2011 Lexus LS Performance
This performance review was written when the 2011 Lexus LS was new.
Reviewers generally favor performance over comfort, and in this respect German rivals have always had a leg up on the Lexus LS. While the LS does come standard with a powerful V8 engine, and an adjustable air suspension with a sport setting is available, it’s engineered for quiet, comfortable highway cruising rather than rocketing down twisty roads. For many shoppers that’s a plus, and light steering makes the LS an easy car to drive.
- "The base suspension is pillowy on most surfaces with noticeable highway float. The available air suspension's Sport setting induces some body jiggle. The Sport Package's 19-inch wheels and sport-tuned suspension bring a bit more composure with little detriment to ride quality." -- Consumer Guide
- "A smooth ride is the one of the strong points of the LS line. When it comes to being a driver's car, however, that part of the experience is somewhat lacking. Testers have referred to this car as being numb and uninvolving." -- Motor Trend
- "Both LS 460 variants embody all of the character traits you'd expect in a Lexus luxury sedan. Each excels in smooth, quiet and effortless cruising with little meaningful performance variation to differentiate between standard and stretched models." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "It loves the open highway, and it gobbles up miles faster than my kid eats Skittles. On a long road trip, you really appreciate a quiet ride, and few cars are quieter than this big Lexus." -- AutoWeek
- "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
Acceleration and Power
Only one engine is available in the Lexus LS – a 357-horsepower, 4.6-liter V8. Power is sent to a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission that reviewers love. The combination accelerates the LS quickly enough, though it still trails cars like the Mercedes-Benz S600. A sport package is available for about $6,200, and adds paddle shifters as well as handling and braking upgrades, and shoppers who’d like to improve grip can get an all-wheel drive equipped LS for about $2,300 more than the rear-wheel drive model.
According to the EPA, the Lexus LS gets 16 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway for both regular and long wheelbase models. Adding all-wheel drive doesn’t take too much of a toll on fuel economy, as both models see 16/23 mpg city/highway fuel economy when power goes to all four wheels.
- "The silky automatic transmission is generally responsive, but a deep stab of the throttle is required to coax a downshift for maximum acceleration." -- Consumer Guide
- "The engine and transmission pairing also merits high operational marks for responsiveness and the confident feeling that there's always plenty in reserve for freeway passing or emergency maneuvers." -- Kelley Blue Book
Handling and Braking
With its softly-tuned ride, the Lexus LS has never been a performance champ among super luxury cars. Reviewers say the LS is easy to drive despite being a big car. Its light steering and turning radius is impressive, but few would compare it to more agile competitors like the Audi A8 and the BMW 7-Series. One of the main reasons is because the LS is one of the only cars in its class that doesn’t come standard with an adjustable air suspension. It can be added, but it’s only available as part of the Sport Package, which tacks about $6,200 onto the base price and also adds 19-inch wheels and upgraded Brembo brakes. Reviewers agree that the package does give drivers more flexibility – offering Comfort, Normal and Sport settings – but even the Sport setting can’t compete with tighter-handling German rivals.
- "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." -- Consumer Guide
- "Under more aggressive maneuvers, the base LS suspension exhibits significant dive during heavy braking, and pronounced body roll while cornering." -- Edmunds
- "Suspension is on the soft side, but handling is still respectable." -- Motor Trend
- "While the suspension is far better suited to long-distance cruising than to attacking twisty back roads, it, too, places a premium on keeping things under control, ably assisted by the LS 460's well-sorted Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system." -- Kelley Blue Book