The big hybrid Lexus LS 600h might not quite have the class of rivals but it’s utterly relaxing to drive
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Few premium brands can boast as much hi-tech hybrid heritage as Lexus. The brand launched its first petrol-electric model in 2005, and the flagship LS was the first limousine to get this innovative powerplant. A recent facelift has kept the vast four-door looking fresh, while range-topping Premier models come loaded with standard equipment.
The luxuriously refined Lexus LS is available in two wheelbases and two engine options – the 4.6-litre V8 LS 460, or the LS 600h, a 5.0-litre V8 mated to an electric motor and batteries. The hybrid can run on electric power alone, although more often than not the electric motor assists the engine, and power goes to all four wheels via a CVT automatic gearbox.
Motorway cruising is excellent, as the interior is whisper quiet, and the air-suspension absorbs every bump in the road. In town, again the Lexus is extremely quiet, although more bumps can be felt in the cabin.
The interior is hugely comfortable, though, with lots of room for two in the back in the electric massage seats, plus a rear entertainment system to keep passengers occupied. But diesel-powered rivals offer better economy, and the interior lacks the effortless class of its peers from Mercedes, Jaguar and Audi.
The Lexus LS 600h L luxury sedan was the first vehicle to bring fuel-efficient gasoline-electric hybrid technology to the prestige luxury segment. The Lexus LS 600h L provides the brand’s highest level of performance and technology, and the truest expression of luxury.
Engine / Transmission / Drivetrain / Performance
The Lexus LS 600h L is powered by the ultra-quiet Lexus Hybrid Drive system, which was the world’s first to combine a V8 gasoline engine with an all-wheel-drive (AWD) hybrid drivetrain. The system combines a 5.0-liter V8 gasoline engine with two powerful electric motors and a large-capacity battery pack.
The hybrid powertrain generates a peak combined output rating of 438 horsepower and can effortlessly accelerate the Lexus LS 600h L from zero-to-60 mph in just 5.5 seconds. Mid-range acceleration is even more impressive. The system’s electric motor is capable of delivering maximum torque on demand and is most beneficial during passing maneuvers. The Lexus LS 600h L can accelerate from 50-70 mph in a rapid 3.5 seconds. Its combined EPA fuel economy rating of 21 mpg is equal to or better than the combined fuel-economy ratings of some V6 all-wheel-drive mid-sized luxury sedans.
The innovative V8 features an electric motor-driven Variable Valve Timing with intelligence and Electrically controlled intake cam (VVT-iE). This combination of VVT-i with electric-motor driven intake and an oil controlled VVT-I exhaust system achieves superior engine-startup operation and high-output performance. A specially developed Hydrocarbon Adsorber and Catalyst (HCAC) system is linked to the two-way exhaust to help prevent hydrocarbons contained in the exhaust from being released into the atmosphere during cold start up when the catalysts are not up to temperature.