By Keith Burton
In the long history of automobiles few actually deserve a place in history. But those that do represent their maker’s achievement in such things as style, power, and grace of operation. Such a car now exists in the 2007 Lexus LS 460, which is arguably the best, and most advanced car ever built.
I say this after spending far too few hours during a recent introduction of the LS 460 at an auto journalist-only event at the picturesque Barnsley Gardens Resort in rural north Georgia. The Lexus 460 felt right at home in the elegant surroundings of charming home-like cabins and manicured vistas.
The LS is the car that built Lexus since the first version wowed buyers over 15 years ago. As most people know today, Lexus is Toyota’s premium vehicle division, and over the years, Lexus has prospered and built a reputation of meticulously crafted vehicles from automobiles to luxury SUV’s.
Lexus has also become a leader in technology. The company offered the first hybrid SUV, for example. But most people will remember the electro-luminescent gauge cluster that first saw its appearance on the original LS. The brilliantly clear panel became a luxury must-have for any manufacture thereafter. But it was the quality and quiet way the earlier Lexus LS cars performed that won fans.
The new Lexus LS 460 is a car brimming with technological firsts. The list is almost too numerous to cite here, but how about this; it has the world’s first 8-speed automatic transmission, and it is the first car in the world that can park itself with a push of a few buttons.
That’s right, the Lexus LS is available with an automatic parking system that will parallel park this large car with no hands. I made a brief video on the car doing just that. (You can access the video clip here.)
The Advanced Parking Guidance System as an option to assist with parallel and back-in parking. Once the driver has correctly positioned the car and identified the desired parking spot via the in-dash navigation screen, the car’s computers utilizes the back-up camera and the parking sonar sensors and electric power steering system to automatically guide the car into the spot, while the driver controls speed via braking. And if you think you can screw it up, the car is smart enough to stop you. At the end of the maneuver a clear female voice of the car’s navigation computer lets you know.
As you might imagine, Lexus, and Toyota, are not companies that make changes without good reason. Some people might consider their vehicles a bit conservative. But not any more.
The new LS is a striking automobile. It is a large sedan with sleek lines and a real presence both on the road and in the driveway. But amazingly, you can still see the first LS in the new version. The look is one of familiarity, not sameness. This is a good thing in this reporter’s eye. Just as Mercedes and BWM have a look that immediately identifies those luxury brands, so does the new LS say, Lexus.
"What is different is the more emotional styling, more power, prestige, and more high-touch and high-tech features that are intuitive and easy to operate," said Deborah Meyer, vice president, Lexus Marketing during our meeting in Georgia.
Lexus officials say the design is a product of what they call L-finesse. The company says L-finesse is “at the same time a simple concept and one that is difficult to explain,” although they try.
According to the company’s press material, “The "L" of L-finesse stands for leading-edge, which Lexus official’s state has been a hallmark of the brand since redefining the luxury automobile market with its launch in 1989. "Finesse" is typified by striking design, with an air of mystery and elegance. L-finesse is everything that can't be measured by numbers and specifications. It is what's intangible about Lexus.
“Using this philosophy, designers sought what they call "incisive simplicity," the removal of extraneous elements to reveal condensed purity and beauty. They also sought "intriguing elegance," a careful juxtaposition of opposing elements that creates an experience filled with depth and a profound, mysterious beauty.”
Okay, so L-Finesse is very esoteric and Japanese, and when we simple reporters were told about L-Finesse I looked around the room and noticed that everyone’s eyes had glazed over a bit. But the result is that the sleek new body and performance of the LS should definitely be a hit. Lexus officials tell me that already dealers have taken enough orders to keep the car on backorder for months.
In order to achieve the combination of acceleration performance and fuel consumption targets, the Lexus LS 460 has an all-new 4.6-liter V8 producing 380 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque, the innovative V8—Lexus' first all-new V8 engine since the brand's launch—features the world's first electric-motor driven Variable Valve Timing with intelligence and electronically controlled intake cam. The dual VVT-i combination of electrically controlled intake and hydraulically controlled exhaust contributes to the engine’s smooth startup operation and high-output performance.
Lexus officials say that the new 4.6-liter V8 achieves new levels of rotational balance and reduced friction. A mirror-like finish is polished on specific areas of the crankshaft to minimize the friction generated between the pistons and the crankshaft. In the final assembly stage, a motor cranks the engine to check for any vibration; after assembly, an accelerometer is mounted to the front and rear of the crankshaft to measure any rotational difference. A master technician also conducts a final vibration and sound check on each engine.
There are three models of the new Lexus LS 460. The standard model, the extended wheelbase model, or LS 460 L, and a sport’s touring version. All are very well equipped, but there are differences in options and standard equipment. Some time next year, Lexus will introduce a fourth version, with hybrid technology, which will be the most expensive and powerful car the company has ever produced.
You see, Lexus and hybrids don’t just mean fuel efficiency. It means more power. But how much is still in the future, but look for combine horsepower figures well above 400.
You would expect the LS 460 to coddle passengers, but for folks that want to be really ensconced in luxury, the Executive Class Seating Package is what you want. This package includes a rear-seat entertainment system featuring the world's first ceiling-mounted 3.0 VGA high-quality display with a nine-inch screen, which operates with an electronic-motor open/close function.
In addition, a four-zone independent front and rear A/C with air purification and the world's first ceiling climate diffusers, rear-door power sunshades with a fixed rear console and foldout table, and a right rear-seat recliner with ottoman leg rest. A multi-function massage feature includes an enhanced massage mode for the right-rear seat, just right to work out those executive-type cramps. Created through the use of eight small airbags operated by a compressor in the trunk, it can be used separately or in conjunction with the seat heater and cooler.
While the standard rear seat has a built-in 28-degree angle, the available ottoman seat reclines up to 45 degrees with Lexus' first upper-back recliner featuring a 17-degree angle adjustment. In addition, the available left-rear power seat also reclines 38 degrees, and the rear seat moves front to back approximately three inches. The climate control is further upgraded with three infrared sensors located in the headliner that measure the lap, upper body and seat on each side and then adjust airflow appropriately. It is luxury overkill, but it makes the back seats the place to be.
ON THE ROAD
Driving the new LS is also impressive. Serene and composed when you want, and then furious with infinite control when you want to get rowdy. Steering feel with the new electric power steering is precise and has excellent feel. The resistance varies with speed but at all times it has a creamy elegance to the feel. There is no hesitancy and on-center control is spot-on. It is a very pleasant car to drive and you can easily find yourself well-over the speed limit as it is so smooth and quiet. Wind and road noise is virtually absent.
The LS 460 will travel from 0-to-60 miles per hour in approximately 5.4 seconds. This is very fast and inline with its main competitors from Mercedes and BMW. With that level of performance, the new LS is estimated at 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway by the EPA testing method. Lexus is targeting an Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle II (ULEV II) rating for the LS.
While pricing has not been revealed at the time of this story’s writing, Lexus officials did say that they would be competitive with the other luxury brands, you know, the afore-mentioned Mercedes and BMW.
Overall the new LS 460 is a new benchmark in automobiles. The sophistication of its design and comfort represent more than a synthesis of engineering skill and technology. The car, while technically a wonder, doesn’t miss what a true luxury car should do, that is, provide a superior driving and riding experience. - Keith Burton
2007 LS 460/LS 460 L Specifications
EXTERIOR DIMENSIONS LS 460 LS 460 L
Wheelbase 116.9 in. 121.7 in.
Overall Length 198.0 in. 202.8 in.
Overall Width 73.8 in.
Overall Height (unloaded; with coil
- with optional air suspension N/A 57.7 in.
Tread Width - Base: Front/Rear 18” wheels – 63.5 in./63.5 in.
- with optional air suspension N/A
18” wheels – 63.5 in./63.7
19” wheels – 63.3 in./63.4
Ground Clearance 6.1 in.
- with optional air suspension N/A 5.7 in.
INTERIOR DIMENSIONS LS 460 LS 460 L
Seating Capacity 5 5
- with Executive Class Seat Package N/A 4
Headroom - Front (with moonroof—standard) 38.0 in. 38.0 in.
- Rear (with moonroof—standard) 38.0 in. 38.0 in.
Shoulder Room - Front 58.5 in. 58.5 in.
- Rear 56.9 in. 56.4 in.
Hip Room - Front 55.4 in. 55.4 in.
- Rear 55.5 in. 55.5 in.
Couple Distance 40.7 in. 45.5 in.
EPA Cargo Volume
- with rear A/C
18.0 cu. ft.
18.0 cu. ft.
12.0 cu. ft.
WEIGHTS AND CAPACITIES LS 460 LS 460 L
Curb Weight 4,244 lbs. 4,332 lbs.
- with air suspension
Weight Distribution – Percent Front/Rear 52:48 52:48
Fuel Capacity 22.2 gal. 22.2 gal
2007 LS 460/LS 460
Type, Materials V8, aluminum block and heads
Valvetrain DOHC, 32 valve with Variable Valve Timing with
intelligence and Electronically controlled intake
Displacement 4.6 liter
Bore x Stroke 3.70 in. x 3.27 in. (94.0 mm x 83.0 mm)
Compression Ratio 11.8:1
Horsepower 380 hp @ 6,400 rpm
Torque 367 lb.-ft. @ 4,100 rpm
Maximum Engine Speed (redline) 6,400 rpm
Fuel System Electronically controlled sequential fuel injection;
Electronic Throttle Control System with intelligence
Fuel Requirement 91 octane Premium unleaded gasoline
Emission Certification (manufacturer’s estimate) ULEV II
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type 8-speed sequential shift automatic
Gear Ratios 1st 4.596
Final Drive 2.937
CHASSIS AND BODY
Suspension - Front Aluminum Intensive Multi-link, double joint
- Rear Aluminum Intensive Multi-link, double joint
Steering - Type Rack and pinion, Electric Power Steering (EPS)
- Overall Ratio 11.6-16.6:1 (with 18 in. wheel)
11.7-16.7:1 (with 19 in. wheel)
- Turns (lock to lock) 3.2 (2.5-3.6 w/ VGRS)
- Turning Circle (curb to curb) 35.4 ft. (LS 460)
36.0 ft. (LS 460 L)
Brakes - Type Antilock Braking System (ABS); Electronic Control
Brakes (ECB); all systems integrated with Vehicle
Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) System
- Front Four-piston calipers, ventilated discs, power assisted
- Rear Two-piston calipers, ventilated discs, power assisted
Anti-lock Braking System 4 channel, 4 sensor
Wheel Size/Type 18 x 7.5 J aluminum alloy wheels
- Optional 19 x 8.0 J aluminum alloy wheels (with Touring
Tire Size/Type 235/50R18 V all season
- Optional 245/45R19 Y summer (Touring Package)
Spare Tire and Wheel 235/50R 18 with alloy wheel
Top Track Speed (electronically limited) 130 mph (210 km/h)
Manuf. Est. Fuel ratings SWB: 19 mpg city/27 mpg highway (22 mpg comb.)
LWB: 18 mpg city/27 highway (21 mpg comb.)
Coefficient of Drag (Cd) 0.26
STANDARD EXTERIOR FEATURES
Overall Exterior Styling/Body Design
All-new styling with L-finesse design cues
Long, sleek cabin with stance that hugs the ground and front/rear views that emphasize the elegant
cabin silhouette (longer, wider, lower)
Ultra deep drawn fenders
One-piece chrome window surround featuring “slingshot” design and “arrowhead” detail
Integrated dual-chrome exhaust tips
Xenon High-Intensity Discharge (HID) integrated headlamps (low beam)
Poly-ellipsoid headlamp system with crystal lens
Integrated fog lamps
Arrowhead-shaped parking lamps and wrap-around L-shaped taillights
Thin profile-integrated LED high-mount stop lamp; LED brake, tail and license plate lights
Heated electrochromic outside rearview mirrors with puddle lamps (mounted on the underside of
mirror housing), and power folding function
Body Structure and Paint
High-strength steel alloy and ultra-high strength sheet metal used in body structure
Aluminum crush boxes reduces damage from light impact and improves serviceability
Body hand-sanded twice during the application of alternating layers of paint and coatings
Acoustic glass windshield
Thinsulate insulation for more effective sound absorption
Elimination of lead additive in paints, coatings and ceramic components
Narrow and precise body panel gaps
Laminated side window glass (standard on LS 460 L)
Exterior colors (all 3-4 coat multi-bake process): Smoky Granite Mica, Mercury Metallic, Starfire Pearl,
Verdigris Mica, Obsidian, Golden Almond Metallic, Noble Spinel Mica, Black Sapphire Pearl
Headlamp washers (standard on LS 460 L)
Power door closers (standard on LS 460 L)
One-touch open/close power trunk lid with jam protection (standard on LS 460 L)
STANDARD INTERIOR FEATURES
Grain-matched wood trim for center console, dash and door panels
Wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel
Interior leather/wood trim colors: Cashmere/Medium Brown Walnut, Alabaster/Dark Brown Ash Burl,
Light Grey/Dark Gray Birds-eye Maple, Black/Medium Brown Walnut
Carpeted floor mats
L-finesse inspired design theme
16-way power driver seat and 12-way power front seats
Three-position memory system for driver seat
Power seatbelt shoulder height adjusters for front passengers
Climate-controlled front seats and heated rear seats (standard on LS 460 L)
Instrumentation and Controls
SmartAccess with push-button start/stop
Electroluminescent (Optitron®) gauges
Gated shifter with sequential sport-shift mode
Electrochromic inside mirror
HomeLink® programmable garage door opener
Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio, brake hold function and multi-information display
New TFT (Thin Film Transistor) color multi-information display indicates: driving range of remaining
fuel in tank, average fuel consumption, average fuel consumption since refueling, current fuel
consumption, average speed since vehicle started, outside temperature, elapsed time, Dynamic
Radar Cruise Control settings (if equipped) and maintenance/diagnostic messages.
Power tilt-and-slide moonroof with one-touch closure
Dual-zone front climate control with smog sensor and automatic recirculation control
LED interior lighting with spot-lamp illumination in front and rear
Body heat sensor that helps maintain desired temperature for all occupants
Charcoal-activated clean air dust and pollen filter
First aid kit
Heated steering wheel (standard on LS 460 L)
Power rear sunshade (standard on LS 460 L)
Individual vanity mirrors in rear seat area
30 GB Hard Disc Drive (HDD) Navigation System with voice activation, Bluetooth® (including steering
wheel controls), rear back-up camera (standard on LS 460 L)
STANDARD AUDIO SYSTEM
XM Satellite Radio with real-time traffic displays and dynamic rerouting (standard on LS 460 L)
Lexus Premium Audio
Six-disc in-dash CD changer
Digital Sound Processor (DSP)
Automatic Sound Levelizer (ASL)
Electronic crossover network
10 speakers including subwoofer
MP3/iPod® audio input plug
Plays MP3/WMA-formatted audio discs
STANDARD SAFETY AND SECURITY
Dual stage driver and front passenger airbags
Front passenger twin-chamber airbag
Curtain shield airbags
Side airbags for driver and front passenger
Knee airbags for driver and front passenger
Force limiters and seatbelt pretensioners
3-point seatbelts and headrests for all three rear seating positions
Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS)
Direct-type Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Optional Advanced Parking Guidance System with Intuitive Park Assist (LS 460 requires
Front-passenger occupant classification system
STANDARD MECHANICAL FEATURES
8-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift
Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-iE) with electrically controlled intake
Direct Ignition System (DIS)
Acoustic Control Induction System (ACIS)
Aluminum block and cylinder heads with magnesium cylinder covers
High-grade plastic water jackets to improve cylinder cooling and performance
Electric Power Steering (EPS)
Electronic Parking Brake and brake hold function
Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system
Hollow tube camshafts to reduce weight and increase efficiency
Liquid-filled engine mounts to reduce noise and vibration
Increased use of aluminum in suspension components
FACTORY OPTIONS – LS 460
Navigation with Bluetooth®, rear back-up camera and XM Satellite Radio capability with real-time traffic
displays and dynamic rerouting
Mark Levinson® Reference Surround Audio with 19 speakers, 450 watts of power and less than 0.1% Total
Harmonic Distortion (THD). Includes DVD/CD changer and 30 GB Hard Disc Drive (HDD) Audio
Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
Advanced Parking Guidance System (requires Intuitive Park Assist)
Intuitive Park Assist (IPA)
One-Touch Open/Close Power Trunk with Power Door-Closer
• Front climate control seats (heated and cooled)
• Rear seat heaters
• Heated steering wheel
• Headlamp washers
• Rear power sunshade
Comfort Plus Package
• Includes Comfort Package
• Rear power seats with power headrests
• Rear side airbags
• Rear climate control seats
FACTORY OPTIONS – LS 460 L
Mark Levinson® Reference Surround Sound audio with 19 speakers, 450 watts of power and less than 0.1%
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD). Includes DVD/CD changer and 30 GB Hard Disc Drive (HDD) Audio
Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
Advanced Parking Guidance System (APGS requires Intuitive Park Assist)
Intuitive Park Assist (IPA)
3-Mode Air Suspension with Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS)
• Rear power seats with power headrests and memory
• Rear side airbags
• Rear climate control seats (heated and cooled)
• Semi-aniline leather seating surfaces with additional leather trim on armrests
• Ecsaine headliner
Rear Seat Upgrade
• All options from Luxury Package
• Dual-zone rear A/C with air purifier, additional rear air ducts and ceiling-mounted air diffuser with
additional wood trim
• Rear Cool Box
• Power rear door sunshades (two per window)
• Rear audio control panel
Executive Class Seating Package*
• All options from Luxury Package and Rear Seat Upgrade Package
• 4-person seating configuration with fixed console and retractable table with wood trim
• 45-degree power recline right rear seat with multifunction massage and leg rest
• Rear seat DVD Entertainment System with power-opening 9-inch VGA screen
• Leather trim for lower instrument panel
• -Infrared rear-seat body-temperature sensors
*Requires Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound System, IPA or APGS, and air suspension with VGRS
• Sport-tuned air suspension
• 19” five-spoke wheels with 245/45YR summer tires
• Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS)
• High-friction brake pads with larger high-performance rotors