2011 LS 600h New Car Test Drive
The Lexus LS is a superb luxury car. Extremely quiet and extraordinarily smooth underway, it is easy to drive and operate. It's less fussy than the German luxury cars. Equipped with a powerful V8 engine and 8-speed automatic, the Lexus LS 460 delivers excellent performance. While not squishy, the LS tilts more to the luxury side of the equation than the sporty side, favoring a nice, smooth ride over a firm suspension with sharp handling.
The Lexus LS is packed with luxury and bristles with technology. The LS 460 was the first car in the world with a computer-controlled 8-speed automatic transmission.
The LS 460 L is a long-wheelbase version that offers reclining heated bucket seats, a cool box, dual-zone rear HVAC controls, a folding table, an ottoman, a shiatsu massager and, of course, DVD with wireless headphones.
The 4.6-liter V8 can propel the LS 460 from 0-60 mph in a mere 5.4 seconds, according to Lexus, yet it gets an EPA-rated 24 mpg Highway. The 8-speed automatic is super smooth and plays a big role in the fuel-economy story. The electrically powered steering system adjusts according to speed. Ride quality is exemplary, and handling is perfectly capable. It doesn't get any smoother than the Lexus LS and it meets every expectation for refinement and luxury.
The Lexus LS 600h L employs a hybrid powertrain using a 5.0-liter V8 and electric motors rated at 438 total system horsepower. The LS 600h L delivers EPA fuel economy ratings of 19/23 mpg City/Highway. The LS 600h L is certified as a Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV). The LS 600h L comes with all-wheel drive and rides on the long wheelbase.
All-wheel drive is available on the non-hybrid models, also, and it features a Torsen limited-slip center differential to distribute torque between the front and rear tires. Normally, the front-to-rear torque split is set at 40:60 but it can vary between 30:70 and 50:50 depending on driving conditions. The bottom line is stable traction in any conditions.
The rear-wheel-drive Lexus LS 460 offers a Sport Package that adds air suspension, firmer stabilizer bars and shocks, 245/45R19 all-season tires on 19-inch wheels, Brembo brakes, a body aero kit, perforated Black/Saddle leather upholstery with sport front seats, a unique leather-trimmed steering wheel and paddle shifters. An Appearance Package consists of just the Sport Package's aero kit and grille.
The current-generation LS 460 was launched for the 2007 model year; the LS 600h joined the line for 2008. The 2010 model year brought significant styling revisions and technology upgrades.
For 2011, an adaptive air suspension is available for rear-wheel-drive models. All 2011 Lexus vehicles come with Smart Stop Technology, which automatically reduces engine power when the brake pedal and the accelerator pedal are applied simultaneously under certain driving conditions.
The Lexus LS challenges the best luxury sedans in the world. It competes with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class, BMW 5 Series and 7 Series, Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ, among others. Compared to those cars, it is more affordably priced while also offering top levels of quality, dependability and reliability. If you desire a smooth and comfortable large luxury sedan, the Lexus LS is hard to beat.
The 2011 Lexus LS lineup includes the LS 460, the long-wheelbase LS 460 L, and the LS 600h L hybrid, a long-wheelbase model with all-wheel drive and a gas-electric powertrain. The LS 460 models are powered by a 4.6-liter V8 that makes 380 horsepower with rear-wheel drive and 357 hp with all-wheel drive. The LS 600h L uses a 5.0-liter V8 mated to a pair of electric motors. Total output is 438 horsepower. LS 460 models have an 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability, while the LS 600h L uses a continuously variable automatic transmission.
Lexus LS 460 ($65,380) and LS 460 AWD ($67,685) come with leather upholstery; dual-zone automatic climate control; interior air filter; power tilt/telescoping wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; cruise control; 16-way power adjustable driver's seat; 12-way power front passenger seat; heated front seats; memory for the driver's seat, steering wheel and mirrors; power windows, locks, and heated mirrors; keyless access and starting; sunroof; AM/FM stereo with six-disc CD changer, XM satellite radio, auxiliary input jack, and iPod adaptor; Bluetooth wireless cell phone link; rearview camera; trip computer; auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass; outside temperature indicator; universal garage door opener; rain-sensing wipers; automatic headlights; fog lights; adaptive xenon headlights; and P235/50R18 tires on alloy wheels. AWD models also get a heated steering wheel.
An Adaptive Variable Air Suspension ($2,120) constantly adjusts damping rates based on the road surface; it comes with electronic variable-ratio power steering. The Sport Package ($6,185) adds black and saddle tan perforated leather upholstery, heated steering wheel with shift paddles, matt dark brown ash burl interior trim, sport front bucket seats, unique front spoiler and grille, rocker panel extensions, a sport version of the air suspension, Brembo brakes, 10-spoke forged aluminum wheels, and P245/45R19 tires. Other options for LS 460 include the Comfort Package ($2,185) with front and rear park assist, heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, power door and trunk closers, power rear sunshade, and headlight washers; the Comfort Plus Package ($5,125) includes the Comfort Package plus rear side airbags and heated and cooled power rear seats with massage and memory features. The Cold Weather Package ($100) includes a heavy-duty heater, a wiper deicer, and a heavy-duty battery. Several navigation packages are available, from relatively basic ($965) to max-zoot with Mark Levinson audio ($3,745).
The LS 460 L ($70,925) and LS 460 L AWD ($73,230) feature heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, front and rear park assist, power door and trunk closers, power rear sunshade, self-dimming headlights, and headlight washers. A Luxury Package for the 460 L ($980) upgrades to semi-aniline leather upholstery, power side sunshades, and an Alcantara headliner. The Rear Seat Upgrade Package ($4,865) includes rear side airbags, rear dual-zone automatic climate control, upgraded leather upholstery, power heated and cooled rear seat with memory and massage, power headrests, rear seat cool box, rear radio controls, power side sunshades, and an Alcantara headliner. Other options for L models include a Mark Levinson sound system ($2,080), the Adaptive Variable Air Suspension with variable-ratio power steering ($2,120), P245/45R19 all-season tires ($865), and hands-free self-parking ($700).
The LS 600h L ($110,000) comes with the navigation system with voice recognition and real-time traffic information; Lexus Enform assistance; the self-parking feature; a 19-speaker, 450-watt Mark Levinson audio system; Alcantara headliner; LED headlights; adjustable Adaptive Variable Air Suspension; and P245/45R19 tires. A Premium Luxury Package ($5,280) is similar to the Rear Seat Upgrade for the LS 460 L.
The Executive Class Seating Package, available on the LS 600h L ($10,835) and LS 460 L ($13,200) adds rear side airbags, rear dual-zone automatic climate control with body-temperature sensors, interior air filers, two-place heated and cooled rear seats with memory and massage, power rear headrests, fixed rear center console, right rear power reclining seat with leg rest and massage, right rear seat fold-down tray, rear DVD entertainment system, and rear radio controls.
Safety equipment includes dual front airbags, front side airbags, curtain side airbags, front knee airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake assist, traction control, electronic stability control, active front head restraints, tire-pressure monitor, rearview camera, and adaptive headlights that point into turns. An optional Pre-Collision System ($1,500) comes with adaptive cruise control. It retracts the seatbelts, sounds a warning for the driver, closes the windows and sunroof, firms up the suspension, adjusts the steering ratio and readies brake assist when the computers detect an impending collision. An Advanced Pre-Collision System ($5,800), available only on the long-wheelbase models, also adds Lane Keep Assist, a driver attention monitor, and object recognition cameras. All-wheel drive improves safety in slippery conditions.