2004 LS 430 New Car Test Drive
The Lexus LS 430 benefits from substantial engineering upgrades for 2004 that significantly improve what was already a superb luxury car. It's quicker and more sophisticated than last year's model.
The LS 430 is everything a flagship luxury sedan should be. Its ride is silky and its steering is liquid smooth. Its soft suspension and slow steering lead some to believe that the LS 430 doesn't handle well when compared with such European benchmarks as the BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but we haven't found that to be the case. The LS 430 can, in fact, be driven hard, whereupon it reveals lots of grip and very good handling. It boasts a powerful V8 engine, a new six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive, and the latest in active safety technology.
Inside is a beautiful interior with rich wood accents and buttery soft leather, seats so comfortable that you never think about them, and controls that are a paragon of ergonomic excellence. Lexus provides every convenience feature imaginable. Finding failings in this car devolves into whining about bland styling or nitpicking about the lack of inconsequential features such as being able to grind the starter when the engine is running. In other words, the Lexus LS 430 plays its role to near perfection. That role is of a smooth, luxurious sedan that whisks occupants along in supreme comfort, allowing the driver to concentrate on other, more pressing matters than the automobile.
Toyota launched its Lexus luxury channel in fall 1989 with the introduction of the 1990 LS 400, an event that changed the rules for luxury car ownership. The third-generation Lexus LS appeared for 2001.
Model year 2004 brings major changes to the LS 430: revised styling, suspension refinements, safety improvements, and mind-boggling technology. A new six-speed automatic replaces last year's five-speed for improved acceleration performance without sacrificing fuel economy. There are more airbags than ever before (eight) and a system that tightens the seat belts before a crash. There's a tire-pressure monitor, a backup camera, headlights that swivel for seeing around corners, and Dynamic Laser Cruise Control that maintains a set following distance to the car ahead. With Bluetooth technology and SmartAccess, you can unlock the doors, start the car, drive off, and make hands-free phone calls without even pulling your key or your cell phone out of your pocket or purse.
Quality, durability and reliability are Lexus hallmarks. For the seventh consecutive year, the LS 430 ranked highest among luxury cars in the J.D. Power and Associates 2003 Initial Quality Study, a survey of owners after 90 days of ownership. And for the ninth consecutive year, J.D. Power's vehicle dependability study named the LS 430 the most problem-free car after three years of ownership.
Clearly, the Lexus LS 430 is a luxury vehicle that owners do not need to worry about. They can simply enjoy its comfortable ambiance as it whisks them to their destinations.
The Lexus LS 430 ($55,125) is powered by a 290-horsepower 4.3-liter aluminum V8 and comes standard with a new six-speed automatic transmission. The LS 430 comes as one model, loaded with every feature expected of a flagship luxury sedan and more. For 2004, Lexus has added as standard equipment features that were previously optional, including a power moonroof with an auto open/close feature, a power rear sunshade, and lighted rear-seat vanity mirrors.
Several important option packages are available. A Sport Package ($220) sharpens the handling of the LS 430 with a sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch wheels and 245/45R18 summer tires.
In addition to the leather upholstery that comes standard, two grades of leather trim are available as optional, Semi-Aniline ($2,100) and Nappa ($1,460). A Premium Package ($1,390) adds front climate-controlled (heating/cooling) seats, heated rear seats, and sonar-based Intuitive Parking Assist.
A Custom Luxury Package ($5,935) is available with the Mark Levinson audio system, the navigation system with rear back-up camera, Bluetooth, the new Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Intuitive Parking Assist, climate-controlled front seats with fans that circulate heated or chilled air, rear seat heaters, headlamp washers, and power door closers. The aptly named Ultra Luxury Package ($11,320) features all that plus the Adaptive Variable Air Suspension, SmartAccess, rear door sunshades, a rear seat adjuster with memory and massage feature, rear climate-controlled seats, rear air conditioner with optical deodorizer, and other rear-seat features.