2019 Lexus LS 500 F Sport Review

2019 Lexus LS 500 F Sport - The 2019 Lexus LS 500 F Sport is not a copy of European luxury sports sedans.


Price: $84,420

Pros-Stylish. Luxurious. Fast. Roomy. Smooth ride. Good handling. Safety items. Rear or all-wheel drive.

Cons-Finicky touch pad. Low front end. Premium fuel required. Doors lack inside grab handles or straps.

Bottom Line-Alternative to European luxury sports sedans.

The Lexus LS 500 sedan is the automaker's flagship model and goes its own way instead of being a rival to top European luxury sports sedans from Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar and Audi, although you might not suspect that by looking at its sleek shape.

The 2018 version of the LS 500 lost the bland styling of previous models and was given a coupe-like silhouette. However, Lexus does offer the LS 500 with an "F Sport" package that adds handling prowess and sporty, upscale cosmetic touches. However, owners should be careful with its alarmingly low front end.

The LS 500 is big, roomy and generally impressive with a very low drag coefficient of only .028 for virtually no wind noise and better fuel economy. It comes in a variety of trim levels starting at $75,300 and includes a hybrid gas-electric model. The F Sport all-wheel drive gas engine version I drove had an $84,420 list price.

The LS 500 F Sport comes with all the comfort and safety features one would expect from a extremely solidly built, church-quiet Lexus flagship, including a pushbutton start, voice command, power seats, leather-trimmed interior, power tilt-and-slide moonroof and a power open/close feature for the roomy trunk, which has a low, wide opening for, say, fast airport departure luggage action.

The interior is spacious, despite a large front console, and the rear-seat area allows tall-legged occupants to stretch out. The backlit gauges are easy to read in sunlight, but the console's fussy touch pad used for many controls is finicky and distracting to use.

Front doors open very widely, but there are no interior door grab handles or straps to help close them-you must stretch and grab one of the large door storage pockets to help close them.

The car's numerous safety features include pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane tracking assist, lane departure alert with steering assist and a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.
The F Sport package contains large (45-series) tires on exclusive 20-inch five-spoke alloy wheels with a dark graphite finish, larger front and rear brakes, variable gear ratio steering, adaptive variable suspension that continually adjusts damping control in response to driving operations and road surface conditions, active rear steering and an active stabilizer.

Special F Sport rocker moldings help accentuate the LS profile and meshed grille inserts. The cabin has the perforated-grille pattern on seating surfaces, ultra suede headliner, perforated leather-trimmed interior and aluminum trim elements. Discreet "F Sport" badges are on various body parts and one is even on the thick leather-covered steering wheel.

There also are 28-way electric/pneumatic seats with cushion length extenders to brace occupants when driving through curves, heated steering wheel, 24-inch heads-up display and a Mark Levinson Audio system with 23 speakers.

But don't look for extra power. The F Sport has the same engine as all LS 500 models. It's a twin turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 with 416 horsepower and 442 pound/feet of torque. (The V-8 has been dropped.) Not that more power is needed from the smooth V-6, which works with a responsive 10-speed automatic transmission with alert steering wheel paddle controls.

Despite weighing approximately 5,000 pounds, Lexus says the LS 500 will do 0-60 m.ph in 4.9 seconds. In fact, it says even the gas-electric hybrid will do 0-60 in a quick 5.1 seconds. while delivering 33 miles per gallon on the highway and 25 in the city. with its 22.2-gallon fuel tank.
The LS 500 with the Sport Package delivers an estimated 18 miles per gallon in the city and 27 on highways with all-wheel drive and 19 and 29 with rear-drive. Premium fuel is called for, and the fuel tanks holds 21.7 gallons.  

A driver can easily select via a dashboard control Economy, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ driving modes. They control such things as the engine, transmission and steering feel. I found Comfort mode is best for normal driving, although "Eco"  mode might help you get a little better fuel economy. Save Sport+ for, as Lexus puts it, "sportier driving." Actually, the LS 500 suspension provides a smooth ride (best in Comfort mode) even without an available air suspension, although sharper bumps send a shock to occupants through the large wheels.

My test car's steering had a rather firm but comforting feel and was quick and precise. However, switching to Sport+ mode made road feel vanish. Handling was enhanced by all the F Sport goodies, including vehicle stability control. Braking is strong and progressive.

In all, anyone who plunks down $84,420 for the Lexus LS 500 F Sport shouldn't be disappointed.


Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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