Mercedes, with its AMG series, and BMW with its “M” models, have long offered higher performance versions of their vehicles. Lexus is now moving into this heretofore Mercedes and BMW territory with its Sport models. The Lexus LS 460 F Sport is a mild, but not crazy performance upgrade over the LS 460.
I like Lexus’ combination of performance upgrades; not too mild and not too wild—and especially not as expensive as its competitors. While Lexus’ sport package does not come with a price tag as dear as most of its German competitors, it includes a number of advanced features to make the Lexus LS 460 F Sport more of a driver’s car. This Lexus gives you a more control and “go” with little extra drama.
The car is powered by a stout 4.6 liter 386 hp V-8 engine and includes six driver selectable performance modes ranging from Comfort to Sport S+. These various modes control transmission shifts, throttle response, the electronic steering and air suspension, along with other goodies which transform the car from a plush boulevard cruiser to a car that is a much more capable offering with greatly improved handling for more demanding driving conditions. It is easy to hustle the big F-Sport around using the S+ mode which ups the performance an extra notch. The two higher sport settings remap the transmission shift points, the throttle response, the steering, and take full advantage of big Bembo brakes. These settings also activate the car’s adaptive air suspension, and other electronic vehicle stability controls that are also adjusted for performance. All of this makes the car beg to be driven faster, yet it does so with security and comfort.
The interior of the $75,800 F-Sport features stamped aluminum trim in place of the real wood normally used on the LS 460. I don’t know that this is an improvement, as the wood trim gives the LS 460 a somewhat warmer and more inviting interior feeling. Leather covers most of the places you expect to see and feel inside the car. The driver’s seat in the F-Sport is about the most comfortable I have ever experienced; it just feels “right” and if you can’t find a comfortable position, you must have a unique body that will be hard to please in any car. The entire interior is cool and luxurious, yet unassuming.
You operate most of the vehicle’s functions using a large 12.3-inch video screen controlled with a “remote touch handle” on the center console; much like you use a mouse pad to control your computer. It also features voice controls which work well and there are enough dedicated buttons and knobs so that you don’t have to do everything using the video screen display. All things being considered, I would have preferred a touch screen over the mouse-style interface.
The exterior of the car shows off Lexus’ new “spindle grill” styling in front. It features a black honeycomb grill insert, large air intakes in the lower bumper which also houses LED fog lights. This new look goes well with the rest of the lines of the vehicle and gives the car more visual presence compared to previous models. Simply put, the F-Sport has a less bland, more aggressive look than one generally sees in a Lexus. Just how good is it? Lexus has a well-deserved reputation for quality and reliability. Were I asked today to pick a car to drive my family across the country, I would probably pick a Lexus, as I would want a comfortable car that would get me to my destination with the utmost safety with no problems along the way.
Actually, my cross-country choice would not be the LS 460 F-Sport but its brother, the LS 460 L (long wheelbase model) which offers much more space in the rear seat area and is even quieter than the F-Sport. Both of these cars share just about every safety feature known to man. Features that not only help you avoid collisions, but if you happen to have the misfortune of being hit, you and your family will be well-protected by this car’s advanced airbag system and structured frame layout that is designed to help absorb any impact.
If I could get my wife, or one of my sons to drive part of the way during this cross-country trip, I would recline in the large power-controlled, heated and cooled rear seat, let it massage me, and doze off while watching a Blu-ray DVD on the rear seat TV entertainment system. I would also enjoy the smooth, quiet ride that the car’s double-paned glass and extra sound deadening allows, as well as its reasonable fuel mileage. Speaking of fuel mileage, I got 25 miles per gallon on a short interstate trip. Not all bad for a car this big and heavy. It now seems politically correct to be “green” and to praise and talk about small, lightweight cars. Perhaps I’m not politically correct, but I would not want to drive a tiny car that gets 50 mpg, but only weighs about 90 pounds on today’s interstate highways; life is just too short for that, so why tempt fate? I’ll just buy a little more gas please. If I can’t afford the extra gas (which would probably cost less than one good meal for the family) I probably shouldn’t be driving across the country anyway.
I asked one of my sons, who happens to be a car nut, what car he would choose for a cross-country trip and he instantly said a Ferrari but, after a little thought, decided that as much as we both love Ferraris, on a long trip a Ferrari would be rather uncomfortable, jolting you with every bump in the road and very noisy as well. Aside from being a “rough rider”, it would be a very tight fit in one of those beauties. So the Lexus was our unanimous choice.
For those who drive every day in normal traffic conditions, but occasionally want a little more performance, the LS 460 F-Sport is a fine choice. It has great handling, yet provides smooth, quiet luxury and can be transformed into a roaring tiger just by adjusting a few knobs. It is simply fun to drive.