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Lexus LS: 2019 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 11/5/2018 Motor Trend Staff
2018-Lexus-LS-500h-AWD-dashboard.jpg

WE LIKE Agility for a big car, fuel economy, thumping stereo

WE DON'T LIKE Rough ride, inconsistent brakes, infotainment interface

The flagship sedan that panicked German luxury automakers 30 years ago still has some chops, but it seems Lexus engineers and product planners were conflicted as to the mission of the latest edition.

2018-Lexus-LS-500-F-Sport-side.jpg© Motor Trend Staff 2018-Lexus-LS-500-F-Sport-side.jpg

Angus MacKenzie was unimpressed: "A harsher powertrain, noisier suspension, and worse body integrity than the car that launched the brand. It beggars belief."

Chris Theodore was similarly let down. "Dynamically, the LS was surprisingly agile for such a behemoth, but the experience went downhill from there," he observed. The F Sport suspension we tested ruins the magic-carpet ride of past Lexuses, allowing impacts to harshly penetrate the cabin. The brake-by-wire system was erratic in its responses. And the lane keeping system lamely ping-ponged the car between the lines.

Although the twin-turbo V-6 is a lively base engine for most Lexus drivers and scored well in fuel economy, the lack of a V-8 offering raised eyebrows. The piped-in engine sounds were a headache-inducing mashup of "puppy growls and gear whine," an acetaminophen-seeking Christian Seabaugh said.

Alisa Priddle noted the suave, detailed interior design with swooping and arcing "art wood," leather trim, Alcantara, and metal details. But back-seat space is less than in competitor cars, especially in the footwell.

Plus, Lexus continues to insist on installing its distracting, touchpad-based infotainment system. Seriously, piloting a curse-inducing cursor through four menus to adjust heated/cooled seats? One saving user interface is the radio-tuning concentric outer ring of the volume knob. You'll want to play with that as you crank the optional 2,400-watt Mark Levinson stereo to "Hello, Cleveland!" concert volumes.

Akio Toyoda has challenged Lexus to passionately embrace its sporty side. Unfortunately, the LS merely gives drivers an awkward shoulder hug.

READ ABOUT 2019 CAR OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS:

• 2019 Car of the Year introduction
• Buick Regal
• Ford Mustang
• Ford Transit Connect
• Honda Clarity
• Hyundai Accent
• Hyundai Elantra
• Kia Forte
• Lexus ES
• Lexus LS
• Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class
• Nissan Altima
• Toyota Avalon
• Toyota Corolla Hatchback
• Volkswagen Jetta

    2018-Lexus-LS-500h-AWD-rear-three-quarter-in-motion.jpg© Motor Trend Staff 2018-Lexus-LS-500h-AWD-rear-three-quarter-in-motion.jpg
    2018 Lexus LS500 F-Sport500h AWD
    Base Price/As tested $82,225/$101,905$83,955/$107,950
    Power (SAE net) 416 hp @ 6,000 rpm295 hp @ 6,600 rpm (gas)/100 hp (elec)/354 hp (comb)
    Torque (SAE net) 442 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm257 lb-ft @ 4,900 rpm (gas)/150 lb-ft (elec)/350 lb-ft (comb)
    Accel, 0-60 mph 5.8 sec5.5 sec
    Quarter-mile 14.2 sec @ 101.2 mph14.1 sec @ 98.0 mph
    Braking, 60-0 mph 114 ft123 ft
    Lateral Acceleration 0.88 g (avg)0.80 g (avg)
    MT Figure Eight 26.0 sec @ 0.72 g (avg)27.0 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)
    EPA City/Hwy/Comb 19/30/23 mpg26/35/30 mpg
    Vehicle Layout Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedanFront-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
    Engine/Transmission 3.4L twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6/10-speed automatic3.5L Atkinson-cycle DOHC 24-valve V-6 plus elec motors/4-speed auto + cont variable auto
    Curb Weight (F/R Dist) 4,959 lb (52/48%)5,211 lb (52/48%)
    Wheelbase 123.0 in123.0 in
    Length x Width x Height 206.1 x 74.8.0 x 57.1 in206.1 x 74.8 x 57.5 in
    Energy Cons, City/Hwy 177/112 kW-hrs/100 miles130/96 kW-hrs/100 miles
    CO2 Emissions, Comb 0.85 lb/mile0.66 lb/mile

    2018-Lexus-LS-500h-AWD-front-three-quarter-in-motion-1.jpg© Motor Trend Staff 2018-Lexus-LS-500h-AWD-front-three-quarter-in-motion-1.jpg

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