The Lexus LS 430 benefits from substantial engineering upgrades for 2004 that significantly improve what was already a superb luxury car. It''s quicker and more sophisticated than last year''s model. The LS 430 is everything a flagship luxury sedan should be. Its ride is silky and its steering is liquid smooth. Its soft suspension and slow steering lead some to believe that the LS 430 doesn''t handle well when compared with such European benchmarks as the BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but we haven''t found that to be the case. The LS 430 can, in fact, be driven hard, whereupon it reveals lots of grip and very good handling. It boasts a powerful V8 engine, a new six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive, and the latest in active safety technology. Inside is a beautiful interior with rich wood accents and buttery soft leather, seats so comfortable that you never think about them, and controls that are a paragon of ergonomic excellence. Lexus provides every convenience feature imaginable. Finding failings in this car devolves into whining about bland styling or nitpicking about the lack of inconsequential features such as being able to grind the starter when the engine is running. In other words, the Lexus LS 430 plays its role to near perfection. That role is of a smooth, luxurious sedan that whisks occupants along in supreme comfort, allowing the driver to concentrate on other, more pressing matters than the automobile. Toyota launched its Lexus luxury channel in fall 1989 with the introduction of the 1990 LS 400, an event that changed the rules for luxury car ownership. The third-generation Lexus LS appeared for 2001. Model year 2004 brings major changes to the LS 430: revised styling, suspension refinements, safety improvements, and mind-boggling technology. A new six-speed automatic replaces last year''s five-speed for improved acceleration performance without sacrificing fuel economy. There are more airbags than ever before (eight) and a system that tightens the seat belts before a crash. There''s a tire-pressure monitor, a backup camera, headlights that swivel for seeing around corners, and Dynamic Laser Cruise Control that maintains a set following distance to the car ahead. With Bluetooth technology and SmartAccess, you can unlock the doors, start the car, drive off, and make hands-free phone calls without even pulling your key or your cell phone out of your pocket or purse. Quality, durability and reliability are Lexus hallmarks. For the seventh consecutive year, the LS 430 ranked highest among luxury cars in the J.D. Power and Associates 2003 Initial Quality Study, a survey of owners after 90 days of ownership. And for the ninth consecutive year, J.D. Power''s vehicle dependability study named the LS 430 the most problem-free car after three years of ownership. Clearly, the Lexus LS 430 is a luxury vehicle that owners do not need to worry about. They can simply enjoy its comfortable ambiance as it whisks them to their destinations.