Used 2002 Lexus LS 430 Sedan Review

Provides the equal (or better) refinement levels as German uber-sedans, only without the holier-than-thou attitude.




what's new

Lexus' flagship was completely redesigned last year. The only addition for 2002 is a new Platinum Blue Metallic exterior paint.

vehicle overview

Japan has perfected the art of refinement in automobiles, as is apparent in the LS 430. Redesigned just last year, Lexus has kept its flagship sedan in step with the rapidly advancing premium luxury segment.

A 4.3-liter V8 engine powers the LS 430, offering 290 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) eliminates the compromise between high-rpm horsepower and low-end torque while allowing the car to be certified as an ultra low emission vehicle (ULEV). The new engine is matched to a computer-controlled five-speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels. Zero to 60 mph takes just 6.4 seconds.

Placed on the open road, the LS 430 feels like it's riding on a layer of emollient, gliding along upon a frictionless lubricant. This is ostensibly done through the use of a sophisticated double wishbone suspension system front and back. While it can't compete in terms of sheer athleticism with a BMW 7 Series, the LS, particularly when equipped with the optional sport-tuned suspension, remains surprisingly stable on twisty roads.

As expected from a super luxury sedan, the interior is incredibly comfortable and roomy. The driver seat offers 14-way power adjustment with lumbar control and a power height-adjustor seatbelt, which is easy to insert into its slot thanks to an illuminated buckle. Beautiful Optitron gauges provide great gauge-cluster visibility, and the premium-quality California walnut wood trim and delectable leather will mollify even the most discerning of tastes. Open the trunklid, supported by gas-strut hinges, to reveal a cavernous 20-cubic-foot trunk. The load floor may not be flat, but you can't argue with the amount of storage space. And you get a standard ski pass-through, which is optional in some other luxury cars.

There's too much standard and optional equipment to list here, but suffice it to say, the LS 430 has enough luxury to satisfy even the most pampered corporate executive. Ordering an LS 430 with the Ultra Luxury package adds items like an air-ride suspension, dynamic laser cruise control, parking assist, DVD-based navigation, the Lexus Link safety and security system, power door closers, a high-end Mark Levinson sound system, front climate control seats with heat and cool knobs, adjustable rear seats and a rear cooler box.

Safety features include four-channel antilock brakes with Brake Assist, Vehicle Skid Control, and 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.

The LS 430 is unabashedly luxurious. Lexus' flagship sedan proves that there is no shame in flaunting your wealth, and boy howdy, you need to be wealthy to own such a superb car. Ay, there lies the rub -- it's expensive. One of the reasons that Lexus became such a powerhouse is that it was able to offer its flagship sedan at a price much lower than its European competitors. Now, fully optioned, the Lexus pushes the lofty $70,000-plus mark, the dangerous treading waters of some of the finest automobiles in the world.

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.