It’s been awhile since we test-drove a car, but it’s usually the same old affair. Potential customers drive up to the dealership, get harassed by salespeople who don’t really know the product they are selling, and finally, if you’re lucky –we’ve been turned down before – drive the car you hope to buy.
Usually, the drive is five minutes around the block and that short amount of time can make a Chevrolet Impala look good. The real way to test a car is a road trip, and – for the reader of course – we took a 1,000 miles journey in the biggest and most luxurious Lexus of them all, the LS460L, to the coast of Georgia. The things we have to do for good reviews.
Our journey began on Interstate 77, down through the mountain roads of West Virginia, through the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, and finally down the most insane highway of them all, Interstate 95 to a location only 50 miles from Florida.
Hit the jump to keep reading.
The Lexus LS460L, for those who don’t know, is the long wheelbase version of the normal LS460. We were lucky enough to be able to acquire a car with so many different goodies, we just didn’t know where to begin, but we’ll get to most of those later.
From a couple of car lengths away, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between this car and the normal version. Besides a few extra feet, there isn’t much different to speak of.
The styling of the LS460L is elegant, simple, and very prominent. A pair of stunning headlight housings flank a lower profile grille. Those lights are drawn back by deeply sculpted fender flairs, past the very elegant roof to the relatively short rear deck lid. We were a bit shocked at the size of the trunk, as it wasn’t as large as we had thought it would be.
We liked the look of the car, but it’s nowhere near as stylish as the Jaguar XJ or the Audi A8. If it’s dignity and sophistication you’re after, the LS is right up your ally. It’s not on the outside where the car is best, it’s on the inside.
The LS460L has the ultimate in luxurious toys and surfaces. There is a very airy feel above the beltline and the overall cabin is very open, not a wraparound like the BMW 7-Series. There is soft stitched leather, polished wood, and a headliner so soft that it could be used to make a sofa.
Our test car came with a 19-speak Mark Levinson surround sound stereo and it was just wonderful. The controls and computer system on the other hand, were a tad disappointing. The same can be said for the navigation system. For the price, we expected a system that was a bit better. Selected songs on an iPod with many different options to choose from can be a daunting task. The rest of the gizmos worked fairly well, as the climate was easy to figure out and it worked brilliantly. In 90 degree temperatures, the car was cooled down in a matter of seconds.
The rear seat of the car is where the journey is best. The L version gives passengers five extra inches of legroom and more technology than a Brookstone store at the shopping mall. The rear seats can recline, massage your shoulders and back, and if the sun is getting a bit too annoying, you can raise the sunshades on the side and back windows. In the mood for some entertainment? The Lexus came with a DVD system and fold down screen from the ceiling. A cool box is provided, but it’s just about useless and there are more vents to keep you cool than a first class cabin on a Boeing jet.
We couldn’t get over the different amenities that the car offered. Passengers might have gotten a massage, but the driver wasn’t left out of the fun. Some of the driver based toys include: Lane Keeping Assist, which gives the wheel a slight nudge when you veer outside the lane, Adaptive Cruise Control, which is good but not perfect, and a Hold button that takes the place of the brake pedal at long lights.
Power for this beast came from a 4.6-liter V8 with both port and direct injection. By no means is this engine seriously ferocious, but it works. Unlike a Mercedes or a BMW, the LS460L makes no attempt to be sporty. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a fast machine when pushed, but this is no driver’s car.
The engine might be large, but those 380 horses are as silent as a sleeping baby. Torque is rated at 367 pound feet and the motor is connected to an eight-speed transmission. Eight gears were a bit too much for the IS-F, but in this massive car, it works wonderfully.
The suspension, which is made of air, is halfway decent in normal mode, but put the car in comfort and the leviathan just glides over bumps. The ride is well manned and it’s pretty nimble for its large size. The suspension is a fully independent multi-link setup that is aided by integrated vehicle dynamics management that can monitor steering, front wheel angle, and many different toys to keep the car in line.
There of course, are issues with it. The LS460L is a thirsty brute. The V8 is like a whale sucking in water and the style of the car is a little disappointing. It looks good and it will suit most people just fine, but with cars that look as good as the Jaguar XJ and the Audi A8, the LS is a bit left out.
The trunk of the car is really neat when you want to show off, as it automatically opens with a press of a button on the fob, but it’s so damn slow. The trunk opens with the same speed, as the United Kingdom is moving away from France. This means that if it’s raining, you better just put the groceries in the back seat.
The interior is also an issue. There are so many toys that are sensationally brilliant and fun to use, if you know how. Drivers and passengers that are above the age of 50 will need to file through a book the size of the Bible in order to figure everything out and the overall style is a tad lacking. A quick note to Lexus, a fully leather wrapped wheel is better than a half leather/half wood job.
All those complaints might make it sound like we don’t like the LS460L and that would be a lie. We really do like this machine and it made a long 1,000-mile journey easy and relaxing. The seats in the front and back are so comfortable that they melt away any bumps on the road surface.
Our test car came in at $96,000, a hefty price, but nowhere near what you would pay for the German equivalent.
As a luxury barge, the Lexus is a brilliant. You buy this car to cruise in, just like you buy the 7-Series to drive and the XJ to look at. There are many different options to suit many different people in the luxury car market and if you’re after a quiet, smooth, reliable, and fairly refined ride, the LS is the perfect choice.
In a few simple words, the LS460L is the ultimate Lexus.