Anthony’s Analysis: 2021 Lexus LS500 AWD

Anthony’s Analysis: 2021 Lexus LS500 AWD

by  Anthony Fongaro  - Photos vis Volkswagen- 10/11/2021 

Seeing a new, large sedan is getting rarer. We all know that SUVs have, not only taken over sales, but some are now at the top of the pecking order. While almost all-American automakers minus Tesla make a large and premium sedan, the Germans and Koreans have kept their premium sedans. This brings us to the Japanese automakers. Out of all their premium brands, only one has a large, premium sedan. This brings us to Lexus and the vehicle that brought them to the United States: the LS.

Have you ever seen the show The Sopranos? One of the first scenes is a character that’s driving his brand-new Lexus LS. It was a bold way to show off your new car and company, but I remember the scene and the car. Since the original LS was the first-ever Lexus, every other LS gets compared to the original. Similar to what Genesis is doing now, Lexus was going against premium brands that had tried-and-true engineering and tactics. Lexus decided to go different and rely on their Japanese heritage.

In the past number of years, Lexus’ design has become controversial, even downright confusing. It is nice that designs have become bold, especially for the LS500. It’s not just a copy-and-paste of smaller sedans. The LS500 still has a controversial front grill, but the entire silhouette looks unique. This test Lexus LS500 came in Matador Red Mica along with 20-inch wheels and little strips of chrome. While I think the front is the strongest design element of the exterior, I’m not a fan of the back. The lights look too big but there is a nice strip of chrome that runs between them. There are also fake-exhaust tips but who doesn't do that anymore?

Getting into the LS500, you start to feel that this is the top-of-the-line Lexus sedan. The interior is called White leather with Laser Special Black trim. Basically, you have these very comfortable seats and some truly intricate designs.  The layout of the cabin is pretty easy to use. Look forward to having a wood and leather steering wheel with every function you’d need, along with paddle-shifters. Behind that is the small but useful digital display that shows basic information. This LS500 came with an optional head-up display which was always in the correct line of sight. There are still the now traditional stalks above the instrument binnacle for the driving modes which is cool to see here. I also like that there are soft-close doors so if you don’t close the door all the way, it’ll still close.

Anthony’s Analysis: 2021 Lexus LS500 AWD

Usually, this is where I complain about Lexus’ infotainment system and sound like a sad puppy. The touchpad is still there…but the screen is now touchscreen! Thank goodness. It’s a large and colorful screen that I mainly used for Apple CarPlay and adjusting my massaging seat. Who doesn’t like a massaging seat? They’re also heated and ventilated and of course, the steering wheel is also heated. Lexus put a lot of Japanese craftsmanship into the bits of trim and the overall design of the interior. It feels premium and Japanese. Until you get into the back seat. Then it’s just luxury

One thing to bring up about these premium large sedans is that they’re huge, but not necessarily used for four-five people. This is especially true when you throw down some big money for the rear seats. While some people would spend $17,500 on a car, Lexus lets you have fancy back seats. The large armrest in-between the two passengers pull down to reveal cupholders and a strange screen. The rear seats can do…pretty much everything. They can take over the music, adjust the blinds, and have the front-passenger seat do a little dance. If you’re in the rear seat behind the front passenger seat, you’re in for a treat. Both rear seats are heated, ventilated, and have a massaging function. The right seat can push the front seat all the way forward and has a leg rest.

I drove the Lexus LS500 in two different ways. Both ways utilized the 416-horsepower and 442 lb-ft 3.4-liter V6. This comes with an optional AWD and standard 10-speed automatic. Normally, this would get the LS500 to 60MPH in about 5 seconds. I never came close. My first way: chauffeur. I drove two special individuals in the most comfortable drive setting and tried to be as smooth as possible as I drove one of them to Walmart. I’m sure it happens all the time, right? With the passengers almost going to sleep in the back, I found that there is a sense of serenity to the LS500. It enjoys a nice cruise around with the terrific Mark Levinson sound system.

Being a chauffeur was way one. Way two was testing the LS like it’s a sportier car. It isn’t. This wasn’t made to take corners like a BMW 7-Series. There are few driving modes apart from Comfort such as Normal, Sport S, and Sport +. I did enjoy the sport modes with the increase in throttle response and a louder roar from the V6 but it’s unnecessary. Even in comfort mode, the LS500 has more than enough power for any situation. Remember those paddle shifters? They’re a little too slow for shifting, so keep the car in Drive. The safety features work almost with a flaw and helped this big sedan to keep in lane. Apple CarPlay.

Anthony’s Analysis: 2021 Lexus LS500 AWD

Does it have flaws? Oh, of course. That little instrument binnacle could be more high-tech, while the infotainment system’s touchpad should be done away with. The massaging seats were middle-of-the-road, and I couldn’t really feel the ventilated seats. All-in-all, not bad, right? Well, the LS500 starts at about $80,000 but mine was $110,000. Those rear seats were by far and away from the most expensive option on the car, and that isn’t the most expensive rear-seat package! While the Germans are about $10,000 more, the Genesis G90 undercuts the LS500 by $20,000!

That’s all well and good, but the Genesis G90 isn’t as quirky as the LS500. In fact, there really isn’t another large and premium sedan that is. One note is there is a hybrid and I’d skip it for this regular model. If you’re spending over $110,000, you can live with 18 MPG. If you can live with that, the 2021 Lexus LS500 is an interesting alternative with the luxury and tech you’d want.

Some Nerdalicious Stats

Engine

3.4-liter turbo V6

Power: 416-horsepower

Torque: 442 lb-ft

0-60 MPH

5.2 seconds

Smooth, even in Comfort mode.

Fuel Economy

20 MPG

Not terrible for constant A/C and massage seats on.

Transmission

10-speed automatic

Very smooth but don’t use the manual mode.

Price

$110,000

Still thousands less than the competition.

Drivetrain

AWD


Verdict as a Number

8.2/10

It’s stylish and comfortable.