2013 Lexus LS460 – Welcome Facelift and F SPORT

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The Lexus Flagship – the LS460 4-door sedan – is freshened for the 2013 model year.  This comes after an all new Audi A8 in 2011, a tweaked 2012 BMW 7-Series, and the new Cadillac XTS (which may not be in this class).  A major change for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is due in early 2013 as a 2014 model year.  The Jaguar XJ that was all new in 2009 as a 2010 model gets a much needed all wheel drive system for 2013.

2013 Lexus LS460 F SPORT

So the Premium Luxury Car class is going to be plenty competitive as the new LS arrives on the scene.  The LS was last all new in 2006 for the 2007 model year meaning the 2013 freshening comes after an extremely long six model years on the market.  During that time, its sales have dwindled to about 500 units per month.  In its heyday, LS sales were triple or quadruple that amount. Some of its volume drop could have been because of inventory problems caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami that hindered sales of many Toyota models in the United States.

2013 Lexus LS460 F SPORT

Over the years, had the LS become a bad car unworthy of purchase?  Absolutely not.  It remained the top product among the Japanese luxury marques and provided conservative, comfortable, sensory depriving transportation to its customers.  The 2013 car has been gone through with a fine tooth comb to nip and tuck and fix and fluff here and there.  In the final analysis, we would say it has had a “new front and rear six and new I/P” which means that its front end styling is new.  Its decklid and taillamps are new.  The instrument panel is new and substantially upgraded.

New Lexus Face – LS Adopts the Spindle Grille: The front end styling evolves to Lexus’ new spindle grille theme.  This look is much more distinctive and aggressive and does push the LS towards a more “in-your-face” look.  Along with the grille shape and texture comes a new front fascia, new headlamps with the now-di rigeur LED accent lights, and new fog/driving lights.  Overall the front end change is a welcome change.

Underwhelming Navigation Display: The instrument panel has been completely reconfigured into an upper Display Zone housing a large 12.3-inch LCD display and a lower Operation Zone where the touch controls are located.  Between the speedometer and tachometer is a 5.8-inch screen where at-a-glance information is displayed as appropriate.  The navigation system paired with the huge screen is a disappointment.  It feels like it is from a system a generation or two old.  The screen graphics are subtle where they should be bright.  The information displayed is sparse.  The usability, however, is excellent.  It seems as if Lexus opted for more elegance in the information displayed than effective displays that could be quickly understood by “mature” drivers.

What Happened to My Rear Seat Legroom in the “L”? The “base” Lexus LS460 and LS460 L are what Lexus drivers have come to expect from the car. They are big, comfy, have great NVH and great seats.  Why the LS460 L has five-inches more wheelbase and less than one additional inch in rear seat legroom is a puzzle.  There is about five-inches more “couple distance (the distance between the front and rear seat backs) but there must be some esoteric engineering reason for the rear seat passengers in the “L” to get cheated out of four additional inches of legroom.

Hybrid is the Sporty Version? The hybrid version – the Lexus LS600h L – is a total surprise.  The hybrid system provides an unexpected punch that transforms the big luxury sedan into a big sport sedan.  This probably is not what the intent of the engineers, but it is the effect.  This is especially true because the hybrid weights a whopping 838 pounds more than the gasoline powered LS460 L.  The hybrid has 438-horsepower from its 5.0L DOHC V8 engine and its two motor/generators.  This is 52-horsepower more than the LS460 with its 4.6L DOHC V8 (386HP).

With the hybrid you do get better city mileage with about the same highway mileage (19/23/20 for the hybrid and 19/24/19 for the gas-powered).

Lexus Adds F SPORT Model to Attract Younger, Enthusiastic Drivers: Lexus adds some sporty cues to the car to yield the F SPORT.  The spindle grille has a more aggressive texture than in the base LS.  There are unique sport seats with larger bolsters.  In this case they aren’t as confining as those folks who drop Recaros into their sporty models and assume all their drivers have 50th percentile butts.  These are supportive, comfortable and very appropriate for this model.  The F SPORT is lowered a bit and adds a few more engineering fillips to complete its sporty chops:  Brembo brakes, Torsen limited slip differential and BBS wheels.  The BBS wheels are forged aluminum with a 19-inch diameter and 8-inch width.  Serious stuff with 245/45R19 summer rubber mounted.

If You Just Can’t Live With the Base Car: Of course the LS comes with features answering questions no one is asking (but maybe they are):  Optional Mark Levinson Surround Sound System, Optional All Wheel Drive, Optional Pre-Collision Safety System with Collision Avoidance Assist (if you aren’t paying attention in stop and go traffic, this system will stop you from about 25-mph… and not gently), Optional Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane-Keep Assist and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Optional Climate Concierge to maintain separate temperatures for every passenger, Optional Air Suspension, Standard Drive Mode Select (Eco, Normal and Sport), Standard Advanced Lighting System, Standard Remote Touch System, Standard Lexus Enform System syncs the mobile phone to the car,

And, of course, we can’t forget the Optional Ottoman Seating Package with Shiatsu Massage and Rear Seat Entertainment System.  Very nice when you are chauffering your Japanese or Korean boss around.

Next  LS Years Off – 2017MY?: The 2013 Lexus LS is a mid-cycle change.  The next ALL NEW LS is expected in a few more years – probably for the 2017 model year so we would see it on the road in late 2016.  In the meantime, the new spindle grille LS provides Lexus with something to talk about and market – appearance changes, F SPORT model, new features.

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