The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The luxurious interior and supreme comfort of the Lexus LS make it a wonderful car to drive and to be driven in.
Reasons to buy:
- Luxurious interior
- Great V8 performance
- Impressive safety kit
How good does it look?
Lexus is still carving its family look. Its rivals have long-established brand identities, but the Lexus LS is only now beginning to look like a Lexus. There’s no hiding the fact it is a vast car; and the long wheelbase version we tested measures more than five metres in length and almost 1.9 metres in width – longer and wider than a Range Rover. The styling is more subtle than the traditional Jaguar XJ and thoroughly modern BMW 7 Series, but is very elegant. It’s the kind of car you know will have genuine limousine abilities just by looking at it.
What's the interior like?
The Lexus LS saloon appears to bristle with technology. Switches and screens beam back at the driver from all angles. The dials illuminate like something from Star Trek, but are crystal clear with the bright white lighting contrasting with the black background. The wood trims are highly polished, and as a result cease to look like genuine wood. Those looking for a more modern feel will be disappointed with the lack of materials other than wood.
How practical is it?
There’s no shortage of space in the LS’ cabin, and the long wheelbase version offers enormous amounts of legroom. The LS is a car to be driven in, and some models feature rear air conditioning and electrically-operated rear seats. The LS600h RSR has the option of a massage pack. The front is also suitably spacious, and there’s lots of space for storage around the cabin area. For a big car, the 500-litre boot isn’t exceptional, but should the rear air-conditioning be specified, reduces to 385 litres, while space in the LS600h is 330 litres due to the battery packs location.
What's it like to drive?
The Lexus LS is tuned for ride rather than handling. It doesn’t have BMW levels of driver involvement, but the ride is one of the best available at any price. The steering lacks feel due to its electric power steering, rather than a more engaging hydraulic setup, but the LS can still be hustled through bends at speed. The suspension has three modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport. Comfort allows the car to waft along, soaking up pretty much any bump the UK’s scarred roads can offer, while Sport is much firmer meaning road imperfections are transmitted into the cabin.
How powerful is it?
The LS460 is the quickest of the two models in the LS range. It can reach 62mph in 5.7 seconds before running on to a limited 155mph top speed. Power comes from a 375bhp 4.6-litre V8 which develops an impressive 486lb/ft of torque. The Lexus LS600h we tested is powered by a 5-litre V8, which also produces 375bhp, but develops a colossal 513lb/ft of pulling power. The hybrid technology produces the equivalent of 221bhp and 221lb/ft of pulling power adding to performance matching to a 600bhp car, hence the name.
How much will it cost me?
The Lexus LS is an expensive piece of kit, ranging from nearly £60,000 to just under £90,000 and it’ll retain around 45 per cent of its price after three years/36,000 miles. But official fuel consumption figures for the hybrid versions are 30.4mpg, while the 4.6-litre model covers 25.4mpg. Insurance is predictably expensive, ranging from group 18 to 20, but emissions for the hybrid are exceptionally low – just 219g/km, which means it falls into tax band F. The 4.6 version emits 261g/km which means it attracts the highest tax bills in band G.
How reliable is it?
Lexus has just about the best reputation for building bomb-proof cars there is, and the LS saloon feels every bit as solid as its other models.
How safe is it?
The boasts some of the best safety kit in its class. It features Lexus’ Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management which encompasses electronically-controlled braking, ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control and stability control. It comes with a rear pre-crash safety system which moves the headrests towards the occupants head should it detect a potential rear-end collision, an obstacle detection which monitors the road ahead for pedestrians, animals and other obstacles. Ten airbags are fitted as standard; two each for the front occupants, front side, rear side as well as curtain and knee airbags for the front.
How much equipment do I get?
Given the Lexus LS’ considerable price tag, there’s an impressive amount of equipment. All models feature water repellent glass, electric soft-shut doors, bright high-intensity discharge headlamps with washers, automatic parking, voice activated sat-nav, audio and telephone controls, 11-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, rear sunshade, retracting steering wheel for easy entry and exit and heated rear seats. And that’s in addition to all the usual equipment, such as climate control, electric windows, mirrors, keyless entry, electric seats and so on.
Supreme ride comfort is the single most impressive thing about the Lexus LS. The way it soaks up bumps is staggering. And the hybrid LS600h allows the driver and occupants to revel in its environmental benefits over other similar-sized luxury cars.