Lexus LS Performance
The Lexus LS has always trailed its major German rivals in the sort of performance measurements that automotive enthusiast magazines like to perform. Like those cars, it is powered by a strong V8 engine and is available with an adjustable air suspension with sport settings. Yet the LS is more clearly tuned for comfortable highway cruising than for the Autobahn. For many buyers, that’s a mark in the car’s favor -- light steering effort makes this one of the easiest large sedans to drive.
- "The LS 460 is easy to drive and operate and is less fussy than the German luxury cars. It delivers excellent performance but tilts more to the luxury side of the equation." -- New Car Test Drive
- "Backs its direct-injection 380-hp, 4.6-liter V-8 with the world's first eight-speed automatic transmission and uses an advanced ‘adaptive variable suspension’ to smother any road divots that might intrude into the cabin." -- Car and Driver
Acceleration and Power
The Lexus LS is offered with just one engine, a 4.6-liter V8 making 380 horsepower. It sends power through an extraordinary eight-speed transmission, which shifts so quickly and smoothly that reviewers say the changes can be hard to detect. The combination is good for acceleration times that are respectable in the Super Luxury class, but even at its quickest, the LS trails the BMW 7-Series or Mercedes-Benz S600. A new sport package adds paddle shifters. The LS 460 carries an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated fuel economy rating of 16 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.
- "Smooth and ample power at any speed. In Consumer Guide testing, an LS 460 did 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds…"The silky automatic transmission is generally responsive, but a deep stab of the throttle is required to coax a downshift for maximum acceleration. The 460 Sport Package's paddle shifters enable on-demand gear shifts for better responsiveness in spirited driving." -- Consumer Guide
- "The LS 460 is the first car in the world with a computer-controlled eight-speed automatic transmission. Its 4.6-liter V8 can propel it from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 5.4 seconds, according to Lexus, yet it gets an EPA-rated 24 mpg Highway. The eight-speed automatic is super smooth and plays a big role in the fuel-economy story." -- New Car Test Drive
Handling and Braking
The Lexus LS has never threatened the performance champions of its class, primarily because of its softly-tuned ride. Reviewers say the big car isn’t hard to drive -- light steering effort and a tight turning radius are impressive in such a big car -- but few would compare it to canyon-carving big sedans like the Audi A8 or BMW 7-Series. That’s because the LS is the only car in the Super Luxury Class that doesn’t offer a driver-adjustable air suspension as standard equipment. One is available, but it’s a fairly expensive option. Reviewers say it does give drivers added flexibility, with its Comfort, Normal, and Sport modes, but even its sportiest setting trails the tight-handling Germans.
A sport package, new for 2010, helps to narrow the gap. It includes 19-inch wheels, upgraded Brembo brakes, and sportier suspension tuning. Only a few reviewers have tested it, but they are generally impressed, saying it helps push the LS closer to its sport-sedan rivals. Still, driving enthusiasts will want to consider the BMW, the Audi or even the mind-blowing Porsche Panamera at this price point.
- "The steering is light though direct, and the turning circle is impressively tight. Steering feel is quick at low speeds for easy parking-lot maneuvering; it firms up nicely at highway speeds. LS is no sport sedan, however,” but “"The Sport Package's 19-inch wheels and sport-tuned suspension bring a bit more composure with little detriment to ride quality." -- Consumer Guide
- "Under more aggressive maneuvers, the base LS suspension exhibits a rather steep nosedive during heavy braking and pronounced body roll while cornering, although it does stay planted to the pavement with minimal drama. Brake feel is excellent, although at first it can seem a bit grabby and abrupt." -- Edmunds
- "The ride quality and handling are exemplary, and an optional Touring package brings a new level of sportiness to the LS 460. The brakes have been improved, and now they are fully electronically controlled, working with all of the other computers on the car to determine how much brake force to put at each individual wheel, rain, snow or sunshine." -- New Car Test Drive