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2013 Lexus LS600h L: Plenty of Tech, but Short on Value

Lexus Navigation and Smartphone Integration

Lexus' navigation system benefits from an easy-to-use interface. There aren’t many submenus to cycle through as you enter directions or search for points of interest. However, the maps are lacking compared to the company's German competition. They're good-looking and punctuated by clear colors, but 2D is something you'd expect from a more affordable vehicle. Stepping up to a car with a base price around $72,000, I want to see 3D maps with building details. Shoot, Audi goes even further and includes Google Earth overlays. That's available across the company's line-up, starting with the A3.

If you like the ability to search for directions while the vehicle is moving, you're going to be disappointed. Lexus' navigation system employs a movement lock-out that keeps you from entering destination while the LS600h is in motion.

Fortunately, the voice controls work well and are quite accurate, even if it's somewhat arduous to navigate menu screens that way. Lexus does have a better alternative for customers subscribing to Enform in its 24-hour concierge service.

Destination Assist connects you to a live operator that will search for any location or address on your behalf. This operator has the power of Google at their fingertips, and we found them to be very friendly. In my experience, Destination Assist is easier and faster than trying to navigate menus via voice command. And because the Lexus has telematics services, the operator simply sends the address to your car and you're on your way.

Phone Integration

Bluetooth phone integration through the Lexus navigation system is fairly typical. Android and iOS are officially supported with familiar hands-free functionality, contact list transfer, and call history. Text messaging is enabled on phones with Bluetooth MAP (message access profile) support. The system won't display messages while the LS600h is moving, but it does facilitate text-to-speech. And you can select a quick reply while you're driving. Replies are pre-programmed, though you can create your own presets as well, so long as the car is stopped.

Drivers who use Siri on a daily basis will be happy to learn that Lexus' navigation system supports Eyes Free. This opens up access to instant messaging, e-mail, random question searches, and turn-by-turn navigation with Apple Maps. I'm not sure why anyone would use Apple Maps instead of the integrated navigation system, but those other Eyes Free capabilities are quite nice. Simply hold down the off-hook phone button, wait for a beep, state your Siri request, and it plays through the vehicle speakers.

There was some audio popping that happened when we tested through Siri Eyes Free. However, those same issues plagued the Chevy Sonic as well, suggesting the issue might be with iOS. Everything else came through clearly.

  • blackmagnum
    It doesn't look stately and serious like the LS400 of old. Have they hired a new designer?
    Reply
  • cyb34
    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.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    13745416 said:
    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.

    13745581 said:
    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.
    Reply
  • edlivian
    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.
    Reply
  • edlivian
    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
    Reply
  • 2Be_or_Not2Be
    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. ;)
    Reply
  • danwat1234
    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.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    13747142 said:
    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.

    13747365 said:
    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.

    13749117 said:
    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.
    Reply
  • zodiacfml
    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.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    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.
    Reply