- 2021 Lexus LS 500 (MSRP: $76,000 – $82,850)
- “2017 Eyes on Design Award for Design Excellence”
- Pro: Unrivaled build quality and attention to detail. A comfortable, stately cruiser
- Con: Not very sporty, considering its potent engine. Some tech features are lacking as well.
The 2021 Lexus LS is the brand’s flagship sedan and after driving it for a week, I can certainly see why. A car’s flagship model typically has all of the latest and greatest features wrapped into a neat package and the LS 500 definitely delivers on that front. The LS sedan was the automaker’s first inclusion into the automotive market back in 1990 and it’s easy to see why it’s remained at the top of the lineup for the past 30 years.
The 2021 Lexus LS 500 is strikingly elegant
Take one a good look at the Lexus LS and you’ll probably notice the massive “spindle grille” upfront over anything else. Admittedly, it’s a “love it or hate it” affair, but if you do love it, then the rest of the car is much easier on the eyes. The standard LED triple-beam headlights play a huge factor in the car’s striking looks as well.
Not much has changed for the 2021 model year save for some changes to the air intakes and headlights. There’s also an F Sport variant (like my tester) that includes a sportier mesh front grille and 20-inch alloy wheels. A new color called “Iridium,” which is a gray color has also joined the color palette for the new model year.
The LS 500’s interior exudes serenity and comfort
Sitting inside the Lexus LS 500, the first thing you’ll notice is how quiet it is. No matter what speed you go, its noise-canceling technology has your ears covered, almost quite literally. And when you finally get over how serene the environment is, you’ll likely appreciate the car’s semi-aniline leather seats, which can be upgraded via the F Sport Package to sportier buckets or to perforated leather seats via the Interior Upgrade Package.
If you want even more luxury out of your LS 500 interior experience, then you can opt for a Luxury package that includes four-zone climate control, a pair of 28-way power front seats with a massage function, 18-way power reclining rear seats, and a 7-inch touchscreen controller for the rear seat.
If you would rather be driven around in your LS, then you might like the Executive package, which ups the ante by adding power-retractable front headrests, a right-rear power recliner with a sliding ottoman, as well as heated massaging rear outboard seats. The only other addition on top of the Executive package is the Kiriko glass and origami-inspired door panels, which add an even richer appeal to the cabin.
In terms of comfort, the LS 500 has plenty of space for the front and rear outboard seat passengers, however, the middle rear seat is surprisingly cramped and should only be occupied by smaller passengers.
The Lexus LS 500 has all of the tech you need but lacks in some areas
When it comes to the technical features in the Lexus LS 500, there’s definitely no shortage of buttons and hidden screens to find. One of the biggest changes for the 2021 model years includes a large 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system that sits front and center. Users can easily navigate through menus with their fingers, as opposed to using the clunky touchpad on the center console.
Some optional tech features include a panoramic glass roof, a 360-degree camera system, a 24-inch head-up display, and adaptive LED headlights. There are also heated and ventilated seats up front, in addition to a heated steering wheel, but my main gripe is that you need to toggle them on through the infotainment screen, instead of hard buttons on the center console. Also, the optional Mark Levinson premium audio system has 23 speakers and 2,400 watts of power, so it’s a must-have feature if you like hearing every instrument and noise in the music you listen to.
Speaking of music, the LS 500 comes standard with Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility, however, it’s not the wireless type. And there’s even a CD player, in case you’re old-fashioned.
The LS 500 has a supple ride and sedate handling characteristics
The LS 500 is great if you want to go on a long road trip and watch the miles easily, and quietly slip by. My tester had the F Sport package, which includes a firmer suspension and stronger brakes, but it didn’t feel as sporty as it sounds. That being said, the LS 500 took corners easily when driven quickly, but don’t expect any track-oriented handling characteristics out of this large sedan.
For the ultimate comfort, buyers can opt for an adjustable air suspension, which not only makes the overall ride even more comfortable but it’s also height-adjustable making ingress and egress much easier. Speaking of getting in and out, it’s also easy to park the Lexus LS 500, however, the long front-end can be tough to see when parking in smaller, shallow spots. Luckily, there are front and rear parking sensors, but the 360-degree camera is highly recommended.
The Lexus LS 500 is powered by a spritely twin-turbocharged engine
If you don’t opt for the hybrid version of the Lexus LS 500, then you’ll only have the sole choice of a twin-turbocharged V6 engine. This 3.5-liter engine is a departure from the V8s that you’ll find under the hood of the LS 500’s competition, but it’s a stout powertrain nonetheless. Lexus says it produces 416 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque, which can definitely be felt when you stand on the throttle pedal.
The LS 500 quickly leaves the line in a near sportscar-like fashion, with the sonorous V6 humming throughout the powerband. A default 10-speed automatic transmission pairs well with the engine and provides quick shifts while transmitting power to the rear wheels. However, an all-wheel-drive powertrain is available.
As far as fuel economy, the EPA estimates that the Lexus LS 500 can get up to 18 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway in rear-drive form. Opting for all four wheels to spin will result in a 1 mpg deficit in the city and 2 mpg on the highway.
The Lexus LS 500 is as safe as it is luxurious
When it comes to safety, the Lexus LS 500 is filled with a whole menu of features that’s almost as long as its interior luxury features. For starters, the LS 500 comes standard with the Lexus Safety System + 2.0 suite of driver-assist features. That includes technology like a pre-collision warning system with pedestrian protection, a lane departure alert, lane tracking, and dynamic radar cruise control.
In addition to these safety features, the LS 500 also comes standard with ten airbags, a traction control system, and Smart Stop technology. As of this writing, the Lexus LS 500 has not been rated by either the National Highway Traffic Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Maintenance is on the high-end as well
You can’t have a high-end Lexus without the high-end maintenance costs. Fortunately, the LS is a Japanese car and likely won’t cost as much as its German rivals when it comes to keeping it on the road. As such, Edmunds calculated that it could cost an average of $9,335 to maintain an LS 500 during its first five years of ownership. Considering how much the car costs, that’s not too bad.
Additionally, just like all Lexus vehicles, the LS 500 is backed by a basic 48-month/50,000-mile warranty. As for the powertrain, it’s covered by a longer 72-month/70,000-mile warranty, whichever comes first.
The 2021 Lexus LS 500 is a sophisticated sedan with almost everything you need
Whether you like to drive or prefer to be driven, the 2021 Lexus LS 500 is an extremely comfortable sedan that offers almost every feature you need. The LS undercuts the competition in price but doesn’t skimp on value, despite its flagship status. In its current form, the LS 500 is a work of art and it goes to show why the brand has kept it in the lineup for the past 30 years.
MotorBiscuit gives the 2021 Lexus LS 500 an expert rating of 8.4 out of 10
The editors at MotorBiscuit rate the 2021 Lexus LS 500 an 8.4 out of 10. The LS is the automaker’s flagship sedan, so it’s hard to deny the supreme comfort and opulence that it provides. Furthermore, it had a wide array of tech-savvy features, although some could use and update.