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Finally, relief for the deprived owners of the

Unappealing affluence

If you follow car culture , one of the first things replica louis vuitton bags you’ll learn about the 2007 Lexus LS 460 the fourth generation flagship of Toyota’s luxury marque is that it has the ability to park itself.

The car’s Advanced Parking Guidance System allows drivers to sidle up to a spot, press a button and the car will glidingly reverse itself into the space, either parallel or perpendicular to the curb.

First of all, any technology that further enables the decline in minimum driving competence is untimely, at best. Second, the aaa replica designer handbags system requires that the 1:1 replica handbags parallel spot be 6.5 feet longer than the car (23 feet for the standard wheelbase LS 460). I don’t need a computer and a rearview camera to dock in such a huge space. Also, the car takes forever to achieve this bit of parking prestidigitation.

The auto parking feature is a headline grabbing gimmick in a car run amok with them. For your delectation, I submit the eight speed automatic transmission, a world first. Finally, relief for the deprived owners of the quaint Mercedes S class, who get along with a mere seven.

Perhaps your tastes run toward science fiction. replica louis vuitton The LS 460 L the long wheelbase model offers a four zone climate control, which uses an infrared camera to measure back seat passengers’ body temperature. A fully optioned LS 460 L also would be equipped with 11 air bags (another record!), 19 surround sound speakers, a 30 gigabit hard drive (storage for 2,000 music files with room to spare for the navigation data), high quality replica handbags china and five powered sunshades, to tick off just a few of the car’s excesses.

What is going on here? Call it the anxiety of affluence.

As much as the Lexus nameplate has become the default choice for the sensible careerist looking for a well built, well priced luxury car, the brand still ranks near zero Kelvin on the prestige thermometer. Power heap in initial quality, vehicle dependability, customer satisfaction and return business and I’ll tell you that none of that matters. Compared with luxury brands such as Mercedes Benz aaa replica designer handbags , Cadillac, BMW and Audi, Lexus has the emotional high quality designer replica handbags appeal of a public golf course.

Consider that in a survey of brands mentioned by hip hop artists in the 2005 Billboard Top 20, Lexus didn’t even crack the top 50. Mercedes Benz was No. 1, with Cadillac (3), Bentley (4), Rolls Royce (5) and Chevrolet (7) in the Top 10.

Meanwhile, the market for high end, prestige driven luxury goods is exploding: Donzi powerboats, dinners at Guy Savoy, Rolex watches, Angelo Galasso shirts. Americans spent an amazing/appalling $440 billion on luxury consumer goods in 2005, and much of that wound up in their driveways. Lexus’ futurists expect the prestige luxury market code for the aforementioned Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Jaguar, Cadillac to grow 50 percent in the next five years.

For Lexus designers and engineers pondering the LS 460, the question was how to ride those coattails.

The company’s marketers consulted with luxury brands such as Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton. One thing they learned is that “expensive” is not the same as “exclusive.” Such companies typically offer a grand cru line, and these top shelf items drive acquisitiveness for the whole brand.

And so we have the Lexus LS 460 L, the company’s first long wheelbase model, which can be optioned out the wazoo climate controlled reclining rear seats with foldout ottoman and shiatsu massage function; rear seat refrigerator; 9 inch ceiling mounted video monitor. This will be the first Lexus that, fully kitted, will come close to the six figure level.

Lexus doesn’t expect many 460s to be ordered so extravagantly, and that’s just fine: These cars are essentially audition pieces. You could say the cheap replica handbags same of the hybrid version of the car, coming next year. With a Hybrid Synergy Drive all wheel drive powertrain stuffed into the car, a fully optioned LS 460 L will rank as the most technologically dense vehicle on four wheels.

Meanwhile, the standard LS still handsomely provisioned will run closer to $65,000 (pricing will be announced before the cars arrive at dealerships in October).

The other factor in making Lexus a more emotional brand is styling. For the past Discount Replica Louis Vuitton Bags couple of years, Lexus has been promoting its L finesse design language, a meringue whipped form vocabulary that has appeared with increasing insistence on the ES, GS and IS cars. The hallmarks are a lowered grille, concave shallows along the cars’ high sides, and diverging contours raked dorsally front to rear.

Tidy explanations of the new LS run out of oxygen, because a car that should have been expressive and beautiful isn’t. It’s not a bad looking sedan, and it does have the look of the L finesse avatars, but the instant I laid eyes on it, I was disappointed. Compared to the lyrical Mercedes CLS or the Audi A8, the LS is a dirge, a Toyota Avalon with a post graduate degree.

One reason the car looks so constrained might be that it is so aerodynamically optimized. The LS achieves an astonishing 0.25 coefficient of drag (with optional air suspension that lowers the car at high speeds). This is close to the same 1:1 replica handbags aero efficiency of a Prius. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the more expressive elements of early design iterations were scoured away in the wind tunnel.

Here we stumble, again, on the tension between the perfectionist Lexus brand and the prestige luxury market. The prestige market is not about better fuel economy. It’s about amazing looking cars.

So while the LS 460 should be commended for its fuel efficiency its lightweight, super efficient 4.6 liter engine and multiplicity of gear ratios give it class leading mileage (23 per gallon) and ULEV II emissions rating it’s kind of beside the point.

What’s it like to drive?

My initial impression is that it’s fantastically constructed. For instance, Lexus hand sands the body, twice, before final painting. And, per usual, the big sedan is deadly quiet and nearly vibration free.

The materials leather, wood, suede are superb. Lexus buffs the leather for the steering wheel for three hours to give it a kid glove feel. Yet, the central console, transferred out of the GS sedan, isn’t particularly rewarding more like a high end arcade game.

It’s quick enough. Thanks to fake designer bags the relatively short first two transmission gears, the LS gets out of the blocks in good form. Zero 60 mph goes by in 5.4 seconds, about as quick as Mercedes’ S class, which has a liter’s more displacement.

It’s also large enough. The “couple distance,” the space between the front and rear seats, is as much as 45 inches.

Commuters will love the LS. In addition to the crystalline surround sound stereo, iPod compatibility and Bluetooth hands free phoning, cheap louis vuitton bags from china uk the car offers XM’s NAVtraffic service, which monitors traffic conditions in real time and will help you route around delays. Also, the car has Brake Hold function, a switch activated system that allows your foot to be off the brake while the car is stopped.

Yes, yes, a very nice robot. A gifted colleague of mine asked the perfect question: Will there ever be a Lexus owners club?

Of course, the cars are splendid appliances. But will they ever be cherished automobiles like those of old world marques BMW or Bentley? Yes, they can park themselves. But can they soar.


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