IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES

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IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES

By Reed Berry

Normally, writing an auto review isn't that difficult. As I
sit behind the wheel of the Lexus LS460L, I am a little confused. It looks like
a car on the outside. On the inside, however, it has the luxury of a business
jet, plus the comfort and amenities you find in a Hollywood director's private
screening room. I'm rapidly approaching the point of sensory overload in a
vehicle that is designed for those who like to, and can afford to, pamper
themselves a bit.

Cars are no longer merely a form of transportation. As more time is spent in our
vehicles, we now seek creature comforts and high-tech gadgetry to keep us
entertained on the road. From an outstanding sound system with satellite radio,
to a DVD system for the enjoyment of my rear seat passengers, this Lexus seems
to have all bases covered. There's even an advanced navigation system that will
take the guesswork out of finding my way to a new restaurant.

Upon arriving at the chosen eatery, this car will actually park itself – thanks
to the optional Advanced Parking Guidance System. Actually, the system assists
with parking. The driver must still apply the brakes and take necessary safety
precautions. By positioning the vehicle properly and pressing an icon on the
driver display to select the desired parking method, the car will either
parallel park or back into a parking space on command.

The first thing you notice about the LS460L as you peek inside is that the
interior is strikingly attractive. Trimmed in leather and genuine wood, the
passenger compartment has an elegant look. The wood and leather steering wheel
with multifunction controls conveys a sense of sportiness and luxury. The
interior appears spacious and comfortable.

As for the exterior design, step aside BMW. Move over Mercedes. A sleek,
aerodynamic appearance combined with a European influence make this one great
looking car. From the bold lines to the big, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, the
LS460L has eye appeal – as well as a look of strength and quality. This car,
without question, is getting more attention than any vehicle of its kind I have
reviewed thus far. But, then again, this is unlike any Lexus people have seen in
the past.

Other differences from previous models are apparent as I drive. Impressive
performance is delivered by a 380 horsepower 32-valve V8 engine with a dual fuel
injection system. Attaining the desired speed is rapid and effortless, and the
engine is electronically limited to 130 mph to prevent one from reaching
autobahn-type speeds. Take this spirited engine, add the world's first
eight-speed automatic transmission, and the result is a high-end luxury sedan
that provides an exciting driving experience.

Vehicle handling is exceptional. I have a healthy respect for any automobile
that provides a smooth, comfortable ride and performs this well without
sacrificing road feel. Four-wheel independent suspension helps smooth out any
little bumps or potholes you may encounter, and the electronic power steering
system is quite responsive. Traction control and an anti-lock braking system
allow you to bring the vehicle to a stop quickly and safely.

The LS460L is the longer version of the LS460, and the extra five inches in the
wheelbase results in a spacious rear passenger compartment with a limo-like
feel. As I park the car and move to the backseat to investigate further, I
notice an array of buttons, dials and compartments. There are controls for the
audio system, buttons to operate the power rear door sunshades, and even a “cool
box” to keep your Perrier at just the right temperature.

Open another compartment, and you find two remote control units. One controls
the right rear passenger seat that reclines and massages and, as you recline, a
footrest extends for added comfort. The other remote allows you to control a
Mark Levinson DVD entertainment unit with a 19-speaker MLAS Reference Surround
Sound audio system.

In order to adequately test the DVD system, a friend and I are now positioned in
the rear seats preparing to watch a rented movie. A press of a button and the
video screen lowers for easy viewing. The sound quality is nothing short of
exceptional. If you desire a little privacy as you watch your favorite film,
open another compartment and you will find a set of wireless headphones. An
off-frequency buzz in the headphones each time I turn my head is a bit annoying,
but overall a very pleasant cinematic experience given the fact that we are also
enjoying a supply of Goobers and Raisinets.

While we are enjoying the comfort and conveniences this vehicle has to offer,
it's nice to know that we are also well-protected by a variety of safety
features. Airbags throughout the vehicle, including knee airbags for the driver
and front passenger, should offer superior protection in the event of a
collision. There are child safety seat anchor brackets at all seating positions.

My favorite safety feature on this car is the backup camera discreetly placed on
the back of the car. When you shift into reverse, the driver display becomes a
video screen giving you the ability to see behind the vehicle as you are
backing. According to KidsAndCars.org, 49.5 percent of the non-traffic
fatalities in the United States from 2002 to 2006 involving children up to the
age of 15 were back-overs. Thank you, Lexus, for including an accessory that
will save lives.

My colleague compares this car to the Bentley Continental Flying Spur and,
admittedly, there are similarities in size and features. A proximity sensor
allows me to open the door as I approach the vehicle without removing the key
from my pocket, and an engine start/stop button on the console is another
feature found in high-end luxury cars. As an added convenience, the trunk lid
opens and closes at the push of a button. If you don't mind sacrificing the
larger, more powerful engine of the Flying Spur, all this Lexus luxury comes at
a bargain price by comparison. This car, as equipped, has a price tag of just
under $94,000 – approximately half the price of the Bentley.

If you can afford it, if you deserve it, and if you don't mind turning a few
heads as you drive it, the Lexus LS460L is definitely a car worth considering.
Sorry, the Goobers and Raisinets are not included.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Sensory overload never felt so good.

For more information on Lexus products, visit
www.lexus.com

SPECIFICATIONS

Name of vehicle:
Lexus LS460L 4-Door Sedan

Price:
Base MSRP: $71,000
As equipped: $93,990

Engine type:
4.6 Liter 32-Valve V8 with electronically controlled intake valve timing

Horsepower:
380 hp at 6,400 rpm

Torque:
367 lb-ft at 4,100 rpm

EPA mileage estimates (city/highway):
18/27

Drive configuration:
Rear-wheel drive with Electronic Traction and Stability Control

Transmission type:
Eight-speed sequential-shift automatic transmission

Steering:
Electronic power steering system

Suspension:
4-Wheel independent multilink suspension

Wheels and tires:
Wheels:
18″ Aluminum Alloy Wheels
Tires:
235/50R18 V-rated tires with full-size spare tire

Brakes:
Four-wheel power-assisted disc brakes with ABS and Brake Assist

Overall length:
202.8 inches

Overall width:
73.8 inches

Overall height:
58.1 inches

Curb weight (lbs.):
4,332 lbs.

0-60 mph:
5.4 seconds

Quarter-mile acceleration:
13.9 seconds

Top track speed:
130 mph (electronically limited)

One Response to “IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES”

  1. ken Says:

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