Vital Stats

Engine:
5.0L V8 + 165-kW Electric Motor
Power:
438 HP Total Output
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
5.5 Seconds
Top Speed:
130 MPH
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
5,159 LBS
Seating:
2+2
Cargo:
13.0 CU-FT
MPG:
19 City / 23 HWY
Base Price:
$119,910
I have spent the last seven days driving the Starfire Pearl (read: white) 2013 Lexus LS 600h L you see here. And after roughly 500 miles of errand-running, highway-cruising, commuting and people-schlepping, I can safely say this: I don't get it.

The LS hybrid is a nice car. It's comfortable, has every amenity you'd ever want in a luxury boat, and with its freshened appearance for 2013, it looks modern, integrating the company's new spindle grille into an overall package that's elegant. None of this is bad news. But let me explain why I still cannot wrap my head around the overall LS 600h L package:

Driving Notes
  • For starters, the LS hybrid mates a 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 to a 165-kilowatt electric motor. The gasoline engine on its own is good for 389 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque, and with the electric motor factored in, Lexus states that the total system output is a robust 438 hp. (All of that, by the way, resides in what editor Zach Bowman refers to as the "world's saddest engine bay.")
  • That makes for one quick sedan, even here with all-wheel drive and a hefty 5,159-pound curb weight. Hitting 60 miles per hour takes 5.5 seconds, and top speed is limited to 130 mph.
  • Hybrid or no, as you'd expect with a package like this, fuel economy isn't exactly stellar. The EPA rates the LS 600h L at 19/23/20 miles per gallon (city/highway/combined). My average over the week was 19.2 mpg.
  • For comparison, let me introduce you to the non-hybrid LS 460 L AWD, powered by a 4.6-liter V8 that makes 360 hp and 347 lb-ft of torque. Compared to the 600h, the 460 is slower to 60 mph by 0.4 seconds and its fuel economy numbers are 16/23/18 mpg. That's right: The highway economy number is the same as the hybrid, and the combined rating is only reduced by two mpg.
  • Lexus does call the LS 600h L a performance hybrid, so rather than it being a more efficient version of the flagship sedan - sort of the way a Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid is really just a more frugal S550 - this electrified LS is supposed to be the zenith of the line, offering the most power, quickest acceleration, and top-level refinement.
  • Thing is, it's not all that good to drive. Even with the Drive Mode Select button toggled to Sport S+, the LS 600h L delivers driving dynamics that are far closer to that of a Hyundai Equus than an Audi A8 or BMW 7 Series. It's a giant rolling couch, with vague steering, plenty of body roll, and a suspension that, even in its firmest setting, doesn't offer a whole lot of sport. Comfy and plush, yes, but hardly engaging.
  • The interior is really where the LS excels, yet lags. It has every comfort and convenience feature you can imagine, the materials are top notch, and it's, well, Lexus quiet. But from a user standpoint, there are issues. I know that Audi's MMI, BMW's iDrive and Mercedes-Benz's COMAND aren't always peachy systems to use, but they at least offer more user-friendly controllers than the horrible mouse-like Remote Touch controller in the LS. Several passengers commented on this during my week with the car, each one of them failing to understand the point. Perhaps Lexus could bring that 12.3-inch screen out a little more and just make it a proper touchscreen interface.
  • But here's where it totally falls apart: as-tested, the LS 600h L I drove stickered for $135,029, including $895 for destination and handling. Remember that LS 460 L AWD I mentioned earlier? The one that's not much slower and, in most cases, just as efficient as the hybrid? Option it up to the exact same levels of equipment as this 600h and it's still $34,749 cheaper. That's right, nearly thirty-five thousand dollars less.
  • Or hey, check out the BMW 750Li xDrive sedan. It has 445 horsepower, gets 24 mpg highway, and completely loaded, is $20,000 less than the LS 600h L. And if efficiency really is your thing, allow me to introduce you to the Audi A8L 3.0 TDI that claims up to 36 mpg highway. It starts at $82,500.
  • What we have here is car that is, in a vacuum, fine. Everything that it does, it does well enough. But not for this price. And certainly not when there are so many more attractive options for buyers in the segment. Regardless of your preference for power, efficiency or just straight-up luxury, there are better ways to spend your cash than on this LS 600h L.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 83 Comments
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Year Ago
      The 2013 Lexus LS 600h L, is not designed to be a car for everyone. In it's domestic market, it primarily a limousine designed for those markets why most of its owners will be corporate passengers with a driver. As a privately owned, owner-driven vehicle, it's a very, very good car if that's your taste in auto-mobiles. To it's owners, the price doesn't matter. It's a quiet, understated vehicle that does what it does, without fuss. Lexus sells these vehicles very profitably, and has loyal group of buyers. For those who don't get the Lexus LS 600h L, Lexus doesn't care !
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marcopolo
        [blocked]
      Bobby
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'll admit the design isn't as bad as I once thought. Neighbor just got one, and it's not a bad looking car. But 130k!? YIKES! Sorry, but even if the cars lasts 20 years longer than the Germans, ill pass. If you want an LS don't go hybrid. The lower end ones are just as good.
      Bobby
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think we have to approach this from a person who's not into showy, "look at me I'm rich type cars." I think because of Lexus being a fairly new brand, it doesn't have the snob appeal the German cars have (sorry I live in OC where teenage girls get 3 series, C classes as their first cars) For someone who wants a comfortable car that flies under the radar, is comfortable, reliable and really not much of hassle the Lexus is a good choice. I mean when your wealthy and you just want a comfortable car for that long commute it's reasonable. Because not everyone wants a sporty car. Some people like being isolated from the road.
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      That engine bay is crazy. Why even put a hood on at all? It's barely less sealed than a muscle car with shaker hood even with the hood up.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      FIDTRO
      • 1 Year Ago
      When did the Camry get so expensive? Hopefully that price includes a great recall repair plan.
      Steve
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'll stay with the German cars thank you
      imag
      • 1 Year Ago
      News flash to auto journalists: not every car needs to be sporty. Folks who own cars in this category can probably also own a car or two that are more sports oriented. The goals to be plush, isolating, and comfortable. I don't understand why all these reviews of luxury cars call them out as not sporty enough. Who the heck is buying a full size luxury sedan to go canyon carving?
        jjpool
        • 1 Year Ago
        @imag
        THANK YOU. This reminds me of a recent experience... My daily driver is an E350. It's quiet, sufficiently powerful for confident highway driving, handles decently for a car of its size, and gets me to work comfortably. I recently rode in a friend's second-gen Lincoln Town Car. I was blown away by how cushy and comfortable the seats were. Completely lacking in side bolstering, and perhaps not contoured to the body in the same way modern buckets are, but they were supremely comfortable for the two-hour ride. The super-soft air suspension also helped out. I got back into the E350 and was quite disappointed by how firm the seats were in comparison. The suspension tuning is, as expected, much firmer as well. Now, there's no way in hell I'd trade the E350 for a Town Car, but I wish it had some of the cushiness of the latter. I feel like automakers are so focused on sporty driving characteristics to appease auto journos more than their customer base, who'd probably be better off with softer-riding cars.
          jf.bouchard
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jjpool
          This is because the entire auto industry has been Nurburgrinized to death. But as the Autoextremist said last week, there is room for other players in the luxury game. This is where brands like Lincoln and Buick should go to differentiate themselves. Cabin decibel levels should replace the new 'Ring lap times :)
        • 1 Year Ago
        @imag
        [blocked]
          • 1 Year Ago
          [blocked]
        Nonconformist
        • 1 Year Ago
        @imag
        This is the most informed and sensible post I've seen on this site. So tired of these idiot auto "professionals" trying to turn every single damned car into an F-16 fighter jet. It's like arguing that an inner-city bus isn't sporty enough. How stupid would someone have to be to expect a large, luxo-barge to be sporty? If I'm a business exec and I buy the LS optioned out with the real reclining seat, I don't think I want my driver executing turns using the emergency brake and plowing down the road at 160mph, like they've on the Daytona 500. That is not what these cars are intended for. When will these so-called "enthusiasts" finally get the point???
        CaddyV8
        • 1 Year Ago
        @imag
        THANK YOU
      Alex
      • 1 Year Ago
      ...but, but, it's Lexus - most reliable company evar!!!!1111 ....(me looks at http://www.lexus.com/recall/ site)... Oh wait....
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Alex
        [blocked]
          • 1 Year Ago
          [blocked]
          • 1 Year Ago
          [blocked]
        FIDTRO
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Alex
        I wonder if that's the perfection Lexus is trying to pursue?
        CaddyV8
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Alex
        Lol dumbass trolls gonna troll
      icemilkcoffee
      • 1 Year Ago
      Excellent review. You pretty much torpedoed the entire reason for this car\'s existance.
      Aaron
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is a car for people with more dollars than sense. Their target market are rich people who want to save face and buy a "hybrid". Buy a Tesla instead. People will be far more impressed.
      paulwesterberg
      • 1 Year Ago
      19mpg? $135,029? Or you could save a truckload of money and get a faster Model S...
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