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2007 Lexus LS 460L: As Always, More Refinement and More Technology

Luxury and Refinement, But Some Quibbles
For the 2007 model year, Lexus redesigned its flagship. There are now short and long-wheelbase versions, new bells and whistles, and more refinement than ever. Buttery smooth is a term long associated with the LS, and it still applies. The latest LS is quieter and smoother on the road, with enough stiffness in the suspension and chassis not to give the wallowing boat feel that some luxury cars were known for in days of old. Lexus offers a hybrid model for 2008MY, but it was the 2007 4.6L V8-equipped model delivered to AutoPacific‘s Michigan office this summer.


Among our quibbles were the complexity of the parking assist, the oversight of a couple of convenience features, and its not particularly attractive face. Though the car looks great from the side, front view isn’t as pleasant. At each approach, I cringed a little at the overdone fascia and headlight shape. But then I got behind the wheel. Once there, all you know is luxury, comfort, and subtle grace. Behind the wheel, you know you’re in something special.
The 380HP 4.6L V8 is mated to an eight-speed transmission, with EPA ratings of 18 city and 27 highway. Despite having so many gears to cycle through, the transmission is not a hunter or reluctant to kick down when you want it to. But the car is about graceful power and style, and the behavior of the powertrain supports it well. With 380HP moving 4244 pounds, putting your foot into it doesn’t leave you breathless. It leaves you confident and sure, and generally ahead of whatever it was next to you.


Why? Because We Can.
This Lexus was equipped with a new parking assistance system, one we’re not sure is necessary and one we didn’t find satisfying. But with Lexus only charging $500 for the option, many buyers looking at a $71,000 vehicle are likely to go for it, and we can’t blame them. Lexus is the first to bring such a system to the U.S. market, but they won’t be the last.
The system steers the LS into parallel parking places or a back into a straight space. Impressive technology, but it requires many steps to set up and only gets you part of the way there. The system uses parking sensors and camera to read visual input of parking space lines and other cars to steer and give the LS throttle, with the driver left to apply the necessary brakes force. It is easy to override with a light touch to the steering wheel, but it seems to take far longer than a proficient driver would. The card that came with our press car indicated a series of five (straight) to eight (parallel) steps to set up the guidance, and ever-so-slowly backed me into a parking spot. The system did not seem worth the time.
Lexus also demonstrated the system for local media last spring. Our initial impression holds: The time it takes to set the car up to park itself and then actually park is too long. We can’t imagine drivers in most urban areas being patient behind a Lexus parking itself. Though designing the system to park faster probably isn’t in Lexus’ best liability interests, it seems almost painfully slow. You’re better off just …gasp… parking for yourself!
I guess our question to Lexus is, “Are you answering a question nobody is asking?”
The LS was also missing an auxiliary jack or an iPod connector and an automatic repeat in the turn indicators for lane changes. The car parks itself, but if you’re going to change lanes, you need to hold the indicator down to flash more than once. Neither of those options are heart-stopping or dealbreakers, but both were noticeably absent with a nearly $80,000 MSRP.
Lexus Real-Time Navigation Rocks
While I didn’t get stuck in enough traffic to trigger the system to re-route my path, the Lexus real-time traffic display is the best we’ve seen. A simple green, yellow, or red line along the freeways indicates how quickly or slowly traffic is going, with the information pulled from XM’s satellites (and requiring an XM subscription). The screen is larger than most and the graphics clear and crisp. The system’s voice commands warns you in advance exactly where on the route and for how long traffic backups are. Navigation not an option on any of my personal car purchases to date, I’ve often wondered if I’d really check that box. I Mapquest or Google any unknown destinations and bring along part of a dead tree whether I’m getting into a nav-equipped vehicle or not, so basic navigation isn’t enough for me to opt for the feature. But to have a system that works as well as this one does to provide real-time traffic and information regarding construction and delays is the incentive I’d need to put a navigation system in my own car. Especially if I were making the choice during Michigan’s summer/construction season, when the only thing you can be sure of is that most of the major roads on any given route are under construction. Not the first real-time traffic system we’ve seen, this has been the best.

One reason the Lexus system is so responsive and clear is its hard-drive navigation system, compared with many single DVD systems. There is more computing power for storing and processing data, and for better graphics. As with several other 2007MY and 2008MY systems, it also means space for storing music. The Lexus system doesn’t allow for playlists, but you can play music back randomly by artist, album, or genre. Lexus also doesn’t allow the system to record MP3 files; it is full CD-quality tracks or nothing. The music storage is a nice bonus, particularly with the lack of an iPod jack, but the real treat of the system is its excellent management of real-time traffic information.

1 Comment

  • Dan| July 29, 2007 at 1:09 am

    Nice review. Just wanted to correct a detail regarding:
    “The LS was also missing an auxiliary jack or an iPod connector…”
    I have test driven the LS 460 myself and the iPod connector (AUX input) is located in the center armrest compartment.
    It is further listed as standard on
    (“Auxiliary port” under the Audio & Entertainment section).

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