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2007 Lexus LS 460

Martha Hindes

2007 Lexus LS 460
2007 Lexus LS 460 Interior

In an industry known for the imaginative creation of new words when existing ones simply won't do, Lexus has come up with one that fits. "L-finesse," presumably a combination of Lexus and finesse, seems ideally suited as a description of the company's new LS 460 flagship. The fourth generation of the premiere full-size luxury sedan that enters life in the $61,000 base range (not including a destination fee of $715), is a product of a new company philosophy that apparently inspired those at Lexus drawing boards to dapple it with premium, inventive, nearly decadent touches.

An early television commercial of the vehicle, being parked between two tall pyramids of crystal goblets with hands-free ease, points out the finesse Webster's explains as a "delicate skill." (We don't feel a need to run a Wikipedia comparison.) The ad wasn't just an exercise in showmanship. The auto actually nestles into a space with only a few light touches on the brake pedal as it parks. The vehicle senses available space, then automatically turns the steering wheel until it fits.

Styling was designed to accent an appearance of power without losing the sense of elegance, a new design flow that's a departure from more subtle, earlier Lexus exteriors. A low-slung face, rising beltline and hint of spoiler in the rear cast a new, more noticeable footprint. Exterior surfaces get a special buffing prior to painting to enhance the finish. Visible light at night extends 30 to 60 feet beyond that of the previous generation's headlamps thanks to new Xenon front lamp housings designed to give a crystalline appearance.

The LS 460 sports the first use of an eight-speed automatic transmission in an auto, something Lexus cites for smooth, seamless shifting. The only engine is a new 4.6L V8. It's first-ever use of electric motor-driven Variable Valve Timing is for high output performance and enhanced engine start-up. Despite a zero to 60 capability of about 5.4 seconds, mileage is rated at 19 city/ 27 miles per gallon.

Lexus officials refer to the LS 460's "cabin tranquility," a benchmark often targeted by competitors, when hushed, interior luxury is a must.