Saturday, April 20, 2013

Test Drive: Lexus LS 460 F Sport AWD Starts At $85,780

The Lexus LS 460 F Sport AWD with its 386 horsepower 4.6 liter V8 engine mated to an 8 speed transmission is a sportier version of the new fifth generation Lexus luxury sedan aimed at taking on the German all-wheel drive sedans head on with a price that starts at $85,780 (including $895 delivery, processing & handling fees). The F designation is inspired by Fuji International Speedway which translates to performance, and, in this case, attractive luxury performance. The F Sport model sits 10mm lower than the other LS models, has a more aggressive-looking exterior, sport tuned air suspension, special sporty heat and cooled seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters and aluminum trim, Brembo six-piston caliper brakes and 19” forged wheels. I tested the LS F Sport AWD pre-production all-wheel drive prototype which was a dream to drive. 

The Lexus LS 460 F Sport AWD drive took me around Atlanta with elegance and pride to a variety of special venues. My seasoned critical friends who rode in the backseat were impressed with the roominess, comfort, numerous ventilation outlets, two pulldown ceiling mounted lit vanity mirrors and the view of the front dashboard's expansive 12.3-inch, split-screen, high-resolution multi-media display on the front dashboard showing off numerous functions from radio to climate controls. My front seat passenger could not believe how the split climate controls actually made a difference, while the driver side was cool, the passenger seat area was much warmer. The incredibly quiet cabin, chrome-plated gas and brake petals, choice of heated or cooled seats and steering wheel warmer along with the automated trunk opener and trunk closer button were some of what-seemed-like endless features, along with auto-folding mirrors that pulled in when the car was parked. Also, on that list, was the choice of ride functions, ECO, normal and sport. In ECO mode, the throttle response and engine power output are moderated for increased fuel efficiency.

The long distance test was my drive from Atlanta to Augusta, Georgia, for the 2013 Masters golf tournament and back to Atlanta, about 300 miles round trip on the well-kept smooth highway 20. The LS 460 F Sport does draw attention, like from an inquisitive highway patrol officer who pulled up to my rear bumper at highway speed to check out the vehicle, luckily without pulling me over for a closer view. The all-wheel drive may have been helpful in getting out of the rain drenched grass and gravel Augusta National parking lot. The real test was the Sunday evening drive home after spending an amazing two days following the world's best golfers around. The comfort of the cabin and seats combined with an over-the-top audio system made the two-and-half hour commute an enjoyable, tireless breeze that could have continued.

Bottom line: This is the highest end Lexus sedan, surpassed only in price by the LS 600h L, that caters to a gadget-hungry, performance pamper-seeking driving connoisseur who wants an all-wheel drive and prefers a Japanese over a German car. The Lexus LS 460 F Sport AWD is a lot of car for under $86,000.