2015 LEXUS LS 460 Review By Steve Purdy
2015 LEXUS LS 460
By Steve Purdy
This is my second recent experience with Lexus’ flagship LS460 big sedan. The first was the long-wheelbase hybrid version last summer at the Lake Bluff Concours d’Elegance where I used it to shuttle collector car owners from the lot where they had to park their trailers to the show field a few miles away. That LS600hL has gas-electric hybrid powertrain and a limousine-style rear seat that would please the most persnickety potentate. My passengers were duly impressed.
It is now the dead of winter with lots of fresh snow and bitter cold temps. This week’s regular-size LS460, fortunately, has the all-wheel drive option, a smaller but still generous rear seat and the non-hybrid powertrain that make it a much different car. So it deserves another review. This ultra-luxury, full-size, 5-passenger sedan has a solid position in its segment.
The LS’ classy but conservative exterior design does not call attention to itself, but a good look at its style and size will tell you that it is something special. Big 19-inch, 15-spoke alloy wheels shod with V-rated all-weather tires give a visual image of heft and authority. Lexus’ traditional spindle grille dominates the front view. The headlight complex includes distinctive strike-shape LED running lights and projector beams. The indistinct but attractive rear view looks as graceful and understated as the rest of the car with no harsh or crisp lines. A chrome accent strip across the lower door surface adds to the massive, high-wasted look of the car. The LS460 claims an amazing 0.26 coefficient of drag, a race car-like number, which means it slips though the air much better than most and is actually more sleek than it looks.
Inside it is even more impressive. Understated and elegant design combines with high quality materials to offer a sense of comfort and serenity. The horizontally oriented dash includes electroluminescent gauges, and analog clock and a large 12.3-inch navigation and information screen. A mouse-like devise with a comfortable leather palm rest manages the information on the screen. The device has drawn criticism from some reviewers as demanding too much attention. I disagree. As it manages the information it offers haptic feedback that helps us feel our way through active fields allowing much less attention than a touch screen to be sure. I agree, though, that the Audi and BMW systems are a tad better but this one is quite good, in my view and fairly easy to navigate.
This car’s interior has two-tone stitched leather with a lovely medium brown accent that perfectly matches the mat-finish wood trim. The aroma of fine leather easily supplants the usual plastic smell of a new car. Elegant, indeed! Seats are generous and comfortable front and rear with enough firmness and lateral support to be comfortable for long distance drives. It also has one of the nicest leather and wood steering wheels I’ve ever encountered. The leather portion is heated and the wood sections have an amazingly silky feel. I’d like to know how they accomplished that surface texture.
Interior volume matches or exceeds the competition – BMW 7-Series, Audi A8, Jaguar XJ and Mercedes S-Class. Even without the extra length of the “L” version the rear seat is so generous even a big guy like me will luxuriate in the space. It also has a generous 18.0 square-foot trunk and an actual full-size spare tire.
Our 4,200-pound LS460 is powered by a naturally aspirated, 4.6-liter V8 with a good 386 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque mated to a remarkably smooth, though not especially quick-shifting, 8-speed automatic transmission. Lexus claims a 0-to-60 time of a quick 5.4 seconds. Edmunds testing got a 6.1 second time. Whichever is correct I found it felt plenty fast. Few Lexus customers will want any more. Of course, our snowy roads this week didn’t facilitate at-the-limit testing. The EPA estimates we’ll get 16 mpg in the city, 23 on the highway and 18 mpg combined using premium fuel. Our experience this week, mostly highway driving, netted 18.4 mpg. With a big 22.2-gallon fuel tank we have a better than average cruising range.
The full-time all-wheel drive system kept me out of trouble in drifting snow and slick roads as I tested this system with center differential. The AWD is available only with 19-inch wheels and automatically distributes power to the wheel that needs it. While it allowed a bit more off-center movement than I expected it still performed well.
The LS460 with full-time all-wheel drive starts at just about $75,500 including a seriously high level of standard equipment. We have a Comfort Package and a couple other options, including 19-inch wheels, and our sticker shows a bottom line of $80,630.
The overall driving experience of this big car is wonderful. My passengers this week all commented on the dead silent cockpit and beautiful interior appointments. The suspension is compliant and absorbs rough pavement with poise and grace. The German competitors tend to be a bit stiffer. An LS F-Sport performance model can provide a bit stiffer suspension and quicker steering along with quicker transmission responses, but if you’re a serious performance freak you’ll be happier with some of the Germans.
Lexus’ new car warranty covers the car for 4 years or 50,000 miles and the powertrain for 5 years or 70,000 miles. Lexus continues to lead the J.D. Power quality surveys and we would expect these cars to continue being the most dependable in the class.
I think of this Lexus LS460 as the ultimate in practical luxury. While it has the size, content, power and elegance you will expect it also has the subtlety and longevity some of the others may lack. For example, I’d worry about inevitable repair costs of a BMW 7-Series at 150,000 miles. With the Lexus – not so much. It seems to me like the BMW, Audi and Jaguar also have a ‘look-at-me’ quality that I don’t perceive with the Lexus.
All things considered, if you’re in the ultra luxury, big car market you should include the LS460 on your shopping list.
©Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved