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GETTING BOWLED OVER

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Tue, Feb 10, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

GETTING BOWLED OVER

By JOHN GRAFMAN

Except for the use of the word "alley", most bowling terminology doesn't make it often on to these pages. For this Lexus product the connotation of "sleeper" is appropriate.

In bowling, a sleeper pin is obscured by the more obvious and prominent pins. Only once clear from obstruction does a sleeper take on significance. The LS has to deal with other fine cars in the Lexus line-up that steal the limelight. The big car’s bodywork is gracefully modified this year, but the GS still has a more flavorful punch to its looks. The LS styling still seems to zig while the other manufacturers zag. This big box on wheels - as impressive and stately as it is - just doesn't have the same passion. That's right, a real sleeper.

But once they get past the initial obstruction caused by the old school Mercedes-Benz S class looks, I found a vehicle that deserves awards for what it does, rather than what it looks like. Power and comfort often oppose each other. On this sedan, however, they both operate in perfect harmony like few other cars on the road.

The comfort on a jaunt to the SEMA show in Las Vegas was unparalleled. The job Lexus has done on sound deadening its interior cabin is a high water mark that everyone else in the luxury-car market needs to shoot for. The front seats appear well tailored, yet somewhat bland in terms of automotive designs. Nevertheless, they are among the most comfortable on a road trip that I've experienced It wasn't the usual gadgets that that make this car. Rather, it's the precision response and craftsmanship that makes the LS nameplate legendary. Few cars can offer this type of refinement. Driving it is as effortless as you could ever want it to be. However, I enjoy a car - not just as transportation - but also as a means of interacting with the world and roads around me.

I am not ready for life in the slow lane just yet. Again the sleeper surprised me. This car is no featherweight, but with its 4.3 liter, 290-horsepower V8 engine, the LS truly wants to run rather than walk. I was bowled over indeed by the soul that lives behind the leather, plastic and metal. Given the chance, the LS 430 could far exceed posted speed limits - and is capable of doing so with the utmost poise. The road to Vegas may not be the most challenging drive out of Southern California. Nonetheless, equipped as this was with the sport suspension, I never had a feeling of navigating a land yacht. The LS may seem to cast a smaller shadow than its sibling SUVs, but on the road this is still a formidable sedan. From the vantage point of seeing an LS in one's rearview mirror, the big Lexus might as well be a three-ton ute - most are only too happy to scoot to the right. The approaching big sedan can fill up a rearview mirror rather nicely.

It seemed every detail was beyond scrutiny on this car. Believe me, I was impressed. Even the window molding inside was perfect in function, material and fit. I was beginning to think this car was an alien craft, as no mere human could build an automobile this flawlessly. Okay, it turns out there was a flaw or two. As mentioned, the design is dated. A couple of interior buttons and switches were less than convenient. And most amazingly, the driver's door panel didn't mate up well with the dashboard. Perfection it isn't. But it is pretty damn close. Maybe there aren't any aliens from other worlds gainfully employed by Lexus after all.

But you have to ask yourself, if there are, do you think they bowl?

For more on Lexus products please go to www.lexus.com

SPECIFICATIONS Price: $ 55,750 base price Engine type: 4.3 liter V8, aluminum block and heads, DOHC 32 valve with continuously variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i) Horsepower: 290 hp @ 5,600 rpm Torque: 320 lb.-ft. @ 3,400 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/rear-wheel drive Transmission type: 6-speed sequential-shift automatic, electronically controlled transmission with intelligence (ECT-i); “Power,” “Normal” and “Snow” modes Front suspension: Double wishbone with anti-lift geometry, coil springs, monotube gas-filled shock absorbers with rebound springs, stabilizer bar, Euro-tuned suspension (Sport package) Rear suspension: Double wishbone with anti-squat geometry, coil springs, monotube gas-filled shock absorbers, stabilizer bar, Euro-tuned suspension (Sport package) Wheels and tires: Front: 18 x 7.5 JJ Chrome plated aluminum wheels 245/45/R18 summer tires Rear: 18 x 7.5 JJ Chrome plated aluminum wheels 245/45/R18 summer tires Brakes: Front: 12.4 in. vented disc, 225/55R17 H-rated summer tires (all-season optional) Rear: 12.2 in. vented disc, 225/55R17 H-rated summer tires (all-season optional) Four-wheel power-assisted disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) 4 channel, 4 sensor (integrated with VSC), Brake Assist and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) Overall length: 197.4” Overall width: 72” Overall height: 58.7” Curb weight (lbs.): 3,990 EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 18/25 mpg 0-60 mph: 5.9 sec.

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