lexus 2.0+ that includes pedestrian detection, lane tracing assist, road sign assist, dynamic high speed cruise control, and intelligent high beams. Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are separately standard, as is intuitive parking assist.
My test model adds an optional Safety + A suite of features as well. It includes active braking, active steering assist, and front cross traffic alert.
Ride and Drive
The LS 500’s smooth ride and drive is sublime and relaxing. It also maneuvers well, passing my U-turn test despite its length. The LS gets Lexus’ new Driving Signature which means engineers tuned the suspension and chassis to refine the driving experience. Other modifications were made to create a plusher ride. It’s not a sporty ride though you do get Sport S and Sport+ modes, the latter of which stiffens things up if you so desire. It’s also a supremely quiet ride. This model is also equipped with the lineup’s standard adaptive variable suspension but adds optional rapid height.
The list of options is long on this LS, many of which you read about above. They include the Executive Package, Cold Weather Package, and stand alone options like the wood-trimmed steering wheel, panoramic glass roof, wheels, paint, head up display and panoramic view monitor.
What You’ll Pay
For a flagship sedan that oozes this amount of luxury you can expect to pay over triple figures, in this case, as equipped $107,965. Yes, that’s quite a price hike over the base $76,000 price. But it’s in line with the outstanding quality, comfort, craftsmanship and supreme ride comfort that the LS as equipped delivers.
The LS 500 is every inch a luxury sedan befitting the title of Lexus’ flagship and the price tag.
- What I Liked Most: The incredibly crafted leather interior with premium materials and numerous creature comforts, along with its ride comfort and 20-inch wheels.
- What I would change: Add wireless charging, and a mute button on the steering wheel volume controls.
- Fuel Economy: 18 city/29 highway/22 combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: 2,509 miles.
- Weight: 4,696/4,740 pounds. (RWD Coil/Air).
- Spare Tire: None.
- Length-Width-Height: 206” long/74.8” wide /57.1” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 21.7 gallons with the fuel filler on the driver’s side. [Premium Fuel Required.]
- Towing Capacity: N/A.
- Official Color: Iridium. ($425)
- 2021 Lexus LS 500 in a few words: The LS 500 is a luxury sedan that is sure to take your troubles away in its oasis of comfort.
- Warranty: 4-year, 50,000 mile basic new vehicle warranty; 5-year, 70,000 mile powertrain.
- Final Assembly Location: Tahara, Aichi, Japan.
- Manufacturer's website: Lexus