Driver's Seat: With Lexus LS460, it's the inside that counts


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2014 Lexus LS460 AWD: Impress friends and neighbors.

Price: If you have to ask ... well, OK, $75,080

Marketer's pitch: "Someday your life will flash before your eyes. Make it worth watching." (Spoken with authority over a "Gimme Some Lovin' "-style guitar riff.)

Conventional wisdom: "Worth watching" also includes helicopters, ball gowns and tuxes, and big cities.

Reality: Ooooh, ahhh.

Smoothness showdown: Cut Mr. Driver's Seat in half each October and you'll see one more ring has been added. Pondering his own life flashing before his eyes, he started to dream big for his birthday. So we'll spend this month gliding in luxury: Next week, we ride in the Cadillac XTS VSport. Then we'll move out of stratospheric sticker prices down the road with the Acura RLX and the wannabe of the pack, the Kia Cadenza, and see if that last 25 grand is really well spent.

Oohs and aahs: I had the good fortune of taking this across the state to visit family. And everyone's reaction was the same as mine -- Wow, really nice interior. The LS460 drapes occupants in all the luxury one would expect in this price bracket. Roomy, supple leather seats. Wood steering wheel. Wood trim all around.

The backseat: Keeping a chauffeur in mind, the rear seat room offers beyond-generous accommodations. Though the driver's seat moves all the way back when the car shuts down, Sturgis Kid 4.0 reported his feet didn't even notice from back there. The rear armrest is a wonderful thing. And the electric rear sunshade keeps the skin from turning red at the touch of a button.

In control: One would call the stereo and heater controls "traditional" -- "dated" sounds so gauche. Rather than whiz-bang touch screen graphics, we're treated with two chrome dials and a strip of buttons for the radio and another strip of buttons for the heater control. Functional and pretty.

Make up for lost time: Once you're out of that traffic jam, the LS460's 4.6-liter V8 has 386 horses at the ready to get you to the front of the line just as soon as it can.

Shifty: The smooth, powerful 8-speed transmission comes with shiftable sport mode, although the shifting feels just OK. Use it as a gear limiter, where it'll top out after it reaches whatever gear you assign. And the sport mode doesn't seem to change the tuning noticeably, which resides somewhere between smooth handling and gliding.

In automatic mode, I actually felt some stutters now and again. Surprising.

The big screen: The LCD is to die for. Drivers can see the map, a list of exits coming up, and information about the song that's playing, all at once and clearly. Even Mrs. Passenger Seat christened it a delight to behold, and probably the biggest we've ever seen.

Plenty of storage: The trunk is enormous, like '73 LeSabre-size, if memory serves.

Clear display: The gauges are clear but not particularly fancy.

Night shift: The dome light provides pretty ambient lighting, never getting in the way of the driver's view outside or the rearview mirror. And the welcome one gets from different lights shining at night compares to the red carpet treatment.

A great view: Visibility in the LS460 is fantastic.

Cool stuff: An available pre-collision prevention system retracts seat belts and adds braking force if a collision seems imminent. A blind spot monitor can be had as well. Noise-reduction wheels help make the cabin as smooth and whisper-quiet as any I've seen.

Unplugged: A $75,000 car and no 110-volt outlet? I have a 2008 Vibe that has one.

Fuel economy: Rated at 18 mpg combined, premium fuel required. (I must have gotten a taste of the good life, because I neglected to note my observed mileage.)

Where it's built: Tahara, Japan.

How it's built: The Lexus LS gets a "recommended" rating from Consumer Reports, and most of its systems are rated excellent over the past dozen or so years.

Next week: 2014 Cadillac XTS VSport AWD Platinum.

autonews

Scott Sturgis, a freelance auto writer, can be reached at mrdriversseat@gmail.com"Wheels," a special advertising supplement, appears inside today's Post-Gazette.


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