Toyota’s luxury division was launched in 1989, with the first generation1990 Lexus LS model, which sought to conquer the luxury sedan marketplace by offering what the company felt would set new standards in both luxury and refinement. Initially, to many, the car appeared to be simply an attempt to emulate large Mercedes-Benz sedans, and rightly so, since it possessed several of the German automakers styling cues. It was a very nice vehicle, but it was really no Mercedes. Much has changed since that first model was introduced, and now Lexus is certainly on a par with Mercedes-Benz in the large luxury sedan segment, showcasing their latest styling philosophy known within as “L-finesse” which blends higher levels of performance, sophistication, contemporary design cues and luxurious refinements and amenities. L-finesse extends throughout the company’s entire sedan lineup.
Lexus enters its fifth generation with the 2013 LS Series, which includes an offering of seven different models – the base LS 460 is available as RWD or AWD. Next comes an extended model, the LS 460 L, which also comes in either a RWD or AWD configuration, and there are also RWD and AWD models of the LS 460 F-Sport, and finally, perhaps the ultimate offering – the LS 600h L hybrid (long wheelbase and AWD only).
The 2013 Lexus LS lineup receives over 3,000 improved parts and 15 all-new Lexus firsts, including the first ever LS F-Sport. There’s a bold new exterior design that leads off with Lexus’ signature “Spindle” grille, and an updated interior that serves up a bold new dash with specific trim accents, new LED lighting, a new Remote Touch Interface and a new 12.3-inch multimedia display screen that’s capable of presenting up to three informational displays simultaneously.
The driving performance capability has evolved considerably and is more refined, with improved control, vehicle stability, ride comfort and quietness thanks to increased chassis rigidity and aerodynamic tuning. A new Drive Mode Select makes it easy to choose the desired chassis mode, with the optional air suspension adding to the Normal mode, a new Sport S and Sport S+ and a new Comfort mode.
Advanced safety technology comes in the form of available Advanced Pre-Collision System, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and improved Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Alert.
Power for the stately new LS 460 sedan series is provided by a 4.6-liter V-8 engine that is mated to an electronically controlled 8-speed sequential shift, automatic eight-speed transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters on the F-Sport. The high output engine now develops 386 horsepower (6 hp above last year’s models) while generating 367 pound feet of torque. The motor features electric motor-driven Variable Valve Timing with intelligence and electronically controlled intake cam (VVT-iE). The LS 460 is capable of traveling from 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds, with a top speed of 130 mph. Acceleration is not necessarily blistering, but is certainly satisfying in most driving scenarios.
The car’s design was penned displaying complex lines and surface treatments, while exhibiting a greater prominence and increased athleticism. The spindle grille is flanked by side intakes with integrated fog lamps, more prominent fenders and topped by a restyled hood featuring a center bulge and emphasized side creases. The F-Sport employs unique visual elements to distinguish it from the rest of the LS 460 lineup. Its ride height is reduced by 10mm, lowering the center of gravity. Both the front and rear bumpers serve up exclusive styling with the lower front bumper opening enlarged for enhanced cooling, and the spindle grille sports a mesh pattern bordered by exclusive round LED fog lamps. The F-Sport’s rear bumper incorporates an integrated diffuser and the car rides on unique 19-inch forged aluminum wheels finished in dark gray metallic. F-Sport badging appears on the front fenders.
The interior fit and finish are superb and trim accents are available in Walnut, Matte finish Ashburl, aluminum (exclusive to F-Sport), Bamboo and Shimamoku (Japanese for striped wood), utilizing Agathis wood. The latter represents a first for the U.S. market and there are 67 processes over a 38-day period just to make the wood steering wheel. The analog clock comes with a GPS function and never has to be reset. A remote touch interface is used to select and program vehicle functions. There are a staggering number of available options (far too many to list here) for individual personalization of one’s LS 460.
The LS 460 is built on a platform that delivers a pleasing, but delicate balance between ride comfort and responsive handling characteristics. It adapts readily to uneven road surfaces thanks to an adaptable multi-link suspension system both fore and aft. The sumptuous sedan is loaded with both active and passive safety technologies that function as one entity, resulting in a more intelligent and protective vehicle.
Included in the new active safety features are the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) stability system that integrates and manages an Electronically Controlled Brake (ECB) system; Electronic Power Steering (EPS); Vehicle Stability Control (VSC); Antilock Braking System (ABS); and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) along with engine torque through the electronically controlled throttle.
A long-wheelbase version LS 460 L adds 4.8-inches to both the wheelbase and overall vehicle length, bringing additional space to the interior for an exceptionally roomy rear seat area. High-tech connectivity is courtesy of Lexus Enform, factory ready for a variety of innovative SiriusXM services.
During the global launch of the 2013 Lexus LS 460 series, I was able to experience both the regular and long wheelbase versions as well as RWD and AWD models, an F-Sport model and finished off by testing the Lexus LS600h LWB hybrid. All vehicles were pre-production prototypes.
Pricing isn’t expected to be officially announced until late Fall, but given the added technology content and improvements, the Lexus marketing spokesperson indicated that despite a probable increase over the 2012 lineup, that value would be a key factor. I’m guessing that the base LS 460 will be in the $77,000 to $79,000 range. Several options are available including: a Rear Seat Upgrade; Climate Comfort seats; a Touring Package featuring a sport-tuned air suspension; and an Executive Class Seating Package.
The Lexus LS 460 four-door sedan is an exceptional luxury machine that is loaded with amenities and features to complement its stellar performance attributes and handling characteristics. It would indeed be suitable for executive livery service – or not. There are enough driver-oriented features to satisfy most driving enthusiasts, particularly with the F-Sport example, but in an atmosphere of heightened luxury enhancements, that might ultimately place chauffeurs as unemployment statistics.