Full 2008 Lexus LS 460 Review
What's New for 2008
Apart from a new adaptive air suspension package (which also includes variable-ratio steering, 19-inch wheels and upgraded brakes) for the long-wheelbase "L" version, the Lexus LS 460 is unchanged for 2008.
When the Lexus brand debuted nearly two decades ago, the luxury automaker offered just two cars. One was a midsize sedan that was essentially a reskinned Toyota Camry. The other was a large sedan that started its life as a clean sheet of paper.
That big cruiser was the LS 400, and along with a four-camshaft V8 and all the expected luxury features, it had impeccable build quality and a relatively low price tag. It also had a lot of German luxury brand executives choking on their Bratwurst as it burned its way up the sales charts and shamed their cars in terms of overall reliability. Perhaps most telling of this Lexus' success was how the sticker prices of its rivals began dropping as the LS gained popularity.
The 2008 Lexus LS 460 continues the flagship's tradition of utter refinement, eerily silent operation, a plush ride, respectable performance and strong value. Yes, the price has risen to the point that it is no longer quite the screaming bargain it once was. But without question, it remains a very intelligent purchase.
Last year's redesign, in addition to more power and more features, brought a long-wheelbase version to join the standard version. Dubbed the LS 460 L, this longer Lexus provides more legroom for rear passengers, making it ideal for those who prefer to be driven. Or perhaps for the children of Yao Ming.
The redesign also introduced the Advanced Parking Guidance System. The ultimate in gee-whiz technology, this option allows the car to handle the pesky task of parallel parking all by itself. In practice, it's impressive to witness, but it takes considerably longer than a skilled city dweller would take.
All said, the 2008 Lexus LS 460 proudly holds its badge high, thanks to a combination of luxury, performance, space and refinement. No longer simply an alternative, the LS is a fully qualified choice for a luxury sedan, just like traditional stalwarts the BMW 7 Series and the dramatically more expensive Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Granted, driving enthusiasts may find the LS a little passionless, but for the greater majority in this segment's demographic, this beautifully crafted luxury car merits serious consideration.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Lexus LS 460 is a large luxury sedan that comes in two versions: the standard 460 and the extended-wheelbase 460 L. Standard features on the LS 460 include 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, a sunroof, leather seating, wood trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, power and heated front seats, keyless ignition, Bluetooth connectivity and an audio system with a six-CD changer and an auxiliary audio jack.
Optional packages bundle features such as a hard drive-based navigation system (with real-time traffic and a backup camera), cooled front seats, a 19-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system, satellite radio, park assist, the Advanced Parking Guidance System (which allows the car to parallel-park itself with no driver input) and adaptive cruise control. Some of these features come standard on the 460 L.
The L version also offers an adaptive air suspension package (which also features variable-ratio steering, 19-inch wheels and upgraded brakes) and the Executive Class Seating Package. The latter drops rear seating capacity to two, but adds a fixed console with cooled storage; reclining power seats with heating, cooling and massage; a DVD entertainment system; and full dual-zone rear climate control.
Powertrains and Performance
The LS 460 is quietly but very capably powered by a 4.6-liter V8 that makes 380 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. In our testing, the LS 460 hit 60 mph in a swift 5.8 seconds -- a performance on par with its peers.
Antilock disc brakes, traction control and stability control are all standard, as are front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and knee-protection airbags for front passengers. Side-impact airbags for rear outboard passengers are optional. Models equipped with adaptive cruise control have a pre-collision feature that optimizes the car's safety systems for an impending impact by tightening the seatbelts and providing full power braking the instant the pedal is pressed.
In frontal-offset crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2008 Lexus LS 460 scored the highest rating of "Good."
Interior Design and Special Features
Packed with so many luxury features, the LS 460 might seem a bit intimidating when you first slide behind the wheel. No worries there, as the various controls are simple and even the touchscreen navigation system can be quickly figured out without consulting the manual. The electroluminescent gauges are handsome and easily read.
The cabin is just as brilliant in an aesthetic sense. Rich wood trim is complemented by standard perforated leather upholstery, and the fit and finish is without peer. The trunk, for which Lexus offers a power lid-closing feature, can hold 18 cubic feet of cargo. Order the rear-seat climate control system (460 L only) and the capacity drops to just 12 cubes.
Underway at high freeway speeds, the 2008 Lexus LS 460 is impressively quiet. Drivers and passengers will find themselves ensconced in a bubble of serenity. When one pushes the LS harder on curvy roads, however, it's apparent that Lexus did not design the car to be overtly sporty. Demanding drivers will find the standard suspension doesn't sufficiently stifle the excessive nosedive during braking and body lean through hard corners. Although the ride is plush most of the time, expansion joints on concrete freeways can cause some jiggling and the brakes, though powerful, can seem grabby in stop-and-go traffic until one acclimates.