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Heels on Wheels: 2012 Lexus LS 460 Review


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2012 Lexus LS 460

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE LEXUS LS 460 VEHICLE
The 2012 Lexus LS 460 is a large-size luxury sedan with an endless menu of premium fixings, from supple leather seating and a parking guidance system, to even more exclusive features like reclining rear seats and high-performance Brembo brakes. However, you can limit the over-the-top luxury, which seems to be the working formula for how Toyota is able to keep the LS 460’s base price tag somewhat reasonable at $67,630 (for this segment, anyway).

I drove a 2012 Lexus LS 460 with the 380-horsepower direct-injection 4.6-liter V8 engine that goes from 0-60 in 5.4 seconds, and is paired with an eight-speed sequential-shift automatic transmission with rear-wheel drive (all-wheel drive optional). Available as a Base or L trim, standard equipment for the Base includes: leather-trimmed interior; push-button start; power adjustable front seating; genuine wood trim; multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel; a ten-speaker audio sound system; Bluetooth connectivity; XM Radio; dual-zone climate control; and eighteen-inch alloy wheels. Add on an optional $2,035 Comfort Package with Sport (front heated and cooled seats, power rear sunshade; intuitive parking assist, power trunk close); a $965 HDD navigation system; a $685 Sport Special Edition (two-toned leather upholstery, different wood trim,); and a $6,185 Sport Package (Brembo brakes, bigger nineteen-inch wheels, sport-tuned suspension, paddle shifters) for a price that soars to $77,105.

The LS 460 is unchanged for 2012, with exception to exterior color replacements. Main competitors are mostly European and include the Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ. Throw the Hyundai Equus due to an impressive all-new 429-horsepower direct-injection 5-liter Tau V8 engine.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Unsurpassed luxury awaits your every whim and desire inside the LS 460, with or without the optional packages. Functional pluses include driver access to the passenger power seat controls – very convenient when helping the tech-challenged or adjusting a rear child seat. Truck cargo space is extremely generous. One minus: no master climate control dial for that quick jolt of heat or air. From audio to air conditioning, everything must be done by remembering a tedious path of interface buttons surrounding the large center console LCD screen. All the add-on technology can become overwhelming.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the LS 460 the highest crash test ratings of “Good” for frontal and off-set impacts. Standard safety equipment includes: electronic controlled braking; traction control; anti-lock brakes; Smart Stop Technology.

Cost Issues: Best to compare with the starting prices of others in this class: $78,750 for the Audi A8 and $73,700 for the Jaguar XJ. However, the Equus begins at $59,000 with the next-trim up featuring standard reclining rear seats with a massage, heating and cooling system (all accessible through remote control commands that also activate the rear console refrigerator) still beating the LS 460 at $66,000.

Activity & Performance Ability: The LS 460’s V8 engine meets the demand for a quick and sporty acceleration response with gear change at the optimum rev range for a ride that can only be described as smooth, efficient and utterly impressive. The Sport Special Edition package brings an even firmer ride at the corners and during heavy braking. Inside the cabin, drivers are wrapped in an ambiance of quietness, class and comfort. Optional all-wheel drive does increase what climates and terrain this sedan can tackle.

The Green Concern: Fuel economy on the V8 engine is 16 miles-per-gallon city and 24 highway, which equates to 19 combined – the fuel economy of an SUV, but such is the cost for high performance.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2012 Lexus LS 460 delivers the perfect blend of aerodynamic sculpting and a premium powertrain experience without prohibiting functionality. Lexus allows drivers to control the level of luxury, too, in order to keep the costs down. Also test drive the Hyundai Equus with a comparable powertrain and list of luxuries.

©2012 Katrina Ramser