Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
I’ve always been a staunch admirer of California in the summer because of its unique topography, lush landscapes, beautiful weather, rolling hills, picturesque beach scenery, and excellent driving roads. So whether I’m carving out pathways on Mulholland Drive in route to Santa Monica, breezing through the Redwoods, or reveling in the experience of an epic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, the moment — no matter how many times repeated — never gets old. Of course, you especially feel divine when your chariot happens to be a 2021 Lexus LS 500 F SPORT presented in an elegant Matador Red Mica shine.
The LS is the quintessential top-of-the-line luxury model for the Lexus brand and continues to evolve to satisfy upper echelon automotive connoisseurs. Recently updated with various performance modalities; Takumi craftsmanship (or detailed artisanship build quality); Omotenashi hospitality, an array of preemptive services to cater to customers’ needs; and Lexus Driving Signature, a modern design approach to the vehicle’s development and refinement. As a frequent visitor to Nihon (Nippon), aka “The Land of the Rising Sun,” I can attest firsthand to the methodical philosophies instilled into Japanese engineering. Yet, it is accomplished with a semblance of meditative balance.
I picked up my LS 500 F SPORT from LAX for a journey to Santa Barbara to visit old friends and relax my mind. With the Santa Ynez Mountains as your theatrical backdrop, fine dining to the Mediterranean décor of downtown, and positive vibes from the people, this is the perfect destination for peace and tranquility. Cali coastal cruising in a fresh and hypnotically gorgeous vehicle like the reinvigorated LS — with its alluring and revised spindle grille and new triple-projector LED headlamps — set the tone for the remainder of the trip. But keep in mind Lexus, in recent years, has finally begun to introduce more enticing stylings and features to their vehicles. Previously, they did everything right but without exuberance. However, today is a new era for the brand, which is seeking support from the likes of S-Class, 7-Series, Panamera, and A8 aficionados.
Everywhere I went in town, people were basking in the craftsmanship of the 2021 LS and the allure of the Matador Red Mica paint scheme. Though, the F SPORT package is an incontrovertible necessity if you wish for your Lexus to overly appease spectators along with yourself. It incorporates sinister 20” split 5-spoke alloy Dark Vapor Chrome rims, F SPORT exterior styling, aluminum pedals, and interior trim, F SPORT perforated leather interior (heated steering wheel, shifter knob) with an Ultrasuede headliner, 28-way power front seats, and performance-inspired sliding instrumentation. For dynamic capabilities, the package also adds the F SPORT-tuned Adaptive Variable Suspension and 6-piston front brake calipers with 15.7” ventilated discs to slow the momentum from the 3.5-liter Twin Turbo V6 with 416 horsepower and 442 lb.-ft. of torque between 1600-4800 rpm. Paired with a 10-speed Direct-Shift automatic transmission with paddle shifters, the acceleration was just right for a vehicle of this stature. However, I did feel like I made more than anticipated fuel stops during my week with the LS. Expect 22 combined MPG from the luxury touring sedan, and with higher California gas prices, I was a bit dismayed financially.
Inside the modish cabin, audiophiles will enjoy the expansive 12.3” Lexus Navigation System touchscreen and powerful 23-speaker Mark Levinson Quantum Logic Immersion Reference Surround Sound audio system with multimedia, Apple CarPlay, Lexus Enform Wi-Fi, SmartWatch, and Amazon Alexa integration. The interior also comprises dual-zone automatic climate control, a panoramic moonroof, 24″ Head-Up Display, a digital rearview mirror, Panoramic View Monitor, illuminated door sills, and much more. With an MSRP of $79,600, my build and its options totaled $98,990, including the $1,025 destination fee; the $7,800 F SPORT Dynamic Handling Package with Active Rear Steering; and the $3,000 Lexus Safety System +A: Pre-Collision w/Active Braking, Active Steering Assist, etc.
As you can see, I had a multitude of features at my disposal and a thousand reasons of enjoyment that dramatically enhanced the drive experience behind the wheel. Trust me. I’ll be back in California soon enough.