In 2007, after a six-year run, Lexus completely overhauled its flagship LS model and introduced the infamous self-parking car, the LS460.
This was one of the most complex and sophisticated automobiles the company had ever produced, and it was loaded with luxury and convenience goodies. It came in two wheelbase sizes.
Standard equipment included the by-now-usual array of one-touch up/down power windows, remote keyless entry, climate control system, heated and cooled seats, power tilt and telescoping steering, leather interior, wood trim, multi-information display, power sunroof, rear window sunshade, back-up sensor, electronic parking brake, cruise control, heated steering wheel, tire pressure monitoring system, Bluetooth capability, and on and on.
But that was just the beginning. The climate control system was a four-zone affair, which meant front and rear passengers could individually control their own heat/ventilation; the remote keyless access also turned on the interior lights, released the steering lock and activated the ignition system.
There's more: the front seats were climate controlled, giving occupants the option of a chilled backside or a warm one; the power rear sunshade automatically retracted when the vehicle was put into Reverse; and the cruise control had an optional radar feature which automatically maintained a safe distance between you and the car ahead, as well as "gently" accelerating when you changed lanes or space opens up in front of you.
If you stepped up to the Technology package, you got things like a DVD-based navigation system, back-up camera, heated, cooled, and reclining rear seats, upgraded stereo with 19 speakers and 450 watts of power, and the renowned Advanced Parking Guidance System, wherein the fine art of parallel parking was rendered obsolete because the car did it for you. This turned out to garner mixed reviews from owners: undoubtedly intriguing, but of questionable practical use.
Power was provided by a 4.6-litre V-8 engine with variable valve timing, electronic throttle control, dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. It developed 380 horsepower, which was enough to take the LS460 from 0 to 100 km/h in less than six seconds. It was mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, which was another first; in 2007, the LS460 was the only Lexus on the road with this drivetrain combination.
So how has this rolling showcase of luxury stood the test of time? According to Consumer Reports, rather well. With the exception of the electrical system, it gets top marks right across the board, earning a "Good Bet" designation from this organization and an above-average used car prediction.
Here are some comments from owners: "Could use more horsepower," "exceptional room for rear passengers," "great intuitive controls" and "(self)-parking system is just a gimmick." A smooth ride and overall feeling of luxury and quality are common praises.
Market research company J.D. Power is equally enthusiastic, giving the LS460 top marks in virtually every area. As far as this organization is concerned, the LS460 is "among the best" in every single category, and it bestows top marks for vehicle dependability.
That said, Transport Canada has two safety recalls on file for the LS460. One concerns possibly faulty engine valve springs that could fail and cause all kinds of internal engine damage. If this happens, drivers will get a bit of an advance warning because the engine will start to run badly. The other recall is actually a caution regarding ethanol fuel, which could degrade the fuel lines and injection system and result in fuel leakage. Interestingly, no mention of the ubiquitous throttle pedal/wonky floor mat issues that have plagued Toyota/Lexus for the last while.
There are 15 technical service bulletins from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and they range from various electrical gremlins to wind noise emanating from the mirrors, to mysterious engine rattles, to a sketchy ABS actuator. This latter issue could result in overly harsh brakes and an anti-hold mechanism that doesn't release when the vehicle is accelerating way from a dead stop.
From a base price of about $86,500 for the regular-wheelbase model in 2007, a four-year-old LS460 has dropped by about half, ranging in value from the low $30,000 range to the mid-$40,000. The long-wheelbase version seems to be fetching several thousand dollars more than the regular model, mainly because it has more luxury accoutrements.
2007 Lexus LS460
Original Base Price: $86,400-$98,700; Black Book: $43,075-$48,775; Red Book: $30,400-$30,925
Engine: 4.6-litre V-8
Horsepower/Torque: 380 hp/367 lb-ft
Transmission: Eight-speed manual
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 12.6 city/8.0 highway; premium gas
Alternatives: BMW 7-Series, Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8