2020 Lexus LS 500: Rolls-Royce on a budget?

By Dennis Bindarau, Vera Sauchanka

In 2016 we did a review of the previous LS 460 generation and didn’t find it particularly impressive. In 2017, Lexus made significant changes and introduced Lexus LS 500, so we thought now is the best time to give it another chance and find out if it would stand up to our high expectations.

Model Fact Check

LS is an abbreviation for Luxury Sedan, and it’s been proudly wearing the Lexus flagship title for decades. The development of the lineup first started in 1989, as part of Toyota’s F1 project, where “F” stands for “Flagship” and “1” stands for “No. 1.”

Lexus presented the current LS generation at the North American International Auto Show in January 2017. Some of the most significant differences from previous lineups include the GA-L platform, which you can see in only one other Lexus vehicle – high-performance coupe LC 500. Additionally, the new generation got powered by a V6 twin-turbo engine.

Since the LS 460 did not quite impress us, our primary goal with this year’s review was to do another thorough road test and find out if the 2020 Lexus LS 500 can indeed stand up to our high expectations. Shall we?



The new LS 500 boasts luxury and functionality, especially when it comes to the interior bits. MSRP starts from $75,450 and our test package with every single option clocks almost $40,000 more to $108,490.  

You can choose from nine different exterior colors, mostly white, gray, and black, plus red and blue. What’s more exciting is that you’ve also got ten more interior colors to choose from. Our test car came in Manganese Luster color with a white leather interior.

At first glance, it does not strike you as a “massive” full-size sedan. Only when you park, you realize the LS 500 has a 206-inch length and it will need a full-size parking spot, or even two if we measure it by city standards.


A luxury car is best judged by its rear executive seats, so this is where we started. In our test package, all the seat upgrades added up another $17,000 to the price tag. Both front and rear seats boast multifunction massage that closely replicates the traditional Japanese shiatsu technique.

You’ve got full control of everything right at your fingertips using the 7-inch armrest touchscreen. The menu may get confusing at first, but after a few times, you’ll get used to it. 

Pick your favorite seat position and massage type using the 7-inch armrest touchscreen. / Photo courtesy of Dennis Bindarau, LiveFEED

You can adjust the seats in any way you can only imagine. To be precise, 28 ways upfront, and 18 ways at the back. If you don’t feel like flying, the rear executive seat quite literally has got your back – just put on your headphones, turn on some meditation, and you wouldn’t even notice a 3-4 hour road trip to your next meeting.  

Upfront you get a bright and wide 24-inch heads-up display. The camera reads speed signs perfectly, and during a weekly test drive, we didn’t find any glitches in it. If you watched our 2020 Lexus UX 200 review, you know that it used to have an issue with showing you truck speed signs as your speed limit, while in reality, it wasn’t. We haven’t noticed even a shade of this “misunderstanding” here.

Driving dynamics

That’s another good point to the LS 500 karma. Adaptive Variable Suspension is height-adjustable, so you can raise it and clear almost any driveway entrance. Depending on your mood and driving goals at a given day and time, you can get the maximum performance or maximum comfort. Check out our video review for the exact measurements of how much the suspension can go up and down.

We also did another, real-life test, where I asked my colleague to take a rear seat and work on the laptop while I’m trying to drive it as smooth as it gets. The verdict – yes, you can work in this car comfortably. It’s not a Rolls-Royce, but Lexus is getting there in terms of comfort. The fifth generation’s core difference is its performance tune. The new LS no longer “floats” through the corners; if needed, it’ll take them hard and will not disappoint you. This power comes out of the 3.5L twin-turbo engine that produces 416HP and 442 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission that gets you up to 30 mpg on freeways, which is also an improvement from the previous generation.

2020 Lexus LS 500 on the scenic Highway 1 along the coast of the Pacific Ocean.
Photo courtesy of Vera Sauchanka, LiveFEED

Not-so-bright side

There’s still no touch screen here, so you’re stuck with using the touchpad. It’s not super comfortable or intuitive, and we are not big fans of how it’s designed.

No Android Auto. No comments.


After driving the new Lexus LS 500 for a week, it reminded us of Rolls-Royse when it comes to comfort, which is pretty impressive considering the price tag. You will see even more value when comparing it to its direct competitors like Mercedes Benz S450 or BMW 7 Series, which would start from $120,000 with similar options. The new LS 500 still got room to grow, and it needs better electronics for steering assist and a more user-friendly (and Android-friendly) infotainment system. But if you’re on the market for luxury and are looking for value, you have to see the 2020 Lexus LS 500 for yourself – it’s got a lot to offer.

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