2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport Review: Premium Luxury Personified - Japanese Style
The Lexus brand has been gradually shifting with the rest of the luxury segment towards the sportier end of the design spectrum and while the Japanese luxury brand has traditionally left the sportiness to the likes of the smaller IS and the LFA supercar, the 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport embodies everything that the brand has to offer into one truly remarkable large luxury sedan. In the early days, the Lexus LS sedan was all about luxury and while these cars were impressive in their own right, they weren’t vehicles that offered as much “fun to drive factor” as other models in the Lexus lineup or some competitors around the luxury sedan segment. However, as Lexus has rolled out an almost entirely new lineup over the past few years, we have seen a decisive shift towards aggressive styling and stunning driving dynamics in addition to the expected level of luxury.
The 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport is a culmination of those changes and the result is the best and most impressive Lexus vehicle ever. Mind you, I am aware that the Lexus LFA offers vastly better performance than this huge sedan (and almost every other luxury vehicle sold in America) but when you look at what the Lexus brand has worked to achieve since being introduced back in 1990, the 2013 LS460 F Sport is truly the ultimate Lexus.
For this review, my subject was a heavily loaded up 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport all wheel drive model finished in Liquid Platinum and wearing the split spoke 19 inch F Sport wheels with an black leather clad interior. Options on my test vehicle included a Blind Spot Monitoring System, the F Sport Package, the F Sport Comfort Package and a Mark Levinson 19 speaker sound system with a price tag of $88,029.
The 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport has a big, bold design that has one of the most prominent expressions of the exterior design language currently used throughout the entire brand lineup. While the basic design of the 2013 LS460 is already very aggressive, the F Sport package takes that a step further with a sharpened front fascia that houses a unique version of the Lexus spindle grille design. Unlike the non-F Sport models that have horizontal bars filled both the upper and lower grille openings, the LS460 F Sport has gloss black mesh in both openings that presents a much sportier feel and honestly, I vastly prefer the grille fill of the F Sport over that of the other models. Like the other 2013 LS sedans, the F Sport has a bright chrome trim ring that runs around the outsider of the spindle grille with more chrome accents in the fog light houses but the F Sport package includes a LED fog light setup that differs from that found on the other LS460 models. Finally, the front end of the 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport proudly wears a set of adaptive HID dual unit headlights underlined by an LED trim light that adds to both the high end aspect and the sporty feel of this roomy sedan.
Along the sides, the 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport has the same long and low profile but thanks to the sport tuned suspension of the F Sport package, this LS460 sits a little lower to the ground than the other models in the lineup. The long hood, slippery windshield angle, long roofline that flows smoothly into the back glass and the short trunk lid combine to give this large sedan a very aggressive stance while chrome trim along the lower rockers, around the side windows and on the door handles remind us that this is a premium luxury sedan. Finishing off the side view of the LS460 F Sport are the package specific 19 inch alloy wheels that feature a machined silver face with dark painted pockets and alternating spokes. The only exterior F Sport logos are also found on the side of the vehicle, sitting high on the front fenders just behind the wheel openings.
Out back, the 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport doesn’t vary from the non-F Sport models but the rump of this sexy Japanese luxury sedan doesn’t really need any changes to fit into the F Sport family. The LS460 has a set of chrome dual exhaust outlets mounted on the outer edges of the integrated rear diffuser with a thin chrome trim piece running between these chrome openings working with a larger horizontal chrome piece that connects the LED tail lights. These high tech tail lights are the collective crown jewel of the LS460 rear end with an L shaped lighting layout that I believe is one of the most distinct and best looking tail light designs in the luxury sedan segment. The darkened red lenses that cover the slightly lighter red LED housings look great whether it is light or dark out – whether the tail lights are on or off – and these lights fit the form and function of the LS460 perfectly.
Just a quick look at the 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport leaves no question that this is a premium luxury sedan with a distinctly aggressive nature. From front to back, top to bottom, the LS460 F Sport has a striking design that offers great aerodynamics but more importantly – this is a big sedan that turns heads everywhere you go with its bold, aggressive styling. The Lexus LS460 F Sport is one of the world’s premium luxury sedans and it comes with an exterior design that makes that fact unmistakable. This gorgeous sedan is like a rolling work of art that anyone would be proud to be seen with whether you are out for a night on the town or just dropping the kids off at school.
The 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport looks great on the outside but when you climb into the massive cabin of this full sized sedan – there is absolutely no question that this is a premium luxury vehicle and that applies to the driver and all of the passengers. Even though the F Sport package adds some features that allow the LS460 to boast a sportier look and feel, the interior offers every amenity that you can ask for from a modern luxury sedan. The interior is predominantly black with some scant but striking silver trim on the dash and door panels help to accent the white stitching on the black leather.
Before we get into all of the gadgets found on the inside of the 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport, I want to talk about the seats and the available passenger space. The front and rear seats are all clad in plush black leather with white perforations. The high back front bucket seats are deep in the hip and side bolster areas to keep you firmly planted in place during stints of hard cornering but they are also incredibly comfortable. The driver’s seat offers extensive adjustability including the front pad that rests under your knees to ensure the most comfortable driving position possible in this driver’s seat does just that – offering one of the most comfortable driving positions I’ve experienced. Also, the high level of adjustability for the driver’s seat allows for the same level of comfort whether the driver is 5’1” or 6’11” with gobs of head, elbow, shoulder, hip and leg room. The passenger seat doesn’t have as many adjustable parameters but this heated and cooled power seat offers the same levels of comfort as the driver’s seat. Finally, the rear bench seat has a bucket design so that rear riders are just as comfortable as those up front.
The deep hip bolsters of the outboard rear seating slots combined with the thick padding and plush leather surfaces provide limo-like comforts with enough leg, hip, elbow, shoulder and head room to allow this car to very comfortably seat a pair of NBA players. This is an interior that provides comparable comfort to what you would expect from a high end living room set…a living room set that allows adjustability at the push of a button along with heating and cooling features. Oh, this living room also comes with a trunk that is among the biggest Ive seen so whether you have hockey bags, golf club bags or a ton of luggage…trunk space shouldn’t be a problem.
After the getting over the plush, comfortable seats of the 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport, the eye is quickly drawn to the high tech infotainment system. This system is displayed on a monstrous 12.3” multi-display screen that is mounted very high on the dash so that the driver doesn’t have to take his or her eyes far from the road to look at the navigation, climate or audio displays. Where the Lexus Enform infotainment system differs from the competition is in the home computer-like controls mounted on the center console. Like other Lexus products, the LS460 F Sport infotainment interface is controlled not by touch screen but instead with a mouse-like cursor on the screen that the driver moves with a easy to use joystick on the center console. Mounted next to the shifter and the drive mode knob, the infotainment control is located very near where the driver’s hand would naturally rest when the armrest is being used while also being easily accessible from the passenger seat. Just like the mouse for your computer, you use the joystick to scroll to the option that you want and you click on it to select. Fortunately for those who don’t like the high tech point and click controls, the LS460 F Sport also has more traditional buttons for the multizone climate control and for the sound system with these control panels located on the fact of the center stack, just below the large display screen. There are also buttons on the unique F Sport steering wheel to control the more basic functions of the infotainment system which are joined by other buttons that control the driver information center that is mounted between the simple but classy looking black and white gauges.
My 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport was fitted with the 19 speaker Mark Levinson sound system and for those who want their premium luxury sedan to pack premium audio output that will rival an expensive aftermarket setup – this Levinson sound system is a must have. Whether you like classic rock, heavy metal, hip hop, classical, big bands or anything else, this system provides crystal clear sound all of the way to the top of its eardrum bursting volume range. The sound quality is flawless even when the system is turned to full volume and the equalizer is set to full power at every range and for those who love to feel the bass, this system will rattle windows as well as most high end components systems.
The 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport All Wheel Drive sedan is powered by a 4.6L V8 that sends 360 horsepower to all four wheels via an advanced all wheel drive system and an electronically controlled 8-speed automatic transmission. If I had my druthers, I would pick the rear drive version of this car but only because I prefer rear wheel drive over all wheel drive. I understand that all wheel drive would make the LS460 a great winter car but I would rather have the higher power output (386hp) and the basic driving dynamics of the rear drive models as a personal preference. When I was driving the Lexus LS460 F Sport, it was in the 80s and 90s every day so there was little need for the added traction of the AWD system although sending that 360 available horsepower to all four wheels ensured smooth, hard launches without any suggestion of traction issues.
The EPA expects that the 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport AWD model will get 16mpg around town, 23 on the highway and a combined figure of 18mpg. In my experiences, I was unable to hit that combined figure with my real world fuel economy figures over the course of 8 days being around 16.8 miles per gallon but it should be noted that I have a heavy foot in cars that I really enjoy driving – and I REALLY enjoyed driving the LS460 F Sport. I spent most of the driving time in Sport Plus mode, using the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters to provide the most engaging driving experience possible and that very clearly hurt my MPGs. The other side of the coin is that when I went on a 100 or so mile highway drive, the on board fuel economy readout indicated that I was able to slightly exceed the expected highway number of 23mpg (I saw an average of 23.4mpg on this long highway drive).
One of the features that makes the 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport so much fun to drive is the Drive Mode Select system with options for Eco, Comfort, Sport, Spot Plus and Normal driving. This system works with the engine via throttle response, the power distribution of the all wheel drive system, the transmission, the steering system and the adjustable sport suspension system to offer the ideal tuning for every driving situation. As you would expect, the Eco mode softens the throttle response and adjusts the shift points to optimize fuel economy. Comfort mode softens the throttle response, smooths out the steering response and softens the suspension to offer the most comfort possible. Sport mode offers slightly better performance via adjusted shift points and increased throttle response while Spot Plus mode tweaks the steering system, the suspension system, the transmission shifts and the throttle response to offer the best performance in any situation. I spent the most of my drive time in Sport Plus mode as it is by far the most engaging and while the ride is slightly rougher in Sport Plus, it was more than worth the trade-off for the improved performance. In Sport Plus mode, this huge luxury sedan handles and accelerates like a true sports car with the massive Brembo braking system allows this heavy hitter to stop on a dime – even when going very, very fast. Aside from the altered shift points and the obvious improvement in throttle response, Sport Plus allows for better feedback and a stronger road feel through the steering wheel while also allowing a more confident ride when hitting the turns at high speed whether you are cutting through tight turns or soaring along a gently curving highway. Also, when you are driving the car hard, the F Sport heated leather steering wheel features paddle shifters with a rev matching feature to provide great gear control for ideal deceleration under hard braking and ideal acceleration when coming out of the turn. The paddles also make this big sedan more fun to drive…at least in my opinion. I think that every car that has a manual shift mode should include shift paddles and I loved the form and function of the paddle shift system in the LS460 F Sport.
The 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport doesn’t offer the big power of some of the higher end European luxury cars but with 360 horsepower in all wheel drive form, the newest LS sedan packs more power than the most closely related large German luxury sedans. Thanks to the adjustable steering and suspension systems that are controlled with the Drive Mode Selector, this large luxury sedan can offer the stiff, road hugging properties of a sports car or the smooth as glass ride that you would expect from a luxury sedan with the simple turn of a knob. The LS460 F Sport is a great driver’s car whether you are blasting down the highway, slicing through a series of tight back country roads or just out for a cruise as not only does this car feel great when you are driving – but the car is so damned gorgeous that it feels good to be driving the LS460 F Sport. Some luxury sedans put too much emphasis on comfort and that kills the fun to drive quality but the 2013 LS460 F Sport combines the best of both worlds in a gorgeous package to make a large sedan that is a blast to drive.
The Final Word
The Lexus LS sedan has always served as the flagship for Toyota Motors’ luxury brand but with the 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport – Lexus has a large sedan that can easily compete with the best from BMW or Mercedes Benz. Lexus has long offered comparable amenities inside and out that would rival the European luxury sedans but the addition of the F Sport steering, braking and suspension setup allows this big sedan to offer driving dynamics that had previously been offered only by comparable European sedans. While I would like a more power – presumably something in the mid 400 range even if only from an engine option – the LS460 F Sport offers more driving excitement (and more power) than the likes of the BMW 740Li xDrive.
When you factor in the excellent driving dynamics of the 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport to the sharp exterior design and the show-stopping interior, the modern Lexus flagship is easily one of the best options on today’s market for the buyer who wants a true premium large luxury sedan. The 2013 LS460 F Sport is clear proof that Toyota Motor Co is able to offer up a luxury sedan that will stand toe to toe with the best from Germany and along with the rest of the current Lexus lineup – the LS460 F Sport is a clear message that this luxury brand is far more than just a gussied up Toyota.