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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Quick, smooth and serene - the Lexus LS is huge inside and luxurious

Against It can’t match the style and elegance of its main rivals

Verdict It's a superbly refined limousine, but it's expensive to run and lacks personality

Go for… There’s just one model, the 4.3 V8

Avoid… See above

Lexus LS Saloon
  • 1. Keyless entry, air-conditioned front seats, leather upholstery, rain-sensitive wipers, sat-nav and air suspension are all standard
  • 2. Stiff depreciation means buying a nearly new LS is still a costly prospect, but a three-year-old model makes more sense
  • 3. There are 10 airbags in the car, including two to protect the knees of the front occupants
  • 4. There’s more room in the rear than any passenger could need
  • 5. The boot is generous, although the suspension intrudes, narrowing the available space
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Lexus LS Saloon full review with expert trade views

The LS is an anonymous-looking but very efficient luxury cruiser that wafts along on air springs, which can raise it by an inch to clear rough ground.

That's clever, but the most impressive thing is its refinement. The V8 engine runs in near-silence and, on the move, only a little noise from around the mirrors breaks the hush. Otherwise, you might as well be in a library, albeit one with good grip and little roll from the body. And, if there is a criticism, it's that the LS handles with composure rather than enthusiasm.

The cabin is vast and loaded with gadgets, so many that they risk distracting the driver. Items that are extras on other luxury cars are fitted as standard. It’s beautifully fitted out using high-quality materials, and any complaints are nit-picking. Mid you, the wood trim on the dash and wheel is a bit bright for some tastes.

There’s more room in the rear than any passenger could need, while the boot is generous, although the suspension layout intrudes, narrowing the available space.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Steady demand and there is a value blip from ’03 when six-speed standard

James Ruppert
Used car guru

There’s only the one model to choose from, and just about everything you could think of is already included on or in it. So, in addition to what some may think of as the regular goodies, there are keyless entry, air-conditioned front seats, soft-close doors, leather upholstery, rain-sensitive wipers, sat-nav and air suspension, all as standard.

The 4.3-litre V8 pull strongly at low revs and in the mid-range to waft the car along comfortably, with all the power going through a wonderfully smooth six-speed automatic gearbox. The result is a swift take-off, effortless cruising and rapid acceleration on the move.

There are no fewer than 10 airbags in the car, including two to protect the knees of the front occupants. Active safety features are just as impressive, with standard traction control. Lexus was also the first manufacturer to score 100% in What Car?'s Security Supertest.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Seldom goes wrong but it'll cost you when it does

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

The LS is a far from cheap to own and run. Its second-hand value falls faster than average for luxury cars, losing almost two-thirds of its original worth in the first three years of its life. As a result, buying a nearly new one is a costly prospect, while a three-year-old model makes a lot more sense.

Fuel economy runs at up to 25mpg overall, which isn’t too bad for a big 4.3 engine, and the car's in insurance group 17, which is also reasonable.

However, servicing is as expensive as you’d expect for a big luxury saloon. And, to make matters worse, there isn’t much of a network of knowledgeable independent garages prepared to fix and fettle your LS more affordably than a main dealer will.

Spares are dear, but the car’s near-legendary reliability means that you shouldn't have to stump up for many unexpected repairs outside the normal servicing schedule.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Steady demand and there is a value blip from ’03 when six-speed standard

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Lexus has won a gold award for the most reliable make from the JD Power customer satisfaction survey for six years on the trot, which pretty much says it all. If you still need more convincing of the bullet-proof nature of this car, the luxury arm of Japanese manufacturer Toyota has a regular slot in the What Car? Reliability Index’s top 10 makes.

While, eventually, it’s fair to imagine that something unexpected will go wrong with your LS, there’s less risk of that happening than with anything else you could drive in the same class. Should it do so, the marque has a reputation second to none for customer care, and there is an impressive warranty package - just in case. However, according to What Car? data, repair bills for older LS400s averaged £550, which is on the high side for the class.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Seldom goes wrong but it'll cost you when it does

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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