It's so big, we're surprised the whole car fits into a single picture.

2014 Lexus LS 460

A Japanese answer to a German question.

By: Andrew Krok

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: November 14th, 2013

The flagship - an automaker's biggest, most expensive car - is typically chock full of all sorts of technologies that will, one day, make their way down to even the most pedestrian of models. The LS is Toyota's flagship, operating under its Lexus luxury brand. This specific model, the LS 460 AWD, is one step above the lowest-cost LS 460 RWD, yet for some reason it comes with only 360 bhp, 26 below the RWD model, as well as the other, more expensive variants. We're a little confused about that, but there's no confusing the intended market for the LS brand in general.

The LS has its missiles pointed directly at Germany - BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz are the big-body standard-bearers. Things you'll see on their cars are often replicated ad nauseam by Japanese or American automakers in an attempt to topple their long-held empire. Will the Lexus achieve that? Not necessarily, since it's still lacking in a few categories. But it does come in a little cheaper without sacrificing a number of technologies present on its competitors, such as pre-collision braking systems, camera-based and laser-guided everything, and audio setups that would have John Williams quiver in excitement. Playing the value option in a field of conspicuous consumption seems a little misguided, yet somehow that seems like exactly something Toyota would do. And, as you'd expect, it does it quite well.

  • Interior

    Simply put, it's fancy. Lexus manages to succeed where Toyota fails - dashboard design. Everything is laid out in a way that makes sense and doesn't require tons of distracting glances away from the road. The infotainment system's "mouse" provides solid haptic feedback and is much better than just blindly swatting away at a completely flat touchscreen.

    The seats are comfortable and configurable in more than enough ways to please even the biggest-hipped, smallest-waisted individuals. Even without a long-wheelbase setup, the rear seats (with optional packages) are capable of reclining passengers without feeling cramped or bumping the front seat. Sadly, the trunk is where all the spaciousness ends - it's rather small for a car of its size, but you get that immense back seat to make up for it.

  • Exterior

    These cars aren't meant to blow you away with ridiculous styling - quite the opposite, actually. The biggest of the big luxo-barges (BMW 7-Series, Audi A8, et. al) are supposed to give off an air of sophistication, hearkening back to a day when big-money didn't make its presence known from every rooftop and Instagram account in town. It's big - there's no getting around that - but it doesn't flash like a sporty midsize. The looks are sedate enough to put you to sleep. You know you've mastered the quiet-money aesthetic when the new Mercedes S-Class looks closer to LaFerrari than LS 460.

  • On the Road

    There's no confusing the LS 460 with, say, a Subaru BRZ. As much as the air suspension, adjustable controls, and variable-ratio steering want you to believe otherwise, this is a hulking mass that's closer in weight to a neutron star than a stripped-down sports car. That will likely change with the F Sport trim level and its reworked chassis components, but on the base AWD LS 460, you're best off leaving it in comfort mode - this softens up the air suspension and makes every move of the steering wheel long and deliberate.

    This is where the LS 460 truly shines, as a big-body luxury sedan that's meant to coddle. The body's insulation does an amazing job of keeping annoying tire and road noises out, so all that's left is for you to point the wheel, sit back, and let the amazingly well-composed eight-speed automatic do its job of putting the power to the ground.

  • Final Thoughts

    Despite the confusion as to why Lexus offers a weaker engine for the base-model AWD LS 460 but not the rear-drive version, it's still a quality full-size sedan that gives lesser-optioned German competitors a fight on even playing ground. We'd suggest ignoring the sportier settings, as it truly draws the owner away from what makes this car good - luxury, luxury, luxury. Even on some poorly-paved side streets, the LS 460 drove around without a single care in the world.

    It's not as tech-savvy as the S-Class, nor is it as expensive; it's not as fun to drive as the BMW 7-Series, but again, it's not as expensive. That said, Lexus parent company Toyota is known for legendary reliability, so if you're willing to lose out on a few options while adding something that most Germans could only dream of, then this is the car for you.

  • Specs & Price

    Engine: 4.6-liter, naturally-aspirated V-8

    Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

    Power Output: 360 bhp / 347 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy: 16 city / 23 highway

    Base Price: $75,085

    As Tested: $90,675 (incl. $910 destination)

    Optional Features: Adaptive air suspension with variable-ratio steering, heated steering wheel, Mark Levinson 19-speaker surround-sound system, leather-trimmed interior with Alcantara headliner, LED headlamps, Pre-Collision System with adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitor, power-adjustable rear seats with massage function, heated/ventilated front and rear seats, four-zone climate control, air-conditioned rear-seat cool box, rear air purifier, power-adjustable side and rear sun shades, rear-seat side airbags, power open-and-close trunk lid

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