Lexus Unveils New Flagship

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from Mac Gordon

When Toyota's luxury sedan, the Lexus ES400, stormed the heights in 1990, no automaker or analyst in their right minds believed another rear-drive sedan-albeit one with basic rear-wheel-drive-would establish an upscale brand whose option package would list the successor Lexus in 2014 for an unheard of $97,585!

Dubbed the LS460, the 2014 Lexus sedan rates its steady evolution from the car craved by the “Great Gatsby” the past 23 years as a gotta-have rivaling all the cruisers from BMW, Porsche, Cadillac, Bentley, and Lincoln, and the Mercedes S-class.

The Lexus legend has overtaken most if not all of the premier sedans from other Asian and European brands. It is the choice of the upmarket crowd, in an advance outweighing such ancient brands as Cadillac, Lincoln, Bentley and Maserati.

From the outset, when Toyota ordered its best dealers to confine Lexus to separate showrooms, Lexus has followed (or emulated) the desires of Corolla, Camry, Avalon and Sienna owners. Infiniti has never matched Lexus sales.

Desirous of surging to the global lead in premier sedan sales, Toyota has not skimped except in MPG rates. Toyota shrinks from engine tweaks that “save fuel, as it has turned Lexus models into technical and aesthetic wonders as industry firsts.

Such as:

• free-floating suspension absorbing every road crash and pothole

• All-wheel drive

• V-8 engine plus an 8-speed AT

• A hybrid 5-liter V-8

• A brand new “spindle grille”

• A front-seat control tower (a foot high))-controlling all phones, audio systems, climate controls and the nav unit

• power adjusting rear seats, door closings, a shifter massager and the NY Times's reviewers description of “impeccable leather seats.”

• Lexus safety systems including automatic brake-deployments if crashes are near at 25 MPH on the heels of a parallel parking move

• Lexus is spreading LS460 goodies to its junior models in 2014-included the FS Sport, priced at $88,815

Toyota calls its new Lexus LS460 a “flagship,” but it's more of a Rolls-like trotter, placing behind Gatsby's Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ in the MPG department.

After all, if you've read the book and seen the movie, you can afford $5a gallon at the pump, just like Jay Gatsby.

What Toyota has reeled off with the ES400, writes NY Times writer John Pearley Huffman “is a car whose time has passed,” a charge saved for comparison notions with the German supercars.

The Germans do turbocharge to better MPG scores (ES 460 tallies 16 mpg city and 24 highway), but do LS owners really care? Flagship admirals prefer to lead “all the ships at sea” to all the SUVs and 6-figure SUVs in the traffic jams. Ask the guys at JM Lexus, Penske Lexus, or whomever Lexus about the new fleet admiral!

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