2018 Lexus LS 500 Review: Big Sedan's Twin-Turbo V-6 Crushes the Hybrid Powertrain

The latest Lexus flagship shines brighter and drives better with one of the industry's strongest V-6 engines.
Some choices are easy. Formula One over IndyCar. Craft beer, not Bud Light. Nirvana over the Foo Fighters. And when it comes to Lexus four-doors, it’s the LS 500 sedan, by a country mile, over the LS 500h hybrid.

My choice became clear after about 10 minutes in the LS 500 sedan, Lexus’s bid to reinvigorate a flagship four-door franchise that had gone old and stale. I’d already sampled Lexus’s hybrid powertrain twice, and spat out the dubious concoction both times: Once in Spain, in the otherwise-excellent LC Coupe, and again in New York in the LS sedan. These hybrid Lexii subsist on the 3.5-liter V-6 from a Toyota Camry, one that’s further neutered to save fuel by running on the Atkinson cycle. To that, Lexus adds dual electric motors; a continuously variable transmission and a conventional four-speed gearbox combine to create the illusion of 10 forward gears. But no amount of engineering magic or cabin soundproofing can completely obscure the Walmart roots of the Camry V-6, or the clunky, moaning operation of the hybrid system. Both are sadly out of place in a luxury sedan that starts around $80,000 and can soar to nearly $120,000.

But the standard LS 500 adjusted my attitude, and the car’s, in a big way. It even managed that feat not with the burly 471-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 that powers the pretty LC Coupe, but with a mere V-6 engine. Ah, but what a V-6: This long-stroke, 3.5-liter, twin-turbo beauty pumps out 416 horsepower and a bountiful 442 pound-feet of torque—44 more pound-feet than the Coupe’s naturally aspirated V-8. Compared with the 4.6-liter V-8 with 386 hp and 369 lb-ft that powered the previous-gen LS460 sedan, the new direct-injected V-6 brings 30 additional horses and 73 additional pound-feet to the party.

Fuel economy soars along with the power, from the old LS 460’s 16/24 miles per gallon (for city/highway) to a frugal 19/30 mpg; note, in particular, the remarkable 6-mpg jump on the highway. (Adding AWD to the Lexus drops the EPA rating to a still-solid 18/27 mpg). That mileage rating tops every non-hybrid sedan in the flagship class, including a 2-mpg highway edge over Mercedes’s V-6-powered S450. And that Mercedes brings just 362 horsepower, versus 416 for the Lexus.

Credit Lexus’s well-designed 10-speed automatic transmission for some of those mileage gains, and for keeping the V-6 in its sweet spot for discreet operation and eager forward progress. Lexus’s claim of 4.6 seconds to 60 mph might be a touch optimistic—that’s 0.8 seconds quicker than the V-6 Mercedes—but the LS hustles very well for a nearly-5,000-pound, V-6-powered sedan, whose 206.1-inch length virtually matches the big Benz.
And where the distracting hybrid system seems to exacerbate the Lexus’s flaws, the V-6 model amplifies its strengths. Those include a well-engineered chassis and precise, capable handling that’s rarely been associated with the LS, which has traditionally been the sedan equivalent of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. The new platform drops its center of gravity, and adopts riveted cast aluminum shock towers front and rear, along with sophisticated double ball joints on the upper and lower front control arms for more secure handling inputs. As before, there’s a self-leveling air suspension system (a $1,500 option), and adaptive dampers with a broader range of driver-selectable responses. Lexus touts its proprietary Laser Screw Welding for boosting the rigidity of panel joints. And the body panels themselves—hell, the entire car—shows the exacting fit-and-finish the brand is known for.

Pointed north from Manhattan, this LS 500 gobbled the miles in relaxed, ultra-confident fashion. Dialed into its Sport Plus setting, the LS shined on some of my favorite shakedown roads north of New York City, including the rollicking Route 301 that links the towns of Carmel and Cold Spring. Tire grip in corners is noticeably stronger than before, and the body stays much flatter. There’s even—dare I say it—some real feel coming through the steering wheel.
Lexus’s hourglass-shaped “spindle grille” remains a debatable design element, though it works well on the LC Coupe. Controversial schnoz aside, this Lexus brings the distinctive design and extroverted attitude that the oft-generic LS has cried out for. As with the hybrid version, I was surprised at how often people strolled up to the Lexus, or rolled down their own car windows, to rave about the styling. At least three or four people said, flat-out, “That’s a beautiful car.”
Full Review www.thedrive.com/new-cars/20537/2018-lexus-ls-500-review-big-sedans-twin-turbo-v-6-crushes-the-hybrid-powertrain

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Comments

    • Puneeth kishan Puneeth kishan
      Puneeth kishan Puneeth kishan

      Fucking hell

      about 8 months ago
    • Puneeth kishan Puneeth kishan
      Puneeth kishan Puneeth kishan

      Fucking hell

      about 8 months ago
    • Brandon Munashe
      Brandon Munashe

      We talk Lexus we talk class

      about 10 months ago
    • Jon Jones
      Jon Jones

      awesome

      about 10 months ago
    • Jon Jones
      Jon Jones

      awesome

      about 10 months ago
    • Ekramصادق الأشقر هيونداي ازيرا Atta
      Ekramصادق الأشقر هيونداي ازيرا Atta

      Top up Lexus LS 350

      about 10 months ago
    • Paul Goodier
      Paul Goodier

      ridiculous driver seat adjustment what a waste of money

      about 11 months ago
    • Tovarisch
      Tovarisch

      that is one fancy toyota camry

      about 11 months ago
    • Joshua Jacob
      Joshua Jacob In reply to Tovarisch

      Umuntu Camry is fwd


      This is rwd,you know nothing about cars don’t ya

      about 10 months ago
    • Ronny P
      Ronny P

      It's still just a Toyota !!!!

      about 11 months ago
    • All For One
      All For One

      I drive these all the time at work.

      about 11 months ago
    • Sanat 12
      Sanat 12

      That grill tho

      about 11 months ago
    • 383 chevy
      383 chevy

      I'd rather an audi

      about 11 months ago
    • R DUBB
      R DUBB

      Still just a stretched toyota camery

      about 11 months ago
    • Mary Adkison
      Mary Adkison

      Love the car hate the grill. I’ve own d 4 Lexus 460. SUV & full size sedan love them all great ride too. I’ll buy another when they change the front 🤦‍♀️😢😢😢🌹❤️❤️❤️❤️

      about 11 months ago
    • HOP 5
      HOP 5 In reply to Mary Adkison

      I just bought a 08 LS460L, I'd rather have my old one cause that grill is so ugly. Look like the bottom of a black widow spider.

      about 11 months ago
    • chip block
      chip block In reply to Mary Adkison

      Why the ugly grill? I have owned a 1994 LS400 for 15 years and a 2008 LS460 for 10 years. I love their style and dependability and I know the newer ones may have a lot more to offer but I can't get over the grill and overall look. By the way my LS400 has 132,000 and my LS460 has 63,000 miles on them. They will far out last me.

      about 11 months ago
    • 2019 2019
      2019 2019

      مش حلوه مش قميله

      about 11 months ago
    • devour1
      devour1

      Footbaloreona, you’re an idiot.

      about 11 months ago
    • rhett burger
      rhett burger

      What a shame they dropped one of the best V8's in the business.

      about 11 months ago
    • Messenger Charles
      Messenger Charles

      If it's so new then why does it look like every other wind tunnel designed boring modern car? These people are delusional.

      about 11 months ago
    • Abdel-Halim Shaout
      Abdel-Halim Shaout

      We all know the MB S CLASS is the REAL KING....

      about 11 months ago
    • Vela Bela
      Vela Bela

      😍I want one in Pearl white with good accents and white wall tires...white interior 😌💃

      about 11 months ago
    • 2000 Teiki
      2000 Teiki

      From now on gasoline cars are disadvantageous.

      about 11 months ago
    • New Covenant Hebrew
      New Covenant Hebrew

      My new fav car.. sorry Audi

      about 11 months ago
    • IpJaeho SmileRICH
      IpJaeho SmileRICH

      Lexus LS 500 looks beautiful. ♡♡

      Thanks ^^

      about 11 months ago
    • Федот Федотов
      Федот Федотов

      До Мерседеса 222 который выпускают с 2013 года, Лексусу как до Луны. Дешёвая, сраная Тойота в красивой обёртке.

      about 11 months ago
    • KP11520
      KP11520

      No AWD? That will cost them.

      about 11 months ago
    • Brave Stone
      Brave Stone

      Don't like horizontal grill

      about 11 months ago
    • Bmants
      Bmants

      This car must be reworked, it's not the best Lexus can do and for it to be all new its technically a disappointment. You are not a car person if you look at a car and decide its great, that's emotion. I will stick with the 460 for now, its the better car.

      about 11 months ago
    • Hassan abraham
      Hassan abraham

      King of All brands

      about 1 year ago
    • Jason Walker
      Jason Walker

      This is not a review. It's an ad. No V8 in the LS, no thanks. They've gone after tech > their history of comfortable luxury.

      about 1 year ago
    • peo C
      peo C

      wonderful@2018.08.23

      about 1 year ago