2020 Lexus LS

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2020
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2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
November 23, 2019

Buying tip

The LS 500h is remarkably thrifty for a big four-door, and its quiet powertrain suits this sedan well.

The 2020 Lexus LS is a throwback cruiser with edgy, space-age looks, though the hybrid version is unbeatable as a road-tripper.

The bold styling of the 2020 Lexus LS four-door sedan is coupled with a high-tech interior that seems at odds with a springy ride.

This is a flagship sedan for another market. Lexus aims the LS at Chinese buyers who value spacious back seats and pampered rides. Those values aren’t entirely forgotten here in the States, though an upcoming high-end, ultra-luxury SUV headed to Lexus showrooms soon shows where we’re headed here. 

The big LS is worth a look, though, and we rate it at 7.0 out of 10 points. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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This year, Lexus adds the Inspiration series, dials back on available exterior colors, and makes a white interior available with the F Sport package.

Don’t look for a V-8 under the LS sedan’s hood. The LS 500 uses a twin-turbo V-6 rated at 416 horsepower that sends power quickly to the rear or all four wheels through a sophisticated 10-speed automatic transmission. This engine is silky and delivers rapid acceleration, though we don’t especially like the fake engine noises in the F Sport model. 

Our choice here may very well be the LS 500h. The hybrid has dual electric motors and a 44-kwh lithium-ion battery pack that work with a 3.5-liter V-6. At 354 horsepower, the LS 500h is no slouch, either, and its green demeanor suits the soft-riding LS.

This car is more about comfort than performance, especially inside. Good room up front is amplified by a palatial rear seat that can be had with 22-way power adjustment, an ottoman, and even its own touchscreen controller. Various wood, metal, and glass surfaces are available to make the LS feel even more opulent. Too bad the standard 12.3-inch display is paired with a clunky controller and software that can be tough to navigate. Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility help, and the LS also has Amazon Alexa integration. (“Alexa, tell Lexus to make a better infotainment system!”)

The LS is loaded with safety and driver assistance features. Its standard fare can be augmented by a system that will steer the big sedan out of objects in its path at lower speeds. 

All this and the LS is a relatively low-guilt sedan, at least in hybrid guise. Combined fuel-economy figures in the upper-20-mpg range justify the choice for a full-size sedan hybrid. 


7

2020 Lexus LS

Styling

A few years on, the 2020 Lexus LS remains a daring sedan with an intricate interior.

The 2020 Lexus LS doesn’t scream about its design the way other cars in the Lexus lineup do. Sure, the sharp triangles of its headlights fight for space with the huge spindle grille up front, but its overall style is subdued, elegant, and more pleasing to the eye. And we haven’t even gotten inside yet.

We rate the the 2020 LS at 7 out of 10 due to its divine interior.

The LS looks best in standard guise. The F Sport package tarts it up with bigger wheels and deeper intakes that don’t do much to move its design forward. New for 2020, the Inspiration series adds 20-inch wheels, a maroon coat called Deep Garnett, and hand-cut glass trim designs called Kiriko. 

Standard cars are also best inside. Real wood and leather do battle with high-grade metal and even cut glass trim. Plan to spend some time sorting through the available interior hues if a 2020 LS is on your shopping list. We’d have a hard time picking between bamboo and glass, but no matter what you can tailor the LS to your liking. 

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7

2020 Lexus LS

Performance

The standard twin-turbo V-6 in the Lexus LS provides ample thrust not matched by the chassis.

The 2020 Lexus LS has plenty of power in every configuration, but it would rather waft along with cruise control engaged as it swallows big bumps in stride. We rate the sedan at 7 out of 10, giving it points above average for its plush (perhaps too much so for some tastes) ride and its strong acceleration. 

The base LS 500 makes use of a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 that keeps pace with European rivals thanks to 416 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque sent either rearward or to all four corners via a 10-speed automatic transmission. 

The powertrain delivers good acceleration (0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds) accompanied by little noise, except in F Sport guise. That package pipes synthetic engine noise into the cabin, disturbing the demeanor of the sedate sedan.

Opt for the LS 500h and Lexus uses a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 teamed with a 44-kwh lithium-ion battery, two electric motors, and an automatic four-speed transmission that operates when the gas engine kicks on at higher speeds.

The hybrid powertrain delivers a combined 354 hp, good enough for a 0-60 sprint of around 5 seconds. That’s plenty fast for our tastes, and this low-guilt engine is rated at an impressive 33 mpg on the highway. 

The standard coil-sprung suspension can be replaced with an adjustable air setup, but no version rides with the firm, planted feel of German rivals. The LS is back in soft territory, which may be just fine given Lexus builds sporty sedans with more manageable dimensions. Steering feel is so-so at best, though the small-diameter wheel, trim turning ratio, and rear-wheel steering system make the big sedan feel much more compact at low parking lot speeds.

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10

2020 Lexus LS

Comfort & Quality

Few big cars have as much space, as many features, or as many delicate delights as the 2020 Lexus LS.

From a luxury perspective, the 2020 Lexus LS is hard to beat, especially for its price. It’s the finest Lexus ever built, and that’s saying something given the brand has reached for the stars and grabbed them for 30 years now. 

We rate the LS at 10 out of 10 for its comfort.

The car comes in just one wheelbase length, which is intended to maximize rear-seat space, so let’s start there. Back-seat riders have wide doors to open (or to have opened for them), and they’ll find excellent leg and head room. The real gem of the lineup is the Executive package that adds individual rear-seat climate controls, 22-way power-adjustable seats that can heat, cool, recline, and massage, an ottoman for the right-side passenger, a touchscreen to control audio and climate functions, and more. 

The 2020 LS is the first sedan since the Mercedes-Maybach we’d buy for its back seat, not its front. 

Though up front the LS is no less plush. Its standard seats can be adjusted in 28 directions and offer heating, cooling, and massaging. 

Cargo is about 17 cubic feet of space in the standard car and 15.2 cubes in the hybrid due to its battery placement behind the rear seat. Small storage items abound inside, all of them ensconced in panels made from sumptuous materials and adorned with trim worthy of a museum.

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2020 Lexus LS

Safety

The 2020 Lexus LS will do its best to avoid a collision, though no crash scores are available.

Don’t look for the 2020 Lexus LS to be crashed any time soon as the IIHS and the NHTSA generally reserve their resources for cars that sell better.

Until it’s rated by either the feds or the insurance industry, we’ll abstain from assigning a score here.

The LS comes with the collision-avoidance tech we’d expect from a car with this kind of price tag. Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, high-beam assist, road sign detection is standard equipment. 

An optional Advanced Safety package can steer the car around obstacles automatically at low speeds and is worth considering if you live in an urban environment.

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7

2020 Lexus LS

Features

The 2020 Lexus LS comes well equipped and is priced well, though it doesn’t offer the same degree of customizability as some rivals.

The 2020 Lexus LS can be had in a few configurations, though it lacks the astounding personalization potential of some German competitors. The main criticism of the LS is the infotainment system: it is a chore to operate even with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Features we expect to see at this price point are included: power-adjustable seats wrapped in leather, a 12-speaker sound system with Bluetooth and USB inputs, a moonroof, and navigation displayed on a 12.3-inch screen. Accordingly, we rate the 2020 LS at 7 out of 10 for its features.

Base sedans start at around $76,500, while all-wheel drive adds a hair over $3,000. The hybrid comes with either rear- or all-wheel drive and stickers for about $4,500 more than the base car.

Options we’d suggest include the 2,400-watt Mark Levinson audio system—it’s among the best available at any price—and perhaps the Executive package with its 22-way rear seats. 

Realistically, you may spend about as much time working your way through the available trim combinations to pick between various wood and glass interior trims. Though Lexus doesn’t allow as much mixing and matching as some competitors, there are still a lot of choices. Most fancier interior hues require a $3,700 interior upgrade package that includes softer leather trim and a synthetic suede headliner. 

The LS is one Lexus where we’d skip the optional F Sport package. Its stiffer suspension, sportier wheels, and revised styling don’t help this big four-door’s plush personality.

Given these nice features, it’s a shame that the LS is saddled with a tricky infotainment system. Its problems are two-fold: a clunky controller and a lousy interface don’t give us much hope. Using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto helps, but the controller still handles most functions. 

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4

2020 Lexus LS

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Lexus LS 500h hybrid is fairly frugal.

The 2020 Lexus LS is among the more efficient big luxury sedans, though its heft and power mean it’s not exactly a Prius with leather.

Its fuel economy is good enough to score 4 out of 10 on our scale, and hybrids would earn an extra point if rated separately.

The greenest of LS sedans is the rear-drive LS 500h, which is rated at 25 mpg city, 33 highway, 28 combined, according to the EPA. Opt for all-wheel drive and those figures slide to 23/31/26 mpg. Still impressive.

The LS 500 checks in with 19/30/23 mpg in rear-drive form and 18/27/21 mpg with all-wheel drive, so choose wisely if you don’t really need an all-wheel-drive sedan.

All versions of the 2020 LS run on premium unleaded. 

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7.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 10
Safety N/A
Features 7
Fuel Economy 4
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2020 Lexus LS Pricing Insights

  • 2019 Lexus LS in stock; 2020s arriving
  • Cash: Up to $7,500 cash on 2019s
  • Financing: 0.0% APR for 60 months on 2019s
  • Lease: $699 per month for 36 months
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