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The Comparison Test We’ve All Been Waiting For: 2005 Lexus LS430 vs. 2018 Suzuki DR-Z400SM

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2018 Suzuki DRZ400sM 2005 Lexus LS430 - Image: © Timothy Cain

You needn’t be an automotive author to know that when a key’s tossed in your path, you catch it. If it’s the important thing to a winter-garaged, low-mileage, 2005 Lexus LS430, you seize the important thing and run.

I rode to a piece two weeks in the past on the brand new Suzuki DR-Z400SM with which I changed my 2013 Scion FR-S. It’s one thing I do a number of occasions per week. The bike’s enjoyable. It’s a riot. It’s a rip-roaring good time. However it’s a course of. Need to meet the fam for a rapidly organized early lunch? As soon as I’m all equipped, I head outdoors and await the carbureted Suzuki to rediscover a cheerful idle. Gloves on. Cuffs straightened. Helmet cinched. Leg heaved over the lofty supermoto. Many minutes later, I’m lastly on my approach.

A lot for the early lunch.

Two Tuesdays previous, nevertheless, my good pal Jeff heard me heading out and stated, “Hey, take the Lexus.” His dad’s Lexus, that’s, and previously his grandfather’s Lexus. On this second, I not solely entered deeper into the vehicular recesses of an notorious Island clan, I arrange an impromptu comparability test the likes of which can by no means once more happen.


In January 2000, Lexus unveiled the third iteration of its full-size luxurious sedan flagship on the North American Worldwide Auto Present in Detroit. A brand new LS is an enormous deal, or at the very least it was, again when luxurious consumers have been car buyers and never SUV consumers. The third-era LS was a successor to the 1990 car that revolutionized the North American luxurious car panorama with unparalleled refinement, dependability, and shopping for expertise. The third LS was launched with a brand new four.three-liter V8 and Lexus’s first incarnation of radar cruise management. Almost one hundred sixty,000 LSs have been bought within the U.S. between 2001 and 2006, or roughly 26,500 per yr. (Lexus now sometimes sells fewer than 10,000 LSs per yr.)

Initially priced between $fifty five,000 and $seventy four,000, this particular 2005 LS430, with round ninety,000 miles, is now valued at, properly, let’s not inform its proprietor.

Across the similar time because the third-gen LS debuted, one other smaller Japanese automaker launched a brand new dust bike. The Suzuki DR-Z four hundred changed the DR350. The DR-Z makes use of a 398cc, liquid-cooled single-cylinder and may cruise at round one hundred mph in case you want it to, however would relatively use its comparatively mild weight (for a street bike, at 321 kilos) to assault a twisty rural street. The 5-velocity gearbox seemingly joins riders in pleading for a sixth gear.

The DR-Z is a street-authorized dust bike as a DR-Z 400S and a supermoto as a DR-Z 400SM. This leftover 2018 was then made extra appropriate for dust by eradicating the sportbike-oriented Dunlops. The SM is priced from $7,299 within the U.S.

2018 Suzuki DRZ400SM off road PEI - Image: © Timothy Cain


The DRZ’s entire cause for being is efficiency on any street and in any situation, a raison d’être I’ve embellished by including Continental TKC tires that keep a good dose of street efficiency whereas turning the Suzuki right into a succesful path runner and filth street runabout. zero-60 comes up in rather less than six seconds, a number of tenths of a second faster than the Lexus limo.

To be truthful to the sixteen-foot-lengthy Lexus, regardless of a close to full absence of really feel or interactivity, its quiet composure in corners is one thing to behold. Quicker steering, brakes with extra chew, and a contemporary automated transmission would rework the LS430’s again street efficiency even with the inventory 290 horsepower.

Benefit: Suzuki


The DRZ gives no consolation. The seat is punishment. For what, I’m unsure. However it’s merciless and weird. NVH seems to be one thing Suzuki sought out fairly than tried to attenuate. Safety from the wind is wholly absent. Whereas the LS’s rear passengers don’t even inhabit the identical zip code as its driver, the Suzuki’s rear passenger is all up on you. It’s much less butter-on-toast and extra white-on-rice.

In the meantime, by the requirements of even many trendy LS rivals, this 14-yr-previous instance’s dearth of vibration – whether or not upon ignition, via the pedal, or at any touchpoint – is a top quality nonetheless missing in too many premium automobiles. That is financial institution vault ranges of isolation. The seats supply greater than sufficient consolation for a cross-nation journey. The armrests are proportioned and positioned correctly. The Mark Levinson audio system is soothing.

Benefit: Lexus

2005 Lexus LS430 black - Image © J. Mckenna


The DRZ doesn’t know what a feature is. Positive, there’s electric begin, however you’ll should choke it first. There are alerts and a horn. Mirrors, too. There’s no storage, nevertheless, plus the lighting is poor. There’s no keyless-go (although the LS lacks that, too.) Heating the grips and seat would’ve value additional.

The LS430, however, consists of ventilated entrance seats, navigation, a sunroof, a rearview digital camera, and an influence rear sunshade. And a really prolonged record of different gadgets unavailable on the Suzuki.

Benefit: Lexus


I’m averaging fifty five miles per gallon (U.S.) on the Suzuki with a mixture of freeway and dust street driving. It’s not even near being damaged in.

In line with Fuelly.com, the LS is more likely to return 21 miles per gallon. Just like the Suzuki, the Lexus needs premium petrol.

Benefit: Suzuki


If this have been some other LS, maybe the story can be totally different. The first-gen car was uninteresting however stylish. The second LS, the MY1995-2000 car, used an extended wheelbase and higher aero to make the identical assertion, solely higher. Then with the third-gen LS, Lexus appeared intent on taking cues from the awkward W140 Mercedes-Benz S-Class that Mercedes had changed a number of years earlier. Lexus adopted up the third effort with a cleaner look when the fourth LS was unveiled in Detroit in 2006.

The Suzuki, in fact, appears prefer it’s from the twentieth century as a result of it principally is. Largely unchanged since 2000, the sq. headlamp and scraggly tail make some individuals think I’m driving a classic bike. Pair the gold wheels with 50/50 tires and the DR-Z seems like a good workhorse meaning enterprise.

Benefit: Suzuki


That’s three class victories for the Suzuki and two for the Lexus. Comparison test over. My bike wins; Jeff’s dad’s Lexus loses.

Okay, consumers cross-shop some loopy stuff, however this can be a leap past for even probably the most oddball shopper. This so-referred to as comparability test however provides a layer of authenticity that’s more durable to seek out when analyzing two of the newest and biggest midsize sedans or two wildly over-outfitted full-size pickup trucks. In an automotive period that, fortuitously for all of us, celebrates functionality and innovation, we will shortly turn out to be misplaced within the goal information and overlook what it’s wish to expertise the traits – and character – that make a vehicle interesting.

You realize what I imply. The sheer lack of any tangible sensation when the LS’s velvety V8 begins up. The lightness of the DR-Z’s entrance wheel whenever you twist your proper wrist. The texture of the LS’s completely aged wooden-topped steering wheel. The mud spraying off the DR-Z’s entrance tire that hangs within the air lengthy sufficient to splat into your visor. The approach by which the LS’s quantity knob turns as if in molasses, however not molasses that’s too terribly thick; perhaps it’s maple syrup. The bang bang bang downshifting after a excessive-velocity straight because the DR-Z hurtles towards a decent nook.

More and more, automobiles (and bikes, to a point) are measured in fastened knowledge units: electric range, rear seat legroom, bi-weekly lease cost, grams of CO2/mile.

But it’s rather more enjoyable to disregard the numbers, eschew objectivity, abstain from pure purpose, and have fun the variations of mobility as an alternative. Even should you’re simply heading out for an early lunch.

[Images:© 2019 Timothy Cain]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Fact About Automobiles and Driving.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.internet. Comply with on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

– The Comparison Test We’ve All Been Waiting For: 2005 Lexus LS430 vs. 2018 Suzuki DR-Z400SM –

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