2013 Lexus LS 460 F Sport: Prevailing Ethos of Resilience

Lexus has always been the darling and most compelling of the Japanese luxury brands since its introduction as the flagship for automotive powerhouse Toyota. Their knack for quality engineered and technology savvy vehicles has kept them atop of middle class and wealthy buyer’s radars for years. After all, it was Lexus and their stately LS which first introduced partial, self-parking systems that eventually caught onto the rest of the auto industry including BMW, Mercedes and Ford. And as evolution has it, Lexus intensifies its LS 460 platform with a 2013 model laden with luxe interiors, exterior style and grace, fifteen contemporary novelties or Lexus firsts and enhanced tech 2.0 gadgetry.

Undoubtedly Lexus is one of the most resilient automakers in the world. So much so that my immediate family has brought Lexus vehicles time after time. Specifically, my wife and her mother absolutely respect the attention Lexus pays to its customers when it’s time for service. They walk away with 100% satisfaction. This charge is partially the reason sales are up 20% this year and will ultimately help Lexus sell 240,000 vehicles by year’s end. Another boost will emanate from the launch of an athletic variant of the 2013 LS dubbed the F Sport. Since the flagship sedan has always been recognized as a pure luxury car and not a performance driver’s vehicle, the latest iteration offers up a few concurrent solutions.

Let’s begin the journey down Lexus’ new path. First and foremost, the front end of a vehicle represents its true identity and is essential to the overall message it conveys to potential owners. It dictates whether the identity becomes sporty or more illustrious. Consider the new “spindle grille.” Similar to the design direction Audi embarked upon a few years ago with their bold, domineering grille, the Lexus fascia is reminiscent of Darth Vader’s mask and finally puts the LS in conversations with the Germans and British. For some it may actually be too jarring, but my assertion is that Lexus got it right. The F Sport, essentially an appearance and minor mechanical package to enhance the spirit of the LS, can be compared to BMW’s M Sport Package. I liked the Ultra White body color as it stood out with the black trim, grille and 19” rims and works well with its LED Daytime Running Lamps and LED fog lamps. For perpetuating preferences, the LS is offered in a standard wheelbase (LS 460) and long wheelbase form (LS 460L) and also as a hybrid dubbed the LS 600h L which is focused on performance as are all Lexus hybrids. All platforms are available in Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) or All-Wheel Drive (AWD) trim.

The interior highlights no lack of specificity either. For example, the long wheelbase can feature the Ottoman Seating Package consisting of Shiatsu Massage chairs and can be ordered with the Blu-ray DVD player Rear Seat Entertainment System. Ivory, Light Gray, Black, Black and Saddle Tan, and ? Topaz Brown are your hue schemes and optional Walnut, Shimamoku Espresso (striped wood), and Matte Brown Bird’s Eye Maple are your wood choices. The bespoke Shimamoku Espresso is all new and transitions through 67 processes before a 38-day completion. It stems from the EDO era in Japan and is found in high-class Japanese households. Another LS technology, Climate Concierge, warms up or cools the steering wheel and seats automatically to adjust to passenger’s comfort temperature. The quiet cabin is built around aluminum, leather, Alcantara (faux suede), hand stitching and lovely veneers. A dominant 12.3” multi-information screen with split screens is the central focus of the center stack. It is operated by way of the second generation Remote Touch Interface (RTI) which I am not a fan of. Similar to a computer mouse, a major hindrance is the controller is too jittery and time consuming for imputing addresses and locating indicators on the screen. It took me a good five minutes to input a simple destination. With BMW’s iDrive it only takes a minute or so. The system also needs a “back” button so you can easily return to the previous screen, especially since I made many errors trying to zero in on the inputs needed. Lastly, 3D mapping needs to be included in the next installment. All of the LS’s major competitors have it. Lexus must avert these missteps because it could very much be the difference from a new customer purchasing an Audi or Mercedes over the LS. Either a base 10-speaker system or optional 450-watt, 19-speaker Mark Levinson audio system is offered. To our surprise the wattage in the Levinson system was fairly low in comparison to other competitive systems such as the Bowers & Wilkins in Jaguars. Additionally, in surround mode it was still front passenger biased.

The F Sport, like the entire non-hybrid LS range, performs with a 4.6-liter V8. It outputs 386 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque for the RWD version. However, in AWD versions the horsepower decreases to 360 and torque to 347 even though weight is increased. An 8-speed automatic transmission sequential shift transmission is partnered with the efficient V8. A turbocharger added to the 4.6 would make the F Sport much more thrilling. I do like the shift paddles that come with the F Sport package allowing the driver to optimize acceleration. The F Sport in its entirety offers 19-inch forged alloy wheels, aluminum pedals, 14.8” front Brembo brakes, a Limited Slip Differential (RWD only), paddle shifters, a lowered sport tuned air suspension, sport seats, and only one interior which is black leather with aluminum trim. The seats have more bolstering and are extremely comfortable. Configurable drive modes from the Drive Mode Select alters the characteristics of the vehicle depending on a Comfort, Eco, Normal Sport or Sport + preference.

Advanced safety features are always expected from a flagship Lexus. For example, Blind Spot Monitor with Cross Traffic Alert is a useful warning system that notifies drivers of when it is safe to switch lanes. The Advanced Pre-Collision Safety System uses stereo cameras and wave radar to recognize pedestrians and help avoid hitting them, even at night. The system will automatically brake the LS at speeds up to 24 mph, and applies as much braking as it can when the vehicle is traveling above that speed. The LS also is engineered with Adaptive Cruise Control which will brake the vehicle based on traffic speed ahead of it.

Styling is enhanced, technology has increased, and safety has been installed on the new 2013 Lexus LS 460 F Sport. Pricing for the RWD F Sport begins at $81,990 and $84,885 for the AWD. The delivery, processing, and handling fee for all Lexus models is $895.


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