Lexus LS: 2019 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

WE LIKE Agility for a big car, fuel economy, thumping stereo

WE DON’T LIKE Rough ride, inconsistent brakes, infotainment interface

The flagship sedan that panicked German luxury automakers 30 years ago still has some chops, but it seems Lexus engineers and product planners were conflicted as to the mission of the latest edition.

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Angus MacKenzie was unimpressed: “A harsher powertrain, noisier suspension, and worse body integrity than the car that launched the brand. It beggars belief.”

Chris Theodore was similarly let down. “Dynamically, the LS was surprisingly agile for such a behemoth, but the experience went downhill from there,” he observed. The F Sport suspension we tested ruins the magic-carpet ride of past Lexuses, allowing impacts to harshly penetrate the cabin. The brake-by-wire system was erratic in its responses. And the lane keeping system lamely ping-ponged the car between the lines.

Although the twin-turbo V-6 is a lively base engine for most Lexus drivers and scored well in fuel economy, the lack of a V-8 offering raised eyebrows. The piped-in engine sounds were a headache-inducing mashup of “puppy growls and gear whine,” an acetaminophen-seeking Christian Seabaugh said.

Alisa Priddle noted the suave, detailed interior design with swooping and arcing “art wood,” leather trim, Alcantara, and metal details. But back-seat space is less than in competitor cars, especially in the footwell.

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