Friday, January 8, 2010

Lexus LS 460: A World-Class Luxury Leader






What’s New:
The LS 460 was last revamped in 2007. For the 2009 model year, Lexus added an all-wheel drive model, which is available in both the base and extended, L, version. Lexus also added a memory function to the passenger seats (front and rear).

Must Have Goodies:
Buyers opting for the LS can choose from four leather and wood interior combinations.
One of the packages offered in the LS 460 and LS 460 L models are the segment-exclusive Advanced Parking Guidance System (APGS), which was designed to assist with parallel and reverse parking. The APGS uses the rear back-up camera, parking sonar sensors and electric power steering system to guide the car into the space. The driver is able to control the vehicle speed by applying the brake. This advanced safety and convenience feature was also demonstrated on The Oprah Winfrey Show two years ago.
Another package offered only in the extended LS, which is also known as the L, is an optional $2,280 Luxury Package, which includes upgraded semi-aniline leather with leather trim door armrests, an Alcantara headliner, power rear seats with power and memory headrests, rear climate controlled seats and rear seat side airbags.
In addition to the Luxury Package, a Rear Seat Upgrade package is available, too, for $1,375. This package features dual-zone rear air conditioning, with an air purifier and additional rear air ducts, added wood trim, rear cool box, rear power door sunshades and rear audio controls.
And, if the Luxury Package isn’t opulent enough for you in the L, the nicely equipped Lexus can be outfitted with the $9,980 Executive Class Seating Package, which includes a four-zone independent front and rear air conditioning, with an air purification system and ceiling climate diffusers, rear-door power sunshades, with a fixed rear console and foldout table, and a right rear-seat recliner, with ottoman leg rest. The only thing missing is the Grey Poupon mustard and the butler from the hit nineties show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which starred Will Smith.
Furthermore, a multi-function massage feature is included in the Executive Class Seating Package, too. This feature contained an enhanced massage mode for the right-rear seat. This comprehensive package also equips the LS 460 L with a rear-seat entertainment system, using a 3.0 VGA high-quality nine-inch screen, which is located in the headliner. Wow, the only thing missing is the kitchen sink or in the case of the Lexus a personal chef. Lexus likens these ultra rich interior packages to the cabin of a super expensive luxurious private chartered jet.
Moreover, a music aficionado, will love the LS, since it's available with a 19-speaker, 450-watt Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound system. This system, which tacks on an extra $2,570 to the price, creates a new benchmark for mobile audio systems, with its theater-level entertainment experience. Yes, this is a vehicle one can actually live in.
What Rocked:
An automatic electric parking brake system eliminated the need to press a foot-operated pedal. And, the real luxury appointments were designed to enhance the comfort level (or basically spoil) the rear passengers, specifically, when opting for the LS 460L.

For instance, in the rear cabin, the vehicle we reviewed contained front-and-rear heated and cooled seats. In fact, the standard wheelbase LS we tested was so roomy that the rear seat had a 28-degree reclining angle, which included a memory function. Moreover, in the rear cabin, two mirrors were integrated into the headliner for the convenience of the passengers. What else could one ask for?

What We Disliked:
While the LS 460 offered a number of high-tech features like the advanced parking system and an advanced cruise control system, which helps to maintain speed distance between vehicles, we believe the LS lacked some of the latest safety technology that we found available on the non premium Mazda6, Ford (Lincoln and Mercury) products and even the lower-priced Lexus HS 250h (hybrid).

For one, there was no blind spot monitoring system, which intuitively alerts the driver of vehicles in its blind spot via blinking lights in its outside mirrors. This is a great safety feature to have, before the driver decides to move into another lane.

And, another feature Lexus should consider incorporating into the vehicle is Ford’s exclusive Cross Traffic Alert system. What’s that, you ask? Just imagine backing out of a parking space. This system warns when cross-traffic appears via audible chimes. The Cross Traffic Alert system, which is available on a number of Ford vehicles serve as an added safety aid and can be used in conjunction with the rear-view back-up camera, reducing the chance of a rear collision.

Moreover, the HS250h offers a Lane Departure Warning system, which alerts the driver when he begins to drift out of his lane.

Yes, we know that it’s hard to believe we’re comparing a Lexus with Ford and Mazda, but this is definitely a sign of the times and how the automaker has stepped up its game. Conversely, not having these two features didn’t have a significant impact of our overall opinion of the world-class leading LS.

Any Juice:
Our new-generation 4.6-liter 8-cylinder LS produced 380-horsepower and 367 lb.-ft. of peak torque with its rear-wheel drive configuration and 357-horsepower with 344 lb.-ft of torque with the all-wheel drive.

The Verdict:
Since its inception in the late eighties, Lexus has been the pinnacle of what every luxury brand should be. This is not only reflected in the build quality and quiet-tuned engine, but also in the level of extraordinary customer service provided by both Lexus and its dealers. This is why the Lexus brand continues to top the list of a number of industry-wide customer service surveys.

Of course, we found the LS to be both luxurious and extremely fuel-efficient. Not only was this quiet land cruiser loaded with a number of luxury appointments to suit the needs of every driver and passenger, surprisingly, we found the vehicle to be quiet fuel-efficient, too. In fact, we were able to achieve 450 miles from one tank of gas. Yes, the fuel consumption or lack there of in the 8-cylinder, which required premium fuel, exceeded our expectations. This is unheard of for a premium-class luxury sedan.

A base LS, if we can call it that, starts out at $63,825 and can top out at just shy of $130,000, when opting for a well-equipped all-wheel drive hybrid. Yes, the vehicle is available as a hybrid, garnering about 4 additional miles over a comparable Lexus, when driven in the city, according to fueleconomy.gov. By driving a hybrid, one can flaunt their wealth and literally show folks how concerned they are about the environment, too.


Competition: BMW’s 7-Series and Mercedes’ S-Class

To configure a Lexus or another vehicle, visit our New-Vehicle Pricing Guide, which is located on the right side of this page.

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