There's one way in which the 2013 Lexus LS has made indisputable progress--carved out new space for itself among all the distinct, even polarizing, uber-luxury sedans. It's all up front, and inside.
With every new Lexus that lands, a spindle grille's shown up on the front end. It's been a remarkably flexible theme that seems to play as well on the RX crossover as it does on the ultrasueded LS. The hourglass pinch at the center of the LS' face finally gives it a recognizable identity, something the "L-finesse" styling theme that takes up the rest of its silhouette failed to do when it launched on this latest generation in 2007. The two play off each other well, but we're still more intrigued at how the new theme will exercise itself over the rest of the body, which remains anonymously attractive, with a touch or two at the back--LED taillamps, some inwardly angled lines--hinting at the front end's new drama.
The differences between models are minor. F Sports wear their own mesh grille, black grille trim, and round fog lamps, along with F Sport badges and on some, an exclusive shade of white. Hybrids have their own grille look and badging and wheel designs.
Dramatic is a good word for the reinvented cockpit, too. It's another iteration of the horizontally themed cabin that works so well in the GS, retrimmed in a higher grade of wood and metallic finishes and surrounded by leather. A larger, 12.3-inch-wide LCD screen dominates the center of the dash, and Lexus' vividly bright gauges get their own information display, an almost six-inch screen implanted in their midst. Aluminum is used for some of the controls, and on the F Sport, it makes up the pedals and other interior trim. Standard versions wear walnut, maple, or a "shimamoku" processed wood stained a very dark grey; Hybrids have attractive bamboo trim we wish could be ordered elsewhere. All versions offer a choice of handsome leather trim, with a new saddle color; F Sports have their own leather selection and a black Alcantara headliner.