The automobile market is awash with options. Never before has the car buyer—regardless of vehicle type, size or budget—ever been so spoiled with so many choices from so many automobile brands. It's a buyer's market out there, and each company is working to outdo the competition on every level.
In the luxury automobile segment, one of those overachievers is Lexus, specifically the LS.
The Lexus LS is a vehicle that we often refer to as a flagship. That means this motor car represents the very best of the brand. The best design. The best interior. The best features. The best comfort. Bar none.
So we decided to come up with a relatively short list of the aspects that we think are the most important considerations when looking for a vehicle in the premium or even ultra luxury sector.
But what makes the LS such an exceptional vehicle? In so many words, we'll describe five distinct ways that the LS stands out from the rest of the pack.
1. Exceptional style
There was a time when Lexus was about being conservative in terms of style, and their designs didn't really stand out amongst their competitors. Today's Lexus is different. They've shed their conservatism and decided to be edgy in design, particularly the LS.
Perhaps the most striking bit about the LS is its face, particularly with that massive spindle grille with a unique mesh pattern. It exudes an edgy sophistication about it, and the more you examine, the more you notice how all the details like the headlights, the creases, curves and edges all point to the big L in the middle.
And then you notice the paintwork. Lexus models are known for being absolutely immaculate in shine. You get down on one knee to get close and examine it at an angle, and you'll see that there are no imperfections or waves of any kind. Just a straight up, perfect finish.
2. Powerful performance, with a hybrid option
The LS comes in two variants, the first of which is the LS500 that comes with a 416 horsepower twin turbo V6. The other is the hybrid version known as the LS500h, and it comes with a 295 horsepower V6, as well as two 177 horsepower electric motors that are powered by lithium ion batteries. 10 speed automatic gearboxes are standard.
The LS also comes with a drive mode selector. If you prefer being driven, it's a feature that's best kept in Eco, Normal, or Comfort mode. But if you want to drive yourself and enjoy the LS, then you can activate either Sport S or Sport S+ for a more thrilling trip.
Some may question the need for a hybrid in a vehicle class wherein cost can literally be no object, but reducing emissions and saving on fuel is always a good thing. Also, multinational corporations like the idea of having a hybrid in the car plan. Also, given the new legislation on taxes, the hybrid is actually priced slightly lower than the non-hybrid LS500.
3. The utmost in quality and detail
A true hallmark of Lexus is quality, above all. For quite a while, the Lexus mantra has been the pursuit of perfection, and boy, do they really put that into practice.
Where you can truly see and experience that is inside the vehicle, because what you'll experience is an interior that was put together with an attention to detail unlike any other. Every gap between every panel is consistent. Nothing is loose. Nothing is out of place. They even tune the sound that comes from opening and closing the doors to resemble that of a high quality door in your home.
The reason for that is Lexus vehicles, particularly the LS, are built by people called “takumis”; in Japanese parlance, they're master craftsmen. They achieve this level of quality through hard work and time perfecting a specific task. In fact, they need about 60,000 working hours (about 30 years) in order to earn the title of takumi.
4. Rear seat space and amenities
Being a luxury saloon means that—most of the time—the owner will most likely be driven, rather than driving. And so much of the attention was paid to making the rear seats as comfortable and as luxurious as possible.
There is an abundance of space; plenty to cross your legs and enjoy the ride. There are privacy screens that can be used to shield yourself from unwanted attention. There's even an ambient lighting system to make the ride more pleasing as well. One thing we always liked is the Mark Levinson audio system in top-tier Lexus models; the audio clarity is simply excellent.
But what sets the Lexus LS apart is the distinction of being able to offer so many standard features for a very competitive price point. While equipment like leather and other power features are very much standard, the LS comes with a lot more, and they can be accessed via the control panel on the rear armrest.
There is a rear-zone climate control system that allows the two rear passengers to set their preferred A/C temperatures independently of each other. The rear passengers can opt to use the recline function to adjust the seats to their liking. There's also an ottoman that lifts up your legs for extra comfort. But the best bit has to be the availability of an in-seat massage function.
5. Superb silence and ride
While many of the things we spoke of about the Lexus LS can be perused on a brochure or a spec sheet, there is one subjective quality of this flagship that is head and shoulders above the rest, and it's called NVH.
The letters in NVH stand for noise, vibration, and harshness, and it signifies the level of attention that was paid to make sure the LS is as comfortable as it can possibly be.
One way they achieved this is by using special engine mounts to reduce vibrations, as well as a special suspension system that uses computers to adjust the stiffness of the shock absorbers for maximum comfort.
Once you close the doors—and even with the engine running—you are oblivious of the world around you. Even the noisiest of motorcycles become just a muted hum when faced with the level of noise suppression tucked in the body panels, and achieved by advancements in glass development for the windshields.
That level of NVH, we believe, is the real ace hidden up the sleeve of the Lexus LS.
Variants: LS500 and LS500h
First Introduced: 1989
Current Generation: Since 2017
Curb Weight: 2105-2350kg
Engine Options: 416 HP 3.5L V6 twin turbo gasoline
Hybrid Option: 295 HP 3.5L V6 with 2 x 177 HP motors, Li-Ion batteries
Transmission Options: 10 speed automatic gearbox
0-100 km/h: 5.0 seconds (Hybrid: 5.4 seconds)
Top Speed: 250 km/h
Rear Seat Amenities
Leather Type: Smooth Leather, Semi-Aniline, or L-Aniline
Rear Zone Climate System: Yes - independent left and right
Privacy Screen: Yes - side windows, quarter glass, rear windshield
Cupholders: 2 in center armrest, 2 bottle holders on door pockets
Ambient Lighting: Yes
Motorized Recline: Yes – with comfort seating presets
Ottoman: Yes - motorized
Seat Massage: Yes
Audio System: Lexus Premium Audio, 16-speakers or Mark Levinson, 23 speakers
Entertainment System: Dual 11.6” screens, Bluray, HDMI, SD Card, Miracast
Priced from PhP 9,258,000 (LS500h Hybrid) to PhP 9,268,000 (LS500)
Customization: Options available
The Lexus LS500 and LS500h are available from Lexus Philippines at the Lexus Manila, Inc. dealership. For inquiries, visit them at 3402 8th Avenue cor. 34th Street North Bonifacio Global City Taguig City, or give them a call at (+632) 856 5050.
Photographs courtesy of Lexus