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

Lexus LS600h L: Coming Up Short in a Competitive Segment

Lexus puts itself in a pickle with the LS600h L. The hybrid powertrain represents an interesting way to take on the V12-based competition, but it lacks raw performance. Sure, power is delivered smoothly, but the specifications ultimately fall short of even other luxury cars with V8s. In my speed-loving opinion, Lexus' top-end offering should at least be capable of a 12- or 13-second quarter-mile, even if you choose to drive the vehicle more conservatively. Instead, this is as far as you can get from a driver's car.

Circling back to technology, I like the Remote Touch interface. It's easy to use and intuitively thought-out. Our only complaint is the lack of a dedicated back button for revisiting previous menus. Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Mazda, and even Hyundai enable this functionality on their own infotainment systems. Lexus should follow suit.

The system's large 12.3-inch LCD is fantastic. Its sheer massiveness creates an easy-to-read surface, allowing us to forgive Lexus for a lack of integration with the gauge cluster. The operating environment implements a split screen that effectively separates your current focus and other available features without creating any confusion.

I'll admit to being disappointed by Lexus' maps, though. That top-down view is fine on more affordable cars, but I was really hoping to see 3D navigation on such an expensive vehicle, especially when the competition offers gorgeous Google Earth overlays. Nevertheless, I did enjoy using Destination Assist for help looking up addresses, which were then piped into the navigation system.

The executive rear seat package is definitely a treat for anyone spending quality time back there. A reclining chair is a little excessive for most, but it's not a bad way to travel if you have someone willing to drive. It's only a bummer that you lose the mini-fridge option, since Lexus' hybrid battery pack occupies that space.

No doubt, rear seat entertainment options on the LS600h L lag behind its competition. A single flip-down LCD is what you find in a minivan or crossover, not an executive sedan. Audi, BMW, and Mercedes serve up separate seat-mounted LCDs for each rear seat passenger. In fact, Audi's entertainment system even enables access to the navigation system for sending destinations to the driver. Lexus' Blu-ray-capable platform isn't as well integrated at all. It hurts to say, but Hyundai does a better job in this regard with its Equus. An option for 7.1-channel sound is somewhat redeeming of Lexus. And then that single composite input turns us back the other way again.

Our press car was missing a bunch of technology that the Tom's Hardware audience probably would have liked to see. It was missing adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, the front collision warning system, a night vision camera, and a heads-up display. What we can say is that Lexus' LED headlights are fantastic at night, and we were treated to blind spot monitoring technology. With a price tag north of $100,000 those other features should become standard equipment. The Audi A8L we drove previously offered most of that functionality for a cheaper $115,000.

We can't help but conclude, then, that the LS600h L is a lost luxury sedan amidst a sea of very strong competitors. The Germans offer better driving dynamics, power, performance, technology, and improved fuel economy without the added weight and complexity of a hybrid system, while the Koreans are perfectly happy giving you all of Lexus' optional extras for almost half the price with a similar drive. Hyundai's Equus Ultimate doesn’t offer the prestige of a Lexus badge, but you get much more car for your money. The original LS400 was an honest luxury car that gave its customers great value. This take on hybrid technology feels like Lexus is trying too hard to aim high, while missing the mark.

  • 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