Full 2011 Lexus LS 460 Review
What's New for 2011
For 2011, the Lexus LS 460's adjustable air suspension (previously a standard feature on all-wheel-drive models) becomes an option. Otherwise, the LS is unchanged.
When it comes to premium luxury sedans, a car needs to excel in certain categories. Such a flagship needs to deliver performance, comfort, refinement, craftsmanship and a long list of high-tech features. On its own, the 2011 Lexus LS 460 easily satisfies these requirements, especially in the quality of the ownership experience it offers. But when stacked up next to European luxury cars, it still comes up a little sedate.
Like many of its competitors, the V8-powered 2011 Lexus LS 460 is offered in standard- or long-wheelbase versions, as well as rear- or all-wheel drive. The LS also offers an impressive selection of options that rival prestigious executive limousines. Features like a backseat that reclines up to 45 degrees, a footrest akin to a private jet's, a refrigerator and a DVD entertainment system will please even the most demanding passengers.
Unlike the European sedans, all of this premium content doesn't cost an exorbitant sum. The Lexus LS 460 will cost at least $10,000 less than a comparably equipped competitor. German and British sedans offer more in the way of personality and prestige, though, along with some ridiculously powerful engines. But if all-out performance and premium badging isn't a priority, the LS 460 buyer will appreciate Lexus' reputation for solid construction, impeccable reliability and one of the very best ownership experiences in the car industry.
But whichever brand tops your list, there's really no loser within the pack. The Audi A8 is marvelously well-rounded; the BMW 7 Series is bred for added athleticism; the Jaguar XJ boasts an exquisite interior; and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the established benchmark. All are worthy considerations if your budget allows. Those seeking a healthy dose of performance may also want to check out the Porsche Panamera. Ultimately, the decision relies on your checklist of must-haves. In most cases, the 2011 Lexus LS 460 will satisfy on multiple levels.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Lexus LS 460 is a large luxury sedan offered in standard- and long-wheelbase (LS 460 L) models. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional on both models. The LS 600H L hybrid is reviewed separately.
The LS 460 comes standard with 18-inch wheels, power-folding and heated exterior mirrors, foglamps, adaptive and automatic xenon headlamps, automatic wipers, a sunroof, cruise control, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt-and-telescoping multifunction steering wheel, a 16-way power driver seat and 12-way power passenger seat (includes lumbar adjustments, multilevel heating and memory functions), leather upholstery, wood trim, auto-dimming mirrors, a rearview camera, Safety Connect emergency telematics, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio connectivity and a 10-speaker stereo with a six-CD changer, satellite radio and an iPod interface. Opting for AWD brings with it a heated steering wheel.
The LS 460 L adds headlamp washers, automatic high beams, a power trunk lid, power door closers, front and rear parking sensors, rear seat vanity mirrors, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats as standard equipment.
Lexus options usually get bundled into expensive packages, but this varies depending on region. The Comfort package includes all of these items (minus the rear vanity mirrors) and adds a power rear sunshade. The Comfort Plus package goes even further by adding upgraded leather trim, rear-seat side airbags and power rear seats with ventilation, lumbar massage and power-adjustable headrests.
The Sport package (RWD only) includes 19-inch wheels (stand-alone option also) with exclusive summer performance tires, an exterior styling kit, Brembo brakes, a sport-tuned air suspension, sport front seats, special two-tone interior trim with ash burl accents, shift paddles with rev-matched downshifts and a heated, leather-trimmed steering wheel.
The Luxury package (available for the LS 460 L only) adds upgraded leather upholstery, a faux suede headliner and power rear-door sunshades. The Rear Seat Upgrade includes the Luxury package and adds dual-zone rear climate controls, rear audio controls, a refrigerator, rear airbags and power rear seats with lumbar massage and power butterfly headrests. The Executive-Class Seating package includes the Rear Seat Upgrade plus a fixed center console (deletes center seat), a wood-trimmed retractable table, a rear-seat DVD system and a 45-degree power-reclining right rear seat with leg rest and multifunction massage.
Options available on both the LS 460 and LS 460 L include the Appearance package, which adds the same body kit as the Sport package and, on rear-drive models, 19-inch wheels with all-season tires. The optional navigation system adds Bluetooth phonebook download capability, Lexus Enform telematics services, voice controls and real-time traffic, weather, sports and stocks.
Also available is a 19-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system with a DVD/CD changer. A self-parking system can be specified, but only in a bundle with other options packages. Adaptive cruise control and the Advanced Pre-Collision Safety system are packaged together. The air suspension is a stand-alone option available only on AWD models and the LS 460 L.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Lexus LS 460 is powered by a 4.6-liter V8 that produces 380 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard, with all-wheel drive available. In Edmunds performance testing, the rear-drive LS 460 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, about average for the segment. The EPA estimates fuel economy for rear-wheel-drive models at 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined, and 16/23/18 for AWD models.
Standard safety features on the 2011 Lexus LS 460 include antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, front-seat knee airbags, active front head restraints and emergency telematics. Optional items include rear side airbags and the Advanced Pre-Collision Safety system that pairs with the adaptive cruise-control radar emitters to sense an impending impact (with either another car or a pedestrian), then optimizes brake response and crash preparedness.
In Edmunds brake testing, an LS 460 came to a stop from 60 mph in 128 feet -- a little long for this class. The LS 460 L registered an even longer 136 feet. 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 is fitting for a Lexus flagship, the interior of the 2011 LS 460 represents the best that the company has to offer, with craftsmanship and materials beyond reproach. But the overall design is a bit staid when compared to more dramatic treatments found in some European luxury sedans. To its credit, the Lexus controls are simple and intuitive, featuring both a touchscreen and physical buttons. The iPod interface comes up a little short in functionality, though.
Cabin space is exceptional for all occupants in the regular-wheelbase version, while the extended-wheelbase LS 460 L could easily serve limousine duty. The Executive-Class Seating package takes rear comfort to absurd levels with a 45-degree seat recline, lumbar massage and a footrest. Outside of the LS, you'd need a Maybach or Rolls-Royce to get rear-seat coddling like this. Trunk space is generous at 18 cubic feet, but it drops to 15.5 cubes if rear-seat climate control is specified.
Under almost any driving condition, the 2011 Lexus LS 460 insulates its occupants from the outside world, enveloping them in a silent floating bubble. Under more aggressive maneuvers, the base LS suspension exhibits significant dive during heavy braking, and pronounced body roll while cornering. But potential LS 460 buyers aren't likely looking for a sporting drive; instead they value comfort, refinement and reliability. Even so, they might be pleasantly surprised by the Sport package, which features an aggressively tuned air suspension, performance brakes, rev-matched downshifts and grippy summer tires.