By on April 3, 2019

2019 Lexus LS 500 front quarter

2019 Lexus LS 500 F- Sport

3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (416 hp @ 6000 rpm, 442 lb/ft. @ 1600 rpm)

Ten-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

18 city / 27 highway / 21 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

13.1 city / 8.7 highway / 11.1 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

23.3 (observed mileage, MPG)

Base Price: $85,445 US / $105,352 CAD

As Tested: $88,685 / $112,053 CAD

Prices include $1,025 destination charge in the United States and $2,202 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

A big luxury sedan is sedate, ponderous, and numb. Insulation from everything outside the cockpit is paramount. Arriving refreshed and relaxed is the order of the day in this class of car.

The little F-Sport badge on the tail of this 2019 Lexus LS 500 changes everything. While one can still chauffeur grandma to church in class and comfort, after she’s been dropped off that drive can quickly change from refreshing to invigoration with a turn of a knob. The idea of a LS F-Sport is nearly as absurd as that of a Miata Brougham with a padded vinyl roof and opera windows. It’s a Brooks Brothers suit with a pair of Brooks running shoes.

It’s unexpected – but it works.

2019 Lexus LS 500 profile

I’m a little disappointed that Lexus fitted this twin-turbo V6 to the LS, rather than keep some coupe/sedan harmony by dropping in the raucous, naturally aspirated V8 from the incredible LC coupe. I get it, though – the turbo six is a more refined, quieter engine than the blue-light-attracting twin-cam V8, better suited to the typical luxury sedan buyer. Still, when the drive mode knob atop the instrument binnacle is twisted to “S+”, the exhaust wakes up a bit, giving a bit of thrill to the normally-silent cabin. That S+ mode tightens the steering and quickens transmission shifts as well, both helping to shrink this big bruiser when hustling.

2019 Lexus LS 500 interior

I’m not kidding. Yes, I sought the twisty backroads a couple of times rather than the interstate. You always know there are two tons of steel beneath your butt, but the steering is nicely weighted to allow the feel of the road into the hands. I wouldn’t do a track day in the LS 500, but it never hurts to put a grin on the face commuting home after a long day in the office.

2019 Lexus LS 500 infotainment 2019 Lexus LS 500 gauges

I’m enamored with the styling of this LS – it’s no longer the conservative, staid Lexus of old. The spindle grille is done well here, especially with the interlocked mesh contours within the grille. Out back, the contour atop the fender gives additional muscle to the rear quarter view.

2019 Lexus LS 500 front seats 2019 Lexus LS 500 rear seats

The interior is similarly ambitious. I love the horizontal strakes that flow across the dashboard, somewhat hiding the center vents. The backlit panel on the passenger-side dashboard is a bit goofy – I kept pressing at it and studying the manual to see if it actually did anything. It doesn’t. The widescreen display for audio and navigation is clear and bright, though sadly controlled via touchpad aft of the shifter. It’s slow to react to touch input at times, which can distract from the driving task at hand. Mercifully, many of the functions can be replicated via buttons adorning the steering wheel.

2019 Lexus LS 500 dashboard

The perforated pattern on the leather seats is both attractive and quirky – the pattern looks to be limited to the F-Sport package, in case you’d prefer something a bit less busy. I rather like it, though I’d love to have the available Circuit Red leather rather than this black. I’m a sucker for red interiors.

2019 Lexus LS 500 front

Rear seat comfort is as one expects from a big Lexus sedan. Plentiful, roomy, leaving my kids in silence. The 10-year-old quickly dozed as I ran her across town to Grandma’s house for the day – a sure sign of a winning rear-seat experience.

2019 Lexus LS 500 rear

I’m not the target market for a big, somewhat sporty sedan, by any means. This is a “captain of industry” car, while I’m at best an ensign. But for the admiral looking for a dreadnought that can drive like a cutter when needed, this LS 500 F-Sport would be a brilliant choice.

2019 Lexus LS 500 rear quarter

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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44 Comments on “2019 Lexus LS 500 F-Sport Review – A Peculiar Development in Big Sedan Land...”

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I think it was wise of Lexus to pivot on the LS’s market. The first-through third-generation models did well enough, but by the time the fourth-generation model rolled around for 2007, it was basically a 7 Series with better reliability and no distinguishing characteristics. It was never going to gain market share or justify its continued existence along that path.

    This new one, however, blends confident styling with genuine handling and sportiness. I like it. It’s sort of an even point between the traditional S Class/7 Series/A8 and the Panamera. And, based on my informal survey, it doesn’t seem to have alienated any of its usual clientele.

    And they probably saved money by offering it in a single wheelbase, a move that BMW also recently made.

    • 0 avatar

      A good # of long-time LS owners (who were already turned off by the predator-maw) are now further turned off by the fact that the LS 500 fails to what a proper lux flagship is supposed to (seat rear passengers comfortably).

      There have been LS owners who have opted to get the last of the LS 460s instead of the 500.

      The LS 500 is on track to sell less than 6k for the year – which is a far cry from the LS’s heyday of selling over 35k; the 460 didn’t see sales that low until its 10th year of sale.

      • 0 avatar

        I have seen very few of these new LS500s in Los Angeles. To me they appear to be an ES350 in every view except head on. I didn’t realize the back seat was smaller than the ES. I have several friends who have owned multiple LS430/LS460. NONE of them has gone for a new LS500. They have all chosen Tesla S or a giant size SUV. With the new 7, relatively new MB SClass and the Tesla, I don’t think there is any longer enough room in this slice of the market for the big Jaguar, LS500 or A8.

    • 0 avatar

      7-series, I take it?

  • avatar

    I like the instrument cluster. The tachometer is front and center with a digital speedometer inside. I wouldn’t miss an analog speedometer. Making the surrounding gauges match the curve of the tach’s border is a little too cute but Lexus got the important part right.

  • avatar

    A properly big sedan. Since big is in with every other segment, I’d love to see more GIANT sedans from other automakers.

  • avatar

    I just read that this model has been a big success for Lexus, doubling sales and trouncing the face-lifted 7-series. Personally, I’d rather have the V8 out of the LC 500, at least in the F-sport.

    • 0 avatar

      The LS 500 has only been able to hit its (rather modest) monthly sales target of 1k ONCE.

      Sales have now fallen off to under 500/month – basically a year after launch.

      In contrast, the 7er sold nearly a 1k units last month (and there’s a facelifted model on the way).

      • 0 avatar

        At roughly a hundred grand out the door, Lexus had better not expect to sell too many of these. It looks great (except for the stubbornly omnipresent spindle grille), and would be fantastic with a six speed stick.
        A much wiser use of the biweekly paycheck is to pay down the mortgage rather than overspend on a four-door sedan.
        However, if I had money to burn…

  • avatar

    It is big change for the LS. I don’t hate it. Don’t love it either. I do think it looks too similar to the ES and there really should be a V8 version (whether an LS-F or as an option on the F-Sport).

  • avatar

    Is Lexus *intentionally* making cars as ugly as humanly possible?

    (I like the LS in general. Everything in front of the front wheels on this car is a *trainwreck piece of nonsense*.)

  • avatar

    “It’s unexpected – but it works.”

    Isn’t this just a Lexus version of an S-class AMG ?

  • avatar

    I like the new styling (heck, I’ve liked the styling every gen of the LS), but I’m not with you on the instrument panel The instruments should have stayed in the LFA where they belong (can it switch to a conventional-looking side-by-side speedo and tach?), and the horizontal bars remind me of the full-size ’65 Ford.

    And yes, give me the 5.0 V8 and boot the twin-turbo V6.

  • avatar

    1ST WAVE.

    Best Channel on XM. Richard Blade show is the high water mark.

    • 0 avatar
      Chris Tonn

      Yes, indeed.

      Interestingly, First Wave is one of the stations that is always pre-programmed in every press car. After setting up Bluetooth, reprogramming the satellite stations is the second thing I do in a new car – but I don’t have to change #33.

      • 0 avatar

        Gotta try that one.

        PopRocks, # 17, is my go-to of late. (Except when the Billy Joel Channel is putting in its twice-or-thrice-a-year appearance.) ‘90s-Imagine Dragons, it just fits! (Especially when the “Oldies” channel in town (which famously transitioned from Top-40 to Oldies over a weekend in 1991 by playing “Louie, Louie” for 72 hours straight) is now playing ‘80s music!)

    • 0 avatar

      Just too bad that music wasn’t more popular; instead we got Madonna, Michael Jackson, etc. ad nauseum.

  • avatar

    I can’t unsee the Buick LaCrosse in this thing. The resemblance doesn’t fade in person (though this does look better).

    I guess with the Lacrosse facing the guillotine it’s no biggie.

    And yes, God bless steering wheel controls… our only salvation from the spiraling insanity of luxury infotainment inputs. Source, volume up/down, track change.

  • avatar

    While the styling is not my thing, this does seem like a really nice ride.

    However, maybe what Lexus should have been developing instead is a full size luxury crossover. These days the full size luxury sedan segment is rapidly shrinking niche market.

  • avatar

    Not a fan of the exterior styling, but the interior is stunning. If you haven’t checked one out, do so.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    That front end is hideous. Why can’t a flagship remain stately?

  • avatar

    A visual disaster inside and out.

  • avatar

    Amerika, your luxury car arrived! Yeah agree on fuel door – too much Dodge for me. But I will take Tesla instead – much more classy – you can keep that stunning Lexus interior interior too.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I’m not in the market for this, but I miss the understated dignity of traditional Japanese luxury. I’d take a S140 Crown Majesta in a straight trade for this without hesitating.

  • avatar

    What an ugly mofo of an automobile. Toyota should just give up and ask Mazda to do their styling.

    • 0 avatar

      yeesh, could not agree more.

      Thank god that the like’s of Earl & Mitchell are long dead and buried. For their eye’s would burn, to lay upon shizz like this put out there these days.

      How far the Mighty have fallen. who would ever know or believe this to be a descendant of the Icon that started it all. Tacky. No class. Overdone. Hideous.

      • 0 avatar

        Tacky, no class, overdone, and hideous are adjectives a very large amount of the world’s population would apply to the American designs of the 50’s/Harley Earl era.

  • avatar

    This looks like a lot like a 2017 Camry. A bit sportier, much maw-ier, more luxurious. But, still, the basic lines are there. I’m not saying it’s bad, since the 2017 Camry is pretty inoffensive.

    I’ve never had strong opinions about the “Predator maw.” Don’t love it, but at the same time don’t hate it. Though, here, I’m really longing for something slightly less dramatic.

    • 0 avatar

      well stated. but, is it really good or OK that an LS class flagship automobile looks so much like a Camry? Personally, I think not. And that front-fascia/ headlamp area… is like prototype from Fast/Furious 11 or GTA. makes the Camry look conservative.

      I do not care HOW nice MFRs make their interiors on many of these new vehicles, outside styling matters to me. I will not drive a car where I should forget about or not care how it looks on outside. Especially at that price-point. I’m just too passionate/connected to my cars for that. I can’t be alone in this?

      • 0 avatar

        Toyota desperately needs to carry the Crown in its stateside lineup, exactly for this purpose of satisfying more traditionalist buyers who want understated styling. I think they stopped making LHD Crowns for the Chinese market with the current generation, though…

  • avatar

    Yeah this is wrong.

    It would be like Cadillac building a “Sedan DeVille GT” in 1968.

  • avatar

    It’s just not an LS without that V8. The car’s reputation was built on the ad with the pyramid of champagne glasses on the hood, while the 1UZFE churned away beneath. I find a lot of awkwardness in the exterior, while the interior is a masterpiece of materials and textures (glass door mouldings!). I like the look of the 460 better, it’s got gravity. But, I’ll be looking for a 430 as they are the last of the simpler LS before the tech took over.

  • avatar

    That is one weird looking car and the front is a disaster of epic proportions. The interior is well different. Thats the best I can say about it

  • avatar

    At 4982lb (quoth – that is, a case of beer away from TWO AND A HALF TONS – I wonder if this is the heaviest car ever to have “Sport” in the name?

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