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2013 Lexus LS F-Sport Review

Posted in cars, Reviews on April 24th, 2013 by admin

The Lexus LS has never been an attention grabbing car. Since its introduction, almost two decades ago, the LS has established its niche as a big, luxury, four-door, with emphasis on comfort and technology rather than performance or style. The introduction of the 4th generation LS stays true to form, however now, thanks to an all new F-sport package, performance and style are emphasized just as much as those other things.

We recently drove the 2013 Lexus LS F-sport for a week and logged over 1,000 miles. It was better than we expected, but not everything we wanted. What we truly wanted was BMW M or Mercedes-Benz AMG power. What we got was no slouch, but the 386-horsepower produced by the naturally aspirated 4.6-liter V8 cannot be compared to the aforementioned German hotrods and their forced induction V8’s that make north of 500-horsepower. 

Our wants and Lexus’ intentions are two different things. Lexus intended to create a better looking, better handling LS that would make the driving experience more entertaining and draw younger buyers to the mark. Have they succeeded? Yes, yes and we’ll soon know.

The F-sport package enhances appearance by way of a more aggressive front end with a blacked out mesh spindle shaped grille and larger air intakes. The addition of gray with black accent 19-inch forged wheels, a slightly lower stance and rear bumper diffuser complete the exterior upgrade. F-sport enhancements are carried through to the interior by way of sportier front seats that provide far greater lateral support than those found in the standard LS models and a leather wrapped sport steering wheel with paddle shifters. Additionally, F-sport badging, embroidering and embossing throughout will tip off passengers that this is not a big boring Lexus.

Rather than additional horsepower, the LS F-sport gains performance points by way of handling. Upgrades include six-piston Brembo brakes, a Torsion limited-slip rear differential and adjustable air suspension. Furthermore, the 2013 LS F-sport has five driving modes: Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport S+; each of which makes various adjustments to the car’s ride, performance and handling characteristics. While Eco or perhaps Comfort may be of interest to some, it was Sport S+ that we found most interesting and entertaining. Turning the mode selection knob to Sport S+ does more than turn the gauge cluster red and display a cool graphic on the 12.3-inch jumbotron in the center of the dashboard; it also stiffens the suspension, tightens the steering and firms and adjusts shift points. These minor sounding changes make a major difference in the feel and handling and even make it not too laughable of an idea to utter the words “track” and “Lexus LS” in the same sentence.

While testing the LS F-sport, we put it through the paces on some of our favorite crooked roads in the Texas Hill Country. These roads have a way of finding weakness in handling and making even small cars feel large. We selected Sport S+ and really pushed the Lexus hard; the 4,400 pound Lexus responded as though it were smaller and much lighter weight. Under normal conditions, leaving the automatic transmission in Drive and letting it work out which of its eight cogs are most suitable would work fine, however, the twists and turns of our Hill Country test roads were not normal conditions. We found that using the paddles, we were able to eliminate what felt like constant gear changes followed by second guessed changes. Save for the shift happy 8-speed transmission and a hood that noticeably fluttered at high-speed, we discovered no weaknesses in the 2013 Lexus LS F-sport’s ability to hustle the hill country roads.

Interior quality is as to be expected from a Lexus LS. All materials are of high quality, the leather is soft and beautifully stitched, trim is fit and finished perfectly and all of the buttons and knobs provide positive and solid feedback.

The mouse like control of the Lexus infotainment system is easy to operate and makes the seemingly endless menus and screens simple to navigate quickly, when parked. Although it is simple and efficient, navigating menus with a pointer does require a considerable amount of eyes-off-the-road-time; for this reason, Lexus has also included a few traditional buttons for the most common operations such as audio and climate control. With useful apps like Bing and Yelp and appreciated apps like Pandora and iHeartRadio, the 2013 Lexus LS is one of the most connected cars we have driven. With safety systems like Collision Avoidance Assist, Lane-Keep Assist, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and automatic high beam assist, the 2013 Lexus LS is also one of the safest cars we have driven.

The 2013 Lexus LS F-sport is also offered in an all-wheel drive version. Horsepower of the AWD LS F-sport is reduced to 360 because of the need to reroute the exhaust around the added gizmos that power the front wheels. This results in a more restrictive exhaust flow – thus less power. We think the fun of the LS F-sport is its ability to hang the tail out around turns and lay long stretches of rubber through intersections (in a responsible manner of course), and the ability to do either would be eliminated by AWD. Opting for AWD reduces horsepower, reduces fun and slightly reduces MPG’s to 16/23 from 16/24 – none of which we are fans of.

We clocked 0-60 mph runs in the mid 5-second range and ¼-mile blasts in the low 13’s. The smooth ride and very quiet cabin reduces most of the driver’s sensation of speed, which could add to the challenge of maintaining recommended speeds, but is a welcomed tradeoff for long-distance driving.

The 2013 Lexus LS F-sport starts at $81,990 and, in our opinion, is currently one of the best looking sub $100k luxury sedans available.

2013 Lexus LX570

2013 Lexus GS350 AWD

2011 Lexus GS450

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2 Responses to “2013 Lexus LS F-Sport Review”

  1. Scott says:

    That’s a great looking car. Shame about it’s lack of power.

  2. Josh says:

    That’s got to be one of the best looking lux big cars on the road now.
    The new s class has it beat though.

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