Lexus LS: Fourth GenerationReviews

The Drive: Lawrence Ulrich Reviews the 2018 Lexus LS 500

Lexus LS F SPORT

This review of the Lexus LS 500 from Lawrence Ulrich of The Drive is the perfect tonic after his withering review of the LS 500h hybrid:

Lexus’s hourglass-shaped “spindle grille” remains a debatable design element, though it works well on the LC Coupe. Controversial schnoz aside, this Lexus brings the distinctive design and extroverted attitude that the oft-generic LS has cried out for. As with the hybrid version, I was surprised at how often people strolled up to the Lexus, or rolled down their own car windows, to rave about the styling. At least three or four people said, flat-out, “That’s a beautiful car.”

Honestly, while the LS’s performance is much improved, the striking new body will probably do even more to put the Lexus back on people’s shopping lists.

And I’ll tell you right now, too many auto reviews of this all-new LS are seriously underplaying its performance and handling gains. It’s by no means a sport sedan, but this LS500 F Sport definitely felt more engaging than a typical (non-AMG) Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8, or Genesis G90; I suspect it would acquit itself quite well against a BMW 7 Series.

Comments
Joaquin Ruhi
This is the heart of the matter why ES shouldn't totally obliterate LS sales. ES may be more bang-for-the-buck insofar as size and room for the money, but, judging by the 7ES interior shots we've seen, it's several noticeable notches below LS. and that is as it should be. Those that want utmost luxury will step up to LS and its available ultralux available touches such as hand-pleated door panels, cut glass decor and the like.
I'm seriously questioning the intellectual integrity of anybody thinking the ES will eat LS sales. Its a totally different market for different people. Out of every 10 LS buyers, how many would seriously consider the ES? 1?
spwolf
LF-1 is going to be performance suv... very much unlike RX and more like LC...and I bet it wont be huge sales success because it wont be roomy enough or affordable enough for your average Lexus buyers
Is this supposed to be a sarcastic comment or a serious one?
zeusus
I'm seriously questioning the intellectual integrity of anybody thinking the ES will eat LS sales. Its a totally different market for different people. Out of every 10 LS buyers, how many would seriously consider the ES? 1?
By your logic, that's 10%, which would be 100 cars a month at this rate. I don't even think it will be that high, honestly.

ES has no appeal to the shopper looking for a flagship car, a tech showcase, a performance vehicle, top-notch interior quality or second-to-none craftsmanship, but it WILL appeal to the folks looking for a big, full size, comfortable Lexus car. Those consumers used to just buy an LS (because it was the biggest and most comfortable) but now because of some of the shifts taking place in Lexus' sedan lineup, the ES could look like an enticing value option they didn't have before. I expect that most of these folks will probably be 65+ years old and exactly the demographic that Lexus shifted away from with the new LS, so perhaps their ES/LS strategy is perfectly planned.
ssun30
Is this supposed to be a sarcastic comment or a serious one?
It certainly was not sarcastic... where do you expect sales to be? RX does 9k per month, GX does 2.5k per month.

I think around 2k would be right, and 3k per month would be amazing.

You can expect many RX/ES buyers to note how it is smaller inside despite larger exterior and despite $15k higher price.
spwolf
It certainly was not sarcastic... where do you expect sales to be? RX does 9k per month, GX does 2.5k per month.

I think around 2k would be right, and 3k per month would be amazing.
I was referring to the 'not a huge sales success' part. You think it won't be a sales success, yet predict 2k per month (which I assume is for US) which is very optimistic. There is a contradiction in your statement. The LF-1 will compete in a very crowded segment, so don't expect GLS kind of numbers (2.5k per month average).
I think they are planning 30k across the globe with ~20k in US, assuming global economy stays healthy for the next five years. That is a success considering the LX struggles to stay in the high three figures per month. 30k per year will be 10% of their revenue.
ssun30
I was referring to the 'not a huge sales success' part. You think it won't be a sales success, yet predict 2k per month (which I assume is for US) which is very optimistic. There is a contradiction in your statement. The LF-1 will compete in a very crowded segment, so don't expect GLS kind of numbers (2.5k per month average).
I think they are planning 30k across the globe with ~20k in US, assuming global economy stays healthy for the next five years. That is a success considering the LX struggles to stay in the high three figures per month. 30k per year will be 10% of their revenue.
LX sold 37,000 last year worldwide. RX sold 170,000

At $20k less, LF-1 has to double the LX sales at minimum to be huge success.
ssun30
So far it looks good that reviewers get along with the LS500. Sucks that I can't drive one because it's not available here.
When are we getting your review of the LS 350?
L
  • L
  • May 14, 2018
spwolf
Check out mid engine setup... it is not going to have acres of space in the back row.
Does not look like it lacks space in the back row.




No less than ES, if not more.
krew
When are we getting your review of the LS 350?
I'm not a car reviewer lol.

The only thing I can say is that the rear seats are great. They offer the Executive Package on the 350 which seems like a steal. It's the same quiet, soft ride like previous generations. Maybe that's what's different from the 500. It shows that the 5LS can be the comfortable luxobarge as long as Lexus wants it to be. The complaint? It could definitely use more space. I just feel bad to have to squeeze my assistant (don't have one) in the front right seat when I need a little massage. Maybe the real rich people aren't bothered by this, perhaps they enjoy the feeling of flicking a switch to get more comfort by making their subordinate miserable ;).

The 3.5 V6 is honestly smooth enough and I don't understand how it is inferior to a V8 in terms of smoothness. Maybe I was an "ES350 pleb" so I couldn't really comment from an LS460 owner's prospective.
Gecko
By your logic, that's 10%, which would be 100 cars a month at this rate. I don't even think it will be that high, honestly.

ES has no appeal to the shopper looking for a flagship car, a tech showcase, a performance vehicle, top-notch interior quality or second-to-none craftsmanship, but it WILL appeal to the folks looking for a big, full size, comfortable Lexus car. Those consumers used to just buy an LS (because it was the biggest and most comfortable) but now because of some of the shifts taking place in Lexus' sedan lineup, the ES could look like an enticing value option they didn't have before. I expect that most of these folks will probably be 65+ years old and exactly the demographic that Lexus shifted away from with the new LS, so perhaps their ES/LS strategy is perfectly planned.

Yes that was exactly my point, 1 is best, the closest you can get to a whole number without setting up extreme unrealistic expectations.

You dont cross shop LS and ES and walk away with the ES. ES may look good from the outside but the difference of the interior is vast, you can tell without even seeing the cars in person.

To continue looking for reasons that justify LS buyers opting for the ES is just unrealistic.
zeusus
To continue looking for reasons that justify LS buyers opting for the ES is just unrealistic.
This needs to be repeated. I understand everyone likes to make the ES the villain of the demise of the GS and to assume its now hunting larger prey, but that's just not realistic. Even a well-equipped GS is a noticeable step down from the LS (and that step gets steeper when it's the LS500 instead of the 460); the ES at half the LS's price doesn't stand a chance of stacking up. And even if you excuse the ES itself by saying evil dealer salespeople moved GS buyers into an ES (something that absolutely didn't happen when I leased my GS), no salesman is going to be successful by steering people to a car worth probably half the commission.

Can we get back on topic now and post more LS reviews? :)
It is time to bring in the less favorable reviews to see what the negatives are for the autojournos.

Autocar in the UK has this to say in their review: https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/lexus/ls

Great materials, attention to detail and design, but unfortunately they only get the hybrid drivetrain in UK.

Other negatives are rear headroom, driving dynamics, infotainment, weight.

The reviewer has talked to the deputy chief engineer Shinji Kishida and asked why the car only gets this inadequate engine for the UK market, but there doesn't seem to be any useful answers. It was a bit grim to read, but we also have to be realistic: almost 2500kg. for the small hybrid drivetrain is perhaps just too tall ana order.
Yeah, that's not good only offering the hybrid. Is there some tax or other reason they don't just offer the non-hybrid LS500 in the UK?
Ian Schmidt
Yeah, that's not good only offering the hybrid. Is there some tax or other reason they don't just offer the non-hybrid LS500 in the UK?
Taxes are one of the factors why Lexus has gone hybrid-only in a good number of Western European markets, with special-order RC F and GS F the sole exceptions.
Ian Schmidt
Yeah, that's not good only offering the hybrid. Is there some tax or other reason they don't just offer the non-hybrid LS500 in the UK?
Because nobody buys non hybrid petrol in western Europe... Taxes are one part but also high fuel consumption worries lead to really poor resale value.

In the end it is diesel or hybrid... I don't remember seeing petrol S class in a very long time .
For reference...

2019 Audi A8 pricing has leaked. Base price: $83,800 excluding destination. That gets you the 335hp turbo V6 engine. Level 3 autonomous tech won't be offered in the States to start.

$75k LS 500 with 416hp is looking really good.

Source: https://www.motorauthority.com/news...ed-level-3-self-driving-tech-not-coming-to-us
Looks like the A8's gone full touchscreen like the Model 3. Makes me appreciate the radio and HVAC knobs and switches in the LS more.
I'm shocked European reviewers would call the 500h "inadequate". I thought only Americans complain about a car not being able to do 0-60 in 5s.

I've driven enough roads (about 7,000km) in UK to say road conditions are similar to China. They are narrow and slow, and honestly even the LS350 with its "puny 318hp" feels overpowered on these roads.

If anything, the LS could need a even lower-spec hybrid drivetrain like 300h to scoop up some people buying 2.0 diesels. But they don't since it's embarrassing for the brand.
ssun30
I'm shocked European reviewers would call the 500h "inadequate". I thought only Americans complain about a car not being able to do 0-60 in 5s.

I've driven enough roads (about 7,000km) in UK to say road conditions are similar to China. They are narrow and slow, and honestly even the LS350 with its "puny 318hp" feels overpowered on these roads.
A lot of journalists drive every car like the next Porsche 911 and expect it to handle the same :D
ssun30
I'm shocked European reviewers would call the 500h "inadequate". I thought only Americans complain about a car not being able to do 0-60 in 5s.

I've driven enough roads (about 7,000km) in UK to say road conditions are similar to China. They are narrow and slow, and honestly even the LS350 with its "puny 318hp" feels overpowered on these roads.

If anything, the LS could need a even lower-spec hybrid drivetrain like 300h to scoop up some people buying 2.0 diesels. But they don't since it's embarrassing for the brand.
indeed. Consider that most automotive media in Europe is owned by German companies.

Just makes you wonder how important these were at any point of time. If you read mags, you will never ever buy an Lexus. Especially non-US mags which are more realistic, especially recently. But for instance, GS was best reviewed Lexus in the US and also sold the worst.

Then again you have other examples, with EVO UK, which is really a sports car mag, writing how Toyota/Lexus is for him the best car company in the world because they produce wide range of performance vehicles, more so than anyone and you have quoted Yaris GRMN, 86, upcoming Supra and then multitude of F vehicles. I dont think many, many so called enthusiasts would believe EVO UK wrote that just few days back.
Ian Schmidt
Great review! Most LS500 reviews give short shrift to just how improved the dynamics are
Indeed, dynamics are way better.
Also worth to note is the difference between 'luxury grades' and F SPORT: if the F SPORT version is equipped with the optional Lexus Dynamic Handling system, it almost drives like an LC 4-door (and yes, I am talking about the hybrid version ;)). This makes the new LS a far far better drivers' car than the previous one. The weight difference between different grades (up to 80 kgs) also adds to the positive feeling, in my opinion. I recently compared an LS 500h top grade with all available equipment like Ottoman seat and AWD with an LS 500h F SPORT with optional LDH (=RWD) and these cars are completely different.
Most reviews on the internet are with the full monty luxury grades and AWD.

The higher weight of the luxury grade + AWD has also negative impact on fuel consumption: I managed a 27 MPG on average in the F SPORT compared to a 25 MPG in the luxury grade...
Joe
Indeed, dynamics are way better.
Also worth to note is the difference between 'luxury grades' and F SPORT: if the F SPORT version is equipped with the optional Lexus Dynamic Handling system, it almost drives like an LC 4-door (and yes, I am talking about the hybrid version ;)). This makes the new LS a far far better drivers' car than the previous one. The weight difference between different grades (up to 80 kgs) also adds to the positive feeling, in my opinion. I recently compared an LS 500h top grade with all available equipment like Ottoman seat and AWD with an LS 500h F SPORT with optional LDH (=RWD) and these cars are completely different.
Most reviews on the internet are with the full monty luxury grades and AWD.

The higher weight of the luxury grade + AWD has also negative impact on fuel consumption: I managed a 27 MPG on average in the F SPORT compared to a 25 MPG in the luxury grade...
sure, but for instance MT tested top end model with AWD (and rear seating package) and found it better than BMW 7.
spwolf
sure, but for instance MT tested top end model with AWD (and rear seating package) and found it better than BMW 7.
Missed that article... Preferring the LS over a 7-series?!? The first European journalist that makes such a claim should receive a statue! :D
Joe
Missed that article... Preferring the LS over a 7-series?!? The first European journalist that makes such a claim should receive a statue! :D
def not european, haha... in general, Europeans tested F-Sport models and obviously found them very poor handlers :)
I think recent years the media are quite chill with Lexus, with the exception of blatantly anti-Lexus German reviewers (well they are anti-everything foreign made). Yes they are still annoyingly bashing Remote Touch every time (because let's face it, it's not the greatest), but they've also delivered the message that Lexus vehicles are more dynamic than before and are now way above-average if not among the best.

Here in China the media are almost overwhelmingly positive towards the brand, especially after they equipped 8AR-FTS on everything. Ironically, we chinese people are the biggest believers in 'inferior made-in-China quality', even more so than westerners. No wonder the media all praise the legendary reliability and made-in-Japan quality of Lexus vehicles.
L
  • L
  • May 18, 2018
ssun30
Ironically, we chinese people are the biggest believers in 'inferior made-in-China quality', even more so than westerners.
Today quality is mostly about attention to details. Competence is available everywhere now. Then costs play a certain role in deciding if attention to details should be considered or not. Quality has no more that many secrets.
Levi
Today quality is mostly about attention to details. Competence is available everywhere now. Then costs play a certain role in deciding if attention to details should be considered or not. Quality has no more that many secrets.
No, quality is about enforcing standards and targeting a specific margin and rejection rate. 'Attention to detail' is not quantifiable so it has nothing to do with quality control, which deals with numbers.

The 'made-in-China cars are crap' myth originates from exposure of lousy standards used by VW and Nissan by the state media, in which they found the Jetta and Sylphy (Sentra) models had foam inserts instead of steel bumpers (yes, I know it sounds horrifying). It resulted in a huge loss of confidence in locally produced cars, including foreign brands. When people talk about imports they use words like 'genuine factory imports' to differentiate them from 'locally assembled fakes'. Ironically, they don't want to admit locally assembled BMWs or Mercedes are 'fakes' (speaking of double standards). Apparently Lexus takes advantage of this perception heavily in their marketing campaigns. The ES200 and NX200 are the cheapest cars people can buy that is made out of the country, so no wonder they sell like hot cakes.

My business manufacturers precision equipment for industry users which are made with very stringent standards and high rejection rates. It disheartens me everytime clients roll their eyes upon hearing 'they are assembled in Shanghai'. As time goes by I just say 'I import them from Germany and I'm just a distributor', and business becomes super simple.
ssun30
No, quality is about enforcing standards and targeting a specific margin and rejection rate. 'Attention to detail' is not quantifiable so it has nothing to do with quality control, which deals with numbers.

The 'made-in-China cars are crap' myth originates from exposure of lousy standards used by VW and Nissan by the state media, in which they found the Jetta and Sylphy (Sentra) models had foam inserts instead of steel bumpers (yes, I know it sounds horrifying). It resulted in a huge loss of confidence in locally produced cars, including foreign brands. When people talk about imports they use words like 'genuine factory imports' to differentiate them from 'locally assembled fakes'. Ironically, they don't want to admit locally assembled BMWs or Mercedes are 'fakes' (speaking of double standards). Apparently Lexus takes advantage of this perception heavily in their marketing campaigns. The ES200 and NX200 are the cheapest cars people can buy that are made out of the country, so no wonder they sell like hot cakes.

My business manufacturers precision equipment for industry users which are made with very stringent standards and high rejection rates. It disheartens me everytime clients roll their eyes upon hearing 'they are assembled in Shanghai'. As time goes by I just say 'I import them from Germany and I'm just a distributor', and business becomes super simple.
- IMHO there are two important factors when we talk about quality - this is build quality, which means everything is well put together and to the highest standards of alignment, tolerances, etc (and sure related to Quality control)... and then there is perception of quality, which has to do with how materials look to the customer. Together they form opinion of quality and many people will say it is attention to detail that matters, where quality is maintained in all parts of the vehicle. Then we have Dependability and Reliability and we arrive at Toyota's infamous QDR.

- Made in China is crap in West has little to do with Chinese-only vehicles like that Jetta. I have been reading about Chinese cars test/reviews in German media for 2 decades now. We also had some distributors who tried to import brands like Great Wall to Eastern Europe. Back then, and this was like 12 years ago, I have sat in some Great Wall Toyota knockoffs - it was Rav4 and Prado, under their own name... quality was certainly laughably terrible, very cartoonish. There were also many Chinese cars that failed EuroNCAP tests which made big splashes in the media.

Then you have brands like Quoros, which was more recent entry... they seem nicely engineered, decent looking and they tried some Eastern European countries... problem was that the pricing was the same as pricing for comparable VW/Toyota vehicles. Of course that would fail terribly - people expect some unknown, unproven brand from China to have discounted prices.

Next up is Lynk & co which will start sales for Europe in 2020 but will also be manufactured in Belgium and will have some weird sales methods that likely wont work...
L
  • L
  • May 19, 2018
Quality is quite vast. I would consider engineering also part of quality. Poor engineering, be it for cost reasons or simple negligence is also low quality. Material grade (for example the type of steel and treatment) is also quality.

L
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