- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2008

Competing against 28 contenders from 22 countries, the Lexus LS 460 was chosen as “World Car of the Year.” My view: “it’s the finest car I’ve ever driven.”

This title didn’t happen by chance. According to Bob Carter, the Lexus group vice president and general manager, “from the outset, it was the objective to develop a luxury flagship.” My tester, however, was the LS 460 L model, which is a more expensive version of the award-winning sedan. I’m sure the prestigious title applies to my tester, too.

This is a long-wheelbase full-size sedan with a stylish eye-catching appearance. The LS 460 L model has nearly 5 inches of additional space. It has a SmartAccess keyless entry using the key-fob in my pocket. Starting required my foot on the brake pedal and the push of a button. I sat in climate-controlled seats (rear seats can be heated as well). The rear seat also offers an entertainment system featuring the world’s first ceiling mounted 3.0 VGA high-quality display with a 9-inch screen that operates with an electronic-motor open/close function. For better viewing, the rear doors have sunshades.

It has a powerful 4.6-liter V-8 engine that produces 380 horsepower and goes zero-to-60 mph in less than 6 seconds. This power is connected to an eight-speed sequential shift automatic transmission that’s extremely smooth. It also has an Electronic Throttle Control System with Snow and Power modes.

As for parallel parking, all I had to do is pull up to an open space using the navigational screen and let the Intuitive Park Assist take over. A backup view comes on the screen and Park Assist did a better job parking a car of this size than I would have. And speaking of size, the trunk has 18 cubic feet of cargo space. A touch of a button on the underside of the trunk lid lowers, latches and locks it.

Before going on, let’s get the dim news out of the way; price. The LS 460 has a base price of $61,000 and the LS 460 L has a base price of $71,000, plus options. My options brought the total up to $80,977. It has an EPA mileage rating of 18 miles per gallon city and 27 highway.

Obviously, the price will limit the number of buyers, but there are people who are willing to pay any price for the very best car money can buy — and the LS 460 L is it.

This is the first car I’ve ever been in that had a 19-speaker sound system. It’s a Mark Levinson system with a DVD/CD changer. Needless to say, the sound is great and I purposely sat in various seats and heard the same quality throughout the car.

This system can store as may as 2,000 digital songs. Although I could tune in AM/FM stations, for the most part, I listened to my favorite XM Satellite radio station. Two things about the interior: the noise level — from road noise — is extremely low, and the appearance and comfort is as good as it gets.

As for safety, this sedan has all the latest. Electronically control braking, power steering, Vehicle Stability Control and much more. The driver and front seat passenger have advanced airbags. It also has knee bags for the front seat driver and passenger. It has the latest in front and rear side curtain airbags, plus seat belt pretensioners for front and out-board rear seat passengers.

This car was equipped with the new navigational system that has a hard disc drive for faster calculation. It’s also an extremely accurate system with loads of information.

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