2013 Lexus LS 460 AWD

It’s been nearly 25 years since the first Lexus luxury sedan was sold with the LS badge.  And for 2013, this 4th generation model has been thoroughly restyled with a bolder appearance.

Renowned for reliability, comfort and quietness, Lexus has an excellent reputation but until recently their cars haven’t been turning heads.  Suddenly, stirring design is on the table at Lexus and its helping transform their hallmark conservative styling.  F SPORT versions of most of their vehicles are now available, punctuating the spindle grille with even more flare.

Here, in this redesigned LS 460 without F SPORT, the face takes on the new family resemblance with an even more prominent spindle shape, there are new LED daytime running lights with integrated LED fog lamps, new exhaust diffusers and a new deck lid and rear bumper.  Though this Fire Agate Pearl paint would be my last choice and doesn’t do this car any favors, these changes bring a little more attitude to the LS while still retaining the car’s sophisticated, executive sedan personality.

Recently, I spent a week with the top of the line LS 600h L with its air suspension and hybrid drivetrain.  But this LS is the regular wheelbase 460, powered by a 360-horsepower 4.6-liter V8, with fixed ratio electric steering, suspended on coil springs, with all 4 wheels driven through an 8-speed automatic; enough differences to merit a drive, for sure.  It should be noted that rear drive models get 26 more horsepower, make 20 more pound feet of torque and weigh 265 pounds less.  So while this AWD model with its more aggressive final drive ratio can put 60mph away in a satisfyingly quick 5.9-seconds, the rear drive LS will do it a half-second faster.  Gas mileage on premium is 16mpg city/23mpg highway.

And though the deletion of the air springs means you lose comfort and Sport S + on the Drive Mode Select, this car still has the racier personality.  It’s really hard to make a gas-electric hybrid with a CVT feel sporty, and the more organic delivery of gear driven power here more than supplants the loss of power.  Plus, even though the LS can hustle through country bends with big car ease, it does not flaunt a sporty character.  Yes there’s some bark from the exhaust when energized and a confidence to build speed, but the LS is happiest playing the role of the automotive equivalent of spending time at the spa.

The interior is soft, cozy and relaxed – and very quiet.  Rear seaters lose less than an inch of leg room so there’s still plenty of space for 2 or 3 more and compared to the hybrid, the 18 cubic feet of cargo volume here is colossal.

Added to the nearly $76,000 base price of LS 460 AWD is an encompassing comfort package with a blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, climate comfort seats with an auto setting, a power rear sunshade, upgraded leather and Alcantara headliner, a killer 19 speaker Mark Levinson stereo unit, heated steering wheel and upsized 19” wheels with all-season tires.  Total is $81,915.

The changes Lexus has made to the LS make it a more compelling choice in the large, luxury car segment by sharpening its looks as well as its drive.  And though I couldn’t make sense of the hybrid and its astronomical price, the LS 460 AWD is a solid choice for those who desire the most opulence Lexus has to offer.

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