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2023 Lexus LS 500 F Sport – SMOOTH OPERATOR

Car Reviews

2023 Lexus LS 500 F Sport – SMOOTH OPERATOR

2023 Lexus LS 500 F Sport


About a year ago, I passed on the opportunity to purchase a car that was at the top of my bucket list. The reason? My family just didn’t need another car, along with all the added expenses that would typically accompany another car. That said, I still regularly Google images of it and watch YouTube videos on how to properly maintain it. 

No, the vehicle in question was not a Toyota Land Cruiser manufactured before 2006, although I do love those.  The vehicle I passed up was a 2003 Lexus LS 430, a member of the third generation of LS vehicles in the Lexus lineup.  Hardly a new car, but one with a legendary record of reliability, starting with its powertrain.  And reliability is the top thing (and the second thing – and the third thing) I look for in any vehicle that I own.  

The two vehicles we currently drive are a 2006 Toyota Tacoma 2WD with the 4.0 liter V6 and a 2010 Lexus RX; both are known for their highly reliable powertrains.  For clarification, the Tacoma is claimed by my wife as “her” truck and the RX is my daughter’s crossover.  So, I would have claimed the LS as mine, all mine

The 2003 Lexus LS is a beast of a sedan, big and boaty with a fairly bland exterior design.  But the interior is classic Lexus luxury with seats that were supposedly inspired by the seats in the First Class section of British Airways and Japan Airlines.  The wood inserts are real solid wood, not veneer.  It’s a cushy car that doesn’t appeal to the younger set.  What appeals to me, however, is the 3UZ-FE engine, a 290 hp, 4.3 liter V8 engine whose reliability is legendary.  Paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, EPA estimated fuel economy is comparable to a pickup at 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. 

I share all this history with you as an explanation as to why I was so excited to drive the latest version of the Lexus LS. Recently I had the opportunity to test drive a 2023 Manganese Luster (aka Dark Gray) Lexus LS 500 RWD F Sport with a price tag of $82,730.  Gone are the days of the LS V8 engine; the newest powertrain is a 416 hp, 3.4 liter twin-turbo V6 mated to a ten-speed transmission.  From zero, 60 arrives in about four and a half seconds, considerably zippier than the Lexus LS of my dreams.  Fuel economy is better as well, with the 2023 model delivering EPA estimates of 19 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

The F Sport version of the LS certainly gives the sedan’s exterior a more aggressive look with the addition of sub-radiator grilles that flank the giant main grille.  The F Sport package also brings larger brakes, in case you decide to really push the big sedan around curves.  Although the LS is still a large, roomy sedan, the 2023 iteration handles beautifully and responds quickly.  

The interior is pure Lexus, and perfectly illustrates the brand’s “innovative elegance through Japanese craftsmanship” to exemplify a true handcrafted approach.  It’s simply gorgeous and nothing more needs to be said.

In response to the ever-growing desire of new car buyers to have the very latest safety technology in their vehicle, the 2023 Lexus LS comes standard with some nifty features.

For starters, there is the Pre-Collision System, which includes Frontal Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Pedestrian Detection and Bicyclist Detection. At intersections, the system has the capability under certain conditions to recognize an oncoming vehicle when performing a left-hand turn, or a pedestrian when performing left and right-hand turns, and is designed to activate the Pre-Collision System functions if needed.

The 2023 Lexus LS is an elegant, smooth sedan.  However, it competes in a crowded segment with stiff competition, especially from European performance sedans. When it was introduced, it was a game-changer. With no public plans to introduce a sixth-generation LS anytime soon, I’m just hoping that the LS will continue to stay in the Lexus lineup for years to come. It’s earned the right to be there.

Steve is a veteran automotive journalist and former head of Ford Public Relations in its South Central region. He’s a native New Yorker who fell in love with a Texan (and Texas) over 20 years ago. Steve’s been living here happily ever since. His current automotive ‘want’ is an early 3-Series convertible, while his daily driver is a 2006 Toyota Tacoma.

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