By on April 27, 2017

All four Lexus LS generations, Images: Toyota Canada

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: everything, and I mean everything, is utterly and absolutely context-dependent. It’s literally true on the atomic level, where we cannot accurately measure both position and velocity at the same time. It’s true at the quantum level, where “quantum entanglement” governs behavior that is currently beyond our ability to understand. It’s even applicable in your dating life; the same size-six girl who feels insubstantial to you in the long evenings at home will acquire new heft after you spend a drunken weekend away with a size two.

Since this is an automotive website and not The Journal Of Theoretical Physics And Deniable Adultery, let’s focus on what context means in the automotive sense. The definitions of fast car, big car, economical car, reliable car, and even full-sized pickup have all changed several times since the end of the First World War. Imagine you fell into a coma in 1975 and woke up today; you’d probably ask how and why cars got so tiny and trucks got so big. The first 911 Turbo was a “widowmaker” with 260 horsepower; today’s model delivers twice that much power and still isn’t the fastest car (around a track, at least) in its price range.

More importantly, our own personal context for an automobile often determines how much we enjoy and appreciate it. Think of all the people who spend their weekends restoring, cleaning and driving “classic cars” that other people threw away decades ago. Think of the over one million people who couldn’t wait to trade their Tri-Five Chevys in on something new, and of all the people who’ve spent major portions of their lives making those same cars better than they were when they left the assembly line. That’s the power of context.

Which brings me to today’s question for Ask Jack. It’s all about one man’s very unusual, but entirely understandable, definitions of “daily driver” and “weekend special”.

Ryan writes:

(a bunch of very complimentary and ABSOLUTELY TRUE things about your humble author) … I’m one of the lucky few who got out of school with a non-STEM degree and landed a decent job in finance in the New York metro area.

Currently, I have a late model WRX with summer and winter tires, a catback exhaust, and a warranty, so no major mods there yet. I like the WRX a lot, as it’s immature, engaging, loud, pisses off my cube monkey coworkers, and delivers me north to the fresh pow-pow. But it also sometimes grows tiresome … because it is immature, engaging and loud.

I’ve toyed with the idea of a second car for a while now and my eye has now turned towards the venerable LS400; particularly, a ’98-’00 model, although I wouldn’t be particularly opposed to a good condition ’95+.

Before I go ahead and pull the trigger, should I consider another ride for my luxury, hassle free, low-maintenance steed? It’s a car I wish to teach myself many basic car repair skills on, so something relatively simple (read: not a W220) would be ideal. I’ve thought perhaps an older Acura RL or maybe an Infiniti Q45 would be the ticket, but the LS seems like the “baller” choice (which I’m all about for a second car). Should I up my spending frame and consider an LS430? Am I excluding an oddball choice with my tunnel vision?

Now this is a perfect example of context at work. Nominally speaking, the Lexus LS — in all its various iterations — is the very model of a modern daily driver. But in Ryan’s case, his daily driver is actually a WRX with a loud exhaust. In the world as most of us know it, a Lexus is a completely reliable automobile and a WRX is a head gasket repair waiting to happen. In Ryan’s world, the WRX still has a warranty and the Lexus will be a chance to learn basic auto-mechanic skills.

Things fall apart! The center cannot hold! Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world!

Alright. Let’s take a serious look at this. I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind Ryan that you gotta be rich to own a cheap car, particularly when that cheap car was originally developed with no cost constraints, packed full of massively over-engineered components, and sold at a loss to people who expected it to require no more maintenance than would a Camry.

With that disclaimer duly supplied, we can start narrowing down the possibilities. As much as I love the Q45, both in concept and execution, I cannot recommend Ryan even think about buying one. The original cars — the ones that were Nissan Presidents overseas — are all worn beyond any possibility of salvaging. The second and third generation cars, which were based on the considerably less ambitious Nissan Cima, are pieces of junk. They’re chock-full of parts that might be common in Japan but are both rare and expensive on these shores. The juice here is not worth the squeeze, not by a long shot. As Neil McCauley once said, “Walk away.”

What about the Acura RL? The two generations of RL before the current RLX are charming, capable automobiles, built with meticulous care at Honda’s premier “global mother plant” in Japan. Properly maintained, they can last a very long time. The driving experience can be a touch anodyne but the road isolation and NVH will seem exemplary compared to a WRX. (There’s that context again.)

There’s just one problem with the RL: it was never that much better than whatever Acura TL or Honda Accord the Big H was selling at the time. Speaking in a very broad and imprecise sense, you can usually get the same experience for less money and hassle if you just buy the TL of the following generation. My Accord is just as big and spacious as the last-generation RL. There’s also a slight volume problem. The last time a “big” Acura did any volume was back in the days of the squish-nose second-generation Legend, so it’s tough to find a good RL. There’s also very little aftermarket infrastructure for the RL — and, like the Infiniti Q45, it contains a lot of parts that are sui generis in North America.

No, I’m afraid the Lexus LS is the only reasonable choice for authentic Japanese VIP Executive “Black Rain” style. The only question is: which one? The 1998-2000 cars represent a sweet spot of sorts, insofar as they’re just 1990 LS400s that have been kaizened for a solid decade. Yet there’s something awfully seductive about the “third-gen” Lexus LS430. It’s big, it’s fast, and it’s imposing-looking. The proportions are more modern, if that matters, and the in-car entertainment options are better. That would be my choice. Get the nicest one you can; I think there was an “ultra luxury” version for one or two years of that run.

As long as you’re prepared for maintenance costs commensurate with the car’s original purchase price, the LS430 is the one to have. But there’s one particular LS430 you should avoid. It’s silver, and it was originally titled in Ohio. My long-term readers will remember my ex-girlfriend, the Vegas stripper and all-around bad girl known as Vodka McBigbra. Prior to making my acquaintance, V. McB was the mistress of a UPS executive. This fellow bought himself a brand-new LS430 with all the trimmings. He was thrilled with it and very proud of himself for spending all that money, so naturally the first thing he did was make some excuses to his family and drive over to Vodka’s to show it off. They went out for a little bit of the ol’ clubbing. The lady got more than a little drunk. The moment she got back in the car to go back to her place — and remember, the guy’s children haven’t even seen the car yet — she projectile-vomited all over her side of the cabin.

“It was just a stupid car,” she recalled half a decade later. “He wouldn’t talk to me for a whole week. I could never understand why.” You see? Context truly is everything.

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152 Comments on “Ask Jack: The Man Who Flexes From WRXes To Lexus?...”


  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    Well, I’ll throw a little fly in the ointment.

    The LS430 is going to be noticeably more expensive, and the Luxury package comes with the more-maintenance-always air suspension – and it wasn’t available until later.

    As well, the blobby original 01-03 LS430 looks quite dated today, and was only improved for the 2004 model year, when they made it a bit sharper at the front and rear. Now we’re talking about a real money difference over the 98-00 LS400.

    I think the handsome and sturdy looking 98-00 is the way to go, and avoid the complexity and higher point of entry for a car you won’t use all that much.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    https://cincinnati.craigslist.org/cto/6065897731.html

    They look good in black/black.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The LS400 and LS430 are fine automobiles that I like them very much.

    THAT SAID. I think, for what you described in your desires, you should get a Lincoln Town Car instead.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      He wants high levels of refinement. That takes the Town Car off the table.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        The Town Car is quiet and as solid as Grant’s Tomb.

        How is that not refinement?

        Bonus points for a Cartier model with the THX sound system.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          You all are SO PREDICTABLE with Panther love.

          This man is an import man looking for baller. The stylized L has it. The old Ford does not.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            “This man is an import man looking for baller.”

            If the WRX ain’t getting him enough tail, an old Lexus isn’t going to help. ;-)

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            I guess the TC would mean he’d get to spend more time with women his grandmother’s age. So that’s something.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “This man is an import man looking for baller.”

            Then he should buy an M45 or GS430.

            I don’t know​ how they roll in Southern Ohio, but unless you’re hanging out at a Stance Nation meet, a LS400/LS430 doesn’t have any more baller cred than an old Lincoln and has less than a RWD GM product.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            Fair point, GS it is then. That’s a car I can recommend fully, and it’s sporting image is more in line with what this man purports to want.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Fat Townie in the right configuration has style but can’t touch LS4xx in terms of materials or TCO. They also don’t age well (physically).

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          “The Town Car is quiet”

          Maybe if you ignore all the squeaks and rattles, not to mention the constant moaning of the torqueless wonder 4.6 when hooked to a transmission with wider gaps than the sort of “models” that make Tumblr such a depressing place.

          “and as solid as Grant’s Tomb”

          If you totally ignore, well, the Flexi-Flyer structure, the interior made of brittle dollar-store toy plastic, and the 1978 Ford build quality.

          Trust me, as someone who owns an LS and used to ride in Panthers on a weekly basis: no.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            You rode in glorified taxi cabs, and probably not from the golden age for those cars.

            I’m NOT a Panther fan myself, but the Town Car from certain eras/years gets the exception. The OP mentioned a Lexus as old as 1995. I would look at a 1995-1996 Town Car, it might do the job for a lot less money. Say what you will about the powertrain and its economy-focused tendencies, but its durable and reliable. It will also cost a fraction to repair if/when needed.

            However, the Lexus LS gets some street cred from people like Cory, but the same connotations he gets about the Lincoln from others. It is an old mans car. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a wonderful car, and therefore I agree that something like a Lexus GS sounds more appropriate here.

            This guy needs a stepping stone between a teenagers wet dream and a retiree’s lucid dream. GS, M45, 300C/Charger V-8, and I would say the SS and SHO, but they’re probably over what he was looking to spend. All provide room, a decent ride, some performance attributes but not nearly as hardcore as a WRX. They’re refined and comfortable, something like that seems like the next logical step up the ladder.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I’ve ridden in every kind of Panther imaginable: an ex-SPD P71 with 600k miles, a TC Executive L with new car smell, and everything in between. Yes, the older ones are worse. But they are all unrefined. Even a brand-new one has an obviously cheap interior, a bouncy live axle under your butt, and that moaning 4.6. They just aren’t in the same league with an LS. Their virtues are cheapness and durability.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Yeah, I wasn’t trying to say its equivalent to the LS man, just that livery, police and taxi examples don’t represent the whole.

            They also aren’t equivalent in price, you have to remember that too. Your LS stacks up pretty poorly against a Rolls Royce if you don’t consider cost or place of origin as factors.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “He wants high levels of refinement”

        Where does he say that? It sounds to me like he just wants something quieter and more comfortable than his tuned WRX, that is “baller” (his words).

        “It’s a car I wish to teach myself many basic car repair skills on, so something relatively simple (read: not a W220) would be ideal. ”

        That has Town Car written all over it. The LS is extremely high quality and well-built, but “simple” compared to a Panther it is not.

        If he wants the best luxury car, get the Lexus. If he wants the best DIY big sedan with leather and sound deadening, get the Lincoln.

        • 0 avatar
          TCowner

          Both have nearly indestructible powertrains, but you can truly wrench a lot easier and cheaper on a Town Car than an LS.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            And I did wrench and tool a lot on our ’92 LTC.

            The folks at Autozone got to be on a first-name basis with me.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Cheaper wrenching, yes. Easier, no. You can count on (most of) the Toyota parts not to break under disassembly.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I’d probably say the LTC is cheaper and easier to wrench on, but would likely need fettling with more often. The LS’s suspension alone would cost at least 3-4x as much to rebuild if things like control arms would need to be replaced using good quality parts. The towncar is a substantially more primitive vehicle, a benefit to DIYers for sure, but also generally built of inferior quality of individual components/assemblies. The Mod 4.6 would probably need some coils, but assuming you remember to change the oil even once in a while it’s good to go. The LS would need a fairly costly T-belt/wp replacement, but that would probably be a one time expense to budget for in the time you plan to own the vehicle.

            I would definitely hunt down a clean LS with good maintenance records and a suspension that checks out in a PPI and enjoy. A much higher caliber vehicle vehicle overall than a towncar could every hope to be.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          The only thing a Town Car won’t teach you is timing belt replacement, otherwise great diy cars, Redblock Volvos are another good choice.

          Either way I do recommend that the OP try a few cars for themselves if they have time.

          At Dal: That depends on how rough you are more than anything. Any car can have a piece busted if people get clumsy.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Baruth always writes great articles, and here’s another one that evokes discussion, since Jack already had a Towncar. He knows what he wants.

      I miss the long-distance, mile-gobbling, Interstate-cruiser ride of the ’92 Towncar we had but with them being out of production, I’d have to opt for an LS460 if I could afford it.

      Then again, the Sequoia suits us just fine, maybe not as quiet or refined as a TC or LS460, but just fine.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        Panthers suck, and in NYC, Town Cars mean livery drivers, not something anyone would actually own.

        Also, Panthers suck.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        “…but with them being out of production, I’d have to opt for an LS460 if I could afford it.”

        He isn’t buying new. He isn’t even buying current generation, so the LS he buys is “out of production” too. There are MILLIONS of 4.6L Panthers roaming North America (and some in the middle east lol), it won’t be hard to find parts for one any time soon.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          JohnTaurus, When I was a young airman and poor, we were forced to buy used.

          My experience with used has not been good, but it made me an ace #1 mechanic in repairing my own cars, and those of others.

          So, I stay away from buying used because IMO when you buy used, you buy someone else’s problems and discards.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            You’re projecting your preferences on the OP again, like above when you said not everyone lives in NYC. He does.

            He said he was thinking about a Lexus as old as my Taurus. Clearly he isn’t shopping new ones. Soon, the LS460 will be out of production, replaced by the LS500 (unfortunately).

            Yes, owning an older car means you deal with issues. I don’t have the option to buy new at this point, but when I did, I didn’t pull the trigger because my tastes run in such a way that I enjoyed owning several older cars instead of one new one.

            I like making old obsolete things serve a purpose. I enjoy keeping up with it and improving it. I also don’t have kids, and if I had that life, I’d probably have something new(er) and safe(er). So long as its just me, I don’t mind pulling up in a 1995. I also don’t mind taking the time to do repairs or maintenance on it. I would love to have a 2nd car to drive while I do extensive repairs on the Taurus (my physical problems mean even some simple procedures take me a long time because I take breaks a lot and I sometimes have to call it a day long before I would otherwise). It will happen, but the OP has another car, a newish car with a warranty. If the SeLexus won’t start, fire up the Boxer Beast.

            It depends on the specific car as well. A well maintained car that has a lot of miles can still serve quite a while. My car had 181k on it when I bought it. I didn’t have a lot of money and it was one of the only cars in my price range within acceptable distance, and the only one I had extensive experience with. Once I made sure it wasn’t a 3.8L engine (via phone before going to look at it), I was good. I knew whatever was going on, I would probably be able to figure it out, lol. It has required some repairs, nothing major, and there are still things it needs, but it has like over 231k miles on it now, and has never left me anywhere.

            I don’t expect everyone to be able to go out and buy one and have the same experience I do (although I know of ones with a lot more miles than mine! And I was around 300k on my 1993 when I sold it), but it works for me.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            JohnTaurus, you extracted my comment “…but with them being out of production, I’d have to opt for an LS460 if I could afford it.”

            That’s the way it was, at the time. I don’t care what other people buy. I only worry about what works for me.

            Clearly, I did not have the money to buy a NEW LS. But I did have enough to buy a NEW 2008 Highlander. And those were the In-thing at the time.

            The issue about buying used vs new is personal to each buyer. A lot more involved than just money, or the lack of it. My constraint was the lack of money. By that time I was an ace #1 mechanic.

            At one time I had 21 cars parked on my property, all of them in running condition.

            Each one of them had a story.

            Some of them were better than others.

            My experiences with cars, used and new, were better than some, worse than others.

            I’m not projecting MY preferences on anyone. I only speak for myself.

            I’m not paying anyone else’s bills. No one else is paying my bills.

            Bottom line is that it’s got to work for the buyer.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I have a feeling Jack’s done recommending Town Cars.

    • 0 avatar
      phila_DLJ

      I doubt Jack would be quick to recommend an LTC to anyone he didn’t want to see potentially turned into a crumple zone.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Accidents happen.

        Someone could turn an LS460 into a crumple zone.

        If our Sequoia got turned into a crumple zone, we’d buy another one. Yeah, we like it that much for long-distance travel.

        Ever seen those Subaru commercials where one gets turned into a crumple zone and the people buy a brand new Subaru to replace it?

        It all depends on what a driver wants.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Go review the specifics of Jack’s accident. The Town Car’s outdated structure made it much worse. It would still have been a nasty accident in a LS460, but his wife would almost certainly have faced a much easier recovery.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I remember the article. I read it.

            If our requirements had not changed, chances were real good that we would have bought another LTC instead of that 2008 Japan-built Highlander.

            Accidents are luck of the draw. Some live to tell about it. Others don’t.

            Some people driving an LTC have never been involved in an accident.

          • 0 avatar
            TCowner

            Other cars might have fared much worse in Jack’s scenario, and each accident is different. I was T-boned at 45mph in my 2004 LTC last fall, and walked away with a scrape on my face.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Jack’s accident was a side impact:

          http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/ford/crown-victoria-4-door-sedan

          Not good. For context since side impact test results are independent of the mass of the tested car:

          http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/toyota/yaris-4-door-sedan

          The age of the platform shows when a 10 year old B-segment sedan results in far lower injury measures and less cabin structure collapse.

          • 0 avatar
            86er

            Tires.

          • 0 avatar
            phila_DLJ

            I didn’t get into whether the LTC is a safe car (it’s not). I just said Jack would probably never recommend it to someone unless he wished bodily harm on that person.

            I’d urge anyone who owns an LTC to trade it in for something safer…the Brilliance BS6, for instance!

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “who owns an LTC to trade it in for something safer”

            Goes to show that different people will prioritize different things when it comes to driving.

            In the wide-open spaces of the Great Southwest the LTC of just about any vintage is still much in demand. And not just by old people.

            Then again, so are old cop cars like the Crown Vic. Very popular as first-time cars or cars for the indigent.

            Although pickup trucks remain the vehicle of choice for illegal aliens, old large sedans come in a close second for those illegals who want to leave NM for Eastern Blue States or Canada.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Eh, tires will solve the structural deficiencies of the LTC.

          • 0 avatar
            86er

            Don’t be an ass. Tires were the reason Jack went sideways.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            Not necessarily. There was a death on that same curve the following day, involving a pickup on M+S tires. It’s got a ton of down drainage and it flash freezes.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            And structural weakness is the reason the sideways slide caused such significant bodily injuries.

            You may as well argue that crash worthiness is entirely irrelevant because if drivers never made mistakes you’d never need to have an airbag deploy.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            M+S means an all-season tire.

            http://www.skstuds.ca/2015/11/07/is-b-c-making-the-same-mistake-quebec-made-in-2008/

            But even the best studless winter tires will have very little traction on wet ice, and any RWD vehicle can suddenly kick the back end out sideways, regardless of tires, if the road is slippery enough.

            http://www.skstuds.ca/2015/10/04/the-studless-tire-deception-ice-temperature-and-why-studless-tires-frequently-outperform-studded-tires-in-tests/

          • 0 avatar
            TCowner

            Mine was a side impact too, directly at me (thank you side airbags). Jack had a tremendous hit, exasperated in force by the slide/ice. I know Panthers were phased out because Ford didn’t want to update them for future safety requirements but they are not quite deathtraps.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            TCowner, genuinely glad your car protected you, with side airbags it is certainly safer than a lot of early-aughts cars without them. I’m not trying to be pedantic but…that IIHS side test is standardized and mass independent. That means that Jack’s TC held up less well than many other cars (some much smaller) would have in the same impact. That dinky Yaris I cited probably would have provided more protection in that crash. It certainly provides more protection in a crash of hte severity of the IIHS test. The same is true of yours, but it apparently wasn’t quite severe enough to reveal that difference and you escaped without injury, thankfully. And no, they’re not deathtraps. The front impact scores are quite good and they have a lot of mass. So that Yaris would be complete toast if it hit a TC head on.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      The Town Car and its relatives, no matter what you do to them, have a solid axle that skips around and crashes over bumps, body even when not going around corners, as well as a very road noisy interior. Lexus wins on luxury hands down. On the other hand, its still much smoother and quieter than a WRX.

      However, your money goes much further in a Town Car than any Lex.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The Journal Of Theoretical Physics And Deniable Adultery – subscriptions to that journal do tend to show up when you least expect it and end when whether you are or are not ready.

    Back to the subject at hand. Their are lots of quiet cruisers out there although an immaculate old Lexus will help you keep your “car guy” street cred.

    If you’ve got money to blow why not pick up a 4.2 V8 Jaguar XJ 8? They’ll be a heck of a lot cheaper than the same age condition Lexus and the engine/trans seem to be a pretty solid combo (its the other things that you’ll have to worry about.)

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    “The first 911 Turbo was a “widowmaker” with 260 horsepower”

    Twern’t the horsepower that gave the first gen Turbo it’s reputation, it was a combination of abrupt power delivery and available oversteer. When a driver as capable as Danny Ongais says “I only drive mine fast in a straight line” it makes you pay attention.

    That’s what I heard from the few folks that I know that have driven one, never had the opportunity myself.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    WRX and LS in the same garage. I like the breadth and variety there. Go for it.

    But please don’t ever use the term “pow-pow” again.

    -Signed, fellow shredder jonesing for first tracks who fears death cookies and yard sales.

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    There’s good over-engineering and bad over-engineering.

    Good: XV10 Camry, LS400
    Bad: JUICERO

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Your title sounds like a Biggie lyric, which is a good thing.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I have an LS460, which I bought after realizing that the extra performance of my G8 GXP was mostly unusable on the roads where I drove and that it was not worth putting up with the car’s crap interior and questionable serviceability/parts availability to have it.

    Pluses: The refinement is exactly as advertised — and mine is the car that hardcore LS430 fanboys will tell you is cheapened and “not a true LS.” After driving my LS, almost any other car feels loud and harsh, even pretty comfortable late-model sport/lux cars. Both materials and assembly quality are truly first-rate. Most of the car’s parts are built for the long haul and the powertrain has an enviable durability record. The back seat is paradise for passengers even in my SWB car (find one with the Comfort+ package and its ventilated, power-adjustable rear seats). The Mark Levinson stereo is the best OEM system I’ve experienced, including Lincoln THX, BMW h/k, and Jag Meridian.

    Minuses: No feel of any sort. (The car is actually quite capable both in a straight line and in the corners, but exercising that capability is a matter of faith.) Image is more old man than baller, but I’m now over 40 with two young kids and a marriage worth not screwing up, and my clients never have a reason to see my car, so that’s about #63 on my priority list. There are a few known weaknesses that are expensive to fix, although you only have to fix them once. In general, parts are extremely expensive, although readily available, and the car consumes brakes and tires pretty quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      Junes

      Another LS460 owner here. Everything dal20402 said is on the money, though LS460s with Sport Package offer (very slightly) more feel: tighter adjustable air suspension and sharper steering. This car, with the attractive 19-inch forged wheels specific to this package, elicits positive comments from youngsters all the time, for whatever that’s worth, but I don’t care one bit about what image my car projects. I value automative serenity during my commute in hell-traffic and on long road trips. It is surprisingly quick off the line. The only issue I have had with it was a barely noticeable creaking sound when going over a bump at parking lot speed. A local dealer said “A Lexus isn’t supposed to do that,” and replaced the front air shocks under warranty (a $2,600 job, P&L). Like dal20402 said, almost any other car pales in terms of refinement. It’s always a jolt of reality when I ride in anything else: how can automakers build things so cheap and crappy feeling. That might sound arrogant coming from someone driving a pricey car, but that’s not my intention. I just think automakers should be held to a higher standard.

      (BTW, dal20402, re: the trailer hitch installation thread a couple of weeks back, I had the Curt hitch specified for the 2012 model installed on my 2011. It took two hours and went without a hitch :) So glad I did it.)

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Those forged wheels are awesome. My chromed factory 18s have very minor pitting and I’d love to replace them eventually, but a set of the forged 19s is *expensive* as all hell and I expect the replacement will just be non-chromed OEM 18s. Don’t chrome rims, kids!

        • 0 avatar
          Junes

          The wheels are SHOCKINGLY expensive. For the heck of it I called two local Lexus shops to check on the price: $1,450 and $1,525 _per wheel_. Yikes. Did you find similar pricing? (Don’t get me started on how dirty the front wheels get with dust from the huge brakes….)

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I’d be looking for used in good shape, not new. They are running $650-$850 per wheel on eBay for wheels in good condition.

            Meanwhile, 18s or the cheap cast 19s that came on base 2013+ cars can be found for $150ish/rim in good shape.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Car dealer parts department is the worst place to buy factory wheels. That is extraordinary high, but I’m honestly not surprised.

            Check eBay, craigslist (often “by dealer” or meet them at a police station lol) and other places for “take offs” (removed in new/like-new condition because the customer buying the car new wanted aftermarket wheels, or another style of wheel). You could probably find a whole set for $1000.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            No one is “taking off” those forged wheels, and the few that do know their value. They were available only on a very rare package and they are significantly lighter than other LS wheels, not to mention better-looking. Expect to pay $2500+ for a used set. Some other styles of LS wheels are available as you describe.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Oh I understand, I was speaking of factory wheels in general I guess. Didn’t realize the specific ones are that special.

            Yeah, for a while, a set of Harley Davidson F-150 wheels were worth their weight in gold. They even had some aftermarket knockoff copies which were garbage (buddy of mine had em on an F-150 his dad bought used).

            I have seen new Lexus with aftermarket wheels already on it. Gaudy ones, too. You can’t buy good taste. Especially not with ballar money.

          • 0 avatar
            Junes

            JohnTaurus, yeah, among the rare sightings of LS460s with Sports Package that I’ve seen in the wild — probably eight or ten of them along the East Coast over the past few years — every one of them had the factory forged wheels. It’s cool that Lexus included a full-size spare with a fifth of the same wheel!

  • avatar
    vb9594

    Hey dal20402- I also have an LS460- an ’08. I have a few different cars that allow me to get my performance driving jones on, but I was DD’ing a ’13 Accord Coupe EX V6 with the stick (same as Jack’s). I realized I was sitting in miserable traffic every day with no opportunity to play with that car, so I finally pulled the trigger on an LS. May as well be comfortable.

    I laughed when I read your comment “After driving my LS, almost any other car feels loud and harsh, even pretty comfortable late-model sport/lux cars.” A friend who also has an LS told me if I bought one it would ruin all other cars for me. Yup.

    Your comments are spot on, BTW. The cars have few weaknesses with expensive dealer fixes, but far cheaper aftermarket fixes. There is also (oddly enough) a great online support community for these cars. I recently got a $320 headlight change down to $50 by watching a video and reading a few forum posts and doing it myself. Meanwhile, my car has 95k miles on it now and I defy anyone to not mistake it for a new car.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Mine is also an ’08, but with only 50k miles (neither I nor the previous owner put many on). The cars aren’t bad to work on as long as you’re not afraid of complexity; parts come apart and go back together easily, but there are a whole lot of parts.

      I insisted on the new-design OEM parts for my control arm fix, which made it quite expensive, even at my indy’s reasonable labor rate. I don’t trust the Chinese eBay stuff to last.

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    A buddy sold his 130k mile LS430 (upgraded to his LS430) and when a potential buyer wanted a pre-inspection, the repair estimate was over $10k. His LS was a solid driver, just a little rough around the edges with several small electrical problems (e.g. auto steering column, door locks, windows, stereo) as well as expensive drive train components.

    Point is, these are expensive cars to maintain. I’m not sure about the LS400.

    Good condition ’98-00 LS400s are difficult to find, and generally command a premium. They also lack many modern amenities. As much as it pains me to say it, comparably priced but later model ESs are often a better value and better at many things compared to an older LS (particularly ease of maintenance)… except maybe that “baller” status. I doubt that kind of practicality is a concern here.

    GS430 would also be worth considering, although they’re even harder to find.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I didn’t want to say it, but if his priority is quiet and mature comfort and he cares little (or nothing at all) about image, nice <90K mile 2006 ES330s don't seem to be hard to find and I am guessing are notably less expensive to maintain over time.

      The ridiculous & now-ubiquitous warping passenger airbag door on the dashboard takes the otherwise classy interior down a few pegs, though. Lexus screwed up there and seems to show no interest in compensating owners, so now your 10-year old luxury sedan has dash warping reminiscent of early Kias.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I’ll be honest – if someone wants “quiet and cheap” the first thing that came to mind was a used ES or Avalon. But they aren’t V8 & RWD like the LS.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          True. And their relative position on the Frumpy Spectrum is…dissimilar.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            If cheap and practical all weather comfort is the focus, a ’00-’04 Avalon is not a bad way to go. Predates the worst of Toyota’s mid 00s cost cutting, rides really nice, FWD traction for the snow if that matters, and quite affordable to service, and enviably reliable. Super bland looking of course, and a snoozefest behind the wheel. But for vegging out behind the wheel and not caring about parking lot dings or traffic shunts and bumps, a good option.

        • 0 avatar
          Bangernomist

          With any of these candidates, the u-pull-it salvage yard ees your frien. It’s rare to find a LS430 in a yard in Texas, but LS400’s, ES300’s, Gen 2 Avalons, etc. are plentiful. You’re going to have to be a journeyman electrician to fix a lot of the small stuff, but if you can read a wiring diagram you are halfway there.

          It so happens my daily driver is a 2000 Avalon XLS. Substitute “cussfest” for “snoozefest” for the OEM suspension on the ’00-03. If you can find one the ’04 is preferable as there was a one year only strut and spring change with stiffer rates. The combination (not spring or strut individually) interchanges with early cars (or XV20 Camry/Solara/ES as the spindles are the same); I did this with my car. The only bugbear is that the Moog springs I bought sit way too high in the back; sourcing a junkyard set from the real deal might be a worthwhile option.

          Other than that, watch for the infamous 3.0 V6 sludge issue. I know this is the antithesis of baller but for a no-worries NYC daily driver it would fill the bill.

  • avatar
    Not_a_luddite

    I’m fairly qualified to respond to this as I had a WRX and an LS430, both 2002 models.
    The WRX was a loud mouth, tuned SOB that would keep you grinning, and required ear plugs for long highway trips.

    The LS was refined and luxurious, had great seats and the backseat had incredible legroom. It didn’t make you grin quite as easily, but it was quick and and long legs, it had great brakes, decent suspension and respectable handling for a 4000lb sedan. It was a great tow vehicle too boot. Mine was a base model, it didn’t have the troublesome laser cruise, or NAV, but otherwise everything was power.

    I paid my father-in-law $3000 for that LS, it had 185k on the odometer and was needed only control arm bushings to pass MD inspection.

    The WRX soon departed my fleet after the LS showed up. I loved the luxury and it was cheap to own, it averaged 22mpg, and parts were reasonably cheap, especially compared to Subie parts.

    Some knucklehead in a Murano pushed my utility trailer through the trunk and into the interior while I waited patiently at a crosswalk.

    I have another five-speed, turbo Subie now, I bought with the proceeds from the LS’ demise. It has 90k less on the odometer, and none of the refinement.

    I’d rather have another LS. I stare at them longingly now.

    My coworkers used to fight over the heated back seat when we went to lunch.

    I really miss that LS.

  • avatar

    I borrowed a friend of mines 95 Q45 back around 2001 great car. A couple years ago I found a used one with low miles in OK shape for a good price. Almost made an offer on it but it had some suspension issues which lead me online to research and parts were an issue so I stepped away.

    My Indie Mechanic likes the RL, and has two as his personal rides. I will have to ask him about parts but I doubt he would keep them if it was much of an issue . Plus up here in the North East they seemed to have sold a lot more of them then elsewhere in the country I see them in the scrap yards with super high mileage pretty regularly.

    Lex is still the best deal plenty of them with 200k miles still acting as daily drives around here as well.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      mopar, I have a used RL, and in all honesty the LS430 is the only car that makes me jealous.

      Parts are costlier than Honda but cheaper than German. A few service procedures are pointlessly stupid, like having to drop the bumper to replace the headlight bulbs (a few double-jointed people have figured out a workaround). The car has a handful of systems that chronically make trouble: Mine just puked up its alternator at 120k, the trick touch-to-lock door handles are buggy upon exposure to moisture such as pressure car washes, A/C problems happen. OTOH, some of the publicized problem areas aren’t really problem areas at all, such as the transmission and the diff’s. Basically, avoid the 2005 first year unless the discount is sufficient for you to fix the bugs, and they’re pretty bulletproof.

  • avatar
    Driver8

    Which model warrants a Kjell Nilsson version of ‘walk away’?

  • avatar
    carguy67

    “… I wish to teach myself many basic car repair skills …”

    This, IMO, is not a good idea, unless he has significant technical and mechanical skills in other areas and he is willing to spend massive amounts of cash and time on a trial-and-error approach. Yes, you can read books, watch videos, etc. but he’s well-advised to attend a community college auto shop/maintenance class or find a friend or relative who has said skills to help and advise him. There are an infinite number of techniques–‘tricks,’ if you prefer–to doing even simple repair and maintenance jobs that can make them a breeze, or, if you don’t have the skills and tools can be a nightmare. Example: One of the simplest home-maintenance jobs is an oil change but, without at least a level concrete floor, quality jackstands and jack you are not only likely going to make a mess of it you could get yourself killed. Then, you need patience. The first time you are inattentive or rushed, and cross-thread the drain plug–the ‘quickie lube’ joints do this distressingly often–you are in for an expensive repair job (new pan or, at the least, a thread insert–does he have the requisite drill sizes, taps, and parts?). He’ll need (preferably) the car’s official shop manual or, at the least, a Chiltons or Haynes for his car(s).

    My dad was an auto shop teacher and I grew up a gearhead, then lost interest until I bought my first British sports car. My dad told me “If you’re going to own a car like that you better learn how to work on it.” Thirty years later I can now do just about every job the cars need–up to and including a frame-off restoration–but I still get flummoxed and make mistakes but, fortunately, the old man is still around to bail me out and, as he’ll readily admit, sometimes it takes him two or three tries to do a job right. A noob is going to get frustrated and impatient very quickly, and shouldn’t even attempt a ‘routine’ job like brake replacement, wheel bearing re-packing, suspension repairs or the like without expert help.

    Dad’s favorite toy:

    http://www.modbee.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/jeff-jardine/article3173554.html

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I’m sorry but this is just BS, it doesn’t take years of skill to change one’s own oil, brake pads, spark plugs or coils. If you never try you will never gain any skills.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy67

        I didn’t say it “take years of skill to change one’s own oil” I did say, in so many words, that if he tries to half-ass it with a cheap scissors jack, on dirt and/or on a slope he might end up dead. It happens.

        And, I don’t consider an oil change a ‘repair’–I did make a distinction between ‘repair’ and ‘maintenance’–but if he does his first brake or suspension job wrong it could be his last.

        Sure, it doesn’t take years to learn simple jobs, but it can take a lifetime to perfect more advanced automotive skills. You may be an exception, but after 30+ years I’m still learning (even on the simple jobs).

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          And you shouldn’t run with scissors in your hand either.

          Seriously, wrenching on your own car is something that anyone with any mechanical aptitude (and some common sense) can do without worrying too much about killing anyone. And I worked for many years as a mechanic/technician after spending two years in an automotive technology school. It’s easy today for anyone to go online and find a well-written tutorial for just about any automobile repair or maintenance procedure.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Yes oil changes are not repairs but you were the one that mentioned doing an oil change.

          Personally I’m giving the OP the benefit of doubt that if he has a good job that he can afford a newer WRX, lives in NYC, and is looking to purchase a “toy” car that he isn’t going to try and do the work in dirt lot with a couple of rocks and a the factory jack. I’m assuming based on all of that and the desire to learn he is willing money to invest in the proper, though certainly not professional grade, tools to do the job at hand.

          And with today’s forum support and youtube videos it is a lot easier to learn than ever before. For example a lot of the videos will tell you the exact tools needed for the job, where that hidden fastener is or exactly how to contort and which combination of extensions and u-joints are needed to get to that impossible bolt.

          Now certainly there are things that are very dangerous either to do the job or to mess up and have fail and those certainly aren’t the right starting point. But changing the oil, belts, hoses, brakes, window motor, alternator, various switches, water pump are safe places to start learning the skills. It wouldn’t be his only car so if something goes wrong it can sit until next weekend to finish the job or wait for parts.

        • 0 avatar
          Bangernomist

          Well, yeah, you have to abide by a few rules.

          Rule #1: Do not get under a car without safety stands.
          Rule #2: Do NOT F****N get under a car without safety stands.

          You do need to follow a manual if you’ve never done stuff like brakes or steering, and always use a torque wrench on critical fasteners. But as long as you’re not flying by the seat of your pants you can do a reasonable amount of upkeep and repair without risking life and limb.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      I did a Chevy short block build and engine swap all by myself, reading nothing but a book called something like “How to build your Small Block Engine”.

      Of course the most important part is to have the right tools – or in my case a cherry picker and an engine stand.

    • 0 avatar
      Salzigtal

      +1 for the suggestions. The first thing I buy for a new or new to me car is the service manual. Factory if possible. The $20-30 Chilton-esque edition will pay for itself in avoided aggravation. A $150 Benz factory book will pay for itself the first time you drive past Dieter’s shop & wave. There’s nothing like the feeling of “I know what color wire I’m looking for”. +2 for adult ed classes @ your local HS / JC auto shop if available.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    I would bet dollars to donuts an LS has way less service costs than a WRX. I’ve owned both.

    Subaru gets a reputation for reliability that isn’t all that deserved. Also, the model I had felt like a tin can, just a car you didn’t want to be in for long periods of time. My next car was a Lexus.

    FWIW, I liked the LS better, but the WRX was a lot of fun. It just would be better as a 2nd car.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The LS won’t need service as often as the WRX, but the service it needs will be quite a bit more expensive. It will also probably need more frequent brake/tire replacements, assuming similar driving styles (which may not be a good assumption because the LS encourages you to waft).

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        I don’t know about that the head gasket job isn’t cheap on a Subie and they aren’t exactly known for being easy on brakes and tires particularly in WRX form. Throw in the fact that the WRX encourages you to hoon and I’d bet it will be more expensive to keep in the long run, fuel and insurance costs aside.

      • 0 avatar
        whitworth

        “The LS won’t need service as often as the WRX, but the service it needs will be quite a bit more expensive. It will also probably need more frequent brake/tire replacements, assuming similar driving styles (which may not be a good assumption because the LS encourages you to waft).”
        ________

        You really think an LS is typically driven more aggressively than a WRX? Or that it would need more frequent tire and brake pad replacements?

        You’re really reaching here.

        I buy tires and I get like 5 years out of them . Same with my brake pads. It’s a complete non-issue.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          No, I think the LS will be driven less aggressively than the WRX. But they are hard on both tires and brakes. My car gets about 20k miles out of a set of performance all-seasons and had all brake pads and the rear rotors done between 45k and 50k.

          • 0 avatar
            whitworth

            Sorry, I just don’t buy that.

            I guarantee you the average WRX owner goes through far more brakes and tires than the average LS430 owner, but regardless, this is such a trivial cost of ownership comparing either one that whoever comes out on top is pretty meaningless. The difference would be a rounding error.

            Buy tires with a factory warranty and rotate them. Brake pads are like $35.

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    Neil McCauley also rocked a Caddy STS and a BMW 850i, if I remember correctly. One of the top films of all time.

    They *did* use a Town Car as a getaway vehicle. It didn’t end well for some of them, either.

  • avatar
    MR2turbo4evr

    I own a ’00 LS400. I’ve wanted a 05-06 LS430 until my dad bought one. His has lower miles and is in signifiantly better condition but after driving and spending some time with it i’ve come to the conclusion that i prefer mine. The LS430 is bigger and quieter but the interior quality isnt on the same level as the LS400. The leather is thinner and seems to sag out sooner than the thick, unperforated leather used in the LS400. Both cars have been perfectly reliable. You really cant go wrong with either.

    • 0 avatar
      whitworth

      Many of the LS430’s had those silly ventilated seats and the foam on those collapses over time as a result of the air passages. That’s why it’s saggy.

      I would agree I prefer the older style seats, but otherwise I actually think the LS430 interior is way nicer.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    A later refreshed LS400 will probably be cheaper than an LS430, which command above average valuations. The MY97+ UZ has VVT and bhp is 290 @ 5900 rpm. I believe the LS430’s 3UZ is extremely similar in terms of power and 3UZ is essentially an improved 1UZ.

  • avatar
    Richard

    Been selling Lexus since day 1 (1989)
    Here are the best and worse vintages
    1. 2004-2006 LS430
    2. 1998-2000
    3. 1993-1994

    Worst
    1. 2005-2007

    Honorable mention
    1. 1997-2001 ES300 (avoid 2002-2006)
    2. Any GS430 (If you can find one)

    • 0 avatar
      Dingleberrypiez_Returns

      What’s wrong with the 2002-2006 ES? I always thought those had the nicest interiors of all the ESs.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I’d argue the ’97-’01 ES300s were a bit less special and some decontenting was starting to creep in compared to the ’92-’96 gen like I owned. Loss of double projector headlights, loss of frameless windows, some interior and exterior trim cheapening, and from what I’ve observed they seem to be a bit more rust prone than the earlier cars. Still really nice and comfortable cruisers, but a bit less “special” feeling.

      • 0 avatar
        Salzigtal

        If the oil is changed on time or more frequently, nothing. Filters are $5 at CA Toyota dealers.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Gotta say….whenever I see one of those cars on the road today, it just reminds me of a guy who wants a luxury car, but can only afford a rotten old used-up Japanese “luxury” car. Kinda like the old Jamaican guy I used to work with who smiled with a grin from ear-to-ear when he told me, “I drives a BMW!”

    It was just a few days later that I saw his rusty old BMW in the parking lot, complete with black soot all over the bumper (it was a diesel), faded beige paint, and a smattering of dents all over the car. But hey, it’s still a BMW!

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Isn’t it great to laugh at others? Sure makes me feel better knowing the guy who just paid decent for an older Lexus LS is really driving a rotten old Tercel, unlike a nice German badged luxo car which costs that much every month to keep on the road.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Don’t kid yourself…. There no such thing as an old, high mileage beat up car that is inexpensive to keep on the road. But yeah, it’s fun to laugh at others who somehow think they are ballers for driving an old, beat up luxury car, period.

    • 0 avatar
      barryfaetheus

      If the Jamaican guy is proud of his rusty old BMW and it gives him happiness, I don’t see what the problem is. Doesn’t sound like he is trying to show off.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I too have owned a WRX, albeit, a long time ago. It was the first gen wagon, 5 sp; kept it for 9k miles. It was in the shop too often for my taste.

    As for the Lexus, perhaps I missed the part about it must be rear drive and Asian in manufacture. But, for the money you can find some nice alternatives on the used Buick lot. The Lacrosse checks all of the boxes the the GS does for sure and most of the LS’sas well. I don’t buy the fit and finish nonsense proffered up here. Mine is screwed together quite nicely.

  • avatar
    psychoboy

    I daily drive a 96 Q45, the last year of the first generation.

    It’s not a baller car, by any means, but that’s mostly because I bought it for $300 from a guy who called a salvage yard after his grandmother had backed it into something for the last time.

    That being said, that’s this specific car, and if you can find reasonably nice mid 90s LSs you can probably find reasonably nice mid 90s Qs.

    There is a pretty solid enthusiast group of Q-tuners, and that can help you get your feet wet in the DIY wrenching department, if that’s your fancy. I have no idea if DYI-LS support groups exist.

    I’ve put 18,000 miles on the car since I put it in a cross-country beater rally last June, after it had been parked at my shop for two years. Other than putting gas in it (avg 20mpg), I’ve not done anything to it that whole time.

    So, OP….you might at least look at the Q45. I’d caution a look at the Q41 (second gen Q45), but as Jack mentions, it’s not really the same build of car as the original is.

  • avatar
    slance66

    I’m lost in even understanding the real goal here. An old LS isn’t impressing anyone. Hell, a new LS isn’t really impressing anyone.

    I’d sell the WRX and simply plow the extra few thousand into getting a better all around car. Maybe a Lexus GS of the current generation. It’s a nicer place to be than either of the other options.

    If I had to have an older “name” sedan, I’d get an E39 5 series from 2002 or 2003. It still looks good, and not dated like LS.

    • 0 avatar
      psychoboy

      I think the OP is looking for a comfortable place to put his ass when the WRX isn’t right for the occasion.

      His desire for baller might be nothing more than being in NYC, rather than trying to score.

      I /do/ second the GS suggestion, tho.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I look at the bullsh*t in the automotive sphere that impresses proles and it reminds me their lives are meaningless and their opinions inconsequential.

      I acquire things which impress ME. I am my own most important audience. I seek out fine things of great quality and intrinsic value. I don’t pay attention to media because it is and has always been fake nonsense.

      LS4xx blows away nearly everything in overall value and TCO. The only similar thing which might make me smile more in the sedan segment would be an X351, and I know one of those would make my wallet cry. I would roll an LS4xx down the boulevard and smile softly knowing what I have is far superior to everything around me. Zee Germans can’t touch this.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “I acquire things which impress ME. I am my own most important audience. I seek out fine things of great quality and intrinsic value. I don’t pay attention to media because it is and has always been fake nonsense. ”

        Exactly my sentiments as well. I’m the only one who matters when I spend my own money.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        For me, I like to impress others (and myself) by keeping my cars in tip top shape, other than that I buy what I want.

    • 0 avatar
      Salzigtal

      Ski trips upstate = WRX.

  • avatar
    hotdog453

    From a WRX perspective, if it’s a 2015+ that he has, it’s using a totally different engine; FA20DIT vs. EJ25. And those don’t have any ‘super known lol head gasket’ type issues. I have a 2015 with 45k miles and have had no ‘maintenance’ costs besides the normal, and my own self-induced brake pads/tire upgrades, which aren’t ‘normal’ costs.

  • avatar
    RRocket

    I’ve owned one of the first 1990 LS400s in the country, two GS, an IS350. My wife drives a rare manual IS300.

    I currently drive a 2004 Ultra Premium LS430, which I chose over an LS460 as it feels more special…more handbuilt with better attention to detail. While you may have issues with the air ride, do as I did: just swap in shocks from the regular LS. It’s a direct bolt-on with no modifications required…as are the sway bars from the Sport Package. So in this regard, you get it all. All the trimmings of the Ultra and peerless reliability.

    Apart from my MKIV Supra, this is one of my most loved cars I’ve owned. It’s truly fantastic.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Just buy a Platinum F150. One can learn how to wrench on it by turning it into a brodozer. He did say he liked the fact that his car “pisses off my cube monkey coworkers”.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Forget the Lexus, you’ll enjoy the quietness of a Volvo 940 a bit more while having ample room for any diy work, you’ll get far more with your cash too.

    Don’t mind FWD with a V6? Nissan Maxima (though diy is going to be trickier)

    If you absolutely need a V8 get a Marquis, less stuff to wear out on them vs a Town Car.

    If you really, really like the Lexus get an ES300, cheaper to run as it’s basically a Camry.

    If you really, absolutely positively want an LS400, go buy a Mercedes W124, the thing the LS400 knocked off. At least you’ll get the genuine article.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I never thought of any redblock as “quiet.”

      The LS400 knocked off the W126. The LS430 knocked off the W140. And both of them did so with much superior reliability.

      Wisely, when it was time to design the LS460, Lexus realized that knocking off the W220 was a poor idea and did its own thing.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Based on which examples?

        A ratty, old once overheated 240s going to be fairly noisy, likely with pistol slap and missing a few intake pieces.

        A well-kept 940 wont be Lexus quiet, but it’ll be quiet enough, you can always grab some 960 insulation bits too.

        As far as Lexus vs Benz, it only helps that Mercedes had to cheap out to compete with the quite aggressive Lexus. I’ve never owned either so I cant comment on reliability, just both being far too expensive in parts imo.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I just need like, $3,000,000, and I could build some sick Volvos.

          Homer: [scoffs] Burns never gives money to anybody. Just last week I asked him for $1,500.
          Marge: For what?
          Homer: Oh, I gotta get the third degree from you too?

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            $3000 Even, I’ll drop a 5.0 in a 940 wagon, re-build the entire interior, and you’ll get a nice quiet shoebox.

            Really if theres one solid reason to pick a Lexus (or, lets be real, anything from japan) over a 940 its the interior. I’ve never owned a Volvo where I didnt have to re-build the interior to make it quiet.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          A V8 shoebox should be loud! That’s a car for hooning, not wafting.

          Even a good 940 has a deep, pretty audible four-cylinder engine note. Try a ride in an LS430; you won’t hear the engine at all unless the driver’s flogging it. The LS460 makes a bit more noise (mostly faint direct-injection ticking) but only a bit.

          The cars are reliable, but when they do break, parts are nearly German expensive.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            It’d make a good Subaru replacement then, loud and fun, same mediocre mpg, but without what passes as “quality” at Subaru.

            The 940 does still have a deep note yes, even in good shape. Given the LS 430 doesnt have its roots on the 80s I can only hope its more quiet.

            I’ve never ridden in a Lexus (only a few Camrys), I will take you word for how quiet they are.

            PS, is it me or did Ford copy the LS’s styling when they made the 500? At least before its facelift.

          • 0 avatar
            Salzigtal

            I wonder what ever became of the P Newman / D Letterman V8 Volvo station wagons? The P Newman V8 VW Bug re-sold a couple of years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      No offense but you’re smoking something funny Ryoku. An old box RWD Volvo is a cool car in its own right, but it is on a completely different planet than an LS Lexus in terms of performance, NVH, basically any objectively measured quality (I’d make the same statement of the W124 in fact). Heck I’d say the same of a comparison to even an older ES Lexus. I totally don’t get recommending an old Volvo or grandma’s Marquis when the OP is asking about LS class vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Heh, odds are a bit of old oils still in my head from the weekend

        The OP wants a car to diy, I cant recommend something with its starter within the “V” of the engine. Panther starters arent fun either but dont require one to drain the coolant.

        Then again usually you dont buy an LS as a project car.

        To some the LS400 is the best car ever conceived, to me its doujinshi. Toyotas fan art of a Mercedes.

        Blech, now I sound like a dang weeabo.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Fair enough. OP needs to basically decide where the priority is: wanting a DIY friendly vehicle to learn some wrenching skills on, or comfort+luxo cruising in an affordable older luxury vehicle that won’t eat him alive in terms of maintenance costs when some of the work is farmed out to shops.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Agreed, though since he’s eyeing LS’s I’m sure thats where he’ll end up.

            Just dont drop mods into it, nuttin’ worse than some riced out luxo-barge from any brand.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Not that this is necessarily any better of an idea (and finding a good one might be very difficult), but since the OP doesn’t mention any desires beyond something more civilized, what about a late 1rst gen Lexus SC? It’ll still have the LS’s virtues, but in a better looking package (if the back seat isn’t that important). Or, hell, the Sajeev-approved Lincoln MkVIII?

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Not long ago I looked at an ’06 LS430 for a quiet highway cruiser. By the measuring tape the car is not obscenely large, but it certainly looks it in person. The look was disappointing.

    What torpedoed the idea of this car for me was the transmission. I have a strong preference for manuals, but I don’t think I am militant about it and have driven automatics that I am pretty sure I could live with (’12 Jaguar XF, ’11 BMW X3, ’08 BMW 550i, hell, even an ’01 BMW X5). The LS 430 was incredibly slow to downshift, to the point where I found the power delivery too unpredictable to do anything other than drive like the proverbial grandma.

    It was so unexpected considering the class of car and the LS 430’s reputation that I wonder if that example was broken. Since I’m not a fan of the looks, I don’t think I care enough to drive another and find out. Oh well.

    • 0 avatar
      Salzigtal

      There are times when I step on the gas and swear the transmission and variable valve timing are playing “you go first, no, you go first”. I’m an evil Gaijin and I imagine them bowing to each other as I re-plot the trajectory to the apex. FWIW, the same behavior on the same off-camber decreasing radius downhill off ramp in a Lincoln Town Car was terrifying. But still fun.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I drive a 2000 GS400 and I am absolutely convinced the 98-00 GS and LS are the single best used car bargain out there. A lot of these cars have been very well maintained, and were built to last forever. My own car is 17 years old and the interior looks virtually new. Mine is a daily driver in a place where we have 5-months of real winter, so it’s chipped and scratched, but the paint still looks amazing. The 1UZ-FE engine is bullet-proof and I still cruise at 90mph away from the city. All with no breakdowns in 7-years owning. My next car likely to be the lowest mile, LS430 I can find.

    • 0 avatar
      EAF

      Finally, someone mentions the GS.

      If I were in the market for a Lexus of that era, one that I fully expect to wrench on myself, then I’d want one powered by a 2JZ vvti. Parts are abundant, how-to’s all over the web, bulletproof yet simple to work on with basic tools.

      GS300 or an IS300 would be my recommendations to the OP.


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