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Rarefied ride: Lexus endows LS460 with enhanced styling, performance

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A fella could get used to this: Ensconced in a hand-stitched, leather-lined capsule, serenaded by an awesome 19-speaker audio system as the highway slides serenely beneath, unperturbed by road imperfections as the Lexus LS460’s supple suspension delivers a creamy-smooth ride.

Add to that wind, road and engine noise that is virtually undetectable, nearly every function performed at the touch of a well-lubed switch or button … yes, this is the life.

For the 2013 model year, Lexus has stepped up its game to make the flagship LS line more competitive with its various upper-crust challengers – think Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and even Jaguar.

Long known for its utter reliability and impeccable build quality, the LS often fell short in the spirit department. So Lexus tricked up the exterior styling, fine-tuned the suspension for additional driver involvement, and reimagined the cabin for even more luxurious surroundings.2013_Lexus_LS_460_interior_001_30A1098F4C9FA7FF6C0D0526DEA6E0CD9C7C1A78

The bold front-end design aligns the LS with the rest of the Lexus lineup, now sporting the division’s so-called “spindle” grille. Overall, the new styling jettisons the previous somewhat-dowdy appearance for a modern, crisp, luxury look.

The cockpit benefits from a plethora of soft-touch elements, garnished with contrasting stitching and judicious applications of polished wood and metal accents.

The seating in the LS is superbly comfortable, unexpectedly so in the rear. Generous legroom and wonderfully shaped cushions allow backseat passengers to feel less like an afterthought and revel in the accommodations along with those riding up front.

The rejiggered suspension – with knob-adjustable settings – instills a greater sense of control around turns, but still delivers a calm ride. Steering too is more responsive.

The LS’ V-8 and eight-speed automatic provide plenty of power, but fuel economy – 16 mpg city/23 highway in our all-wheel-drive tester – lags behind much of the competition.

Still, the LS460 is a magnificent machine, beyond competent in most areas. Graced with fresh looks and improved performance, it now can stand toe to toe with many of the world’s best.

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