Lexus LS430 Ultra Luxury: Worth the Extra Cost for Air Suspension?

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Lexus LS430 Ultra Luxury

Most people feel like the LS430 Ultra Luxury rides better than the base model. But apparently, that isn’t always the case!

It’s no surprise that the Lexus LS remains incredibly popular despite the so-called demise of the passenger car. Even today, these big sedans offer incredible luxury, reliability, and comfort for a (sometimes) reasonable price. But for those shopping for an LS430, there’s one major sticking point that we see come up in the Club Lexus forums far more than anything else. And that’s the debate over whether folks should buy a base model or an Ultra Luxury model equipped with air suspension. And this thread, started by leisinjp, does a good job of highlighting all the pros and cons of this decision.

The OP purchased a gem of an Ultra Luxury LS430 without driving a base LS430 first.

“I own a 2005 LS430 Ultra Luxury with the air suspension with 72,000 miles on it. I bought it from an older gentlemen who garaged it and serviced it regularly. It is in better shape than most 4-year-old cars. No tears or anything on the interior, looks brand new. Exterior doesn’t even have rock chips. It has one very small scratch on the rear end corner that is only visible if I point it out. Basically the car is as perfect as it can be for a used car. I spent months searching for it.”

Lexus LS430 Ultra Luxury

Sounds like a great score, right? Well, it actually sounds like the OP is having a bit of buyer’s remorse now.

“I test drove a 2005 LS430 base with no air suspension the other day. The car had 247,000 miles on it. The exterior was pretty beat up and the interior was missing buttons and the telescoping wheel didn’t work. It was in rough condition. I test drove it to see how it would compare with my very good condition LS. 

To make a long story short, the Craigslist base model with over 3 times the amount of miles drove smoother and handled bumps better than mine. I’m really kicking myself as I spent 5 times more money on mine as he was asking for his. Now I know I could never drive around in a car as beat up as this one, but if I closed my eyes and had to pick a car based off of road feel, it would definitely be the non-air suspension model.”

Lexus LS430 Ultra Luxury

An interesting dilemma, indeed. But as Dave144239 points out, there are several variables to consider here.

“You know, that beat up car with 247k miles is probably riding on worn out springs and shocks. It might feel good for a short test drive, but it could be pretty clapped out. Also, you need to make sure you’re running the same tire pressures in both cars in order to properly compare them.

I’m not that familiar with the LS430, but there are some LS460 drivers who’ve owned both air and non-air suspension cars, and they all say the air suspension rides better. I stayed away from the air suspension just because I don’t want to have to fix it.”

Lexus LS430 Ultra Luxury

LS430inDE. agrees with that assessment, and adds some additional insight.

“You’d need to ensure the tire/rim diameter was the same as well. Our generation had 17″ and 18” as options. You’ll also need to know if/how the cars were loaded as far as weight. Does one car carry a full size spare and possibly a case of water and box of kitty liter in the back?

I guess the ride is subjective as well. Very much LIKE the ride in my 2005 LS. I have the 18″ wheels and the OEM size 245/45/18 rubber. I prefer a FIRMER ride, not floaty. There are others who can notice the difference of riding on 17s and think it’s smoother and less harsh. The stock 17s were 225/55/17. Those are skinnier and taller of a tire, which will not transmit bumps and road feel to the cabin as badly.”

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg in this interesting debate. So be sure and head over here to read all of the fascinating opinions our members have. And if you personally have a preference when it comes to the LS430, be sure and let us know about it, too!

Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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