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A quick review of the second-generation LS400, as compared to the 90-96 Q45 and 2006+ Cadillac DTS.

Highs: Nakamichi sound system, seating comfort, ride quality, acceleration, braking, styling, quality, quiet.

Lows: Steering accuracy, thrills, cupholders.


Braking: 5/5 There's a gentle initial bite followed by smooth and accurate modulation. Brings it down from high speeds without drama.
Q45: Superior
DTS: Inferior

Suspension: 5/5 Somehow, it glides over rough surfaces without wallowing, bobbing, or weaving. There's plenty of body roll but cornering is secure, safe, and predictable. Its also well balanced without excessive understeer.
Q45: Harsh by comparison
DTS: A bit firmer with less dive and squat.

Steering: 3/5 For the amount of weight, one would expect the steering to be more precise. Unfortunately, a lot of hunting around is required when entering a curve or changing lanes at high speeds. Road feel is just adequate. The wheel itself is huge, like navigating a ship. I am not a fan of wood-trimmed wheels, which make your hands sweat. I'd rather grab a dead animal than a dead tree.
Q45: Perfect, precise, and heavy without being uncomfortably so. Ideal for winding through mountain roads.
DTS: Light but sharp. Perfect for everyday driving.

Comfort: 5/5 The best place in this car is the front passenger seat, which is supportive enough to drive for two days straight without any fatigue, and you can sleep on your side in a natural position. Seat belt height is adjustable and head rests are pillow-soft. Seat bottoms are wide and side bolsters are wonderfully soft. AC is sufficiently cold, but is nothing compared to GM.
Q45: Vastly inferior seating.
DTS: About equal with outstanding climate controls and wonderful air conditioning for front and rear passengers.

Interior: 5/5 I prefer the upper dashboard wood trim in Jaguars and Cadillacs, but this is tasteful and elegant. The large expanse of gray on the upper dash is a little dull, but everything is exceptionally well assembled. Wood pieces are very thick. The front cupholders are completely useless. Column-mounted switchgear is a confusing mess of twists, flicks, and turns.
Q45: Has more soft-touch surfaces but fewer storage compartments.
DTS: Textures aren't as nice, but build quality is on par.

Audio: 5/5 NO OEM SOUND SYSTEM ON EARTH is as crispy detailed as the Nakamichi system in the gen2 LS400. Even the recent LS430's Mark Levinson system is vastly inferior. Treble and mids are reproduced with precision, revealing new instruments in songs I've listened to hundreds of times.
Q45: The Bose system is just adequate, improved in 1994 with tweeters. It tends to fart out some bass and squeeze out some highs while ignoring quality otherwise. Junk that begs to be replaced.
DTS: By comparison, very well balanced system for all kinds of music. GM OEM sound systems are usually very good.

Body: 5/5 A knockoff Benz, done nicely. Paint and panel integrity are world class. At times, the hood was so clean and smooth that the sun was reflecting in my eyes. The trunk lid swoops upward to form a built-in spoiler. Modest luxury is the theme inside and out. Nothing ostentatious.
Q45: Better looking, without question -- particularly low and long.
DTS: More luxurious, well-decorated and dramatic styling.

Acceleration: 5/5 0-60 in 6 seconds. Unfortunately, the total absence of any engine noise makes that 6 seconds undramatic and dull. 60-100 is amazing, pulling hard and smooth. There's plenty of dive and squat, however. Shifts are imperceptible through all five gears. The engine may as well be electric.
Q45: Inferior on paper, but a lot more fun. The driver is allowed to hear the VH45. The JATCO transmission, however, is crap.
DTS: The Northstar sounds AMAZING with throaty growl easily heard in the cabin under full throttle, but the non-Performance version of the DTS is slow by comparison. The GM Hydra-matic is perfectly matched, despite being short a gear. 110mph is completely effortless.

Overall: 4/5 How can a 98% perfect luxury car only get 4/5 overall? Its really a matter of preference. The LS400 is about details, details, and more details. It feels like the engineers went through hell getting everything to behave, look, and feel a particular way.
In contrast, I like driving the automotive equivalent of a hammer, details be damned. I should probably buy a Corvette. Now that I have a super dependable, super comfortable and quick sedan, a late 90s C5 would make a perfect second car.

There are times where modesty and humility are preferred, like when driving through a bad part of town or when you want to be left alone by law enforcement. Otherwise, there's just not enough character for the Lexus to be my only mode of transportation. But like a pair of comfy old jeans, I'm glad I bought it and intend to keep it for a long, long time.
 

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Road trip photos:

Ian bought this:




So he sold this to me:



http://www.q45.org/gallery2/d/466-2/LS400+003.jpg[/im
I flew down to Florida to pick it up. The following are travel photos, including the William J. Clinton Presidential Museum.

[img]http://www.q45.org/gallery2/d/653-2/100_3366.JPG
Got stuck on the runway in St Louis waiting for a storm to pass.


Approaching Tampa Bay


An hour after I landed, Ian picked me up.






My aunt wanted to see me, so we headed to North Carolina and stayed at her place. She was in the middle of remodeling so there was only one bed for both of us, so we made do.



Her Lexus ES330 with 30k.
 

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We peaked at 27mpg through North Carolina!


We weren't far from a chicken processing plant.


In Nashville I-24 was blocked off in both directions due to a multicar accident which resulted in fires. After an hour of waiting, people got some trucks to move so we could cut over, cross the grass median, and turn around. The people of Nashville are among the friendliest, ever. Actually, the either southern US is full of wonderful people.



Memphis was underwhelming, but their street car system is still working.



This region of the country, where I grew up, is called "Little Egypt" because of its parallels to Egyptian commerce and geography. See Wiki.




Entering Arkansas. Crime in AR must be really low, because ALMOST EVERY BRIDGE IN THE STATE had a cop hiding behind it.
 

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Check out those phones.


Practicing for Arsenio




Cabinet meeting room.


There would have been no substantive welfare reform without Newt Gingrich.


Little Rock


Bill and Al created 27 million web sites. :)



A corridor displayed a year by year timeline.
 

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Documents and records.


The caption is about bolstering the US auto industry. The photo shows a DaimlerBenz product.


State of the Union final draft.


BOOOOO!


World leaders of the time.







Impeachment


Arkansas River


Table configuration for state dinners.


Socks!


Saxophones donated by various world leaders.


WTF
 

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Monica! Get out from under there!




A very nicely done replica of the oval office.




A 15-minute film narrated by President Clinton himself. Very inspirational.



A trolley ride to the gift shop.


Ian got me a gift. This is President Bush's Deville limousine.


"I miss bill"





We saw this exquisite beauty on I-40.


Nukes! Clean power for the south.
 

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Bobby Hopper has a tunnel.




We stopped at the Fayetteville fair to visit Ian's ex girlfriend.


I ran into some Ron Paul supporters.


I got them to fight. I LOL'd


My fajitas were sizzling when they were served.


Sprint Navigation got us to Wichita, where I dropped off Ian with his brother.


A picture of the first Wal-Mart.
 

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Oklahoma






Booked two nights at the Biltmore downtown. Got an outstanding rate through Priceline.



Ian's brother picked us up in the X5 Dinan, went out for Mexican food and got a tour of Wichita, a shockingly "happening" place.



Taking my new Lexus for a car wash before finishing the effortless drive home.
 

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Most excellent, Jay... Congrats on the new wheels & thanks for all the pics.

Was particularly impressed by the shots of the library. We've been talking about taking it in on our next trip to Iowa.
 

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My main problem with most Japanese vehicles is a subjective one. While the Japanese (Lexus especially) have proved they can build a damn near technically perfect car, they have yet to realize that no matter how smooth and reliable the engine is, nor how smooth the ride may be, nor how quiet the cabin, nor how close the gap variances may be, they cannot manufacturer a "soul" into a car. It may be the perfect machine, yet it is only that - a cold machine, void of any character whatsoever. But then again, there are cars with character coming out the wa-zoo that are as reliable as a frenchman in a fight, several European makes come to mind.

I know some may disagree with me, but that's just how I feel. Like I said, it's something subjective, a complete intangible, but I digress.

As I've always said, even if I don't particularly like it, it doesn't matter, cause I don't have to! Congrats on finding a car that you like and I wish you many happy miles that lie ahead!
 

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Fantastic pictures, and great car.

Now, to nitpick, try and stay away from many more automatic touching car washes that'll wreck that beautiful paint and neglect other crevices pretty quickly.:thumbsup:
 

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My main problem with most Japanese vehicles is a subjective one. While the Japanese (Lexus especially) have proved they can build a damn near technically perfect car, they have yet to realize that no matter how smooth and reliable the engine is, nor how smooth the ride may be, nor how quiet the cabin, nor how close the gap variances may be, they cannot manufacturer a "soul" into a car. It may be the perfect machine, yet it is only that - a cold machine, void of any character whatsoever.
Agreed, 200%
 
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My main problem with most Japanese vehicles is a subjective one. While the Japanese (Lexus especially) have proved they can build a damn near technically perfect car, they have yet to realize that no matter how smooth and reliable the engine is, nor how smooth the ride may be, nor how quiet the cabin, nor how close the gap variances may be, they cannot manufacturer a "soul" into a car. It may be the perfect machine, yet it is only that - a cold machine, void of any character whatsoever. But then again, there are cars with character coming out the wa-zoo that are as reliable as a frenchman in a fight, several European makes come to mind.

I know some may disagree with me, but that's just how I feel. Like I said, it's something subjective, a complete intangible, but I digress.

As I've always said, even if I don't particularly like it, it doesn't matter, cause I don't have to! Congrats on finding a car that you like and I wish you many happy miles that lie ahead!
Well thats pretty convenient isn't it?. No matter how crappy your Cadillac turns out to be (not saying it is), you can always say it has "soul". Take that Lexus, no matter how great a car you build it'll never have the soul of a Cadillac!. Cadillac need not improve a thing, as long as buyers think that this imaginary "soul" is intact they can keep those crappy Northstars coming!. :thepan:
 

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Thanks for posting the great review of your new car and your road trip.

The LS400 is my favourite "Limo" of all time. If a smooth, quiet ride at high rates of speed is your goal, I
don't think any car under 100 grand does it any better.
I've read thousands of posts over at Lexus.com, and engine repairs are virtually unheard of, as long as the T-belt is
changed on time, and you keep an eye on your pwr steering pump, which tends to leak over the alternator as the car ages.
Any other complaints are minor by comparison ... the drivetrains are as close to bulletproof as anything ever built.

I much prefer the styling on my STS', but Toyota wins hands down on mechanical longevity with the LS400.

I'm jealous ... nice, nice purchase!
 

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Well thats pretty convenient isn't it?. No matter how crappy your Cadillac turns out to be (not saying it is), you can always say it has "soul". Take that Lexus, no matter how great a car you build it'll never have the soul of a Cadillac!. Cadillac need not improve a thing, as long as buyers think that this imaginary "soul" is intact they can keep those crappy Northstars coming!. :thepan:
I actually didn't even mention Cadillac... for that matter I think some Cadillacs are pretty void of character, my Seville being one of them, although there have been several Cadillacs that have. Sure, a companies history can add to the charm, but more often and more importantly it's that intangible feeling certain cars inspire. Jaguars, Mercedes, Bentleys, BMWs, old Lincolns, the original Mustang... sometimes they're great cars mechanically, sometimes they're not.. but that doesn't really matter. Heck, there are some cars that are wonderful based solely on their charm and nothing more, like an Alpha. It may be a piece of junk but it all comes down to that feeling you get when you're actually able to drive it.

The Japanese can build wonderful cars... wonderful luxury cars, wonderful sports cars, wonderful daily driver cars. But when I'm behind the wheel or riding passenger in a Japanese car I don't feel anything, I just think - it's matter of fact , "It's a car, I think it's a nice car." The Lexus LS is a technological masterpiece, a better car in every measurable way than almost anything else out there. Yet when I am in one I only think, "I think this is a really nice car."

I never said anything bad about the car. If you just don't agree with me that's fine, but it's what I feel. If you don't quite understand what I'm saying than I can't really explain it any more. It really can't be explained, like I said it's subjective because it's an intangible.
 
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I actually didn't even mention Cadillac... for that matter I think some Cadillacs are pretty void of character, my Seville being one of them, although there have been several Cadillacs that have. Sure, a companies history can add to the charm, but more often and more importantly it's that intangible feeling certain cars inspire. Jaguars, Mercedes, Bentleys, BMWs, old Lincolns, the original Mustang... sometimes they're great cars mechanically, sometimes they're not.. but that doesn't really matter. Heck, there are some cars that are wonderful based solely on their charm and nothing more, like an Alpha. It may be a piece of junk but it all comes down to that feeling you get when you're actually able to drive it.

The Japanese can build wonderful cars... wonderful luxury cars, wonderful sports cars, wonderful daily driver cars. But when I'm behind the wheel or riding passenger in a Japanese car I don't feel anything, I just think - it's matter of fact , "It's a car, I think it's a nice car." The Lexus LS is a technological masterpiece, a better car in every measurable way than almost anything else out there. Yet when I am in one I only think, "I think this is a really nice car."

I never said anything bad about the car. If you just don't agree with me that's fine, but it's what I feel. If you don't quite understand what I'm saying than I can't really explain it any more. It really can't be explained, like I said it's subjective because it's an intangible.
Believe me, I understand but I thought you were trying to infer that an '02 SLS has soul thus making it better than a Lexus without "soul". The things you speak of regarding the Alpha and Mustang really rung a bell with me. Sometimes all the luxury in the world cant make up for the feeling you get slipping into something that you are just more into. For me any FWD Cadillac gives me that sterile and cold feeling. Truly they have none of that "soul" you speak of. I find it hard getting attached to a car nowadays and I haven't had that feeling of "soul" since I was into sportier cars like Mustangs, Camaro's, Vette's and Porsche's. When I went through a real stupid period in my life (car wise) I bought the wife and I matching 4 banger Camry's in '00. Reliable, ok driving, but I hated them with a passion.
 

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Great thread idea Jesda....a road trip and automotive review. It's my two favorite threads rolled into one!


I agree with AMgoff, The Lexus is very nice, very nice. But it's got no soul. It looks and feels like an appliance, albeit a high end one. It's sorta like a very nice butler that's always around when you need him, and will do anything you wish, but never talks or gives any sort of a feedback. Does that make sense??

Those LS400s are my favorite Lexus ever. I love those wheels...I can remember really liking them when they came out. The 90-97's looked smaller and more boxy, and the 01+ LS430s just never did much for me. I looked at those too before I bought the Benz, but I couldn't find any in my price/mileage range. I found one in my area under $20,000. It was a silver '98 with like 115k on it and they wanted $13,995 for it. Too many miles, not a fan of silver and too much $$. But they hold their value like nothing else.


Jesda, bring that to the Florida meet in November. We'll put the LS400 and the S320 back to back and compare and contrast. We'll cross review our cars.
 

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Believe me, I understand but I thought you were trying to infer that an '02 SLS has soul thus making it better than a Lexus without "soul". The things you speak of regarding the Alpha and Mustang really rung a bell with me. Sometimes all the luxury in the world cant make up for the feeling you get slipping into something that you are just more into. For me any FWD Cadillac gives me that sterile and cold feeling. Truly they have none of that "soul" you speak of. I find it hard getting attached to a car nowadays and I haven't had that feeling of "soul" since I was into sportier cars like Mustangs, Camaro's, Vette's and Porsche's. When I went through a real stupid period in my life (car wise) I bought the wife and I matching 4 banger Camry's in '00. Reliable, ok driving, but I hated them with a passion.
Very true... The Pontiac Grand Prix GTP I just bought is a more comfortable (Amenity wise), much faster, much better handling, much more efficient, and much more practical machine than my old Cadillac. It remains to be seen whether it will be more reliable or not (I hear they don't tend to be, but I'm preparing for that by over-maintaining it right now and replacing everything on it). Since it is my new toy I'm still infatuated with it and of course I am itching to drive it anytime I need to go somewhere. Since I am doing a bunch of work on it right now it is off the road and I actually caught myself, for a split second, one time early one morning thinking "Aw man I have to take the old Cadillac to work." I then thoroughly beat myself up (mentally that is), slipped behind the wheel of that old long black beauty and remembered why I love it so much in the first place. I still can't believe I did that, I love that Cadillac, and aside from it's mechanical shortcomings compared to many modern day cars. It has more style and soul than any other car I pass on my way to work, and looks of admiration are not in short supply when cruising around. Qualities such as this are what Japanese car manufacturers have yet to even begin to understand. Even my sterile (compared to my Caddy) Pontiac has more soul than any Honda or Lexus. Of course, this is my opinion, and is not based on any facts whatsoever.
 
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