If you’re old enough to remember Rugrats and Home Improvement, you’re old enough to remember when Lexus debuted this flagship Lexus sedan. The LS began its life as the premier luxury offering from Toyota’s high-end nameplate and continues that trend with the current-generation Lexus LS. It’s most well-known for its classy styling, quiet and posh interior, and soft, supple ride.
The 2021 model carries from this generation of the LS car’s debut in 2018. A few changes like a retuned suspension for more refinement, some interior improvements for comfort, and minor efficiency tweaks herald this mid-cycle model year for the car. Lexus took what was already an excellent luxury touring sedan and tweaked it to make it even better.
Where the Lexus LS loses, of course, is in the places where most Lexus models fall short: it’s not sporty, the infotainment interface is terrible, and the grille is way too large. That doesn’t seem to be dissuading buyers much, though, as the LS remains a high seller in its segment.
The 2021 Lexus LS 500 comes with a host of standard equipment, as all luxury cars should. The list of available options is more telling than would a list of what it includes would be. That list of options includes enhanced adaptive cruise control with lane changing assistance (yes, that means it changes lanes on its own once the turn signal is pressed), front cross-traffic alert, and enhanced automatic emergency braking which adds active steering assistance to help turn away from a potential collision. All of these are connected to advanced sensors to “see” traffic ahead of, behind, and next to the LS.
In addition, the F Sport package for the LS adds some sporty equipment to the car without actually making it sportier. Other upgrade options are largely focused on luxury add-ons like suede leather, wood trim, heated rear seating, four-zone climate control, and so forth. We recommend getting the air suspension upgrade and the 23-speaker Mark Levinson sound system. At the very least.
For drive quality, the 2021 Lexus LS 500 is comfortable and confident, but not speedy. The turbocharged V6 outputs 416 horsepower in a nice curve and the 10-speed automatic transmission is smooth, but not quick or sporty. Rear-wheel drive is standard in the LS, but all-wheel drive is recommended. The AWD model maintains a rear-wheel preference, but adds dynamics and road-hugging comfort not found in the RWD model.
As the pinnacle of Lexus offerings, the LS is a good flagship, but competitors are stepping up their games to give it a run. The Tesla Model S isn’t as luxurious or smooth, but the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class are very similar to refinement and fitment. Probably the best competition for the Lexus, though, comes from newcomer Genesis with its G90 sedan. So it’s worth shopping around a little in this segment.
For all that, though, the 2021 Lexus LS 500 is still top dog in the luxury sedan segment thanks to its unmatched interior and ultra-smooth ride quality.