Why You Should Buy One Version Of The 2014 Lexus LS 460 But Not The Other

2014 Lexus LS 460 Sedan
The 2014 Lexus LS 460.

You may have noticed new signs of aggression from Lexus, for nearly 25 years the maker of whipped cream on wheels.

The signs are in the styling now for most of the lineup and in the engines and suspensions for machines like the IS, GS and most F-Sport models.

Even the flagship LS 460 has been given the new edgy treatment.  The lines are taut, purposeful....the spindle grille fits in with the rest of the family design language...and this year, the LS offers an F-Sport model.

This is good news, because the LS, for all its charms as a smooth all-day cruiser, has never had moves that would inspire confidence on a winding road.

2014 Lexus LS 460
The 2014 Lexus LS 460 has nice proportions, more muscular lines than in previous generations.

So we decided to sample a range of the LS...starting with the base model.  "Base" is a purely subjective term in this case. For $72,140, you're not going to find rubber floormats or cheap plastics.  That particular price gets you a 388-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 engine, an 8-speed sequential automatic transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels, a full complement of air bags, rain-sensing wipers, a standard nav system with a 12.3 inch color screen, the Lexus Enform infotainment app suite, "dynamic LED interior lighting", leather everything, a moonroof , a 10-speaker premium audio system and an analog clock linked to the GPS system (so it updates itself). Very cool.

There's also an all-wheel drive model that we sampled, which takes away 28 horsepower, but gives you a surer footing in bad weather (to be honest, on the dry pavement around Phoenix, Arizona, we didn't really notice a change in traction or that much of a deficit in power.

2014 Lexus LS 460 interior
The 2014 Lexus LS 460 interior: Leather, leather everywhere.

Our LS added options including a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, the all-weather package, the comfort package, LED headlamps, a killer Mark Levinson 19-speaker audio system, a heated wood steering wheel, cargo net and trunk mat, bringing the bottom line with destination charges to $78,734.

And it's very nice.  We've been recommending the LS to buyers of big luxury sedans for more than a decade now, and the LS delivers all the good stuff at a price that isn't anywhere near cheap, but when you compare it to the sticker of a Mercedes-Benz S Class, BMW 7-Series or Audi A8, represents strong value.

It's even a bit less floaty than previous generations...which really whetted our appetite for the wonders the F-Sport would bring.

Quite possibly the best advice one human being can give to another is to be yourself.

The Lexus LS needed a fearless best friend to tell it that, while there may be people who do want their next Lexus to be a BMW, it simply...isn't.

2014 Lexus LS 460 F-Sport
The Lexus LS 460 F-Sport.  

The F-Sport Package adds $8,350 to the base price of an LS 460.  For that money, you get 19-inch, 10-spoke forged-alloy wheels, an F-Sport tuned and lowered adaptive variable air suspension, stabilizer bars and shock absorbers, big (almost 15-inch) Brembo brakes, a limited slip, rear-diff, and some interior and exterior styling cues.  And the F-Sport Comfort Package adds another $1,650 for climate-comfort front seats, a power rear sunshade and a one-touch power trunk open and close button.

And you get....

A car that resists being driven smoothly.  With other options added, the F-Sport we drove was eight grand more than the stock LS 460, didn't go any faster (they share the same engine), and all the performance bits just made it worse.  If it were worse in an old BMW Alpina way, if there was some measurable payoff for having your kidneys bludgeoned, that'd be one thing...but this doesn't give you that and while your kidneys don't get the Alpina treatment, there is no comfort to be found anywhere in the vehicle.  It's what you'd get if Lincoln had decided to do a Shelby GT 500 version of the Town Car.

The LS is still our pick for a big luxury sedan.  The base and AWD LS 460 is a tremendous car.  The F-Sport is awesome on other Lexus models, and someday may be for the LS, as well.  But today is not that day.