Review and Test Drive: 2018 Lexus LS 500h

By Jonathan Spira on 25 September 2018
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When Lexus’ flagship sedan, the LS, made its debut in 1989, it marked the first successful volley of a Japanese automaker into the luxury space. Its very existence was headline worthy and it overtook BMW and Mercedes-Benz in overall U.S. sales within two years, although it took a little over a decade to beat Cadillac at its own game. Lexus’ success also reshaped the image auto buyers had of Toyota, from a purveyor of econoboxes to a serious manufacturer of quality vehicles. (For that matter, Lexus effectively begat the luxury offshoots of two other Japanese carmakers, Honda’s Acura and Nissan’s Infiniti, but that is beyond the scope of this review.)

Fast forward to 2018. The LS is about to embark on its third decade and is well-positioned to do so. Now in its fifth generation, the current LS made its debut at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The LS 500h features the same Multi Stage Hybrid System that made its first appearance in the Lexus LC coupe and it’s an imposing, powerful, and exceptionally good looking sedan. Compared to the outgoing model, it’s a significant upgrade in comfort and handling and its predecessor was no slouch. Unlike most cars of its size, it’s relatively lean, mean, and low slung with a somewhat sporty appearance that’s not so sporty that it would be a turn-off to some luxury car buyers.


Its good looks are part of the efforts of Akio Toyoda, the fast-driving grandson of the founder, and current president of Toyota who was frustrated with the idea that Americans found the brand “boring,” to inspire passion and emotion and disassociate itself from that word. The LC coupe was the first outcome of the no-boring-car policy and it seems to be working out quite well.

Lexus further explains that it applied the principals of Omotenashi – the ancient Japanese philosophy of hospitality – to the LS. Omotenashi is said to anticipate and fulfill people’s needs and these are two areas where the LS excels.


Once inside the vehicle, stop and admire the semi-aniline leather, the sumptuous seating, the detailed metal trim accenting the dash.

Click here to continue to Page 2Driving the 2018 Lexus LS 500h

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