First Drive: 2013 Lexus LS Flagship Including New F Sport Model

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Images courtesy Lexus

On July 30, Lexus introduced its latest LS flagship to the world in a unique “Lexus Laws of Attraction” unveiling exhibit in San Francisco. More recently, we got to spend time behind the wheel of the 2013 models including the new F Sport edition during a regional press event in Tucson, Arizona.

Prior to driving we were given a bit of history on the Lexus brand and the LS specifically. Lexus began as an idea in the mind of the head of Toyota Motor Corporation in 1983 and by 1989 the first Lexus LS was delivered to the world.

Since then, the brand and the model have seen many changes and improvements and for 2013 the LS lineup has grown to offer the LS 460, LS 460L long wheelbase, LS 600h L hybrid, and the new LS 460 F Sport. In addition, the LS 460 and LS 460 L are available in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and the hybrid comes standard with a fulltime AWD system.

The entire 2013 LS lineup gets the new face of Lexus including the spindle grille design while also seeing increased body rigidity, frequency adaptive damping shock absorbers, and hollow chamber wheels all designed to improve ride and handling while reducing noise, vibration, and harshness to add up to the best experience in an LS to date.

Technology enhancements come in the form of blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, advanced pre-collision alert with pedestrian detection, and collision avoidance assist (which brakes the car below 24 mph if the driver doesn’t).

Inside we find a new interior set off by a standard 12.3-inch monitor screen capable of displaying multiple information windows, a three-spoke steering wheel that is slightly smaller in diameter for sportier feel, and a new automatic climate control system that senses body temperatures in each position to work with the heat/air system for maximum individual comfort.

Also new for 2013 is the Shimamoku wood trim package that requires 67 processes over 38 days to complete just for the steering wheel.

All that aside, how does the new LS ride and drive?

We were able to test all new versions of the LS including the F Sport. The Lexus LS is a very comfortable ride that is well controlled without ever being too harsh, even in sport plus mode via the driving mode selector. A new comfort setting has been added for 2013 but we never found ourselves using it as we preferred sport plus during our time behind the wheel.

The differences in the drive mode settings are oh so subtle but slight variations in shock damping rates, gear selection point (via the eight-speed automatic) and throttle tip in exist in each of the now five settings that includes the very sedate Eco mode.

The F Sport car dials things up a bit tighter with more aggressive styling, slightly lower suspension, lower rear bumper, all aluminum interior trim, rear Torsen limited slip differential, larger Brembo front brake calipers, and F Sport paddle shifters.

While there is no power bump specifically for the F Sport models, choosing a RWD LS will get the driver 386hp from the 4.6-liter V-8 while AWD cars are dialed down to 360hp across the LS lineup (with the exception of the hybrid of course).

The LS is so big you never really want to throw the car into the serious twisties but when we did we found everything to be in proper order and the new Lexus’ handling just fine.

There is quite a bit of mass to get moving but the LS does it just fine with acceleration from the normally-aspirated powertrain. F Sport is not meant to compete with the likes of AMG or M-Series cars but is more of a styling package added to base powertrain vehicles and will keep Lexus customers in the model line when they are seeking something just a little different from what they’ve previously owned.

Pricing starts at $71,990 for a base LS 460 in RWD. The F Sport RWD bumps up to $81,990 and the line-topping LS 600h L rolls in at $119,910. Long wheelbase models add about $6,500 to pricing and AWD demands another three grand.