October 27, 2000

First Drive: 2001 Lexus LS 430

By Camilo Alfaro

Lexus introduced its third generation flag ship sedan for 2001. More powerful, more comfort conveniences, and safety features make the all new LS 430 an excellent car with many technological advances. 90% of this car is new for 2001.

Lexus introduced their new car to the media in beautiful San Francisco, CA, just last week!

Where to start? How about with the new four cam 32 valve 4.3 liter V8 produces 290 Horsepower and 320 lb.-ft of torque. The LS 430 is fast and reaches 0-60 in just 6.3 seconds. Power is delivered throughout the entire rev band, thanks to Variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i). VVT-i eliminates lag between low-end torque and high rpm horsepower by optimizing valve overlap throughout the engines speed range. Increased performance, yet with Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) certification, without an increase in fuel consumption. EPA City 18 mpg, and EPA Highway 25 mpg.

The LS 430 comes with two electronic throttle controls, power and snow. Power for when you want instant response, and snow for less power under extreme weather conditions. Putting your foot to the metal in the power mode, you feel an instant response of power that converts the LS 430 into a rocket ship. This was specially helpful over the many hills in the northern California area. Four-channel, four sensor anti-lock brakes (ABS) stop this beast in seconds with plenty of control. A sports suspension is available as an option, and also an air suspension is also available with sports and comfort suspension settings. You know that the setting was always in sport!

Since the new performance features aren't enough for the folks at Lexus, they drown you in impressive convenience and comfort features. The most exciting feature was the new Dynamic Laser cruise control. Laser sensors in the front bumper detect reflections from cars in front of you.

When the cruise control is activated, you set a specific distance you feel comfortable with other cars in front of you. The feature is projected on a small screen in the dash of the car. The ultrasonic sensors detect any obstacle in the front, rear and sides of the vehicle. So, if a car cuts you off, while going at the set cruise control speed, the car will either slowdown, downshift into a lower gear, or apply the brakes as necessary, the brake lights even light up. A beep in the car lets you know that the car has applied the brakes. Even though this feature allows you to be more worry free, people should still realize that a car cannot drive for you, therefore attention to the road is still needed.

This feature also allows the car to have another feature, Intuitive Parking Assist. When parallel parking, the sensors see the obstacles around the car, and projects a display in the DVD based navigation system with a 7 inch screen, letting you know how much distance you have between the obstacles around you. WOW!

The interior is covered in leather, and wood accents. Heater and cooling 14 way power seats, allows you to choose if you want cool leather seats for a warm day, or hot leather seats for those cooler days. An impressive seven speaker Mark Levinson audio system delivers the best of sound from beautiful classical, to deep bass reggae. Rain sensing windshield wipers are nice, but I prefer to turn the wipers on myself. Passenger airbags, side airbags and side curtain airbags protect you from the worst of accidents.

The faster, bigger, and better LS430 was a pleasure to drive. I wish I had more time to drive the car, but I will give you the full report once we get it in as a test car. With so many technological features, the LS 430 leaps into the millennium as the car of the future. I loved it!

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