Here are two of the nicest Japanese luxury vehicles around. First up, are the Lexus LS-460 standard sedan (the gray one), and its cousin, the Lexus LS-460 sedan with the optional "SPORT" package (the white one). These are not cheap. The standard sedan starts at $71-K, and with minor stuff like heated steering wheel, is $78-K. This tab didn't bother me, but paying an extra $64 for a cargo net and $109 for floor carpet seemed odd in this price range. Should be standard! The Sport package on the white car cost an extra $8,000. It includes an adjustable suspension, with comfort, sport, and raised modes, along with giant disc brakes. Total tab was $84,415.
Under the hood is a potent 4.6 liter V-8 taken from the performance ISF sedan, but the horsepower has been reduced from 414 to 386, plenty enough. An 8-speed auto gearbox delivers power to the wheels. Gas mileage is rated at 16-24 mpg. I got 17 in mixed, and 25 on the highway. Not bad for a rocket!
No complaints with the steering, handling, ride, or braking performance. The adjustable suspension of the sport car offered a wider range of comfort or handling, however. These are great cars for long trips. The interior is where the money was well spent. Quality of materials and workmanship was outstanding. All of the information for radio, phone, navigation, and vehicle settings are on one screen, controlled by one control stick on the console. It's far easier to use than those found on complicated German cars. And these Lexus models are far more trouble-free than German cars, which makes the price tag seem more reasonable.
For buyers who want a Japanese luxury sedan, but need a lower price, the Acura RLX might do. The base car starts at $48-K, but this "advance" model comes loaded with about everything, so it is $60,450.
Under the hood is a 3.5 liter V-6 putting out 310 horsepower that really likes to be driven hard. It comes from Honda racing technology, so why not? Gas mileage is listed at 20-31 mpg, which is what we got. The steering is light, but responsive. Ride and handling are similar to the Lexus cars, as is braking performance. Another car that's great for long trips.
The interior was top rated, with leather that smelled great. Two complaints though. First, the radio stations are a pain in the butt to program. Second, the air conditioning wasn't up to dealing with the Arizona summer heat waves. The black exterior paint can be partially blamed, as it raised the body temperature an extra 42 degrees over the lighter-colored cars we measured with a laser recorder.
Two minor gripes aside, this is a very nice car. For those who care, this is vehicle is made and assembled in Japan.