By Don Fuller, Contributing Editor
If there’s an example of “world-class” in luxury sedans the 2016 Lexus LS is certainly a candidate, with supreme comfort, exquisite detailing, superb construction, leading-edge technology, glorious luxury and impeccable manners. It goes eye-to-eye on luxury and image with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, Porsche Panamera and a very few others, and then beats them on value, besides. Offered as the standard LS 460, sporty LS 460 F Sport, long-wheelbase LS 460 L and the magnificent LS 600 h L hybrid, and with rear-wheel drive (RWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), the LS line includes a remarkably attractive cost of ownership, a proven record of exceptional reliability and outstanding resale value.
Maybe you’re one of those that others describe as “picky,” and you don’t care; you want a relentlessly impeccable luxury sedan and a value in the bargain. With the 2016 Lexus LS you’ve found it, an uncompromising high-end automotive experience with reliability and resale value. After all, it’s your money.
If there’s a running criticism of the Lexus LS it’s been that the driving experience is less than that of the European competition. If curvy roads and enthusiastic motoring bring a twinkle to your eye and an increase to your pulse rate, maybe you should look somewhere else.
Changes to the LS for 2016 are minimal. The multimedia system has a full map display, updated graphics, menu shortcuts on the side of the screen and enhanced voice recognition; and there are two new colors: Eminent White Pearl and Atomic Silver.
The reputation for the Lexus LS line has always been relentless, supreme, sumptuous luxury in all aspects of the driving and ownership experience, and the 2016 version certainly excels. It...
... glides over the road, the steering is precise but easy to the touch, the interior just might be the quietest in memory; this is luxury motoring at its most unobtrusively sublime. If you should desire a more involved feel, just dial up the Drive Mode Select knob, which can alter engine, suspension and steering settings to the sportier side. The enthusiast’s LS is the 460 F Sport, with a sport-tuned air suspension, 19-inch wheels and Brembo brakes; still, more assertive drivers might be disappointed that the F Sport doesn't offer additional power, as well. The LS 600h L hybrid delivers more than 50 additional horsepower but, at over 5,000 pounds, it is less than nimble.
REMOTE TOUCH INTERFACE
Used on several Lexus vehicles, the Remote Touch is a mouse-like system that selects functions on the infotainment-system screen. The combination of an LCD screen, a cursor and tactile feedback similar to rolling a marble over a small indentation makes it easy to learn and use.
EXECUTIVE CLASS REAR-SEATING PACKAGE
The ultimate in rear-passenger sumptuousness is found in the Executive Class package. The right-rear seat reclines, there's vibrating and shiatsu massage, a Blu-ray entertainment system and a wood-trimmed console table, making it as luxurious as any ride that’s not in a corporate jet.
The Lexus LS interior is proof that if you put in the effort you can get as close to perfect as imaginable. There is not a stitch out of place, not a flaw from headliner fit to carpet thread. Seating is wonderful, technology features abound, ergonomics thoughtfully ideal. There are choices of leathers, colors and accompanying trims, including a very attractive matte bamboo. Rear-seat passengers are treated as well as those in front, and perhaps even better in the long-wheelbase versions. The F Sport models are sportier, at least within a Lexus definition of that concept.
The wide grille, bulging hood and distinctive rear make the 2016 model the most radical-looking LS to date although, compared to some other Lexus offerings, it's appropriately restrained. The long-wheelbase LS 460 L and LS 600h L hide their length, if not their considerable image, well. On the other hand, the LS 460 F Sport, with its aggressive front and rear ends, 10-millimeter-reduced ride height and 19-inch wheels stands out in the crowd. The LS 460, in all forms, is a good-sized, impressive-looking luxury sedan and no parking valet will miss the big L in the middle of the grille.
Standard equipment on the thoroughly equipped 2016 Lexus LS 460 includes 18-inch wheels with hollow spokes that reduce noise, power door closers, grain-matched wood trim, a 12.3-inch display screen, TFT (Thin Film Transistor) color multi-information display, individual rear-seat vanity mirrors, parking sensors and rearview camera, power tilt-and-slide moonroof, and Lexus (SD memory card-based) Navigation with a wide range of features, conveniences, integrated smartphone apps and data services. On balance, we can easily recommend the standard-issue LS 460; we like its blend of moderate size and generous luxury and, with its extensive complement of features, it represents excellent value for the money.
The 2016 Lexus LS 460 offers an extensive list of options. For demanding audiophiles we recommend the 19-speaker Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound audio system. Packages include the Ultra Luxury Package, the Adaptive Variable Air Suspension Package, the Comfort Package and the Semi-Aniline Leather and Alcantara Upgrade Package; notice, most of these are to enhance the already-impressive luxury and convenience attributes of the LS. Safety-related options include the Lexus Driver Attention Monitor, which sounds an alert if the driver isn't paying attention; adaptive cruise control, which maintains a preset distance behind the vehicle ahead; and a pedestrian-detection and pre-collision system.
The 2016 Lexus LS 460 has a 386-horsepower 4.6-liter V8, silky 8-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive (RWD). With the optional all-wheel drive (AWD) the horsepower drops to 360. The top-of-the-line Lexus LS 600h L hybrid has a 5.0-liter V8 of 389 horsepower and an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT), combined with a pair of electric motor/generators and a nickel-metal hydride battery, for a total system horsepower of 438 and driving through a full-time AWD system. All that technology allows the robust hybrid LS to accelerate as quickly as its non-hybrid counterparts while giving it a 3-mpg advantage in city driving. Expectedly, all versions of the LS require premium fuel. All these powertrains are as competent, powerful and buttery-smooth as you would rightfully expect.
386 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
367 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/24 mpg (RWD)
360 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
347 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg (AWD)
5.0-liter V8 + electric motor/generator
389 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
385 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
Total power: 438 horsepower
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/23 mpg
The standard-wheelbase 2016 Lexus LS 460 has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $73,500 including the $925 destination charge. The long-wheelbase LS 460 L will cost just under $80,000; AWD will be about $3,000 more for the LS 460 and around $4,000 for the LS 460 L. If you want more, the range-topping Lexus LS 600h L hybrid is beyond $121,000, and that’s before you start adding the options. By comparison, the Jaguar XJ, Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series start in the $75,000 range, the Porsche Panamera is about $80,000 and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is well above $90,000. Still, everyone loves a bargain, so check out the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the Lexus LS 460. Smart investors will be happy to know that no other car in its segment beats 2016 Lexus LS on residual values.