Used Car Review: Lexus LS430 2004-2007

29 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Used Car Review: Lexus LS430 2004-2007
Lexus LS430

David Morley

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

From the moment it was launched here as the first of the Lexus brand’s offerings, the LS model has been regarded as a quality piece of work.

Aimed squarely at the luxury limo establishment #8211; namely the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series #8211; the big Lexus soon attracted its own following of early adopters who were prepared to forgo a prestige European badge for a car that was technically superior in some respects.

And since that time in the early 1990s, the LS sedans from Lexus have managed to grow their own halo with the marque emerging as its own kind of luxury brand.

Of course, while the LS has now become part of that establishment it was designed to attack, it has also picked up a few of that market segment’s bad habits.

Well, one habit in particular: While 7-Series and S-Class cars drop residual value faster than just about anything else on four wheels, the Lexus LS is also a victim of the funnel-effect whereby there are enough executives to buy the things brand-new, but a lack of private punters with that sort of cash to spend on a second-hand car.

So, the car that was a mega-buck proposition when new can be a very inexpensive used-car buy a few years down the track, yet you’re still getting all the engineering, safety and convenience that helped sell the thing to its original owner back in the day.

Consider the bald numbers: Back in 2004, the BMW 735i cost $178,300. That same car today can be found for about $20,000, perhaps even less if you shop at auction.

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class equivalent, the 2004 S350, cost $177,900 back then and right now is a mid-20s proposition.

And the Lexus? The LS430 from 2004 cost $178,600 brand-new but now, those same nine years later is around in the low-20s. See the pattern here?

Of course, while second-hand, big-dollar European cars scare a lot of would-be owners, the Lexus reputation is such that there’s a lot less consternation in the marketplace.

Why that hasn’t buoyed used values is anybody’s guess, but it remains that a used Lexus is a better chance than most (if not all) to be a sound purchase that won’t explode expensively in the driveway next week.

The original LS400 was updated to the LS430 in 2001 and with the new model came a 100-millimetre or so longer wheelbase and a taller cabin. Both these measures were designed to boost space in the rear seat, so while they were a nod to the chauffeur-driven status of the car when it was brand-new, it also makes them great family cars now.

For our money, however, the cars to look at now are the 2004-onwards models as these cars mark the first facelift for the LS430.

Pivotal to that upgrade was a change from the old five-speed automatic transmission to a smoother, six-speed unit.

As a result, the car drove better with a smoother overall feel (not that the five-speed was ever called less than smooth) and fuel economy picked up slightly.

That said, the LS430 is still a big, heavy car and it will use plenty of fuel if given the chance.

Even a cruise up the highway at the legal speed will require a bit of forward planning and a soft right foot if you’re to beat 10 litres per 100 kilometres.

It’s also worth noting that it has a preference for the more expensive, 95-octane brew.

The engine itself was a 4.3-litre V8 with technology that simply left old-school local V8s for dead.

We’re talking double-overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and enough attention to detail to wring 207kW from those 4.3 litres.

It was smoother than buttered Teflon, too, and liked a rev without ever getting hot and bothered about such treatment.

About the only problem we’ve ever encountered with the Lexus V8 involves a recall for some cars built between 2006 and 2008 to replace the engine’s valve springs. Apparently a bad batch of springs were prone to failure, but they would almost certainly have been replaced by now.

The other LS430 recall was for some cars built between mid-2003 and January 2004. The problem was a small metal part that could break off in the transmission and cause the Park function to be inoperative.

Beyond that, there’s no real dirt to be dug on the driveline of the LS430.

They just seem to keep on going and going and we’ve seen enough cars with more than 400,000 trouble-free kilometres on board to know that this is not a fluke.

Of course, even the best engineering wears out eventually, so make sure that a high-mileage LS isn’t on its last legs. A compression test is a good idea for cars that have covered 300,000 kilometres or more.

Inside, all those buttons and switches that made the LS430 a true luxury limo need to be checked for proper function.

Take a close look at the leather trim at the same time, too.

Some Japanese leather was a bit prone to going hard in the local sun and eventually splitting. Check the top of the rear seat where it’s most likely to go brittle first, and take a close look at high-wear areas like the top of the centre console.

That great-looking dashboard with its luminous needles can give problems, too, most notably with the needles suddenly blacking out permanently.

The gauges will still work, but a dim needle spoils the high-tech effect.

Really, the only thing to be scared about with a Lexus LS430 is that the car you’re looking at has been a hotel limousine or a limo-for-hire.

Check the condition of the carpets and the boot loading lip to see how much action the car has seen.

Our rating: 4 stars

Nuts and bolts

Engine/s: 4.3 V8

Transmissions: 6-auto

#8226;#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;Utter reliability.

#8226;#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;Smooth V8 engine and automatic gearbox.

#8226;#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;Big inside and cheap enough to be family wheels.

#8226;#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;Likes a drink if you use the performance.

#8226;#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;Conservative styling.

#8226;#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;Watch for ex-limos.

#8226;#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;Driveline won’t be cheap to fix if it ever goes wrong.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class #8211; Big, imposing and a known quantity. Styling by 2004 had matured from slab-sided earlier car, and nothing has that waft-factor like an S-Class Benz. 4 stars

BMW 7-Series #8211; Odd-looking rear treatment still doesn’t work for most people. Some BMWs don’t seem to age well, either, and, like the Lexus, beware the ex-hotel limo. 3.5 stars

Audi A8 #8211; Technically advanced with an aluminium structure and high-tech interior. Ergonomically pure and the all-wheel-drive function makes it the snow-bunnies’ choice. 3.5 stars

What to pay (courtesy of Glass’s Guide):

Model#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;Year#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;New#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;Now

LS430#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;2004#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;$178,600#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;$21,800

LS430#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;2005#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;$170,600#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;$27,600

Lexus LS430

LS430#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;2006#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;$171,600#160;#160;#160;#160; $36,500

LS430#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;2007#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;$171,600#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;$46,300#160;#160;#160;#160;#160;

18 comments so far

The Lexus has bland and boring styling, it seriously looks like a 90’s car. The interior is also very ‘Toyota’. The Audi A8 would be my choice; no known issues and a hell of a car!

4.2L TT V8 Diesel is the pick.

Commenter Jaques Location Date and time July 12, 2013, 4:49PM

An Audi with no known problems, are you serious?

Commenter once bitten Location QLD Date and time July 15, 2013, 5:06PM

Pardon me, you say an LS430 is bland..yet you say Audi A8. WTF

BOTH are bland. but the Lexus will be a joy to own and drive for the used car buyer where as the Audi will be a constant preoccupation of what will go wrong and when and how much.

Commenter Seats and a steering wheel Location Date and time July 16, 2013, 6:43AM

Audi A8 with no problems? You’re having a laugh. They are a sweet looking limo though.

Commenter Billy Location Sydney Date and time July 19, 2013, 7:39AM

An A 8. Do you know anything about cars? The review was two SUVs,,a Q5 and a Lexus.the A8 is a saloon,,geeeezus

Commenter Circling buzzard Location Date and time July 29, 2013, 3:35PM

I think you are confused, the A8 is quite reliable and is not related to a $25k VW Golf DSG.

Commenter Jaques Location Date and time July 30, 2013, 9:47AM

I’m sure it’s a perefectly nice car but it’s still just a dressed up Camry.

Commenter MattPP Location Date and time July 15, 2013, 9:26AM

Technically that was the ES, but we get you 😉

Commenter Timothy Location Melbourne Date and time July 15, 2013, 1:22PM

This is why Lexus used prices are fairly low, comments like those above typify the ignorance of the brand led public. The good side is that this is a boon for astute used car buyers not sucked in by the marketing of the overrated 3 pointed star, blue and white propeller or the 4 circles, people who value substance over image. Lexus LS set THE STANDARD for all to follow in the early 90’s, a game changing car in terms quality, refinement and RELIABILITY, it just upsets people that it was a division of Toyota, a Japanese company that showed the establishment how it is done.

As for the Lexus ES, the 90’s models esp were great looking cars, luxurious that drove beautifully. Yes THAT model was based on a Camry, but so what? These days yu can even pick up a 2nd gen model 2003 ES with well under 100,00kms for around $16,000 mark. Not so much a fan of the exterior styling on that one, but the interior is unmatched by most cars available today.

If you want to move a family of 4 or 5 in opulence, solute comfort, with bulletproof reliability and the cachet of owning a Lexus, for the money it’s an absolute steal.

Commenter Seats and a steering wheel Location Date and time July 16, 2013, 6:58AM

dressed up Camry? Surely you know nothing about cars.

Commenter ss Date and time July 17, 2013, 12:05AM

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Lexus LS430
Lexus LS430
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