The debut of the original LS 400 more than 30 years ago instantly made the Lexus name synonymous with automotive luxury and three decades later the LS continues as the flagship of the Japanese luxury brand in the U.S.
For the 2021 model year, the LS 500 and LS 500h have carried on the commitment to continuous innovation that has been one of the brand’s hallmarks throughout the years as well craftsmanship and a philosophy that works to anticipate the desires of both the driver and passengers, according to Lexus representatives.
“The LS, as a flagship, has constantly pursued innovation and has provided new technologies and value for its customers,” said Lexus International President Koji Sato. “In developing the new LS, we furthered the evolution of the exceptional quietness and comfort that has been a steadfast constant since the model’s first generation.”
The key refinements for the new model year include changes to the suspension and chassis to deliver a smoother, more comfortable ride without sacrificing any of the car’s dynamic character. The changes to the suspension feature revised spring and damper rates for improved damping performance and tighter control over body roll in turns. New front and rear liquid-filled bushings also aid in creating an even plusher ride.
An Adaptive Variable Suspension, employing revised linear solenoids and control valves designed to provide low damping force, also helps with handling. The LS’s available ride-height-adjustable air suspension function also bolsters the vehicle’s stability.
The LS 500 is powered by a 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V6 engine developing 416 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. The 10-speed automatic transmission also receives attention, as its shift logic is re-calibrated for the new model. The big sedan delivers a 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds. In addition, driver can tailor powertrain response and feel by choosing from six different modes, including Eco, Comfort, Normal, Custom, Sport S or Sport S+ modes.
The 2021 LS 500h uses a Multistage Hybrid System that combines a naturally aspirated Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine with two electric motor/generators powered by a compact, lightweight lithium-ion battery. For 2021, the hybrid system will use a new strategy to control the battery and drive more power through the electric motors upon acceleration.
The software has also been updated to take advantage of this electric power appearing earlier in the powerband. Combined system output of the internal combustion engine with the electric traction system is 354 hp, enabling the LS 500h to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds, according to Lexus engineers.
An all-wheel-drive system also is available for the 2021 model year, which features a Torsen limited-slip center differential to further enhance grip, traction and cornering stability. Torque distribution can vary from 31% front/69% rear on dry roads to as much as 48% front/52% rear on slick surfaces.
Several small but significant improvements were made to the interior in the interest of elevating passenger comfort by adding foam material to the armrests, seat cushions, center console armrest and other touch points.
The front seats have also been altered with revised seat springs and thicker cushioning material under the seat surface that offers stitching patterns designed to enhance comfort. In addition, the LS can incorporate an optional 24-inch color head-up display that projects a variety of information into the driver’s forward view.
Controls on the steering wheel and center console have been uniformly colored black for improved visibility and a clear-cut impression.
The 2021 Lexus LS 500 arrives at dealerships later this month, with a starting MSRP of $76,000. LS 500h models are expected to arrive at dealerships in early 2021 when pricing will be released.