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2018 Lexus LS 500: Over-the-Top Driver-Assist and Safety Technology

Although you may be dazzled by the good looks of the Lexus LS 500, or that its 416-horsepower 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 can launch it from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in 4.6 seconds, what really stopped us in our tracks is the amazing amount of technology it offers to aid the driver and protect the passengers.

Befitting the flagship sedan of a luxury brand, the fifth-generation LS is chock-full of next-generation safety and driver-assist technology. The list just seems to go on and on. Some of these technologies are standard and others additional-cost options — but the list is nothing short of impressive.

Lexus rolls many of these technologies into two packages: Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+) and Lexus Safety System+A (LSS+A). LSS+ is standard on every LS 500; LSS+A is optional.

LSS+

The LSS+ technologies may be familiar to you. They include dynamic radar cruise control, intelligent high beam, lane-keep assist, lane-departure alert and a front precollision system (PCS) with pedestrian detection.

Of all of these systems, PCS is probably the least well-known. It’s not new but warrants some explanation. PCS really does two things: It senses when a frontal crash is likely and prepares for it. Using the same sensors as the dynamic cruise control system, PCS detects vehicles and stationary objects ahead. Calculating their distance, it then decides if a crash is likely. In addition to alerting the driver and even slowing the car (it will bring the car to a full stop at speeds below 24 mph), PCS tightens the front seat belts and prepares its brake-assist feature to apply increased brake pressure when the driver does hit the brakes. The latest generation of PCS in the 2018 Lexus LS 500 includes pedestrian detection.

LSS+A

In addition to all the systems contained in LSS+, LSS+A has a number of cutting-edge technologies.

Much more advanced than in the LSS+, the PCS offered in LSS+A can slow the car from about 37 mph. Beyond simply detecting a pedestrian, its pedestrian alert can estimate the direction the pedestrian is moving in, which is then projected in the head-up display (HUD). If the system determines braking alone won’t avoid the collision, it plots a safe course around the pedestrian or object. Engaging the LSS+A’s active steering assist, the LS 500 will try to avoid the collision through both steering and braking.

Lane-trace assist (LTA) tracks the path of the vehicle ahead and traces that path. Lexus believes this system to be helpful when lanes aren’t well-marked or in stop-and-go situations when traffic is bunched together. It also senses when the LS is entering a curve too fast and will alert the driver as well as automatically slow down the car.

Combining the dynamic cruise control with the LTA results in Lexus CoDrive. CoDrive offers the driver steering support on highways and motor-vehicle-only roadways. This is a way of saying the LS 500 can basically do much of the driving itself in certain limited conditions.

Front cross-traffic alert detects vehicles crossing in front of the LS at up to a distance of more than 150 feet when traveling at lower speeds. The system alerts the driver with both visual and audible warnings.

Road-sign assist uses a camera and navigational maps to alert the driver — through the HUD — of road-sign information such as speed limits, stop, yield and so forth.

An advanced lane-departure alert with steering assist not only senses when the LS is drifting out of its lane and nudges the car back on course, but it can often recognize the boundary between the pavement and curbs, grass and dirt. It can often provide steering assistance here as well.

Wrap Up

Lexus has yet to announce final pricing for the 2018 Lexus LS 500 but has hinted the base price will be around $75,000. No way to divine what the LSS+A package will add to the bottom line, but it won’t be cheap.

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Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps is an author specializing in automotive, financial and travel news. For nearly 35 years he has covered the automotive industry for newspapers, magazines and internet websites. His resume includes The Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, The Washington Times and numerous other daily newspapers through syndication. He edited Auto World magazine, and helped create and edit NOPI Street Performance Compact magazines. He supplied financial content and automotive-industry analysis to Bankrate.com and Interest.com.

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