The 2021 Lexus LS starts at $104,000 in Canada and at $76,000 in the United States, freight and delivery charges excluded.
Great cabin comfort, impressive sound insulation, powerful and smooth twin-turbo V6.
Uninteresting and costly hybrid variant, declining reliability record, infotainment system still complex to use.
When we’re shopping for a large luxury sedan, we’ll immediately think of those sold by the German brands, but one shouldn’t forget the 2021 Lexus LS.
Very few of them are seen on our roads, so it’s easy to overlook it. Yet, this car is of great importance in the history of the automobile, as in the late ‘80s, Toyota launched its new luxury brand Lexus in the United States, and in Canada soon thereafter, with its very first model, the Lexus LS 400.
If the luxury-car market improved over the past 30 years, whether it’s the quality of the product itself or the purchase and ownership experience, it’s partly because Lexus pushed the boundaries regarding consumer expectations with posh and affordable cars that also happened to be bulletproof reliable. The 2021 Lexus LS no longer seeks to shake up the market, being happy to uneventfully pursue its career in its segment. Which doesn’t prevent it from standing out in certain areas.
Two variants of this car are offered, and if the previous generation had two available wheelbase lengths to imitate the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the Audi A8, the BMW 7 Series and the Porsche Panamera, the brand is now concentrating a single wheelbase – as is the case for the Genesis G90 and the Maserati Quattroporte. Here, we find the LS 500 and the hybrid-powered LS 500h.
The LS 500 is equipped with a twin-turbocharged, 3.5L V6 that develops 416 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque, mixed with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, while AWD is optional, but standard in Canada. As for the LS 500h, it gets a complex hybrid system consisting of a naturally aspirated 3.5L V6 and two electric motors for a combined output of 354 horsepower.
An air suspension is available, which contributes to the 2021 Lexus LS’s creamy and relaxing ride, This year, the brand tweaked the suspension to improve ride quality, as if it was possible, but also to enhance driving dynamics. It has succeeded.
The streamlined bodywork has a low roof, so we sit low in the LS, a little like in a sports car. Space isn’t lacking, though, and out LS 500 was equipped with the optional Executive Package that adds 22-way power-adjustable and massaging rear seats, along with a slew of comfort and convenience items. Perfect for being chauffeured to work or to the country club, for those who like to feel important.
As standard, the LS includes a lavishly finished cockpit with wood trim and solid-feeling switchgear. For the 2021 model year, Lexus added extra padding in certain touch points like the seats and the armrests, for example. Several interior color and texture schemes are offered, varying from the F Sport 1 package with its two-tone leather or the genuine Kiriko glass décor with hand-crafted pleated fabric in the door panels.
The 2021 Lexus LS starts out at a competitive $104,000 in Canada and at $76,000 in the U.S., freight and delivery charges notwithstanding. The price rises to $133,900 in the case of the LS 500h in Canada, as it bundles the rear-seat Executive Package that’s otherwise a $26K CAD or $17K USD option in the regular LS 500.
Why You Should Buy a 2021 Lexus LS
- It’s different. Yes, that may not seem very convincing, but the LS’s cabin ambience is warm and inviting, and it’s a somewhat different approach in textures and colours that what’s found in the competition.
- The LS’s ride is smooth, quiet, refined and relaxing. Whether we’re sitting up front or in back.
- The twin-turbo 3.5L V6 is muscular, but its power delivery is buttery smooth. In addition, its combined city/highway fuel consumption rating of 28 mpg or 11.1 L/100 km leads the segment in regards to non-hybrid powertrains. We averaged 19 mpg or 12.2 L/100 km during our test, which consisted mainly of urban driving.
- The rear-seat area in the Executive Package is awesome. With reclining and massaging seats, and a power-folding ottoman on the right side of the cockpit, there’s definitely an opportunity for a nap here while someone shuttles us to our destination. The package’s price is steep, though.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy a 2021 Lexus LS
- The LS 500h is tops among hybrid/plug-in hybrid full-size luxury sedans in regards to fuel consumption. However, the powertrain itself is complex, but mostly, doesn’t deliver an engaging driving experience. In Short, we prefer the LS 500’s twin-turbo V6.
- Although a 12.3-inch touchscreen was added for the 2021 model year, the LS’ Remote Touch infotainment system is still difficult and distracting to use, with its console-mounted touchpad.
- There’s no high-performance variant of the 2021 Lexus LS, if that’s what we’re looking for. The F Sport package adds a sportier appearance, which is nice, but no true performance or handling upgrades.
- The Lexus LS’ reliability reputation it carried for decades has diminished with the arrival of this latest generation. Consumer Reports actually gives the sedan a rating a 1 out of 5, citing powertrain, mechanical component and in-car electronics issues reported by owners.
The 2021 Lexus LS is a truly luxurious, quiet and smooth-riding sedan. Those qualities are enough to justify its purchase, especially for those who are sick of seeing how many German-branded luxury cars on the road. We don’t know who’ll actually go for the Executive Package (the Chinese market loves these), but otherwise, the LS offers a relaxing driving experience.
On the other hand, aside from unique interior trim and textures, there’s nothing here to excite buyers’ senses. The lack of a performance variant prevents the car from showing any form of character, and the brand’s tour de force—bulletproof reliability and strong resale value—can’t be flaunted in this case.