2018 Lexus LS 500 new car reviews

Lexus has become the yin to Mercedes-Benz’s yang. Where the Benz is old money, maybe the Lexus is a dot-com.

For 2018, Lexus has given us a new flagship sedan, the LS 500. New doesn’t have to mean more expensive, though. “With a starting manufacturer suggested retail price of $75,000*, the LS 500 arrives with a base price that is $3,820 less than its current long wheelbase predecessor despite offering more power, comfort and safety than ever before,” the press kit states.

The look might go with the rest of the Lexus lineup, but the chassis is all new. It’s also longer and lower than the previous one.

Like most everyone else in this segment, the model designation no longer jibes with the powerplant–and, even perhaps bigger news, the Lexus flagship no longer gets a V8. The new LS 500 is powered by a twin-turbo, 3.5-liter V6 that produces 416 horsepower along with 442 lb.-ft. of torque. All of that is sent through a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Other staff views

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Disclaimer: I have been a fan of these big, rear-drive Lexus sedans forever. They’re quick, they’re comfortable and they have some presence. The new one just continues that trend.

The new V6 is super-smooth. The 10-speed automatic might be even smoother. Amazingly smooth.

The Sport+ setting does sharpen up things a notch. That became my default setting.

The seats feel perfect. Not one complaint from the drivers seat.

Most everything is now controlled via a touchpad. It took me a minute or two to get used to it, but I liked it–probably better than the old joystick.

A few things could have been a bit more elegant, though. Where every control on an S-class seems perfectly integrated and placed, the same couldn’t be said for the Lexus–specifically the driving mode controls that jut out from the gauge hood.

Do they make sense from an operational standpoint? Yes. Yes, they do.

Do they look a little tacked-on, like some sort of aftermarket accessory? I’m going to say yes to that one, too.

This is really my one picked nit on the car. It’s that good.

Is it better than a Benz? It’s different. Both are quiet, very capable luxury sedans. I’d call the Benz a little more polished, while it’s option list allows so much customization. Lexus instead uses option packages–still cool stuff, but just a different way of getting there.

Marjorie Suddard Marjorie Suddard
General Manager

You remember that time you had the fancy Toyota that all your friends wanted to ride in so they could take selfies of themselves riding in the super-luxurious back seat? No, right? Because that's not a thing. Actually, now it can be, thanks to the Lexus LS 500.

We’ve been on a roll lately with luxe-cruiser press cars. I can only imagine that some “lifestyle” magazine shares our pool of vehicles and needed our most recent press vehicles—which have included the Maybach, big Mercedes and, yes, this Toyota—to figure out which massaging rear seat works out the most kinks. Or maybe which wood finish conveyed the most luggsury. And I confess, I was more than happy to spend some time enjoying the LS 500’s creamy power and creamier leather. My friends loved riding in it and I enjoyed driving it, at least I did until I had to try to navigate the controls for the bewildering array of cabin comforts. (Hint: I soon stopped trying and ended up turning the radio off, wasting what was potentially one of the best audio experience I’ve been offered in awhile.)

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View comments on the GRM forums
pres589 PowerDork
6/20/18 3:56 p.m.

Good lord that's ugly.

Suprf1y PowerDork
6/21/18 8:21 a.m.

Saw the pic on the side of the forum, came here to say exactly the same thing.

That's disgusting

Aspen Reader
6/21/18 10:28 a.m.

I think it's interesting and unique looking.  Would rock.

grover HalfDork
6/21/18 11:15 a.m.

looks like a particularly ugly infiniti to me.  I don't like it.  

Feedyurhed SuperDork
6/21/18 4:21 p.m.

Interesting. Not ugly. I too would rock it. 

mtn MegaDork
6/21/18 5:00 p.m.

I don't think it is ugly, but it isn't good looking either. 

Funny how the LS design has aged over the years. I used to think that the 1st and 2nd generations were boring. I still do, but it was a handsome design, and I'd certainly rock it. The 3rd generation was too boring and Camry like. 4th generation was back to the handsome and boring. I think it will age well. This one, I don't think that it will age well at all. 



mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
6/21/18 5:43 p.m.

Toyota has a 400hp twin turbo V6 and no real sports car? I'm no product development guy, but I see an opportunity.......

Jay_W Dork
6/21/18 8:51 p.m.

The front of that car seriously looks photoshopped. Like a fear n loathing in Las Vegas distortion. They did that on purpose?

irish44j UltimaDork
6/21/18 9:01 p.m.

There are so many new Lexii around here I'm almost becoming immune to the ugliness of the front grille, but the thing about this car that REALLY strikes me is the 4x4 wheel gap. What's up with the Japanese carmakers never seemingly being able to design a car where the wheels look like the are the right size for the wheel wells (or, vice versa). Audi, BMW, even most of the American manufacturers these days - they are doing it right. Japanese cars always look like their first thing they need are some 1" drop lowering springs......

Besides that, most of the rest of this LS500 is pretty ugly as well.

Kreb UberDork
6/21/18 9:54 p.m.

As usual, I find the "it's ugly" crowd faintly ridiculous. Clearly many very-well-heeled individuals disagree. And anyway, that's got nothing to do with the driving experience.

irish44j UltimaDork
6/21/18 10:09 p.m.
Kreb said:

 Clearly many very-well-heeled individuals disagree. 


well geez, in that case I totally change my opinion. I'll just go ahead and go back into my single-wide now and change into a tank-top, smack my wife around a bit, drink a Schlitz, and reflect on how I should have taken a different path in life so as to be a well-heeled individual with such an authoritative opinion.

In all seriousness though, I doubt anyone questions that this is an excellent car in terms of everything non-style related. But it's not a stretch to say that Lexus could make an attractive car that is just as good in every functional way. And let's not act as if everyone buys cars based on appearance, well-heeled or not. Hell, I drive a 2009 WRX. It's most certainly ugly. Doesn't mean I can't say it's ugly...

Kreb UberDork
6/21/18 10:23 p.m.

It's just that "Lexus grilles are ugly and look like the Predator" is right up there with "Miatas are for gay hairdressers". It's old and tired and coveys absolutely zero useful information.  

irish44j UltimaDork
6/22/18 4:34 p.m.
Kreb said:

It's just that "Lexus grilles are ugly and look like the Predator" is right up there with "Miatas are for gay hairdressers". It's old and tired and coveys absolutely zero useful information.  

As for me, I think the general lines of the car, the giant scoops aside the grille, and the wheel gap are ugly, independent of the grille itself.

But really, it's not like anyone here owns this brand new LS500, so I can't think what other useful information anyone could provide on the car other than their opinions of what they *think* of it (or stuff they looked up someplace else on the internet). The fact that "well heeled individuals' apparently think it's beautiful is no more useful information than GRM members saying it isn't. At least those of us posting here are members of this forum...These other unnamed iwell-heeled individuals must be over on some other forum posting about the car's beauty. YMMV.


pres589 PowerDork
6/22/18 5:13 p.m.

It's like a committee of Predators got together and designed the car's exterior by group-think.  What's going on with that hump over the front wheels?  Is that supposed to be an homage to the 1972 Javelin?  Why is a Z-shape oozing out of the headlight?  And then the big slice/holes under the headlights, outside of the grill, is that where foglights would go if the right option box was ticked?  Even the mirrors got weirdo housings.  

The styling seems like so much busy nonsense to me.  Hey, maybe I'm wrong.  Did the LS cars always look insane?


G_Body_Man UltraDork
6/22/18 7:49 p.m.

To be fair, that is a bad photo of a sub-optimal spec with the air suspension in "comfort access" mode. This white F-sport model looks pretty slick.

yupididit SuperDork
6/22/18 8:41 p.m.

Wth does well-heeled mean? 

irish44j UltimaDork
6/22/18 9:23 p.m.
yupididit said:

Wth does well-heeled mean? 

Suprf1y PowerDork
6/22/18 9:44 p.m.
yupididit said:

Wth does well-heeled mean? 

dean1484 MegaDork
6/23/18 10:09 a.m.

Nope Nope and Nope. That is about the ugliest car I have ever seen.  Looks like the designers pinched it one day (having fun) in the CAD program and forgot to un do it and it got sent to production. I have always thought that it was probably a fantastic looking car before the pinching accident.  

I am betting it looked a lot like an Audi. Just better. It would be cool if someone could un pinch it and see what it looked like. 

Sorry Lex-sux. Swing and a miss on this one. 

Vigo UltimaDork
6/23/18 7:00 p.m.

Looks like a bigger GS instead of a car with a different mission. My personal lala-land view of the GS is that it's a luxurious car for people who still want some swagger from it, and the LS is a luxury car for people who seek to be coddled and aren't afraid for the world to know it. I think this new styling blurs that line and associates the LS more with its downscale siblings to the detriment of it being perceived as a 'luxury' car.

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