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 switched to the seventh generation in September and moved the bar higher.
The 2021 Lexus LS hybrid is now on sale in Japan, with prices starting at JPY 12,190,000 or INR 85.90 lakh and going up to JPY 17,280,000 or INR 1.22 crore.
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 newly designed three-element 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 a 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 the Sonic Method and this paint is exclusive to the LS range.
The vertical character line on the new front bumper makes the front overhang look shorter, increasing the full-size hybrid sedan’s sportiness. A moulding at the bottom of the new front bumper wraps around the side, expressing the car’s flexibility. The moulding inside the rear combination lamps, unlike in the old model, is piano black.
The infotainment system is updated and 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, unlike the old one, offers Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Smart Device Link compatibility. 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 designers have unified the handles and switches on the centre console to improve visibility and make the interior look cleaner. A new switch on the centre console to display the controls for the frequently used seat heater and steering wheel heater on the touchscreen is another interior change in the 2021 Lexus LS worth noting.
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 in 2021.
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.
|Aspect||2021 Lexus LS 500h Specification|
|L x W X H||5,235 mm x 1,900 mm x 1,450 mm (FWD)/1,460 mm (AWD)|
|Engine||3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 petrol|
|Engine Power||220 kW (299 PS) at 6,600 rpm|
|Engine Torque||356 Nm at 5,100 rpm|
|Motor Power||132 kW (180 PS)|
|Motor Torque||264 Nm|
|System Power (Combined Power)||264 kW (359 PS)|
|Transmission||Multistage Hybrid Transmission|
|WLTC Fuel Economy||13.6 km/l (RWD)/12.6 km/l (AWD)|
|JC08 Fuel Economy||15.8 km/l (RWD)/14.0 km/l (AWD)|
We have no official information from Lexus India on the plans for the new LS (the model is sold in India in the LS 500h variant), but we expect the improved car to be available next year as it is a CBU import and the stock of the old model would gradually run out.