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2011 Lexus LS Review

This review was written when the 2011 Lexus LS was new.

The 2011 Lexus LS impresses reviewers with one of the nicest interiors available, a long list of options, and a quiet, comfortable ride. Reviewers say that the LS is powerful, but falls short of European competitors in terms of driving excitement.

Cars in the super luxury class generally do most things well, but the 2011 Lexus LS is distinct among its competitors. Many reviewers note that it offers the quietest, smoothest, ride, a long list of options and a luxurious cabin. But despite these attributes, the LS can’t stand up to the performance offered by many of its German rivals. “LS base prices start below those of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Audi A8,” says Consumer Guide. “It is more comfort-oriented than those German rivals, but Lexus' flagship is a Best Buy for its power, refinement, standard features, and optional gadgets.”

A powerful V8 engine drives the LS, and the car is available with a sport package that includes an adjustable air suspension, upgraded brakes and paddle shifters. These upgrades do improve performance, but the upgrades add significantly to the base price. Additionally, the LS’s light, electronic power steering doesn’t provide the road feel sportier competitors offer. When equipped with its standard suspension, reviewers say the LS feels like it floats over the road, and V8 rivals from Mercedes and BMW provide better acceleration.

Still, the LS is an impressive highway cruiser and an ultra-comfortable place to spend a commute, and for many, that will make it the best choice among super luxury cars. While other cars may offer more in terms of performance, the LS may be the best choice for owners who plan to use their car every day. Another merit is the LS’s value – starting at about $66,000, it’s the most “affordable” car in its class.

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Other Cars to Consider

With a base price under $71,000, the BMW 7-Series might appeal to shoppers on the hunt for a super luxury car with more athletic handling. The base BMW 740i has slightly better fuel economy as well, getting an EPA estimated 17/25 mpg city/highway fuel economy. Still, the 740i isn’t quite as powerful as the LS. Its twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine puts out 315 horsepower – 42 less than the Lexus. To get more competitive in terms of power you’ll have to step up to a 750i. Its 400-horspower V8 is more potent than the LS, but it’s also significantly more expensive. The 750i starts at $82,500 – over $16,000 more than the Lexus.

However, if you’re looking for a car that offers comparable luxury inside and a comfortable ride to the LS, don’t overlook the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The base S400 Hybrid starts at $91,000, which is a substantial bump in price compared to the LS. It’s not as powerful either – the S400’s hybrid V6 engine only puts out 295 horsepower. However, the S400 does offer better 19/25 mpg city/highway fuel economy. If you like the S-Class but want more power, the $93,000 S550 might fit the bill. Its 382-horsepower V8 trumps the Lexus in terms of power, and doesn’t take too much of a toll when it’s time to fuel up. The S550 gets 15/23 mpg city/highway, just a hair under the base LS’s 16/24 mpg city/highway.

Lexus LS: The Details

The 2011 Lexus LS comes in two body styles that are both available in either rear- or all-wheel drive configurations. The base LS 460 costs about $66,000 and comes with adaptive headlamps, automatic wipers, push button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated power driver and front passenger seats, a backup camera and a ten-speaker stereo with a six-CD changer, Bluetooth/USB connectivity and satellite radio.

Opting for the longer-wheelbase, LS 460 L adds about five inches to the length of the LS and about $5,500 to the sticker – the LS 460 L starts at just under $72,000. It’s extended length translates into a roomier backseat, but the L-trim also adds standard features that include headlamp washers, automatic high beams, power trunk lid and door closers, front and rear parking sensors, heated rear seats and ventilated front seats. 

All-wheel drive is available on both models, and raises each sticker price by about $2,300. Changes for the 2011 model year are minimal: An additional power port was added and adjustable air suspension, which was previously standard on all-wheel drive models, is now optional across the LS line.

A hybrid version, the Lexus LS 600h L, is reviewed separately.

  • "When it comes to premium luxury sedans, a car needs to excel in certain categories. Such a flagship needs to deliver performance, comfort, refinement, craftsmanship and a long list of high-tech features. On its own, the 2011 Lexus LS 460 easily satisfies these requirements, especially in the quality of the ownership experience it offers. But when stacked up next to European luxury cars, it still comes up a little sedate." -- Edmunds  
  • "Unlike the sport sedan bias of the 7 Series, the Lexus LS is geared toward comfort and a posh interior." -- Motor Trend 
  • "The fourth generation of the flagship LS luxury sedan line embodies the kind of innovative features, impeccable build quality and attention to detail that have helped established Lexus as a preeminent power in the premium vehicle segment." -- Kelley Blue Book  
Review Last Updated: 6/8/11

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