Lexus has tweaked the fifth generation of its flagship luxury sedan, with new LS500 and LS500H hybrid models going on sale later this year. Originally launched in 1989, the LS is coming up on 800,000 cumulative sales, and the 2021 model will be a lightly made-over evolution of the one launched in 2017.
“Comfort, quiet and overall refinement” is what the team has focused on here, with a pinch of new technology and some fancy interior decorations thrown in.
Most of the changes are pretty minor; the first Lexus points out is a new solenoid in the adaptive suspension setup and an optimized vertical springiness in the tires. Orifices in the engine mount have been changed to reduce engine vibration in the chassis. The seat stitches are deeper, which I know will set some of you galloping towards your local dealership.
There’s no word on any power increases from the existing model, which makes 416 hp in 3.5-liter V6 gasoline form and 354 hp as a hybrid. But initial torque has been boosted in the throttle maps of both the gasoline and hybrid powertrains for a little extra pep in the step. The engine has been made quieter using Active Noise Control, and then louder again using Engine Sound Enhancement when you lay the boot in. The digital rear view mirror is a little bigger and has a higher resolution.
Other updates are more noticeable, with the Lexus Teammate system adding hands-free Advanced Drive highway autopilot, and Advanced Park capabilities that work the steering, gears and pedals, or just tell you exactly how far to turn the wheel and when.
Likewise, the new LS gets the BladeScan adaptive high beam headlights first debuted on the 2019 RX, which can identify oncoming vehicles and give you high beam headlights everywhere but in the other driver’s eyes. Likewise, they can pinpoint and highlight pedestrians and street signs as you drive.
There’s a couple of new shiny paint jobs, some very minor exterior design changes and some decorative options in the interior including “Nishijin brocade” panels which “express the existence of a path of moonlight on the sea.” So that’s nice. There’s also a new 12.3-inch, wide-set touchscreen, plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay built in.
The new LS goes on sale late this year.
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