When the Lexus LS400 went on sale in 1989, the American luxury-car market changed forever. Lexus, Infiniti and Acura promptly made their presence known, and the premium class hasn't been the same since.
The Lexus LS was the Japanese flagship then, and still is, with the new 2007 LS460, the fourth generation. It is tough to top yourself, but Lexus has done it -- partly with gimmicks, partly with solid engineering and partly with the old standby: more power. The 2006 LS430 had a 4.3-liter V-8 with 278 horsepower. The LS460, with a new 4.6-liter V-8, pumps out 380 horsepower, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. That eight-speed transmission works well enough and helps the big sedan get a not-terrible EPA-rated 18 miles per gallon city, 27 mpg on the highway, but it comes close to being one of the "gimmicks" I mentioned. From a standing stop, to highway speed, to a standing stop again, it shifts a lot.
Though comparatively unimportant in the long run, the LS460's most publicity-getting feature is the optional ($700) advance parking-guidance system, which, at the touch of a button, allows the car to parallel-park itself using sonar sensors and the backup camera. Though it takes quite a while, and the parking space must be plenty large, it does work. But once you try it, you'll only trot out the feature for passengers.
Other, less attention-grabbing features are more important, such as the exhaustive roster of safety equipment that includes an ultra-sophisticated stability-control system, 10 air bags and an adaptive front lighting system. And, of course, Lexus did not forget creature comforts, such as the optional ($2,530) Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound Audio System that has 19 speakers and a hard drive that can hold as many as 2,000 songs.
The test car was the LS460L, with the "L" signifying 4.8 inches of extra length. The L adds $10,000 to the price of the LS460; the regular model starts at $61,000, and the L starts at $71,000. With shipping and options, the test car listed for $81,472. It did not have the Executive Class Seating Package, which would have added a rear-seat entertainment system plus a right rear-seat recliner with "multifunction massage and an ottoman leg rest," the "world's first ceiling climate diffusers," rear-door power sunshades, and "a fixed rear console with foldout table." After all, we didn't want to be ostentatious.
On the road, the LS460L is what you would expect: fast, solid, library-quiet. Handling is good for a car this size, due in part to the optional ($2,120) air suspension package. But, as with all LS models before it, the driving experience is a little sterile and uninvolving, especially compared with the similar BMW and Mercedes-Benz models. That isn't a criticism, just an observation.
Otherwise, this car remains the template for true luxury.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Mike Hanley||Cars.com National||March 15, 2007|
|Dan Carney||Cars.com National||February 23, 2006|
|Mark Glover||The Sacramento Bee||April 6, 2007|
|Bob Golfen||AZCentral.com||March 26, 2007|
|G. Chambers Williams III||Star-Telegram.com||February 1, 2007|
|Royal Ford||Boston.com||January 28, 2007|
|Steven Cole Smith||Orlando Sentinel||December 31, 2006|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||December 29, 2006|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||November 29, 2006|
|Anita And Paul Lienert||The Detroit Newspapers||November 15, 2006|
|Dan Neil||Los Angeles Times||August 30, 2006|
|Sara Lacey||Mother Proof||August 24, 2006|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||January 27, 2006|
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