2012 LEXUS LS
Certified Pre-Owned Sedan - 2012 Lexus LS in Cleveland, Oh
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2012 Lexus Other - Car ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
Smooth and quiet, easy to live with.
The Lexus LS is a practical luxury car, extremely quiet and extraordinarily smooth underway, easy to drive and operate. The Lexus LS is available in standard LS 460 and long-wheelbase LS 460L and LS 600h L versions, with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Buyers have the choice of V8-powered LS 460 or LS 600h L hybrid powertrains. The 8-speed automatic, found on all non-hybrid models, helps keep fuel economy reasonable.
The Lexus LS lineup is oriented more to a luxurious, smooth ride than sporty handling. Still, the LS is no slouch in the performance department. The 4.6-liter V8 found in the LS 460 launches the car from 0-60 mph in a mere 5.4 seconds, according to Lexus, yet it gets an EPA-rated 24 mpg Highway. The 8-speed automatic is smooth and the electrically powered steering system adjusts according to speed. Ride quality is exemplary, and handling is perfectly capable. The rear-wheel-drive Lexus LS 460 offers a Sport Package that adds an aero kit, sportier suspension, brakes, wheels and tires, as well as different upholstery.
The Lexus LS 600h L employs a hybrid powertrain using a 5.0-liter V8 and electric motors rated at 438 total horsepower mated to an electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT). The LS 600h L delivers EPA fuel economy ratings of 19/23 mpg City/Highway. The LS 600L is all-wheel drive and rides on the long wheelbase.
All-wheel drive models use a Torsen limited-slip center differential to distribute torque between the front and rear tires. Normally, the front-to-rear torque split is set at 40:60 but it can vary between 30:70 and 50:50 depending on driving conditions. The bottom line is stable traction in any conditions.
The 2012 Lexus LS 460 Sport Special Edition includes everything found on the sport package plus navigation and a unique two-tone black and topaz beige interior.
The Lexus LS competes with full-size luxury sedans such as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class, BMW 5 Series and 7 Series, Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ. Compared to those cars, the Lexus is more affordably priced while also offering top levels of quality, dependability and reliability. Those looking for luxury and value who are willing to sacrifice cachet might consider the Hyundai Equuis. Those considering the LS 600h hybrid model should also look at the Mercedes-Benz S350 Bluetec diesel, the Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid and the BMW 7 Series hybrid.
The 2012 Lexus LS lineup includes the LS 460, the long-wheelbase LS 460 L, and the LS 600h L hybrid. The LS 460 models use a 4.6-liter V8 and offer a choice of rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. The LS 600h L is a long-wheelbase model that uses a 5.0-liter V8 mated to a pair of electric motors and an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission.
Lexus LS 460 ($67,630) comes with leather upholstery; dual-zone automatic climate control; interior air filter; power tilt/telescoping wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; cruise control; 16-way power adjustable driver's seat; 12-way power front passenger seat; heated front seats; memory for the driver's seat, steering wheel and mirrors; power windows, locks, and heated mirrors; keyless access and starting; sunroof; AM/FM stereo with six-disc CD changer, XM satellite radio, auxiliary input jack, and iPod adaptor; Bluetooth wireless cell phone link; rearview camera; trip computer; auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass; outside temperature indicator; universal garage door opener; rain-sensing wipers; automatic headlights; fog lights; adaptive xenon headlights; and P235/50R18 tires on alloy wheels. LS 460 AWD ($69,935) adds all-wheel drive and a heated steering wheel.
A Comfort Package ($3,150) adds headlamp washers, power door closers, power rear trunk, power rear sunshades, parking assist, navigation with real-time traffic and information, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats and wood-and-leather-trimmed steering wheel. The Comfort Plus Package ($5,230) adds automatic parallel parking assist, voice recognition, real-time weather and stock information, and an upgraded, 19-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. The Sport Package ($9,185) includes everything with the Comfort Package (minus the wood-trimmed steering wheel) plus 19-inch aluminum wheels with summer tires, a unique front spoiler and grille, Brembo brakes, a sport-tuned air suspension, perforated leather interior trim with wood accents, a heated, leather-trimmed steering wheel with paddle shifters and sport front bucket seats. The Sport Package with additional options ($11,265) includes everything on the Comfort Plus, minus the automatic parallel parking assist and wood-trimmed steering wheel. The navigation system ($965) and voice-activated navigation with the upgraded Mark Levinson audio system ($3,745) are available as standalone options.
The LS 460 L ($73,175) and LS 460 L AWD ($75,480) feature heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, front and rear park assist, power door and trunk closers, power rear sunshade, self-dimming headlights, and headlight washers. A Luxury Package for the 460 L ($980) adds power-rear sunshades, semi-aniline leather upholstery, and an Alcantara headliner. A Mark Levinson sound system with additional options ($3,910) includes 19-inch alloy wheels, navigation with real-time traffic and a 19-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. The next package up ($9,210) includes all above options plus an automatic parallel parking system, pre-collision system with dynamic radar cruise control and adaptive variable air suspension with variable gear-ratio steering. Step up to the next bundle ($17,455) and get an upgraded pre-collision system with pedestrian protection, lane departure warning and driver attention monitor, plus power rear sunshades, heated and cooled power rear seats with power-adjustable headrests and massage function, four-zone automatic climate control, rear seat air purifier, rear-seat cool box and rear-seat audio controls. The top-of-the-line package ($20,680) includes four-person seating with rear fixed console, a right-rear power reclining seat with multifunction massager and leg rest, a rear-seat wood trimmed table and rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
The LS 600h L ($112,750) comes with the navigation system with voice recognition and real-time traffic information; Lexus Enform assistance; the self-parking feature; a 19-speaker, 450-watt Mark Levinson audio system; Alcantara headliner; LED headlights; adjustable Adaptive Variable Air Suspension; and P245/45R19 tires. A Premium Package II ($5,280) is similar to the Rear Seat Upgrade for the LS 460 L. The Executive Class Seating Package ($10,835) adds rear side airbags, rear dual-zone automatic climate control with body-temperature sensors, interior air filers, two-place heated and cooled rear seats with memory and massage, power rear headrests, fixed rear center console, right rear power reclining seat with leg rest and massage, right rear seat fold-down tray, rear DVD entertainment system, and rear radio controls.
Safety equipment includes dual front airbags, front side airbags, curtain side airbags, front knee airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake assist, traction control, electronic stability control, active front head restraints, tire-pressure monitor, rearview camera, and adaptive headlights that point into turns. The optional Pre-Collision System comes with adaptive cruise control. It retracts the seatbelts, sounds a warning for the driver, closes the windows and sunroof, firms up the suspension, adjusts the steering ratio and readies brake assist when the computers detect an impending collision. The Advanced Pre-Collision System, available only on the long-wheelbase models, also adds lane departure warning, a driver attention monitor, and object recognition cameras.
The Lexus LS looks refined, the fit and finish is precise and the detailing is impeccable. Its aerodynamics, with a coefficient of drag of 0.26, enhances high-speed stability, improves highway fuel mileage, and minimizes wind noise.
Designed for the 2007 model year, the current-generation Lexus LS has smooth lines that flow around its crystal-like headlamp units, under the car, up over the roof and around the mirrors. The headlights are automatic-leveling and aim themselves to the left or right as the steering wheel is turned to better illuminate corners. The taillights are LED units which deliver enhanced visibility to other drivers.
The Lexus LS is an attractive car and it has presence. At a glance, however, it can look like a giant Camry. When rolling up to a fine hotel, it does not project the statement of luxury that the flagship European sedans do, namely the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series, and Jaguar XJ.
Standard LS 460s have a chrome grille with five bars, while models with the Sport Package have a black grille, and the LS 600h L has a four-bar body-color grille.
The Sport Package adds an aero body kit with a front lower spoiler, side rocker panels, and a rear lower spoiler. The Appearance Package includes the aero kit and the 19-inch wheels.
The Lexus LS seats are gloriously comfortable, and they are 16-way adjustable for travel and rake and tilt (12-way on the passenger side), with a three-way memory system for each front seat. All models come with perforated leather seats, with the option of semi-aniline leather. The seat bolsters are just wide enough to retain your torso without feeling too tight or intruding on comfort. The seats that come with the Sport Package feature more pronounced bolstering, but they don't pinch wide backsides. The front seats are heated on the standard car, with heated and cooled front and heated rear seats added to the L version.
Electroluminescent gauges and displays are lit by bright white LEDs for excellent readability, day or night. Almost all of the needles illuminate, dominated by the large tachometer and speedometer needles. Every single switch on the car is lighted for ultimate convenience. A thin-film-transistor (TFT) multi-information color display delivers as many as 13 information and setting displays during driving.
The LS 600h L comes with a unique LCD instrument cluster with a large central speedometer flanked by oil temperature and tachometer graphs on one side and fuel gauge and power meter graphs on the right. The information is easy to see, but not particularly interesting in appearance.
Four-spoke tilt-and-telescope leather-and-wood steering wheels (heated on the uplevel versions) feature redundant controls for audio, information, cruise control, radar cruise control option, telephone, and a brake-hold feature. To use the brake-hold feature, just come to a stop, push down the brake pedal, touch the button on the steering wheel, and the brakes stay on regardless of vehicle attitude until you touch the gas pedal.
The center stack of controls is beautifully integrated, as is every single piece of interior trim, and though there are lots of buttons, they are clearly marked in large type and lighted, so there will be little confusion after a couple of drives. The navigation display is large and bright, and the graphics are crisp and sharp. An auxiliary input is provided for MP3 players, and a USB port is added this year for iPod connectivity. Your iPod can be controlled through the steering wheel audio controls or the radio. The standard ten-speaker audio system sounds wonderful until you try the optional Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound system, with 19 speakers and 450 watts, which we think might just be the single best automotive sound system on the market.
The LS is a big, roomy and comfortable luxury sedan, with generous interior dimensions and 18 cubic feet of trunk space, enough for four sets of golf clubs.
The long-wheelbase L versions offer more almost five inches more legroom, by virtue of their greater length, and the option of a luxurious rear-seat setup with two reclining heated bucket seats, a cool box, sunshades, additional climate ducting, and dual-zone rear HVAC control. Yet another configuration, the Executive-Class Seating Package, adds a folding table and a right rear seat with a built-in ottoman section, shiatsu massager, an extra air bag, and a rear roof-mounted 9-inch DVD screen and two sets of wireless headphones. No car manufacturer this side of a $350,000 Maybach offers this kind of rear-seat setup.
Safety Connect and Lexus Enform are telematics systems, both with complimentary one-year subscriptions. Safety Connect, which is standard on all Lexus vehicles, operates like GM's OnStar system, offering a measure of security with Automatic Collision Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location, Emergency Assistance Button, and Enhanced Roadside Assistance. Lexus Enform comes with all optional navigation systems, and offers two unique ways to get directions to destinations. Destination Assist supplies directions with the help of a call center, and eDestination allows drivers to send destinations to their navigation systems from a website. Enform also comes with Lexus Insider, which is a way for the factory to communicate with owners via audio casts that provide tips, event information, and other information an owner might need.
The Lexus LS is fast, smooth, quiet and efficient. So much so, that there is a low sensation of speed. The car feels under-stressed at normal highway speeds, with a huge reserve of power for passing and highway driving. A BMW 7 Series sedan offers sharper handling, but its larger wheels and lower-profile tires let more road noise through to the cabin and more vibration to the wheel. The Lexus is smoother and quieter. Handling is capable if dull. The car isn't prone to highway float or excessive lean in turns.
The Sport Package makes it easier and more satisfying to drive the car into corners at elevated speed. While the Sport shocks and stabilizer bars are firmer than in the base model, it's the specially tuned air suspension that likely gives the Sport Package its impressive handling finesse. The Porsche Panamera uses a similar system and it is lauded as one of the best-handling big sedans on the market. With the Lexus LS Sport Package, we were able to charge into turns, brake, and kick the tail out with a stab of the throttle. You could probably do that in the base car, too, but you wouldn't want to. The Sport Package makes the LS far more fun to drive.
The engine, transmission and driveline set the standard for quietness and smoothness. We found the LS 460 to be very quiet and nearly vibration-free. The Lexus seems much quieter on the highway than the competition.
The LS 460 has a base curb weight of 4350 pounds, and its engine is smaller than those in some of the German competitors. Yet it can accelerate from 0-60 mph in a mere 5.4 seconds, and it's good for an EPA rating of 24 mpg Highway.
The LS 460 uses a computer-controlled 8-speed automatic transmission, a transmission that offers great acceleration with nearly imperceptible upshifts and downshifts, manual or automatic shift control, and improved highway mileage in eighth-gear overdrive.
The electrically powered steering system is terrific. It doesn't feel any different than hydraulically powered steering, and it has progressive assist that decreases with speed. The steering, brakes and engine are linked together into electronic stability control, which Lexus calls Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management (VDIM) and includes all the functions of anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control to help keep the vehicle going where the driver intends and thus to reduce the chance of a spin on a slippery surface.
All-wheel drive is available on all models. The operation and driving feel of the Lexus all-wheel drive system is about as transparent as it can be. There is no sense that it is searching between the front and rear wheels, and it has none of the torque steer that accompanies just about all front-drive vehicles and many with all-wheel drive.
Parking and maneuvering are surprisingly easy given the size of the LS 460 L and LS 600h L. Thanks goes to a relatively short turning radius and electronic power steering. The Advanced Parking Guidance System can be used to allow the car to park itself. We tested the system, thinking anyone who knows how to parallel park will consider this an unnecessary, slightly insulting adornment. However, it really works. Actually, it works great. We found ourselves using it over and over. The trick is to scan in the exact size of the parking space, then keep a foot on the brake while the car automatically maneuvers itself into the spot. It takes about 10 seconds, which might be longer than just doing it yourself.
The LS 600h L, if anything, is even smoother. The hybrid system, in which the 5.0-liter V8 and the electric motor work together, can provide performance equivalent to other V10 or V12 powerplants, and smoothness to match. The 389 horsepower of the engine, matched with the enormous torque of the electric motor, means that this car that weighs 5360 pounds can, according to Lexus, accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 5.5 seconds, and it is rated at 19 mpg City, which is more than what you might expect from a midsize sedan with a V6. While hybrid powertrains deliver excellent fuel economy, their strongest forte lies in reduced emissions. According to Lexus engineers, the LS 600h L produces exhaust emissions nearly 70 percent cleaner than the cleanest competitors.
The hybrid drive system uses two powerful electric motors and a battery pack. The system is capable of driving the car on just the gas engine, in electric-only mode, or with a combination of gas engine and electric motor. The battery system consists of a 288-volt DC Nickel Metal Hydride pack located behind the rear seat. In the trunk is a 12-volt auxiliary battery to power the audio system, navigation and lighting. The electric motors, denoted by Lexus as MG1 and MG2, perform specific functions. Each can operate as both a motor and generator. MG2 is the drive motor. MG1 is used as a starter motor and acts as an engine-driven generator to charge the battery pack or provide additional power to the drive motor, MG2, as needed.
The LS 600h can operate in EV Mode, in which the vehicle will stay in electric-only mode at speeds below 25 mph for about a half mile. This feature might be useful to glide into the garage silently if you get home late, or get to a gas station if you ran out of fuel or maybe for use in stop-and-go commuter traffic.
Even though the hybrid is equipped with regenerative brakes, which recharge the battery as the brakes are applied, brake feel is typical of a standard car equipped with strong disc brakes, an impressive engineering achievement.
Note, however, that the hybrid is priced far higher than the base model, making it more of a social and environmental statement than a value. It does include other standard equipment, including all-wheel drive, but the fuel savings will never make up for the extra cost. In all fairness, the base LS 460 is the wiser choice.
The Lexus LS line may be the quietest, most serene luxury car available. It offers an excellent combination of comfort, space, quietude, and features. It's also the most electronics-intensive luxury car we've ever experienced and, if it weren't a Lexus, that would give us pause. The LS 460 offers all anyone might want in a luxury car, and at a price that cannot be considered exorbitant. Long-wheelbase models boast big rear legroom, while the LS 600h L features a hybrid powerplant that offers improved fuel efficiency with comparable power and greatly reduced emissions.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondents Jim McCraw, John Stewart, Kirk Bell and Laura Burstein contributed to this report.
Lexus LS 460 ($67,630); LS 460 AWD ($69,935); LS 460 L ($73,175); LS 460 L AWD ($75,480); LS 600h L ($112,750).
Options As Tested
Lexus LS 460 ($67,630).Lexus takes technology and luxury far beyond current standards with its clean and powerful LS 600 hybrid sedan. Erasing any doubts about the power potential of hybrid drive systems, the LS 600h produces a combined 438-hp from its 5.0-liter V8 engine/electric motor hybrid powertrain. This power is sent to all four wheels via an electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Despite this power, the car is rated as a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle 2. Additionally, the hybrid powertrain results in a drive even quieter and softer than the already quiet Lexus cabin. Sensors and cameras mounted in the front of the car detect obstacles both large and small, warning the driver if a collision is imminent. A steering column mounted camera monitors the driver and sounds a warning chime if the driver is looking away for too long. The LS600h can even be equipped to park itself. The LS 600h is unchanged for 2012.
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