Friday, April 24, 2015

Lexus LS keeps up tradition of excellence


Lexus LS460. Courtesy photo

From page C1 | April 11, 2014 |

The Lexus LS sedan was a game-changer when it first appeared more than 20 years ago. It was a sedan that competed directly with the big German giants at a much lower price. It was such a huge success that it forced the competition to re-engineer their cars and pricing. Today, the LS is still one of the best in its class but, due to its success, it’s no longer being sold at a discount.

The first Lexus LS ushered in a new era in luxury car performance by making a powerful V8 engine standard at a time when European premium luxury cars offered a V8 as an option. The V8 performance advantage continues for the 2014 LS models, a contrast to several competitors that have reverted to standard six-cylinder engines in their flagship sedans. Responsive power and swift, nearly silent acceleration remain trademarks of all LS models.

The 2014 Lexus LS line includes the LS 460 in regular and long-wheelbase versions with a 386 horsepower 4.6-liter V8 (360 hp with all-wheel drive) and the LS 600h L hybrid with 438 total system horsepower from a 5-liter V8 paired with an electric motor. The LS 600h L is available exclusively with all-weather drive and is also the best-equipped LS in standard form.

Since the introduction of the original LS, the Lexus flagship sedan has been known for comfort, quietness and standard luxury amenities. There are tons of features such as standard heated and ventilated front seats, with 16-way power adjustment for the driver and 12-way for the passenger. For Lexus engineers that was not good enough so they sought to improve seat comfort for long-distance drives, as well as larger heating and cooling areas and quicker heating and cooling times. The cabin is also supremely quiet at speed with very little noise that is filtered into the cabin.

The handling of the LS is best defined as smooth. Even in Sport mode, it is a car whose mission is to be smooth and quiet. You will not mistake this car for a sport sedan and its reflexes are not very athletic. It takes a few moments for the car to react to driver inputs and it is not a very active participant when it comes to driver involvement. There is almost no feedback from the steering wheel and you also don’t get much chassis feel from the seat. The good part of that equation is that the ride is fabulous and the chassis is tight even on rough roads.

Luxury cars these days are all about technological gadgets. The LS packs a 12.3 inch split screen, high-resolution multi-media display is large enough to simultaneously show a map display on one side and selectable vehicle functions on the other. Most functions can be accessed via a computer mouse type control unit in the center console. Lexus also offers various apps that they claim will reduce driver distraction. These include things such as Yelp, Facebook, OpenTable and much more. In our opinion, these things just add to the distraction and drivers should be focusing on driving the car. Our car had the optional Mark Levinson audio system with 19 speakers and 450 watts of power. The system also includes a 7.1 surround sound system and is just amazing to listen to. You will just want to keep listening to your favorite music and end up sitting in your driveway listening. It really feels like if you are sitting in a concert hall.

While driving the LS, you will find that the 1UR-FSE 4.6 liter V8 under the hood provides good amount of power accelerating the LS460 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. The DOHC four cam V8 uses direct injection and the latest high tech tools to pump out 386 hp using 11.8:1 compression ratio. The engine is mated to an 8 speed automatic transmission that is a little slow to respond to driver inputs but provides almost imperceptible shifts. The engine requires premium fuel and gets 16 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Those are not economy car numbers so it will be an expensive car for commuting.

Speaking of expensive, luxury does not come cheap in life and unfortunately not everyone can afford LS prices. The LS460 starts out at $72,140 and with just a few options can easily hit $80,000. That is a lot of money but then again this is a lot of car.



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