2018 Lexus LS 500 Review: First Impressions and Photo Gallery

03_18Lexus_LS500_AS_ES.jpg 2018 Lexus LS 500 | photo by Evan Sears

CARS.COM — With the redesign of its LS full-size sedan, Lexus brings its dramatic styling ethos to its flagship model, thereby ensuring it won’t go unnoticed, especially at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The new styling is a significant departure from the previous-generation car as well as competitors in the segment, which look relatively understated in comparison.

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Dominating the front end is a version of the brand’s spindle grille, which Lexus says has 5,000 different surfaces that have been adjusted by hand. The top of the grille leads into a long hood bordered by flared front fenders that flow into the front doors.

07_18Lexus_LS500_AS_ES.jpg 2018 Lexus LS 500 | photo by Evan Sears

The LS 500 is only about a half-inch lower than its predecessor, but the new styling makes it look much lower and a new arcing roofline gives it the kind of coupe-like styling popularized by German luxury brands with models like the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class and Audi A7. Unlike the A7, however, the LS 500 has a traditional trunk as opposed to a rear hatch.

13_18Lexus_LS500_AS_ES.jpg 2018 Lexus LS 500 | photo by Evan Sears

The changes are just as significant inside. In place of a familiar instrument panel with analog gauges, there’s a single digital screen that shows most information, and to the right of that is a sweeping dashboard with upper and lower sections separated by a series of thin silver lines. The shapes are much more organic than before.

16_18Lexus_LS500_AS_ES.jpg 2018 Lexus LS 500 | photo by Evan Sears

The LS 500 gets a new interface for its Remote Touch multimedia system. Instead of a mouselike controller on the center console, there’s a laptop-style trackpad. Lexus says this is a next-generation version of Remote Touch that’s designed to mimic the operation of a smartphone and recognize handwriting. We weren’t able to try it out on the show floor, but we’ll be interested to see how it performs; we’ve found previous versions of Lexus’ trackpad interface hard to use.

06_18Lexus_LS500_AS_ES.jpg 2018 Lexus LS 500 | photo by Evan Sears

The LS 500 rides on a stretched version of the LC 500 coupe’s platform. It’s a long car, stretching about 206 inches long overall, and its 123-inch wheelbase is about an inch longer than the long-wheelbase version of the previous LS. You wouldn’t know it, though, from sitting in the backseat. While there’s adequate space for adults and the sleeker roofline doesn’t encroach unreasonably on your headroom, it doesn’t have the expansive, spacious feel that you get sitting in the back of the BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The rear seat cushions are surprisingly low to the floor, too, which creates an undesirable knees-up seating position.

When it first debuted as a 1990 model, the LS was an alternative to established full-size luxury sedans but one that closely followed their lead when it came to design. It’s been a conservatively styled sedan since then, but that’s about to change in a big way. Whether Lexus buyers are ready for that remains to be seen. 

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