2008 Lexus LS Hybrid Performance
This performance review was written when the 2008 Lexus LS Hybrid was new.
The 2008 Lexus LS 600h L hybrid is a technological tour de force, with a powerful V8 engine, fuel efficiency and trademark Lexus handling. Road and Track says what is remarkable is "the detail refinement and how seamlessly it all works together." New Car Test Drive says the hybrid "blends luxury, performance and ecologically efficient innovations to make a unique luxury car." The San Jose Mercury News calls the 600h a "poised, polished high-tech machine"
Acceleration and Power
The Lexus 600h L hybrid comes with a 5.0-liter V8 engine with an Electric-Drive Motor. The total system delivers 438 horsepower. Most say the hybrid system works seamlessly and that the power delivery is impressive, especially as the only V8 hybrid on the market. While the 600h is not as fast as standard V8s, it has vigor and works well in both modes. The Car Connection describes the Lexus hybrid system as being able to "operate in electric-only mode at relatively low speeds and short distances. A new EV Mode button forces the drive to use battery power whenever possible, typically up to about three minutes at speeds up to 25 mph." Automobile Magazine says, "Lexus engineers have made the complex powertrain work as a seamless whole," and there's the "faintest degree of nonlinearity in response, mostly when you lift off the throttle, but under most circumstances, this is an exceptionally smooth propulsion system, and one that's almost eerily quiet."
Car and Driver says the 600h L is "deceptively fast. When you floor the gas pedal, the tach needle flicks almost instantly at the bidding of the continuously variable transmission to 6000 or more rpm, a point at which the new 5.0-liter V-8 pumps out about 389 horsepower." Forbes reports the V8 has "ample power to propel this two-and-a-half-ton Lexus along interstates at take-me-to-jail speeds." New Car Test Drive says the "full-hybrid drive system delivers performance on a par with a 6-liter V12 engine, yet with mileage comparable to a V6 powered sedan," adding that the 600h is "smooth, quiet and stable at any speed, so much so, that there is practically no sensation of speed at all. The car feels under-stressed at normal highway speeds, with a huge reserve of speed and passing power."
"So much of this car runs off of high-energy circuits fed from the big battery, replacing noisy hydraulics with the whispering of electronic gear," the Los Angeles Times reports. "The gear teeth in the AWD powertrain have been polished to micron tolerances. If this isn't the silkiest, most refined, quietest super-sedan on the road, I'll eat my dB meter."
The 600h's fuel economy numbers are decent and impressive for a car with V8 power, but not in comparison to other hybrids. The 2008 Lexus LS 600h L has an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon in the city and 22 on the highway. Automobile Magazine says these numbers are "impressive but not exceptional." Cars.com adds that the ratings are good for a car with such power, "but hardly mileage that could be considered environmentally friendly."
The majority praise the 600h L's electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission. Automobile Magazine says it "masterfully imitates a conventional multispeed gearbox (with eight ratio steps available in manual mode)." The Car Connection says the continuously variable transmission is "clearly the best we've ever experienced, with none of the rubber band-like feel of most other CVTs. It can also, credibly emulate the feel of the LS460's eight-speed automatic."
Handling and Braking
The 600h L comes with independent front suspension with height-adjustable Adaptive Variable Air Suspension (AVS). It also has independent multi-link rear suspension with AVS and electronically modulated damping. All-wheel drive is standard. Road and Track finds that the 600h L "tolerates being thrown around, it's much more content doling out a luxurious ride and secure handling while soothing its occupants with highly polished wood and meticulously stitched leather." Popular Mechanics calls the handling "confident" and sums it up by calling the Lexus "the strong, silent type." However, Automobile Magazine reports that the 600h's ride makes it "too much of a limousine," ideal for smooth cruising but not very engaging for an enthusiastic driver.
The Lexus hybrid comes with Electronic Power Steering and Variable Gear-Ratio Steering, which further connects the motion of the steering wheel with how the front wheels of the sedan react. New Car Test Drive reports the LS sedan is "surprisingly easy to maneuver and park" and credits its short turning radius and electronic power steering. New Car Test Drive reviewers continue to mention that at "low speeds, steering is light and responsive, and the turning radius is surprisingly short for a car in this class."
The LS 600h comes with four-wheel power-assisted ventilated regenerative disc brakes. Regenerative brakes save energy expended during acceleration and braking, and use it to recharge the hybrid battery. The 600h L also has an optional Active Power Stabilizer Suspension System, which comes with high-friction brake pads. But The Car Connection reports, "We were surprised to see the long patch of rubber left by one hard stop. During another, the brakes were pulsing and throbbing uncomfortably, though we did stop fast."