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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 Sun, Sep 4, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


By Contributing Editor TOMMY GRAFMAN

Every four years or so, I get the itch to drive up to Las Vegas. The last time I drove to Las Vegas was with my brother John and a couple of other associates. The drive up with that gang was a wild and insane ride compared to this one. This drive is special for a couple of reasons. First is the chance to drive up to Las Vegas with the preeminent Lexus LS 430. The second is to attend a grand opening of the Las Vegas location of the famous Rainbow Bar and Grill (the original is on Sunset Blvd.).

This trip starts in my hometown of Burbank, California. Armed with an extra large coffee, snacks, iPod, luggage, and wife by my side, we are off. My senses are on high; I'm totally elated driving this car. The LS 430 is car is a dream. It's everything a luxury car should be.

From the start, this car is something special. The LS 430 is the ultimate package. With so many items and options on the car, you feel more pampered with luxury than Donald Trump. To wit: The Mark Levinson audio/navigation system with rear camera (engaged in reverse), voice command, Bluetooth, forced heating/cooling in all four seats, rear massaging/reclining seats and one of my personal favorites; the Dynamic Laser Cruise Control with Pre-Collision System. I knew this trip is going to be an amazing ride and experience.

The LS 430 has the performance and handling to back-up its luxury. The power-plant is a 4.3-liter 290 horsepower four-cam, 32-valve V8 engine with continuously variable valve timing "with intelligence" (VVT-i), making this sedan a virtual rocket. Launching onto Highway 134 is like a driving a sports car. The shear power and response gets my circulation going and my wife very nervous (more than normal from my driving). In a few seconds (5.9 to be exact) we are already at 60 mph and increasing to cruising speed in the carpool lane (once again, a reason for wife with me). The smooth ride and stability of the LS 430 is aided by its four-wheel independent double wishbone suspension. Accelerating, changing lanes and not spilling a drop of coffee - so far, so good!

Once traffic lightened up as we approached the 210 freeway, it's time to engage the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with Pre-Collision System (PCS). The PCS is included with the Ultra/Custom Luxury packages. When set with your cruise control speed, the PCS uses radar to detect the distance between the LS 430 and the vehicle in-front of you. So, if you set your cruise control at 65 mph, and the vehicle in front of you slows down, the LS 430 will automatically reduce its speed, and sound off an alarm to alert the driver. On the freeway, the PCS is great asset. This feature should be offered in more vehicles to help reduce accidents.

When driving the LS 430, I notice how the car becomes part of me. With all the controls at my fingertips, I feel integrated with the machine. The LS 430 aerodynamics cuts thru the wind with an ultra-low 0.25 coefficient of drag, making the car whisper quiet. The optional air suspension noticeably enhances road stability, as I take the car from the I-210 to the I-15 heading north to our destination, Las Vegas.

The LS 430 has so many standard and optional exterior/handling equipment, too many to go into depth on... some if the highlights are: High-intensity Discharge (HID) with auto levelers, Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS) which helps lights a curve as the car steers into it, Daytime running lights, LED brake lights, rain sensing windshield wipers. Fold-in side mirrors. ABS brakes and EBD Electronic Brake force Distribution.

The interior of the LS430 is big and spacious. I have the sense of luxury meets state-of-the-art technology. From the perfect instrument cluster to the easily accessible seven-inch screen DVD navigation system, to the wood and leather wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls built in. Everything is where is should be. The leather trim is a nice touch around the inside of the cabin, wrapping around the doors to the dash. The perforated leather seats are soft and supple (with the climate-controlled seats). When driving in the car for a period of time, my back remains dry when the seats are set at cooling, which is especially appreciated in the Los Angeles and Vegas heat. The 14-way power driver's seat and the 10-way passenger seat function nicely.

Another nice touch is the illuminated front seat belt buckles. It's the little things like this that makes this car a luxury achievement. The rear seats are also climate controlled, as well as have power slide (recline). As if this wasn't enough for the back seats, they also have built in massagers (optional).

Other options for the rear seats are rear air conditioner with air purifier and optical deodorizer, completed audio/climate controls in the rear armrest, and to keep your drinks chilled, it has a rear cooler box built behind the armrest.

Some other interior highlights are: Dual climate controls, temperature and sun sensing swing air registers which automatically control airflow direction based on sunlight and exterior/interior temperatures. Tilt and slide moon roof. Power rear sunshade (manual side shade windows). Smart access electronic-key entry and ignition.

A favorite item of mine with cars is the sound system. Being an audio nutcase and former music industry pro, I put this sound system through its paces. The LS 430 has 11 speakers, including a sub-woofer, a 240-watt amplification system with seven discrete digital channels (Mark Levinson Audio option), AM/FM/cassette, six-disc in-dash CD changer, XM Satellite radio and Automatic Sound Levelizer. I'm still trying to figure out why a cassette deck (with a state-of-the-art vehicle, they throw that in).

With so many different media to listen to, I didn't know where to start. I did, however, notice what this vehicle was missing: An auxiliary audio input (mini stereo), for direct play through with iPods (with over 20 million iPods sold to date alone, not including all other MP3 players, when are car manufactures going to learn to have this as a factory installed standard equipment?).

The upside is the XM Satellite Radio. Picking a station by genre and being able to hear it, anywhere, from point A to B, state-to-state and coast-to-coast, is the best thing since sliced bread. I love being able to pump the volume up to 11, and then cranking out the jams from the thunder of AC/DC to the crooning of Frank Sinatra (as I mentioned before, I'm a bit of an audio nut). The LS 430 sound system is an audiophile's dream.

The sound of thunder is only matched by the sound of silence, aided by the car's foam rubber body noise isolation inserts, optional noise-reducing laminated side glass. Not being able to hear the outside world is a beauty all of its own.

Another thing that impresses with the LS 430: Time flies when driving this car. No doubt, all the amenities and the first-class ride are contributing factors. Driving in to Las Vegas and down the Las Vegas strip, this car is a perfect fit for the best hotels here: The Bellagio, The Venetian, The Wynn, et al.

As we pulled into our hotel, parking the car is a breeze. The speed-sensing progressive power rack-and-pinion steering is responsible for the tight turning ratio: 16.4:1 (turning circle, curb to curb 35.8ft.). The Intuitive Parking Assist is another great safety feature. It alerts when you when the bumpers get to close to an object when parking. When putting the car into reverse, the DVD Navigation screen changes to a TV monitor for the rear back-up wide-angle camera, makes this a valuable safety feature. When we get out of the car, we noticed, we are still refreshed and not fatigued at all.

The LS 430 is the perfect luxury vehicle. For more on Lexus, check out


Our drive in the new Lexus LS 430 leads us to the second part of this journey: To attend the opening of the Las Vegas location of the famous Rainbow Bar and Grill.

The original Rainbow Bar & Grill was established in 1972, and is on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Throughout the decades since, the Rainbow has become a landmark in Hollywood. Located next to the Roxy and near the Whisky A Go-Go, the Rainbow is a haven and home to the music scene. Some of the regulars include: The Beatles, The Doors, Gun N' Roses, Motley Crue, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Van Halen, and Ozzy Ozbourne.

The Rainbow was brought to Las Vegas by 30-year music industry veterans and icons Bob & Jerry Greenberg, with a license from The Rainbow Bar & Grill's owner Mario Maglieri. The Rainbow Bar & Grill is located across the street from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and is opened 24-hours a day.

Driving from our hotel to the Rainbow is a breeze. Located right across the street from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the Rainbow is in a choice location: Just off the strip to avoid the craziness, but close enough to be convenient and local. The Rainbow brings what Las Vegas needed for some time, an L.A.-Hollywood feeling. Pulling up to the Rainbow in the LS 430, the first thing I notice is the beautiful sandstone architecture and aesthetics of the club. This look matches the desert feel. The Rainbow is an indoor/outdoor joint, with a killer outside patio surrounded by stone columns. On the side of the club is a huge diamond plate sign with black metal letters. On the front is another huge sign with the sexy Rainbow Bar & Grill logo.

I parked the car with their valet parking. I feel like I'm back at home as we walked in through the doors and pass the security (obviously they didn't get a good look at me). Although open for just a short time, this joint is jumpin'!

We are immediately greeted by three of the nicest, sexiest hostesses. The Rainbow's interior is reminiscent of the Hollywood location's décor. With red leather booths and rock-n-roll memorabilia (from gold and platinum records, to photos of musicians to signed classic rock posters, ) on almost every surface.

Some of the cooler aspects are the use of musical instruments as furniture and fixtures (e.g., drumhead sconces, full drum kit chandelier). They even have some custom motorcycles hanging on their walls, to give it more of that Hollywood feel. Hearing great music over the sound system is a welcome change from hearing the sound of gambling machines and annoying PA systems.

We then meet up with by Bob Greenberg, the Rainbow's (Vegas) owner. Bob gave use a VIP tour of the grill, inside and out. With over 7,500 square-feet, including a huge full service bar and two dinning rooms. The Rainbow also has private rooms for parties and events. This is a hip hang out. With large screen plasma sets playing music videos, to the ultra-large drop down screen (it's so big, when AC/DC plays "Hells Bells" live, you can see the sweat off the singer's brow). One of my favorite items is the huge semi-circle bar. With every alcohol imaginable and TV monitors wrapping along the top of the entire bar, I'm in heaven.

While walking thru the club and dinning area, I keep hearing people talking about the meatballs. Yes, I know... but I had to find out for myself. So, we sat down in the dining area, and I order the pasta and meatballs. Yes, the food is amazing. The pasta has whole roasted garlic cloves and the meatballs are the best I've had. The Rainbow serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they have a late night menu too. This is the place to be, and a must see when you visit Las Vegas.

After spending all day (and most of the night) partying at the Rainbow, it was time to return back home. Once again driving the Lexus LS 430, making time fly and the miles melt away as we headed back into L.A. in style.

Rainbow Bar & Grill 4480 Paradise Road #100, Las Vegas, NV 89118 1-702-898-3525


Name of vehicle: 2005 LS 430

Price: $55.675.00 (base) $69,149.00 (as tested with Ultra Luxury options)

Engine type: 4.3-liter 290 horsepower four-cam, 32-valve V8 engine 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

Suspension: Front: Double wishbone with anti-lift geometry, coil springs, monotube gas-filled shock absorbers with rebound springs, stabilizer bar

Rear: Double wishbone with anti-squat geometry, coil springs, monotube gass-filled shock absorbers, stabilizer bar

Optinal: Semi-active electronic air suspension (Ultra Luxury package) Euro-tuned suspension (Sport package)

Wheels and tires: Front & back: 17x7.5 JJ/six-spoke aluminum. 225/55R17 H-rated summer tires (All-season optional) Optional: 18x7.5 JJ/five-spoke aluminum. 245/45R18 W-rated summer or all-season tires.

Brakes: Type: four-wheel power-assisted disc-brakes with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Anti-locking Braking System: 4 channel, 4 sensor (integrated with VSC) Brake Assist and Electronic brake force Distribution (EBD) Front: 12.4 in. vented disc Rear: 12.2 vented disc

Overall length: 197.4 in.

Overall width: 72.0 in.

Overall height: 58.7 (unloaded), 57.9 in. (with optional air suspension).

Curb weight (kg.): 3,990 lbs.

EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 18/25

Top Speed, mph: 131 mph (electronically limited)

0-60 mph: 5.9 sec.

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