Twenty-three years ago, Lexus launched in the United States, the LS serving as the new luxury brand’s flagship sedan, the model parent company Toyota engineered in a bold play to give Lexus instant credibility as a top-tier maker of premium automobiles. Today, the 2013 Lexus LS continues in this role, competing in a rarefied stratum of the market against the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S-Class, Porsche Panamera, and Hyundai Equus.
Yep. I went there. Here’s why.
The Lexus LS is uniquely positioned in the modern pantheon of full-size luxury sedans. The German brands against which it competes are more expensive than the Lexus when equivalently outfitted, especially the Mercedes, which starts a full $20,000 higher than the Lexus. The Korean Equus is more closely matched to the LS in terms of powertrain and equipment, but is clearly not up to par in many respects, an inferiority that is reflected in its lower price tag. Add a deserved reputation for dependability, not insignificant for vehicles with this much high-tech gadget-zootery, and the Lexus LS offers genuine left-brain appeal.
What’s been missing from the Lexus LS recipe since that first one rolled off the boat has been design and dynamics to excite the right side of a luxury sedan buyer’s brain. Lexus is determined to change that, and has given the 2013 Lexus LS a thorough mid-life update designed to inject some excitement into the lineup.
To find out if the LS still requires its Driver Attention Monitor with Closed Eye Detection system, I borrowed a 2013 LS 460 equipped with the new F Sport Package. Having now spent a week behind its wheel, I’ve gotta say I’m impressed. But the LS still disappoints in some ways.