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A quick ride in the 2013 Lexus LS460L: Japanese opulence renewed

Since the Lexus brand was first introduced in the United States, the LS lineup has been the flagship vehicle so it should come as no surprise that with the introduction of the 5th generation LS Sedan for the 2013 model year – the Japanese luxury brand hasn’t taken any shortcuts with their new premium sedan.

Generally when we review a vehicle – any vehicle – the focus of the piece is centered around the driver and the driving experience but with the 2013 Lexus LS460L, the stunning level of comfort and amenities throughout the cabin make it just as impressive to sit in the back seat as it is to sit in the driver’s seat. This is why my title says “ride” rather than referencing the drive – although we will also take a look at the drive of this new flagship luxury sedan.

The Interior
My test vehicle was a 2013 Lexus LS460L (long wheel base) all wheel drive model fitted with the Executive Package so as the LS460 goes – this particular black sedan was about as loaded as it gets. The interior layout of the LS460L with the Executive Package is one that draws an immediate “wow” from everyone who climbs in with plush, soft leather from the seats to the dash to the door panels while the light colored leather and minimal dark trim (mostly the floor mats) bolster the premium look and feel of the new LS460.

In the front, the interior of the 2013 Lexus LS460L has a dark dash cap with light colored leather lower portions separated by high gloss wood trim running through the middle. That dark finish from the top of the dash is echoed in the steering wheel with leather grips at “3 and 9” while the majority of the wheel is finished in more high gloss wood trim and while it is hard to tell simply by looking at it – this wooden steering wheel is a handmade unit comprised of high quality wood. This isn’t simply a laminate wrapped around a metal frame and the attention to detail in this unique steering wheel works to amplify the level of pure luxury throughout the LS cabin. A 16 way power driver’s seat allows incredible adjustment for the idea seating position while a 12 way power passenger seat offers its own range of adjustability and both front seats offer heated and cooled surfaces – of course. Unlike other luxury cars that offer heated or cooled seats with the push of a button that essentially offers the choice of hot, cold, or off, the 2013 Lexus LS460 seats use a knob control that allows for better fine tuning for the comfort of your derrière.

Mounted high on the leather clad dash of the 2013 Lexus LS460L is a 12.3 inch infotainment screen that is controlled via the computer mouse-like system mounted on the center console alongside the gear shift lever. This control system puts everything in the infotainment system at the fingertips of both the driver and the front passenger without either of them so much as lifting their elbow from the center armrest. This includes the navigation system, the radio, the Lexus Enform information system and the HVAC options in a seamless point and click type application that is really very much like clicking through things on your home computer. The driver can also control a variety of features via the controls mounted on the steering wheel or by voice control but the control system mounted on the shift console is really one of the best Ive used.

Where the 2013 Lexus LS460L really sets itself apart from many of the other premium luxury sedans is in the back seat – where the Executive Package adds a seating layout that features a pair of bucket style seats with a control panel in the middle. Enclosed in this rear center console is a digital control panel that allows rear riders to adjust their own climate control including heated and cooled seating surfaces, controls for the sound system, controls for the rear DVD system including headphone jacks, controls for the massaging feature of the rear seats and controls for the rear sun shades found on both the rear side and back glass. This rear control system essentially turns the LS460L into a full-on limo with rear seats that recline, massage, allow temperature adjustments and feature foot rests while the sun shades can prevent those driving by on the street to see who is chillin’ in the back of this new luxury sedan. Realistically, there isn’t much else you can ask for in terms of rear seat amenities that isn’t offered in the new LS460L and whether you are buying this car to drive yourself or to be driven around in – you are going to be very comfortable in every situation.

The Exterior
The 2013 Lexus LS460L ushers in the 5th generation of the flagship sedan and like the rest of the current Lexus brand lineup – the new LS features an aggressive exterior design focused around the sharp looking spindle grille. Lexus has been slowly rolling out this familial front end design across all of the new models and with the introduction of the 2013 LS, the spindle grille sees its highest end application yet which, by way, does a great job of combining luxury and sporty design. The entire front end is sculpted around this unique grille treatment which brings all of the hard lines of the front end swiftly into the center – giving the LS460 an angry look – but that isn’t a bad thing by any means. The steady shift of luxury styling to be more aggressive has caused a quick evolution in the premium sedan segment and the changes made across the front end of the 2013 LS460L allow this flagship sedan to proudly stand out against those competitors that aren’t so quick to infuse sport styling into their luxury sedans.

The front end is accentuated by a set of angular headlight housings that feature HID projection assemblies along with LED trim that runs along the bottom edges – a feature which is utilized successfully by European luxury automakers and one that adds to the high tech look of the new LS. Most importantly, in addition to looking great, these headlights work with the diminutive driving lights mounted towards the outside of the wide front fascia to provide tons of light for nighttime driving.

Throughout the entire exterior design of the 2013 Lexus LS460L there is just enough chrome trim to remind us that this is a luxury sedan and not a sport sedan with bright polished trim around the grille, along the lower body lines, around the side windows, around the integrated exhaust tips, on the door handles and in the trim piece connecting the tail lights. Speaking of the tail lights, the 2013 Lexus LS460L sports a set of massive, LED filled rear lights that are designed to form an interesting (and very unique) “L” shape on each side (although the passenger side would technically be a backwards L). As standard tail lights that feature two separate lenses go, the new LS rear lighting system is as high tech looking as it gets. Everyone uses LED lighting these days but the new LS460 tail lights look great and add that extra special something to the back end of this flagship sedan. The car would be no less impressive with a simple red lens housing with a couple lights behind them but the highly detailed tails of the new LS are a beautiful addition.

The Lexus LS lineup has always been the vehicle from Lexus that the rest of the vehicles aspired to some day resemble and with the introduction of the 5th generation LS exterior design – the future looks very bright for Toyota Motor’s luxury brand. The Lexus LS460L embodies everything needed to compete in the modern high end luxury sedan segment but it does so in a way that allows it to both fit in – and stand out – from the rest of the class.

The Drive
The 2013 Lexus LS460L AWD is powered by an aluminum 4.6L V8 that produces 360 horsepower and 347lb-ft of torque with a standard 8-speed automatic transmission funneling that power to all four wheels. This drivetrain allows the LS460L to dash form 0 to 60 in under 6 seconds with a standard quarter mile time in the low 14 second range. That being said, there probably arent many LS460 owners who do much drag racing but those impressive acceleration times serve to show how strong this roomy Japanese luxury sedan can be when the need arises to put the hammer down. Not surprisingly, the interior is incredibly quiet under pretty much any urban driving situation – whether you are tolling around town at 25mph or soaring along the highway at 75. For passengers, almost none of the vibration from the Detroit roads is noticeable through the chassis while things like the acoustic glass windshield and the specially designed side view mirrors help to cut down and block out wind and traffic noise. When combined with all of the interior goodies – this is a car that would make for a comfortable cruise across the country for four people.

In terms of the drive quality, the 2013 Lexus LS460L doesn’t pack quite the punch as some other V8-powered large luxury sedans in the segment but the 4.6L Lexus V8 provides more than enough power to allow this flagship sedan to run away from highway traffic or come hard away from a stop to merge into busy traffic – or simply to make a statement to someone in a less powerful/slower European luxury sedan.

One of the most enticing features of the Lexus LS460L is the adjustable drive system that allows the driver to select between Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport + drive modes with each mode offering its own special personality. As you can probably guess, Eco mode adjusts the ride height, the shift points and the throttle input to optimize fuel economy while Comfort mode adjusts the various parameters to provide the most comfortable ride for the driver and passengers. Normal mode sets everything to a comfortable average, making adjustments as driving conditions change while the two Sport modes offer varying levels of enhancements that increase the sporty nature of the LS460L including the suspension settings, the throttle input and the steering responsiveness. The Sport modes make the LS460L the most fun to drive but in our brief tests, it also proved to be the least efficient. However, if you are buying a super premium luxury sedan….does fuel economy really matter? I would say “no” and keep the LS460 in Sport + mode all of the time but to each their own.

The Final Word
The 2013 Lexus LS460L is a true premium luxury sedan with an interior layout that can go head to head with some of the most expensive sedans in the world and hold its own. While the gearhead in me would like to see a touch more power from the 4.6L V8, I can recognize that many full size luxury sedan drivers will be more than satisfied with the output of this engine while the adjustable drive mode system can optimize the drivetrain and suspension output for every situation. The exterior design presents a bold, powerful application of the Lexus spindle grille for a look that allows this new luxury sedan to proudly fit in alongside the best large luxury sedans available in the US.