2019 Lexus LS 500 F-Sport Review - A Peculiar Development in Big Sedan Land

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
Fast Facts

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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2 of 44 comments
  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Apr 04, 2019

    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

  • Gedrven Gedrven on Apr 13, 2019

    At 4982lb (quoth Lexus.com) - 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?

  • Daniel J Until we get a significant charging infrastructure and change times get under 10 minutes, yes
  • Mike I own 2 gm 6.2 vehicles. They are great. I do buy alot of gas. However, I would not want the same vehicles if they were v6's. Jusy my opinion. I believe that manufacturers need to offer engine options for the customer. The market will speak on what the consumer wants.For example, I dont see the issue with offering a silverado with 4cyl , 6 cyl, 5.3 v8, 6.2 v8, diesel options. The manufacturer will charge accordingly.
  • Mike What percentage of people who buy plug in hybrids stop charging them daily after a few months? Also, what portion of the phev sales are due to the fact that the incentives made them a cheaper lease than the gas only model? (Im thinking of the wrangler 4xe). I wish there was a way to dig into the numbers deeper.
  • CEastwood If it wasn't for the senior property tax freeze in NJ I might complain about this raising my property taxes since most of that tax goes to the schools . I'm not totally against EVs , but since I don't drive huge miles and like to maintain my own vehicles they are not practical especially since I keep a new vehicle long term and nobody has of yet run into the cost of replacing the battery on an EV .
  • Aquaticko Problem with PHEV is that, like EVs, they still require a behavioral change over ICE/HEV cars to be worth their expense and abate emissions (whichever is your goal). Studies in the past have shown that a lot of PHEV drivers don't regularly plug-in, meaning they're just less-efficient HEVs.I'm left to wonder how big a battery a regular HEV could have without needing to be a PHEV.