2018 Lexus LS 500 F SPORT: Every automaker seeks to stand out from the rest. However, rare is the brand that can find the sweet spot between contemporary flair, advanced technology and time-honored tradition and culture. Toyota has honed the recipe with Lexus, the brand associated with luxury and sporty performance — often inextricable from its Japanese roots.
The luxurious 2018 Lexus LS 500 F SPORT RWD epitomizes this to a tee. Lexus has engineered the LS to breathe Japanese culture through-and-through. The serene ambiance inside the LS cabin exudes the feel of andon paper lanterns, while one trim package features kiriko cut glass (Details, people!)
The aesthetic pleasantry aside, make no mistake – the 2018 Lexus LS 500 F SPORT RWD has an aggressive side, featuring an all-new and well-apportioned drivetrain, rousing engine sounds and a fair share of safety and tech gadgets.
Let’s go over what really makes this car stand apart.
Our F SPORT tester came in the exquisite Atomic Silver color. The first thing that jumped out at us was the hourglass-shaped grille, which surely has left many a wandering eye impressed with its imposing posture.
That eye is next likely to gaze on the 20-inch split-five-spoke alloy wheels with Dark Graphite finish. These features give this sedan a debonaire personality. In fact, the 2018 LEXUS LS 500 F SPORT finesse is fluid and silky. It’s emboldened with Z-shaped headlights and rear diffuser and lower door trim in addition to attractive upper and lower grille inserts.
Lexus is known for upscale appeal that rivals bespoke British brands. With that in mind, we have to lavish praise on the new LS interior. Our tester’s Circuit Red leather with Naguri Aluminum trim and unique stitching. It was plush and then some. Louboutin comparisons are justified, let’s just say.
As soon as you get inside the cabin, your backside feels the enhanced bolstered sport seats. Like the seats, the ergonomic steering wheel is covered in perforated leather. Elsewhere, aluminum pedals and instrument cluster suggest that race and sports performance ambitions are among traits this coupe is prepared to transfer to the driver.
Yes, there’s more. Our F SPORT came with a glass panoramic roof. This addition is breathtaking. Enjoy more light inside the cabin and appreciate the sunroof when it’s paired with power rear sunshade. The sunshade operates by a quick push of a button and lowers when the car is placed in reverse.
The sheer amazingness of this sedan is further magnified by several premium components that we absolutely loved: 12.3-inch high-resolution display, audio system and a next-generation remote touchpad.
The 2018 Lexus LS 500 F SPORT exclusively features an LFA-style digital tachometer, which stands out with its metallic-trimmed bezel. The wide split-screen display brings the voice-activated navigation system to life, while simultaneously letting the driver control audio and climate controls. It shows traffic and weather information, current speed limit and even details about nearby gas stations. Basically, the driver’s got everything needed for a superior experience right on the screen.
The Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound audio system is designed to express omotenashi, the hospitality concept that lies at the core of Japanese values. The F SPORT has no fewer than 23 speakers and 16 channels that combine for 2,400 watts. This raises the volume bar to unheard of levels – and did we mention there’s also Quantum Logic Immersion, advanced 3D audio technology? Arguably, this is the cutting edge of car audio experience well into the next decade.
The remote touchpad is a nice addition. It adapts the smartphone experience into the car. Control multimedia, climate settings and navigation on the large surface area with the ease of swiping on an iPhone. It’s the same gestures and techniques here, up to and including handwritten input.
If you’re like us, once you’ve marveled at the interior’s exotic look and the cool technology, you’ll be curious as to what’s included on the safety front. The F SPORT features intuitive parking assist with auto-stop and blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic braking. The Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and braking system ensures that when you back out of a parking spot, you’re aware if a car is coming from either side. To avoid a collision, the system can stop the car instantly. If you do happen to get into a serious accident, the F SPORT’s 10-Airbag system – including knee airbags – is there to protect your life.
The 2018 Lexus LS 500 F SPORT RWD is rated at 19 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, which averages to 23 mpg.
Now comes the fun part. The F SPORT is powered by a twin-turbocharged V-6 engine that generates 416 hp and 442 lb.-ft. of torque. The sedan propels 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds and reaches its top speed at 136 mph. This power sits atop Lexus’ new rear-wheel-drive (Global Architecture for Luxury vehicle or GA-L) platform. GA-L is the chassis used in LS and the LC coupe, touted by Lexus as the stiffest of its kind — ever.
The driving modes are pretty fun to cycle through and pretty good overall. It starts with the Normal mode, which is a decent standard but begs for a bit more body control. Sport S tweaks the powertrain response, while Sport S+ overcompensates and certainly won’t be pleasant to use on rough terrain, not to mention it takes away the joy of steering. For what it’s worth, the brake pedal is more than just serviceable, as firm as any stopper in the segment.
The F SPORT has just enough power to be able to flaunt amid the BMW and Cadillacs of the segment, but it doesn’t go over the top. German V-8 engines would beat it up outright, but the LS is steady in its delivery. The drivetrain is operated by a 10-speed electronically controlled Direct-Shift automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Two extra ratios were added although they don’t add additional weight, according to Lexus. The F SPORT package also comes in rear- and all-wheel drive (our model was RWD).
The base price of the 2018 Lexus LS 500 RWD is $81,000 and the AWD model is costs $84,220.
What we liked: We adored the visual splendor, premium materials and authentic Japanese detail. The LS pairs a curvy exterior with plush interior replete with red leather, spindle grille and generous space in the the rear seating area. Lexus manages to evoke the kind of feel and ambiance you expect from a luxury sedan.
What we didn’t like: For all of its form and function, steering is not one of the strengths of this LS model. It’s just not as precise what we’ve experienced from German competitors. Also, it’s underwhelming to know that an upgrade to a V-8 engine is not available.
The 2018 Lexus LS F SPORT RWD is on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to price. Mind you, it is up against status symbols that are the BMW 7 series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Other cars in this segment are just as solid, including Cadillac CT6, Audi A8 and even the Jaguar XJ. The LS 500 F SPORT at just under $90,000 is a major bargain compared to Jaguar XJR ($123,395), BMW Alpina B7 ($139,795) and Mercedes-AMG S63 ($148,495).
Of course, at those prices, these cars offer a lot more power and more precise suspension and steering. Whereas the Lexus lacks the pure power and steering found in the Beamer and the Benz, its aesthetics and price combine to shift a big benefit of the doubt to the buyer.
Photo Credit: Copyright 2018 Victor Mosqueda / Car Fanatics Blog