We’ll address the elephant in the room first, and that’s the fact that large sedans have been overthrown by SUVs as the car of choice over the past few years.
Still, it hasn’t stopped carmakers from using these luxurious vehicles as a platform for new tech. Mercedes-Benz’s new S-Class, for example, will have facial recognition, augmented reality capabilities and biometric security features within its next-gen MBUX infotainment system. In a bid to bring the spotlight back to its know-how of refined comfort and Japanese sensibilities, Lexus has unveiled the mid-cycle refresh for its flagship LS sedan, and it couldn’t have come sooner.
The big-body cruiser gets several notable tweaks both inside and out, but we’ll get the biggest change out of the way first — its new driving technologies. The 2021 Lexus LS will come with a new suite of advanced driver-assistance features called the Lexus Teammate.
Designed to take the stress out of the daily commute (as it should seeing it’s supposed to be the “ultimate Lexus”), the Lexus Teammate system was developed with autonomous driving in mind, with the ability to — as its name suggests — communicate with you as a friend while “reach[ing] out to each other for mutual enhancement.” Creepy undertones aside, the update will see features such as Advanced Drive, which holds the vehicle in its lane on the highway while keeping pace with traffic. Lexus is making this tech upgradeable through software updates, so expect its capabilities to expand over time too.
A new BladeScan adaptive high-beam system has also been added. First introduced on the latest Lexus RX, the feature improves night-time visibility by altering the area of high-beam illumination in real-time so that drivers of approaching vehicles are not blinded. It’ll also brighten areas that wouldn’t otherwise be illuminated by conventional systems.
There’s also been tweaks made to the Lexus LS’ adaptive suspension and seat cushion materials for a cushier ride, alongside noise cancellation and engine sound enhancements in both the gas and hybrid variants.
The 2021 Lexus LS also been face-lifted for a more dramatic appearance. The chrome trim from the taillights have been swapped for sleek piano black ones, while the grille mesh has been given a dark metallic finish for a classier look. Choose the F Sport version and the grille wraps further around for a more aggressive and wider stance.
If you recall, the blue LC 500 in the Black Panther used paint that contained no actual blue pigment. Lexus takes its devotion for non-conventional paint jobs to another level here with its new paint colour. Named Gin-ei Luster, the special silver paint is applied using a ‘Sonic Method’, which, with embedded aluminium flakes on the surface, lends a sparkly, mirror-like finish.
Inside, the new Nishijin & Haku trim offers unique leaf-like patterns that shimmer, thanks to the use of fancy Nishijin brocade and platinum leaves. The steering wheel gets new buttons and the screen — now touch-sensitive — is given a “floating” appearance.
Both the 500 and 500h Lexus LS models will go on sale with these 2021 updates in Japan later this year, and should reach the rest of the markets early next year.