2020 Lexus LS 500 Review: Does The Price Justify This Luxury Cruiser?

Lexus LS 500 Inspiration 7
2020 Lexus LS 500
In Our Opinion:
The 2020 Lexus LS 500 makes a strong case for driving enthusiasts who also want to cruise along in comfort. We did feel a little younger behind the wheel, but our lower backs appreciated all the different power adjustments and massage functions of the seats. Even though we will probably never get used to the touchpad interface Lexus uses, it's still hard to argue with the LS 500.
Exterior Styling
Interior Layout
Driving Dynamics
Safety & Tech Features
Everyday Functionality
Engine Power
Safety Features
Quiet & Composed
Pricing Can Trend High
Touchpad Infotainment System

The 2020 Lexus LS 500 is a real head-turner and we snapped a few necks this week as we drove the luxury model around the streets of Denver. Inside, the LS 500 stretches the limits of the luxury with beautiful wood inlays, cut glass insets, and woven fabric on the door panels. 

Here is how our drive went in the 2020 Lexus LS 500. 

Lexus LS 500: What’s New For 2020?

The Lexus LS 500 remains unchanged for 2020, except for a new Inspiration Series model, limited to 300 units in the United States. 20-inch Vapor Chrome wheels are now available on base grades of the LS 500 and LS 500h. If you were a fan of the Autumn Shimmer exterior paint for the LS 500, it’s unfortunately been discontinued for 2020

Lexus also changed the “Advanced Safety” package to “Safety System+ A.” 

2020 Lexus LS 500 Inspiration Series.
The 2020 Lexus LS 500 Inspiration Series comes exclusively in this Deep Garnet exterior color.  

Standard Features: Comfort & Safety

Our Lexus LS 500 ($78,670) came nicely equipped with 19-inch wheels; an adaptive suspension; LED headlights, taillights and turn signals; hands-free trunk; and power-closing doors. On the inside, we were treated to leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, and power rear sunshades. 

Technology features include a 12.3-inch central display with navigation, on-board Wi-Fi, a trackpad-style interface, Apple CarPlay, and a 12-speaker audio system. Standard on every LS 500 is the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 which includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection; lane departure alert with steering assist; and all-speed adaptive cruise control among others.

Complimentary for the first 10 years of ownership is Lexus Enform Safety Connect. The service includes an Emergency Assistance Button (SOS), roadside assistance, automatic collision notification, and stolen vehicle notification. Drivers have access to the Lexus Enform response center 24/7.

2020 Lexus LS 500 interior layout.
2020 Lexus LS 500 interior layout.

Optional Features: More Comfort, More Safety!

This LS 500 tester came loaded with optional features like Safety System+ A. While kind of a mouthful to say, the package includes helpful driver aids like adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability. Lexus calls this feature “CoDrive” in the Safety System+ A package, but don’t confuse CoDrive for autonomous or self-driving.

The Executive Package adds upscale touches for both front and rear passengers, as well as an assortment of interior trim materials and designs. We especially enjoyed the large panoramic glass roof, Mark Levinson premium audio system, the heated wood- and leather-trimmed steering wheel, and the 24-inch heads-up display.

Finally, our LS 500 came optioned with an air suspension, adaptive LED headlights, and all-wheel drive.

What Does The 2020 Lexus LS 500 Cost?

Total MSRP, including destination, for our tester: $115,375. By comparison, the 2020 Lexus LS 500 starts at $75,450 with rear-wheel drive; $78,670 with all-wheel drive.

It’s easy for the options to add up quickly on an LS 500. However, depending on local incentives and inventory in your area, you may be able to save a little extra to offset some of that cost. This free and easy search tool* will show you which dealers are offering you the best price.  

2020 Lexus LS 500 Inspiration Series interior layout.
2020 Lexus LS 500 Inspiration Series interior layout.

Interior Highlights: Plenty of Luxury

The LS 500, with all the added optional features, is as opulent as we could imagine. For the price tag, the car should bathe you in luxury and it does. Just as you sink into the heated leather seats (with 28-way adjustment!), you realize they can also massage you, a nice feature when you are driving to the club or home from the office. 

Extravagance abounds in the LS cabin, from the beautiful wood inlays, cut glass insets, and quilted seat fabric, to the ambient lighting and woven fabric on the door panels. The door panels feature curved stitching, finished with free-floating handles and armrests. The large central display is beautiful and we think the optional Mark Levinson premium sound system is worth the cost.

We still don’t like the touchpad on the center console and it’s a difficult way to change vehicle settings, switch audio sources, or even do things that should be simple like adjusting the heated seats. Why Lexus continues to use this design is beyond us.

Interior Highlights: Plenty of Room

Rear passengers will enjoy the trip in comfort by lowering the rear shades and reclining in the heated leather seats. The rear seats are perfect for two adults or three kids. We noticed the air suspension raising the car more than an inch, making it easier to get in and out. Total passenger volume is 97.6 cubic feet with the panoramic sunroof, extending slightly to 99.4 cubic feet without the roof.

The trunk offers a generous amount of space, and is big enough for a set of golf clubs or six carry-on suitcases.  

2020 Lexus LS 500 rear seat layout.
2020 Lexus LS 500 rear seat layout.

What Engine Does The 2020 Lexus LS 500 Have?

The LS 500 is powered by a twin-turbo V6 producing 416 horsepower and 442 lb-ft. of torque. It comes mated to a 10-speed automatic with steering wheel paddle shifters.

Is The 2020 Lexus LS 500 All-Wheel Drive?

The LS 500 is standard with rear-wheel drive, or can be had with all-wheel drive like our tester.

What Is The Gas Mileage?

EPA fuel mileage estimates are 18/27 city/highway and 21 combined with all-wheel drive. Whereas the rear-wheel drive models get 19/30 city/highway and 23 combined, we still think all-wheel drive is worth it. Fuel tank capacity is 21.7 gallons and Lexus recommends premium fuel.  

2020 Lexus LS 500 on the open road.
2020 Lexus LS 500 on the open road.

Driving Dynamics: Get Ready To Fly!

From the outside, the LS 500 looks like a big lumbering sedan. From behind the wheel, however, it feels smaller than it looks. We pushed the pedal down and the 416-horsepower V6 came to life, sounding more like a V8 with its twin turbos. It pushed us back in the seat, and we didn’t let up until we were well past the speed limit.

The engine’s robust torque kept us entertained, and never left us wanting for more as we again pushed hard on the high-altitude roads west of Denver. The 10-speed automatic is smooth and shifts are imperceptible. While the turbo engine and sequential gearbox work well together, so do the chassis and suspension. As we tossed the LS 500 around tight mountain corners, we experienced very little body lean.  

Driving Dynamics: Slow Ride & Taking It Easy

When we backed off the throttle (and we did believe it or not!) the engine was quiet. We hardly knew it was there when cruising. Lexus uses both Active Sound Control and Active Noise Cancellation to minimize cabin noise in the LS 500 and it makes a difference. It was easy to chat with our passengers this week as we cruised through Denver. If you want a more cushy ride, the optional air suspension is buttery-smooth.

When it was just us, we cranked up the Mark Levinson 23-speaker premium system and couldn’t care less about anything else. By that point, we were just glad to be heading home after a long day.  

Conclusion: Sizable Helpings

Overall, the 2020 Lexus LS 500 is a comfortable and enjoyable place to spend time. The air suspension and luxurious interior are made to pamper drivers and passengers alike. Being a Lexus, the LS 500 promises extra comfort, plenty of storage space, lots of luxury, the latest safety equipment and, in this case, a sizable of helping of performance.

Just remember, it does get pricey when you add all the available options. 

Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy

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