Reader Review: Lexus LS 460 Sport

Lexus LS 460 Sport Starfire Pearl

TLE reader Heimdall222 has put 1,800 miles on his brand new 2010 Lexus LS 460 Sport — here are his impressions of the sport-infused flagship sedan.

The 2010 LS 460 Sport is my second Lexus, following a GS 350, and I’ve also owned several Infinitis.

The basic Sport Package is, of course, what converts a standard LS 460 into an LS 460 Sport, and I’ve also got the Luxury Value Edition Package and Comfort Package with Sport, which I recommend as minimum Sport optional equipment. Here’s the full details on the various packages.

Lexus LS 460 Sport Starfire Pearl Rear Photo

Lexus avoided glitzing-up the exterior with Sport badges, racing stripes, a trunk-lid spoiler, etc. Instead, the LS Sport gets a unique blackout grille, those great 19-inch/20-spoke wheels, and a special body kit, which all contribute to an improved overall appearance compared to the standard LS 460.

My Sport’s exterior finish is Starfire Pearl, a semi-metallic white that literally glows in the sunlight. White also keeps the interior temperature lower in the summer than a darker color.

Lexus LS 460 Sport Interior

The interior is two-tone black/saddle tan leather, and all of the upholstery stitching is a contrasting tan color. Also, the perforated seat leather is aniline black over tan, and the tan shows through the perforations. Gotta love it!

The dark ash burl wood paneling has a very rich-looking matte finish, which is something Lexus should do for their entire product line. The standard wood trim is shiny and can easily be mistaken for that cheap plastic fake wood.

I’ve set the Mark Levinson sound system’s treble, midrange, and bass enhancements at plus one, plus two, and plus three bars, respectively. Set this way, it’s easily the automotive equivalent of a high-end home component sound system, combining the response of 19 speakers/7.1 channels with typical Lexus interior quiet, even at freeway speeds. Again, gotta love it!

The Advanced Parking Guidance System does indeed do parallel parking without bashing into anything. This isn’t something I’d use regularly, though, unless I suddenly lost the ability to parallel park the old-fashioned way. (APGS is included in the Luxury Value Edition Package, and I wouldn’t have paid for it separately.)

The number of position settings on the driver’s bucket will allow almost anyone to find a comfortable seating position. The bucket seats have more side-bolstering and support than standard LS 460 seating, but it certainly would put the “icing on the Sport cake” if Lexus were to provide Recaro-type front buckets. At the minimum, nonslip synthetic mouse hide (aka suede) inserts should be used on the seat and backrest of the driver’s bucket to keep you from sliding around during those 90-degree turns at 60 MPH!

Since cleaning floor mats isn’t my favorite thing, I bought a set of ExactMats. They’re a precise custom fit all around, very high quality, heavy clear vinyl. Got the full set, front seating, rear seating, trunk areas. These mats lie flat, stay put (no sliding around), and the front driver’s side mat does NOT interfere with the accelerator pedal! The mats are shipped rolled up, and unrolling to let them flatten out before installing is a good idea.

A couple of minor interior quibbles:

  • The lid on the center console storage compartment is hinged at the back end and does not open to vertical, only to about a 70-degree angle. This makes it a thorough PITA to find something that’s toward the back of the compartment. Don’t store anything sharp back there!
  • The leather-bound documentation package containing all of the manuals is so thick that it won’t fit in the obvious glove box pigeonhole. This means that the package either stays at home or takes up lots of glove box space that could be better used for other items.
Lexus LS 460 Sport Tachometer & Speedometer Photo

The Sport is a large car, no doubt about it. However, I think it handles like something much smaller. The suspension has selectable Comfort, Normal, and Sport settings, and although the differences aren’t huge, they’re very noticeable.

The Sport’s suspension is obviously much firmer than the standard LS 460. Cornering is much flatter than the standard mode. There’s minimal body lean on cornering, even in Comfort setting, and successively less lean in Normal and Sport settings. Steering apparently hasn’t been upgraded from that of the standard LS 460. It’s not UNresponsive, exactly, just sorta…well, numb. IMO, it could be – and certainly should be – lots better!

Even with firmer suspension tuning and low-profile summer tires, the ride isn’t at all harsh or choppy, even on bad pavement.

Throttle tip-in is smooth, no sudden acceleration points or jerkiness. Shifting is very quick and positive, with the advertised RPM-matching blip on downshifts. Tapping the downshift paddle once when in “D” results in dropping anywhere from two to four gears, depending on road speed.

Exhaust growl under heavy acceleration is very audible, but it’s also what you’d expect from a Lexus – tasteful and refined.

The Brembo brake system allows *extremely* quick stops. Pedal modulation is excellent, with no sudden grabbing at any point in pedal travel. Some minor downsides, however:

  • Since a Sport will stop more quickly than almost anything else on the road, suddenly standing on the brakes will likely put that Prius behind you in your back seat. If you can’t avoid tailgating, do NOT buy a Sport!
  • The high-friction front pad material makes lots of brake dust, which deposits on the wheels and bodywork and requires washing every couple hundred miles or so.
  • All that brake dust is the result of the pads getting thinner quicker, so pad life will be lower than that of standard pads. Lexus says that “Pad life may be less than 20,000 miles, and brake rotor life may be less than 50,000 miles depending on driving conditions.” I’d read “may be less” as “will be significantly less”, in both instances.

The PWR position of the Electronically Controlled Transmission (ECT) button is supposed to only hold the transmission in any gear longer before shifting, but it seems to me to also result in more power over the same RPM range in any gear. Downshifts seem to be quicker and the throttle more sensitive with PWR selected. (The PWR position also prevents the transmission from shifting into 8th gear at low road speeds.) And surprisingly, there’s no obvious loss of MPG.

The best of all worlds for me is suspension set to Sport, PWR selected, and tires at 35 psi cold. With all that, my rough measurements put 0-60 at closer to 5.0 seconds than the spec 5.4. This thing goes like a bat!

At around 1500 miles and being reasonably careful with the lead-foot action, my gas mileage is 16.5-17 MPG with about 80% city driving and 21.5-22 MPG with about 80% highway driving.

Lexus LS 460 Sport Front
Lexus LS 460 Sport Rear

My bottom line? The LS 460 Sport is very definitely not a low-budget vehicle, but you also very definitely get what you pay for. That is, a large sedan with luxury everything, decent gas mileage, and very good performance in the bargain. Did I mention it goes like a bat?

I’d buy the Sport again in a Texas second. Without hesitation!