LEXUS has treated its flagship LS sedan to a comprehensive update for the 2021 model year, gifting the big, luxurious four-door a raft of upgrades and improvements that boost comfort and safety.
Suspension, styling, cabin layout, powertrain response, efficiency, sound proofing and advanced safety systems have all been tweaked or enhanced, with the most notable comfort-oriented change being the newly developed adaptive suspension solenoids designed to reduce damping forces.
With the damping softened, Lexus says the LS will rely a little more on the sidewall stiffness of its run-flat tyres and the rigidity of its stabiliser bars to maintain its dynamic ability but that the whole set-up has been optimised to do exactly that.
Under the bonnet, the 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine in the LS500 has been given more low-end torque – although the brand does not specify how much – to improve responsiveness “at often-used driving speeds”, while the 10-speed automatic transmission has been tweaked to improve shift timing with “a wider acceleration range for each gear”.
The V6 hybrid set-up in the LS500h has also been given a workover to tap more readily into its electric power for smoother and faster acceleration.
The engine mount internals in both variants have been upgraded, too, with softer internals designed to further reduce engine vibrations. The powertrains have also undergone “active noise control and engine sound enhancement tuning” for improved quietness.
Visually, the facelifted LS is distinguished by its subtle new adaptive LED headlights, darkened mesh grille, side vents behind the front wheels and darkened tail-light trim.
Inside the cabin is a new 12.3-inch touchscreen display for the infotainment system, digital rearview mirror, deeper-set upholstery stitching and new vibration-fighting urethane padding in the seat cushions.
The buttons on the centre console and multifunction steering wheel now have a piano-black finish with contrasting white text and symbols for increased visibility and elegance.
On the technology front, Lexus will launch the updated LS with its ‘Teammate’ semi-autonomous driving system and driver assistance suite.
According to Toyota Motor Corporation Advanced R&D and Engineering Company executive Ken Koibuchi, the system comprises two main modes: Advanced Drive and Advanced Park.
“Advanced Drive performs peripheral recognition, estimates vehicle position, calculates vehicle lane and position, adjusts speed and conducts other tasks on motor-vehicle-only roadways for safe driving support all the way to the roadway exit,” he said.
“In various driving situations, such as when going through curves and when overtaking other vehicles, it provides the kind of comfortable driving feeling produced by expert drivers.
“Advanced Park, which provides parking assist through driver operation of intuitive controls, automatically controls acceleration, braking and gear changes.”
Australian pricing and specification are yet to be revealed, and Lexus Australia is yet to confirm when the updated LS will launch here.
For reference, the current LS starts from $190,395 plus on-road costs for the LS500 F Sport and tops out at $199,505 for the super-exclusive LS500h Inspiration Series.
So far this year ending June, Lexus has shifted 13 examples of its flagship limo, accounting for 5.5 per cent of the $100,000+ upper-large sedan segment. It is well off the pace of its two biggest rivals, the BMW 7 Series (62) and Mercedes-Benz S-Class (59).