2012 Lexus LS


$19,934 - $21,377

2012 Lexus LS Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Lexus LS was new.


Performance: 8.1

Reviewers generally favor performance over comfort, and in this respect, German rivals have always had a leg up on the Lexus LS. While the LS comes standard with a powerful V8 engine, it’s engineered for quiet, comfortable highway cruising rather than rocketing down twisty roads. For many shoppers that’s a plus, and light steering makes the LS an easy car to drive.

  • "Steering feel is quick at low speeds for easy parking-lot maneuvering; it firms up nicely at highway speeds. LS is no sport sedan, however. The base suspension permits marked body lean, as does the air suspension's Comfort setting." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "A smooth ride is the one of the strong points of the LS line. When it comes to being a driver's car, however, that part of the experience is somewhat lacking. Testers have referred to this car as being numb and uninvolving." -- Motor Trend 
  • "Both LS 460 variants embody all of the character traits you'd expect in a Lexus luxury sedan. Each excels in smooth, quiet and effortless cruising with little meaningful performance variation to differentiate between standard and stretched models." -- Kelley Blue Book 

Acceleration and Power

The Lexus LS is powered by a 4.6-liter V8 that produces 380 horsepower in rear-wheel drive models and 357 horsepower in those equipped with all-wheel drive. Power is sent to a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission that reviewers love. The combination accelerates the LS quickly enough, though it still trails cars like the Mercedes-Benz S550. All-wheel drive is an available option for shoppers who want more grip than the base rear-wheel drive model provides.

According to the EPA, the Lexus LS 460 and LS 460 L both get 16/24 mpg city/highway. Adding all-wheel drive doesn’t take much of a toll on fuel economy, as both all-wheel drive models get 16/23 mpg city/highway fuel economy.

  • "The V-8 is quite powerful and the eight-speed automatic shifts seamlessly." -- Car and Driver 
  • "Smooth and ample power at any speed." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The engine and transmission pairing also merits high operational marks for responsiveness and the confident feeling that there's always plenty in reserve for freeway passing or emergency maneuvers." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

With its softly-tuned ride, the Lexus LS has never been a performance champ among super luxury cars. Despite its size, reviewers say the LS is easy to drive. Its light steering and tight turning radius are impressive, but few would compare it with more agile competitors like the Audi A8 and the BMW 7-Series. The LS is also one of the only super luxury cars that doesn’t come standard with an adjustable suspension. It can be added, but it’s only available as part of the Sport package. Reviewers agree that the package does give drivers more flexibility – offering Comfort, Normal and Sport settings – but even the Sport setting can’t compete with tighter-handling German rivals.

  • "The base suspension is pillowy on most surfaces with noticeable highway float. The available air suspension's Sport setting induces some body jiggle." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Steering, braking and suspension are all better than you'd expect from what is traditionally regarded as the luxury segment, although all three may fall dynamically short when compared to offerings from BMW or Audi." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "Under more aggressive maneuvers, the base LS suspension exhibits significant dive during heavy braking, and pronounced body roll while cornering." -- Edmunds 
  • "Suspension is on the soft side, but handling is still respectable." -- Motor Trend 

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