Luxury Lexus Drives Business For California Operator

Posted on November 17, 2011

CLI Worldwide president Joe Magnano said his new Lexus LS460L is a superior luxury car.
CLI Worldwide president Joe Magnano said his new Lexus LS460L is a superior luxury car.

LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. — As operators continue to wonder which vehicle they will use to replace the Lincoln Town Car, many are starting to incorporate more diverse fleet options, the most recent example being Orange County, Calif.’s CLI Worldwide Transportation: It just added a Lexus LS 460L to its line-up of 26 vehicles.

While the Lexus LS 460L typically competes with premium vehicles such as the Mercedes S550, Audi A8, Jaguar XJL and BMW 7-Series, CLI Worldwide is running the Lexus at a Town Car rate until clients get used to it.

“I’m getting my key customers to ride in it at the Town Car price for now with the hope that they’ll want to use it in the future and be willing to pay a premium price for it,” said CLI president Joe Magnano. He runs his Mercedes-Benz S550 for about 25% more than what he charges for a Town Car.

“I’ve had zero complaints on the car,” Magnano added. “Clients and chauffeurs are really receptive to it. Clients have commented on how nice the car drives, how luxurious the rear is, how comfortable it is, and how quiet it is. Chauffeurs are telling me it’s the nicest car they’ve ever driven. It’s a beautiful car and it’s less expensive than the German cars, which is a plus.”

The Mercedes-Benz S550 has an MSRP of $94,500, and Magnano’s new Lexus cost him $72,000. He believes that Lexus cars, which are built by Toyota, are “made well.” Since the car is only about 30 days old, it will be a while before he can accurately judge its reliability and maintenance.

It’s worth noting that in 2006, then-newly-appointed Ford CEO Alan Mullally admitted that he drove a Lexus LS430 because “it’s the finest car in the world.”

The Lexus LS 460L is rear-wheel drive and comes alive through a 4.6 liter V-8 engine. It has a 121.7 in. wheelbase and 18 cu. ft. of trunk space. Magnano says the trunk space is not a problem and it works for two passengers with luggage, although it’s not as “deep as a Town Car.”

Magnano said the Lexus has been a good investment so far but still wonders which vehicles the rest of the industry will adopt. “We’ve got to be patient and see how it all plays out. We [still might] get a couple more Town Cars,” he said.

When LCT last spoke to Magnano, he voiced his fondness for the Toyota Avalon, agreeing with Popular Mechanics magazine that it’s a “Lexus without the Lexus name.” He still believes it’s a good choice for the industry and says he’s crossing his fingers that the industry will just go ahead and use the Avalon.

Magnano is looking forward to seeing how the new Cadillac XTS turns out and thinks it’s a beautiful car, but he still has doubts about its reliability. “We can pull up in front of anywhere in that car — a client’s house, a hotel, a corporate office — and people are going to be like, ‘Wow, that’s nice.’ But are we going to take the looks over the reliability?”

—  Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor

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