New Car/Review

Lexus

Lexus LS430 (2001)

SEE ALSO: Lexus Rover Buyer's Guide

by Brendan Hagin and Mikele Schappell-Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 54,005
     Price As Tested                                    $ 57,915
     Engine Type              DOHC 32-valve 4.3 Liter V8 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 262 cid/4293 cc
     Horsepower                                   290 @ 5600 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               320 @ 3400 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  115.2"/72.0"/196.7"
     Transmission                           Five-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4130 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  22.2 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                           225/55R17 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.26

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            18/25/22
     0-60 MPH                                        6.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                                  14.5 @ 99.0 mph
     Top-speed                                (Governed) 146 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

BRENDAN - When Toyota Motor Company introduced its Lexus LS400 sedan to the car buying public in 1990, it wasn't long before it was holding its own against the European luxury models that had dominated for so long. It had V8 power and all the accouterments expected in an upscale vehicle and it sold quite well. But after 10 years, it needed a little change to keep up with the advancements and new upscale cars coming from Germany, Sweden and England, as well as the USA. So along comes the LS430, an updated version of the LS400, though now powered by a bigger V8 four-cam, 32-valve, 4.3-liter power plant that supplies a healthy 290 horsepower and an even healthier 300-pound feet of torque. Its continuously variable valve timing tailors the engine for the highest power as the engine speed changes. The five-speed automatic transmission also fine-tunes its shift timing, and the results are an extremely smooth and efficient ride. It felt as though we were on our way to a fancy ball every time we drove in it.

MIKELE - Although I'm not given to ostentatiousness, I have to admit that I love driving in the luxury cars we get. The LS430 has a perfect ride, and when I drove it. it felt like it was an extension of my body. It uses double-wishbone suspension front and rear, and vehicle- speed-sensing progressive power rack-and-pinion steering. It's also rear wheel-drive, a layout that seems to be nearly the norm in the best luxury cars of today.

BRENDAN - The LS430 stops as good as it goes, too. It has four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock braking system and special air ducting inside each disc that helps dissipate heat, which reduces the likelihood of brake fade. The LS430 is a solid car that really makes the driver feel safe and secure. The interior is quite luxurious with all the classy bells and whistles. It's got dual-zone climate control system with a smog-sensing air filtration device which keeps all that road pollution from getting inside. The front seats are multi-adjustable, and obviously a lot of engineering talent went into making them extremely comfortable. The LS430 we drove also had the top-of-the-line Mark Levinson Audio System Package. Mark Levinson is a designer of premium home stereo systems, and has been selected by Lexus to be a "partner." The unit is a 240-watt powerhouse with seven speakers and a six-disc in-dash CD changer that sounds like you're in a concert hall. It also has a cassette player, but I rarely use it.

MIKELE - Besides all that good music, it also has a tilt-and-slide one-touch moonroof and heated seats. The LS430 provides all the standard luxury stuff too, like power windows with a quick one-touch feature and "pinch" protection, a DVD Navigation System and a power tilt-and- telescoping steering column. The inside is very impressive, Bren, but I was taken with the exterior of the Lexus. It has ultra-smooth lines that have that European styling, but it's different enough to not be a ripoff. It has a drag coefficient is 0.25, which is one of the best in the sedan category and no doubt helps get that 25 miles per gallon on the highway. The exterior is technically-advanced too. It's roof side rails channel rain and windshield washing fluid away from side windows. It's a small design item, but it shows the Lexus attention to detail. It also has water-repellent glass on the front side windows for safer wet-weather driving. The outside mirrors are heated to dissipate condensation, and the 17-inch alloy wheels are a great finishing touch.

BRENDAN - It was a nice car to be driving around in, and it had all the safety items needed to make even the most apprehensive drivers happy. Airbags in front of the driver and the front passenger are standard, of course, and so are front and rear side-impact and front and rear curtain units. It also has a vehicle skid control system that recognizes when there is a lateral slip in the tires. I only wish our house was as safe and luxurious as the LS430, Mikele.

MIKELE - The only reason you'd need airbags on your cherished beat-up old couch is if your team is losing.

 

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