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2009 Lexus LS 460 ReviewThe Good
Lexus expands the LS 460 lineup for 2009 by adding two new trims with all-wheel drive, which helps to improve the sedan's already class-leading ride and handling and gives the vehicle an even higher level of stability, traction, and safety.The Bad
Some drivers and reviewers find the LS 460's ride a bit too soft and floaty, although the Adaptive Variable Air Suspension, which comes standard on the new all-wheel-drive trims, gives drivers the option of adjusting the ride to suit their taste.
The CarGurus View
Lexus's flagship LS 460 has earned its spot as one of the world's top luxury sedans, delivering a class-leading ride, proven reliability, and state-of-the-art comfort, technology, and safety features. The LS 460 successfully carves out its own niche in the super-luxury-sedan class, distinguishing itself from its European counterparts with its high level of refinement, and should be on the list of any driver in the market for a highly capable and attractive luxury sedan.
At a Glance
Lexus expands the LS 460 lineup for 2009 with the addition of all-wheel-drive versions of both the LS 460 base sedan and the LS 460 L long-wheelbase sedan. Lexus also adds front passenger seat memory as a standard feature for all 2009 trims. Other than that, Lexus's flagship sedan, now in the third year of its fourth generation, changes little for 2009.
The LS 460 continues to serve as Lexus's showcase for luxury features and cutting-edge technology, such as its eight-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission, a world's first. The LS 460 competes against an elite group of super-luxury vehicles, including the BMW 7-Series, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and the Audi A8. Thanks to its high level of reliability, plush interior, high-tech amenities, and smooth, quiet ride, the LS 460 ranks number one in that automotive segment (luxury cars priced over $60,000), according to U.S. News and World Report.
The LS 460 features a contemporary yet conservative design, highlighted by sleek, smooth, yet slightly muscular lines that draw the eye along its length. The base LS 460 has a wheelbase of 116.9 inches and an overall length of 198 inches, while the 460 L long-wheelbase trim adds nearly 5 inches to the wheelbase and overall length. As a result, the L trims provide additional legroom in the rear seat, giving passengers plenty of space to stretch their legs during long trips.
The LS 460's powerful 4.6-liter V8 engine produces an impressive 357 hp, which should be plenty of power for even the most pedal-heavy drivers. The V8 features dual continuously Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i), which increases torque at lower speeds and horsepower at higher speeds to improve performance, ensure good fuel economy, and reduce emissions. The emissions are so low that the LS 460 has received certification as an ultra-low emission (ULEV II) vehicle, which means it meets strict standards for hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions.
The V8 links to an eight-speed automatic transmission designed for smooth acceleration and fuel efficiency. Working together, the V8 engine and automatic transmission drive the LS 460 from 0 to 60 in just 5.4 seconds (5.9 seconds for the AWD trims). The LS 460 posts fuel economy numbers of 16/24 city/highway miles (16/23 for AWD trims). The sedan runs on premium fuel.
The standard Base and L trims feature rear-wheel drive, while the all-wheel-drive system in both of the AWD trims has a compact Torsen limited-slip differential, which distributes drive torque between the front and rear wheels. The system defaults torque to 30/70 front to back under normal driving conditions to provide the feel of a rear-wheel-drive car, but shifts to 50/50 when road conditions require optimal traction or when the driver manually changes the configuration. In addition, both AWD trims come equipped with variable gear ratio steering.
Ride & Handling
All LS 460 trims feature a welded-steel unibody construction and ride on an independent front and rear suspension with stabilizer bars, multi-link double-joint suspension arms, and coil-over monotube shock absorbers. This results in a smooth, cushioning ride that tends to float a bit over the road, according to some reviewers. Others, however, like the way the sedan glides along the highway. Although the ride lacks the sporty element some drivers prefer, the LS 460 responds well when driven hard and proves highly capable on all types of roads and in all types of driving conditions.
The two new LS 460 AWD trims come equipped with a computer-controlled Adaptive Variable Air Suspension, which continually adjusts the shock absorbers and air springs to provide an optimal ride. Using a three-position console switch, the driver can select the damping firmness, choosing from Comfort, Normal, or Sport modes. The system also can inflate or deflate the air springs to provide various ride heights. Drivers can add the system as an option on the rear-wheel-drive LS 460 L trim.
Some reviewers find the LS 460's standard suspension a bit too soft and acceleration a tad too sedate, although no one calls the LS 460 underpowered. The sedan has a quiet cabin and plush, supportive seats with plenty of legroom in the back, which will keep occupants comfortable over long distances. The gauges are easy to read, and controls for the climate control and entertainment systems are well-laid-out and easy to operate, reviewers note. The LS 460 offers a number of interior storage spaces, including dual front and rear cupholders, foldable front-door storage pockets, and storage bins in the center console, which has a sliding arm.
All LS 460 trims ride on 18-inch wheels with all-season performance tires. Drivers can add optional 19-inch wheels to the LS 460 L trim only.
Cabin & Comfort
All LS 460 trims comfortably seat five passengers in a spacious and luxurious cabin, which gets very high marks from drivers and reviewers alike. While some note the LS 460's cabin might not quite live up to the same level as the cabins in luxury sedans from Audi and Mercedes-Benz, it will pamper occupants with a high level of quality and comfort.
Standard features include leather seats, heated front seats, wood and leather interior trim, a wood-and-leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, a power tilt-and-slide moonroof, a 16-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and 12-way power-adjustable passenger seat. A 10-speaker audio system with an automatic sound levelizer and an in-dash 6-CD changer also comes standard.
L trims also include a heated steering wheel, a heated rear seat, and a voice-activated navigation system with a backup camera, a full-color display, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, XM radio, and XM NavTraffic.
Drivers can opt for a 19-speaker, 450-watt Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system with a hard disc drive that stores up to 2,000 songs. Other options include an electronic parking assist system and climate-comfort front and rear seats. Drivers of the L trims can also add a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with 9-inch LCD screen and wireless headphones.
The 2009 LS 460 received the highest possible rating of Good for protecting occupants in frontal offset crashes from the Insurance Industry for Highway Safety. No side-impact tests were conducted on the sedan.
The LS 460 comes equipped with a full range of airbags, including knee, front seat-mounted, and side-curtain airbags. Other standard safety features include electronic traction control, electronic stability control, and four-sensor antilock brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, which adjusts the amount of fluid pressure on brakes to improve control during braking. The LS 460 also comes equipped with Lexus's Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system, which integrates braking, steering, stability control, and traction control to minimize the loss of traction in turns.
Optional safety features include a pre-collision system, which uses radar to determine if a collision is imminent and automatically tightens front seatbelts and activates brake assist to aid the driver in minimizing damage and protecting passengers.
What Owners Think
Owners find the LS 460's smooth, quiet ride beyond compare and rate it higher than either the BMW 7-Series or the Mercedes-Benz S-Series in that area. The LS 460 glides effortlessly over the road, owners note, and handles twisty roads with ease. Owners also consider the LS 460's plush interior and optional Mark Levinson sound system the best in the class. Also on the plus side, owners say the LS 460 is less expensive to maintain than a Mercedes S-Class sedan. However, some consider the audio and climate-control buttons and knobs to be comparable to a Camry's, rather than unique to the LS 460.
CarGurus owners concur, giving the optional Mark Levinson sound system and plush interior very high marks. CarGurus owners also like the LS 460's technical innovations, although some find the array of controls on the dashboard tricky to master at first.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.