Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
Like Ben Stein dressed in Tour de France bicycle gear, the 2013 Lexus LS looks like a legitimate performer but underneath beats a familiar conservative heart. The Lexus LS 460 F Sport is available for those desirous of more dynamic and visual aggression, if not horsepower, but overall the Lexus LS continues to deliver what its fans truly want, abundant luxury and an insulated ride.
You'll Like The 2013 Lexus LS If...
It could be argued that the 2013 Lexus LS is the most boldly-styled full-size luxury car on the market. Don’t let the edgy look fool you; the LS still delivers the supple ride, comfortable interior and reliability Lexus buyers demand.
You May Not Like The 2013 Lexus LS If...
The newest Lexus LS inches the thrillometer up a notch or two, especially in F Sport trim, but ultimately it still trails such competitors as the BMW 7 Series or Audi A8 when it comes to driving fun.
A sharp-looking exterior refresh, an updated interior, some new technologies and countless less-visible tweaks help contemporize a platform carried over from the 2012 Lexus LS. One feature now missing is the LS’s overly-complicated, seldom-used auto-park feature. Auto park, you will not be missed.
With a cleanly-arranged dash, attractive interior accent lighting and a big 12.3-inch screen controlled by Lexus’ easy-to-use second-generation Remote Touch interface, the interior of the Lexus LS strikes a smart balance between style and functionality. Occupants are treated to comfortably-contoured seats and, especially in the long-wheel base LS 460 L, more than adequate head- and leg room. Buyers of the standard LS 460 have their choice of five unique interior themes. Attractive bamboo trim is reserved for the LS 600h Hybrid while a sporty steering wheel, aluminum interior trim and extra-bolstered seats are found exclusively in the LS 460 F Sport.
A bulging hood, menacing face and a contemporary rear-end treatment make the 2013 Lexus LS sedan the most radical-looking LS to date. Variations from the basic LS 460 body style include the roomier, extended wheel base LS 460 L and the LS 460 F Sport featuring aggressive front and rear fascias and a 10-millimeter-reduced ride height. Standard wheels are 18-inch alloys while the F Sport wears 19-inchers. Available as an option are special wheels featuring a hollow section that reduces tire noise through the technical wonders of science.
Even though the suddenly-sexy LS sedan uses the same suspension, powertrain and chassis found in the previous-generation LS, numerous structural enhancements and suspension tweaks have been incorporated to improve ride and handling. The payoff is a tastefully enhanced rendition of a familiar driving experience. Lexus’ full-size sedan glides lightly over bumps and steers with a casual feel, all the while isolating those inside from the world outside. Meanwhile, a new feature called "Drive Mode Select" lets the driver customize steering, powertrain and suspension settings to personal preference across the sport/comfort spectrum. For a slightly more thrilling ride consider the LS 460 F Sport, which uses a sport-tuned air suspension and Brembo brakes to deliver confident deceleration and noticeably sharper handling. It’s a nice effort but, with no increase in horsepower versus the standard LS 460, we doubt the F Sport package will dazzle real performance enthusiasts.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2013 Lexus LS 460 is over $68,000, for the long-wheelbase LS 460 L it’s just over $74,000 and the hybrid and long-wheelbase version, the LS 460h L is around $114,000. The argument could be made that, in this category, fine details of pricing are of relatively less importance in the overall purchase decision but, to be sure you get the best deal, check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for various models of the Lexus LS. Based upon experience and history, we expect the 2013 Lexus LS to maintain residual values very near the top of the class.
No flagship would be complete without an impressive standard-equipment list. In that theme all LS trims include HID headlights, a 16-way power driver seat, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone front climate control, navigation, parking sensors, a backup camera and a 10-speaker audio system. As for safety, active front headrests, eight airbags and stability control also make the standard-equipment list.
For those unmoved by the Lexus LS’s standard features there are numerous high-end options from which to choose. Highlights include: Heated and cooled seats front and rear, four-zone climate control, an upgraded leather and Alcantara package, rear audio controls and rear side airbags. Among the higher-tech add-ons are automatic high beams, dynamic radar-based cruise control, lane-departure mitigation and a pre-collision detection system that warns of impending crashes, applying the brakes if necessary to minimize impact severity.
MARK LEVINSON SURROUND SOUND SYSTEMNever underestimate the power of music to brighten one’s day. The optional Mark Levinson audio system uses 450 watts of power to drive 19 speakers in a 7.1 arrangement beautifully reproducing sounds from 20 to 20,000 Hertz. For absorbing the brilliance of Yes’ "Owner of a Lonely Heart" we’ve found few better solutions.EXECUTIVE CLASS REAR SEATING PACKAGEVibrating and shiatsu massage, a Blu-Ray entertainment system, wood-trimmed tables and a power recliner in the right-rear position make this a must-have package for high rollers who demand posh transportation between business dealings.
Under the Hood
Other than a modest bump in horsepower for the standard 4.6-liter V8 very little has changed under the hood of the Lexus LS for the 2013 model year. Conventional gasoline-powered models are available with rear or all-wheel drive and shifting duties are still handled by an 8-speed automatic transmission. In the LS 600h L, propulsion is generated by the combined efforts of a 5.0-liter V8, a pair of electric motor/generators, a nickel-metal hydride battery, a continuously-variable transmission and a full-time all-wheel-drive system. All that technology allows the hybrid LS to accelerate as quickly as its non-hybrid counterparts while giving it a 3-mpg advantage in city driving.4.6-liter V8 (rear-wheel drive)386 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm367 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/24 mpg4.6-liter V8 (all-wheel drive)360 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm347 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg5.0-liter V8 Hybrid389 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm385 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpmTotal power: 438 horsepowerEPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/23 mpg
Lexus says that of the 6,000 parts that make up the flagship LS sedan, 3,000 have been changed for the 2013 model update. Of those many new parts arguably the most important is the spindle-shaped grille; a simple but profound addition that trumpets a newfound sense of style for the traditionally conservative LS. It may look edgier but in terms of luxury, ride and amenities the 2013 Lexus LS continues to deliver the dignified indulgence expected in an exclusive class that includes the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.