1998 Lexus LS 400 Luxury Sdn Pricing

Sedan 4D LS400

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1998 Lexus LS 400 Luxury Sdn
Trish Robb

Introduction
The Lexus LS 400 is the ultimate Japanese luxury car. And to Baby Boomers -- who came of age in Corollas,

Camrys, Civics and Accords -- it may be the ultimate luxury car, period

Aiming between prestigious European sedans and traditional American cars, Toyota's luxury division created an

elegant luxury car that is just what many upwardly mobile Boomers want

The LS 400 offers a quieter, more comfortable ride than firmly damped German luxury cars. It offers a more

compact size and better handling than its American counterparts. The LS 400 may not provide quite the handling

response of a BMW 5-Series or Mercedes E-Class on a winding mountain road, but it's close -- closer than

any Cadillac or Lincoln. And the Lexus LS 400 is unmatched for quality, durability and reliability

The biggest change for '98 is under the hood, where sharp engineering has created a more powerful engine. But

the LS 400 also gets a sportier, more aggressive look, along with some high technology

The LS 400 now tops $53,000 and ours reached $60,640. No car has seen its price escalate as quickly as the LS 400's during the '90s. On the other hand, it offers world-class quality and comfort. Walkaround
The elegant lines of the LS 400 are beautiful. No single aspect of the exterior design is striking, but the overall design fits together. Its squarish form is reminiscent of Mercedes shapes, which is not coincidental -- Toyota designers borrowed liberally from European ideas of luxury sedan size and style. The edges are sharp and distinct, not soft and curved. Eye-catching chrome trim, a staple of American and European luxury class cars, is sparse on the LS 400. But Lexus added new aluminum wheels and a bigger grille this year, giving its a stronger, more eye-catching appearance.
Interior
Put the key into the ignition and the steering wheel automatically slides down into position. As you look around,

the car seems special. Unlike so many new cars, it feels instantly comfortable and familiar. LS 400 controls and

instruments are among the best in the industry

The big tachometer and speedometer are flanked by smaller temperature and fuel gauges. Lighted, pure white needles

appear to float over the background numbers. It's very modern and now imitated by other manufacturers

Most driving controls are on three stalks. The one on the left controls the lights, the long one on the right the

wipers and the short one just below it the cruise control. Though not quite as convenient as cruise control buttons

on the wheel for the thumbs, the button and lever on the LS 400 can be easily reached without taking your hands off

the wheel

The center console is elegant. At the top are a clock, digital thermometer and temperature controls. The LS 400

uses large buttons for heating and cooling controls. Below the climate controls are the controls for a seven-speaker,

195-watt AM/FM/cassette stereo. The knobs are big and easy to use. The $1,050 six-disc CD changer is in front of the

passenger seat, cleverly hidden behind a door that looks like the glove box. The actual glove box , and it's a big

one, is just below that

A new trip computer is standard this year. Gas mileage and other information is displayed on a readout below the

speedometer. Drivers can click through the data with buttons on the steering wheel. While just about every luxury

car has this kind of thing now, the green words and numbers seem out of place on the elegant Lexus instrument panel

A new $2,250 satellite navigation system screen dominates the center console; it features a touch-sensitive

screen that displays colorful maps showing your travel route, while a pleasant female voice provides directions.

The optional system integrates the heating and radio controls; your favorite radio stations can be selected by

touching a menu on the video screen

In the center arm rest are two levels of storage bins. In front of them are two cupholders that pop up at the

touch of the finger. Actually, they glide up at the touch of a finger, at that trademark elegant, controlled pace.

Even the coat hooks over the back doors deploy with a calculated elegance

All of the safety equipment you'd expect is here: Dual air bags, and antilock brakes are standard, and this year

side air bags are too. A $2,020 traction control system is available to help keep this big rear-wheel-drive sedan

steady on ice and snow

We had no problem getting comfortable in the front seats of this car. Two electronic levers position the seats

just so. The seats are a wonderful blend of the cushy, recliner-like seats found in American luxury cars and the much harder, heavily bolstered seats in European sport-luxury cars. An unusual, square button on the steering column allows tilt and telescope adjustments.

Two adults should find the back seats comfortable with plenty of knee and hip room. But those over 6-feet may brush their heads on the roof unless they slouch down. Putting three adults back there is not really an option because of the hump down the middle of the floor for the driveshaft. Driving Impressions
The LS 400 offers as satisfying and sophisticated a blend of performance and comfort as any car in the world.

It won't outperform the Mercedes E-Class or BMW 5-Series cars on a winding road, but offers plenty of capability

Where the Lexus excels is in everyday driving

First, the LS 400 is supremely quiet. Wind and road noise are virtually nonexistent, even at high freeway speeds

Like the world's best sports sedans from Germany, the Lexus is equipped with rear-wheel drive. When it comes

to high-performance handling on dry pavement, rear-wheel drive is the best. Lexus uses an independent suspension

that is as sophisticated as anyone's. The $1,850 air suspension system automatically adjusts ride firmness to

driving conditions. Our test car was not equipped with this option, but the standard suspension works extremely well

This car smoothes the worst of surfaces. It doesn't bounce up and down on washboard roads nor does it wallow

through sharp corners. We found ourselves on a winter-battered highway, a semi-truck on either side of us and a

pothole the size of New Jersey right ahead. We clenched our teeth, but the LS 400 flew over the crater with barely

a thump

The most significant change for '98 is in the engine. Lexus says the new 4.0-liter, 32-valve V8 will take the

LS 400 from 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds; that's quick by anyone's standards. Toyota credits its variable valve timing

system, called VVT-i. It's an intelligent system that constantly varies the timing of the intake valves to maximize

performance at all engine speeds

As a result, the new LS 400 gets better fuel economy, creates less pollution and generates 290 horsepower, up

from last year's 265. Combine that with a new five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission that

replaces last year's four-speed shifter, and Lexus has created yet another standard for luxury car performance.

On the downside, the LS 400 has become pricier. Conversely, its European rivals have held the line and, in some cases, have lowered prices during the past few years, so the LS 400 is no longer the bargain it was when it was originally launched. But its pricing is still competitive, and not at all out of line for a car that has set new standards for its class. Summary
This is a superb luxury automobile that's devoid of flaws. As the LS 400 nears the end of its design cycle, a number of its competitors are still playing catch up. Unfortunately for them, they're shooting at a moving target.

Model as tested
LS 400
Basic Warranty
4 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in
Japan
Destination charge
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
53395
Price as tested
60640
Options as tested
Navigation system, in-dash 6-CD player, power moonroof, traction control, heated front seats, carpeted floor and trunk mats, wheel locks, memory system

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Safety equipment (standard)
Dual front and side airbags
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
4.0-liter dohc 32v V8
Transmissions
5-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
ABS, dual zone climate control, power windows, seats, locks and steering wheel, keyless remote entry, leather seats and trim, AM/FM/cassette stereo, anti theft system

Engine & Transmission
Engine
4.0-liter dohc 32v V8
Drivetrain type
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
290 @ 6000
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
19/25
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
disc/disc
Suspension, front
Independent
Tires
225/60VR16
Suspension, rear
Independent

Accomodations
Seating capacity
5
Head/hip/leg room, middle
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, front
38.9/57.1/43.7
Head/hip/leg room, rear
36.9/56.7/36.9

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
13.9
Wheelbase
112.2
Length/width/height
196.7/72.0/56.5
Turning circle
34.8
Payload
N/A
Towing capacity
2000
Track, front/rear
62/62
Ground clearance
N/A
Curb weight
3890


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