2007 Lexus LS460 Mini-Review

Lexus LS460

I had the opportunity to test drive the new 2007 Lexus LS460 ($61,000 base price, $71,000 for the longer LS460L) sedan this afternoon. Some of the cooler features are the 19 speaker Mark Levinson sound system, automatically holding the brake for you at stop lights, tighter handling from the last generation LS, automatic parallel parking, and one button auto-open and auto-close trunk lid. The 2007 Lexus Ls460 is much refined and definitely an improvement over the last generation LS, the LS430.

The LS460 features a V8 4.6 liter engine making 380 horsepower and 367 lbs-ft of torque as well as the first eight-speed automatic transmission. I was able to get in a few quick tests to 60 from both a full stop and from 5 mph, and it feels like it does have a 0-60 mph time of 5.4 seconds, as claimed in the specs. The listed EPA mileage estimates are 19 city and 27 highway, which is very reasonable for a full-size car of this size with this size engine. The fuel tank holds 22.2 gallons, so thereotically, the LS460 can go 600 miles on the highway and a good 418 miles on local streets before a refill is required.

The 19 speaker Mark Levinson sound system is spectacular, the audio was crisp and the system also plays DVDs on the 8 inch navigation/DVD screen (while the car is not in motion). The Lexus salesman had a DVD demo disc and played a bit from the Jet Li movie Hero and the audio was amazing, especially considering this was inside a car. If you get a chance to go to a Lexus dealer, be sure ask for the Hero demo in a Mark Levinson-equipped LS460.

A simple button press will put the LS460 on notice that you want it to hold the brake pedal down when you come to a complete stop. So instead of holding down the brake pedal with your left foot when you are stopped at a light, you are now free to tap your right foot along to the music or whatnot. Just accelerate when the light turns green and the car will automatically release the brake hold. It’s quite a smart little feature, one I’m surprised no one had thought of before, at least that I’ve seen personally. The feature works very smoothly.

One of the most touted features Lexus has added is the automatic parallel parking feature. The system works like this: you pull alongside the car behind the space you want to park in, then drive forward and stop when you reach the car in front of the space you want to park in. Then hit the parallel park button and the 8 inch screen will display a green box of the parking space if it is able to park itself. The system reportedly only needs six and a half feet of buffer space longer than the car to be able to park itself. Click here to see the LS460 parking itself. This system will be great for those that are horrible at parallel parking, but those that are great parallel parkers will easily beat this automatic system in terms of time. There is also a one-touch automatic trunk lid opening mechanism in this newest iteration. It’s a useful feature, as one button press also closes the lid too.

The handling on the LS460 is much improved from previous versions. Taking turns at relatively high speeds is stable and the car has a good feel. The salesman mentioned that the suspension is lowered by one inch while driving at 60mph (or higher) for more stability. You do feel the 4244 pound curb weight of the LS460, but even with three passengers, the LS460 felt quick and nimble.

I test drove a metallic gray LS460 with the Navigation System & Mark Levinson Premium Audio Package (a $5645 option), which includes Bluetooth connectivity, backup camera, XM Satellite with Real-Time Traffic updates, and the 450-watt Mark Levinson system with an in-dash 6 CD changer, and a 30GB hard drive which you can save audio CDs to. The leather seats were very comfortable, though I imagine one may slide a little bit during more aggressive driving.

This LS460 did have a heated steering wheel, which heats up the leather part of the steering wheel rather fast. It comes with 18 inch wheels and 13″ front brakes and 12″ rear brakes. I’d be interested in seeing how the LS460L with Touring Package, with 19 inch rims and Adaptive Variable Suspension, handles. The brakes did bite rather well, but the brake pedal feel is a bit mushy.The acceleration was brisk, but I felt some lag between pressing the accelerator and the car responding. I much prefer the feeling of the brake and acceleration pedals response of an Audi A8 and BMW 7 series (I have never drive a Merecedes S-class so I left that out of the list, though I imagine they feel similar to their German counterparts). I feel the handling in the A8 and 7 series is also superior to the LS460, but the LS460 is not aimed exactly at the same audiences, as the German cars are more “driver” cars, whereas the Lexus is more quiet and refined, in a sense. Being more performance-oriented, I’ve seen that Lexus has come far in the driving aspect of the car, and it’s getting closer and closer to a how Audi and BMWs feel. But perhaps Lexus is not quite there, yet. It definitely works for being luxurious, quiet, and fast.

Having been able to drive each generation LS series cars extensively since the 1993 LS400, this new generation feels like the biggest change to the LS model line. I prefer the new looks of the LS460, the side view is very reminiscent of last generation Mercedes-Benz S-class (1999 to 2005 W220), and the rear reminds one of the current BMW 7 series, with the raised rear deck lid and tail lights. I’m not a fan of the BMW “Bangle trunk lid” at all, but the Lexus version is more aesthetically pleasing than the 7 series’s rear end. The front looks original, something Lexus came up without any inspiration. I like the styling overall, it’s very modern, yet has a classic look, especially the side view. This car’s looks definitely suffer when there is a front license plate.

There’s still no sidemarker turn signals, either on the side body panel or the rearview mirrors, a feature that is nice to have and useful for people driving in cars alongside you but two lanes away on the freeway, as they can see your signal blinking when you need to turn. I’m surprised Lexus has not implement this.

Specs-wise, it favors comparably to its main competition, the Mercedes S550, which starts at $86,000 with a 382hp engine and a 0-60 time of 5.4, and the BMW 750i, which starts at $72,000 and has 360hp and 0-60 of 5.8. The Lexus at $61,000 base is quite a bargain compared to those cars, though you get a different “feeling” while driving the LS460, which may or may not be good depending on your tastes. I think this car definitely will be a hot car, as far as demand goes, for a while.

There is an option to totally turn off the Lexus stability control, the first-time this option has been available in an LS, which lets you actually DRIFT, yes, drift your car. Motor Trend has a picture of this in their review of the LS460.

I wasn’t expecting to go and test drive this car today, so I didn’t bring my digital camera. Pictures from a Treo 650 just wouldn’t do this car much justice. I spent about 20 minutes sitting and driving the car, and about an hour overall at the Lexus dealer. If I get a chance to drive the car more extensively, I’ll either update this mini-review or post a lengthier review.

Official Lexus LS460 Site: http://www.lexus.com/models/LS

CNBC Video of LS460 Parking Itself

Picture of LS460 Drifting (courtesy of AutoBlog)


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