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2019 Lexus LS Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.9

The 2019 Lexus LS boasts peppy acceleration from both its standard gas-only and hybrid powertrains, and it has balanced driving dynamics. Fuel economy is about average in the nonhybrid LS, while the hybrid is very efficient for the class.

  • Even though the 2019 LS isn’t particularly sporty, among the selectable driving modes is a Sport Plus setting that sharpens responses of the steering, throttle, transmission and suspension for extra liveliness while remaining essentially comfortable. The F Sport treatment in the LS 500 doesn’t add power but includes a firmer suspension, quicker transmission shifts, and stronger brakes that feel confident without being grabby." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Even after spending just a few minutes behind the wheel, it's plainly obvious that the … LS is a deviation from the four generations that came before it. Whereas those previous cars coddled occupants with a soft and supple ride, the … LS feels taut and hunkered down. In fact, Lexus is so serious about making the LS more of a driver's car that they've even include a Sport+ setting. Those madmen! The amazing thing is, they kind of pulled it off." -- Left Lane News (2018)
  • Gear changes from the new 10-speed transmission are smooth and imperceptible, but the pedal feels numb and shift response is slow when more power is needed. Handling is stable, neither sporty nor floppy. … The LS traditionally prioritizes comfort over performance." -- Edmunds (2018)

Acceleration and Power

The Lexus LS comes standard with a twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 416 horsepower. A 10-speed automatic transmission is standard. The Lexus LS Hybrid features a 3.5-liter V6 engine and two electric motors that put out a combined 354 horsepower. Hybrid models are mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission. Both LS versions have quick acceleration and good throttle response. The 10-speed transmission has smooth and refined shifts.  

The 2019 LS gets an EPA-estimated 19 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, which is about average for the class. The LS Hybrid gets up to 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.

  • "The turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 in the new LS has more than enough muscle, which is evident when accelerating off the line or executing a passing move. The 10-speed automatic transmission is beautifully refined, its shift actions barely perceptible." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • ""Like the gasoline-only model, the hybrid is also plenty quick to move about, though you'll want to twist the instrument-cowl-mounted stalk to engage Sport or Sport+ modes to liven up the transmission so you're not caught waiting, perpendicular to fast-moving traffic, for the car to accelerate." -- Automobile Magazine (2018)
  • "The LS has plenty of low-down grunt. And, unlike some turbocharged engines, the LS doesn't seem to lose any steam in the upper portion of the rev band, so there's available power all the way to redline. … We were concerned that the 10-speed auto in the LS could be its Achilles heel, but it proved well behaved during our daylong drive around northern California. Shifts were fast and smooth, and we didn't notice any hesitations, despite the multitude of gears on offer. Moreover, the LS' gearbox has been equipped with a form of artificial intelligence that learns your driving habits the more you drive." -- Left Lane News (2018)

Handling and Braking

The Lexus LS has somewhat sporty handling, with poised body motions around corners. Critics note that the ride feels a little stiff, but the optional air suspension results in an extremely comfortable ride. Both the LS and LS Hybrid come standard with rear-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is available.

  • While there's no denying that the … LS is the best handling LS Lexus has ever made, it does so at the expense of ride comfort. Unlike the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, you seem to feel every bump and crack in the road in the LS. There's even a bit of flex that we weren't expecting from a brand new vehicle architecture." -- Left Lane News (2018)
  • During this event, I drive a few version of the LS, including one with the standard adaptive coil suspension and another with air suspension. The ride in the former feels mediocre, communicating bumps and roughness in the road similar to much less expensive cars, but an example with the air suspension makes a huge difference, bringing the LS 500 closer to the ride quality of the benchmark Mercedes-Benz S-Class." -- CNET (2018)
  • The Lexus LS 500 F Sport feels a little robotic. But it does get you through the twisties with what might be, in a new interpretation of the word, fun. In fact, if we had to buy a Lexus LS 500 sedan, we would definitely get the F Sport." -- Autoweek (2018)
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