2021 Lexus LS First Look: The Flagship Sedan Gets Touchier11/12/2020
As a flagship luxury sedan, the Lexus LS should impress us more than any other passenger car in the brand’s lineup. But in some ways, it’s the more mainstream midsize ES and sometimes the even smaller IS sedan that commands more of our attention. With a mid-cycle update for the LS, Lexus aims to shove its full-size four-door to the front of your mind and remedy the key issues we have with the large luxury sedan, including its ride quality and interior usability. These changes were previewed earlier this year for Japan, but Lexus has finally released U.S.-specific information and confirmed that the 2021 Lexus LS hits dealerships in late November, with hybrid models arriving early next year.
2021 Lexus LS: Suspension Updates
We’ve long complained that the LS sedan’s ride is rougher than it should be, and there is evidence this could change with the refresh. Under the sheetmetal, Lexus has made several changes to the suspension. Modifications including larger liquid-filled bushings and revised spring and damper rates should help improve ride quality. The sedan also benefits from updated anti-roll bars to reduce body roll in corners, so it’s not all about softness but also improved control.
Once again, Lexus will offer an adaptive variable suspension. This system receives some fining tuning as well, providing reduced damping force via revised linear solenoids and control valves. Lexus is also revising the available air suspension system that raises the vehicle to make it easier to step into and get out of the cabin.
The Engines Remain the Same, But Better
Horsepower figures haven’t changed for the LS’s two powertrains haven’t changed, but that doesn’t mean Lexus left the motivators entirely alone. The twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 delivers the same 416 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque as before, but receives updated piston technology for low emissions and quieter operation. Lexus also tweaks the shift logic on the 10-speed automatic transmission to optimize the engine’s release of power.
The hybrid LS continues to make a combined 354 hp from its V-6 engine and two electric motors. Its unusual transmission comprising a CVT integrated with a four-speed automatic also receives shift logic updates, and the hybrid system is now made to drive more power through the electric motors during acceleration.
2021 Lexus LS: Design
Subtle changes are also the name of the game when it comes to the car’s appearance. Perhaps the most notable update is the new headlamp design with integrated daytime running lights. The air intakes on the lower front fascia are slightly more squared off, too. The standard spindle grille is now darker, providing a less flashy appearance for entry-level LS models. F Sport variants continue to feature the bolder blacked-out grille. Out back, piano black accents replace the chrome trim in the taillights.
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Finally! A Touchscreen!
Much more important than the exterior design is the interior, where you’ll enjoy redesigned front seats with thicker cushioning. The armrests also are plusher. The new model year brings the addition of Palomino leather, along with new Black Laser Special and Open Pore Black accents.
All modern cars should have a touchscreen, and Lexus is finally starting to realize this. Following in the footsteps of the new IS, the LS gets a large central screen that responds to touch commands, eliminating the need to deal with the finicky touchpad controller on the center console. The 12.3-inch screen is now compatible with Android Auto as well as Apple CarPlay.
2021 Lexus LS Pricing
Being a flagship sedan, the LS remains quite expensive. Prices start at $77,025 for the base LS500 model, up $550 from last year. The all-wheel-drive variant starts at $80,275. Stepping up to the more athletic F Sport requires $80,625, with all-wheel-drive models jumping up to $83,875. Lexus will announce prices for the hybrid LS500h at a later date.
- Lexus LS500: $77,025
- Lexus LS500 F Sport: $80,275
- Lexus LS500h: TBD
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