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The Acorn

Lexus LS 430
The best gets better
By Michael Binstock
Acorn Automotive Editor

It was only ten years ago when Toyota stunned the motoring world by introducing the first pure luxury brand from a Japanese importer. Called "Lexus" the first offering was the LS400 an unashamedly up market luxury sedan to compete head to head with Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar.

Now Lexus has introduced the third generation of its flagship sedan for 2001, making yet another leap forward in the premium luxury segment. The all-new LS 430 brings a new design that’s both edgier and roomier with new safety technology, a more engaging driving experience and many significant luxury innovations.

"With the LS 400, Lexus created the benchmark by which others are judged," said Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager Denny Clements. "Now, as the competition has caught up in many ways, we’re going to set new, higher standards with the LS 430."

The LS430 is a car that, when you first sit behind the wheel, can be a little overpowering. This is a car that has to be shown to the owner. It is not a car to get in and drive without taking time to read the owners manual. With only a few days driving time in the LS430, with the optional Ultra Luxury Package, I found myself referring to the manual so often that I kept it in the pocket in the door, not in the glove box where it normally resides.

Lexus LS 430: Just below the lamp is the handy headllight wash system. The buttons on the bumper are the parking assist sensors and in the lower grill, the laser gererator for the cruise control

Lexus designed the new LS 430 to provide even more car than before, but without adding excess size and weight. And that is just what they have done. The look of the car is just different enough to stand out as a new car but to provide what Lexus has always given us with the LS – a good looking luxury car.

The new motor gives increased performance but keeps its Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) certification and no increase in fuel consumption. There is a more spacious interior, without taking up more space outside.

"This latest Lexus flagship truly is new," said LS 430 Chief Engineer Yasushi Tanaka. "While some of the structural parts, nuts and bolts were carried over from the previous generation LS, more than 90 percent of this car is all-new." A three-inch longer wheelbase and increased height give the LS 430 more passenger room than the previous LS 400. However, Lexus kept the overall length the same as before, 196.7 inches, to retain maneuverability. The new LS 430 provides more front leg and headroom than the externally larger Mercedes-Benz S-Class, as well as more cabin volume (107.2 cu. ft. vs. 105.0 cu. ft.) and a larger trunk (20.2 cu. ft. - 17.5 cu. ft. with rear air conditioner vs. 15.4 cu. ft.).

The original Lexus LS 400 made a powerful V8 engine the price of entry in the premium luxury sedan segment at a time when some European competitors provided only six-cylinder engines. The new 290-horsepower 4.3-liter V8 engine in the LS 430, mated to a computer-controlled five-speed automatic transmission, will accelerate the Lexus flagship sedan from 0-60 mph in a sportscar-quick 6.3 seconds.

The 4.3-liter V8 produces 320 lb.-ft. of peak torque, equivalent to a 5.0-liter engine. Lexus tuned the LS 430 engine to produce more torque across a broad engine speed range, making the car feel more responsive under all driving conditions.

To refine their own standards for attention to detail, Lexus designers and engineers studied luxury and craftsmanship outside the automotive realm, including five-star hotel rooms, private luxury jets, and high-end jewelry and guitar makers

Inside, the LS 430 interior features higher grades of leather and wood than before. New adjustments for the front seats include dual lumbar controls and adjustable cushion length for greater thigh support for the driver, as well as single lumbar controls for the passenger. The climate control system features temperature and sun-sensing articulating air registers. If sunlight is concentrated on one side of the car, the registers will automatically deliver more cooling air to that side.

options listing for almost $72,000

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