Strengths and weaknesses:
- quiet interior
- rear seats
- self-parking system
- no Remote Touch
Lexus LS 460 thinks of everything
"Any vehicle in this segment could be considered the closest thing to a limousine without actually being one."
Lexus continues to take on some of the most sublime luxury sedans from Europe for the 2012 model year with its venerable LS 460. While conflicts on the battlefield are usually won with guns, bullets, and brute force, the battle between these vehicles takes place on asphalt and is fought with hefty V8s, a dizzying array of technology, and hyperbolic terminology.
This year’s LS 460 is essentially a carryover from 2011, with the exception of a new Sportech Package which adds a unique grille and side skirts to the existing Technology Package.
My tester, as it turns out, is equipped with the Sportech Package, which has a clear focus on adding to the comfort of rear seat passengers. The package may add nearly $10,000 to the vehicle’s base MSRP, but that’s still less than the extra $16,000 you’d be paying to upgrade to the long wheelbase LS, which increases rear legroom by more than 30 mm.
Any vehicle in this segment could be considered the closest thing to a limousine without actually being one, so the rear seat experience had better be darn spectacular.
So it is with the LS 460. It may have less rear legroom than competitors from Audi, BMW, Jaguar, and Mercedes-Benz, but there’s still plenty of space back there for a couple tall passengers to stretch out.
The Sportech Package puts the vehicle more in line with those competitors in terms of both price and features. With it, rear passengers in the Lexus are treated to seats that have power recline and lumbar support, memory settings, heating and air conditioning, a massage function, and more. I’d say they’re treated a heck of a lot better than the chumps up front, in fact.
The driver and front passenger “only” get 10-way and eight-way power adjustable seats, respectively. Granted that’s not as much as the 14-way adjustable front seats offered by BMW and Mercedes-Benz, but again, it’s tough to complain once you’ve planted your bum and you feel like you’re being whisked away on a proverbial cloud.
This cloud may spew exhaust and weigh well over 4,000 pounds (it’s still white though!), but it’ll glide over roads in virtually any condition you can imagine, good or bad. The optional front and rear adaptive variable suspensions may have something to do with that, and if that isn’t enough, the suspensions are even built around anti-vibration sub-frames. Anyone who thinks Lexus doesn’t pay attention to detail is crazy.
Apart from the wood trim peppered throughout, you’d be hard-pressed to find a surface within the cockpit that doesn’t feel soft and smooth. You’re also treated to a fantastic Mark Levinson sound system, adjustable suspension controls, 10 airbags (eight of those standard on all LS 460s), and even variable speed (zuh?!) windows.
Not all the technology is what it’s cracked up to be. The LS 460 can park itself, but the system is finicky at best and terribly frustrating at worst. You could spend five minutes letting the car park itself perfectly for you, or you could use your own skill to slide into a spot in five seconds and end up slightly crooked, but five minutes ahead.
Interestingly, the LS also hasn’t adopted Lexus’ mouse-like “Remote Touch” infotainment controller. If you abhor BMW’s iDrive or Audi’s MMI and prefer an array of buttons, look to the Lexus.
Like the LS 460, every competitor uses a big V8 engine. Lexus’ offering is plenty strong (with a great exhaust note to boot), but falls short when stacked up against the other guys. There are multiple suspension settings, but I can’t help but feel like the LS is just going through the motions when it’s pushed around corners. Then again, it’s probably safe to assume the sporting prowess of this vehicle will rarely be tested by the average driver.
The LS 460 offers a sublime experience in terms of comfort, but if you’re a driver who wants to be more immersed in what your car can do performance-wise, the competitors will make your choice more difficult.