2003 LS 430 New Car Test Drive
At once a deluxe limousine and high-performance touring car, the Lexus LS 430 delivers quick acceleration and agile handling along with features designed to take the work out of driving.
Consumers and experts alike have hailed the LS 430 as a benchmark for high-tech luxury in a meticulously crafted sedan. The flagship Lexus offers every luxury amenity we could want, plus a few we would never have imagined. It presents a very real example of everything technology makes possible, with systems that out-think and out-perform lesser cars and, in some cases, lesser drivers. Its functional aerodynamics and exacting quality control lead the rest of the world industry.
The third-generation Lexus LS appeared for the 2001 model year, and sailed unchanged through 2002. Changes for 2003 are minor. Fashionably larger 17-inch wheels are now standard.
The LS 430 retails for $54,405. That figure buys a premium, full-size sedan loaded with sophisticated mechanical equipment, extensive safety systems and luxurious appointments. The sole engine, a four-cam, 4.3-liter aluminum V8, produces 290 horsepower and mates to an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission.
Order the $6,895 Custom Luxury Selection, and the factory adds a list of hardware that reads like science fiction: laser-guided cruise control, sonar-based Intuitive Parking Assist, a navigation system that triangulates by satellites and coordinates with a DVD-powered data base, and an adaptive electronically controlled suspension that rides on air rather than springs. Climate-control front seats house a fan that circulates either heated or chilled air, and the rear seats are electrically heated. A power-operated sunscreen shades the backs of rear passenger's necks, while laminated side glass provides additional protection from exterior noise and weather. Gently push the doors toward their closed position, and power door closers pull them shut. A power moonroof is included as well, along with a Mark Levinson audio system.
Or opt for the aptly named Ultra Luxury Selection ($12,485), and get all that plus front air seats with memory and message, and Lexus Link communications with one year of service. Rear-seat passengers can relax with their own air conditioning and air filtration system, plus electric seatback adjustment, memory control and a power lumbar massage, and manual rear side sunshades. And for an additional $1,460 Ultra Luxury buyers can upgrade their upholstery from lesser leather the Ecru Nappa hides.
Climate Control seats and Intuitive Parking Assist are now available as stand-alone options. Base models ordered with the Climate Control seats feature perforated leather trim throughout the interior. The moonroof ($1,100) and the Mark Levinson audio system ($3,980) are also available as standalones.