The Lexus brand debuted in 1989, making a huge impact on the luxury car market. The original Lexus LS shook the foundations of the flagship sedan segment with a well-executed car and a starting price that undercut many European competitors. Today’s 2015 Lexus LS still competes in the same segment as before, but with more competition.
The current generation of the Lexus LS arrived for the 2007 model year and was heavily updated for 2013. For 2015, Lexus’ flagship sedan continues to be offered in regular and extended wheelbase lengths. A V8 engine powers the Lexus LS 460, while the LS 600h L features a V8 engine and two electric motors. An F Sport package is available on the LS 460 in both wheelbase lengths. All-wheel drive is also available on the LS 460. The LS 600h L is only available in as an extended-wheelbase model.
The most distinguishing part of the Lexus LS is the grille, which dominates the entire front end. It is shaped distinctively to match the rest of the Lexus lineup. Headlamp units integrate LED running lights, while an all LED headlamp cluster is available. LEDs are also included in the taillight cluster.
Standard LS 460 models have a wheelbase of 116.9 inches, while the LS 460 L and LS 600h L have a 121.7-inch wheelbase. With either wheelbase, all four doors open wide for easy entry and exit.
The 2015 Lexus LS offers an interior that combines fine luxury touches with available technology. The instrument binnacle has an electroluminescent display with varying controls around the binnacle, across the dashboard and on the steering wheel. A 12.3-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) screen dominates the upper part of the center stack, with switches for the automatic climate control below it. Lexus also offers a choice of wood finishes, along with an aluminum trim option for the F Sport package.
Perforated leather is standard on the LS 460. Long-wheelbase models offer the availability of reclining rear seats with extended footrests.
The center console and rear center armrest offer individual controls for heated and cooled seats, as well as climate and audio controls.
Trunk space in the LS 460 measures an impressive 18 cubic feet, though wide wheel wells that dig into the far reaches of the trunk. The LS 600h L offers less trunk space at 13 cubic feet. A pass-through at the center armrest of the rear seat allows long items to be loaded.
The LS 460 is equipped with a 4.6-liter V8 engine. This engine puts out 386 horsepower on rear-wheel drive models, and 360 horsepower on the all-wheel drive LS. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, and Eco or Sport drive modes are available for better fuel economy or quicker shifts. The rear-wheel drive LS 460 gets 16/24 mpg city/highway, while all-wheel drive models see slightly lower estimates of 16/23 mpg.
Choose the LS 600h L and you’ll get a 5.0-liter V8 engine and two electric motors that generate a combined 389 horsepower.
All-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are standard with the hybrid LS, which gets an EPA-estimated 19 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.
The LS offers the quiet, smooth and comfortable ride that is expected in a flagship sedan. Transmission shifts are undetectable, and our test LS 460 was relaxed on the highway and around town with a supple ride and smooth handling. On the downside, the LS 460’s steering revealed a large turning radius, and the brakes were on the soft side showing longer stopping distances than normal.
On top of the center stack is a huge 12.3-inch TFT display that is the nerve center for Lexus Enform and a vast array of infotainment options, all of which are accessed by Lexus Remote Touch, which is a mouselike controller on the center console. The system includes USB and auxiliary inputs in the center console, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio and HD Radio.
Lexus Enform also drives smartphone app integration with connected apps like Pandora Internet Radio, iHeartRadio, Open Table and Yelp. Siri Eyes-Free voice recognition can also be used with this system.
A 10-speaker stereo is standard, while a 19-speaker Mark Levinson audio system is available.
The center screen can be split to show navigation as well as audio selections or other vehicle information. Enform also adds Destination Assist, which is a concierge service that allows you to speak with a live agent who will help you locate a destination and send directions wirelessly to the navigation system. Service Connect is another Enform feature that provides vehicle health reports and maintenance alerts. It also lets a dealer contact you when service is needed.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave LS top scores of Good for its performance in moderate overlap front crash tests, as well as tests for the head restraints and seats. When equipped with a forward collision warning system, the LS received a Basic rating for front crash prevention.
The 2015 Lexus LS comes standard with a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors and the Lexus Safety Connect telematics system. The LS offers a host of active safety features, including forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert and automatic high-beam control.
The 2015 Lexus LS 460 has a base price of $72,520. The top-of-the-range LS 600h L starts at $120,440. Many German rivals tend to be more expensive, with starting prices that are at least $15,000 more than the base Lexus LS 460. Newer Korean rivals – the Hyundai Equus and Kia K900 – are priced less than the Lexus.
The 2015 Lexus LS remains a relevant player in a class where luxury, performance, technology and quality are expected at its highest level. It continues to challenge the standard bearers with a combination of the best of everything.