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2020 Lexus LS 500 AWD Review by John Heilig

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By John Heilig
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

ENGINE: 3.5-liter twin turbo V6
TRANSMISSION: 10-speed automatic with paddle shifters
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 416 hp @ 6,000 rpm/442 lb.-ft. @ 1,600-4,800 rpm
WHEELBASE: 123.0 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 206.1 x 74.8 x 57.1 in.
TIRES: P248/45 R20
CARGO CAPACITY: 17.0 cu. ft.
ECONOMY: 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway/23.2 mpg test
CURB WEIGHT: 4,751 lbs.
TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Mercedes-Benz S Class, Lincoln Continental, Jaguar XJ
STICKER: $115,375 (includes $1,025 delivery, $35,880 options)
BOTTOM LINE: As it has been since its inception, the Lexus LS 500 is an outstanding luxury sedan with all the options.

Lexus Review: When Lexus first came on the scene as Toyota’s luxury brand, there were only two models, ES (for economy sedan?) and LS (for luxury sedan?). From the start, the LS 400 built a reputation for nearly silent operation. It was almost eerie.

The 2020 LS 500 fifth generation continues that tradition and adds to it with a $23,080 Executive Package option that kicks it up a notch by putting the LS into limousine status. It requires no stretch of the imagination to see an executive riding comfortably in the back doing deals. 

Many years ago, when The Auto Page first hit newspapers, I had a yearly Christmas fantasy car column. The first entry was a Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn for the (then) enormous sticker of $137,000. This LS 500 is in the same class.

Under the hood of the LS 500 is a twin turbo 3.5-liter V6 that pumps out an impressive 416 horsepower and 442 lb.-ft. of torque. Combined with a 10-speed direct shift automatic transmission, performance is smooth. Lexus claims a 0-60 time in the 4.5 seconds range. Okay, when you’re shooting for that time there is a slight exhaust roar, but that’s it.

Front seat comfort is exquisite. Both front seats are powered - 28 ways for the driver, only 18 for the passenger - and heated and ventilated. You can also get a massage, which is convenient for older drivers who have backache issues. My only issue is that all settings except heater temperature are controlled through the 12.3-inch infotainment screen and remote touch interface that’s like an Apple laptop touch pad. I’m certain that with practice you can get the remote touch interface to do almost anything, but novices have difficulty “aiming” the pointer.

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With the Executive Package you get Kiriko glass ornamentation that is created using a technique that involves hand-cutting clear colors and delicate lines in glass. The door upholstery is also on a different level with deep pleating, while the dash decorations mimic the Lexus grille. When my granddaughters first got in the back seats their exclamations of wonder at the door decorations (like the front doors) and the fold-down armrest with its own infotainment screen. Then they discovered that the rear seats also recline (up to 48 degrees), are heated and ventilated, and also offer a massage option. Rear seat side support is very good.

Additionally, the rear seats have fold-out ottomans and privacy screens on all windows. Rear and front doors appear to have floating door pulls. And yes, there are cupholders in the back as well as the front. You can raise or lower the window shades using the controller, and the driver also has the ability to raise or lower them. 

For those who may be interested, there are dual sun roofs for front and rear passengers.  Since the fifth generation LS is also 0.6 inches lower than previous models, there is an available air suspension with an access function. By unlocking the car with the smart key, access mode automatically raises the vehicle to make it easier to get in or out of it. 

I admit I had difficulty navigating the infotainment screen with the mouse controller, but I loved just about every other feature of the LS 500. I recommend taking one for a test ride at the very least.

(c) 2020 The Auto Page Syndicate