2011 Lexus LS Hybrid Review
This review was written when the 2011 Lexus LS Hybrid was new.
The 2011 Lexus LS Hybrid wows reviewers with its luxurious interior and long list of standard features, but if you seek sporty handling, its comfortable ride may disappoint. Motor Trend writes, “If you want a stimulating luxury flagship car, try a BMW 7 Series or Jaguar XJ. The Lexus LS 600h L wants nothing to do with fast-paced excitement, and that's why it excels.”
A growing number of hybrids are entering the class of super luxury cars, but the LS Hybrid was the first on the scene. It’s nowhere near as green as the iconic Toyota Prius, but Lexus’ hybrid flagship does pose an interesting alternative to its rivals – offering a slight fuel economy advantage and more power than its gas-only sibling, the Lexus LS. Additionally, the LS 600h comes standard with all-wheel drive, an adjustable air suspension and a continuously variable transmission that reviewers say makes for an ultra-smooth ride. The automotive press says that it’s one of the quietest, most comfortable cars on the market, but if you’re looking for a large car with sporty handling, you might want to look elsewhere – the LS Hybrid can’t outrun more nimble competitors like the BMW 7-Series Hybrid or the Porsche Panamera on a winding road.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, and Lexus complements the LS Hybrid’s comfort-oriented ride with one of the most opulent interiors in the class. The LS is roomy, with a sleek cabin design, comfortable leather seats and a long list of standard interior features. However, taller passengers may want a touch more headroom and cargo space is robbed by the electric motor’s battery. The gas-only LS boasts an impressive 18 cubic feet of trunk space, but in the LS 600h that space decreases to just 10.1 cubic feet. Other hybrid super luxury cars, such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid and the BMW 7-Series Hybrid, are using smaller batteries that take up far less space. The Benz and the BMW have 16.4 and 13 cubic feet of cargo space, respectively.
Other Cars to Consider
Super luxury automakers have stepped their game up when it comes to hybrid cars, and many rivals offer similar features at a lower price. Starting at about $102,000, the BMW 7-Series Hybrid is a viable alternative for shoppers who are willing to trade a slightly less-opulent interior for blistering acceleration and nimble, sport sedan handling. Just be aware that if you seek an ultra-comfortable ride, the BMW’s firmer suspension doesn’t coddle passengers in the same silent cocoon of comfort as the LS 600h. In addition to improved performance and a base price that’s about $9,000 less than the LS Hybrid, the 7-Series Hybrid is also a close match in terms of fuel economy. According to the EPA, both the LS Hybrid and the 7-Series Hybrid have estimated annual fuel costs of $3,023, but their fuel averages do vary slightly. The LS Hybrid gets 19/23 mpg city/highway, while the 7-Series Hybrid gets 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.
If fuel economy is your end-game – and why wouldn’t it be in the super luxury class – you have two choices: the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid and the Porsche Panamera V6. Both have an EPA-estimated annual fuel cost of $2,877, which is the lowest cost among super luxury cars, but choosing between the two will likely depend on your driving style. At $91,000, the S-Class Hybrid offers a ride that’s just as posh as the LS Hybrid, but it can’t match the Lexus in terms of power. But what the S-Class lacks in performance it makes up with better 19/25 mpg city/highway fuel economy and a sticker price that’s nearly $20,000 less than the LS Hybrid.
However, if sporty handling, good fuel economy and a lower price are what you seek, the best choice at the moment might not be a hybrid at all. The base Porsche Panamera’s nimble cornering ability makes it fun to drive, but its 18/27 mpg city/highway fuel economy also means that it’s just as easy on fuel as the S-Class Hybrid. On the downside, the Porsche isn’t as quick as the Lexus or the BMW, but the Panamera also doesn’t require you to pay a hybrid premium when it comes to price. Starting at under $75,000, the Panamera is about $36,000 less expensive than the Lexus LS Hybrid.
Lexus LS Hybrid: The Details
Unlike the gas-powered model that it’s based on, the 2011 Lexus LS Hybrid comes in just one trim level: the LS 600h L. It starts at about $111,000, and shares a platform with the extended-wheelbase Lexus LS. Granted, the LS Hybrid has a much higher price tag than non-hybrid LS models, but it comes very well-equipped. Standard features on the LS Hybrid include all-wheel drive, push button start, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, dual-zone climate control, power door closers, parking sensors with backup camera, navigation, heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel. Also standard is a 19-speaker Mark Levinson Surround Sound stereo that many reviewers say is among the best available.
Few options are available, but the big ticket items include a pre-collision system and two available packages that upgrade the rear seats. The Premium Package II adds power rear sunshades, rear audio controls, a backseat DVD system, four-zone climate control and upgraded rear seats that are heated and cooled. If you choose to opt for the Executive-Class Seating Package II, you’ll get all the features listed above as well as a right rear seat that reclines and massages, a fixed center console with integrated wood table and infrared sensors, which assess each backseat passenger’s skin temperature and adjusts the climate control accordingly.
- "The few positives do little to dissuade us from recommending a long list of other luxury sedans over the 2011 LS 600h L -- including its own LS 460 L cousin. For the eco-conscious buyer, BMW's line of Active Hybrid sedans are priced well below this Lexus, as is the Mercedes-Benz S400 hybrid. For the performance-minded shopper, models like the BMW Alpina B7, Jaguar XJ and Porsche Panamera are all considerably better choices." -- Edmunds
- "In addition to its high-tech drivetrain, the 2011 LS 600h L is loaded with enough gadgets to keep any techie grinning from ear to ear. Remarkable fuel economy for the segment, a sublime ride and plenty of power are the most notable of this sedan's attributes." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "The Lexus LS 600h is more than just a stretched LS460. It's an advanced, intelligent, premium vehicle with numerous environmental benefits. It's fun to drive, but back seat passengers get the royal treatment." -- New Car Test Drive
- "The hybrid 600h remains an extremely pricey technological tour-de-force." -- Consumer Guide