Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor
The 2010 Lexus LS 460 has created a niche for itself as the most practical choice in a supremely extravagant segment. With an accommodating ride, impeccable materials quality and enough gadgetry to stock a Sharper Image store, this stately cruiser offers all the luxury-car essentials. However, unlike the expensive and sometimes temperamental thoroughbreds it competes with, the LS 460 gets the job done at a relatively reasonable price, and with the promise of better reliability.
Clearly, there's lots of candy in its bowl, but the one treat the LS 460 has never offered is athleticism. To address this, Lexus adds a new Sport package for 2010, featuring performance upgrades such as Brembo brakes, bigger wheels and an adjustable sport-tuned air suspension.
In many ways, this move is a success. The Sport package makes piloting the LS 460 a more involving experience, and should rope some new fans into the fold. Still, even with this package, the LS feels less passionate than its German peers — the BMW 7 Series is still far more sporting, and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class stirs the senses with brisker acceleration and a more engaging personality.
In the end, though, the 2010 Lexus LS 460 excels for being an unmatched bargain that brings much to the soiree for far less coin than you'd expect. Even with the Sport package and options like a navigation system, Advanced Parking Guidance and front and rear heated seats, our test car's price tag is thousands less than that of a base-model 7 Series. As such, the Lexus LS 460 is a must-see for luxury-car shoppers on the hunt for class-leading value and outstanding technology.
Quietly working its magic under the hood of this Lexus is a 4.6-liter V8 good for 380 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. Mated to this mill is an eight-speed automatic transmission offering three modes: Normal, Power and Snow. Designed to help the car maintain its traction on snow-covered roads, Snow mode features more frequent upshifts. Switch to Power mode and the transmission spends more time in the lower gears — to the detriment, we imagine, of fuel economy. Our mode of choice was Normal, for its almost eerily seamless gearchanges.
The engine goes about its business with the calm self-assuredness of a Zen master. Whether the challenge is climbing a steep mountain road or merging with a fast-moving stream of traffic, its poise is never shaken. However, the mill's off-the-line acceleration doesn't deliver quite the visceral punch experienced with the German segment leaders. Track times support this observation. The LS 460's 6.4-second 0-60-mph sprint is 1.2 seconds behind that of the 750i, and is merely average for the luxury-car segment.
Braking and handling are similarly unspectacular, despite the Sport package. The 2010 Lexus LS 460's stopping distance from 60 mph is merely OK, at 118 feet; the S550 manages this in just 108 feet. The Lexus' slalom speed of 62.6 mph is also a shade behind those of the flagship BMW and Mercedes sedans.
Still, those who aren't looking for the most thrilling choice will likely be satisfied with this stately four-door; driving the LS 460 around town and on highways is a pleasant and no-fuss affair. Like the German segment leaders, the sedan is easily maneuverable and feels smaller on the road than its dimensions suggest.
Fuel economy is one area in which this Lexus is a clear leader. With EPA estimates of 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined, it's one of the least thirsty choices in this segment.
Drivers of the Sport-package-equipped 2010 Lexus LS 460 have a few options with regard to ride quality, since the car's adjustable suspension offers three settings: Normal, Comfort and Sport. Normal is a study in bland isolation, and Comfort is suitable only for those who pine for the softly sprung charms of a Reagan-era Buick. The Sport setting got the nod from our editors, for its ability to deliver crisp, communicative road feel without undue harshness — serving to make this LS 460 feel more comparable than its German rivals.
Infinitely adjustable, the LS 460's front seats deliver consistent support and keep you stable in sharp turns. Still, given their somewhat snug embrace — with relatively tight hiproom — they may not be the most comfortable choice in this segment for passengers of wider girth. Front legroom, on the other hand, is very impressive. Wide door openings make it easy to enter and exit this sumptuous luxury machine.
With almost no road and wind noise to speak of, the LS 460's cabin feels as peaceful as a church. Lexus has long been the brand to beat when it comes to cabin serenity, and this sedan delivers on that promise.
With its abundance of bells and whistles, the 2010 Lexus LS 460 is a technophile's toy box. To its credit, the car presents this gadgetry in an easily digestible way. Its controls are simple to decipher — more so than those of others in this segment.
Advanced Parking Guidance is perhaps the sedan's most famous feature. This system facilitates parallel parking with minimal driver involvement. Once you've lined the car up properly to a parking space using the center console display, the car handles acceleration and steering, leaving the driver to work the brakes. Sounds easy, but it takes longer than it would normally, so it's not the best bet when nabbing a space on a busy street. It's also no good on slopes that call for use of the gas pedal, since punching the gas deactivates the system.
We imagine that some drivers will find the Advanced Parking Guidance system helpful, though. For example, drivers with mobility problems that hamper their ability to comfortably turn around for a rear view when parking will appreciate it. But in our time with the Lexus, we preferred to parallel-park the old-fashioned way, as it was simply quicker and more convenient to do so.
The car's navigation system is easy to use and offers a generously sized screen. Getting the nav system qualifies you for Lexus Enform, the manufacturer's new telematics system. One of its more useful amenities is Destination Assist. With it, you can get navigation assistance by calling an agent, who will then download the relevant coordinates to your nav system for routing. Unfortunately, Destination Assist isn't perfect. When we called two blocks from a Trader Joe's asking for directions to the nearest store, the agent directed us to a branch that was almost two miles away.
The backseats in the 2010 Lexus LS 460 are both plush and reasonably spacious. Three passengers are easily accommodated, and with two in back, the center armrest provides solid, meaty support. Still, legroom isn't quite as generous as you'll find in the longer S550. But visibility is outstanding, as the LS 460's relatively low beltline makes for clear sight lines.
In real-world usability testing, the LS 460 accommodated a rear-facing child seat with little fuss. Golf clubs and a suitcase were an easy fit for the trunk — not surprising, since with 18 cubic feet of room, it's one of the larger ones in this segment.
Design/Fit and Finish
Bland or tastefully discreet? We'll leave the final verdict regarding the appearance of this Lexus up to you — the sedan takes no risks with its sheet metal. It looks less distinctive than others in this segment; still, it's undeniably a good-looking vehicle. Materials quality within the cabin is mostly exceptional — the dark wood with its warm natural finish is a standout.
Cabin design in the LS 460 is decent, but not stellar; the car's interior looks rather common in comparison to the glamorous cabins found in the S-Class and new Jaguar XJ. Fit and finish is superb all throughout.
Who should consider this vehicle
Its class-leading price makes the 2010 Lexus LS 460 a winning bet for luxury-car shoppers searching for the best bargain. Its roomy dimensions and extensive features list also make it a great choice for those seeking an upscale family sedan. Finally, certain seniors and mobility-challenged drivers will want to check out this Lexus for some of its useful gadgets, provided they're not averse to learning some new technology.
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