Full 2009 Lexus LS 460 Review
What's New for 2009
The 2009 Lexus LS 460 is now offered in an all-wheel-drive variant and adds passenger seat memory as standard equipment.
It's been two decades since Lexus stepped up to the plate and cracked an epic home run on its first at-bat with the LS 400. No longer a rookie, and with plenty of awards under its belt, this seasoned player is still making the competition tremble.
The 2009 Lexus LS 460 undergoes further refinement after a redesign two years ago. The addition of an all-wheel-drive option for greater traction and road-holding ability is now available on the base LS 460 as well as the LS 460 L long-wheelbase version. Maintaining the Lexus LS line's reputation as an all-star are such exemplary traits as a silent and super-smooth ride, commendable engine performance, stalwart reliability and undeniable value among competing large luxury sedans. Additional bells and whistles such as a 19-speaker surround-sound system and intuitive parking assist, which enables the car to perform parallel-parking duties with minimal driver involvement, are sure to please just about any technophile (or terrible parker).
In the luxury sedan ballgame, not only is the LS 460 a worthy competitor, in many ways it is a standout player. Staring down well-established models like the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Lexus' flagship model scores especially high when you consider it could easily leave you with an extra $20K in your wallet. Although the LS 460 might be a bit sedate for driving enthusiasts, the vast majority of luxury sedan buyers will have no need for a higher level of performance.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Lexus LS 460 is a large luxury sedan that is also available as a long-wheelbase LS 460 L version. All-wheel drive is available on both models. The standard LS 460 comes exceptionally appointed with standard features that include 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, a sunroof, leather seating, wood trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats with power controls and memory, keyless ignition/entry and a 10-speaker audio system with a six-CD/MP3 changer and auxiliary audio jack.
The long-wheelbase LS 460 L adds 4.8 inches to the car's midsection, increasing rear legroom from ample to abundant. In addition to the standard 460's features, the 460 L adds a hard-drive-based navigation system with a rearview camera, Bluetooth, satellite radio with real-time traffic, front seat ventilation, heated rear seats and a power rear sunshade. These features are available on the base LS 460 as options.
Optional upgrades to the LS 460 L include the luxury package, with upgraded leather seats and surfaces and rear climate-controlled power seats with memory. The rear-seat upgrade package adds dual-zone air-conditioning, additional wood trim, a cooler box, power door sunshades and audio controls. Opting for the executive-class seating package will get you all of the features from the luxury and rear-seat upgrade packages and replaces the middle rear seat with a fixed center console with a retractable table, adds a power-reclining right rear seat with massage and a leg rest, and includes a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with a 9-inch screen and a very trick infrared rear-seat body temperature sensor that adjusts the climate control.
For the LS 460 L, an optional air suspension package controls the amount of body roll and nosedive and adds 19-inch alloy wheels and Lexus' variable gear-ratio steering. AWD models come with this package as standard but without the 19-inch wheels. A touring package includes a sport-tuned version of the air suspension and high-performance brakes. Other options include a 19-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system, adaptive cruise control and advanced parking guidance with intuitive park assist.
Powertrains and Performance
Propelling the 2009 Lexus LS 460 is a 4.6-liter V8 that produces 380 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. Power delivery is silky-smooth and nearly silent, running through an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. In our testing of a regular LS 460, we managed to reach 60 mph in a very respectable 5.8 seconds, which is comparable to competing luxury sedans. EPA fuel ratings come in at 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg in combined driving. All-wheel-drive mileage is essentially identical.
In keeping with Lexus' reputation for safety, the LS 460 is equipped with antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, front-seat knee airbags and optional rear-seat side airbags. Also available is the pre-collision system, paired with the adaptive cruise control that senses an impending impact and optimizes brake assist and retracts the seatbelts.
In crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Lexus LS 460 scored the highest rating of "Good" for its protection in frontal offset impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
As expected from any Lexus, the LS 460 bathes occupants in sumptuous leather and rich wood trim, all fitted together with craftsman-like artistry. Even considering the endless list of features and accessories, the controls are intuitive and simple enough to keep the owner's manual closed. The instrument panel's electroluminescent gauges are stunningly clear and easy to read. Cabin space is exceptional for all occupants, and even NBA forwards will find plenty of room to stretch out in the long-wheelbase LS 460 L. Trunk space is generous with a capacity of 18 cubic feet but drops to 15.5 cubes if equipped with the 460 L's rear-seat climate control.
Under almost any driving condition, the 2009 Lexus LS 460 isolates the driver and passenger from the outside world, wrapping them in a silent, cloudlike cocoon -- and this is the LS's forte. This luxury sedan was never intended to be particularly sporty, and most buyers probably won't have any high expectations for performance. Under more aggressive maneuvers, the base LS suspension exhibits a rather steep nosedive during heavy braking and pronounced body roll while cornering, although it does stay planted to the pavement with minimal drama. Brake feel is excellent, although at first it can seem a bit grabby and abrupt.