For a bad case of cabin fever, try the 2019 Lexus LS500 F Sport. In a world where transportation has a tendency to be boring, this large, rear-wheel-drive sedan stands out from the crowd. Imbued with familial body lines that run from the smallest Lexus sedan to this, the largest, the 2019 LS500 F Sport is a true style pro, from its spindle corporate grille to its lightly upswept rear, punctuated by enclosed double exhaust pipes.
Gorgeous is as gorgeous does, of course, and with a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged, directly injected V-6 engine, the 2019 LS500 F Sport is ready to run, Lexus-style. The hidden power mill sits under a voluminous hood, etched with 416 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 442 lb-ft of torque between 1,600-4,800. Redline comes at 6,400 rpm. This Lexus uses a 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters at the ready.
There are plenty of available drive modes on the 4,850-pound sedan, with Eco, Normal, Sport S and Sport S + options, with different colors for the mode you’re using. For the most part, to keep this very young – less than 1,600 miles on pick-up – sedan from wasting too many precious gallons of premium fuel, the driver kept the car in eco or normal, with the reward of gaining an average reading of 25.2 mpg over 425 miles and seven days. The 2019 Lexus LS500 F Sport is rated at 19/30/23 mpg and, if kept in Sport S + it should get those readings from the 21.7-gallon tank.
The ride on the LS500 is serene unless the driver pushes it, then the F Sport-derived double-point multi-link front and multi-link rear suspensions with their air springs hunker down, thanks to the optional adaptive variable air suspension with rapid height ($1,500). Brakes are fabulous all-wheel-disc units that inspire confidence at every stop light, while the very direct electronic power steering system features variable gear ratios with an enviable turning circle of 36.8 feet and between 2.3 to 3.2 turns lock-to-lock.
Lexus claims the 2019 LS500 F Sport has been tested at 136mph on a race track; I’m sure that achievement came with few histrionics, even in tight turns. Far more than its predecessors, the newest LS is an athlete that can be driven, or piloted sedately as wanted, rather than the other way around. While its 245/45R 20-in Bridgestone Turanza tires aren’t known for sporting tendencies, their low profile allows for confident handling. The dark graphite split five-spoke alloy wheels (another $1,500 option) help keep unsprung weight low.
Among its other options that take this Lexus from an out-of-the-gate $81,200 cost, Lexus anoints the Matador Red Mica 2019 LS500 F Sport with its Lexus Safety System+ A, which is pre-collision with active braking, active steering assist, pedestrian alert, front cross-traffic alert and lane change assist ($3,000). There’s also a 24-in head-up display that is excellent, showing a compass, the speed limit (also shown on the nav system), speedo, tach and current digital speed for $1,220. LED headlamps with adaptive front lighting system extract $300, while the luscious Mark Levinson audio system with 23 (yes 23) speakers costs $1,940.
But wait – there’s more: Lexus’ F Sport Performance package includes the F Sport exterior front bumper, mesh grille inserts, rear diffuser, F Sport interior styling lower door trim, perforated leather trimmed interior, leather steering wheel, shift knob and 28-way power front seats with embossed headrests. This $9,700 package also includes ultra suede headliner, aluminum pedals and interior trim, variable gear ratio steering, active rear steering and active stabilizer. The large panorama glass roof adds $1,000 and the panoramic view monitor costs $800. Add in the $1,025 delivery fees and the total comes to $101,685.
Yep, sure cures cabin fever, and this newest LS definitely stands head and shoulders above previous examples. It’s safe as houses with its 10 airbags and has the usual suite of nannies, including pre-collision system with bicycle and pedestrian detection, lane tracing assist, lane departure alert with steering assist, intelligent high beam headlamps and road sign assist. This driver used the blind spot monitoring; everything else was turned off.
Lexus fits an analog tachometer with digital speedometer directly in front of the driver. The gear changer on this car is similar in design to that of the Toyota Prius but certainly more sturdy and elegant. Mounted on the tunnel ahead of the touchpad and next to the hidden dual cup holders, the shifter glides from one operation to the next. The sunroof uses dual controls at the windshield header and is of a good size. The central covered storage has both static and movable trays inside, together with a single 12-volt, 2 USBs and a single auxiliary plug.
Lexus is using the haptic touchpad on the LS500 F Sport for all infotainment controls. It’s rather touchy but synced my phone readily and allowed me to punch in destinations for navigational purposes. While XMSirius radio is available, it hadn’t been activated yet, allowing me to happily use Apple CarPlay for musical pleasures. Lexus’ Enform Suite of apps is at the ready and its service and safety connects are included in the list price for 10 years. Lexus Enform WiFi, remote with smart watch and Alexa Skill integration are also complimentary.
The inside of this car is as rich as its cost. With true keyless entry, pushbutton start, easily adjustable seating, heated and cooled front seats with power for both driver and passenger, this is a delightful place to be while traveling. Rear seat passengers have air flow in the B pillars as well as in the central tunnel. The rear pulldown armrest has a cover that, when open exposes dual USB, rear shade control and the ability to fold headrests, along with wonderful LED reading lamps. All the armrests are of a floating design and truly handsome.
The power trunk has netting and a first-aid kit; it’s a bit shallow in depth but long and Lexus claims the LS500’s trunk holds a total of 16.95 cubic feet of whatever is at the shopping center in its elegant, beautifully finished boot.
Driving the 2019 Lexus LS500 F Sport, I treated it like any other car, cutting and thrusting through brain-dead traffic as I traveled down to San Diego for a day trip to visit friends. I used the steering wheel controls extensively, with the various information entities and phone controls on the left and cruise control, including radar settings and lane departure on the right. While there were three driver and passenger seat settings, there was just me so I never did set them.
Quite frankly, I’m not sure most drivers would feel as entertained as I did with this car, as I carefully maneuvered the LS as though I owned it. A friend said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone really drive one of these before.” That’s most likely true. But as one who enjoys driving and likes my luxury, too, having the 2019 Lexus LS500 F Sport for a week was really a pleasure.
Words and photos by Anne Proffit