The Lexus LS 600h L is an extended-wheelbase luxury hybrid sedan that brings a few compromises. The latter however will already be quite familiar to those who've experienced other upscale Lexus green machines. The most significant concerns fuel efficiency. With a 20 mpg combined EPA fuel economy estimate, the LS 600h L is no Prius -- in fact, it barely beats the mileage offered by the otherwise similar and much less expensive non-hybrid LS 460 L.
Furthermore, there's no appreciable gain in performance. The LS 600h L teams a gasoline V8 with a duo of electric motors to offer power that Lexus claims is comparable to that of a V12. However, that additional power is offset by the added weight of the hybrid components. In the end, the car's only real advantage over the regular LS is its Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV) rating. Is that enough to justify its hefty price premium? We don't think so, and recommend checking out the hybrid or diesel-powered version of Mercedes' cheaper S-Class instead.
Current Lexus LS 600h L
Powering the current Lexus 600h L is a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 389 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque is coupled to two electric motor/generators that boost output to 438 hp. All of this power is routed to an all-wheel-drive system via a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Emphasis is more on providing stronger performance rather than ultimate fuel economy. As such, this Lexus goes from zero to 60 in a claimed 5.5 seconds, impressive yet only about a half second swifter than an all-wheel-drive LS 460. And fuel economy, at 20 mpg combined, is only two mpg better than that of the LS 460 L with AWD.
Standard feature highlights include 19-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, adaptive LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, keyless ignition and entry, four-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, power front seats, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, power-reclining rear seats with massage functions, a heated and power-adjustable steering wheel, wood interior trim, power rear sunshades, a rear-seat refrigerator, a navigation system, Lexus Enform telematics, a Siri-based control system for iPhone users, a rearview camera, Bluetooth and a 19-speaker Mark Levinson sound system (with six-disc changer, HD and satellite radio, iPod integration and rear-seat audio controls). Options include the Executive package, which reduces seating capacity to four and adds more leather interior trim, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and power ottoman for the right rear seat.
In reviews we noted the LS 600h L feels similar to its LS 460 L sibling, no surprise as they differ chiefly in their powertrains. So the same pampered ride and quietly confident handling are here, as is a sumptuous, silent cabin that coddles its occupants. Given that, as well as the essentially similar performance of the two, we can't justify making the $25,000 jump up to the 600. If low emissions and high efficiency are must-haves in your next large luxury sedan, there are other, less costly choices. That said, they'd be hard pressed to match Lexus' strong reputation for long-term reliability and low running costs.
Used Lexus LS 600h L Models
The current-generation Lexus LS 600h L debuted as a redesigned 2013 model and maintained its core characteristics of impeccable build quality, strong yet quiet performance and a roomy, tranquil cabin stocked with the latest in luxury features. The most significant change was the aggressive face incorporating Lexus' signature angular grille design. Interior updates included fancier stitching and padded surfaces, while functional upgrades had the old touchscreen being replaced by Lexus' Remote Touch interface with its large display and mouselike controller. The following year, Siri Eyes Free iPhone control was added.
The first-generation Lexus LS 600h L was produced from 2008 through 2012 and was (as it is now) a hybrid version of the long-wheelbase LS 460 L. Changes were minimal through these years. For '09, there was a special Pebble Beach edition, which included several popular options, while the following year brought a styling update as well as the debut of the Sport package and the enhancement of many of its electronics features.
This luxury hybrid's power was provided by a 389-hp 5.0-liter V8 coupled to a pair of electric motors, resulting in a combined total output of 438 hp. A CVT with automanual control sent power to all four wheels. The Lexus LS 600h L can run up to 20 mph using its electric engines alone, which translates into an ultra-quiet ride when the car is driven around town. But with fuel economy of just 19 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, this Lexus offered mileage that wasn't exactly hybrid-like.
Highlights of the car's standard features list included 19-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and ignition, a heated steering wheel, leather seating and instrument panel trim, power front seats, a 19-speaker Mark Levinson sound system (with a 2,000-song music server), climate-controlled front seats, a heated steering wheel and Lexus' self-parking system. Options included the "Executive" seating option that featured a two-passenger rear compartment whose luxury features (such as a DVD entertainment system and a built in cooler) rivaled those of a business jet.
Within the LS 600h L ergonomics are nearly flawless, as most controls are intuitive and within easy reach. Aesthetics are nothing short of dazzling, with handsome electroluminescent gauges, finely finished wood trim, exquisitely stitched leather and superb fit and finish. One drawback is this large sedan's trunk space. With the hybrid components taking up so much room, trunk space is reduced to a meager 10.1 cubic feet.
In reviews we found the LS 600h L puts its emphasis on a pillow-soft ride, regardless of which of the air suspension's settings you chose. The steering was precise enough, but as with the rest of the car felt rather isolated. This dynamic personality was in keeping with the flagship Lexus sedan's mission of providing very quiet, comfortable and stress-reducing transportation. Those seeking a more involving driving experience would be better served with one of the LS 600h L's few German luxury hybrid competitors. As a used car, however, this Lexus is easier to recommend, given the company's stellar reputation for reliability and durability.