After three and a half years, Lexus has revived the 5th generation of the Lexus LS luxury sedan with a handful of updates. These seem relatively minor, but they help the LS stay competitive in a segment largely dominated by the Mercedes S-Class that is switching to the next generation later this year.
This story is a visual comparison of the new LS (top) and the outgoing model made using the images and information released by Lexus.
Visually, there are a few but significant changes. The front bumper gets freshness with pockets in a squared shape. In comes a pronounced radar sensor module in the LS’s spindle grille (colour now in a dark metallic shade) with its integrated washer. The headlights are now newly designed three-bulb lamp units which are more compact than before. Lexus calls them BladeScan AHS and this system illuminates the road by shining LED light onto a blade mirror spinning at high speed. It can control the light distribution by synchronizing the rotation of the blade mirror. This system helps to illuminate areas that might be difficult to see with traditional high-beam setup, such as the shoulder of the road. Drivers will be able to recognize pedestrians and road signs much sooner, without disrupting the visibility of oncoming traffic. Lexus had introduced this system first in the 2019 Lexus RX.
The new colour on offer is the ‘Gin-ei Luster.’ Its a shade of silver that has a mirror-like finish to it because of a process of painting called sonic method and this paint is exclusive to the LS range.
The infotainment system is updated and now sports a 12.3-inch touchscreen display, a significant upgrade over the earlier system’s touchpad controls for easier operation on the move. This system is now compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Smart Device Link. Customers can link their Android smartphones and iPhones to the system for more convenience. The controls for heated seats and steering wheel feature on the touch display for improved operability. Controls on the steering wheel and centre console have been painted black for enhanced visibility. The LS also now gets a high-resolution display for the digital rearview mirror.
Lexus Teammate is Lexus’ branding for its new suite of autonomous driving technologies. It operates using input from the radars positioned all around the vehicle. Visually, these radars bring a noticeable change on the sides of the Lexus LS. The new openings on the front fenders may have one mistake them for air inlets but are carved out to house the radar.
Lexus Teammate is built around five characteristics: ‘Perceptive’, ‘Intelligent’, ‘Interactive’, ‘Reliable’, and ‘Upgradable’. It comprises of Advanced Drive and Advanced Park currently.
Adavnced Drive is responsible for peripheral recognition, estimating vehicle position, calculating vehicle lane and position, adjusting speed and other requisite tasks for autonomous driving on the road. The new Lexus LS can maintain its position in its line, maintain a certain distance with the vehicle ahead and the distance from lane splits, change lanes and overtake vehicles, but only on expressways and other motor-vehicle-only roadways.
Advanced Park makes parking easier by automatically controlling acceleration, braking, and gear changes. It also shows the ideal steering wheel positions to the driver on the touchscreen infotainment system.
Lexus Teammate can be seamlessly updated by future software updates that allow functions to get added continually and performance continually upgraded. Initially, it will be available in Japan.
For those wondering what level of autonomous driving the 2021 Lexus LS allows with Lexus Teammate, it is Level 2. Tesla, the company that’s extraordinarily bullish on autonomous driving technologies, is very close to reaching Level 5 and expects to accomplish that feat this very year.
Lexus says the LS 500h hybrid now gets increased battery assistance during acceleration to give a bit more punch for a strain-free acceleration. The quietness and NVH have improved by lowering maximum engine RPMs during initial acceleration.
The ride is better thanks to a newly developed Adaptive Variable Suspension solenoid that reduces damping force, while the stiffness of the stabilizer bars is tuned for optimum performance. The orifice inside the engine mounts has been upgraded to alter damping characteristics, reducing the vibrations transmitted to the vehicle’s cabin, claims Lexus.
The powertrain remains the same. The hybrid setup combines a 3.5-litre V-6 and a pair of electric motors integrated with the transmission to produce 354-hp. Rear-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is also available.
We have no official information from Lexus India on the plans for the new LS (the model is sold in India in the LS500h variant), but we expect the improved car to be available next year.