Select Page

The updated Lexus LS 500 F Sport is almost worth its weight in carats, but in reality it is among the less-expensive choices

The 2021 Lexus LS 500 F Sport exterior.

The Lexus LS 500 F Sport is largely about added performance features without added horsepower. Pricing starts at $80,625. (Photos courtesy of Lexus)

BY MARK MAYNARD

The Lexus LS 500 F Sport is the diamond-class among full-size luxury sedans. There is brilliance in its engineering that has been its benchmark since the first generation debuted as a 1990.

Since then, trendier diamond hues have debuted, but most of these are laboratory creations and they lack the credibility and value of a natural stone. While there are true colored diamonds, the best have exotic pricing.

The driver area in the LS F Sport.

I like the cabin architecture that provides unobstructed sightlines at the windshield-pillar corners and over the shoulder. (Lexus)

Lexus LS 500 F Sport Pricing

The updated Lexus LS 500 F Sport is almost worth its weight in carats, but in reality it is among the less-expensive choices in this high-end class.

Sold in rear- or all-wheel drive with one powertrain, there are three trim choices for the 2021 Lexus LS 500 F Sport. Pricing starts at $77,025 for the entry LS. The rear-drive F-Sport, today’s tester, starts at $80,625 (add $3,250 for AWD) and the LS 500h Hybrid, the quickest LS model, at $91,525. All MSRPs include the $1,025 freight charge from Tahara, Japan.

An updated 2022 LS 500h Hybrid will go on sale this fall with a showcase of advanced technologies. All-wheel drive models will debut the new Lexus Teammate systems for Advanced Drive and Advanced Park. Pricing will be announced later.

The front seats in the F Sport.

With the optional panoramic roof, headroom is 36.8 inches, which is far more accommodating to tall drivers than would appear by the dimensions. (Lexus)

Lexus LS 500 F Sport Comparos

For pricing comparisons among the LS competitors, the entry Mercedes-Benz S-Class (with 3.0-liter biturbo V-6) starts at $95,245, including the $995 freight charge. Upgrading to the AMG-line of styling features and driver assistance systems will push the price to more than $107,000.

BMW’s 740i (with its biturbo incline six-cylinder) would cost more than $103,000 when equipped comparably to the F-Sport tester. But the BMW does include free scheduled maintenance for the duration of the warranty.

And there are option groups to further personalize or elevate, including the $12,710 Luxury package, the Executive at $17,630 or the Executive with handcrafted Kiriko glass trim elements, $23,630.

Find pricing offers here.

The F Sport steering wheel.

The heated, three-spoke F Sport wheel with red stitching. (Lexus)

 

 

F Sport Features

The Lexus LS 500 F Sport is largely about added performance features without added horsepower.

The package includes unique trim on the bumper, grille, lower door trims, and rear diffuser. 20-inch five-spoke alloy wheels have a Dark Vapor Chrome finish. Inside there is a performance-themed instrument cluster with sliding gauge bezel, F Sport perforated leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, Ultrasuede headliner, 28-way adjustable sport seats, passenger seat power cushion adjuster and aluminum pedals.

Performance hardware upgrades include:
• 6-piston front brake calipers with 15.7-inch ventilated discs, 4-piston rear brake calipers with 14.1-inch ventilated discs;
• F Sport adaptive variable suspension;
• Dynamic Handling Package ($7,800 RWD only) adds variable gear ratio steering, active rear steering and active stabilizer bars.

The tire and wheel package for the LS 500 F Sport

Bridgestone Turanza runflat summer performance tires have staggered, 20-inch sizes.  (Lexus)

2021 LS Updates

Subtle updates for 2021 emphasize interior quietness and comfort with a smoother, more comfortable ride. There were technological refinements with the Lexus Driving Signature to set a new standard for vehicle development and refinement.

The F Sport's ultra-compact LED headlights.

Triple-projector ultra-compact LED headlamps with cornering lamps. (Lexus)

LS F Sport Suspension

The standard steel suspension has revised spring and damper rates for improved damping performance.  And the front and rear anti-roll bars were “optimized” to better control body roll in turns. Larger front and rear liquid-filled bushings help create an even plusher ride, Lexus says.

The vehicle engineers modified the Adaptive Variable Suspension ($1,400) for “suppleness” and handling while the ride-height-adjustable air suspension is quicker to respond.

F Sport Powertrain 

Revisions to the 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V-6 include a lip shape on the piston top for quicker activation to curb emissions and quiet operation when the engine is cold.

The 416-horsepower, direct-injected engine has 442 foot-pounds of torque, starting from a 1,600 rpm and rising steady to 4,800 rpm.

The 416-horsepower, V-6 engine in the LS 500 F Sport

The 416-horsepower, direct-injected V-6 is capable of 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds.

The shift logic of the 10-speed automatic transmission was recalibrated to help keep the engine in a more responsive area of its power band.

The acceleration has V-8 thrust off the line and in Sport-plus mode is capable of 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds.

While most LS drivers will rein in the force and feel comfortable in Normal, Comfort or Sport drive modes, there is a direct horse-and-rider communication in Sport-plus that gives almost intuitive upshifts and downshifts.

And when using Sport-plus the main gauge bezel slides right for a red-themed performance mode.

Fuel economy ratings are 18 mpg city, 29 highway and 22 mpg combined, on the required premium fuel. In my week of more than 200 miles the best combined average I achieved was 17 mpg. But with the 21.7-gallon tank, even that mileage would allow more than 368 miles of cruising range.

Interior Upgrades

The LS cabin is a statement of impeccable Takumi craftsmanship, which is all about meticulous attention to detail and hospitality, Lexus says. Among the interior upgrades is a new Palomino Leather interior with new trim materials, including Black Laser Special and Open Pore Black.

The LS 500 infotainment touch screen.

The wide touch screen is simple to use, but there also are actual buttons to make adjustments for fan speed, temperature and vents.

On Executive models, the available Kiriko Glass ornamentation and hand-folded pleats on the door trim illustrate the Japanese craftsmanship of Kiriko glassware, and unique in a production vehicle. The hand-cut glass is polished to a soft glow.

Credit the cabin air-filter recirculation for a stink-free environment. While on a long highway descent, the semi-truck next to me was sending billows of brake smoke as the lanes of traffic slowed for road construction. Usually, it is difficult to filter out that type of acrid pollutant, but I felt quite smug among the lingering aroma of Lexus leather.

The Kiriki glass interior upgrade.

An example of handcrafted Kiriko glass in the top Executive package, $23,630.

The new 12.3-inch multimedia touch screen integrates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility with iPhone or Android interface. And the new Amazon Alexa allows users to control smart home devices such as lighting, thermostat and security systems — or sync to the navigation system for on-the-go recommendations.

The wide touch screen is simple to use, but there also are actual buttons to make finger-reach adjustments for fan speed, temperature, vents.

I like the cabin architecture that provides unobstructed sightlines at the corners of the windshield pillars and over the shoulder.

The digital rearview mirror, $200, features a larger high-resolution display for improved visibility of the area behind the vehicle. It can be handy when chauffeuring passengers and heads get in the way of rearward views. But because I wear glasses, my eyes struggle to focus quicky enough, so I just flip it to manual mode.

With the optional panoramic roof, headroom is 36.8 inches, which is far more accommodating to tall drivers than would appear by the dimensions. However, the lower roofline will make the cabin seem smaller than it is, however, compensates in width, with 58.8 inches of shoulder room.

Missing from the tech features was wireless charging. And I wished for space on the shift console to lay a phone, though there are USBs and secure space in the armrest console.

Back seat space has the limo stretch of legroom, 38.9 inches, but the tall center tunnel for AWD and exhaust, makes the LS a better four-seater. And a simple jacket or coat hook on the back seat B-pillar or overhead hand grip would be considerate.

Trunk space is wide and low with nearly 17 cubic feet of space, but the entry opening is a little short for loading big-box items.

Ride and Handling

The ride is quite smooth and free of harshness transferred from varying road surfaces. And the LS includes such soundproofing enhancements as active sound control and active noise cancellation.

The back seats in the F Sport.

 Back seat space has the limo stretch of legroom, 38.9 inches, but the tall center tunnel for AWD and exhaust, makes the LS a better four-seater.

The optional air suspension ($1,400) has a new rapid rise system that also gives rapid adjustment in cornering to transfer weight without unsettling responses, though there can be an occasional jolt that gets past the system.

I expect I was also enjoying the F Sport dynamic package ($7,800), which added variable gear-ratio steering, active rear steering and active stabilizer bars. The turning circle is trimmer than most midsize sedans at 36.8 feet.

Because this generation LS has a lower roofline for aerodynamics (benefitting corporate average fuel economy) the air suspension automatically raises the vehicle to make it easier to step into or get out when the doors are unlocked.

The 20-inch Bridgestone Turanza runflats on the tester were almost surprising in their supple ride quality when Bridgestones often can feel hard and somewhat noisy.

LS Safety Features

Lexus has long been a pioneer of safety technologies and the LS has such advanced features as the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0. It is comprised of a pre-collision system with low-light pedestrian detection and daytime bicyclist detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high-beam dimming, all-speed adaptive cruise control with road-sign assist and lane tracing assist.

The optional Lexus safety system, $3,000, allows Level 2 semi-autonomous driving, while keeping both hands on the wheel. The system integrates enhanced all-speed dynamic radar cruise control and lane change assist, front cross-traffic alert and pedestrian alert.

The driver-assist system capably keeps the car centered in the lane, but like most systems it will randomly shut off. Sometimes the system gets confused by light colored road-surface conditions and highway lines that are broken up and uneven.

For those drivers who have daily commutes in heavy traffic, this safety-assist system could be a lifesaver. It is an extra six eyes on the road to watch for less-attentive drivers.

An exterior rear view of the Lexus LS.

The updated 2021 LS is almost worth its weight in carats, but it also is among the less-expensive choices in this high-end class. (Lexus)

Why Buy the Lexus LS 500 F Sport?

This big sedan is for the risk-averse buyer. It is a trusted nameplate with exemplary dealer treatment during the sale and then for service. The F Sport is the alter ego, with the grip-and-grin attitude of a charged grand tourer.

The LS raises the satisfaction level with the Lexus-Toyota business plan: Do it right the first time. And then make subtle updates for clarity and shine.

Here is my review of the 2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport.

SPECIFICATIONS

2021 Lexus LS 500 F Sport

Body style: large, 5-seat, 4-door RWD sedan

Engine: 416-hp, twin-turbo, with electrical and D-4ST direct injected. 3.5-liter V-6; 442 lb.-ft. from 1,600-4,800 rpm

Transmission: 10-speed direct-shift automatic with paddle shifters; w/ Drive Mode Select with Sport S+ and Custom modes

Fuel economy: 18/29/22 mpg city/hwy/combined; premium fuel required

0-60 mph acceleration: 4.6 seconds

Coefficient of drag: 0.28; (*0.30 AWD)

BY THE NUMBERS

Fuel tank: 21.7 gal.

Trunk space: 16.9 cu. ft.

Front head/leg room: 36.8*/42 in. (37.3 in. w/o pane roof)

Rear head/leg room: 36.4*/38.9 in. (*37.4 in. (w/o pano roof)

Length/wheelbase: 206.1/123 in.

Curb weight: 4,740 lbs.* (4,696 lbs. with standard coil springs)

Turning circle: 36.8 ft.

FEATURES

Standard equipment includes: Smart key entry/locking with push-button ignition, rearview camera, power moonroof, quilted-stitch perforated semi-aniline leather interior trim, 16-way power-adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, 28-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with multifunction massage, power-adjustable front headrests, heated leather-trimmed steering wheel, Ultrasuede headliner and sun visors, wood- and semi-aniline leather-trimmed center console, semi-aniline leather-trimmed door armrests, heated rear seats, power rear sunshade, navigation system with 12.3-inch touchscreen and 3 years of free Lexus Enform Dynamic Navigation, Lexus 12-speaker premium audio system, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto with Alexa+Lexus compatibility, intuitive parking assist with auto-braking, active sound control and active noise cancellation, remote touch pad, triple-projector ultra-compact LED headlamps with cornering lamps, LED taillamps and turn signals, electrochromic (auto-dimming) inside and outside mirrors with puddle lamps, hands-free power open-close trunk, auto door closers, 19-inch alloy wheels

F Sport Package, includes: Unique exterior trim on the bumper, grille, lower door trims, rear diffuser; 20-inch split five-spoke alloy wheels with Dark Vapor Chrome finish;  6-piston front brake calipers with 15.7-inch ventilated discs and 4-piston rear brake calipers with 14.1-inch ventilated discs; adaptive variable suspension; performance-themed instrument with sliding bezel;; perforated leather interior (with heated steering wheel and shifter knob) with Ultrasuede headliner; 28-way adjustable sport seats; passenger seat power cushion adjuster; aluminum pedals and interior trim elements; Dynamic Handling Package (RWD only, includes F Sport Package features plus variable gear ratio steering, active rear steering, active stabilizer bars

Safety features, include: 10 air bags, Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 standard, includes Pre-Collision System with low-light pedestrian detection and daytime bicyclist detection; Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist; Intelligent High Beam; all-speed adaptive cruise control; road sign assist, lane tracing assist

PRICING

Lexus LS 500 F Sport: $80,625, including $1,025 freight charge; price as tested $98,990
Options on test vehicle: Lexus safety system, $3,000, includes enhanced all-speed dynamic radar cruise control and lane change assist, front cross-traffic alert, pedestrian alert;
• Adaptive variable air suspension with rapid height function $1,400;
• Mark Levinson 23-speaker, 2,400-watt surround sound audio $1,940;
• Panorama glass roof $1,000;
• 24-inch head-up display $1,220;
• Panoramic view monitor $800;
• Rear bumper appliqué $95;
• Door-edge guards $155;
• Trunk mat package $305, includes key glove, cargo mat and wheel locks;
• F Sport Dynamic Handling Package, $7,800, includes variable gear ratio steering, active rear steering and active stabilizers

Where assembled: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
Warranty: 4-years/50,000 miles basic with roadside assistance, free 1st and 2nd scheduled maintenance services and lodging for emergency breakdowns 100 miles from home; 6-years/70,000-miles powertrain

MarkMaynard@cox.net