Gaining a good deal more contemporary appeal in addition to a new level of dynamic performance, the 2013 Lexus LS Series made its first semi-public appearance at a special VIP event held in San Francisco. As indicated by the earlier LS Series teaser image, the flagship of the automaker's sedan fleet was brought fully up to latest visual spec courtesy of a comprehensive nose and tail recasting while the introduction of a new F Sport variant puts a welcome enthusiast edge on what has long been an ultra-sophisticated but resolutely conservative package. As previously indicated, the 2013 LS Series will be available in LS 460, long-wheelbase LS 460L and LS 600hL hybrid configurations as well as the new LS 460 F Sport. The LS 460 and LS 460L are available in either rear- or all-wheel drive while the LS 600h L Hybrid is AWD only.

Although the basic LS platform has not changed in scale -- wheelbase and track dimensions for all variants remain identical to the 2012 models -- it has gone up in sophistication. Over 3,000 changes were made to the package, including increasing its body rigidity to help both handling precision and stability. New frequency-dependent adaptive dampers enhance ride comfort on both the conventional chassis as well as on the optional air-suspension that also includes variable gear ratio steering (VGRS) -- an LS 600h L standard. In addition to tweaking the steering and braking systems to deliver better response and feel, the new LS adds a new Drive Mode Select feature. With five unique settings, (Eco/Comfort/Normal/Sport S/Sport S+) it allows the driver to fine-tune the vehicle's overall response characteristics with respect to economy, comfort, performance and handling.

For those seeking the ultimate LS experience, the new F Sport package complements its lowered, custom-tuned version of the air suspension/VGRS with Brembo brakes -- and a Torsen limited-slip differential on rear-drive models. It also replaces the baseline 18-inch alloys wrapped in 235/50 all-season tires with 19-inch forged alloys that mount 245/45 all-season or summer rubber.

Lexus didn't comment on exactly how many of the body panels are new, but even at a glance, the 2013 LS Series displays a whole lot more presence in all forms. The boldly rendered front clip frames the division's now-signature spindle grille with Xenon HID headlamps -- or full LED units on the 600h L -- plus LED fog lamps and daytime running lamps while a sculpted hood adds even more edge. Revised side sills lead back to a fully recast rear section that gains a new fascia, decklid and valence panel along with a more dynamic looking diffuser that includes integrated dual exhaust tips while the LS 600h L Hybrid adds its own "blue-themed" cosmetic enhancements as well a unique 19-inch wheel/tire package.

The LS Series powertrains carry over unchanged for 2013, the sophisticated 4.6-liter V8 making 386 horsepower in rear-drive models and 360 in AWD variants and backed by an 8-speed automatic transmission that adds paddle shifters in the F Sport. Motivation for the 2013 LS 600h L remains a 5.0-liter V8 teamed with the two-motor Lexus Hybrid Drive system, a combo that makes 438 total horsepower and sends it to all four wheels via an electronically controlled CVT automatic transmission.

Like the exterior, the cabin of the 2013 Lexus LS Series has been remade to add a new level of style and intuitive user-friendliness that reflects the same kind of design thinking seen in the GS Series. Beyond elegant wood and leather furnishings, the wide-ranging and impressive roster of LS standards is highlighted by a Lexus HDD Navigation system/multimedia display with 12.3-inch/high-res split screen, 10-speaker premium sound system, Lexus Enform with App Suite plus Safety Connect with automatic Collision Notification, transitional LED ambient lighting, Intuitive Park Assist and a backup camera.

The F Sport nets its own custom interior touches in the form of more deeply bolstered sport seats, aluminum pedals, unique door sill plates and the aforementioned shifter paddles and special trim accents while the LS 600h L goes for a more luxurious feel that brings things like supple semi-aniline leather on model-specific heated/cooled seats and the 19-speaker/450-watt Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound audio package. Most of the LS 600h L kit is optional on the other LS models, which also offer a variety of trim and feature groups, including the Executive-Class Seating Package that's available on all LS family members and brings 4-zone climate control, rear-seat DVD with Blu-ray player, a power ottoman seat with massage function and more.

Other primo LS extras include the new Lexus Climate Concierge that includes the 4-zone A/C system and can automatically and individually regulate the cabin temperature for each occupant but also control the seat and steering wheel temps as well as the Lexus Pre-Collision System (PCS) with all-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and an Advanced Pre-Collision System with Driver Attention Monitor and Collision Avoidance Assist. That latter feature is designed to help a driver avoid or mitigate impacts with vehicles and pedestrians under a wide range speed and traffic conditions and can automatically bring the LS to a full stop, if necessary, at speeds below 24 mph.

The 2013 Lexus LS Series is scheduled to hit showrooms in November. Pricing will be released closer to the on-sale date.


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