If you’re looking for a vehicle that’s equally comfortable to drive and to be driven in, look no further than the Lexus LS 500. Fully loaded with the Executive Package, riding in this full-size sedan is like flying First Class but on the road. The 2023 LS 500 offers a smooth and quiet ride and surrounds its passengers in luxury and comfort. The car has sophisticated styling from every angle, starting with its hourglass-shaped mesh grille, flanked by triple LED headlights with arrow-like accent lights leading your eyes inward toward the iconic “L” logo. Even if you’re not a fan of the Lexus spindle design, it looks pretty darned sharp here.
19″ alloy wheels come standard on the LS 500, but my review vehicle came with the 20″ split spoke rims. These are the best-looking of the available wheels, with ten windmill-like spokes and gloss black accents. Lexus says the wheels are designed to reduce noise, though I always thought tires were the main cause of road noise. Wheel designs might contribute to wind noise, but I’m not sure. Regardless, there’s ample insulation between the sheet metal and the car’s cabin, so it’s whisper quiet inside.
Driven by a 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 engine with 416 horsepower and 442 lb-ft. of torque, the 5000-pound sedan launches from 0 to 60 mph in about 4.6 seconds. Power heads to the rear wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available for about a $3000 premium. The transmission shifts smoothly and predictably, but I did encounter just a fraction of a second of lag between when I pushed my foot down and when the car accelerated. The adaptive variable air suspension offers a supremely cushioned ride in Comfort mode, while Sport+ mode provides the stiffest handling profile. That drive mode is the most engaging, shifting closer to the redline and adding some weight to the steering. It also pipes in an enhanced exhaust note through the speakers, but it sounds a bit artificial for my liking.
The LS 500 includes an extensive suite of safety features, including radar and camera-based pre-collision support with pedestrian detection, lane tracing assist to help keep you centered on the road, and intelligent high beams that automatically switch to low beams when they detect an oncoming vehicle. The optional Lexus Safety System+ A package adds a lane change assist feature that helps with highway lane changes by controlling steering, acceleration, and deceleration when the driver initiates a turn with the signal. The upgrade package also improves the pre-collision system by adding steering assistance. It displays pedestrian alert info on the head-up display, adds front cross-traffic alert, and road sign assist, which combines map and camera data to show the current speed limit.
The interior of the LS 500 is elegant and distinctive. Throughout the cabin, you’ll find exquisite design touches like laser-cut black wood trim with an intricate metal pattern and quilted leather that echoes the curved theme. The 23-speaker Mark Levinson Reference audio system is stellar – with studio-quality sound, excellent dynamic range, and an enveloping soundstage when its 3D surround mode is enabled. Plus, it’s got some of the coolest-looking metal speaker grills.
Since I first saw the redesign in 2017, I’ve loved the undulating curves across the dashboard. However, the newer 12.3″ touchscreen doesn’t integrate as nicely as the 2018 to 2020 models, breaking up the otherwise sleek aesthetic of the dash. On the plus side, the new display is now running Lexus Interface, a much-improved system for interacting with media, climate, navigation, and vehicle settings. Developed in-house for Toyota and Lexus, the system is quick, intuitive, and has cloud-based navigation. It supports wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, too. My car also had a digital rearview mirror and a 24″ color head-up display. While I usually like the improved visibility that digital mirrors offer, this one seemed dimmer and had more glare than others I’ve used, rendering it hard to see on sunny days.
The Executive Package includes semi-aniline leather surfaces on the seats, doors, and armrests, along with rich ultrasuede on the headliner and even on the sun visors. The driver’s and front passenger’s seats provide 28 ways to fine-tune their position and include heat, cooling, and massage functions to help soothe sore muscles. A panoramic glass roof adds to the lightness of the primarily white cabin.
If you choose to sit in the back and have someone else chauffeur you around, it’s a treat. The rear seats surround passengers in comfort with 22-way power adjustability, heat, cooling, and massage. The passenger in the right rear seat enjoys even more comfort with the ability to fold the front passenger seat out of the way so they can fully recline. There’s even an ottoman that extends from the seat for maximum relaxation.
You also get power sun shades for the right rear, left rear, and center rear windows and independent climate control. Back-seat passengers can also control the car’s audio system. These features can be adjusted on a touchscreen built into the large center armrest.
Equipped with the Executive Package, the Lexus LS 500 offers a calming and comfortable environment whether you’re in the front or the back row of seats. Whether stuck in traffic on the way to the airport or taking an extended road trip, it’s a delightful and decadent place to be. Sedans might not be getting a lot of love these days, but the LS 500 deserves a look if you’ve got the budget to afford it. With a base price of $76,385 for the RWD model, the 2023 LS 500 is designed for a discerning and well-funded buyer. With the addition of the Executive Package, premium audio system, panoramic roof, and other upgrades, the car I tested had a sticker price of $108,385, including delivery, processing, and handling fees.