- Hushed cabin
- Self-evident controls
- Concert-hall-quality sound
- Doesn’t command a presence like Euro models
- Indecisive automatic transmission
- Front seats feel constrained
For those who want top technology and comforts without attracting undue attention, the 2009 Lexus 460 is a good choice.
For 2009 Lexus expands its flagship luxury lineup with the addition of an all-wheel-drive (AWD) version of both the LS 460 and the LS 460 L, which stretches the backseat area five inches. There's also a hybrid flagship model, the LS 600h L, which we cover in a separate review, but it does not come in an AWD version.
The AWD models are identical to their rear-wheel equivalents; they utilize the same 4.6-liter V-8 engine with 357 horsepower and 344 pound-feet of torque, as well as the same basic drivetrain already used in the LS 460h L with the Torsen Limited-Slip Differential (LSD) that distributes drive torque between the front and rear wheels. During normal driving, the system distributes power in a rear-bias format of 40:60, but can vary to 30:70 and 50:50 depending on road conditions.
The 2009 Lexus LS 460 models also come standard with features such as air suspension, Variable Gear-Ratio Steering (VGRS), and Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS). AVS continuously adjusts shock-absorber damping rates and the VGRS system selects the steering gear ratio according to vehicle speed.
The V-8 engine is one of the smoothest and best isolated of any vehicle, and it has plenty of torque to move the LS 460 with authority. However, the transmission's indecision on congested freeways and gradual grades lessens the enjoyment.
Front seats are ample and comfortable, though not as supportive as they could be, but a very wide center console makes the area feel unexpectedly narrow. In back, there's adequate room even for tall and lanky adults with the LS 460, while the LS 460 L has room for legs to sprawl. And with either the standard or the available air suspension, the ride is glassy-smooth and absorbent. The interior is quite attractive in its simplicity, with a two-tiered dash and contrasting materials that are soft to the touch. The only downside is that some of the switchgear mimics that used in much cheaper Lexus models. Inside and out, the 2009 Lexus LS 460 is very conservatively styled. With an organic and elegant L-finesse design language that doesn't rely on gimmicky details, the LS will likely age well.
The 2009 Lexus LS 460 has a multilayered list of safety features, including standard front side airbags, dual front knee bags, and full-length side-curtain bags, plus available rear-seat side airbags. Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management, a more advanced version of electronic stability control, is standard, and an available Pre-Collision System (PCS) works with the laser cruise control to prepare vehicle safety systems if it anticipates a collision. The LS 460 has not yet been crash-tested by the federal government. The insurance industry rates the LS 460 "good" in its frontal offset test, but it earns only a "marginal" rating in the IIHS seat-based rear-impact test.
The 2009 Lexus LS features a self-parking system that steers the vehicle into a parallel or row parking spot as the driver backs up; some will find it helpful, but to others it's a gimmick. Climate-controlled (heated and cooled) front and rear seats are another desirable option. The L version includes dual rear climate controls and a system that checks actual body surface temperatures with infrared technology, making the 2009 Lexus LS 460 a vessel for some of the most advanced technology features of any vehicle. XM Satellite Radio provides live traffic information to the navigation system. The available Mark Levinson sound system has 19 speakers and 450 watts, and it comes with 8GB of hard-drive space for MP3s.