The so-called "spindle grille" that defines the nose of the 2013 Lexus LS is, geometrically speaking, just a square with the sides drawn in. But the message expressed by that fancy square is an important one: that the perpetually conservative Lexus LS has a previously unseen wild side. Kind of like finding Bruce from accounting wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt.
Before diving into the wild let's discuss the mild, as in mild refresh. Underneath the 2013 model's skin are the same chassis, suspension and powertrain choices found on the previous-generation LS. To make the most of the existing running gear Lexus incorporated a multitude of updates throughout the vehicle, tuning the suspension and reinforcing the body structure to improve ride and handling. Lexus has also increased the output of the standard 4.6-liter V8 engine to 386 horsepower in rear-drive cars and 359 horsepower in all-wheel drive cars, bumps of six and two horsepower respectively. The 5.0-liter V8, nickel metal hydride battery and continuously variable transmission motivating the LS 600h all-wheel-drive hybrid carryover essentially unchanged, as does the 8-speed automatic handling shifting duties in the non-hybrid LS 460.
The big changes for 2013 occur in places buyers can see and touch. For example, inside there are comfy new seats, a smartly revised, less-cluttered dash featuring a big 12.3-inch screen, a second-generation "Remote Touch" interface for controlling navigation, audio and climate functions, plus a new "flaxen" interior theme that looks really hip. Enhanced comfort and usability in the cabin are lovely, but likely to draw the most attention is the updated exterior, where a bulging hood, visually wider rear-end treatment and the previously mentioned spindle grille conspire to make this the most radical design ever to sport an LS badge.
Take all the old and new bits that make up the 2013 Lexus LS, put them in motion, and the experience is pretty much what LS owners know and love. The LS is still a car that glides lightly over bumps and steers with a similarly casual feel, all the while isolating those inside from what's happening outside. We don't doubt that the countless improvements made to the suspension and chassis have improved handling but the result isn't an utterly transformed LS, rather a tasteful enhancement of the familiar.
While the traditional LS 460 remains suited for shuffling executives, either in the driver's seat or in back, there is a more dynamic LS available now in the form of the Lexus LS 460 F Sport. The F Sport ups the fun quotient stylistically with a sportier interior, revised front and rear fascias, and a 10-millimeter lower stance. That last element hints at the dynamic potential afforded by the F Sport's performance-tuned air suspension. We can attest to the fact that the LS F Sport turns with an eagerness and immediacy not found in the regular LS. The LS 460 F Sport also features powerful Brembo brakes, a Torsen limited-slip rear differential, paddle shifters, improved handling and a dynamic exterior to the performance game, but it doesn't offer increased horsepower.
Which brings us back to where we started: Bruce from accounting wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt. It's an unexpected change in persona but dangit he's still crunching the numbers and getting the job done. Good for him, expressing himself like he does. And so it goes for the Lexus LS. This whole spindle grille treatment is unfamiliar on Lexus' traditionally restrained full-size luxury sedan, but the car still floats well-to-do elite where they need to go, with no fuss or drama.
You know what? Good for the Lexus LS, we're happy it's exploring its wild side.