The Lexus LS has always been an understated, often underappreciated car, and that's a shame because Toyota's fancy sibling has historically lavished all of its best materials and craftsmanship on it. This series has always been a relaxing place to spend time, but with the current generation that debuted back in 2018, that's been taken to the extreme.
On Wednesday, Lexus showed off the 2021 version of the Lexus LS 500. While it isn't markedly different from the last few model years, there are a couple of exciting changes -- one in particular could help assuage our biggest complaint about Lexus models in general.
To start, we should get out of the way that turbocharged V6 engines once again power the 2021 LS 500 and 500h. Lexus says there have been several changes to the drivetrain that make it smoother and more refined. This is always a welcome thing, and while the six-cylinder motors are good enough, they have left us missing those butter-smooth Lexus V8s of old. This added refinement could be a step back in that direction.
The ride should be plush, thanks to the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) that Lexus says uses a new design with revised linear solenoids and control valves that make low-speed damping smoother. There's also a ride-height-adjustable air suspension available, which will likely be the way to go for ultimate comfort.
The best part of the current-generation LS is definitely the interior, with its stellar materials like cut glass and ultrasoft leather and its insane build quality. It's a truly impressive example of Lexus doing what Lexus does best. That seems to be continuing through for the 2021 model year, but what is new -- and very welcome -- is the addition of touchscreen functionality for the infotainment system.
See, infotainment in Lexus vehicles has long been the worst thing about them thanks to the brand's dogged determination to make console-based touchpads or knobs with haptic feedback work despite the rest of the industry having moved on. The fact that its Enform tech in all its guises is slow, ugly and unintuitive makes it worse. Lexus has already rolled out touchscreens in the refreshed and models, and the result has been a much more pleasant experience, though with plenty of room for further improvements.
Buyers who want their LS to be not only a flagship luxury sedan but also kind of sporty can opt for the F Sport package. This brings many upgrades to the table, including staggered 20-inch wheels with either performance summer or all-season tires, big alloy six-piston front brakes and 15.7-inch rotors up front and four-piston calipers with 14.1-inch rotors out back. There's also an available Dynamic Handling Pack that adds rear-wheel steering and active suspension. It also gets some sportier body trim and 28-way power-adjustable seats.
The safety tech is as robust as one would expect from a full-size luxury car. The LS comes standard with Lexus Safety System Plus 2.0, which includes automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control. There is also an optional upgraded system called Lexus Safety System Plus A that adds a ton of functionality to the precollision system on the LS, as well as some active steering features that work in conjunction with the adaptive cruise system.
Pricing for the LS 500 with rear-wheel drive starts at $77,025, including destination. The all-wheel drive version adds $3,250 to that. The F Sport model with rear-wheel drive is $80,625, and the all-wheel drive F Sport starts at $83,875 before options. Gasoline models are set to hit dealers in November. Pricing for hybrid models is expected to arrive closer to the launch of those cars in early 2021.