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First Drive: 2013 Lexus LS

Raising the bar – and the flag – a little higher.

by on Aug.13, 2012

The 2013 Lexus LS 460 adopts the maker's new spindle grille.

Few cars have had a more dramatic impact on the automotive market than the Lexus LS.  The original sedan – launched in 1989 as a 1990 model – definitively redefined the luxury segment, proving that the Japanese could go head-to-head, toe-to-toe with the best the Germans had to offer.

The original LS put a premium on quality, reliability and customer services, tackling nagging weaknesses German stalwarts like Mercedes-Benz and BMW had long tried to ignore. It paid off for the new Toyota luxury brand, Lexus surging on both the customer satisfaction and sales charts.  But as Lexus General Manager Mark Templin readily admits, the quality gap has largely closed and the Germans are pushing hard to improve customer service. So, for many luxury buyers, the real differentiators are again what they were before Lexus arrived on the scene: performance and styling.

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That’s been a problem for Lexus, the last decade seeing it settle for bland and general boring designs wrapped around platforms that were more conveyances than driving machines. Last year, however, Lexus gave a first hint of something different, none other than Toyota President Akio Toyoda personally lifting the covers on the new Lexus GS and promising to pump more passion into the brand.  But the real test arrives this autumn with the launch of the marque’s newly redesigned flagship, the 2013 Lexus LS.

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First Look: 2013 Lexus LS 460

Putting some passion into the flagship.

by on Jul.31, 2012

Lexus delivers a more passionate take on its LS flagship, the new LS 460 F Sport shown here.

Few cars did more to revolutionize the market than the original 1990 Lexus LS 400, a flagship for Toyota’s new luxury marque and proof positive the Japanese really could go toe-to-toe with the best of the German competition.

In the nearly quarter-century since the LS line first appeared, however, Lexus has played it increasingly safe, especially when it has come to design, no wonder the big 4-door has lately lost ground to the more aggressive Europeans.  But during the preview of the smaller Lexus GS last year, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda promised to punch some more passion into the brand — and the 2013 Lexus LS 460 that debuted in San Francisco last night is a clear indication of what he meant.

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At a gathering of 500 invited guests from the San Francisco arts and design community, Lexus actually showed up four different versions of the flagship sedan: the “base” LS 460, the long-wheelbase LS 460L, the LS 600h and the new LS 460 F- Sport, a more aggressive addition to the line-up.

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