The Lexus LS 460, the automaker’s flagship sedan, is completely reimagined for 2013, making it more relevant, youthful, and, wait for it…even sexy.
By Tara Weingarten
The Big Picture
In 1989, when Lexus debuted the LS, its first large executive-style sedan, it rocked the worlds of Mercedes, Jaguar and BMW. Drivers loved its glassy smooth ride, its whisper-quiet interior, and its ritzy, albeit conservative-looking, appointments. For most of its existence, it has reigned as the epitome of automotive elegance.
But recently, as Audi has focused on innovative technology and stunning design, and BMW has emerged as the luxury sedan performance leader, Lexus has begun to look, well, tired. In Hollywood parlance, it was time for a major nip/tuck. Enter the 2013 Lexus LS 460. Sharper, cleaner, and without the stodgy design, this new Lexus is built for a new generation of affluent buyers who are younger and yearn for a hint of sport in their wheels.
An Inside Job
Most of Lexus’ key buyers spend their days swathed in comfort of some kind. An Aeron office chair, a Theory suit, Pucci heels. Now add to that list the interior of the 2013 Lexus LS. What do these brands have in common? The implementation of perfection. Perfect seams, as if a tailor with microscopic vision threaded his needle through the leather and fabric of each piece. Perfection is Lexus’ buzzword.
In the 2013 Lexus LS 460, there are soft-touch points everywhere, on the dashboard, the doors, and the plush leather seating. Accents of aluminum or glossy wood, as well as a chic new kind of wood accent called Shimamoku, bring pops of interest into the cabin. A fully-automated climate control system means you’ll set the temperature and forget it. The heating and cooling systems will automatically deploy, including heated and cooled seats. No need to activate the A/C or heater, the car knows which one to choose. Plus, the new system heats 50 percent fast and cools 20 percent quicker than the outgoing Lexus LS model.
There are little goodies throughout the cabin of the Lexus LS 460. The analog clock is linked to the car’s GPS, so it instantly changes to whichever time zone you’re traveling through. Night lighting is soft and relaxing, providing accents to the foot wells and door handles, and it dims gradually much like in a movie theater. An Executive Seating package on the 2013 Lexus LS 460 gives backseat riders a business class experience, with massaging and reclining heated and cooled seats, power ottoman, separate climate zones, access to the audio system controls, as well as a pop-up table, on which to catch up on work. The instrument panel is less fussy, with simple clear design.
VroomGirls’ favorite trim – bamboo – comes only in the hybrid version, the 2013 Lexus LS 600h L. The thinking here: see bamboo, think eco. Hard to argue with that, since bamboo is an easy renewable fiber. The bamboo, on the steering wheel, and as trim on the dash, doors, and center console is buffed smooth and feels great in the hand. It’s also gorgeous. For sportier gals, the 2013 Lexus LS 460 F Sport edition gives an all-leather steering wheel, rather than bamboo or leather with wood inserts, as well as aluminum trim, an Alcantara (suede-like) roof liner, and significantly bolstered seats for support during hard cornering. There are also paddle shifters on the steering wheel, for those who like to hold gears longer for more speed (but compromised fuel economy!)
The Lexus LS 460 is ripe with the latest electronic safety equipment. Options include a Blind Spot Monitor, which signals via a light on the side mirrors when a vehicle is in the car’s blind spot. A Rear Cross-Traffic Alert activates while backing out of parking spaces. Should anything (a person, a bike rider, an animal, a shopping cart, etc) approach the rear of the car outside of the Lexus’ backup camera’s field of view, there will be a beep and lights to alert you of nearby traffic. An Advance Pre-Collision system detects cars and pedestrians that are too close to the car’s front bumper and automatically applies the brakes to avoid collision. The system works both in daylight and at night, and will completely stop the vehicle if it is traveling below 24 mph, should a crash be imminent. There is also speed-adaptive cruise control, which allows the Lexus LS to travel at the flow of traffic and will automatically speed up and slow down as traffic permits.
The 2013 Lexus LS 460 wears the same engine as the outgoing model, as does the 600h L hybrid version. It’s fast, smooth as expected, and feels tauter in cornering. The LS 460 comes in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, for better traction in bad weather. We drove both (in a sunny climate) and thought both had excellent stability and traction through corners. Even though the LS is a large, heavy sedan, it feels smaller than it is on twisty roads. It easily clung to the highway and felt stable, with very little body lean.
A Drive Mode dial on the center console allows for the selection of Eco (to improve fuel economy, this setting will diminish the effectiveness of the A/C and will cut down on the car’s ability to quickly accelerate), Snow (for best traction), Comfort (no need to explain), Sport (which adjusts the car’s throttle response to make shifts quicker and to wind out the gears longer for maximum power), and Sport Plus (which tightens the suspension for better and quicker cornering, and makes for faster shifts.) The system comes standard on all 2013 Lexus LS 460 and Lexus 600h L models.
In the 2013 Lexus LS F Sport, sport is everything. It’s all about testosterone, aggressive, car-nut driving. The engine note of the F Sport is louder, gruffer, meaner. Anyone who loves the sport of driving – male or female – will appreciate it. And the paddle shifters make for a more engaged and interactive driving experience.
Gizmos And Tech
The Lexus flagship sedan is heavy with goodies. One of my favorites, though it can’t be considered high-tech, is the way soft light puddles on the ground under and around the car at night when the key fob is pushed to unlock doors. It’s a fine safety feature, since you can see if anyone is hiding underneath, but it also makes it easy to see if there’s standing water or an uneven surface.
As for the techie stuff, here goes. A massive 12.3″ multimedia touch screen is your point of contact for all that goes on behind the scenes of the 2012 Lexus LS 460. The screen can be a single shot of audio controls, or a navigation map, or it can be split into three, exhibiting Nav, audio and climate, or other web-based features. Lexus has a proprietary web-based mobile app system called Enform. Access features like Bing, IHeartRadio, Open Table and others by touching the screen.
Search locations on the navigation using your voice. Say a category of destination, like Chinese restaurant, and the system will give several options. You touch the one you like best, then the Nav will give turn-by-turn directions audibly, as well as on the screen.
There’s also a backseat Blueray DVD player, a standard 10-speaker audio system, or an optional Mark Levinson sound system with 19 speakers. While the Levinson system is wonderful, the standard sound system is plenty great.
Lexus remains the comfort leader in the luxury sedan segment with with 2013 LS 460. And with the introduction of the Lexus LS 460 F Sport edition, Lexus dips its toe into Audi / BMW territory, with a tighter suspension, a more spirited ride, and more involved driving experience thanks to the new paddle shifters.
Updated, contemporary styling
Comes in several versions, including the zippy F Sport and hybrid models
No wi-fi connection