Reviews

2013 Lexus LS Walk Around

Even being 6 inches higher than the BMW 640i, the Coefficient of Drag of the LS 460 is an impressive 0.26. The new grille is striking, with a bold shape like a cross between a bowtie and lightning bolt. We wish the chrome enclosing the six-sided grille weren't there; at least the F Sport uses black eggcrate in the grille, as opposed to the horizontal bars on the plain LS 460. The shape of the grille deserves a brushed stainless or aluminum surround, classier than chrome. Or all black on a light colored car, like the White Nova.

There's a bitchin' bulge in the hood, long and narrow and pointed like a vector. The headlamps, sharp and flowing, are the same with either base xenon or LED bulbs inside, but at night the beams change the car's entire image and look.

Directly under the headlights, at the bottom front corners of the car, there are air intakes shaped to balance and contrast the headlights. The thick front bumper passes through the middle of the grille, where it's black and disguised.

The roofline sweeps stylishly over shapely pillars to the rear deck. The downward lines at the rear of the car point outward to make it look wide (secure and balanced with a low center of gravity); on the previous LS 460 they pointed down and in, to make the car look narrow. Changing times. Twin trapezoidal pipes say power.

Looking at a 460 and 460L from the side, you can barely see the five inches of added length, until you look closely at the rear doors. The tip-off is the chrome surrounding the windows. In fact, look around, there's chrome trim everywhere, from rockers to door handles. We think there should be an option to get body-colored and not chrome trim. The Lexus flagship should have at least one clean and classy model.

Interior

The new seats in the LS 460 are excellent, in leather that's beautifully perforated; the new camel color is beautiful and makes the beige look boring and plain. Standard driver adjustment is power 16-way with 4-way lumbar. The cushions in the seat and back have been improved to keep the driver from slipping forward and also to maintain correct posture at the pelvis. However with 16 ways to change the seat, no doubt you can over-ride to get your incorrect pelvis posture back where you like it.

The heated/cooled seats heat 50 percent faster than before. They have an automatic setting that links it to the temperature setting in the cabin. Lexus is thinking too much about our butts. Someone forgot to take into consideration that 68 degrees to the air around the body isn't quite the same as 68 degrees pushed through little holes into your back and butt, which if you're like us just feels like weird chilling on your thighs, like maybe you wet yourself. But you don't have to use auto, you can select a spot on the dial that works for you.

The F Sport adds bolstering to the seats, which improves the fit and comfort. In the non-bolstered standard LS 460, the seatback didn't grip enough to stop back-sliding on freeway cloverleaves, not even driving hard. If we had to buy an F Sport to get the good seats, then we would.

Despite the roofline being nearly 6 inches higher than the BMW 640i, there's 4 inches less headroom in front. Go figure. We figure it could only mean a higher seating position in the LS 460, and therefore better visibility of the road, especially since the hood isn't as long as the BMW's.

Overall, the climate control system is so sophisticated that it takes many pages in the manual to describe. The number of hours that Lexus engineers spend trying to pamper buyers must be staggering. Something called Climate Concierge gives you an idea, just with the name. But as often happens, they go too far. They think they're doing you a favor, but when the fan speed is locked by the temperature that's set, you get things you don't want and can't change. We hate it when that happens.

F Sport interior trim is aluminum, including the pretty pedals, with classy suede-like headliner. F Sport is only available with black leather. The steering wheel, thick in diameter, is all leather-wrapped, as opposed to wood.

There are five wood trim packages for the LS 460, including walnut, matte burled ash, bamboo, and the new Shimamoku, which means striped in Japanese. At the press launch, Lexus showed a video of the making of a Shimamoku steering wheel, and it's amazing the amount of work that goes into each wheel, 67 processes in 38 days.

Lexus calls their gauges Optitron meters, so they must be special, although to us they just look like analog gauges. They are clean and beautiful, like the BMW 6 Series, except the Lexus needles are organic white at night, not bright orange. The display screen is mounted high on the dash near eye level, and it's a super-wide 12.3 inches, capable of displaying three functions: controls, navigation, and audio/phone. We found it to be highly useful and not distracting. Putting all three areas of information in one place keeps the eyes in one place. The screen is treated to be visible in the sun, and it was for us, on our bright sunny day driving.

The LS lacks the option of a head-up display. Lexus says they're still working on it. BMW (and Cadillac and Mercedes and Audi) beat them to that one big-time.

The Remote Touch Interface, which Lexus describes as a haptic joystick mechanism, like a computer mouse, controls things well. We watched an engineer work it like a teenager plays a video game, so we know it's do-able.

Much thought has gone into the controls and aluminum knobs, to make them clean, simple, easy to reach and easy to operate. Hoo-bleepin-ray. The interior lighting is totally adjustable, blending by location and function three shades of white: Champagne White (5000k illumination), Warm White (3000k), and White Heat 8800k).

There are great soft spots for both elbows for the driver. Big pad on the center console is relaxing. The knees also contact soft places, by careful design.

At the rear, there are all kinds of upgrades that are available at extra cost, some of them standard on the LS 460L.

The LS 460L is five inches longer than the standard-length versions. Lexus stats give rear legroom at 35.8 inches in the 460 and 36.7 inches in the 460L long-wheelbase that's 4.8 inches longer. We asked Lexus where the 3.9-inch difference went, and they explained with some mumbo-jumbo about the method SAE measures legroom, having to do with the bend of the knee and the length of the femur.

All we know is that, sitting in the rear of the LS 460L, there was a ton of legroom. And, according to the specs, the regular LS 460 has 5 inches more legroom than the BMW 640i, which claims only 30.8 inches.

Available is Ultra-Luxury seating, with four-zone climate control with air filter, air purifier, and smog sensor. On the day of our test there was a gigantic oil refinery fire across the bay, spewing tons of noxious chemicals into a gigantic black cloud in the sky. We might have sent our speeding Lexus LS into the toxic black cloud to see if we would come out alive, but we didn't. But it was comforting to know we had an air purifier for these times.

Then there's available Executive Class seating with just two seats in the rear, with a console having 25 dials each controlling something, from a multifunction massager to Blu-ray movies on a 9-inch screen, not to mention the blackjack table.

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