2019 Lexus LS F Sport Review - Luxury With a Twist

The days of the stately, sedate, and silent luxury provided by the Lexus LS are over.

As it’s done with virtually every vehicle in its lineup, Lexus has made an F Sport trim available. Whether this is done to combat the stereotype of Lexus as staid or to give well-heeled buyers a chance to have their cake and eat it too, or both, I don’t know. I do know that whatever spring the F Sport puts in the LS’s step, it’s still more of a luxury cruiser than an all-out flagship sports sedan. And that’s not a bad thing.

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Something Wicked This Way Dies: Lexus GS Lined Up for Execution, Gasps Out a Final Special Edition

That a print advertisement can still remain (near) top of mind two decades later speaks to the power of marketing, and maybe a little to the vehicle behind that famous ad: the Lexus GS.

After announcing a limited run of 2020 Lexus GS 350 F Sport Black Line Special Edition — a vehicle the brand calls the “best ever” GS, the automaker admitted that this is it for the model. The GS, which added a modicum of muscle to Lexus’ image back in the 90s, won’t live beyond the summer.

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2017 Lexus IS350 AWD F Sport Review - Why Can't We Give Love One More Chance?

Before you’ve even pressed its starter button, you’re already mindful of a number of reasons most sports-sedan buyers veer away from the 2017 Lexus IS350 F Sport.

The IS’s decidedly Japanese styling, which I’m personally quite fond of but many TTAC authors detest, is an instant turn-off for luxury-car buyers who prefer subdued Teutonic touches. The Lexus IS is a look-at-me car, especially with $595 Ultrasonic Blue Mica and F Sport bodywork.

The third-gen Lexus IS is also bizarrely packaged. Driver’s ingress is made nearly intolerable by a small aperture. The doorframe lusts after your right hip; the center tunnel is waiting to aggressively greet your right knee. Entering the IS is like crawling under your kitchen table. Sure, you’ll fit once you’re under there, but adult frames aren’t designed for such maneuvers.

More obvious, now that you’re primed to ignite the 3.5-liter, 306-horsepower naturally aspirated V6, is the array of buttons and switches and controllers and contraptions that encompass the cabin’s frontal lobe. Few are where you’d expect them to be. Many do not operate in the conventional fashion to which you’ve grown accustomed.

Buyers could be put off by the 2017 Lexus IS350’s design, by its awkward access, by its unusual ergonomics, or by all three factors. If so, they’re missing out on an exceptionally balanced driver’s car.

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NYIAS 2017: 2018 Lexus LS 500 F Sport Adds 'Driving Emotion' (But No Extra Power) To Buttoned-Down Big Sedan

Back in the day, a properly large luxury sedan was just that — large and luxurious. No sporting pretensions were found, as any special package simply piled on the brougham.

However, Lexus has said no to a padded roof or opera lights for its newest full-size package, as it’s given the F Sport treatment to the new LS 500. Available for the twin-turbo V6 and V6 hybrid powertrains, the F Sport package adds a dash of sporting pretense to an otherwise posh sedan.

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NYIAS 2017: Does the LS 500 Really Need an F-Sport Badge? Lexus Thinks So

Lexus is giving its flagship sedan the F-Sport touch for the New York International Auto Show. While it isn’t likely to rival AMG’s super sedans in terms of power, Toyota’s premium brand is promising improved handling to go with a platform it claims is the “stiffest that Lexus has ever developed.”

The next-generation LS 500 premiered in Detroit back in January and was followed by the Lexus 500h hybrid in Geneva last month. Lexus is unlikely to unveil a tuned powerplant for the LS, but the F-Sport should be more than just a handling package and unique badging.

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2016 Lexus IS200t Review - Two Holes Away From Greatness

To say I was shocked at the color is an understatement. Like many, I’ve always known Lexus as a builder of staid, solid, but uninspiring sedans for “older” people. As an impressionable youth who watched too much TV, I always wanted a Lexus commercial to come immediately after the “Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile” spot for the perfect “This Is Your Father’s Oldsmobile” juxtaposition.

I once even asked an exchange student if Lexus was a Japanese acronym for champagne beige pearl metallic.

No, this bright red (Lexus calls it Redline) 2016 Lexus IS200t F-Sport that appeared in my parking spot isn’t the dull sedan your dad may have driven. It’s potentially the sports sedan this dad wants to drive — but with one trivial flaw that might keep me from signing a note.

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Face Odyssey: Restyled Lexus IS Unwrapped in Beijing

The refreshed Lexus IS bowed today at the Beijing Motor Show, presenting an even hungrier face than before.

Lexus kept the well-defined proportions of the entry-level sedan intact, but went to town on the front end. The corporate spindle grille now sports a higher cinch point and spacetime-bending three-dimensional mesh.

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2016 Lexus IS 200t Review - Lexus Finally Goes Turbo

Lexus has tended to prefer conservative design in almost every aspect of product development. Words like reliable and dependable usually spring to mind before sporty or exciting.

Yet, the brand has been trying to change that over the last few years with love-it-or-hate-it designs; in particular, Lexus’ new “Predator mouth.” The changes aren’t simply skin deep. The current-generation IS sedan also stepped outside the luxury brand’s comfort zone with sharp handling and a focus on dynamics. Of course, this is Lexus we’re talking about, so this change in a more aggressive direction is happening at, you guessed it, a conservative pace.

Now in its third year of production, the third-generation IS isn’t getting a refresh like we’d typically see in from ze Germans. Instead, Lexus has decided to focus its attention under the hood with a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a de-tuned V-6 for mid-level shoppers.

Can a refreshed drivetrain help the IS stand out in a crowded segment? Let’s find out.

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2015 Lexus IS 350 F Sport Review (With Video)

BMW moved over 140,000 3-Series’ last year in America. They didn’t do this by being the most luxurious option or by being the best handling option. (The truth is hard to hear, I’m sorry.) Instead, BMW did this by doing exactly what shoppers asked for; luxury car buyers want a comfy ride with a luxury logo on the front, good fuel economy and to read reviews that extol the track-day virtues of their car of choice. The average buyer will never be on a track, but it’s critical to know your car belongs there.

What BMW dealers don’t want you to know: there are two sedans in this segment that are arguably better on the track than a 328i or 335i and we’re talking about one of them today, the IS 350 F Sport.

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Review: 2013 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport (Video)

I remember when the RX rolled onto the scene in 1998. It was truly the first successful crossover as we would know it today. While everyone else was trying to produce a truck-based luxury SUV, Lexus took the Camry/ES platform, put a jelly-bean inspired box on top and jacked the ride height up to 7.7 inches. The result was instant sales success. As we all know however, success has a price. The marshmallow-soft FWD RX lacked road feel, steering feel and sex appeal. Although it’s a bit late in the game, Lexus has decided to fix that last problem with the introduction of the 2013 RX F-Sport.

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Review: 2013 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport (Video)

While BMW has been turning the 7-Series into a luxuriously silent highway cruiser, Lexus has been busy injecting sport into their isolated lineup. In 2006 we got the 417HP IS-F, in 2011 came the insane LF-A super car, and in 2012 we were introduced to Lexus’ styling and suspension tweak brand F-Sport with the GS350 F-Sport. It was only a matter of time until the spindle grille and the looks-fast F package appeared on Lexus’s flagship LS. Can a “looks-fast” and “handles-better” package help the LS regain the sales crown? Or does Lexus need to go back to the drawing board for some go-fast love?

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First Drive Review: 2014 Lexus IS (Video)

Every car company hates the BMW 3-Series. It’s always the benchmark, always the sales champion, always the golden boy. BMW shifted nearly 100,000 3-Series models in America last year and they did so not by being “the best” luxury sedan, but by pandering to the shopping public’s desires. Buyers have shown they want a comfy ride with a luxury logo on the front, they want good fuel economy and they want to hear journalists say how well the car handles on a track. The average buyer will never be on a track, but it’s critical to know your car belongs there. The old IS was a good car on the track, but its demure looks sold more on Lexus’ reliability and dealer reputation than the car’s track diaries. As we know from Volvo and Lexus’ sales numbers in this segment, two things don’t move metal: reliability and safety. For 2014 Lexus went back to the drawing board completely redesigning the IS sedan to be their most dynamic sedan ever. Does it have what it takes to take on the Germans and Infiniti’s new Q50?

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Comparison Review: BMW 528i XDrive Vs. Lexus GS 350 AWD

With each revision since 1990, BMWs have become more like Lexus. Meanwhile, Lexus (some of them, anyway) have become more like BMWs. With the latest iterations, have the 5-Series and GS met somewhere in a muddled middle, or does each retain a distinct identity?

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  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.