2013 Lexus LS 460 F SportPosted on February 18th, 2013
Flagship sedan sizzles with performance
By Nina Russin
In 1989, Toyota introduced a new luxury brand called Lexus, with a full-sized sedan designated as the LS. Although the Lexus family has grown to include fourteen models ranging from the compact CT hybrid to the full-sized LX sport-utility vehicle, the LS remains the brand’s flagship.
For 2013, Lexus introduces the fifth-generation LS, which includes for the first time, an F Sport model. F Sport modifications include a lowered, sport-tuned suspension, six caliper Brembo brakes, paddle shifters and nineteen-inch wheels.
The F Sport addition is significant for what it implies: that the LS is now as much a driver’s car as anything else in the Lexus line-up, including the GS.
LS styling has evolved as well, from very conservative to very bold. Although reaction to the new Lexus spindle grille design has been mixed, it gives the cars an unmistakable presence on the road.
The F Sport model features a mesh grille with black surround, unique front fascia, chrome trim and badging. Frankly, it’s a daunting package.
Aluminum V-8 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission
Power comes from a 4.6-liter 386-horsepower engine and eight-speed automatic transmission that propel the LS from zero-to-sixty in 5.4 seconds. The all-wheel drive powertrain is slightly detuned, with a 460-horsepower block and 5.9 second zero-to-sixty time.
The air suspension on the F Sport model includes a feature called variable gear ratio steering, that automatically adjusts damping for optimum performance. In addition the driver can choose from three modes- eco, normal and sport- to adjust the ride for a variety of driving situations.
A limited slip differential, standard on the F Sport, keeps the car tracking straight during aggressive driving.
Pricing for the rear-wheel drive LS begins at $71,990, excluding the $895 destination charge. The hybrid 600h L model with the long wheelbase has a base sticker price of $119,910.
Test drive in Phoenix
This week, I had the opportunity to drive the new LS F Sport around my hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. The difference between the new LS and the outgoing model is dramatic. Engineers have significantly raised the performance bar, while maintaining all of the luxury and cutting edge safety features the model is known for.
Although the eight-cylinder engine on the new LS is continued from the fourth-generation sedan, horsepower is increased by six. Equally important is the changes the F Sport enhancements make to ride and handling, enabling the driver to put that power to better use.
The Lexus LS is a heavy car, with a curb weight of 4,365 pounds. That’s almost 500 pounds more than the GS, yet zero-to-sixty acceleration is .3 seconds faster. Granted, the eight-cylinder engine can’t match the fuel economy of the six-cylinder block on the GS, but steering and braking response come closer than any LS in the past.
Some traditional LS attributes are not as much as a surprise: its exceptionally quiet interior for example. And as always, Lexus is using the new LS to preview safety technology which this writer hopes to see trickle down through the rest of the lineup.
For example, the pre-collision system can now detect pedestrians and stop the vehicle at speeds up to 24 miles-per-hour if a collision is imminent. Adaptive cruise control has been expanded to include the entire range of speeds down to a dead stop, making it the most practical system of its kind in stop-and-go traffic.
Blind spot monitoring now includes a cross traffic alert feature, which warns the driver about approaching vehicles when backing out of a parking space.
At night, high-intensity discharge headlamps cast a longer, brighter beam of light than halogen, making it easier to see on dimly lit suburban or rural roads.
When I first drove the new LS at a media event several months back, I was struck by how comfortable the new seats are. I always struggle with car seats because the femurs in my legs are disproportionately long. The seats in the new LS are the first I’ve experienced with bolsters that support my legs properly. On long road trips, that kind of thing makes a tremendous difference.
The challenge for engineers on cars with the level of technology the LS have is in creating a user-friendly interface. There is nothing more disconcerting than being confronted with a myriad of levers and buttons on the instrument panel.
Lexus uses a mouse device that functions in a similar manner to a PC. It’s intuitive, and combines a wide variety of commands. Redundant steering wheel controls enable the driver to change audio channels, use the Bluetooth and engage the cruise control with minimal distraction.
Lexus Enform has expanded its app functions, which now include Bing, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Facebook places, MovieTickets and OpenTable. The 12.3-inch display screen in the center console is large enough for the driver to monitor navigation maps and other applications simultaneously. The screen is well shaded and does not wash out in bright sunlight.
A thin film transfer gauge cluster display includes average and real-time fuel economy, ambient temperature, adaptive cruise control settings and maintenance reminders.
Second-row passengers in the outboard positions have ample head, hip and legroom. The car’s tall floor tunnel and location of the center console bin limit legroom in the center position.
Vents behind the center console circulate air through the back of the cabin, while a 12-volt power point enables passengers in back to plug in a cell phone. Overhead reading lamps illuminate the interior at night.
A power trunk makes it easier to load up the back. A small rear pass-though is large enough to accommodate skis and other long items.
The Lexus LS comes with front, side, side curtain, driver and front passenger knee airbags, antilock brakes, traction control and stability control, tire pressure monitoring and active front headrests. Adaptive headlamps swivel according to steering inputs to light corners of the road.
Lexus Enform automatically notifies the police and emergency medical personnel in the event of a serious collision.
Like: The all-new LS combines the luxury and segment leading safety its owners have come to expect with aggressive new styling and F Sport enhancements that significantly enhance handling and performance.
Model: LS460 F Sport
Base price: $71,990
As tested: N/A
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy*: 16/24 mpg city/highway
Comment: * The manufacturer requires premium 91 octane unleaded gasoline.
Leave a reply