2023 Lexus LS500 AWD F-Sport
The Sporty Sibling Of The LS Lineup
The Sporty LS is fun to drive, but aren’t we missing some details in the 2023 LS500 AWD F-Sport?
By J-F Wright
Sun, Aug 6, 2023 11:33 PM PST
images by author J-F Wright
The LS500 is the top-level sedan in the Lexus lineup. At the top-of-the-top sits the LS500h AWD (starting at over $114,000) - our F Sport AWD sits just one notch below. Not a hybrid, and without the massive selection of features (the LS500h comes with pretty much everything standard), the 2023 Lexus LS500 F Sport AWD (our test vehicle has a sticker price just over $88,000) still has a lot to offer. But, first, let’s get my very few complaints out of the way.
No Top-Down View?
At $88k, I would have expected a top-down camera system. It’s available on most cars - and I mean all, not just in the premium segment - as it is in the LS500 F Sport, but for a high-end Lexus I would have liked to see that included as a standard. Especially since the LS500 is a large car, and a top-down view would come in real handy. Judging by the Lexus website, the “Panoramic View Monitor” is standard on the LS500h, and available on all other trims - except the AWD version of the F Sport.
No Air-Flow To The Rear Passengers?
Another mind-boggling miss is the lack of air coming out of the vents in the rear seats. The vents are there, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to activate them. Even in the vehicle’s comfort settings there is only the option of adjusting things in the front, no mention of the rear. For a car this big - meant for hauling around four people in superior comfort - the rear passengers will want some air blown on them. I realize that our text vehicle only has a “Dual Zone Climate Control”, but I would have thought that the rear seats still got some air…
Interestingly, the “Four-Zone Climate Concierge” is only offered as an option on the other trim levels (according to the Lexus website). If that is true, and if the rear seat does not get any air-flow with the Dual-Zone system, then I would question who would want to sit in the back? I’d be hard pressed to convince someone to get back there on a hot summer day, even with all the other comfort features available.
Now, with those two items out of the way, let’s move on to the pleasantries. This is, after all, a Lexus, and with that badge comes a lot of ‘em. Pleasantries, that is.
Interior - It’s Large
The LS500 is a large sedan - the largest in Lexus’ lineup, as mentioned. With that comes ample space for the occupants, be that two, four, or maybe even five.
All seats, throughout the vehicle, are very comfortable. The driver seat’s bottom cushion extends forward to an impressive length, increasing the amount of lower thigh support - always a huge plus for anyone with long legs.
Just like most of the current Toyota and Lexus vehicles, the headrests are pushed forward a bit too far. It’s said to be helpful if you get rear-ended, but while I wait for that rear-end collision to happen, I am involuntarily sitting in an awkward position with my head pushing back on the headrest without my back touching the seat.
The rear seats are comfortable too (let’s forget the fact that the fans don’t reach back here). The outer seats are impressively plush, the middle seat a tad too hard for longer drives. But, then again, how often does an LS500 have 5 people in it? Trunk-space is impressive, you can easily fit a bunch of suitcases back there. Or, as is more common, a bunch of stuff you don’t need, after splurging at the mall. There are a bunch of hooks to tie stuff down with in the trunk - a feature often left out in sedans, but just as convenient.
Overall feel of the interior is elegant and fancy. The interior of the doors have an interesting design - interesting in a good way. The door handle sits on a diamond-stitched-looking plate, hovering a bit apart from the otherwise leather-covered door. It all comes together nicely, and the door design makes a pop!
Drive & Handling
The F Sport might emphasize the “sport” of the Lexus brand, but it is still a Lexus. Acceleration is smooth but fierce, fairly quiet, and very plentiful - punch it and you will go! At high(er) speeds the ride is still quiet, and there is still plenty of power to be had should you need it for a pass maneuver. As is customary in a Lexus, the ride is akin to floating over the road rather than becoming a part of each rut and bump.
The Lexus engineers must have worked really hard at making the LS500 AWD F Sport feel as nimble as it does. The Adaptive Variable Suspension is especially tuned to be “F Sport”-worthy, and for such a large vehicle, this beast can whip around corners with the best of them.
So, without loosing touch with the smooth ride of a Lexus, the F Sport offers the option to stiff up the handling for the times when you just want to go hard.
The grille of the F Sport sets it apart from the other LS trims, as does the wheels and side air intakes. Furthermore, an F-Sport badge stands out for the trained eye, but other than that there isn’t much else visible on the exterior. The sleekness inherent to the LS carries over to all trims - it’s a great-looking sedan. The signature headlights - what looks like an intentional “L” of LED lighting - as well as the three light-squares help carry the sharp lines of the front facia and connect with the sides of the vehicle. Other than a few sharp lines, the LS is somewhat plain. And that’s one of the reasons why I like Lexus - they’re great enough to not have to show it off.. Those who know, know.
Automatically Closing Doors & Massive HUD
After not closing the door hard enough, I noticed that it did not matter. The LS500 will close the door for you, if you haven’t quite gotten it all the way. Conveniently, they do it for the rear seats as well, so when kids aren’t able to get things entirely closed, it’s a nice assist.
The heads up display is massive - really nice and wide. Most likely the same heads-up as in the other LS trims, mid-air screen will show the driver all the currently pertinent information. Being wide enough to encompass multiple items makes it so that I don’t need to look down from the road - like ever.
About The Author
John-Fredrik Wright was born in Sweden, but raised on both sides of the Atlantic. His experience in the automotive industry starts with a summer-job as a host at Volkswagen’s premier showroom in Stockholm. Later, he worked as an instructor at Swedish Active Driving, teaching safe driving (among other things the renowned "elk-avoidance maneuver") and advanced driving techniques.