A tale of some driving with the ultimate comfort-cruiser Lexus has gone from making some stale, boring vehicles to making some polarizing, innovative, and absolutely beautiful vehicles.
My parents, now approaching their mid-fifties, have always had very specific criteria when car shopping. Any vehicle they buy or lease must be at least as large as a Camry, cannot have rear-wheel-drive, get great fuel mileage, and must be extremely smooth to drive. Up until a couple years ago, they found what they were looking for in various iterations of the Toyota Camry, and eventually decided to splurge financially and purchased a couple of BMWs and a Mercedes. Recently, purely by coincidence, the week I had to take a road trip with my parents is the same week I had one of my dad’s ultimate dream cars as a tester, the 2013 Lexus LS460 AWD.
I’ve briefly had some seat time in a Rolls-Royce Phantom. It’s amongst the smoothest cars on the road, but after a week with the new LS460, it’s hard to justify the pricing of the ultimate British sedans when so much can be had for a mere $99,000. The LS460 is easily the most serene thing out there. It’s evident that meticulous attention was given to every button, every door, and every switch. Nothing in the big Lexus makes a rough noise; even closing and opening and closing the center console is a smooth experience. Every material in this car is soft and pleasant. The anthracite headliner is wonderful to look at and wonderful to touch.
It’s a beautiful thing, this. I’m not even necessarily referring to the LS460; I’m referring to the perfectionist-level of detail devoted towards this car. In all-wheel-drive trim, the 4.6L V8 puts out 360 horsepower. Though not a stratospheric number, the car can get out of its own way. In typical Lexus fashion though, you don’t feel the power. With the LS, that’s where it excels though. Without giving any semblance of being a big, quick sedan, it floats along the road giving the driver enough confidence to relax in his air-conditioned seat (the rears provide a Shiatsu massage, too!) and take in his surroundings.
On some long interstate cruising, I was actually befuddled to learn that the sound of my iPhone’s vibrating ring was clearly audible at over 100 km/h. That’s how quiet this car is. Deliberately trying to test the quietness of the LS460, I was successfully able to whisper back and forth with my rear-seat passengers at highway speeds. When I found out that I would be driving the LS460 instead of its hybrid counterpart, the LS600h, I was afraid of how much I would have to spend on gas money. Surprisingly, even with all-wheel-drive, the Lexus managed to give me a perfectly livable 9.0L/100km highway. In the city however, it’s a different story. Going easy on the throttle with “Eco” mode on, the car couldn’t do any better than 13.9L/100km.
My tester was painted in a beautiful Obsidian Black and came with gorgeous, supple black leather seats. The $11,000 Technology Package adds tons of toys; most importantly the rear door sunshades, the heated and air-conditioned rear seats with Shiatsu massagers, radar cruise control, and adjustable air suspension. The superb comfort provided by these seats combined with the full range of controls in the rear (stereo, climate, etc.) only confirm the belief that this is a car to be driven in. There are even control switches that allow the driver or rear seat passengers to move the front passenger seat forward, providing more legroom for said rear seat passengers.
The Lexus LS460 is quite possibly the most comfortable and smoothest vehicle on the road today. As such, I can’t help but feel that it’s not the car I would buy if I were in the market. Even if I were to buy a ~$100,000 full-size luxury sedan, I would want to drive myself. The Lexus is the car I would pick if I were being driven. Lexus has paid so much attention to every little detail in the LS that there’s no feedback whatsoever. While consumers like my parents (who are actually the exact target market for this car) would adore the serenity and lack of road feel, I prefer a slightly harsher ride. Steering feedback and road feel are part of what makes me feel at one with the car.
There’s something wonderful about the Lexus brand lately. They’ve gone from making some stale, boring vehicles to making some polarizing, innovative, and absolutely beautiful vehicles. For instance, the current GS is my favourite in the class. I have some seat time booked very shortly with the new IS, and it also looks pretty promising. The ES is a vehicle I’d dubbed geriatric, but that was before the new ES350 won me over. The LS is no different; it’s classy, comfortable, and incredibly smooth. Spending $100,000 on an S-Class won’t get you nearly as many toys or gizmos, and a 7-series won’t be as cushy. An A8 might be an argument, but it’s German and therefore probably isn’t going to be as reliable in the long run. For hundreds of thousands of year-round trouble-free miles, it’s really hard to see beyond the Lexus LS460 AWD; and this 2013 refresh makes this argument especially compelling.
2013 Lexus LS460 AWD Gallery