Friday, August 30, 2013

Auto Review: The Lexus and the lap of luxury

The LS was the first model launched when Toyota created its Lexus division in 1989, and it has undergone four major generational changes since its inception. The all-new version shows why this is still the ultimate car to convey you and your passengers in peerless comfort; and over the years the evolution of this respected nameplate has managed to keep all its key virtues intact while embracing two decades of technological changes. This includes all the expected electronic advancements, but there’s also mechanical changes such as the option of All-Wheel Drive in addition to the standard Rear-Drive architecture.
Famous for its reliability and solid feel, the Lexus LS series has retained a sole V8 engine for propulsion of most models, although it has grown to 4.6 liters from its original 4-liter displacement. In fact, since the original, the LS has expanded in pretty much every dimension and now includes Sport and Long Wheelbase models, as well as a Hybrid version. We tested the “standard” model, which is like referring to a “standard” Rolex watch. From the first time the LS arrived on the scene, it has shown it’s anything but ordinary.
The LS 460 sedan rides on a 116.9-inch wheelbase, where the stretched “L” model has a 121.7-inch span between the axles. The engine is a very sophisticated 4.6-liter V8 that puts out 386 horsepower with the rear-drive model, and 360 horsepower in All-Wheel Drive versions like our test machine (ideally suited to New England winters). All versions get an eight-speed sequential shift automatic transmission, which is as smooth as it is efficient. In fact, the whole drivetrain is a study in refinement on just how far the internal combustion way of doing things has advanced, as we move into a world with more hybrid/electric and full electric vehicles. The big car is surprisingly agile, without ever compromising the silky-smooth ride that has become a major selling point. Body rigidity is increased this year, as well as using frequency-depending shock absorber valving and revised steering ratios to further sharpen handling, control and overall response.
Lexus has tweaked design goals a tad in that the aim of isolating the occupants from the outside world is balanced a bit more by a desire to make the car more responsive and engaging for the driver. The regular LS is still more luxury than sport, but you can tip the scales a bit by opting for the new F-Sport model, which includes a number of enhancements to make the ride a more entertaining backroad partner.
The inside of the LS460 is much like a fine library: quiet, elegant, roomy and built of the finest materials. Our tester even had the optional Semi-Aniline leather trim with an Alcantara headliner upgrade to further surround you with first-class accommodations. As you would expect, the latest in electronic advancements are present and the control interfaces are a satisfying mix of traditional with the latest in advanced design. The 2013 Lexus LS460 AWD is EPA rated 16 MPG city/24 highway, and heavily optioned has a sticker price of $82,010.00.