For 2006, the Lexus LS 430 – the company’s flagship sedan, and an evolution of the first Lexus vehicle ever built – receives several enhancements. They include a SmartAccess key, which allows hands-free locking and unlocking of the doors and trunk, plus engine starting; torque-activated powertrain control, which automatically adjusts to provide the right amount of engine torque under all driving conditions; a Smart Climate Control system that “reads” the interior and provides heating, cooling and deodorizing if necessary; and optional DVD navigation system, laser cruise control and pre-collision system to reduce the effects of an impact.

The LS 430 comes in one trim line, but with optional Premium Package, Premium Package with Navigation and Ultra Premium Package options available. The Sport Package offered in 2005 is no longer available. The engine is a 4.3-litre V8 mated to a six-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission with sequential manual shift mode.

Standard features include speed-sensitive power steering, 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear ventilated disc brakes, power tilt wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, six-CD/cassette stereo with seven speakers, heated leather seats with 14-way driver and 10-way power adjust with driver three-position memory, heated rear seats, power rear window sunshade, auto-dimming rearview mirror, wood and leather-wrapped wheel, cargo mat and net, key lockout protection, power sunroof, rain-sensing wiper, high intensity discharge headlamps with adaptive lighting, auto-levelling, headlamp washers and light control system, fog lamps, driver and passenger knee airbags, HomeLink garage door opener, automatic trunk closer, clearance and backup sensor, and first-aid kit.

The Premium Package adds dynamic laser cruise control, a nine-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, laminated side glass, power closers on all doors, and heated and air conditioned perforated leather front seats. The Premium Package with Navigation adds a DVD-based navigation system with backup monitor; the Ultra Premium Package with Navigation adds the new pre-collision system, air suspension, power rear seats with memory and massage, heated and air conditioned front and rear seats, rear seat cooler box, rear audio controls, manual rear window shades, power rear sunshade, and dynamic radar cruise control.

The LS is Lexus’ top-end sedan and it lives up to that status, with responsive handling, a roomy interior with luxurious fittings, a powerful engine, and an incredibly smooth ride. It’s the ultimate in luxury for the price, although the styling is perhaps a little too understated; an expected makeover for 2007 should bring it a bit more up-to-date.

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