The Lexus LS has long been considered not just the flagship of Toyota’s premium brand, but a serious rival for entrenched German luxury marquees. The LS often delivers superior comfort and amenities at lower prices. Yet, the LS has also never been viewed as a premium driver’s car, conceding that status to the Europeans. But now, with the V10 LFA supercar a reality, a sporting four-door LS is more believable. But can this big Lexus ever float like a butterfly and sting like a Beemer?

From a couple of car lengths away, you’d be hard pressed to tell that the 2010 Lexus LS 460 Sport has anything but typical Lexus luxury proportions and attitude. The Sport Package first advertises its intensions with a black mesh grille and unique 19-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels that are upsized an inch over the normal LS. Other tweaks include reworked side-sills, as well as front and rear bodywork-which is also available as a stand alone Appearance Package. Outside mirrors with integrated turn signals are new to all 2010 LS models.

Fortunately, the Sport treatment is more than skin-deep. The air suspension, which is optional on the rear-drive LS and standard with all-wheel drive, is included here and treated to a sportier tune. Uprated stabilizer bars and shocks are fitted too, as are Brembo brakes.

Inside, you’ll find a switch to toggle between SPORT, COMFORT and NORMAL suspension settings. There’s plenty of float in COMFORT, but don’t expect much sting in SPORT. The ride does firm up somewhat, but not enough to make you forget you’re at the helm of a two-ton-plus Lexus.

The wide IP follows the same LS’ design theme as the exterior: classy, luxurious, never over-the-top. Extremely handsome black and saddle-brown leather, with satin finished ash burl trim, adorns the doors, center console, and dash.

The heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel is an LS 460 Sport exclusive. Driver and front passenger are also treated to the Sport’s unique, heavily bolstered seats with memory. They are also heated and cooled.

Rear seats, however, make do with just heat, although there is the cooling effect of the power sunshade. Rear legroom and comfort are as before, excellent, even though our tester was NOT a long wheelbase LS, which adds almost four and three-quarter inches to the wheelbase.

There is little new, however, in the drivetrain. The 4.6-liter four-cam V8 carries over, complete with variable valve timing and direct fuel injection. Still, output is stout at 380 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. The eight-speed automatic transmission carries over, too, except the Sport adds a pair of the most effective paddle shifters we’ve ever tapped.

At the track, we coaxed a zero-to-60 time of six seconds flat from the big Lexus. The paddle shifters improved straight line acceleration, which is actually unusual. Left in Drive, shifts were too soft and too slow. But stabbing at the plus paddle all the way, the quarter mile disappeared in a pretty quick 14.4 seconds at 102 miles per hour.

The LS 460’s smooth V8 growled with dignity, and provided an excellent combination of low-end torque and high-end power. Turn-ins were quick, even with numb steering, and while the LS Sport felt nimble for a 4,300-pound car, our lasting impressions were of a typical, comfort-tuned Lexus ride-which means a soft suspension and plenty of body roll.

Braking from 60 to zero yielded an adequate average of 130 feet. But, after four runs, the LS’ brakes were blowing smoke and fading fast. The spongy pedal offered little feedback. But, even with plenty of nose dive, stops were laterally stable.

Away from the track, this big rear-drive sedan performed far better, even when driven in a less than dignified manner on twisty roads. Outside noise is well muted, even if you never really hear your heart pounding.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the rear-drive LS 460 are 16 city, 24 highway. On our own test loop, we managed a respectable 20.4-mpg average on premium gas. An Energy Impact Score of 18 barrels of oil and a Carbon Footprint of 9.8 tons of CO2 put this Lexus right in the environmental line with its German competitors.

Sticker price for the 2010 LS 460 with the Sport Package is $74,550.  That’s about $6,200 more than the base car. A BMW 750i will run you over 10 grand more than an LS Sport, but the BMW is also better equipped.

In the world of driving dynamics, the Lexus LS 460 Sport is more of a baby step than a full stride. Still, rather than criticize, we want to encourage Lexus to be bolder the next time around. We definitely see potential here. With a little work, this velvet punch could end up delivering quite a sting.


  • Engine: 4.6-Liter Four-cam V8
  • Horsepower: 380
  • Torque: 367 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 6.0 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.4 Seconds @ 102 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 130 Feet
  • EPA: 16 MPG City/ 24 MPG Highway
  • Mixed Loop: 20.4 MPG
  • Energy Impact: 18.0 Barrels Oil/Yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 9.8 Tons/Yr