- Strong, silent performance
- Good-looking front end
- Limousine-like rear seat (L models)
- F Sport doesn't live up to its sport-tuned appearance
- Fuel efficiency isn't as good as the Hybrid teases
- Hybrid gives up a lot of trunk space
The 2016 Lexus LS sedans are the flagships of the Lexus lineup, and they're at their best as comfortable, quiet luxury cruisers.
The Lexus LS family has one of the best reputations among luxury cars; it's hard to name a single area in which these big, spacious sedans don't delight those who want top-tier comfort and technology. And for that matter, they have a hard-earned reputation for stellar reliability and longevity, and are the fiscally smart picks over their often more rapidly depreciating German competitors.
Smooth ride quality and a serene, limo-like ultra-luxury interior remain the priorities for the Lexus LS, with driving dynamics more muted than in most other large luxury sedans, even with the addition of the F Sport, the model in the lineup that claims a somewhat sharper driving experience and a sportier look.
The "pièce de résistance" is the LS 600h L, as it eschews the V-12 or twin-turbo V-8s of other luxury sedans in favor of a gas and electric pair that delivers a net of 438 horsepower and 20 mpg combined. Were it more composed and less jittery in ride, and more direct in its steering, it'd be worth considering despite its huge price tag of more than $100,000.
The LS 460, the extended-wheelbase LS 460 L, and their respective all-wheel-drive counterparts are all the best picks of the lineup. There you get brisk acceleration from the 386-hp V-8, plus an 8-speed automatic transmission that has almost imperceptible shifts. Zero to 60 mph runs take as few as 5.4 seconds. Steering and handling are no strength; a real hustle through a canyon road will take longer and be less enjoyable than in nearly any of its rivals, as its plush ride and bounding motions don't show any zeal for the corners.
The LS 460 F Sport is the sporty model of the lineup, offering a sport-tuned air suspension, variable-ratio steering, Brembo brakes, and special 19-inch forged wheels with summer tires. Altogether it changes the feel of the car, but not so much as to make the Lexus LS a pick over models like the Infiniti Q70 or Jaguar XJ. All LS sedans offer some measure of driver-adjustable attitude; the base car's Eco, Normal, and Sport modes are augmented on air-suspension cars with a Sport+ and Comfort modes that subdivide its personality into more discrete, still obviously comfort-oriented tuning.
Comfort really is the headlining act for the LS sedans. Ride quality is phenomenally good from a comfort perspective, and seats are great—with the front seats (revamped over those offered a few years back) now offering great support and a wide range of adjustment. F Sport models offer more bolstering, which can make them a better pick for the longest road trips. The extended-wheelbase LS 460 L and LS 600h are about 5 inches longer than the standard-length LS 460, and most of that stretch goes to rear leg room. But even short-wheelbase models come with enough space for taller, lankier passengers, though, and well contoured backseats. Finally, you get a large trunk that can fit multiple large suitcases or golf bags.
Long-wheelbase versions feature a standout ottoman-style seating option with built-in massage for both backseat positions, and in top-of-the-line models you get power adjustability. There's also an Executive Class Seating Package to bring it up to a higher standard. Trims are a bit conservative next to those in the latest S-Class and 7-Series, but they remain impressive. The top-notch aniline leather is supple and delicate compared to what you get in other Lexus models.
The 2016 Lexus LS 460 and LS 600h L hybrid offer the very best of parent company Toyota's fits and finishes. Major options also include climate-controlled, massaging rear seats; a Blu-ray entertainment system; and the ottoman-style backseat, fold-down wooden trays, and rear cooler box.
A navigation system is now standard in the LS 460, as are heated and cooled front seats. Lexus' Remote Touch, a mouse-style controller that we're still not crazy about—although Lexus has now added "Enter" and "Back" buttons—drives the infotainment functions, while Entune links the audio system to your smartphone for mobile-app usage, including audio streaming and Facebook updating. A Mark Levinson entertainment system is available on the LS 460 and standard on the LS 600h L, offering 19 speakers, 19 audio channels, 450 watts of power, and 8GB of hard-drive space for music.
For 2016, the navigation system can go full-screen, and multimedia capabilities have been expanded. Also, LS 460 models can be equipped with run-flat summer tires. And new Lexus Enform Service Connect can help you be more in touch with vehicle maintenance and service needs specific to your car, through an iOS app and dedicated website.
In base form, the Lexus LS 460 with rear-wheel drive is rated by the EPA at 16 mpg city, 24 highway, 19 combined. For standard- or long-wheelbase editions it's the same. The long-wheelbase, hybrid version is rated at 19/23/20 mpg.