Lexus LS review
The Lexus LS takes eye-catching interior design to a whole new level but it isn’t as high-tech as most German alternatives, nor as comfortable
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Something the Lexus LS certainly isn’t, is understated. It’s an ultra-luxurious saloon that feels very modern and looks much more aggressive than the likes of the Audi A8 or Mercedes S-Class thanks to its predatory looking grille and Z-shaped headlights.
Inside, the sheer amount of opulent leather, wood and embossed metal details will make picking your perfect interior rather difficult. At least you’ll have plenty of space to stretch out in the LS’ hugely comfy leather seats as you consider whether etched stainless steel door trims, bamboo inserts and red stitching were a sensible combination…
Unfortunately, the Lexus’ infotainment system is markedly worse than in a Mercedes, BMW or Audi. Sure, there’s a widescreen central display and a set of high-resolution digital dials but you can’t get the LS with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. Furthermore, its menu layout and frustrating touchpad and raised selector are difficult to use when driving.
Thankfully, space in the back helps make up for the LS’ infotainment shortcomings. You get three back seats as standard but can remove the central perch in favour of two enormously comfortable armchairs as part of the Executive Package. These come with 22-way electrical adjustment and can recline by nearly 50 degrees – perfect for a mid-journey snooze.
Sadly, the Lexus’ boot can’t quite swallow as much luggage as the load bays in the S-Class, 7 Series or A8 but it’s still more than roomy enough for a set of golf clubs or a couple of large suitcases.
Every Lexus LS comes as a hybrid, with a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine combined with an electric motor and batteries. That means the LS is fairly frugal compared with alternatives in town – where it’ll spend most of its time – while its CO2 emissions are decently low too.
If Picasso ever fancied himself as a car designer, he’d probably have cooked up something like the Lexus LS. No other large saloon looks quite as bonkers – inside or out…
However, the way it drives is disappointing in comparison. Its standard CVT automatic gearbox is smooth, but doesn’t feel particularly responsive if you do want to press on, also causing the engine’s revs to hang and drone into the cabin. The Lexus LS doesn’t feel as nimble as its German rivals, either, and there’s quite a bit of road noise heard inside on the motorway.
But frankly, the most important area of a big luxurious limo like the Lexus LS is how comfortable it is, and in this area it’s particularly poor. Entry-level models get adaptive suspension, but standard steel springs, while more expensive models get adaptive air suspension, but even in the latter guise we’ve tried the Lexus LS struggles to cope with battered British roads. Ultimately, an S-Class, A8 and 7 Series are all far more comfortable sat in the front or back.
So, it might not be the sportiest luxury saloon on sale, nor the comfiest, but it’s certainly one of the safest. You get lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control that’ll maintain a safe distance to traffic ahead and parking assistance braking that’ll try to stop the car before you bump into parked cars or endanger pedestrians.
There’s also a system that’ll warn you if it thinks you’ve fallen asleep at the wheel. If you don’t respond to its loud beeps it’ll put on the hazard warning lights before coming to a controlled stop by the roadside. The LS hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP but all these high-tech features should help make it one of the safest luxury saloons on sale.
All told, then, the Lexus LS has the equipment list, quality and design that luxury car buyers will love, but it doesn’t have the drive or comfort to go with it.