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2018 Lexus LS 500: Imperial Dreams

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Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

It was a most auspicious time at the Skywalker Ranch in the San Francisco Bay Area on a beautiful Friday afternoon as I had the pleasure of experiencing the well-appointed 2018 Lexus LS 500 sedan. With a progressive spindle grille (5,000 different surfaces), beautiful and athletic silhouette, 20″ Forged Executive Package Rims, Navigation with High Resolution 12.3″ screen, and an all-new 416-horsepower V6 Dual VVT-i engine, expect the 5th generation LS to elevate the competition in the full-size luxury sedan market. The highly favored LS will certainly become a quintessential vehicle of choice for businessmen and women alike, luminaries, pro athletes, and modest individuals who simply enjoy the finer things in life.

Of course the competitive set is steep since the LS has to handle its own against the ranks of the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, Mercedes-Benz S Class, and Porsche Panamera to name a few. It’s a prestigious group of vehicles that present advanced technologies as if they are new ice cream flavors. Suitably, Lexus LS 500 Chief Engineer Toshio Asahi carefully studied the task at hand and instilled their latest with a bevvy of design, performance, and innovation techniques to stay in tandem with the aforementioned opponents. “At Lexus, we have been differentiating ourselves though Brave Design, Imaginative Technology, Exhilarating Performance and Takumi Craftsmanship,” stated Asahi.

For our evaluations we left the St. Regis in the heart of San Francisco and headed toward the secluded pastures of Marin County where a deserving lunch would be served at the workplace of George Lucas. The connection between the Skywalker Ranch’s serenity and the peaceful balance of the opulent cabin of the flagship LS was instantaneous. I’m very familiar with the Japanese state of mind since my wife is from the island and ensures that the family visits annually. Amongst the busy but controlled chaos of any big Japanese city like Fukuoka you will find calmness in the ancient temples or botanical gardens embedded within the shadows of skyscrapers and architecturally stimulating buildings.

The new Lexus LS is similar and incorporates Takumi craftsmanship, which is an olden form of skilled, hand artistry infusing the artisan’s creative ability, attention to detail, imaginative thoughts, and patience to highlight the final product. Where the roads are busy and loud inside of the LS is meditative, merging Japanese hospitality so you can focus on the task at hand. For example, designers sought out Japan’s largest furniture depository to find lounge chairs that could be utilized inside the car to emulate maximum comfort such as the surround armrests. As well, exquisite lines on the dash represent the Japanese harp, Kyoto inspired origami cloth patterns can be found on the door trim, Art Wood Herringbone inspires throughout, and Kiriko Cut Glass reflects the various angles of light to stimulate owners on each and every mile.

Truly, I felt secure, comfortable, and peaceful while driving. The mixture of technology and tasteful appointments consists of the enlarged and detailed 24” color Heads-Up Display, elegant shift paddles, two-toned, metal pedals, multi-adjustable climate comfort front seats, sunshades, Panoramic View Monitor for visual safety checks, power, heated, and massaging rear seats, and Mark Levinson 3D surround sound audio with Quantum Logic Immersion sound tuning technology from parent company Harman. The system includes 23 strategically placed speakers with a prodigious 2,400 watts!

The new LS is wider, lower, and lengthier than its replacement and can be had as a LS 500, LS 500 F Sport (20% of the sales mix), and the efficient LS 500h (hybrid) with each accommodating AWD. To achieve maximum performance settle with the LS 500 F Sport RWD! For testing my LS 500 RWD with the LSS+A (Lexus Safety System+ A) package was presented in a Maganese Luster exterior hue with Semi Aniline (Black / Art Wood) interior adornment. Autonomous driving is making its way into every new vehicle model so begin becoming accustomed to it. During busy rush hours as I left the city and hit the highway I was happy to know I had Pre-Collision System (PCS) and Pedestrian Alert to help avoid accidents with crossing humans. The LS 500 will do everything in its power to alert the driver, brake the vehicle, and steer out of harm’s way for avoidance. Additionally, Lexus CoDrive utilized All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Lane Trace Assist to assist me with dynamic steering and braking for ephemeral moments.

No longer is the LS mundane and routine. Its style is now amenable to connoisseurs of luxury lifestyles and the driving characteristics are more dynamic. In particular, the newfangled Twin Turbo 3.5-Liter V6 gas engine produces greater power while still offering efficiency tactics. The 416-horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque, commingled with a 10-speed automatic transmission, and an air suspension had me flying with balance (4.6 seconds 0 – 60 mph) around bends on those country roads. Moreover, AI-SHIFT Control (Artificial Intelligence Transmission Logic) studies your driving temperament for exacting shifts and VDIM (Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management) allowed the LS to maintain incredible posture at speed from six unique vehicle dynamic movements. Drivers can change the vehicle settings as well between Normal, Sport S or Sport S+ modes. Expect 19 city and 29 highway mpg.

A few, now antiquated features include the non-frameless rearview mirror, CD player, and an analogue clock in addition to a roof that is a bit low which makes the cabin feel more compact. Other than that I had no qualms. Navigation and multimedia functions are mainly controlled through the Remote Touch Interface (RTI) which is a small touchpad that you swipe and pinch similar to a smartphone. RTI is an anomaly in a segment where a central controller is typical. The touchpad is loved by some but not so much by others. Though, you can change the haptic feel for the feedback you desire. Additionally, Lexus Enform provides seven helpful services like mobile apps, emergency roadside assistance, directions, Wi-Fi for five, a mobile app for operating your vehicle remotely, maintenance alerts, and cloud based Dynamic Maps.

The 2018 Lexus LS 500 goes on sale February of 2018 with an estimated starting price of $75,000.

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