2020 Lexus LS500 has big luxury, big looks, big performance

Already equipped with one of the most technologically advanced safety systems in the industry, the 2020 LS also features the Lexus Safety System 2.0 as standard equipment. LSS+ 2.0 features daytime bicyclist detection and low-light pedestrian detection along with Road Sign Assist (RSA) and Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) to further expand the scenarios in which the LS is designed to help provide additional safety to the driver and passengers. Metro News Service photo
Already equipped with one of the most technologically advanced safety systems in the industry, the 2020 LS also features the Lexus Safety System 2.0 as standard equipment. LSS+ 2.0 features daytime bicyclist detection and low-light pedestrian detection along with Road Sign Assist (RSA) and Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) to further expand the scenarios in which the LS is designed to help provide additional safety to the driver and passengers. Metro News Service photo

Credit: Metro Creative News Service

Credit: Metro Creative News Service

Jimmy Dinsmore
Jimmy Dinsmore

Go big or go home! That’s a good mantra to follow, in general. And it certainly rings true for my tester this week. The 2020 Lexus LS500 is a super luxury car with a lot of boldness. Some critics find it too garish and also find the grille to be too dominating. As you would expect from my opening sentence, I like it. Way to go, Lexus!

Let’s not forget it wasn’t that long ago that Lexus was deemed too dull and conservative. So now that they go big on their styling, they’re criticized for that. Hey, you can’t please everyone, I suppose.

As I mentioned, the LS500′s looks are kind of love or hate. There’s nothing changed for the 2020 model year. I remember liking the looks of the 2019 model I drove; nothing has swayed my opinion after my week with the LS500. I’m a fan of that big, fanned-out grille. It looks aggressive and is certainly distinctive. I also love the taillights with their eye-catching shape. It makes the back end of this car pop, which it needed as the side and back styling is uninspiring.

What’s a super luxury car without super performance? The LS500 delivers that thanks to a 3.5-liter twin turbo V6. It cranks out 416 horses. Although it’s refined as you’d expect a Lexus to be, it still has a wild side off the line and through the middle RPMs. The 10-speed automatic transmission is outstanding, and as indicated, there’s no turbo lag. The middle range is where the LS500 finds its sweet spot.

My tester even had all-wheel drive, which helped it hold the ground and take the turns, along with ultra-smooth steering. The lack of a growl from this engine would’ve added to the goosebumps but I also expect a Lexus to be quiet and refined.

And inside, it certainly is both. In fact, this car earns its luxury label in spades with over-the-top styling that some deemed as too much or too garish. I found it to be quite attractive. Looking at all the features, niceties and great touch points, I could see the money all around. Considering the LS500′s considerable price tag, that’s a good thing.

The leather seating is plush and comfortable. The expansive moonroof adds to the swanky vibe of this car. The 12.3-inch display still features Lexus’ Remote Touchpad controller which can be confounding. The infotainment system and lack of intuitiveness are really the only detractor from this otherwise pristine interior.

My tester was the LS500 with the F-Sport package which features more aggressive exterior styling (yes, even more aggressive) along with 20-inch alloy wheels and performance-oriented features like an adjustable suspension and four-piston rear brake calipers. Additionally, the F-Sport package brings perforated leather-trimmed seats, a heated steering wheel and aluminum pedals. Decked out in this trim, the LS500 really looks the part of super luxury car.

MSRP of this car with the F-Sport is $84,670. With a few more options including a Mark Levinson Audio System and the aforementioned panoramic moonroof, my tester carried a final price of $90,450. That’s a super big price for a super luxury car.

EPA rating is 18 mpg/city and 27 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of heavy-footed driving, I averaged 20 mpg.

Consider this review an open letter to Lexus: Keep taking chances. Keep being bold. It may turn off some people, but others, like me, will have an appreciation for certainly shaking off that ho hum persona you used to have. Go big, baby!

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist.

2020 LEXUS LS500

  • Price/As-tested price................................................ $84,670/$90,450
  • Mileage.......................................... 18 mpg/city; 27 mpg/hwy
  • Engine............................................. 3.5-liter twin turbo V6
  • Horsepower................................. 418hp/442 lbs.-ft.
  • Transmission................................. 10-speed automatic transmission
  • Drive wheels................ All-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point................ Tahara, Japan

Already equipped with one of the most technologically advanced safety systems in the industry, the 2020 LS also features the Lexus Safety System 2.0 as standard equipment. LSS+ 2.0 features daytime bicyclist detection and low-light pedestrian detection along with Road Sign Assist (RSA) and Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) to further expand the scenarios in which the LS is designed to help provide additional safety to the driver and passengers. Metro News Service photo