What's New for 2013
The Lexus LS 600h L has been redesigned for 2013.
Most hybrid vehicles deliver on the promise of highly efficient propulsion and savings at the gas pump. In an effort to save weight and keep costs reasonable, these hybrids are generally limited to economy or entry-level luxury classes. The 2013 Lexus LS 600h L is not one of these hybrids. This luxury flagship takes a decidedly different approach to the hybrid formula.
With a 5.0-liter V8 gasoline engine as the main source of propulsion, the LS 600h L is a far cry from the typically petite engines used in hybrids. Yes, it does have electric motor/generators too, but these are intended more as enhancements to the car's already powerful output.
Compared to a similarly equipped and conventionally powered LS 460L, the LS 600h L will set you back an additional $25,000 when new. With a mere 1-mpg advantage over the gasoline-only LS, the hybrid model would take 156 years to recoup the additional expense (at $4 per gallon at 15,000 miles per year). The LS 600h L is more powerful, but only beats the LS 460 to 60 mph by only half a second. From a purely financial sense, the LS 600h L makes as much sense as investing in a bed and breakfast in Kabul.
Granted, there's more to the 2013 Lexus LS 600h L than just mpg numbers. This year's car has been restyled and enhanced with subtle improvements. While the overall shape of the new LS is evolutionary, the face is indeed bolder, stylish and confident in appearance. Inside, the design is more contemporary and the materials quality has been enhanced with additional stitched leather trim and padded surfaces. Part of the streamlined design is the result of the old touchscreen being replaced by Lexus' latest version of its Remote Touch electronics interface.
As before, occupants will enjoy almost decadent levels of opulence, particularly if you spring for the Executive Seating package that turns the right rear seat into a throne worthy of any royal court. Technological features and world-class materials are in abundance, too, and are on par with other sedans costing much more. Then again, you can get all of these features in the aforementioned Lexus LS 460 L, too.
If low emissions and high efficiency are indeed a priority for your luxury sedan, the alternatives are few and not without potential pitfalls of their own. The all-electric Tesla Model S is a high-tech wonder with praiseworthy levels of luxury, but without any meaningful reliability data and the obvious (though still quite generous) range limitations, some may still feel some anxiety.
Meanwhile, other flagship luxury sedans have their own hybrid models and follow the Lexus' power-over-efficiency hybrid philosophy. The BMW ActiveHybrid 7, Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid and Porsche Panamera Hybrid will certainly not disappoint if you are indeed considering a 2013 Lexus LS 600h L. Whether any of these make financial sense is up to you.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Lexus LS 600h L is a five-passenger luxury sedan that is offered in a single, very well-appointed trim level. Standard features include 19-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, adaptive LED headlights, running lights, foglights, automatic high beams, headlamp washers, heated mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, a power trunk lid, keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, auto-dimming mirrors and a blind-spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alert.
On the inside, you also get four-zone automatic climate control, ambient interior lighting, leather upholstery, a 16-way power-adjustable driver seat (12-way front passenger seat), heated and ventilated front and rear seats with memory functions, power-reclining rear seats with massage functions, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with power tilt-and-telescoping adjustments, wood interior trim, power rear sunshades, a rear-seat refrigerator, a navigation system with voice activation, Lexus Enform telematics, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a 19-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system with six-disc changer, HD and satellite radio, iPod integration and rear-seat audio controls.
Optionally you can add the Executive package, which reduces seating capacity to four and adds infrared cabin temperature sensors, additional leather interior trim, a rear-seat entertainment system with Blu-ray player, a right rear seat with a power ottoman and additional massage functions and added rear airbags. Also available is adaptive cruise control, which is paired with a pre-collision system. To this, you can add a driver monitor system, a lane departure warning and prevention system and a low-speed collision avoidance system.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2013 Lexus LS 600h L is a hybrid powertrain comprising a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 389 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque mated to two electric motor/generators; one acts a primary generator and engine starter while the other drives the rear wheels and produces power through regenerative braking. Combined, the entire system has an output of 438 hp. All of this power is routed to an all-wheel-drive system via a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
With such power on tap, the LS 600h L can be thought of as a luxury sedan with a hybrid system to boost performance, rather than the typical hybrid with an emphasis on ultimate efficiency. As such, acceleration is brisk, the LS reaching 60 mph in only 5.5 seconds, according to Lexus. Fuel economy is better than the regular LS, but not by much, at an estimated 19 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 20 mpg in combined driving.
Standard safety features are plentiful with the 2013 Lexus LS 600h L, including antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear side airbags, side curtain airbags, driver knee airbags, a blind-spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive headlights, automatic high beams, a rearview camera and Lexus' Safety Connect emergency telematics.
Additionally, a pre-collision system (tightens belts and primes the brakes when a collision in imminent), a low-speed collision avoidance system (engages the brakes automatically), driver monitor system (detects a drowsy or distracted driver behind the wheel) and a lane departure warning and prevention system are available as options. Adding the right-rear executive seating package also adds a knee airbag with the power ottoman.
Interior Design and Special Features
Luxury, of course, is the operative word when it comes to any Lexus flagship, and the 2013 Lexus LS 600h L does not disappoint. Supple leather surfaces are abundant throughout the cabin, and even more so if you spring for the optional Executive package. Rich wood trim is also plentiful, giving the interior a traditional luxury car feel.
There are, however, a wealth of cutting-edge electronics to plant the LS firmly in the 21st century. The Remote Touch electronics interface is a part of this formula, as it controls most cabin functions through a mouselike device via the centrally located video screen. We've found it to be a competent control interface for the numerous systems, but it can still draw too much attention away from the road, and you may find other interfaces in competing sedans easier to use. This is definitely something to test thoroughly at a car dealership.
All of this opulence does come with some sacrifice, though, most notably in terms of cargo space. Features like the separate rear climate control, refrigerator and hybrid system components drop trunk capacity to a mere 13 cubic feet, compared to the standard LS 460's 18 cubes.
Although most of the exterior and interior are all new for 2013, the Lexus LS 600h L still utilizes the same hybrid powertrain from its predecessor. Initial propulsion from a stop is supplied by the electric motors, resulting in eerily silent acceleration. Even when the gasoline motor springs to life, the cabin remains blissfully quiet on a variety of road surfaces and at highway speeds.
A stiffer chassis should improve the LS's driving dynamics this time around, but it should certainly not be thought of as sporty by any stretch of the imagination. The main reason for its existence is to isolate passengers from the outside world, and in this regard, it should give any large luxury sedan a run for its considerable money.