2013 Lexus LS 460 Rocky Mountain Review By Dan Poler


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By Dan Poler
Rocky Mountain Bureau
The Auto Channel


The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection. Such was Lexus’ slogan at launch in the 1980’s. Indeed, Lexus has invested decades and billions in the creation of the perfect luxury sedan. Have they found it in the 2013 LS 460? And if they have, is perfection somewhat, well, boring?

Freshly redesigned for 2013, the LS sports Lexus’ new angular corporate snout which really underscores the sibling relationship between the ES, GS, and LS – and not without a certain aggressiveness to it. We find plenty of other updated design cues on the outside such as more rounded taillights which – intentionally or not – incorporate Lexus’ stylized “L” logo into the shape of LED light pipes, a nice detail. The real thing you notice, however, upon seeing the car, is its enormity. At an even 200 inches – almost 17 feet – in the non-“L” variety, it’s large and imposing. The “L” variety will add another five inches to that, taking it just over the 17-foot mark.

Inside we find just what we expect from Lexus’ top-end sedan: Quality materials, comfort, and space. The interior feels not built, or assembled, but crafted. Most surfaces are soft to the touch, and the leather seats are among the softest and most comfortable we’ve seen and sat in. Rear passengers will be treated to extensive legroom courtesy of that overall length, but headroom is surprisingly lacking – a five-foot-eleven-inch passenger had his head at the window. Beautiful details abound throughout, such as Lexus’ use of Shimamoku wood throughout the interior, created via a process Lexus tells us takes 38 days, and that we can attest, produces amazing results. Also neat is the digital climate control display which shows the illusion of the temperature digits rolling up or down depending on which direction the temperature was adjusted – totally unnecessary, but it’s the little details like this that add up to create a world-class interior.

Where the LS falls short is in the continued use of Remote Touch, the mouselike mechanism to control selection on the screen that manages entertainment, communications, and navigation, as well as some vehicle settings. The LS sports perhaps the most tolerable version of Remote Touch we’ve encountered; the widescreen 12.3” display makes it possible to have two features up on screen side-by-side – for example, entertainment information next to a full-size navigation map – and settings are available to control the amount of resistance in the Remote Touch control, but we still find the system to be needlessly complex and distracting, with a lot of clicks necessary to perform basic functions. As we’ve commented before, Remote Touch is love-it-or-hate-it, and we don’t love it.

Driving the LS belies its enormous size and 4,200-lb curb weight. Push the start button and the V8 springs to life with a nice, deep note. The vehicle feels surprisingly nimble and maneuverable, as if it’s actually smaller. Power is laid down to the rear wheels via an 8-speed sequential-shift automatic.

For all of its power and hardware, the LS is not terribly engaging to drive. The word that comes to mind to describe the driving experience is “mellow”. That’s not to say that it’s bad – but just not seat-of-your-pants-turn-it-up-to-11 fun as you might find in some of its German counterparts. The car will do exactly what it’s told. At highway speed, the transmission may hesitate for a moment before downshifting, but following that short pause, the car will obediently adjust speed accordingly. The cabin feels so isolated and quiet, however, that there really is no difference in feeling across a wide range of speed – the car handles, sounds, and behaves nearly the same at 20 MPH or 80 MPH; the only perceptible difference is how fast the scenery goes by the window. This is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it is probably a strong appeal to some buyers, exactly what will draw them to the LS 460 as a perfect vehicle for their needs. On the plus side, the excellent balance, tight suspension, and Bridgestone Tires worked in harmony to keep the car perfectly planted; it didn’t slip once in our time driving, despite our best efforts – impressive for a rear-wheel drive car in Winter months in the Mountain West.

And then there’s the price. At an estimated MSRP just north of $75,000, our tester represents a significant value in the full-size luxury sedan segment – by comparison, a similarly equipped 740i will provide 70 fewer horses and run a whopping $17,000 more.

Perhaps perfection is a little boring. But there’s nothing wrong with that. Despite our quibbles with Remote touch, the Lexus LS 460 is a solid choice and a nicely-executed update to a standard of this segment. Its price represents an excellent value and we give the new LS a hearty thumbs-up.

Specifications

2013 Lexus LS 460
Base Price: $71,990.00
Price as Tested: $75,720 (est.)
Engine Type: 90-degree V8; aluminum block and heads; direct and port fuel injection
Engine Size: 4.6 liter
Horsepower: 386 @ 6,400 RPM
Torque (lb-ft): 367 @ 4,100 RPM
Transmission: Eight-speed sequential-shift automatic
Wheelbase / Length (in): 116.9 / 200
Curb Weight: 4,233 lbs
Pounds per HP: 10.97
Fuel Capacity (gal): 22.2
Fuel Requirement: Premium unleaded
Tires: Bridgestone Turanza ER33; 245/45YR19
Brakes: Ventilated disc 
Suspension, front/rear: Multi-link / Multi-link
Ground clearance (in): 5.1
Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
EPA Fuel Economy - MPG
city / highway / observed: 16 / 24 / 23
Base Trim Price: $71,990

Options and Charges (note: Pre-production vehicle – options and combinations listed below may not be orderable)

Blind Spot Monitor: $500.00
Mark Levinson Sound System: $1,580.00
Comfort Package: $1,650.00

Price as tested: $75,720.00


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