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2022 Lexus LS 500 might tempt you to tap your retirement fund

With one package option costing close to $25,000 — almost a quarter the price of the car — the LS 500 offers high-end luxury for a price. But is everything worth it?

The 2022 Lexus LS 500 carries over its facelift from 2021, and the new look appears less eager to beat someone to a pulp.
The 2022 Lexus LS 500 carries over its facelift from 2021, and the new look appears less eager to beat someone to a pulp.Read moreLexus

2022 Lexus LS 500 AWD: What you really wanted for Christmas.

Price: $115,175 as tested. The Executive Package adds $23,580 — that’s more than any entire Sturgis vehicle ever has cost, save one. It does add a lot, mostly in great seats, sunshades, and more. There’s also a $1,200 heads-up display; $1,000 panoramic roof; $920 20-inch wheels; $425 paint; and much more being spent as you read on.

Marketer’s pitch: Lexus is subtle. No cheap taglines here.

Conventional wisdom: Consumer Reports likes the “acceleration, quietness, transmission, driver seat comfort, and fit and finish” but not the “extremely distracting controls, ride comfort and rear seat room,” or the “small trunk.”

Reality: Maybe there’s a year-end discount.

» READ MORE: Something about the 2021 Lexus IS 300 feels almost perfect

What’s new: The LS got a refreshening for the 2021 after its last major redesign in 2018.

The LS 500 has a much nicer look now. Rather than a Norelco razor with an anger management problem, the huge, almost ground-scraping grille seems to emphasize giant crisscrossing waves.

Up to speed: With 416 horses, the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 will get you — and its almost three-ton curb weight — moving as fast as possible. A 2021 rear-wheel-drive version gets to 60 mph in 5 seconds, according to Motor Trend (and 4.6 according to Lexus).

The LS accelerates effortlessly, so that when you planned to be going 40 or 45, you’re probably going 60. Or 70. Careful. But passing is sure fun.

On the road: The LS is big and boaty, so one would not expect impressive feats of cornering and handling.

But if you want to find out how well Lexus finessed the LS 500 handling, just leave it in regular mode by accident. I thought it was in Sport mode and tried a pretty gentle corner a little fast, and soon almost left the road. Twist that Sport mode knob, Sturgis. Fortunately the $3,000 Lexus Safety System+ is there to bail you out.

Still, despite the Sport-mode improvements, the $1,400 adaptive variable air suspension can’t overcome the laws of physics. There’s some body roll and a lot of bounce on rolling country roads. It hits some bumps pretty harshly in Sport mode, as well.

Shifty: The console-mounted electronic shifter provides the feel of a regular shifter. Push to the left and forward for Reverse, pull back and to the left for Drive. A button sets Park.

Pull the lever back once you’re in Drive and the 10-speed transmission also provides shiftability, but it’s more than mere mortals can keep up with.

It all functions with amazing smoothness.

Driver’s Seat: It’s a Lexus. Aaaah. But in a super fancy Lexus, the semi-aniline leather power seat is heated and cooled and moves 28 ways and also provides massages, all as part of the Executive Package. Five different styles of massage. Wowsers. Maybe that $23K is worth it. (Don’t worry; you also get power seat belt buckles. Seriously.)

The hand-pleated door trim looks spiffy, too, as does the rest of the cockpit. The $410 heated wood and leather steering wheel is a delight to hold.

» READ MORE: Ode to an Audi: 2021 A6 Allroad Quattro is a wagonload of joy

Friends and stuff: Passengers are not forgotten, either — the rear seat gets 22 moves with massagers, as well (yes, still listing items from that Executive Package).

And all the rooms are generous — the leg-, head- and foot rooms, that is.

Cargo space is 17 cubic feet, not so bad, but the rear seat doesn’t fold.

Play some tunes: The Mark Levinson 23-speaker audio system ($1,940) provides delightful accompaniment to any drive. Songs come across almost perfect phonically, an A.

And with each upgrade, Lexus seems to kick its feet in the dirt and look bashful and admit how sorry it is about the touch pad without actually, you know, getting rid of the touch pad. There are buttons added, and the screen now has touch functions, but the touch pad still sits there. Like a coworker whose skills have been bypassed but who somehow manages to hang on to the job because the boss won’t admit to a bad hire.

Night shift: If my $115,000 Lexus was this difficult to see by at night, I’d be at the dealer raising a fuss. A common problem among today’s cars, the LS 500′s LED lights are so tightly focused that drivers can’t see much higher than the hood unless the high beams are on.

Sure, the interior lights are delightful and it looks great to pedestrians watching as it approaches, but passing oncoming cars on unlined country roads at night became a terrifying episode.

Fuel economy: I was mostly running about 15 mpg near home, but it rose to 22 for a highway trip to Philadelphia. Feed the LS the best, thanks.

Where it’s built: Tahara, Japan

How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts the Lexus LS reliability to be a 3 out of 5. Uh-oh, maybe you don’t get what you pay for.

In the end: Maybe this isn’t what you wanted for Christmas after all. Maybe you wanted an IS300, or Audi A6 Allroad. Or even slum it in a Subaru Outback Wilderness or Jeep Wrangler 4XE. (For $115 grand, you can even choose two.) For this year, those were a few of my favorite things.

Next week: The Outback Wilderness, once tested in the mud for a day, gets a full review.

Back and forth: A correction to the recent 2022 Acura MDX review: Although Mr. Driver’s Seat never found second-row seat adjustments, a Honda official pointed out they are there, moving the seats six inches forward and back. This would boost the MDX into one of the favorites of its class.