The Lexus LS 600h L was an extended-wheelbase luxury hybrid sedan that made several compromises, most of which will be quite familiar to those who've experienced other upscale Lexus green machines. The most significant shortcoming was in fuel efficiency. With a combined EPA fuel economy estimate of 20 mpg, the LS 600h L was no Prius. In fact, it barely beat the mileage offered by the less expensive and similarly appointed non-hybrid LS 460 L.
On top of that, there was no appreciable gain in performance. The LS 600h L teamed a gasoline V8 with a duo of electric motors to offer power that Lexus said was comparable to that of a V12. That additional power, however, was offset by the added weight of the hybrid components. In the end, the car's only real advantage over the regular LS was its super ultra-low-emission vehicle (SULEV) rating. Was that enough to justify its hefty price premium? We didn't think so, and we recommended checking out the contemporaries such as the hybrid and diesel-powered versions of the less expensive Mercedes S-Class instead.
Used Lexus LS 600h Models
The second-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. The Lexus Remote Touch interface, with its large display and mouselike controller, replaced the old touchscreen. For 2014, Lexus added Siri Eyes Free iPhone control, along with some minor interior trim revisions. 2015 brought further updates to the stereo. 2016 Lexus LS hybrids got a subscription to Lexus Enform Service Connect and increased use of body adhesives meant to increase rigidity and improve steering feel. Lexus discontinued the LS 600h L after the 2016 model year.
The second-generation Lexus 600h L was powered by a 5.0-liter V8 coupled to two electric motor generators that boosted total output to 438 horsepower. All of this power went to an all-wheel-drive system via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Lexus went for strong performance rather than fuel economy. As a result, the 600h L went from zero to 60 mph in a claimed 5.5 seconds — impressive, yet only about a half-second swifter than an all-wheel-drive LS 460. At 20 mpg combined, fuel economy was only 2 mpg better than that of the LS 460 L with all-wheel drive.
Lexus lavishly equipped all LS 600h L cars from this generation with four-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, power-reclining rear seats with massage functions, a rear-seat refrigerator and a 19-speaker Mark Levinson sound system. Options included the Executive package, which reduced seating capacity to four and added more leather interior trim, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and power ottoman for the right rear seat.
In reviews, we found that the LS 600h L felt similar to its LS 460 L sibling, which was no surprise since they differed chiefly in their powertrains. The long-wheelbase version offered the same pampered ride and quietly confident handling, along with a sumptuous, silent cabin that coddled its occupants. Given those similarities and the almost identical performance of the two, it was difficult to justify making the $25,000 jump up to a new LS 600h L. Time may equalize the prices as the cars age, and the LS 600h L has Lexus' deservedly strong reputation for long-term reliability and low running costs in its corner.
Lexus produced the first-generation Lexus LS 600h L from 2008 through 2012, and changes were minimal through these years. For 2009, there was a special Pebble Beach edition, which included several popular options, while 2010 brought a styling update as well as the debut of the Sport package and the enhancement of many electronics features.
In the first generation as in the second, a 5.0-liter V8 provided the luxury hybrid's power. With the V8 coupled to a pair of electric motors, the total power output came to 438 hp, and a CVT with manual shift control sent power to all four wheels. The Lexus LS 600h L could accelerate up to 20 mph using electric power alone, which translated into an ultra-quiet ride when the car was driving around town. But with fuel economy of just 19 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, this Lexus offered lackluster mileage for a hybrid.
The car's standard features list included seating and instrument panel trim, 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, which 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.
The ergonomics inside the LS 600h L were nearly flawless: Most controls were intuitive and within easy reach. Aesthetics were nothing short of dazzling, with handsome electroluminescent gauges, finely finished wood trim, exquisitely stitched leather, and superb fit and finish. One drawback was this large sedan's trunk space. With the hybrid components taking up so much room, it was a meager 10.1 cubic feet.
In reviews, we found the LS 600h L put its emphasis on a pillow-soft ride, whichever air suspension setting you chose. The steering was precise enough, but as with the rest of the car, it felt rather isolated. This dynamic personality was in keeping with the flagship Lexus sedan's mission of providing quiet, comfortable and stress-reducing transportation. Those seeking a more involving driving experience would have been better served by 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.
Read the most recent 2016 Lexus LS 600h L review.
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