Lexus LS460 President 2006
This car should be called The Lexus Thousand Buttons LS460. It had one button to switch on the interior reading lights and another one next to it for switching them off. Seriously. I assume there was a competition held in Japan by Lexus to see who can design a car with the most buttons. Mine was the President model, which meant it had most of the available extras – and therefore probably the highest number of buttons it has ever been possible to install in a single passenger car.
Other than that, I can’t really complain – a very smooth ride, and close to feeling too smooth when you spend the entire time in the driver’s seat. Driving the LS460 I almost felt separated from the road and the outside world; the engineers had done an excellent job isolating the interior from any outside noise, and the exhaust was designed to keep the engine as quiet as possible. More than once that I stepped out of the car (which was keyless) and tried to lock the doors by pushing the button on the remote, only to discover that the doors cannot be locked from the outside whilst the engine is still running…
The LS460 I owned was equipped with something called the Driver Monitoring System, which is a small box on top of the steering column that uses infrared sensors and a CCD camera to monitor driver alertness, including their eyes. I tried to cheat the system repeatedly, and drove with my eyes closed for several minutes, with the passenger’s helping hand keeping the car on the road, but this had no effect – the system didn’t once warn me or interfere in any other way.
The Intelligent Parking Assistant System fared a little better, making the LS460 one of the very first independently-parking cars ever. Or at least it should have. You know how it is with these early first inventions – they usually don’t work that well. This was the case with the LS460 self-parking system. Unlike the Driver Monitoring System, the parking system seemed to work and the car started to reverse into the box I had selected on the screen, but every time I got so scared that I (or should I say “she”) would hit something or someone that I interfered by tapping the brakes, and just parked the car the old-fashioned way. But we shouldn’t forget that the car was built in 2006 and should consider it in context – that this was a year before the first iPhone was introduced…
If one were to use fancy words to describe the exterior design of the car, one could say that the LS lacks character. From the outside it’s a big Japanese car – nohing more, nothing less. The automatic trunk opener/closer takes a veeeeeery long time, and this was also mentioned by a certain famous car journalist who recently got fired by the BBC. I can only say that I completely agree with him.
For those who care a lot about fuel economy, the LS 460 is quite efficient when it comes to driving on the highway. My friend, who owned a Land Rover Discovery III that ran on diesel, once used my car to drive on the highway and managed more miles to the gallon than in his own diesel Land Rover. It’s important to mention, of course, that the Discovery’s kerb weight of 2,5 tons doesn’t exactly classify it as a lightweight SUV, and that its diesel engine isn’t a particularly modern one either.
The LS 460 has an 8-speed gearbox, which kept the average highway fuel economy around 9 litres per 100 km (or 30 miles/gallon), which isn’t bad for a 4,6 litre V8 producing 380 bhp. I once found myself on a completely empty highway on my way to catch a ferry, and with plenty of time to spare I set the cruise control at exactly 90 kph and managed to eek out 8.1l/100km (35 miles/gallon) – but it’s unlikely you’ll have the opportunity to drive like that more than once a decade or so.