Full 2012 Lexus LS 460 Review
What's New for 2012
The Lexus LS 460 returns essentially unchanged for 2012.
At the very top of the luxury sedan segment, there seems to be a race to see how many features or how much power can be crammed into a manufacturer's flagship. On the other hand, the 2012 Lexus LS 460 takes a more pragmatic view. It checks all of the boxes that any luxury sedan buyer has on their must-have lists, foregoing some of the extraneous niceties and over-the-top power that European rivals have. As a result, the Lexus LS 460 and long-wheelbase LS 460 L undercut the exorbitant prices of rivals by as much as $20,000.
Just like the competition, the 2012 Lexus LS 460 features a potent V8 engine under the hood, opulent interior treatments, loads of technological features and a roomy cabin that insulates passengers from the outside world. It also offers a long list of optional extravagances, like reclining rear seats, a refrigerated beverage cooler and rear seat entertainment systems. In all likelihood, any passenger would find little, if anything, to complain about.
The average driver will likely remain complaint-free as well, though a minority who place a premium on enthusiastic driving may find the Lexus lacking. This car is about refinement and comfort, so perhaps it's no surprise that it lacks the emphasis on driver engagement that is conventional elsewhere in this market segment.
In the end, there really isn't a poor choice to be made. We still endorse the Mercedes-Benz S-Class as the class leader, with the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Jaguar XJ in a very close race for second place. For the frugal-minded buyer, the Hyundai Equus and Genesis sedans may be worth a look, but definitely show their shortcomings when compared back to back with the class leaders. Regardless of where your priorities are, the 2012 Lexus LS 460 warrants serious consideration.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 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 sound system 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 for the LS 460 includes the added LS 460 L 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
Powering the 2012 Lexus LS 460 is 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 6.4 seconds, which is a good second slower than its competitors. 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 2012 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 118 feet, which is average for this class. The LS 460 L registered an unacceptably long 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 2012 LS 460 represents the best 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 clearly labeled 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 2012 Lexus LS 460 insulates its occupants from the outside world with a serene ride and an ultra-quiet interior. Acceleration isn't all that remarkable for a premium flagship, but the V8 and eight-speed transmission nonetheless provide smooth power and shifts. Under more aggressive maneuvers, the base LS suspension exhibits significant dive during heavy braking and pronounced body roll while cornering. The optional Sport package does make a notable improvement in the LS's handling capabilities.