L.A. Auto Show or bust--part deux

Experiencing the entertainment and navigation systems for the Lexus LS 460 L on our road trip.

Wayne Cunningham blogging on the road.
CNET Networks

On our road trip to the Los Angeles Auto Show, we've passed Pismo Beach and are well on our way. At our rest stop, I looked at the back seat and noticed how much room our photographer, Corinne, has in the back of this Lexus LS 460 L. She wouldn't swap places with me, so I'll have to figure out what's the opposite of calling "shotgun."

I do have command of the entertainment in the front passenger seat and discovered some interesting things about the audio system. We noticed early on that the car has a built-in hard drive--after putting a new CD in I discovered how to rip the music to the car's stereo. One setting causes every CD inserted to automatically rip, at either 128kbps or 256kbps. I assume it probably has about 10GB of storage, which is pretty typical for current car systems. The audio quality is also quite nice: around the cabin are 19 speakers for the upgraded Mark Levinson stereo. I liked the version of this system that was built for the Lexus IS 350, and it sounds even better in the LS 460 L. It's a definite contender for best sound system. Another nice feature is its built-in GraceNote database, which can recognize a CD and assign appropriate track titles when it rips the music.

Earlier, I paired up my phone with the car. That was very easy, and it immediately displayed the keypad to dial a number. But it won't transfer any phone book entries until we're stopped. And instead of using my phone's most recent call list, it seems to save only the last five calls made from the car. It's dark now, and Corinne discovered the nice LED spotlights. These lights work well as reading lights because they don't interfere with the driver's vision.

Traffic in downtown LA.
CNET Networks

As we got into Los Angeles, the live-traffic feature of the navigation system, courtesy of XM satellite radio, kicked in. The middle of the city was obscured on the navigation display by yellow icons indicating traffic incidents--each freeway was just another clogged artery of Los Angeles. As we got closer, the friendly voice of the navigation system warned us of an accident ahead, so I moved to the right lane, ready to exit. Instead, we blew by a major traffic backup in the inside lanes and gave praise to the navigation system for its warning. The rest of the way was smooth sailing, right to our hotel. Tomorrow morning we hit the auto show.

About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.

 

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