Lexus LS600h: A Hybrid Executive Sedan
Let's be honest. Luxury vehicles are more about prestige than the actual product. Toyota realized this when it began developing its first truly high-end offering in the 80s. While it saw great success selling the Camry, Corolla, 4Runner, and even Corona, the company had to take a different approach to market its flagship sedan. Thus, Lexus was born. The brand launched in North America in 1989 with a single vehicle, the LS400 (also known as the Toyota Celsior in its home market).
Lexus' LS soldiered on for a little over a decade with the same exterior styling, receiving small updates here and there. A longer wheelbase accompanied the second-gen update in 1995. The third-generation Lexus LS ushered in more drastic changes, including a new exterior, interior, 4.3 L V8 motor, and a name change to LS430. Then came the fourth generation, for Lexus' 2007 model year, which transformed the LS sedan into something sportier. A refresh in 2013 imparted an even more aggressive look that fell in line with the rest of the model line-up.
But does Lexus still have what it takes to compete in a luxury segment dominated by Mercedes, BMW, and Audi, while fighting off increasing competition from Hyundai and Kia? We spent a week in the flagship LS600h L hybrid executive sedan, hoping to answer that question.
The LS600h L has a base price of $119,910, but our press car came with the executive-class seating package that adds recliner functionality, a Blu-ray-based rear seat entertainment system, and many other goodies to bring the grand total to $128,529. That's about $13,000 more than the competition we tested in 2013 Audi A8L: Nvidia Graphics, Wi-Fi, LED Lights, And Google Earth (or the price of two Hyundai Equus Signatures). The example we tested was a 2013 model year, but it's very similar to the 2014 offering except for a few option package changes.
Lexus' hybrid LS is only available as an extended-length sedan, which adds an extra 4.8 inches to the wheelbase, bringing it to 121.7 inches for some extra rear legroom. If you're looking for the improved fuel economy promised by hybrid technology from a short wheelbase LS, you'll have to look elsewhere.
As of 2005, Lexus is completely separate from Toyota with its own team of designers and engineers. Gone are the Aristo, Altezza, Celsior, and Windom. This is a good thing though; Lexus gets a styling language of its own, further differentiating its line-up from Toyota’s.
For its 2013 model year, Lexus incorporated a trapezoid grille into the LS600h L, matching the rest of the company's portfolio. Despite a concerted attempt at fitting the exterior with a more aggressive aesthetic and offering an F-Sport version of the lesser LS460, the LS600h L isn’t very exciting to behold. It isn't ugly. Rather, the car is decidedly bland like Hyundai's Equus.
Fortunately, LED headlights come standard on the LS600h L. We adore these whenever we run across them. Lexus' LEDs are extremely bright and light up the road effectively. However, the headlight design isn’t as edgy as what we've seen from Audi and Acura. Overall, the vehicle's front end is clean, finished by a giant Lexus badge. Since our LS600h L didn't come with adaptive cruise control, lane departure technology, or forward collision warning systems, there aren’t any extra modules or sensors to conceal.
The emphasis on lighting continues around back with all-LED taillights that are big and bright. Lexus tries to spice up the rear end a bit with rhomboid exhaust finishers adorned with chrome, but the whole package still strikes us as boring.
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.
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.
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.
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.
you are right, that is completely absurb, I think I threw all my composite cables away, its either HDMI or Displayport
Or are we just recycling? I'm also for recycling - just not in my "News" section. ;)
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.
Yea its a bit odd. Even the Honda Fit and Civic have HDMI inputs now for the front infotainment system.
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.
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.
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.