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Test Drive Impressive

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While wife's RX350 was in for service, I drove a new LS460.

This is impressive, elegant automobile; quiet, smooth and seamless with plenty of power. While it is bigger than I would typically buy, and I prefer the taughter suspension and sharp braking of my '13 GS350, the LS makes a compelling argument for the day when comfort and elegance trump nimble and sporty. It is a significant step above what I perceive to be the competitive position of previous LS models.

My biggest criticism is braking: The LS brakes feel like those in the RX350 -- soft, with too much pedal travel. I prefer the immeditate bite of the GS brakes. An f-sport LX would likely remedy that situation. However, I find the more understated standard configuration more satisfying than the f-sport version, and my 70-year-old bones would probably like the standard seat better than the f-sport seat. Will hold judgment until I get to drive and LS f-sport.

Nonetheless, I could maybe see an LS in my garage one of these days. At some point, we'll likely go from three cars ('03 BMW Z4, '09 RX350, '13 GS350 AWD) to one, and I will be ready to give up attacking freeway entrance and exit sweepers and trying to ace the apexes on country roads. At that point, the LS may be the ultimate compromise. And by that time, Lexus may see fit to sharpen up the handling and braking of the car another notch, making it a bit more competitive with the Europeans. How about making the f-sport suspension and brakes an option with all-season tires, and without having to buy the whole f-sport package?

I don't pay much attention to reliability issues with the Audi A7 and A8, BMW 7-series, or the S-class Mercedes, but I know all three manufacturers have been dinged across the board for reliabiliy issues. I gather BMW has had some significant issues on these cars, and that's been an issue on trade-ins. Factor in reliability, and the European edge in handling and braking erodes, especially considering the type of driving for most folks buying these cars.

Overall, the LS is a beautiful automobile with lots of class and an excellent interior, and mechanically sufficient for all but the higher levels of spirited driving. For anyone contemplating a car of this size and this price range, the LS460 should be on the list.

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