By KBB.com Editors
The 2009 Lexus LS 460 and its long-wheelbase LS 460 L variant represent new benchmarks in both technical sophistication and passenger pampering. The fourth generation of the flagship LS luxury sedan line embodies the kind of innovative features, impeccable build quality and attention to detail that have helped established Lexus as a preeminent power in the premium vehicle segment. In the case of the LS 460 L, additional rear-seat room and an even more compelling selection of standard and optional equipment put it squarely in contention with European prestige sedans, such as the Audi A8L, BMW 750 Li, Jaguar XJ8L and long-wheelbase-only Mercedes-Benz S550.You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a world-class luxury sedan that bristles with technology and delivers a smooth, quiet, comfortable, safe and reliable ride, the 2009 Lexus LS 460 should be on your must-drive list. If you have a chauffeur or just want to further pamper your rear-seat passengers, you'll be better served by the even-more spacious and opulently-appointed LS 460 L.You May Not Like This Car If...
Should your tastes run towards a more aggressive sense of style and overtly sporty handling characteristics, any number of European competitors could well prove a more rewarding choice than either the LS 460 or LS 460 L.What's New for 2009
For 2009, Lexus adds an all-wheel-drive variant as well as standard passenger seat memory function.Driving It Driving Impressions
Both LS 460 variants embody all of the character traits you'd expect in a Lexus luxury sedan. Each excels in smooth, quiet and effortless cruising with little meaningful performance variation to differentiate between standard and stretched models. We noted an occasional bout of tire thump over rough pavement and slight wind whisper at freeway speeds, but overall cabin isolation is outstanding. The engine and transmission pairing also merits high operational marks for responsiveness and the confident feeling that there's always plenty in reserve for freeway passing or emergency maneuvers. While the suspension is far better suited to long-distance cruising than to attacking twisty back roads, it, too, places a premium on keeping things under control, ably assisted by the LS 460's well-sorted Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system.Favorite Features
Eight-speed Automatic Transmission
Fully integrated with the engine's computer controls, this transmission features an exceptionally wide ratio spread that enhances mileage and performance. It delivers quick, seamless upshifts and downshifts both in full automatic mode and when using the manual sport shift feature.
All LS 460s pamper their passengers with superbly supportive and exceptionally adjustable front buckets, plus a roomy, comfortable rear bench. Among the numerous upgrades offered are full climate controls for the front seats, heat and power-recline features for the rear and the four-place LS 460 L-only Executive Class variation that brings a leg rest and built-in back massager.
Refined, comfortable and decently roomy even in standard-wheelbase form, the LS boasts a passenger cabin that makes excellent use of polished wood, brushed aluminum and perforated leather upholstery to create a high-end ambiance. A comprehensive array of power assists, 10-speaker premium audio system with six-disc CD-changer, signature Optitron electroluminescent gauges, legible displays and intuitive control layouts makes for a uniquely enjoyable driving experience. Complementing its additional 4.8 inches of rear legroom, the LS 460 L brings an even richer standard feature set and offers unique options that include executive-style power reclining and massaging rear seat configurations, a rear DVD entertainment system and a dedicated air conditioning package.Exterior
The bodywork of the latest LS Series still has a conservative, albeit contemporary, appearance. Both models share a long-hood and short-deck design, with the LS 460 L's 4.8-inch wheelbase stretch most directly reflected in its longer rear doors, portals that conveniently open extra-wide to permit easier access. The projector-beam headlamps – which Lexus says are inspired by Baccarat crystal – and wraparound taillights meld smoothly into the mix. Equally notable are the heated outside mirrors, large enough to compensate for sightlines that are mildly compromised by prominent C-pillars, which automatically fold in when you shift into Park. While its trunk appears modest from outside, there's a generous 18.0 cubic feet of cargo space in all but the LS 460 L with optional Rear-Seat Upgrade or Executive-Class Seating packages, where a separate rear-seat air conditioning system trims that figure to a still-usable 12.0 cubic feet.Notable Standard Equipment
Highlighting the 2009 Lexus LS 460's extensive standard equipment list are orthopedically-designed power front bucket seats – with 16-way driver and 12-way passenger adjustability, plus an integrated memory function – dual-zone climate control, power moonroof, keyless remote entry and startup, eight airbags, a Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system that includes traction and stability control, anti-lock disc brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Controlled Braking functions and high-intensity discharge headlamps with a corner-following adaptive feature. The LS 460 L adds a host of items that are LS 460 extras, including a voice-activated navigation system, rear-view backup camera, climate-controlled front and heated rear seats and a power rear sunshade.Notable Optional Equipment
Key extras for the 2009 Lexus LS 460 and LS 460 L include a 450-watt/19-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, Pre-Collision system with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, the Intuitive Park Assist that can detect objects in proximity to the car and the Advanced Parking Guidance System with rear-view camera that aids in parallel and back-in parking. While LS 460 buyers can add Comfort and Comfort Plus Packages with supplemental climate controls for the front and rear seats, the LS 460 L offers a similar Luxury Package, a Rear Seat Upgrade, a four-seat Executive Class Seating Package and an Air Suspension Package that includes 19-inch wheels and Variable Gear-Ratio Steering.Under the Hood
The 2009 Lexus LS 460 is fitted with a 4.6-liter V-8 that features variable electronic control of its intake valves and hydraulic control of its exhaust valves to help improve overall efficiency while meeting stringent ULEV II (Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle) standards. While it makes 380 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque in the rear-wheel drive models, and 357 horsepower with 344 pound-feet of torque on all-wheel drive models, the engine earns very impressive 16/24 and 16/23 mpg city/highway EPA fuel economy numbers when backed by the world's first eight-speed automatic transmission. Together, these two smooth operators can send either LS variant from a stop to freeway cruising speed in about six seconds.
380 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
367 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4100 rpm
357 horsepower @ 6400 rpm (AWD)
344 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4100 rpm (AWD)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/24 (RWD), 16/23 (AWD)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a 2009 Lexus LS 460 begins around $64,500, with all-wheel drive adding another $3,500 to the bottom line. The long-wheelbase LS 460 L opens closer to $74,500. Comprehensive option loads can add over $15,000 to either of those figures. Last year, both models sold slightly below their full MSRP, so check the Fair Purchase Prices to see what consumers in your area are currently paying at the dealership. Historically, Lexus vehicles have proven to hold their value very well. The same should hold true for the LS 460 and LS 460 L, which are expected to fare slightly better in projected resale value than key competitors, such as standard or long-wheelbase versions of the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ Series and remain on par with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.