Smooth, Sexy, Sporty and Smart:The 2013 Lexus LS
The 2013 Lexus LS: Lexus has given its flagship sedan a complete redesign and added a new sport version to the lineup. The all-new 2013 Lexus LS 460 is unapologetically big, smooth and sumptuous-both inside and out. Plus, there’s an updated version of its LS 600 hybrid that brings increased fuel efficiency and added plushness. Since it came to the market in 1989, its designers and engineers have set the tone for the Lexus brand by endowing its top-of-the-line model with a high level of craftsmanship, technology and refinement. The newest LS has a more bold exterior; an interior that has been updated with a higher level of quality and technology; there is improved safety and upgraded driving dynamics—along with more than 3,000 new parts! The base LS 460 rear wheel drive version starts at $71, 990 and the LS600 hybrid starts at $119,910.
We came to Tucson, known as “The Real Southwest” and parked overnight at the sumptuous Ritz Carlton Hotel, with accommodations befitting this updated opulent auto. Lexus isn’t shy about its achievements and wants its success to be recognized, so has tailored its ride and drives and media campaign to heighten the prestige of the LS. For its first introduction this summer, Lexus revealed the new model as the centerpiece to an international photo exhibit in San Francisco called the “Lexus Laws of Attraction”, at an L.A. Food and Wine event and at the legendary Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance, in Monterrey, California. The new LS F Sport model was unveiled by renowned designers Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan to a global audience during a live webcast on Lexas.com and Facebook. Looking at the exterior of the new iconic LS, you’ll notice it has an aerodynamic sweep of a profile, with short overhangs front and rear and a relatively long midsection.
The hood is bisected by a center bump that narrows to a point, directing the eye to the massive hourglass-shaped grille that spans both the upper and lower decks of the front end. Its front end now wears the new face of Lexus. Large, slanted projector headlamps create a fierce look by wrapping around to the sides, which are accented by big shoulders. Rear lamps look like they are part of a continuous line that bends across the trunk. The flagship rides on 19-inch standard alloy wheels, and sports dual chrome exhaust tips shaped like stretched-out diamonds lain on their sides. A rear spoiler is integrated into the trunk lid. New LS F Sport models have a unique, three-dimensional mesh grille and larger cooling openings as well as black grille surround and round fog lamps. A chrome-plated bar running along the bottom edge of the rear bumper accentuates the lowered center of gravity; “Sport” badging completes the look. Inside, LS is what you’d expect it to be: spacious and incredibly comfortable, with high-end technology features and lots of electronics: even the silver-toned analog clock is connected to a GPS signal that automatically updates the time. Polished wood and leather abound throughout the cabin, which features power driver and passenger seats with memory settings and seatbelt height adjusters.
The steering wheel is wood and leather, as well. LED lighting creates ambience that would make a romantic French restaurant envious: illumination throughout the interior is programmed to light and dim in programmed phases depending on whether and when you open and close the doors. Push-button engine start/stop is standard, as is a 12.3-inch split-screen for navigation and other features. The screen is operated by a controller, which is easy to use but at this end of the market, one might expect or prefer a touch screen. Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard; a Climate Control Concierge system is available to personalize settings for heat and air conditioning as well as seat and steering wheel temperature. Other convenience features include a first aid kit and individual rear passenger vanity mirrors. Standard audio is a 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 system with Bluetooth and iPod connectivity. Navigation is standard, as is Lexus Enform, this Japanese automaker’s infotainment package. Its “App Suite” is designed to leverage mobile phone apps for services like Bing search and OpenTable restaurant reservations. The App Suite is a subscription-based service, but Lexus is throwing in the first year for free for buyers of the new LS. Under the hood is a 4.6-liter V8 making 386 horsepower and 367 lb.-ft. of torque.
The LS can be ordered in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive configurations; all include an eight-speed sequential shift automatic transmission. For the Hybrid LS 600, the powertrain is a 5.0-liter V8 that delivers 389 horses and 385 lb.-ft. of torque; the electric dual-generator motors include a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. The combined horsepower of the system is 438, and the hybrid models all come with all-wheel drive. We drove all the different models of the new LS-short and long wheelbase; rear drive and all-wheel-drive; the hybrid; and the F Sport, plus motored in the top-flight Executive edition. Notable with each was the quiet of the cockpit, the seat comfort, a refined quality of materials, and the motoring experience which takes on different personalities with different models, but can also be adjusted for a more sporty ride or a softer-kinder-gentler ride. Our favorite was the F Sport, with a punchy throttle that is matched to a more aggressive engine note and set up with a sport-tuned sir suspension, Brembo brakes, sport seats and paddle shifters. Multi-link, double-joint front and rear coil suspension is standard for LS models with the gas motor, with an air suspension available. Independent front and rear configuration and air suspension are standard on all hybrids. Steering is power-assisted rack-and-pinion. All LS models have four-wheel ventilated disc brakes with ABS and traction control, and a variety of safety technologies are available, from the lane-keeping assist feature to adaptive cruise control and blind sport monitors. The 2013 LS line-up includes the LS 460 (starting at $71,990 with RWD, $74,935 with AWD), LS 460L ($78,290 with RWD, $81,775 with AWD), LS 600hL hybrid ($119,910), and the LS 460 F Sport ($82,885). The LS 460 comes with leather seats, automatic climate control, 12.3-inch screen with infotainment system and 10-speaker audio system, push button engine start/stop, power adjusting driver and passenger seats with memory, ambient lighting and a one-year subscription to the Lexus App Suite. LS “L” models (both 460 and 600 hybrid versions) have a longer wheelbase and can be ordered in a four-seat “executive” seating configuration.
Other standard equipment remains the same. Notable options for LS 460 and 460L include 19-inch wheels, heated and padded leather steering wheel, heated/cooled front seats, power adjusting and climate controlled rear seats, a DVD/Blu-Ray rear-seat entertainment system, air suspension with five pre-configured settings, blind sport monitor with cross-traffic sensors and alerts, pre-collision sensor system, 450-watt Mark Levinson surround sound, windshield wiper de-icers, power trunk and rear sunshade and upgraded leather. Lumbar massage and four-zone climate control are among the options available as part of an Ultra-Luxury Package. The sport version adds seats with larger bolsters, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters and aluminum trim. Standard are a sport-tuned air suspension that has been lowered 0.4 inches, Torsen limited slip rear differential (RWD model), Brembo six-piston caliper brakes. and 19” forged wheels with summer or all-season tires.