2018 Lexus LS 500h

2018 Lexus LS 500h Review

Bold and distinct, the LS 500h takes hybrid driving to a new, world-class luxury level.
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The sharp edges and bold style of the 2018 Lexus LS 500h hybrid obscure the quintessential Lexus qualities throughout: a pillowy and cushioned ride, a whisper-quiet interior and world-class build quality. A comprehensive redesign inside, outside and underneath once again places the LS in the same rare air as recently updated large luxury sedan designs from Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. Today's LS 500h goes a step further with cutting-edge tech and driver safety, and it reminds you that Europe doesn't have a lock on world-class luxury.

The new Lexus LS 500h is longer, lower and wider than its predecessor, the LS 600h L, with a new coupelike profile that makes it look slimmer and more lithe — no small feat for a car that weighs more than 5,000 pounds. A new suspension design yields sportier handling, but we use that term loosely. This is, first, a luxury sedan better suited to arcing through turns than attacking them.

An all-new turbocharged V6 engine replaces the outgoing model's V8, and it pairs with dual electric motors and a lithium-ion battery. A two-stage continuously variable automatic transmission adds a four-speed gear set to effectively mimic a 10-speed automatic transmission. The net effect is less power than the last LS hybrid but improved fuel economy. It's now up to 28 mpg combined compared to the LS 600h L's 20 mpg combined rating.

Its combined rating is also 5 mpg better than the non-hybrid LS 500's. But at an additional cost of around $4,500, you'll need to consider whether the LS 500h's fuel savings will pay off in the long run. Regardless, the new LS hybrid achieves fuel economy similar to its competitors, even those that use plug-in hybrid charging. (The Mercedes-Benz S-Class S550e, for example, returns 26 mpg combined after depleting its 12 miles of electric range.)

One thing you won't need to consider is the LS 500h's long-term comfort. The new sedan's longer wheelbase, longer even than that of the previous extended model, ensures a cabin roomy enough to cosset weary leaders of industry or even just visiting in-laws, especially when you spring for the seats with up to 28 separate adjustments.

Even a base level LS 500h comes with enough appointments to satisfy most buyers, but those with a more discerning eye can opt for enhancements such as a lowering suspension to ease entry and exit, advanced driver safety aids, and an audiophile-grade sound system.



What's new for 2018

The 2018 Lexus LS 500h is redesigned and all-new.

We recommend

Choosing an LS 500h is simple: There's one well-appointed trim level with a handful of options and option packages. Although 28-way adjustable seats and adjustable air suspension sound nice, forgo those options and instead splurge on the spectacular audio system upgrade ($1,940) and the Safety System+ A package ($3,000), which adds a host of useful driver assistance features.




Trim levels & features

The 2018 Lexus LS 500h is a full-size luxury sedan with seating for five passengers. It comes in a single, well-appointed trim level with a handful of stand-alone options and option packages. Even without a single option, the LS 500h comes loaded with the safety and comfort features you'd expect of this class.

Standard equipment on the LS 500h is extensive and begins with a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine (295 horsepower) connected to a pair of electric motors and a lithium-ion battery. Total system horsepower is 354 hp, with power distributed through a continuously automatic variable transmission. Rear-wheel drive comes standard; all-wheel drive is optional.

Highlights include 19-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, LED headlights, a sunroof, a hands-free trunk, power-closing doors, leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with heating, magnesium paddle shifters, 16-way power-adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, and a power rear sunshade.

Technology features include a 12.3-inch color display, a navigation system, a trackpad-style interface, a Wi-Fi hotspot, Lexus Enform smartphone app integration, Enform emergency and convenience services, Bluetooth and a 12-speaker audio system. Finally, standard driver aids include a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and rain-sensing wipers.

The LS 500h can be further tailored to your taste with a comprehensive options list. The Interior Upgrade package adds leather upholstery with quilted stitching, 28-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and heated rear seats, among other items. The Luxury package adds a 28-way adjustable seat for the passenger, 18-way adjustable and reclining rear seats, four-zone climate control, power rear side sunshades, an armrest-mounted touchscreen controller for climate and seat functions, and rear-seat knee airbags.

The Executive package truly transforms the LS 500h into a luxury shuttle, adding butterfly rear headrests, individual climate control settings, heated and ventilated rear seats with massaging function, and an extendable ottoman footrest for the right-side rear passenger. The cabin is further touched with hand-pleated trim and stylized glass materials.

Additional safety aids come with the Safety System+ A package, which adds adaptive cruise and automatic steering that can detect and "trace" the path of the vehicle in front for a semiautonomous driving experience. Other features include forward cross-traffic alert, road sign recognition, an enhanced head-up display, and a panoramic rearview monitor.

Notable individual options include an adaptive air suspension, a panoramic sunroof, adaptive LED headlights, upgraded wood trim, and a premium 23-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our First Drive of the 2018 Lexus LS 500 (turbo 3.5L V6 | 10-speed automatic | AWD). While the hybrid's performance character will vary from the non-hybrid LS 500, our impressions on comfort, interior and technology should carry over to the hybrid.

Driving

We found the non-hybrid V6 engine was slow to respond to pedal pressure, but the hybrid's electrical assist at low speeds may alleviate that condition. Handling is stable — neither sporty nor floppy.

Comfort

The LS traditionally prioritizes comfort over performance, and the 2018 model is no different. The seats offer a dizzying array of adjustments, with heating and cooling and massage functions. The suspension shrugs off rough roads, and the cabin is as quiet as a tomb.

Interior

The low roofline gives the illusion of a smaller car, but there's ample room for four passengers. But taller rear passengers will find the headroom tight, though reclining seats help reclaim some sense of space. The rear middle seat is too narrow for an adult; this is really a four-passenger sedan.

Utility

It offers a large trunk (15.2 cubic feet), with a wide opening for easy cargo loading, although the shape narrows near the rear seatbacks. The ample small-item storage inside makes it ideal for longer journeys.

Technology

Offers comprehensive set of driver aids, but adaptive cruise is not as smooth as rival systems. Enform smartphone integration software pales compared to Apple/Android interfaces (not offered). Large central display screen is beautiful; optional Mark Levinson premium sound system is worth the cost.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.