Highlights: Lexus flagship sedan has been reworked for the 2013 model year, offering a sportier flair. The LS is still based off of the 2006 platform, which was the last time the vehicle was totally redesigned.

Test vehicle’s MSRP: $86,875 (Base LS starts at $72,885)

Seating Capacity:  5

Standard Safety Features: airbags (driver, front, side, knee and curtain); vehicle stability assist; ABS; electronic brake distribution; an electronic parking brake; traction control; a rearview camera; daytime running light (DRL); tool kit; a first aid kit; Lexus’ Safety Connect System; and Lexus’ signature Smart Stop technology

Standard Equipment: 18-inch wheels; an 8-speed automatic transmission; (HID) high-intensity discharge headlights; bi-xenon headlights; LED headlights; rain-sensing wipers; a 12.3-inch infotainment screen for (rearview camera/audio/nav system); memory control fro the front seats, steering wheel and outside mirror; leather seats; a push-button keyless starter; an analog clock; a power moonroof; and a wood/leather steering wheel

Standard Audio: a 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/HD audio system with satellite radio

Suspension System: a 4-wheel independent multi-link suspension system

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty:  6 years or 70,000 miles

Bluetooth Compatibility: Yes

Test Vehicle Standard Engine/Horsepower: 4.6-liter, 8-cylinder/386-horsepower

Recommended Fuel: Premium

Standard Fuel Mileage: 16-city/24-hwy (LS 460 rwd)

Trim Levels:
LS 460 (rwd or awd)
LS 460L (rwd or awd)
LS 600hL (a hybrid)… awd only
LS 460 F Sport

What’s New: While the dimensions are basically the same, the 2013 LS has been reworked – inside and out, adding the latest high-tech features.

Pros: For the 2013 model year, the LS is available in a variety of configurations: a short-wheel base model, a long-wheel base model, a rear- wheel drive model, an all-wheel drive model, a hybrid and the all-new F-sport model. Yes, there is a LS to accommodate every driver.

Lexus has been criticized over the years for not offering an engaging driving experience. To address this issue for the 2013 model year, the LS offer a variety of driving settings. Drivers can choose from a variety of settings too, which adjusts the suspension system. The settings are econ mode, normal mode or sport mode. Additional settings are available on the F-Sport model. Lexus has even gone as far to offer a new F-Sport trim, which improves the driving dynamics.

For $8,400 the F-Sport trim improves the driving experience, as in the case of the vehicle we reviewed, by offering larger bolsters, a sport-tuned suspension system that lowers the vehicles by .4 inches, Brembo brakes, 19-inch wheels, summer tires, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters and a limited slip rear differential for the non all-wheel drive model. Lexus also enhances the exterior design of the F-Sport model, too.

Inside the vehicle, the LS also offers one of the largest screens we’ve seen in a vehicle – 12.3 inches. The enlarged screen displays the nav system, the rearview camera, the audio system, the climate control system and the phone system. In our eyes, Stevie Wonder would be able to see all of the objects that appear on the screens.  All of these items can be controlled using Lexus’ easy-to-use second-generation mouse-like Remote Touch system.

Furthermore, our vehicle was equipped with a Blind-Spot system, a Rear Cross Traffic system to compliment the rearview camera, ventilated front seats, a power rear sunshade, a power trunk which opens and closes, LED headlights and a premium-class 19-speaker, 450-watt Mark Levinson audio system. Bing and others apps are available to use in conjunction with the infotainment audio system in the LS.

Besides the aforementioned options we noted on the LS we reviewed, for the 2013 model year Lexus’ flagship can be equipped with a Pre-Collision Safety System, which is designed to assist the driver in avoiding a low-speed accident by bringing the vehicle to a full stop without the driver having to step on the brakes. And a Lane-Keep Assist System, which warns the driver when the driver crosses outside their lane. Lastly, the LS can also be outfitted with a radar-activated cruise control system. Basically, the engineers have incorporated a number of features to help the driver avoid an accident.

Cons: While the 2013 LS has a more expressive design than the previous models, with its signature large-mouth grille, especially when the F-Sport package is added, it still doesn’t drive like the performance-oriented BMW or Infiniti.  However, we realize this is not the driving experience most buyers have come to expect from Lexus. Furthermore, some of the competitors offer an oversized or dual moonroof. Lexus only offers a standard power operated moonroof.

Verdict: The fourth-generation Lexus LS is still based off of the 2006 platform, which was the last time the vehicle was redesigned. The LS, which costs less than the most of its German and European competitors, is still considered the benchmark for the entire industry in terms of quality. To complement the quality for the 2013 model year, the LS now offers an expressive design, a more intuitive driving experience and the latest high-tech safety features. With all of these changes, Lexus is assured to remain the number vehicle in terms of sales in the large luxury car segment.

Competition: Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, Hyundai Equus, Infiniti M, Jaguar XJ and Mercedes S-Class

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Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com. Follow him at  twitter/JeffCars.

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