2016 Lexus LS 600h L Review
Does your next executive sedan need to be a hybrid? With its standard long-wheelbase layout and hybrid V8 powertrain, the 2016 Lexus LS 600h L is lavish and capable: the ultimate expression of Lexus luxury. Let's see if this imposing four-door could be the right fit for you.
If you took a poll of prospective executive luxury sedan buyers and asked them what aspects of their future limousine are most important, it is likely that fuel economy is not high among them. The price of gas is inconsequential when these cars operate at a price point where breaching the six-figure mark takes little more than checking the option box marked "massaging rear seats." It is quite curious then, that Lexus chose to outfit its range-topping model, the 2016 Lexus LS 600h L, with a 5.0-liter V8 alongside two electric motor/generators. While the idea of a green luxo-sedan is certainly intriguing, the finished product leads us to question why it exists at all.
First, the good news. Based on the long-wheelbase version of the standard LS 460, the LS hybrid certainly bears the trappings of a passenger-centric executive sedan. "Plastic" seems to be a four-letter word to LS designers, as the cabin is cloaked in leather and wood of impeccable quality and craftsmanship. The suspension shrugs off even the nastiest bumps, with very little noise transmitted to the cabin at all. The front seats are luxuriously coddling, while the rear outboard seats offer recline and massage functions and, when ordered with the Executive Class Seating package, there's even an ottoman with additional massage for the passenger on the right. There's a refrigerator behind the middle seat and an armrest console that provides a wide range of seat adjustments, as well as controls for heating and ventilation.
The stately 2016 Lexus LS 600h L looks very similar to the regular LS 460.
But the 600h L's main reason for being just doesn't make much sense. The EPA says to expect 20 mpg combined. That's only 2 mpg better than the regular LS's estimate. And while the 600h L's powertrain is more powerful than the regular LS's V8, in Edmunds' performance testing the hybrid was actually slower from zero to 60 mph. Then there's the kicker. The LS 600h L costs many thousands of dollars more. It would be years, decades even, before fuel savings would justify the purchase of the hybrid. Unless you put a very high premium on that hybrid badge, the LS 460 is a better choice.
Meanwhile, there are more opulent and technologically savvy competitors also vying for your attention. The elegant 2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid is a plug-in hybrid that can travel up to 20 miles on electricity alone, earning it far better EPA fuel economy estimates than the LS. The 2016 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid is another plug-in with superior fuel economy, and it also offers a thrilling driving experience if you're willing to put up with a less cushy ride. Even regular versions of the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series with turbocharged engines get better fuel economy than the Lexus. And if you really feel guilty about your carbon footprint, you could also go for the fully electric Tesla Model S. While a more fuel-efficient flagship luxury sedan is always a good thing, we just can't recommend the underachieving LS 600h L.
trim levels & features
The 2016 Lexus LS 600h L is a four- or five-passenger full-size hybrid luxury sedan based on the LS 460. Unlike the LS 460, however, it is offered only in one long-wheelbase body style, thus the L at the end of the name, and it comes exclusively with all-wheel drive.
Standard features include 19-inch alloy wheels, an air suspension with adjustable dampers, variable-gear-ratio steering, adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams and headlamp washers, LED running lights, LED foglights, a sunroof, power-folding and auto-dimming heated side mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, a power trunk lid, keyless ignition and entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert and an automated parallel parking system.
Inside you'll also get four-zone automatic climate control, LED ambient lighting, leather upholstery and trim, a 12-way power-adjustable driver seat (with four-way lumbar adjustment), a 10-way front passenger seat (with two-way lumbar), memory functions for all outboard seats, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, power-reclining rear seats with massage functions, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with power tilt-and-telescoping adjustments, wood trim, power rear sunshades and a rear seat refrigerator.
Standard electronics features include a navigation system with a 12.3-inch display, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Lexus Safety Connect emergency communications, the Lexus Enform suite of smartphone-integrated apps (with Enform Remote smartphone control for compatible Apple and Android devices and Enform Service Connect for vehicle diagnostics) and the Siri Eyes Free interface (which provides additional voice control functionality for iPhones). The standard 19-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system comes with a six-disc CD changer, HD and satellite radio, a USB port, an auxiliary audio input and rear-seat audio controls.
Optionally you can add the Executive Class Seating package, which reduces seating capacity to four but adds a rear center console, a rear-seat DVD/Blu-ray entertainment system, a 110-volt power outlet and a right rear seat with a power ottoman and additional massage functions. Also available are two adaptive cruise control systems, one paired with a pre-collision warning system with brake assist and one that adds a more advanced forward collision avoidance system with pedestrian detection, a driver attention monitor and a lane departure warning and prevention system.
The LS 600h L's value is questionable, as it costs much more than the standard LS, but with little difference in fuel economy.
performance & mpg
The 2016 Lexus LS 600h L uses a hybrid powertrain consisting of a 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces 389 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque, mated to two electric motor/generators. One of the motors acts as 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) that has manual shift capability with eight preset gear ratios.
In Edmunds testing, the LS 600h L reached 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, a poor showing for a sedan of this size and caliber. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 20 mpg combined (19/23 city), which is barely more than a comparable AWD LS 460, which is rated at 18 mpg combined (16/23). Other hybrid flagship luxury sedans are considerably more fuel-efficient.
Standard safety features on the 2016 Lexus LS 600h L include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear side airbags, side curtain airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive headlights, automatic high beams, a rearview camera and Lexus' Enform Safety Connect emergency telematics.
The optional adaptive cruise control system includes a pre-collision system that preps various vehicle systems when it detects a possible collision. Sold as a separate option is the more sophisticated Advanced Pre-Collision system, which includes a driver attention monitor and can automatically initiate braking to help avert forward collisions. This option also includes a lane departure warning and prevention system. The Executive Class package also adds a knee airbag for the rear ottoman.
In Edmunds testing, an LS 600h L stopped from 60 mph in 126 feet, which is a longer braking distance than many elite luxury sedans. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the LS the highest possible rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset crash test and a "Good" rating for the ability of the driver seat/head restraint to provide whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Initial propulsion from a stop in the 2016 Lexus LS 600h L is supplied by the electric motors, resulting in eerily silent acceleration. Even when the 5.0-liter V8 engine starts up, it's hard-pressed to grab center stage, as the LS hybrid's meticulously sound-proofed cabin remains blissfully quiet at highway speeds, regardless of the road surface.
While not exactly quick, the LS 600h L's acceleration is nonetheless impressive thanks to its silent, effortless nature.
The LS 600h L offers four driver-selectable settings for its suspension, varying between Comfort and Sport+. In Comfort mode, the ride is quite soft, while the sportier modes attempt to provide more control when navigating turns. However, this is an exceptionally heavy car, and if you start making big demands, you'll find that the hybrid LS responds with minimal haste. The steering, at least, is precise and light on effort, making the car pretty easy to park.
As the flagship of the Lexus lineup, the LS 600h L offers abundant luxury. The standard semi-aniline leather on the seats is the automaker's best, and the simulated suede headliner looks rich and is soft to the touch. The optional Executive Class package brings even more leather into the cabin, while offering the right rear passenger his own ottoman. Rich, grain-matched wood trim is also plentiful, giving the interior a traditional luxury car feel. Particularly striking is the available black interior treatment with bamboo wood trim. But while the LS 600h L doesn't lack in the luxury department, the quilted leather, heated armrests and split-view central display of the S-Class are even more awe-inspiring.
The Remote Touch electronics interface is a part of the car's technology array. It's a mouselike device that allows the user to navigate among a variety of function icons on a horizontally oriented, 12.3-inch display at the top of the dashboard. However useful Remote Touch is for integrating basic tasks and smartphone applications, using it ultimately draws too much of the driver's attention away from the road. Cursor control with the Remote Touch controller is wobbly and imprecise, making audio and navigation selections difficult when you're on the move. Most other companies use a control wheel for their technology interface systems, and in particular, we prefer BMW's iDrive. If you're planning to buy an LS 600h L, Remote Touch should be tested out thoroughly at a dealership.
Cargo space is at a premium in the hybrid LS. The separate rear climate control system, onboard refrigerator and hybrid system components drop trunk capacity to a paltry 10.1 cubic feet compared with the standard LS 460's generous 18 cubes.
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.