2010 Lexus LS Hybrid Performance
Lexus is not known for high-performance sedans the way its major German rivals are. The LS 600h handles well for such a large car, but isn’t a match for its German rivals on a winding road. The car, however, is no slow-and-sedate Prius cousin. It’s capable of zero-to-sixty times under six seconds, with a powerful V8 engine boosted by an electric motor for a combination of 438 horsepower. But reviewers disagree on whether it lives up to Lexus’ claim that it offers V12 performance with V6 fuel economy. Some testers have found the LS Hybrid to be quicker than a gasoline-powered LS, while others find it slightly slower.
What’s certain is that it is the fastest Super-Luxury Hybrid currently on the market. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid is much less powerful, designed more for fuel-economy than performance. Performance-minded buyers, however, might want to wait for the BMW 7-Series hybrid, which could appear for the 2011 model year.
- "Hybrid 600h models are heavier than conventional LS models, so they are only slightly quicker 0-60 mph. The gas/electric drivetrain calls little attention to itself." -- Consumer Guide
- "Blends luxury, performance and ecologically efficient innovations to make a unique luxury car." -- New Car Test Drive
Acceleration and Power
The 2010 Lexus LS 600h is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 engine, paired with an electric motor, to produce a total of 438 horsepower. That gives a 58-horsepower advantage over its gasoline-powered sibling, but it still trails the powerful V12 engines that most luxury automakers offer on their highest-end sedans. It’s the quickest hybrid Super Luxury Car, easily outperforming the softly-tuned Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid. But it won’t match a BMW 7-Series or Mercedes-Benz S600 in terms of speed.
The LS Hybrid, however, has a certain environmental credibility those cars can’t equal. The EPA hasn’t published a fuel economy figure for the 2010 edition of the LS600h, but gave the 2009 edition an estimated fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon in the city and 22 on the highway. They’re not Prius-like numbers, but for a 2,000-lb car boasting more than 400 horsepower, they are quite solid. The car’s city mpg rating beats that of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid by one mpg, though it trails that car by four mpg on the highway.
The LS Hybrid sends power through a Continuously Variable Transmission, which does not have traditional gears. Reviewers say that it switches between gasoline and electric modes seamlessly.
- The 5.0L V-8 is paired with two electric motors and a large-capacity battery pack; altogether, it's good for a 438-hp rating. Accelerating from 0-60 mph will take 5.5 sec. That's a full second slower than the V-12 luxury sedans from Mercedes and BMW with which this Lexus was originally supposed to compete, but then again, the 2009 LS 600h L's price is "just" $106,910. That means the LS owner could also buy an entry-level Lexus sedan for the entry price of the BMW 760Li or Mercedes S600.” -- Motor Trend
- "In our testing, we only managed a 0-60-mph time of 6.0 seconds, as opposed to the manufacturer's claimed time of 5.5 seconds and a 10th of a second slower than the gas-powered LS 460 L we tested." -- Edmunds
- "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." -- Car and Driver
- "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." -- New Car Test Drive
Handling and Braking
The LS600h is the sportiest variant of Lexus’ flagship sedan. Its electronically-controlled Adaptive Variable Air Suspension allows the drive to vary the ride, alternating between firm springs for a winding road, and soft tuning for a gentle commute. Auto writers note, however, that even the sportiest settings don’t make the LS h the equivalent of more athletic German sedans like the BMW 7-Series. A hybrid 7-Series may appear for the 2011 model year, but for now, only this and the Mercedes-Benz S420 hybrid are available -- and neither is a particularly sharp-handling car.
- "At low speeds, steering is light and responsive, and the turning radius is surprisingly short for a car in this class." -- New Car Test Drive
- "The steering is light though direct, and the turning circle is impressively tight. Steering feel is quick at low speeds for easy parking-lot maneuvering; it firms up nicely at highway speeds. LS is no sport sedan, however." -- Consumer Guide
- "Under more aggressive maneuvers, the base LS suspension exhibits a rather steep nosedive during heavy braking and pronounced body roll while cornering, although it does stay planted to the pavement with minimal drama. Brake feel is excellent, although at first it can seem a bit grabby and abrupt." -- Edmunds