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2005 Luxury  Buyer's Guide

by Martha Hindes

2005 Lexus LS 430
2005 Lexus LS 430

If silence is golden, Lexus's LS 430 must be basking in an amber glow. An uncompromisingly quiet ride has been a Lexus trademark since the Japanese luxury brand launched its first auto in Detroit, the heart of the American auto industry, back in 1989.

Lexus has expanded since then, capturing a following for its quality, subtle design, and overflow of amenities, at what for a time were surprisingly affordable prices. But wouldn't you know it. Success has bred in the inevitable sticker price hikes, and Lexus has been creeping up toward the heady atmosphere of premium pricing as well. (The LS 430 checked in at $55,675 base when '05 models went on sale, a $300 bump up from its redesigned '04 models.)

So what does one get for the dollar? Actually, a lot. Lexus has learned that luxury amenities heaped on grateful buyers along with a smooth, powerful driving experience keeps the brand in mind when its time for something new. And you can't blame Lexus for enjoying its bragging rights when it immediately points out that it has earned more of the prestigious J. D. Power customer satisfaction awards than any other luxury car. It's acknowledged as the benchmark for opulent pampering, a fact that has pushed up the bar for almost every competitor -- making consumers the ultimate winners.

In the "everything but the kitchen sink" mode, what does LS 430 for '05 offer? For ride, powered by a standard 4.3-liter, 290-HP V8, there's: Intuitive Powertrain Control for smooth, yet controlled ride, sequential shift for simulated manual trans driving. For safety, there's an optional Pre-Collision System (PCS) with laser cruise control to help lessen the severity of unavoidable impact, and adaptive headlamps that follow curves.

For pure pampering, besides the obligatory leather and wood trim, there's a 240-watt Mark Levinson premium audio system, voice command DVD-based navigation system, cooled (and heated) front seats, an optional Smart Access feature to unlock doors and start ignition by radio signal, and an available optical deodorizing filtered rear air conditioner. Then there are the power adjustable massaging rear seats. (Can you say "decadent?") Why would anyone want to ride anywhere else?


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