When the Lexus brand launched in 1989, the LS flagship 4-door sedan proved that Japanese design, engineering, and build quality were ready to take on established European luxury marques on quality and technology at value prices. As one of just two Lexus models in the brand’s early years, sales of the LS flagship were brisk.
Fast forward to today, and as with most nameplates, SUVs top the sales charts at the Lexus brand. According to Automotive News, with sales of just 2,679 units in the United States in 2022, the LS flagship had the third-lowest sales of the 10 Lexus models.
Still, a flagship sedan is an important flag in the sand at full-line luxury brand competitors such as Audi, BMW, Genesis, and Mercedes-Benz. Having a full-size luxury sedan in the lineup is even more critical in Asian corporate culture in markets such as China, Japan, and South Korea.
Now in its sixth model year since the current-generation LS debuted in 2018—and despite recent makeovers for the BMW 7 Series, Genesis G90, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class—the Lexus flagship continues with no significant changes. However, for the 2023 model year, the Lexus LS ditches the fussy console-mounted remote controller for the infotainment system and adopts the new Lexus Interface system, complete with the touchscreen controls the brand has been rolling out across the model lineup over the last two years. A 12.3-inch landscape-format touchscreen accompanies the new system, as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. Enhanced voice control is another advancement in the new system.
Continued, but with limited availability, is the semi-autonomous Lexus Teammate system that enables hands-free driving on limited-access highways under certain circumstances. For 2023, Lexus packages it solely with the LS 500h hybrid model.
Pricing for the 2023 Lexus LS ranges from $78,535 for the base LS 500 to $114,635 for the hybrid-powered LS 500h with Lexus Teammate. All prices include the $1,150 destination charge.
What Owners Say About the Large Premium Car Segment
The Lexus LS competes in the Large Premium Car market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2022 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 82 percent of new Large Premium Car buyers are male (vs. 62 percent for the industry), and the median age of a new Large Premium Car buyer is 65 years (vs. 54).
As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the Large Premium Car segment in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you’ll find their preferences, from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:
- Exterior styling
- Driving feel
- Feeling of safety
- Driving comfort
- Interior design
- Setting up and starting
- Getting in and out
- Fuel economy
What Our Independent Expert Says About the Lexus LS
In the sections that follow, our independent expert analyzes a 2023 LS 500 AWD F Sport equipped with the following options:
- Panoramic glass roof
- Head-up display
- Cargo net, trunk mat, wheel locks, key gloves, and rear bumper applique
- 23-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system
The test vehicle’s price was $89,955, including the $1,150 destination charge.
Getting In and Getting Comfortable
Since the inception of the Lexus brand in 1989, the LS flagship has featured sumptuous interiors that coddle its occupants in artfully crafted luxury. Material quality remains top-notch; all surfaces and primary contact points are soft-touch and generously padded. The dash combines digital and traditional elements with an analog clock flanking a new 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen.
The standard heated and ventilated leather-covered front seats—16-way-adjustable in the base LS 500 and 28-way-adjustable in the F Sport test car—offer a masterful blend of support and comfort. At the rear, an optional Executive package brings a pair of heated, reclining, and massaging rear chairs, the right one with a built-in, deployable ottoman.
An optional air suspension adds an access mode that raises the car for easier ingress and egress. Another thoughtful touch is the rear window shade. It automatically rolls down when the driver places the transmission in Reverse to allow an unobstructed view to the rear. A large console bin under the center armrest bolsters interior storage. The console bin’s cover has dual hinges, so both the driver and front passenger can easily reach the bin’s contents without disturbing the other front-seat occupant.
Lexus Interface Infotainment System Review
For 2023, the Lexus LS moves to the new Lexus Interface infotainment system that removes the fiddly console-mounted remote-touch infotainment screen controller used in previous models. Details of the 2023 LS infotainment system include:
- 12.3-inch landscape-format infotainment touchscreen display
- Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Ability to simultaneously pair two phones
- “Hey, Lexus,” voice assistant
- Drive Connect trial subscription with Cloud Navigation, Destination Assist, and Intelligent Assistant
- 12-speaker premium AM/FM stereo
- Available Wi-Fi Connect with the ability to stream Apple Music and Amazon Music
- Optional 23-speaker, 2,400-watt Mark Levinson Reference surround-sound audio
By moving to the new Lexus Interface infotainment system, the LS joins the rest of the Lexus lineup that has already adopted a revised design focusing on touchscreen and voice-control functions. Along with the larger 12.3-inch touchscreen, the driver can still interact with the system via a bank of hard shortcut buttons under the center climate control dash vents, volume, and tuning plus/minus buttons on the steering wheel. Lexus also wisely retained concentrically mounted analog rotary volume control and tuning knobs for easy and quick adjustments on the fly. In place of the previous remote-touch controller on the console are now switches for front-seat heating and ventilation, steering wheel heating, and rear window shade operation.
Aside from removing the remote touchpad on the console, the most significant change to the infotainment system for 2023 is the move to enhanced voice control. Pressing the steering wheel voice-control button or saying a wake-up phrase like “Hey, Lexus,” the system’s built-in voice assistant can give interior occupants access to climate control settings, media, and phone controls.
The new Lexus Interface system works with an expanded selection of connected services to which the LS buyer can subscribe after the free trial period expires. Drive Connect includes continuously updated Cloud Navigation, a live Destination Assistant, and an even more advanced voice control dubbed the Intelligent Assistant. Using the Intelligent Assistant, I could quickly and accurately switch audio sources, change radio stations, and locate and navigate to several points of interest.
Lexus optioned the LS 500 test car with the 23-speaker (including four in the headliner) Mark Levinson Quantum Logic Immersion Reference surround-sound premium audio system with 16 channels and 2,400 watts of clear, distortion-free sound.
What It’s Like to Drive the 2023 Lexus LS
The LS 500’s twin-turbocharged 3.4-liter V6 engine offers 416 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and, more importantly for all-around throttle response and driveability, 442 pound-feet of torque over a broad plateau from a just-above-fast-idle 1,600 rpm to a hearty 4,800 rpm. Teamed with the turbo V6 is a slick-shifting, wide-ratio Direct Shift 10-speed automatic transmission featuring a short-ratio first gear for quick launches from stoplights and taller top cogs up top for relaxed cruising.
The all-wheel-drive (AWD) LS 500 has a traction-enhancing Torsen limited-slip center differential. The system varies drive torque from 31 percent front/69 percent rear on dry roads to 48 percent front/52 percent rear where slippery conditions occur. Acceleration is brisk, and according to Lexus, both the rear-wheel-drive (RWD) and AWD versions of the LS 500 can launch from rest to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds.
Opting for the LS 500h nets a hybrid powertrain with a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 and electric motors for a combined 354 hp. The hybrid features a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) combined with a 4-speed planetary automatic that delivers a more natural step-shift feel and no real “rubber band” sensation typically experienced with CVTs. All-wheel drive is standard. Lexus says this combination is good for zero-to-60-mph runs in 5.2 seconds.
Adaptive variable damping is standard with all 2023 Lexus LS models. With more than 600 possible damping profiles, it offers reasonable vertical body control over bumpy sections, swells, dips, and sharp turns. The LS maintains a smooth ride worthy of a flagship luxury sedan, even with its standard run-flat tires. An air suspension with adjustable ride height is also available, but the test car did not have it.
The F Sport version of the LS brings tighter control to the adaptive variable damping suspension. Steering precision, already offering good control in the base LS 500, also gets a boost in F Sport models courtesy of upgraded tires. The F Sport replaces the standard-issue LS 245/50R19 all-season tires with staggered-size 245/45R20 front and 275/40R20 summer performance or all-season tires.
Along with meatier rubber in the F Sport comes larger, higher-capacity ventilated disc brakes. The fronts go from the standard LS’s 14-inch rotors and four pistons to the F Sport’s 15.7-inch rotors and six pistons. At the rear, the standard LS 500 setup with 13.1-inch rotors and two pistons gets upgraded to 14.1-inch rotors and four pistons.
The LS 500 F Sport’s brakes are powerful and offer a quick, top-of-pedal response. Still, they are a bit grabby and require some practice to achieve linear deceleration.
Although the Lexus LS delivers a luxury flagship-worthy ride, the big sedan is more agile and drives smaller than it looks. You can access selectable drive modes using the LFA supercar-like stubby knob on the top right side of the gauge binnacle. Eco damps throttle response and trims air-conditioning output, Comfort smooths the ride motions, Sport sharpens throttle response and delivers more engine sound, and Sport+ amplifies steering response and tightens the suspension.
Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 Review
For the 2023 model year, the Lexus LS comes standard with the Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 (LSS+ 2.5). It includes the following:
- Forward-collision warning system with pedestrian detection, bicyclist detection, intersection turn assistance, and automatic emergency braking
- Lane-departure warning with steering assist
- All-speed advanced adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability and curve-speed management
- Enhanced lane-centering assistance (active when the driver engages adaptive cruise control)
- Traffic-sign recognition
- Automatic high-beam headlights
The LSS+ 2.5 suite’s pre-collision system now includes a front camera and radar-sensor upgrades that expand the response range under low-light conditions.
The all-speed adaptive cruise control system has a feature that helps smooth the passing of slower vehicles by initially increasing acceleration until the driven car passes the slower one and reaches its set speed.
Enhanced lane-tracing assist can help with lane-centering in the absence of visible lane markings by taking the pavement edge and guard rails into account. Artificial intelligence smoothes the steering assist of lane-centering. With lane-tracing assist, it can feel as if the steering wheel has a mind of its own. What I do is relax my grip on the steering wheel so I’m not fighting its constant adjustments. Alternatively, you can turn the feature off via the steering wheel control button.
Not part of LSS+ 2.5, standard blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic warning, and a reversing camera are essential driving aids included in the 2023 Lexus LS.
The test car had a regular backup camera, not a surround-view type Lexus calls a Panoramic View Monitor that gives an overhead view of the LS and its immediate surroundings. This is a surprising omission in the near-$90,000 Lexus flagship sedan. However, the Panoramic View Monitor is available as a stand-alone option or as part of a Luxury package.
2023 Lexus LS FAQ
How much cargo space does the 2023 Lexus LS have?
The 2023 Lexus LS 500 offers a generous 16.95 cubic feet of trunk space. That’s sufficient to carry up to six airport roller bags. The hybrid LS 500h version (not tested) has just 15.2 cubic feet of cargo capacity or 9.3 cubic feet when paired with the Lexus Teammate system due to the location of the hybrid propulsion battery and Teammate control electronics. The LS 500 test car had a trunk dress-up package with a net to prevent small items from rolling around. The trunk hinges are hidden inside sleeves, protecting cargo from getting crushed or dented when you close the lid. Access to the trunk is via a hands-free foot wave under the rear bumper or remote button push.
Does the 2023 Lexus LS get good gas mileage?
With its twin-turbocharged 3.4-liter V6 and 10-speed automatic transmission, the RWD version of the 2023 Lexus LS 500 has an EPA-estimated 22 mpg rating in combined city/highway driving while the AWD version offers 21 mpg. The LS 500h hybrid, with its naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6, electric motors, and multi-stage automatic transmission, gets a 25-mpg EPA estimate.
During a week of driving on various local streets and area highways, the AWD LS 500 test car averaged 21 mpg. The non-hybrid LS 500 fuel tank holds a generous 21.7 gallons. Based on that result, the LS 500 AWD test car can have a maximum driving range of just over 450 miles.
Is the 2023 Lexus LS safe?
As of this writing, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has published crashworthiness or safety ratings for the 2023 Lexus LS.
How much is the 2023 Lexus LS?
Pricing for the 2023 Lexus LS ranges from $78,535 for the gas-engine LS 500 with RWD to $114,635 for the hybrid LS 500h with the semi-autonomous, hands-free Lexus Teammate system. Lexus includes the $1,150 destination charge with the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.
What are the 2023 Lexus LS competitors?
In the J.D. Power 2023 Initial Quality Study (IQS), the BMW 8 Series ranks highest in the Large Premium Car segment. No other model in the segment performs at or above the segment average.
In the 2022 APEAL Study, the Mercedes-Benz EQS ranks highest in the Large Premium Car segment. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the BMW 7 Series are the next highest-ranked models.
Other competitors to the 2023 LS include the Genesis G90 and Porsche Panamera.
Independent Expert Opinion
With a sporty exterior and artful cabin brimming with expressive shapes and textures, the Lexus LS goes its own way in the otherwise conservative-leaning full-size luxury flagship sedan space. Upgrading to the new Lexus Interface infotainment system for the 2023 model year helps keep the LS relevant among the recently redesigned competition.