Model tested: 2019 Lexus LS 500h sedan
Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC Atkinson-cycle V6 multistage hybrid, plus two electric motors
Horsepower: 354 combined
Transmission: E-CVT 4-speed automatic
EPA ratings: 23/city, 31/highway, 26/combined
Base price: $82,930
As tested: $107,355
Overview: The fifth-generation Lexus LS was totally redesigned last year, and except for enhanced Alexa/Apple CarPlay functionality, a new interior and exterior color, and other minor upgrades, it’s basically unchanged for 2019. There is one LS 500h powertrain, and the only decision buyers have is rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD).
Walkaround: The LS 500h AWD (our test vehicle) requires a trained eye to distinguish it from the standard LS 500. While bold styling has never been a Lexus/Toyota hallmark, the LS sedan takes its elegant design cues from the stunning LC coupe. It conveys an elegant stylishness, showcasing a long, tapered roofline; teardrop-shaped side windows behind large rear doors; and Z-shaped headlights flanking Lexus’ signature grille. LED taillights define the tall rear end.
Interior: While previous LS models are known for luxurious cabins, this LS boasts extravagantly opulent details like Kiriko cut-glass, hand-pleated, origami-inspired, quilted-cloth door panels. Ambient lighting accents the exceptionally tasteful, dark wood and aluminum trim, while the cabin features active-noise control that subdues sound levels to library-quality silence. Heated and cooled front seats move 28 ways and provide massage functions, while the abundant, 22-way, heated and cooled rear seats comfort three passengers. An optional executive package targeting chauffeur-driven vehicles offers even greater stretch-out room for two. Extras include four-zone climate control and a right-side seat with a raised ottoman, and backrest recline. All LS sedans come with a 12.3-inch display screen on the low-sitting dashboard. Responding to voice commands, it features Apple CarPlay. However, a way-too-sensitive, awkward-to-use touchpad controls audio and climate functions. For some, using it while driving could become a safety issue. The trunk — where the hybrid batteries are housed — reveals a respectable 15.2 cubic feet of cargo space.
Behind the wheel: The ride quality is comfortable and quiet, with air springs delivering pleasurable softness. The head-up display keeps the driver apprised of pertinent information. The hybrid powertrain performs well, with excellent road manners, strong acceleration and braking — especially for a car this big. The steering does lack precision as well as feel, but this isn’t a sport sedan either — it’s a pure luxury ride.
Bottom line: With its opulent cabin, massive interior space and outstanding fit and finish, the technology-laden Lexus LS 500h is, quite simply, automotive luxury at its finest.