Lexus LS gets a mid-cycle update for 2021 that refines ride experience, keeps touch pad

The new Lexus LS has most of its refinements underneath its hood and body.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

It's been around four years since the current generation Lexus LS was revealed and now the company is showing off a variety of updates to the car for the 2021 model year.

The latest round of upgrades focuses on three areas: comfort, soundproofing, and refinement. "The entire team united and tenaciously searched for elements that needed to be improved," said Yoshiaki Ito, Lexus International. "Placing importance on people's sensibilities, we thoroughly addressed every detail of the components and control systems related to driving performance, including quietness and ride comfort, ranging, for example, from the internal structure of the tires to the feel experienced when sitting in the seats and the acceleration response in daily driving."

2021 Lexus LS The automaker has implemented new paint technology that allows them to offer a fresh version of the typical silver paint job.Photo courtesy of Lexus

Underpinning the car is a new adaptive variable suspension that combines comfort with performance, allowing both to be translated to the driving experience. The vertical spring rate and run-flat tires combine with the stabilizer bars to execute this balance.

Lexus has changed the orifice inside the engine mounts allowing for less noise and vibration from the beating heart of the flagship to permeate the cabin. The models have undergone active noise control and engine sound enhancement refinement as well to deliver a quieter interior.

Lexus IS giving the LS the same adaptive high-beam system that debuted on the 2019 Lexus RX. Additional refinements to the exterior of the car include a vertical-themed character line at the corner of the front bumper with chrome trim wrapping around the lower edge of the bumper and up the sides. Deep headlights and quarish sub-radiator grilles sit on the face while the grille mesh has been changed to a dark metallic color. Chrome trim within the rear lights has been changed to Piano Black.

LS 500 F Sport models get a dedicated spindle grille and 20-inch wheels in a dedicated color.

2021 Lexus LS LS F Sport models get a dedicated dark paint color for the wheels and grille.Photo courtesy of Lexus

Buyers can get the car in Gin-ei Luster, a new exterior color that is enabled because of fresh paint technology. The paint is applied using the Sonic Method, a process that condenses the paint volume. It employs a aluminum evaporation coating that is spread over the surface at high density resulting in a smooth, mirror-like texture.

The LS 500h, the car's hybrid battery system delivers improved initial engine torque to deliver greater acceleration response. The car's shift timing has also been adjusted resulting in an automatic transmission that downshifts less frequently.

The LS features upholstery with deeper stitching points and underlying seat pads are made of low-resilience urethane, which helps absorb vibration and enhance comfort. New Nishijin & Haku ornamentation is available, taking its deign notes from a "path of moonlight on the sea".

2021 Lexus LS Rear seat riders can have an executive car experience.Photo courtesy of Lexus

Lexus has also altered the controls on the steering wheel and center console, making them all black. Also, a switch for displaying on the touch display the controls for the often-used seat heaters and steering wheel heater has been added to the center console.

Additional features include a rearview camera mirror, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 12.3-inch infotainment touch screen.

Lexus is giving the LS Advanced Drive and Advanced Park driving assist technologies. Advanced Drive performs like many other hands-on advanced driver assist systems like Nissan's ProPilot Assist and Tesla Autopilot, allowing technology to guide a vehicle in its lane, maintain vehicle-to-vehicle distance, change lanes, and overtaking other vehicles when driving on expressways. According to Lexus, "The driver is freed from operation of the accelerator, brakes, and steering, allowing a reduction in driver burden during long drives and enabling safe driving in which the driver is able to pay better attention to the surroundings."

2021 Lexus LS New Nishijin & Haku ornamentation, seen here one the door panels, is available.Photo courtesy of Lexus

Advanced Park technology utilizes integrated cameras and ultrasonic sensors to park a vehicle. The system takes control of the car's steering, acceleration, braking, and gear changes while the infotainment screen displays the ideal steering wheel positions for a safe parking experience.

The car will go on sale in Japan later this year with additional markets to follow.

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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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Electric vehicles

NHTSA looking into Tesla's in-car video games

Some owners have discovered that their car's video games work when the car is moving.

Tesla

Tesla's vehicles are among the most advanced and forward-thinking products of any kind, but serious innovation doesn't come with tradeoffs. The automaker has been in the news recently because of issues with how its advanced cruise control systems function, and now, Autoblog reports that the NHTSA is asking questions about Tesla giving drivers the ability to play video games and browse the internet while driving.

Tesla Arcade hands-on: the Model 3 is your video game console youtu.be

The feature is intended to be used while the car is parked, such as while charging, so the discovery that people can use them while driving is a serious one. Vince Patton, the person who filed the complaint with the NHTSA, tested his car and found that he could play Solitaire and a fairly involved action game while it was in motion. Internet browsing was also possible, meaning the driver could take their attention completely off the road ahead for extended periods of time.

Tesla Model 3 Tesla's screens offer advanced functions that many others do not. Tesla

Tesla was already under investigation over crashes involving its Autopilot feature. Several collisions have occurred between Teslas and emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. Following the initiation of that investigation, the NHTSA raised other questions with the automaker over a buggy software update that was pushed out, retracted, fixed, and reissued outside of the normal recall process. Despite their names, it's important to clarify that neither the Autopilot nor Full Self-Driving features are capable of driving the cars without driver awareness and input.

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