Lexus LS Road Test Review
by Martha Hindes
2012 Luxury Car Buyer's Guide - Top 10 Picks
It's probably a coincidence that Lexus and Luxury start with the same letter. Nevertheless, they make a very happy pair. Lexus, after all, has been a touch point for what luxury is all about in an auto for years. The 2012 Lexus LS 460 flagship sedan retains that composure with style.
The Lexus version of luxury doesn't go in the direction of some of its European rivals, which tend to check zero to 60 speeds over the indulgences one tends to expect when paying out some $50K or $60k or $70k for the privilege of owning one. That kind of rating might be a great claim to fame during a heated gearhead discussion. But try wearing it on a daily basis. Cushy leather, fine audio and a powerful engine that can endure traffic tie ups as well as escape for a spontaneous cruise along a coastal highway seem to make more financial sense.
Beyond pricing adjustments that add $500 to the base cost of the 2012 model LS for a new $67,130 entry level price tag, there's no long list of creative, exciting or confusing add-ons for the current year. We think Lexus is smart. When they have a winner that keeps getting accolades on a nearly routine basis, why junk up that success.
That doesn't mean we don't appreciate what Lexus offers. We've never found another auto interior with an atmosphere as deliciously muted as a Lexus. This is heavenly separation from the acoustical assaults that one never seems to get away from during the busy-ness of the day. Its ability to soothe the soul, while enjoying the power, performance and purpose of the drive is what we pay for.
Visually, the Lexus is as harmonious as its interior's ambiance. The smooth lines flow gently from the vehicle's pleasing, understated face in a softly rounded sculpture that's just right without being riotous. It doesn't scream anything, which some critics find boring. But that's the kind of styling that won't wear off. And the LS has a long heritage to prove that point. Inside the LS is visually attractive, with its high quality interior touched with sumptuous leather, clean lines that don't overdo function and just-right placement of gauges and dials. But optional reclining rear seats and an on-board beverage cooler are two welcomed, indulgent add-ons.
Powering the rear-drive LS 460, the core vehicle of the LS line, is a 4.6-liter V-8 that produces 380 horsepower and is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission for smooth, powerful acceleration. In all-wheel-drive version, horsepower is 357. Comfort and handling precision are enhanced with two available high tech systems, the Variable Gear-Ratio Steering and Adaptive Variable Suspension.
For more adventurous driving performance, a Sport Package is available for rear drive models only which include Brembo brakes, and 10-spoke, 19-inch sport wheels. A sport-tuned air suspension enhances driving response. It includes Black/Saddle leather interior for impact.
Safety gets high priority with the LS 460, and Lexus states it is the first auto maker to have an optional Advanced Pre-Collision System that, with two forward focused cameras, can identify if a pedestrian is in the vehicle's path. The system also has an available steering wheel mounted camera to detect if a driver is distracted and will send out audio and visual warnings. That's one case where disturbing the cabin's serenity is a probably a very good idea.
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