Used 2001 Lexus LS 430 Sedan Review

Provides the same refinement levels as German uber-sedans, only without the holier-than-thou attitude.




what's new

The completely redesigned third-generation Lexus flagship features a larger 4.3-liter engine that meets ULEV standards, a freshened aerodynamic shape that allows for a more spacious interior and a new suspension that offers greater stability and a smoother ride. A richer, more stylish interior with advanced safety and luxury features also debuts.

vehicle overview

Japan has perfected the art of refinement in automobiles, as is apparent in the redesign of the 2001 Lexus LS 430, keeping this flagship sedan in step with the rapidly advancing premium luxury segment.

New for 2001, a 4.3-liter engine powers the LS 430, offering the same 290 horsepower as last year, but with 20 foot-pounds more torque for a total of 320. Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) eliminates the compromise between high-rpm horsepower and low-end torque by optimizing valve overlap throughout the rev range. The new engine is matched to a computer-controlled five-speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels, with Lexus quoting a zero-to-60 time of 6.3 seconds. The industry's first "torque-activated" powertrain control debuts on the 2001 LS 430, so when climbing a hill for example, the controller will increase the throttle opening to provide more power without the driver having to adjust pedal position.

While the new 430 reflects Lexus' established styling theme, the body has a decidedly Teutonic profile, reminding our staff of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan. Tested in the same wind tunnel as Japan's bullet trains, the new, more aerodynamic shape has a coefficient of drag (CD) of .25 when equipped with the available Air Suspension, the lowest of any current passenger sedan. The wheelbase has increased by 3 inches even though overall length remains the same. By comparison, the LS offers more interior cabin volume and a larger trunk than the S-Class.

The more spacious interior features higher grades of wood and leather for 2001. The climate control system uses temperature and sun-sensing air registers to regulate cabin comfort. For example, if one side of the car is bathed in sunlight the registers deliver more cooling air to that side. The driver's seat includes adjustments for dual lumbar support and an extendable cushion length for thigh support. A new CD changer location for the audio system allows for a larger glove box that complements expanded interior storage compartments. Additional features for 2001 are climate control front seats, parking clearance sonar, power adjustable rear seatbacks with memory, a power rear sunshade and manual door shades, and a rear air conditioner with air purifier. Also optional are a DVD-based navigation system and the first automotive audio application by Mark Levinson, whose components are used in home sound systems costing $100,000 and more.

The LS 430's safety features include four-channel antilock brakes with Brake Assist, Vehicle Skid Control, and new for 2001, advanced variable-force airbags and side curtain front and rear airbags. Sensors determine the force with which to deploy the front airbags in an effort to reduce the chance of airbag-related injuries. Front seats and rear outboard seats are equipped with seatbelt pre-tensioners with force limiters.

Continuing in the stoic tradition of the previous model, but with improvements in terms of performance and pampering, the redesigned Lexus LS 430 will find plenty of favor with buyers looking more for serenity and sanctuary than speed.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.