Roadshow Video Reviews
2010 Lexus LS460It's the car that put Japan on the luxury-car map.
-It's the car that broke Europe's hold on premium luxury, the Lexus LS. Twenty years later, does it still rewrite the rules? Let's drive the 2010 LS 460 and check the tech. When the LS, an Infinity Q, debuted back in '89 as '90 models, there was no such thing as Japanese luxury car. It was mostly BMWs, Mercedes, and Jags, but this car brought a fanatical level of polish, value, and tech that forced the Europeans to simply do better. The LS has never been what you'd call a beautiful car, but its lines were and are clean, understated, inside and out. Accordingly, our obsidian black version is also black inside with low sheen wood trim. Let's get to the technology we're really here for. This is a very familiar Lexus piece at this point and starting to get a little long in the tooth. For example, under audio, we have AM and FM but there's no HD radio in this car, and for a vehicle at this price point, there probably should be at this point in history. The touchscreen is large and easy to get to. Satellite radio here, that's XM on this car, that's also where you get your XM traffic, weather, stocks, and sports scores. CDs or DVDs go in the six-slot integral changer right here which is nice considering you've got a big nav taking up lots of room. Of course, a lot of cars that have a hard drive-based navigation system like this and an optical slot lets you rip those discs to the drive. This car doesn't let you do that. It's just a hard drive-based nav system. Here's our Bluetooth streaming audio, of course we have Bluetooth handsfree phone calling on this guy and phone book downloads. Auxiliary and USB are here inside the console. You can use your standard iPod or iPhone connector to get into that USB and then get yourself hooked up with a pretty good interface to the content on there. Moves along pretty quickly. It's a little laggy at times, and if you wanna go through a lot of songs, it's kind of a kludge. You stand on the down or the up slider, kinda guess geographically where you're going, and then wait for the title readout to catch up. That's not considered great in this day and age. Now notice this car does have a big touchscreen, one of the biggest in the business at eight inches. You've also got a pretty darn good voice command system, but there is no Lexus controller like on the RX, for example, there's that new age controller that kinda fits under your palm and you've got buttons to press. It's almost like a joystick. This car doesn't have that yet. Makes me feel like the LS is ready for a complete tech redo. Now since we're in an LS, creature comforts are what it's all about. This little button here is for your heated or cooled seats. Notice, though, you can't point to both directions at once. Some cars, like a Mercedes, lets you do both at the same time. Might be kind of goofy but if you wanna do that, you should be able to do it. Here, your rear seat heat enabler and also your rear power sunshade switches. You can kinda tell folks in the back what they're going to get. They also have their own set of switches if you let them use them. Now, beyond this satin wood trimmed gearshift lies an eight-speed automatic. It was one of the first cars to have an eight-speed with this vehicle, still out there in front in terms of the number of cogs it's got. We get a rearview camera but nothing fancy about it. No trajectory lines, no distance lines. It's just a camera, works fine. Again, redo needed. That eight-speed transmission goes back to a shiftable gate. You can snap it over here to the manual area and snick forward and back to change your gears, or jump here on these paddles which are part of an optional package we stuck on this vehicle. Transmission settings are right here on this rocker switch. Standard, tighten it up for sport, slop it for comfort. You've also got adjustable ride height because this vehicle has a sport air suspension. You can take it to high or drop it down to low which is actually called normal. Also, a power train setting here. You've got power if you notch forward, that shows up on the dash, or if you kick it back, you turn that off, one more, you get to snow so it's very gradual power so you're not gonna break the rear end. I gotta say, this car has the best sounding voice command audio I've ever heard. -After the beep, please say a command. -Destination. -Destination. -Address. -Address. -Most cars have muddy voices that come from one offset speaker, not the clear, clean voice that comes from the center channel on the dash in this vehicle. Oh, this is interesting--a hold mode button on the wheel. Enable it and the car will hold stop on a hill or even stop in traffic until you accelerate again, sort of like a real time interactive electric parking brake. Now, optional, but I imagine present on almost every LS, is the Mark Levinson audio rig, 450 watts, 19 speakers, and 7.1 surround. It's actually a Harman/Becker system designed in conjunction with Mark Levinson brand engineers but they themselves were acquired by Harman a number of years ago and Mark Levinson left the company almost a decade before Lexus launched. Good lesson in the power of branding. No wonder here is the clearest statement ever of the LS owner. When you ask them about the engine, they'll say, "Oh, that's that greasy thing up there, isn't it?" Because they would never lift a hood and admire their motor. It's under there somewhere. I have never seen an engine more blanketed in plastic in my life. Underneath there somewhere is a motor that does 380 horsepower, 367 foot-pounds of torque. It's a 4.6-liter V8, as you can tell by the name. 0 to 60 is 5.4, pretty good for a big boy, and the MPG is pretty good, too--16/24. For this class car with that type engine, not bad. On the road, the LS is more S-class than 7 series, and no surprise there. Everything is refined and precise, but this isn't a car that feels totally happy being driven hard, thought it doesn't trip over itself by any means. In other words, I would skip a lot of the options we have, like sport suspension and Brembo brakes and +1 wheels. It's just sort of gilding the lily. Okay, list price, the latest incarnation of the original Lex. This LS 460, not a long wheel base, not all wheel drive, not the gastly high-priced hybrid, is a kind of bargain at $66,200. On top of that, though, to get it CNET style, you have to add package B. That's gonna add $10,300 but that brings in most of the really interesting electronic tech and all the sporty stuff, the wheels, suspension, and other sorts of brake improvements. It's a well-spent package but it's a big piece to bite off.