New Model News

Freshened 2021 Lexus LS gains powertrain refinements, quieter cabin, bigger screen

The Lexus LS has been refined for the 2021 model year with a good roster of improvements.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

The 2021 Lexus LS is getting a mid-generation refresh. A roster of changes aim to make riding in and driving the company's flagship sedan a quieter, smoother, and more high-tech experience. Though this announcement was made earlier this year, we now know exactly which changes are coming to U.S. models.

Lexus will continue to sell the LS in two grades: LS 500 and LS 500h. The LS 500h will remain the hybrid option for buyers. An F Sport package will continue to be offered.

The new model year brings a fresh front bumper that houses redesigned fascia. Lexus has altered the color of the spindle grille to appear more elegant while new three-projector LED headlights sit at the corners.

2021 Lexus LS The car gets new headlights for 2021.Photo courtesy of Lexus

Taillights have been stitched to Piano Black to enhance the vehicle's presence. Lexus will offer the 2021 LS in a new exterior color, Iridium, which is also now available on the fresh 2021 Lexus IS.

The 2021 LS 500 is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 416 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. The engine has been refined for the new model year to be more refined when operating cold and reduce the amount of emissions. Lexus pairs the engine with a 10-speed automatic transmission, which has been recalibrated to be more responsive.

Rear-wheel drive is standard on the LS 500, which has a zero to 60 mph time of 4.6 seconds. Eco, Comfort, Normal, Custom, Sport S, and Sport S+ drive modes are standard. All-wheel drive with variable torque distribution is available.

Lexus LS 500h models are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that is mated to two electric motors and a lithium-ion battery. The automaker has given serious consideration to the system's power distribution for 2021 allowing the car to utilize more power under acceleration rather than focusing on distributing power while cruising. This change means the car's total system output of 354 horsepower will enable the car to hit 60 mph from a standstill in just 5.1 seconds.

2021 Lexus LS Lexus will continue to offer the LS with the F Sport package, which adds darkened accents to the exterior of the model.Photo courtesy of Lexus

Addition improvements have been made to the suspension and chassis to give the LS a smoother and more comfortable ride. This includes larger anti-roll bars and liquid-filled brushings. The company has also enhanced the available ride-height-adjustable air suspension.

Inside the car's cabin, armrests, seat cushions, and the center console armrest have all received additional padding for 2021. The front seats have new seat springs and thicker cushioning material.

Lexus has changed all steering wheel controls to black while a switch for displaying controls for seat heaters and the steering wheel heater has been added to the center console.

Buyers will get a new interior color scheme and ornamentation options for 2021. Buyers are invited to check the Palomino Leather box and choose from new Black Laser Special or Open Pore Black accents, which join Kiriko Glass, among others.

2021 Lexus LS The LS's steering wheel has had all its buttons turned to black for the new model year.Photo courtesy of Lexus

At the center of the dashboard is a new 12.3-inch infotainment touch screen. All LS models come standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa capability. Drivers can add a 24-inch head-up display to their model. For 2021, the car's digital rearview mirror offers a larger, high-resolution display. Lexus includes a complementary three-year Dynamic Navigation system trial with every LS purchase.

The Executive Package now comes with heating and massaging functionality for rear seat passengers. Additionally, the passenger-side seat can be reclined up to 48 degrees.

Lexus continues to equip the LS with Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 as standard, which features a number of safety and driver assist technologies.

2021 Lexus LS

Photo courtesy of Lexus

The 2021 Lexus LS 500 will begin arriving at dealerships later this month with a starting MSRP of $76,000, a $550 jump over the 2020 price. The 2021 Lexus LS 500h will make its way to the U.S. in early 2021. Pricing for that model will be announced at a later date. The 2020 Lexus LS 500h starts at $80,010.

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New luxury car

BMW sends its V12 engine off in style

BMW will build its final V12 engine this June.

BMW

Most automakers are focused on building EVs and extracting the best fuel economy from gas engines possible, so it’s not surprising to hear that BMW is pulling the plug on one of its biggest and most iconic engines. In June 2022, BMW will build its very last V12 engine for use in a super-limited-production special edition 7 Series model. The ultra-rare cars will carry a starting price of $200,995.

BMW 760i xDrive The last V12 will power a very special (and very expensive) 7 Series car.BMW

Only twelve lucky customers will have the option to nab a V12-powered BMW, which will be called the M760i xDrive. Displacing 6.6 liters, the twin-turbocharged beast produces a massive 601 horsepower. An eight-speed sport automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard. BMW says the powertrain is strong enough to push the hefty 7 Series car to 60 mph from a standstill in just 3.6 seconds.

The final-run cars will feature little more than a special “V12” badge at the rear to differentiate them from standard 7 Series models. Inside, the car features a serialized plaque with the car’s production number out of the 12 units planned. The engine itself features a nameplate with “The Final V12.”

Beyond the badges, BMW’s 12-cylinder last-hurrah will come standard with 20-inch M double-spoke wheels, a choice of any available BMW full Merino leather color, M Sport brakes with black or blue calipers, a panoramic LED roof, remote control parking, a Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound system, and adaptive LED headlights.

BMW 760i xDrive Only 12 of the cars will be built, with a starting price of more than $200,000.BMW

Though it hasn’t been BMW’s most popular engine over the years, the V12 has been a part of the automaker’s catalog for 35 years. The first 12-cylinder engine showed up in 1987, producing 295 horsepower in the original 750iL sedan.

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What was your best car-related experience this year?

Chris Teague

This year has been a lot of things, but it hasn't been boring. Even if we focus only on the car world, there's plenty to talk about, from microchip-related new vehicle shortages to the wave of new electric vehicles hitting the market. That leaves us with a question for all of you: What was the best or most memorable car moment for you in 2021? I'll get the conversation started.

Porsche Cayenne GTS My SoCal Cayenne śaw snow for the first time in its nearly 200k-mile life last week.Chris Teague

I'd spent a good portion of 2021 wanting a new-old car to drive when I wasn't testing a new vehicle. That's harder than you'd think for someone who thinks, talks, and writes about cars all day, because there are so many interesting, risky, and downright funky options out there in every price range. The added headache for me was that I'd chosen to shop for a "fun" car in one of the most volatile car markets ever seen. Even the extremely high-mileage "untouchable" European cars I wanted to buy were commanding ridiculous prices.

After a solid few months of waffling between various rattletrap Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Audi S/RS cars, I landed on an option that had escaped me before: The Porsche Cayenne. First-generation Cayennes are a real bargain now, but the 955/957 (Porsche's internal code for the SUVs) can experience major problems that occur with or without regular maintenance and care. I was determined to buy one, and wasn't overly concerned about mileage, as long as I could count the number of owners on one hand. There was a beautiful 2009 Cayenne GTS with 90,000 miles but nine owners, a gorgeous 2004 Cayenne Turbo with a concerning engine tick, and many more just like them. Finally, I decided to risky-click a 196,000-mile Cayenne GTS in Southern California. It had one owner and one dealer-owner for a month or two prior to sale, its condition looked decent in photos, and I was able to negotiate a reasonable enough price that shipping it from San Diego to Maine wasn't a huge problem.

Porsche Cayenne GTS The pics look great, but hands-on tells another story.Chris Teague

I had two traveling Euro mechanics check the car out, and both confirmed that it was well-worn but mechanically sound, so I jumped. Ten days later, on a snowy, icy, dark Maine afternoon, the Cayenne arrived. Cosmetically, there were a few things the dealer and mechanics failed to mention, but overall, it looked good. The SUV passed Maine safety and emissions testing without problem, got a new set of Michelins, and I was on my way.

Porsche Cayenne GTS I'm in danger, but thankfully this should be a reasonable fix.Chris Teague

A few days of driving revealed what I was really in for. A check engine light revealed a camshaft position sensor error and the Cayenne displayed a nasty vibration at idle. A new sensor and motor mounts, and I'm on my way. I'll update you as more things break or miraculously work, but I want to hear your memories from 2021.

Email me at chris@automotivemap.com, and I will compile the best and most interesting stories for a story on New Year's Day. May you all have a wonderful 2022.

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