My test week with the Lexus LS 460 gave me something I had yet to experience: a flat tire in a luxury car. I’ll talk about the LS 460’s highs and lows in a moment, but first let’s talk about the flat tire.
Short of using run flat tires (and getting the bonus stiff ride), there isn’t much you can do to avoid picking up the occasional road debris that pierce the rubber layer between your car and the asphalt below. I picked up what appeared to be about a four-inch nail that shot thru the tread and out the side wall of the tire just below the rim. It was impressive looking.
The interesting thing was that I didn’t discover the flat because of the way the car drove. I figured it out while sitting at a stop light and suddenly my dash display switched to show the tire pressures. Three of them were in the mid 30s, and one said “4”. At first I thought it must be a mistake, but I whipped into the first parking lot on the other side of the intersection and pulled in. Sure enough, the tire was seriously flat.
Having worked my way through college as a tire buster at Sears Automotive, I’m not afraid of changing tires. I promptly whipped out the spare and the jack. That was my next pleasant surprise. Not only does the LS 460 have a full-sized spare, it’s also mounted on an alloy rim (with “liquid graphite finish”) instead of some stamped, painted metal piece that screams “I have a flat in the trunk” as you drive by.
I can tell you the jack worked well. It scissored up right away without extreme effort. A few minutes later I had the new (nice looking) tire mounted and I was back on the road. I’m sure I could have called Lexus roadside assistance, but even a quick response would have taken much longer than it would take me to swap tires. After the spare was mounted and I was on my way, I also noticed that when the tire was in the trunk the instrument display showed regular pressure on the four mounted tires, and zero pressure in the trunk. It’s nice to know that you’ll have a reminder if you forget to get it fixed.
OK, now let’s talk about the how the LS 460 drove.
First, what’s not to like about 388 horsepower? There’s always someone who will complain that a car this big needs more. I’m not one of them. I’m a big believer that you simply need to match the power to the car. The folks who buy the LS 460 aren’t likely to hot-rod around town. This 4.6 liter V8 gives you enough power so that you can get up to speed quickly and whip around any rolling chicanes along the freeway that get in your way. It has an eight speed transmission that smoothly gets you where you need to go. Mileage isn’t bad for a big car, 16 mpg in own and 24 mpg on the highway. Want more performance, opt for the F Sport version.
Matching the suspension to the driver is another tricky affair. I’ve read other reviews that knock the LS 460 for it’s less than nimble ride. I put it in the “nimble enough” category. Like most drivers, I didn’t push it beyond the normal bounds and it did just fine. It had the proper luxury car softness. Of course you can choose your preferred suspension setting. Lexus lets you choose between normal, eco and sport modes. The LS 460 also has Toyota’s Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management. Think of it as a guardian angel that is wired into the steering, brakes and engine. It’s supposed to anticipate rather than just react. Fortunately I didn’t have to use it.
This was the fourth Lexus I’ve driven with Remote Touch system. Reviews from other writers tend to fall into the love or hate category. Personally, I love it. I like the fact that you simply rest your hand on the controller in the center console. It acts like a mouse and lets you move across the display as you work your way through the car’s various functions. What you don’t get is a touch screen display, but that’s just fine with me. It means you don’t have to lean forward to manipulate the controls. They’re right where your hand is probably already resting. It may take a little getting used to, but I think it’s a solid system. It runs a 12.3 inch wide display screen that allows you to divide the screen into two different functions. While I may like Remote Touch, I can’t say that the Lexus navigation thrilled me. Having said that, I find most manufacturer installed navigation systems wanting so the Lexus version wasn’t better or worse.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the Shimamoku wooden trim. Watch this video and you’ll feel a compelling urge to buy a Lexus LS just so you can get the steering wheel. Lexus claims it takes 38 days to build.
Base price on the LS 460 is $71,990. In that price range it’s amazing how quickly the options can move the price needle. My text car stickered at $78,584 with LED headlights, an upgraded Mark Levinson sound system and a comfort package that heated and cooled the seats.
The LS 460 is the big dog in the Lexus lineup. It’s supposed to compete against the best luxury cars on the market. Having just recently driven an Audi A8, I thought the LS 460 was a solid option. Especially if you have a flat.