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2015 Lexus LS 460 Expert Review

By Kelsey Mays National
May 11, 2015

The 2015 Lexus LS 460 falls short of the exceptional drivability we've come to expect from the car's German rivals, but its value and craftsmanship are still impressive.

The years are piling up on Lexus' LS flagship sedan, which hasn't been fully redesigned since 2007. But the brand has maintained a steady trickle of updates and face-lifts, and the LS still costs thousands less than comparable rivals.

Lexus' attention to detail leaves no stone unturned (or B-pillar uncovered), and the current generation is as reliable as high tide. It lacks the fierce acceleration and cloudlike ride that other flagships now bring to the table, but there's still plenty to like.

An extended wheelbase turns the LS 460 into the LS 460 L. It adds roughly 5 inches to the car's length and wheelbase, and it's the only way you can get the pricier LS 600h L hybrid. For 2015, the LS gets some multimedia upgrades; click here to compare the 2015 and 2014 LS 460. We cover the LS 600h L separately on Click here to see it.

Exterior & Styling
Heavily updated three years ago with Lexus' so-called spindle grille, the LS has stayed abreast of Lexus' styling zeitgeist. F Sport versions swap the standard 18-inch alloy wheels for 19s; they also get a unique, darker grille, a lowered suspension and slightly more aggressive bumpers.

How It Drives
The LS' defining attribute remains smoothness, but it misses the target (if barely) of absolute isolation from the road. Road and wind noise are near-silent, and ride quality with the car's base coil suspension is composed over everything but the worst disruptions. Still, broken pavement and manhole covers reveal a degree of disturbance that the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series sedans we've driven filter out. We've also driven an LS with the optional air suspension, and that brings the Lexus closer to its German rivals in terms of outright comfort, but it's still not quite there.

Characteristic of Lexus' silky-smooth steering, the LS' wheel spins as if the rack sat in a tub of butter, even in Lexus' driver-selectable Sport mode. Work the sedan into a turn, and the nose points predictably, but slowly, into corners. The suspension limits body roll after a few degrees of initial wallow, but the movements all seem too gradual for much fun. That keeps with the LS' character, though the F Sport might be more dynamic; rear-drive versions get a limited-slip differential.

Our all-wheel-drive LS 460 had a 360-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8 and eight-speed automatic transmission. In a class plagued by accelerator lag, I welcome the car's predictable pedal response. The drivetrain upshifts seamlessly and provides quiet, steady power, but it shows moments of confusion as you catapult to highway speeds — upshifting too soon from one gear, holding the next too long. The rear-drive LS 460 gets another 26 hp and more torque to boot, but we've driven it, and it's safe to say no LS can match the seat-pinning acceleration of the turbocharged V-8s in the S-Class, 7 Series and Audi A8.

Meticulous attention to detail is a hallmark of top-flight luxury sedans, and the LS doesn't disappoint. Generous, stitched cushioning adorns touch-points like the upper doors and center console. Leather dashboards have many imposters these days, but the LS' cowhide, which can optionally cover lower portions of the dash, looks and feels lush. Even the consistency of materials is impressive, with uniform graining and padding over virtually every inch of the cabin. BMW and Mercedes can't claim that.

Both of those automakers can claim more features, however. The LS does have all manner of available extras, from massaging rear seats to quad-zone climate control, but many of the innovations elsewhere in this segment are unavailable. Massaging front seats, heated armrests, 360-degree cameras and panoramic moonroofs — all offered by one or more competitors — are not available in the Lexus.

In extended-length models, the extra inches translate to just one more inch of backseat legroom, and shoulder room actually decreases half an inch. Fortunately, the regular-length LS is roomy enough, with legroom to spare for adult passengers.

Ergonomics & Electronics
Upgraded for 2015, Lexus' standard Enform system includes app integration for a slew of apps, including Pandora, Slacker and iHeartRadio internet radio services, Bing search and Yelp reviews. Navigation, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, Siri Eyes Free integration, USB/iPod inputs and umpteen stereo speakers are also standard. The standard HD radio can pause, rewind and fast-forward up to 15 minutes; such DVR-like capabilities are spreading to a lot of cars.

Lexus' standard Remote Touch Interface controls the action on a massive, 12.3-inch center screen. It lacks the laptop-style touchpad that Lexus has added to a few models (but now seems to be moving away from in future redesigned models). Some editors have criticized the touchpad harshly.

Mark Levinson premium audio with a CD/DVD changer is optional. We've sampled the system in past LS 460 sedans, however, and it's disappointing.

Cargo & Storage
Typical of a luxury car, cabin storage is marginal. Trunk room, though, is a generous 18 cubic feet. The optional power-adjustable rear seats diminish that space, but Lexus doesn't have specific measurements for that configuration.

In crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the LS earned top scores in moderate-overlap frontal and head-restraint tests. IIHS has not conducted side, roof-strength or small-overlap frontal crash tests.

Standard features include adaptive headlights, a backup camera and eight airbags. Optional rear side-impact airbags and a knee airbag for the optional, passenger-side rear-seat ottoman bring the maximum total to 11. A blind spot monitor, full-speed adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning with auto-braking are optional. Lexus' Advanced Pre-Collision System adds a driver attention monitor and corrective steering movement to keep you in your lane.

Click here to see the LS' standard safety features and here to see our Car Seat Check.

Value in Its Class
The LS steamrolls the competition in one area: reliability. The current generation, which dates back to the 2007 model year, has a squeaky-clean record for dependability. You might find that less important if you're looking to lease the car, but mishaps are still mishaps, and the LS will likely have fewer.

The rear-drive LS starts around $73,500, which ranges from a small discount to a huge savings versus German competitors. Standard features include self-closing doors, heated leather seats with umpteen power adjustments, a moonroof and the multimedia system detailed earlier. The F Sport runs about $8,000 more. Throw in all-wheel drive ($2,945 to $3,485), the extended wheelbase ($6,300 to $6,840, unavailable on the F Sport) and a bevy of four-figure option packages, and the LS can top out well into the $100,000 range.

Still, the car commands transaction prices well below many of its top rivals. The LS is not the best sedan in its class, but it's competitive in many areas, and the value equation should turn some shoppers in Lexus' direction.

2015 Lexus LS 460 Sedan Comparison Reviews

*MSRP and Invoice prices displayed do not include applicable gas taxes or destination charges.