2017 Lexus LS Review

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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
June 23, 2017

The 2017 Lexus LS 460 is a comfortable cruiser with a reputation to match: owners have consistently rated it one of the most satisfying models to own.

The 2017 Lexus LS 460 is nearing the finish line on its run as one of the most comfortable, luxurious full-size luxury sedans from the respected automaker. It may fade as a new version arrives soon, but it leaves the lasting memory as one of the most meticulously crafted sedans on the road.

This year, the big Lexus sheds its hybrid powertrain in favor of three models that offer a small spin on the familiar formula. The short-wheelbase version is accompanied by the long-wheelbase, LS 460L version, and an LS 460 F Sport version. All three can be had with rear- or all-wheel-drive and all use the same 4.6-liter V-8.

The LS 460 earns a good 7.2 overall rating on our overall scale thanks to its supreme comfort, quality, and opulent features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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Styling and performance

The current generation of the LS 460 has been around with us for a while, and its exterior sheet metal is aged—albeit gracefully. It wears one of the best versions of Lexus' corporate spindle grille that helps the front be a standout, even if the relatively plain exterior is somewhat anonymous.

Inside, the LS 460 has a relatively conservative approach. Strong horizontal themes are overshadowed by the large, central infotainment screen that measures 12.3 inches across and is one of the biggest in the business.

The Lexus uses the same 4.6-liter V-8 underhood as it has for a while now, which produces 386 horsepower and is mated to a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic. It's good enough to propel the car up to 60 mph in under 6 seconds, but its better when driven at a relaxed pace.

An optional air suspension setup is available at all four corners that keeps the LS 460's cabin calm, but base models make do with a good, sedate setup that's relaxed. Its steering is very light and maneuverable at low speeds, but tackling high speed corners just isn't this car's mission. In F Sport guise the adaptive suspension can be stiffened further, but compared to high-performance rivals it's not enough to call it a performance model. 

Considering the big V-8 is tasked to move more than two tons of mass it's not surprising that the LS 460 manages a combined fuel economy in the high teens. The lack of a hybrid model this year isn't a huge sacrifice either, we didn't manage much better fuel economy in that model either.

Comfort, safety, and features

The Lexus LS 460 succeeds in keeping occupants comfortable regardless of wheelbase size. The LS 460L adds 5 inches between the tires, which goes to making the cabin more decadent and better suited for chauffeur duty.

Standard power adjustable heated and cooled seats up front are complemented by soft hides (that can be upgraded to supple aniline leathers) and long bottom cushions for long legs. In back, a rear seat executive package can add ottoman-style footrests and massage functions, rear seat entertainment and a high probability of a long road-trip nap.

Cargo space is aplenty in the big Lexus. There's 18 cubic feet of space in the trunk, and plenty of interior storage options within the cabin.

Like other big luxury sedans, neither the IIHS nor federal testers have rated the Lexus in their crash testing. Lexus offers a few advanced safety features on the LS 460 such as driver attention monitors, adaptive cruise control, frontal collision warnings, blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, and automatic headlights, but those can add thousands to the bottom line.

Base cars aren't exactly spartan, though. The LS 460 offers a long list of standard features such as leather seating, power adjustable heated and cooled front seats, wood- and leather-trimmed steering wheel, navigation, a rearview camera, 10-speaker audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, 18-inch wheels sunroof, and a 12.3-inch infotainment screen.

A good set of optional packages can add premium sound, better back seat accommodations, sportier tires and handling, and advanced safety measures.

We haven't found an LS 460 that we didn't want to spend days in, but we'd like the infotainment to be a little less fussy and a little quicker to manage with its mouse-like controller system.

2017 Lexus LS

Styling

As the oldest of the bunch, the look of the Lexus LS has fallen behind Mercedes-Benz and BMW—albeit gracefully.

The Lexus corporate spindle grille has its moments—and the LS is one of them. Aside from the expressive maw, the Lexus LS is one of the older designs in the automaker's playbook, and likely one that'll be retired soon.

It's still an elegant shape, even without much definition, although we're not as sold on the chunky interior layout and long horizontal lines. We give the Lexus LS a 4 out of 10 for style. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The staid styling of the Lexus LS cars isn't new, previous generations of the sedan have been just as conservative. The 2017 version is more of the same, with few creases running along the doors to break up its big body. F Sport models get expressive wheels that add just a little contrast, optional 19-inchers fill up the arches with plenty of high-gloss alloy.

Around back, the LS sports somewhat-aggressive taillights, but we'd stop short of calling them distinctive. It's a subtle approach and it's one that works relatively well.

Inside, the LS reads like a very well trimmed GS sedan, but with more space for materials and a large center infotainment screen. In fact, the 12.3-inch screen dominates attention so well, that you might overlook the plentiful horizontal lines and chunky mix of materials. We appreciate the elegant center clock instead of the old Toyota LCD readout, and the dash of the LS 460 is relatively uncluttered of unnecessary elements. It'd be a good look for a bank building—dependable, strong, and conservative—but for a modern car, we're not so sure. 

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2017 Lexus LS

Performance

There are many reasons to consider an LS 460, but "outright performance" probably shouldn't be one of them.

The 2017 Lexus LS 460 sheds a powertrain this year—the slow-selling hybrid is gone—and likely will be changing even more in the near future.

The big 4.6-liter V-8 up front in the LS makes 386 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque, and is good enough for runs up to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds.

But we give credit to the effortless 8-speed automatic and its supple ride more than the bulk up front, and give the LS a 7 out of 10 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

About that V-8: It's stirred—never shaken—and is more at home in relaxed driving. It's potent enough to pick up the Lexus for highway passes, but compared to other rivals with performance variants such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the Lexus V-8 just isn't in the same league. 

That's just fine, according to us; we'd rather be coddled in the big Lexus than sloshed around in the spacious confines.

Base LS 460 cars without the optional air suspension setup offer a very relaxed ride, bordering on too soft for a sharp handle. We've found the steering to be tuned very light, for effortless maneuvering, but it comes at a cost of being relatively uninspired and numb. Models equipped with the air suspension can be dialed in for more road feel (especially in F Sport models) but the Sport+ setting is only mildly firm. The F Sport gets variable-ratio steering, but no rear-steer setup like the smaller GS, because of its place at the top of the Lexus the lineup. It's just a bit more assertive, with light feel and just a suggestion of feedback. It's just not as composed as it could be.

The F Sport reads on paper like a sportier version of the LS model: it rides 0.4 inches lower, has Brembo six-piston caliper brakes, and a suspension brace for better rigidity, and on rear-drive models, there's even torque vectoring—a Torsen differential between the rear wheels, one that distributes torque to the outside wheel to boost cornering.

What the F Sport treatment is lacking is any discernible engine upgrade to set it further apart from the LS 460. For that reason, and that it only dials the suspension up to a mild heat, the LS 460 F Sport isn't much of a competitor to German sport sedans.

All models are available with all-wheel drive, which splits torque between the front and rear wheels in a 40/60 split that can vary between 30/70 and 50/50 depending on road conditions.

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2017 Lexus LS

Comfort & Quality

If the LS 460 gets any quieter or more comfortable, Lexus will have to call it a pillow-top mattress.

The 2017 Lexus LS 460 delivered on its promise of European luxury with Japanese reliability. The big sedan manages to keep pace with many of its rivals in terms of space, comfort, and quality, and also ranks highly each year in terms of owner satisfaction.

The LS 460 is offered in a short- or long-wheelbase configuration, with plenty of room in front or back for up to five people. Its fit and finish is remarkable, and good enough to ace our comfort score. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Between the wheels, the short-wheelbase LS 460 measures 116.8 inches long and the long-wheelbase LS 460L measures 121.7 inches. Those numbers can be a little deceiving when it comes to interior space though—rear seat leg room is only up an inch in the LS 460L over the regular version. It's somewhat narrower inside the LS than in those premium German luxury sedans, and the center console's fairly wide, which gives an impression of less elbow room. Nonetheless, knee and head room in front are impressive.

The LS isn't trimmed in over-the-top materials like ultra-luxury competitors are, but the wood grain and stitch details are impressive. The top-notch aniline leather is supple and delicate compared to other hides from Lexus. We might pass on the F Sport trim (for several reasons) notably because the printed aluminum trim takes away from other quality materials and looks.

The Lexus LS is best when its swaddling passengers and shuttling around with relative ease. The cabin is tight and hushes wind and road noise better than nearly every other model on the market. The V-8 can roar a little and ambient exhaust noise added in by Lexus in F Sport models doesn't really fit. (See note above.)

In front, the LS received redesigned seats a couple of years ago, and they're great, with lots of bolstering where needed, and heating and ventilation standard. Multi-adjustable 16 ways for the driver and 12 ways for the passenger, the seats have lumbar support and three-position memory and a firmer feel that's still more plush than the stiffer cushions of a big BMW or Mercedes-Benz. They also have the longest bottom cushions in recent memory, extendable with power assistance. Even the seatbelts have power height adjusters.

In back, Lexus offers several packages to coddle rear-seat passengers bordering on first-class-airline treatment. Both versions of the LS offer plenty of head room, and easy entry and exit, and either model has enough rear leg room for most body types. Stepping up to the long-wheelbase version unlocks a few upgrades, including an executive-class seating arrangement that adds a ottoman-style footrests, as well as power-adjusting heating and cooled rear seats.

An abundant 18 cubic feet of trunk space will hold many golf bags, and interior storage is also dandy: the glove box is pretty slim, but the center console is deep and has an elegantly damped lid that slides and pivots backward. The cool box offered on four-seat models is deep enough for most beverages.

Remember the ad where Lexus rolled a marble around the panel gaps of the LS? Yeah, they're that tight and that good. Take a look for yourself.

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2017 Lexus LS

Safety

Federal and independent testers haven't crashed the Lexus LS, but at least the car's advanced safety features have your back.

The 2017 Lexus LS 460 comes with a standard complement of front, side, knee, and side-curtain airbags.

Neither of the major U.S. safety rating organizations have crashed an LS 460 (that's usual for low-volume, high-priced cars) so we don't have much official data to base a ranking on. We'll withhold our safety score until data comes in, but we're not holding our breath, it's likely that this generation of the LS will never see a wall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Lexus LS is available with an advanced safety suite that adds driver attention monitors, adaptive cruise control, frontal collision warnings, blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, and automatic headlights. All of those are optional extras that could add thousands to the bottom line of the LS 460.

The Lexus Enform Safety Connect suite is standard and includes stolen vehicle notification, accident alert, and emergency assistance for one year with a trial subscription.

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2017 Lexus LS

Features

Whether driving or being driven in, the luxurious Lexus LS 460 means you've arrived.

The 2017 Lexus LS 460 is the automaker's flagship luxury sedan and sits atop of the pile when it comes to comfort and amenities. Although the hybrid LS 600h is gone for this year, at every stop—LS 460, LS 460L and LS 460 F Sport—the big sedan is comfortable, spacious, and opulently equipped.

Base cars get standard leather seating, power adjustable heated and cooled front seats, wood- and leather-trimmed steering wheel, navigation, a rearview camera, 10-speaker audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, 18-inch wheels sunroof, and a 12.3-inch infotainment screen.

That's impressive base equipment for the luxury car, especially the massive infotainment screen. Both features earn points above average in our books, same goes for the LS 460's optional extras, customization opportunities, and the 4-year/48,000-mile comprehensive warranty. It aces our features scale with a 10 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The list of standard features on the LS 460 is long and impressive and underscores the sedan's position as one of the most luxurious options.

For buyers interested in being driven—not driving the car themselves—the long-wheelbase version of the LS 460 adds about an inch to the rear leg room and makes available an "Executive Class" package that includes a reclining rear seat, leather-trimmed rear console and doors, rear sunroof, and a rear-seat entertainment system.

Conversely, for buyers interested in driving the car—rather than being driven in the car—an F Sport trim adds 19-inch wheels, a rear limited-slip differential, sport tuned suspension, and unique interior appointments.

There are multiple stops between the ultra-lux package and the sporty package, which makes the LS 460 relatively customizable to suit buyers' needs. An suite of advanced safety systems (that we cover separately) is also available.

We do have a couple quibbles with the order sheet, however. It's worth noting that the adaptive air suspension is required for many add-ons, including the F Sport package, and we haven't found that to make a discernible difference on the LS 460's driving characteristics. It's essentially a $2,120 "gateway option" that's almost necessary to get the LS 460 into the luxury-level stratosphere.

Second, while we appreciate the expansive 12.3-inch infotainment screen, we may have reached the point of diminishing returns with many that type of screen. It's operated with a separate controller—rather than a touchscreen—that would require a driver to take his or her eyes away from the screen for a considerable amount of time to operate. The massive screen is split to offer information on different sides, which further complicates which screen you're looking at and for how long.

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2017 Lexus LS

Fuel Economy

The hybrid LS is gone for 2017 and base V-8 versions fall short of some competitors.

The 2017 Lexus LS 460 relies on a big V-8 up front to drag more than two tons of metal around, so it's reasonable to expect the full-size luxury sedan won't be a worldbeater in fuel economy.

The base, rear-drive version of the LS 460 is rated by the EPA at 16 mpg city, 24 highway, 19 combined, which is good enough for a 5 out of 10 on our fuel economy scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The hybrid LS 600h isn't around any longer, so that's as good as it gets in the long Lexus.

Fortunately, opting for the long-wheelbase version doesn't dent fuel economy at all. Adding all-wheel drive to the LS 460 or LS 460L knocks 1 mpg from the highway and combined ratings, according to the EPA.

Compared to other full-size luxury sedans such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, and BMW 7-Series, the LS is behind—those models manage a combined rating above 20 mpg—but all of those models offer high-performance versions that sink those numbers much, much lower.

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March 7, 2017
For 2017 Lexus LS

Not enough thought on what went under the PR outer styling .

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Navigation and Multi media Sustem totally inadequate. Voice activation unacceptable compared to current technology Cumbersome digital controls Serious safety issues marginally performing AC system Poor... + More »
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