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  #1  
Old 12-01-2003, 11:46 PM
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New Lexus Ls430

this probably should be posted in another forum, but, since so much discussion has been generated in this forum in the last month or so comparing and contrasting this make with benzes, i thought i would place this commentary here.

if i have sinned, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa - relocate it, then.

i have just returned from LA. while there, i had the opportunity to drive a new lexus for a week. i put about 500 miles on it, principally in santa monica, west LA, and BH. some freeway driving, but mostly real streets[wilshire, olympic, bundy, san vicente, sunset, doheny, santa monica, pac1,et al].

when i was given this car to use, it had approx. 1900 miles on it. here are my impressions...

firstly, i need to preface my appraisal is based on my years of driving essentially pre-electronified and japonified benzes.

there is hardly any aspect of this car that is intuitive. before i was lent this lexus, i had rented a new jaguar xj8. the controls of that car are as intuitive and as simple as any of my benzes. except for the one control that may be the best thing that ford ever did for this cat. they have fitted a moving pedal cluster. finally i can get the leg room that i prefer in a cat. and they have finally added enough extra length to the car that the trunk can carry some contents. this makes the jag a much more suitable vehicle and a competitor, in my view.

as to the lexus, i almost rejected its free use because it had one of their computer screen nav-audio-climate control systems. but, since it saved me the rental fees for the jag, i decided to do a quasi-long term review of what i still consider to be a user-unfriendly control panel.

i will say that toyota is a more customer friendly manufacturer than dc. according to the owner's manual, the computerized, touch-screen panel is an option. the basic lexus ls430 will be equipped with a more conventional system just like all my benzes. if i was going to acquire a lexus ls430, that would be my selection.

one of the worst aspects of the screen is its virtual disappearance if you are wearing polarized sunglasses. i do.

also, using if for a day, it needs to be cleaned. fingerprints quickly cloud its visibility. and i don't eat and drive. i cannot imagine what more than normal finger oils does to the screen.

though the sound system is supposed to be super sophisticated, my old ears find nothing to it that surpasses my older benzes. it says that it has an auto sound levelling system, but i cannot prove it.

one aspect that i liked is that the rear view mirrors turn down when reverse is engaged so that they can be used for backing. a great feature because the rear end of this car cannot be determined easily by the driver because of the blind spots.

car also had the parking assist sensor system. mandatory. again for the same reason. unfortunately, i found that toyota did not design it to audibly warn at a far enough distance. i imagine lots of dinged rear bumpers.

ride quality seems to have deteriorated since i drove a 2000 ls400. now seems to have as much shock impact noise as my old 560sel. in fact, i think the jag remains the best at quietness over rough, urban streets.

car is also a mystery at placing in the lane. much more difficult to drive in tight lanes than any of my old benzes.

i never could figure out how to use the nav system to direct me - but i probably didn't try very hard as i know how to get around LA. but the one time i did use it to try and pinpoint an address on LA BREA, it was inaccurate.

thank god the owner had the good sense to keep all the manuals in the car. frequently i found myself pulling over to consult the manual. and some issues are only addressed in the supplemental nav system manual. this made for some lengthy pull overs.

as to the driver's seat, i was prepared to condemn it for the first two days. it was killing me. then i played around with all the adjustments for a day and finally came up with one that suited me, my back, and my knees. i do care to say however that the seat adjustment controls on the bottom side of the seat itself are not a user-friendly location. it would be much better were the controllers to be designed and located similar to the way daimler started doing it in the 1980's, up on the door, in sight and representational.

and could we legislate the elimination of xenon lights, please? even the lexus rear view mirrors are unable to dim those comets sufficiently.

i think that this car stickered out somewhere north of $70k. it is loaded with all the gadgets. but the bottom line is this, i would not be giving up any of my older benzes to own one.

and i think that i would probably say the same thing about the current s500.

somehow, these new model cars offer me nothing at the moment. no excitement. no desire to own. but as a free ride, i enjoyed the education.

all things considered, however, in conclusion, i would have preferred to have kept the jag. much more fun on sunset. principally because it provides better feedback and offers better visibility for accurate placement in the driving lane.

my $00.04

a votre sante
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  #2  
Old 12-02-2003, 01:12 AM
86560SEL's Avatar
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O think that the older Mercedes/Lexus are better than the new ones

I agree with you about these newer cars.

I have a 1990 Lexus LS400 (first year for Lexus) and in my opinion- the 1990-1994 Lexus LS400s are better cars than the new LS430s. The 1990-94, 95-97 & 98-99 LS400s are built like tanks. I have absolutely no complaints with my 90 LS400. It has 225K and still runs like new and is still 100% squeak and rattle free. Engine is so smooth and quiet- I have to often look at the tachometer to see if the engine is still running. Very impressive.

On the Lexus forums- similar to these- many LS430 owners originally owned a LS400 and I have heard that the LS400 is a better car. Same with Mercedes. I think the newer cars (especially Japanese and German cars) do not have a quality as high as the 80s-early 90s models. I would rather have a 1981-91 Mercedes S-Class sedan, or a 92-95 S-Class Mercedes over a new S-Class, or a 1990-94 LS400 over a new LS430.

I think if you were to drive a 1990-1994 Lexus LS400- even one with high miles- you would agree that the workmanship and quality of materials on the 1st generation Lexus LS models is better than the new one. Same with the Mercedes. I have heard that on the newest S-Class Mercedes, that they switched to a lot of hard plastic panels, such as the glove box door and trim around the bottom of the seats. This was unheard of on a 1980s Mercedes- where high quality materials, with lots of padding prevail in the cars. Same with Lexus (and all other Japanese makes). Almost EVERY interior panel in the 90-94 LS400 is a high quality padded panel, with top notch fit and finish. On the new Toyotas (maybe even Lexus) they switched to a lot of hard plastic on the newest models. I have heard same is true for Mercedes.

I also agree about the ride quality you mentioned. The 1990-2000 LS400s had the smoothest ride- especially the air-ride suspension models. Still, the non-air ride models had about one of the smoothest ride of any car in the 90s. I have heard that the ride quality went down on the 01-03 LS430. For 1993- the LS400 received larger brakes and tires. Also- the 90-99 LS400s are rear wheel drive cars.

The 84 Mercedes 300SD I test drove had a extremely smooth, soft ride. I think the newer Mercedes have a firmer ride.

Despite these minor complaints, the LS430s are still fine cars, but not like they used to be.
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1991 Lincoln Town Car Executive (33k miles)
1991 Cadillac Sedan DeVille (77k miles)
1992 Toyota Camry LE (177k miles)
1972 Chevrolet Caprice Kingswood Estate 9-passenger wagon (44k miles)
1973 Pontiac Grand Ville 4-dr hardtop sedan (94k miles)
1988 Mercedes 300SEL (was mine, now mothers)
(Prior MB's: 1974 240D, 1985 380SE, 1984 190D)

Last edited by 86560SEL; 12-02-2003 at 02:25 AM.
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  #3  
Old 12-02-2003, 01:12 AM
Bud
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I'm glad to read this review. Since a basic (already loaded) LS-430 doesn't cost much more than a new E320, I've been giving them some serious consideration.

The problem with the LS-430 is that it's too big not to mention boring. There's a saying that there's no excitement at a Lexus dealer but they do offer some really great buys on cars with the best reliability in the business.

Other than it's a FWD, the ES-330 beats the C-Class in just about every aspect and sells for at least $5K less.

Even though I'm surrounded by Lexus owners on my cul-de-sac, my wife can't generate any interest in them. Looks like another E-Class for us or maybe a C320.

BTW, the tilt-down mirror came from BMW's 7-Series. Just about everything else came from Daimler-Benz.
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  #4  
Old 12-02-2003, 01:18 AM
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About the 300SD. The 14 inch wheels definitely provide a better ride than the 15 inch. I know from personal experience. The tradeoff, of course, is handling.

The '85 500SEL drives like your living room, and rides like a pillow.
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  #5  
Old 12-02-2003, 01:19 AM
Bud
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As a follow-on, I have a neighbor who has a 2000 LS400 with about 45K on it. This guy does his own maintenance and details the car after every use.

I told him that I wanted the car if he was going to sell it soon. I know that the timing belt, plugs and water pump has to be replaced at around 100K which is a fairly big expense but I can handle all the other maintenance. This would be a great car if I could get him to give it up.
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  #6  
Old 12-02-2003, 01:29 AM
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Wow... I just went on to ebaymotors and I noticed that the 1990 LS400 looks a lot like the new W220 S-Class!

All the window switches are on the driver's door, the real retractable center armrest is missing! Lexus came out with this first, not Mercedes. I think I am going to be sick.

That's it, as of this moment, I am no longer a fan of the W220. I am throwing out my S55 AMG Kompressor dream. Originality comes first in my book. I will keep my eye on Lexus to see what the future holds.

As bad as you think the new Lexuses are compared to the previous models, the new Benz's are asolute technological nightmares. Just go to mercedesproblems.com

The S55 AMG Kompressor engine goes into a W126, now.
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1986 Porsche 951 (944 Turbo) (166000)

1978 Porsche 924 (99000)

1996 Nissan Pathfinder R50 (201000)
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  #7  
Old 12-02-2003, 04:13 PM
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Thanks for the nice review, Albert.

I always enjoys your input and write-ups.

FWIW, the new Jaguar XJ8 is getting awfully good reviews in the car magazines for much the same reasons that you posted.
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  #8  
Old 12-02-2003, 09:21 PM
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I can't help but thinking every time a see a new LS430 how it looks like a MB rip off. Take a W140 a W220 and a Camry, smash them together and you have a LS430. I don't like some of the new MB either. If they keep going the way there going I will be going Jag. I love British cars. You expect the problems at least. But the W126's will never die so MB has awhile to turn around.
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  #9  
Old 12-03-2003, 02:38 AM
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I agree. The quality of the 2000+ Mercedes and Lexus have declined.

I would rather have my 1990 LS400 (if it had zero miles) than a new 2003 LS430.
__________________
1991 Lincoln Town Car Executive (33k miles)
1991 Cadillac Sedan DeVille (77k miles)
1992 Toyota Camry LE (177k miles)
1972 Chevrolet Caprice Kingswood Estate 9-passenger wagon (44k miles)
1973 Pontiac Grand Ville 4-dr hardtop sedan (94k miles)
1988 Mercedes 300SEL (was mine, now mothers)
(Prior MB's: 1974 240D, 1985 380SE, 1984 190D)
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  #10  
Old 12-03-2003, 02:41 AM
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I wish that Mercedes would start building the 1981-1985 300SD's again- just like they did back then and at the same price I would buy one in a second, but wouldn't most of the fans of the 81-85 body style?
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  #11  
Old 12-03-2003, 02:53 AM
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The new LS 430 is an excellent car if you've ever been in one and open-minded to the so called Jap inferior counterparts. Absolutely a wonderful driving machine and soothing interior just gives you a peace of mind.
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  #12  
Old 12-04-2003, 11:39 PM
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I agree. I looked at one at the Lexus dealer today- while my car was getting routine service and they are pretty impressive. The Lexus LS400 and LS430 are the only Lexus I really like. I really do not care to much for the smaller ones.
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  #13  
Old 12-05-2003, 09:57 PM
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Lexus is going to start a new design direction away from copying the Germans. You can see it in the new GS replacements in the Auto shows. They are also aiming to sell more in Europe, which means they will start paying attention to what the Europeans like - which invariably will filter down to the Lexus we get in the future. Mercedes can still catch up - they just have to turn their attention from fixing Chrysler long enough to make Mercedes the Mercedes of cars again.
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  #14  
Old 12-05-2003, 10:28 PM
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I just hope that Mercedes does not lower the quality to the Chrysler-Dodge quality. What junky cars the Mopars are. I know- I owned one.
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