The Lexus LS460 is so complex, with so many features, it's hard to know where to begin. So, let's start with the price.
The flagship of Lexus models in Canada, the LS460 has a base sticker price a hair under $83,000, and my tester, the Sport model, goes out the door for $94,550, before taxes and extras. That's a lot of coin. What are you getting for your money?
Well, for power, the LS460 has a 4.6-litre V-8 engine that, in this configuration, delivers 380 horsepower and 367 lb-ft of torque. It's mated to an eight-speed automatic and it's unlikely you'll find a smoother, more useable V-8 drivetrain anywhere else in the industry. This is about as good as it gets: responsive, well-behaved and almost completely silent.
Technical highlights include four valves per cylinder, Toyota's variable valve timing system, a high-pressure induction system for the intake manifold and an electronic throttle control with an intelligence feature.
This last item is essentially a gas pedal without direct mechanical linkage to the engine. In Lexus' own words, it works this way: "The accelerator pedal position is sensed and relayed to the Engine Control Module (ECM). A small electronic motor then opens/closes the throttle as required." It also works in tandem with the transmission to find the best gear ratios.
There is also an all-wheel-drive variant of the LS460, but it has slightly less horsepower and torque, and a long-wheelbase hybrid version, which is a different kettle of fish altogether.
The LS460 is good for 12.9 L/100 km in town and 8.2 on the highway. Given the fact that typical owners of this vehicle are unaffected by the price of fuel, these numbers could be considered window dressing as much as anything else, but it's good to know that a luxury sedan of this size and calibre is relatively easy on fuel, nonetheless.
And if you like automotive modcons and technological gew-gaws, the LS460 could definitely be your cup of tea.
Standard equipment for this model includes goodies like a heated steering wheel (excellent!), four-zone heating and ventilation, full leather interior that actually smells and feels like the real thing, automatically adjusting headlights, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a DVD navigation system, back-up camera, headlight washers, and on and on. It even comes with a first-aid kit and a full-size spare.
The LS460 is also the famed "self-parking" Lexus, but I never used this feature during my time with the car. I've experienced it before, and quite frankly, it takes too much time, is too fussy, and the thrill of holding up traffic while you fiddle around with the monitor and controls wears off quickly. Anyone that needs this feature should probably retake their driver's exam because they clearly don't know how to parallel park. Interesting and fascinating technology for sure, but ultimately silly. I'm willing to bet any sum of money that I can manually park this car faster than the park assist program.
Anyway, the Sport version also comes with extras that include upgraded Brembo disc brakes, sport-tuned suspension, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for the transmission and a cruise control that automatically keeps you from getting too close to the car in front - among other things.
All in all, this package adds some $11,650 to the base price and doesn't really transform the car into a Sport sedan or anything like it. The LS460 is first and foremost a luxury saloon and I'm actually perplexed by the Sport options package.
What's the point of it? If I want to rip up the pavement, I'll buy a GS or something from Audi or BMW. At no time did I feel the urge to do any corner-carving with this car. That said, it'll run you from 0 to 100 km/h in the six-second range, which is definitely competitive.
One quibble: I found the styling of the LS460 to be a little on the chunky side. Compared to, oh, the Mercedes-Benz S-class, for example, it looks heavy, massive and bloated. Japanese manufacturers continue to take second place to the Europeans when it comes to styling.
That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy my time with the LS460. In fact, I absolutely loved it.
From the refined smell of genuine leather that greets you when you open the door, to the unbelievably comfortable front buckets, to the abundance of interior elbow room, to the almost limitless power available at the press of the pedal, to the surprisingly easy-to-understand controls, it's a pleasure to drive, from every angle. Aside from its sky-high price tag, it's hard to find fault with this one.
2010 LEXUS LS460 SPORT
Type: Four-door prestige sedan
Base Price: $82,900; as tested: $94,550
Engine: 4.6-litre V-8
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual shift mode
Horsepower/Torque: 380 hp/367 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 12.9 city/8.2 highway; premium gas
Alternatives: Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8, BMW 750i, Porsche Panamera, Infiniti M-Series, Maserati Quattroporte