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Sneak Peak: 2013 Lexus LS 460 Sedans

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The Brand’s New Flagships are Luxurious, Stylish & Elite

by Marty Bernstein
The Auto Channel

Once upon a long time ago there were just a few choices in premium luxury automobiles. Today, there are more fine cars in this category than ever, each with a distinct personality. There’s the Teutonic three with their autobahn attitudes. The re-emergence of Britmobiles and their implied snobbish heritage. The hopeful American brands trying to recapture customers. A wannabe newbie from Korea have moved in too.

And Lexus, once the reining leader in luxury motor vehicles, has recovered from the disastrous tsunami and earthquake in Japan with an amazing fleet of new models led by the 2013 LS flagship sedans. Sedans? Yes, sedans.

There are four sedan variations, all based on the same stylish body design, arguably making this the vehicle with the most personal preferences, personality and needs on any luxury sedan. Here’s the 2013 Lexus LS line-up:

  • LS 460 -- a regular sedan with choice of RWD and AWD. Spacious and comfortable.
  • LS 460L – long wheelbase with choice of RWD and AWD. Think limo-lite.
  • LS 600hL – long wheelbase hybrid. Smoothest hybrid with great interior.
  • LS 460 F -- a sport version. This is a stealth sportscar. Honest.

Both the LS 460 and LS 460L are available in RWD and AWD while the LS Hybrid is available with a full-time AWD system.

As Lexus moves into its third decade in the premium luxury category, it is good to see the brand reaching out, updating the halo car of the brand which frankly was getting a bit tired. There’s a new body design, a truly distinctive front end and spindle grill, trend setting interiors for the most discriminating, intuitive easy-to-use technology along with Lexus’ renowned quietness, excellent driving and handling characteristics and an assortment of powertrains.

During the recent media introduction in the posh city of Birmingham, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit) at the Townsend Hotel, one of the finest hotels in the U.S., passerby’s – these are typically jaded auto types -- turned their heads as auto writers left the venue for trip through some beautiful residential areas anywhere.

The first vehicle on the test drive was the LS 460, not the long wheelbase which was exceptionally different from the Teutonic Three’s vehicle typical characteristics. It did not include taut steering, stiff rides, amenable brakes, Spartan interiors, firm seats and bedeviling infotainment technologies.

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Lexus’ new flagship was easy to steer, relaxing ride, quick responsive brakes, distinctive designer interiors with the most unique wood trim I’ve ever seen, conforming seating and easy-to-use infotainment-tech. The instrument panel and dashboard were more than functional, they worked in harmony to give the driver at one glance all the information needed to operate the vehicle.

The roads were typical suburbs from smooth pavement to country-type lanes to roads in need or repair and maintenance. This was not an exercise in how fast would it go, rather what were the 460’s road manners and handling? Smooth, quiet, comfortable and responsive at anywhere from 15 mph to over 70 on a couple of windy stretches with wonderful V8 engine delivering 387 hp and 367 torque to an 8-speed transmission and three different suspension settings. This 460 is a sophisticated, smart and stylish gender neutral sedan unlike some luxury vehicles that emit machismo design and driving vibes.

The LS 460 F however is different: it’s a stealth sportscar in the guise of a sedan if the casual observer does not notice the lowered stance, the deep throaty exhaust note and special wheels. Behind the wheel all signals a type-A aggressive personality in design and accoutrements.

There’s a lot more to write about this vehicle, but that will come in a review when the car is available for more than an hour or two of test drive. Watch for the Real World Review and a new Boomers Test Drive in a few weeks. The LS 460 will be in dealer showrooms later this month.

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