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From The LS600h's Cockpit

2013 Lexus LS600h L: Plenty of Tech, but Short on Value
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Sit down in the driver’s seat and you’re treated to a smartly laid-out interior boasting excellent ergonomics. Lexus offers various trim options on the LS600h L, from ash burl to walnut wood. Our test vehicle came with bamboo, though. As much as I like the material for its sustainability, it doesn't look particularly elegant in a high-end car, and ends up coming across cheap. Then again, since the LS600h L is a hybrid, it makes a little more sense to highlight the eco motif.

The 16-way adjustable driver’s seat is both comfortable and plush. Front seat passengers are limited to 12-way adjustments, though at least they still get lumbar support. Both seats are heated and ventilated. I didn't use the seat coolers because it was still too chilly outside during my week with the car; however, the warmers worked well. They just don't toast your rear like Audi's (this sounds like a good thing, but sometimes, when it's cold out, you really want to crank the seat heat).

Wrap your hands around the steering wheel and you’re treated to leather and bamboo. The leather portions are heated for an extra bit of luxurious comfort on cold winter days.

Lexus doesn’t get too crazy with the LS600h L gauge cluster. When the car is in Sport or Sport+ mode, the left gauge functions as a tachometer. In Normal and Eco, it displays the power delivery status of Lexus' hybrid system. If you prefer one or the other, you can have the gauge always operate as a tachometer or an eco indicator, too. There is a small screen sandwiched between the left and right gauges that serves as a fancy trip meter. Regrettably, it doesn't show navigation directions.

Usually we’d complain about a lack of integration between the navigation software and gauge cluster. Lexus has a compelling explanation, though. Mounted high and center in the dashboard is a massive 12.3-inch LCD display for the company's infotainment system. It's the same type of display that Cadillac, Jaguar, Range Rover, and Hyundai employ. The display is recessed into the dash with an overhanging lip to minimize glare. You'll have no trouble seeing it from the driver's seat and, surprisingly, you can glance over at it faster than looking down into the gauge cluster.

Below the infotainment display is an analog clock with white markings on a silver background. It’s classy, to be sure. But Lexus lamentably leans on that clock as its sole timepiece, eliminating a digital readout in the gauge cluster or LCD screen. That's one of my pet peeves in luxury-oriented cars. I get it; analog clocks look nice. But they can't be read as quickly. It's ironic to me that we're subject to in-motion navigation lockouts to combat distracted driving, and yet automakers force us to tell the time on analog clocks.

The star of Lexus' navigation system is the mouse-like control interface to the right of the shifter, dubbed Remote Touch. Lexus sculpts its controller with excellent ergonomics. It’s comfortable to use as your elbow sits on the armrest. Remote Touch works like a mouse; you move a cursor on-screen with it. Since the infotainment display is split into two sections (two-thirds corresponds to the function at hand and one-third is dedicated to primary operations like climate, radio, and fuel economy), the mouse only moves freely in the section you're using.

If you want to access the smaller area of the screen, give the mouse an extra nudge. This mechanism prevents you from accidentally switching the function in focus. It's different from what we've seen out of Germany, but still quite effective. If you use a mouse all day, you'll get the hang of it quickly.

In fact, the controller is also a mouse-like button that clicks to select menu items. It's complemented by four buttons for menu, scroll up/down, and direct access to the map/repeat the voice command. My only complaint about Remote Touch is the lack of a back button. The menu button takes you to the home screen and the scroll button makes cycling through lists quick, but navigating to a previous menu requires that you mouse over to the back button on-screen and click it.

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  • 0 Hide
    blackmagnum , July 18, 2014 2:37 AM
    It doesn't look stately and serious like the LS400 of old. Have they hired a new designer?
  • 1 Hide
    cyb34 , July 18, 2014 3:30 AM
    This car, on the outside, looks like your average Mazda or Honda. So -1 there.
    I'm sorry for Lexus for Mercedes is years ahead with its new S class.

    This LS600 does not look premium enough and the inside is closer to an Audi A6.
  • 0 Hide
    tuanies , July 18, 2014 5:29 AM
    Quote:
    It doesn't look stately and serious like the LS400 of old. Have they hired a new designer?


    I'd assume so since the LS400 was a Toyota Celsior and badge engineered with premium only content for the US whereas the LS600h L and LS460 was designed solely to be a Lexus from the get go with its own styling.

    Quote:
    This car, on the outside, looks like your average Mazda or Honda. So -1 there.
    I'm sorry for Lexus for Mercedes is years ahead with its new S class.

    This LS600 does not look premium enough and the inside is closer to an Audi A6.


    Yea, the Mercedes S class is stunning inside and out. The Lexus looks bland and when you step inside, it doesn't give the same wow factor. Sure its functional, but its not what I'd expect from a luxury vehicle.
  • 0 Hide
    edlivian , July 18, 2014 7:33 AM
    if I had 100+k to spend on a luxury sedan car, i would never get this car, it would either be a A8/A7, S550 or 760i.

    And its not because I dont like Japanese cars, I used to have an Acura RL, but they too have dropped the ball. Their design looks bland, they drive is similar to mid class series high end cars, if you want high end you do not think Lexus anymore.
  • 2 Hide
    iknowhowtofixit , July 18, 2014 9:01 AM
    These expensive luxury hybrids offer little in compensation for the extremely high price. Unless you are like Harvey Specter from suits, most people drive themselves and could care less about reclining rear seats. There are so many better, less expensive, better performing options than this. Not to mention, you could always install an aftermarket infotainment system that would likely function more intuitively than the factory unit.

    Honestly, there is too much segmentation in the automotive market with regard to infotainment. The controls and look of these system seem dated, even when brand new. Plus, who on Earth needs composite plugs for an infotainment system?! It is 2014!
  • 0 Hide
    edlivian , July 18, 2014 9:06 AM
    Quote:
    who on Earth needs composite plugs for an infotainment system?! It is 2014!


    you are right, that is completely absurb, I think I threw all my composite cables away, its either HDMI or Displayport
  • 1 Hide
    2Be_or_Not2Be , July 18, 2014 9:41 AM
    Why would you review a 2013 model in 2014 when the 2015 cars are almost out??

    Or are we just recycling? I'm also for recycling - just not in my "News" section. ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    danwat1234 , July 18, 2014 2:07 PM
    I think 1 of the main reasons why this Lexus doesn't get much better fuel economy, and no better fuel economy than a regular Lexus is because the engine is not Atkinson cycle, but rather regular OTTO cycle.
    In most hybrid cars, the engine is Atkinson cycle, where the intake valves stay open part way up the compression stroke to increase thermal efficiency. Thus it is more efficient not only in the city where the electric motors aid efficiency, but on steady state highway driving too.

    But with this Lexus it is probably just plain OTTO cycle. If they were smart, they have camshaft behavior where it could change from OTTO to Atkinson and back on the fly, in millieseconds, so you can have more fuel economy and also the power when you get into it. But they don't.
    Part time HCCI (Sparkless diesel cycle ignition) is even more efficient, with OTTO cycle when you want power.

    Also if this car had a higher capacity battery pack with a more powerful electric motor, there'd be less need for engine displacement.
  • 0 Hide
    tuanies , July 18, 2014 4:05 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    who on Earth needs composite plugs for an infotainment system?! It is 2014!


    you are right, that is completely absurb, I think I threw all my composite cables away, its either HDMI or Displayport


    Yea its a bit odd. Even the Honda Fit and Civic have HDMI inputs now for the front infotainment system.

    Quote:
    Why would you review a 2013 model in 2014 when the 2015 cars are almost out??

    Or are we just recycling? I'm also for recycling - just not in my "News" section. ;) 


    Because the higher end luxury vehicles are harder to come by. We got ahold of it towards the end of 2013. 2014 was mostly carryover minus one package change that added the driver assists to make it $135k, which doesn't really change our opinion of the vehicle at all. I assume 2015 will be another carryover year as well since the flagships run on 10 year product cycles.

    Quote:
    I think 1 of the main reasons why this Lexus doesn't get much better fuel economy, and no better fuel economy than a regular Lexus is because the engine is not Atkinson cycle, but rather regular OTTO cycle.
    In most hybrid cars, the engine is Atkinson cycle, where the intake valves stay open part way up the compression stroke to increase thermal efficiency. Thus it is more efficient not only in the city where the electric motors aid efficiency, but on steady state highway driving too.

    But with this Lexus it is probably just plain OTTO cycle. If they were smart, they have camshaft behavior where it could change from OTTO to Atkinson and back on the fly, in millieseconds, so you can have more fuel economy and also the power when you get into it. But they don't.
    Part time HCCI (Sparkless diesel cycle ignition) is even more efficient, with OTTO cycle when you want power.

    Also if this car had a higher capacity battery pack with a more powerful electric motor, there'd be less need for engine displacement.


    I think at the end of the day, its because its still a very heavy boat and they are trying to replicate a V12 with good fuel economy but ultimately end up with something that doesn't do much better than a turbo V8 that has more power and much more entertaining to drive.
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , July 19, 2014 12:10 AM
    I don't know but they probably have something here. I believe their hybrid implementation is well suited for this niche since buyers of this class won't be able to use all the power of a V12.
    With the hybrid though, max torque would be available even at low RPMs which results in a more relaxed driving and that performance would not need an expert driver.
  • 0 Hide
    tuanies , July 19, 2014 8:21 AM
    Yes, that's ideally what they're going for. But it doesn't offer much more smoothness than the V8. Buyers in that class won't necessarily use all of that power, but they buy it to know they have all of that power. It doesn't give you the "I just dropped $130k on a car and its awesome" type of feel.
  • 0 Hide
    dj christian , July 19, 2014 8:12 PM
    This model is old, came 2007. Next year it's time for a new one.
  • 0 Hide
    tuanies , July 19, 2014 8:25 PM
    Quote:
    This model is old, came 2007. Next year it's time for a new one.


    It was just refreshed for MY2013, which means its going to be around for another 5 years or so. High end luxury vehicles tend to have longer 10-year product cycles.
  • 0 Hide
    kiniku , July 19, 2014 10:03 PM
    BMW has provided multi band presets for several years.
  • 0 Hide
    tuanies , July 20, 2014 7:51 PM
    Quote:
    BMW has provided multi band presets for several years.


    Audi does as well but they're presets are clunkier and not as elegant / easy to assign.
  • 0 Hide
    sportfreak23 , July 20, 2014 11:54 PM
    I'll buy a Lexus LX560 or any SUV, why waste money on a sedan.
  • 0 Hide
    tuanies , July 21, 2014 7:07 AM
    Quote:
    I'll buy a Lexus LX560 or any SUV, why waste money on a sedan.


    I love sport sedans. The LS is not one of those. However, I would love an LX560. Huge, unnecessary, but I'm a sucker for a luxified Land Cruiser. Hell, I'd love to build an off-road beast from the first gen LX450.
  • 0 Hide
    anthony8989 , July 22, 2014 2:57 PM
    I like the IS-F and the LFA - the new GS is nice but there's better out there.. Nothing else from Lexus is appealing to me personally.
  • 0 Hide
    tuanies , July 22, 2014 10:43 PM
    The new IS350 is a decent looking car and I love the LFA-inspired F-Sport gauge cluster. The suspension is tuned well, but that 3.5-liter Camry V6 is too damn smooth no matter how hard you want to drive it. It doesn't throw you back in the seat and gives you that sense of urgency that makes you want to romp on it, which is disappointing from a sporty vehicle. The GS460h is my favorite hybrid, smooth power, comfortable, throws you back in the seat, and gets ~30MPG while putting a grin on your face.

    I have a picture story on the new NX series coming, but they managed to make a 2.0-turbo 4 boring as hell to drive.
  • 0 Hide
    sportfreak23 , July 23, 2014 7:59 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    I'll buy a Lexus LX560 or any SUV, why waste money on a sedan.


    I love sport sedans. The LS is not one of those. However, I would love an LX560. Huge, unnecessary, but I'm a sucker for a luxified Land Cruiser. Hell, I'd love to build an off-road beast from the first gen LX450.


    Should have said Large Sedans, I don't see the point in them anymore, beside leg room but then I think they trimmed it down a bit like what toyota did to the avalon.

    I wouldn't mind a sport sedan as well for those nice days, but looking at the IS, did they fix that AWD drive tunnel shaft thing sticking into the foot well? I found that quite a turn off ;p
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