ANN M. JOBWith a starting retail price of $68,505, the 2012 Lexus LS sedan is bargain-priced compared to European competitors. The flagship sedan of the luxury Lexus line, the roomy, comfortable, V-8-powered LS also is a recommended buy of Consumer Reports magazine, where this four-door auto is rated above average in reliability. And the luxury-swathed, five-passenger LS is notable for its many large, well-labeled and well-arranged buttons and controls that allow a driver to operate the sound system and heater/air conditioner directly, without having to go through a menu of selections on a display screen. Yet, the LS isn't old school. It's just one of the best in the luxury sedan class at providing both old and new, easy-to-understand interfaces for drivers to adjust things they tune frequently. There is no frustrating BMW-like i-Drive system here, nor a confusing Audi-like scrolling half circle of selections for car settings. Still, while the LS is a fine highway cruiser, it lags V-8 competitors in engine power. Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $68,505 for a 2012 LS 460 with rear-wheel drive, 380-horsepower V-8 and "regular" length of 16.6 feet. With all-wheel drive, the 2012 LS 460 has a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $70,810. A 2012 LS 460 L, which stretches to 17 feet in length, has a starting retail price of $74,050. With all-wheel drive, the 460 L starts at $76,355. In comparison, the starting MSRP, including destination charge, for a 2012 Mercedes-Benz S550 with 429-horsepower V-8 and standard all-wheel drive is $95,375, or some $24,500 more than a base, all-wheel drive LS 460. The 2012 BMW 750i with 400-horsepower V-8 starts at $86,195, or some $17,600 more than an LS. The major price competitor to the LS is Hyundai's rear-wheel drive 2012 Equus, which has a 429-horsepower V-8 and a starting retail price of $59,900. Note that while the Equus comes with standard luxury features, it does not carry a luxury badge.