Extend your thumb and forefinger in pride because the big ‘L’ no longer stands for ‘loser’. It represents ‘long-wheelbase’ and the 2015 Lexus LS 460 L is a big, comfy sedan fit for the whole family or local basketball team.
As expected, a quiet cabin and understated – yet luxurious and ergonomic – design and engineering come standard with the LS, and the new, long-wheelbase versions are making quite an impression. Could we be following the lead of China, and heading towards a long-wheelbase revolution? If the LS 460 L is anything to go on, we vote yes!
Our test model came in the sleek Liquid Platinum finish (alternate choices include Fire Agate Pearl, Starfire Pearl and Obsidian, among others) with a new spindle grille up front. Don’t be deterred by the naysayers who liken the inverted trapezoid-shaped addition to Predator’s unsightly face, because this thing is fierce – in the best possible way.
Matching the grille’s grunt are four 18-inch split five-spoke aluminum alloy wheels with liquid graphite finish and hollow spoke noise reduction capacity.
If that’s not enough to ensure your presence on the road, the arrowhead Xenon HID headlamps with LED daytime running lamps, turn signals, and puddle and fog lamps will.
An acoustic glass windshield is kept clear by rain-sensing wipers, while an ultra-strength steel alloy and sheet metal frame boasts pinpoint precise panels gaps.
Exhaust diffusers and integrated dual-chrome exhaust tips are a stylish and useful inclusion, and the stabilizing fins make it an aerodynamic over-achiever.
No need to take a microscope to the interior; it’s so large the optically challenged would have no trouble appraising its lavish luxury and many features. Unassuming but dapper, swanky electroluminescent gauges up front are just the beginning.
Our Semi-aniline Leather and Alcantara Upgrade Package was superb. Gorgeous grain-matched wood trim and genuine aluminum accents adorn the center console (equipped with 12V outlet), dash and door panels, accompanying a wood and leather multifunction control steering wheel.
The 16-way power driver’s seat with auto slide-away function sits alongside a 12-way power front passenger seat for shotgun serenity. Both enjoy three-position memory systems and power seatbelt shoulder height adjusters. The Climate Concierge setting grants occupants the ability to set and alter temperature via the main control system, the climate control seats and heated steering wheel.
My friend Cliff is more legs than man, so when he jumped in the back and excitedly relayed, “There’s room to spare,” I knew he was either under the influence of illicit substances, or this was one seriously spacious sedan.
The extended-wheelbase of 121.7 inches is around five inches longer than the standard-length LS 460 (116.9 inches). The majority of this goes to rear legroom (thus Cliff’s resistance to exit the vehicle).
For those overwhelmed by the massive interior, a first aid kit is included and individual rear seat vanity mirrors empower self-absorbed passengers to keep an eye on their complexion.
Large, comfortable and well contoured, the cabin adds convenience to its bag of tricks with smart access start/stop push button, one-touch open/close power tilt-and-slide moon-roof and power rear sunshade.
The sumptuous cabin is more than just a pretty face and has tech features bursting at the panel seams. A huge 12.3-inch remote touch interface display combines analogue clock, GPS navigation and entertainment functions. The improved Navigation System can do almost everything, even book movie tickets! Calculate your ETA and consumption rates or request detour information and enjoy 3D map and building views.
Meanwhile, a TFT multi-information color display permits drivers to monitor and maintain fuel consumption, speed, temperature and elapsed time.
Lexus Enform Remote for smartphones allows users to access and control certain aspects of the car from home or work. But it doesn’t come cheap, requiring Lexus Enform Safety Connect and Lexus Enform Remote registration and subscriptions. Luckily, buyers receive a one-year complimentary subscription to eDestination, enabling them to access Enform Destination Services.
In terms of safety, this car has it all. Cruise control? Check. Eco-drive indicator? Check. Electrochromic inside mirror? Check. Guest driver monitor? Check. Advanced Pre-Collision System with Collision Avoidance Assist? Check. Electronic parking brake and brake hold function? Check. Automatic high beam and blind spot monitor? Check. Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio, brake hold function and multi-information display controls? Check.
We could go on, but you get the idea.
We felt like time travellers (except Cliff; he was still praising the backseat Gods) as we heard and audibly composed emails and text messages, requested search information and weather or traffic info. Bluetooth and iPod connectivity make an appearance, with the inclusion of automatic phonebook download option. Siri Eyes Free Mode adds a certain Back to The Future ambiance to proceedings.
The sound system fitted to our test model was the upgraded Mark Levinson Reference Surround Audio system comprising 19 speakers, 450 watts of power and less than 0.1 per cent Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) and DVD/CD changer. Crisp results are delivered via automatic sound levelizer, digital sound processor and integrated SiriusXM satellite radio receiver. Choose from AM/FM/CD player, MP3/WMA, MP3 or USB/iPod inputs and HD radio.
Lexus claim the new LS 460 L runs at 16 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, with an average of 19 mpg. We experienced an average closer to 17 mpg after a week’s worth of driving, not bad considering we pushed it as hard as we would a regular car and avoided hypermiling (though we did utilize the Eco mode on the highway).
Race towards the horizon – or at least 60 mph – in an observed 5.4 seconds. Not overly impressive even considering its curb weight of between 4,200 and 4,900 lbs. A regulated top speed of 130 mph is possible, but we didn’t push the sedan that hard.
Driving performance is powered by a 4.6-liter V-8 engine and 8-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift producing whisper-quiet 386 horsepower and 367 lb.-ft. of torque. We were lucky enough to drive a 460 L with Five-Mode (Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport S, Sport S+) Air Suspension with Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS).
Electric power steering is acute and responsive, and enhanced by hollow tube camshafts that reduce weight and maximize efficiency. Speaking of efficiency, an overall 0.26 coefficient of drag adds to the vehicle’s almost mute status, and helps somewhat when it comes to fuel consumption.
Less is more in relation to noise and vibration thanks to liquid-filled engine mounts. Additionally, shock absorbers for coil suspension maintain comfort levels and improve agility. It truly is a serene, smooth ride, and one decidedly more responsive than earlier incarnations of the LS.
Despite its size, we found handling extremely agile. The Lexus Drive Select was particularly useful, allowing the alteration of transmission and throttle option for optimal results. Of the five modes, the most enjoyable was undoubtedly the two Sports modes, which produced fast and dynamic drive, and no doubt added to our less than impressive fuel consumption. Penny-pinchers are advised to utilize the ‘Eco’ mode but expect slower response and take off speeds.
Overall, the experience is silky and silent, with intelligent Dual Variable Valve Timing (VVT-iE) for electrically controlled intake adding its two cents to proceedings.
Long-wheelbase cars have been a staple on the Chinese automotive market for some time, and Lexus are taking full advantage of this growing trend, which we hope is not a fad. Coming in at $84, 605 it competes admirably with more expensive European long-wheelbase models, including the Mercedes S-Class (considered the best sedan in the world with a price tag to match), Jaguar XJ (with luxury to boot and a variety of engine options) and BMW 7 Series (perhaps the quickest and most technologically advanced on the market). Despite its competition, the comfort, build quality and spacious seating of the LS put it in a class all its own, and transform long-haul trips into a cruising oasis. Because of this, the LS, along with the A8, top my list as the best sedans available today.
Photo Credit: Copyright 2015 Victor Mosqueda / Car Fanatics Blog