By on May 28, 2008

08_lexus_ls600h_l_012.jpgI disagree with every review of the Lexus LS600hL ever written. Categorically. To a man, my colleagues misinterpret the most expensive Lexus as a misguided planet-saver that doesn't deliver enough mpg to justify its sky-high price tag. I view the ultimate hybrid as better driving through science. In fact, despite the dorky "hybrid" badges uglifying the LS600hL's flanks, Lexus didn't build this beast to sip fuel. They built it to go toe-to-toe with 12-cylinder Germans.

The LS600hL is no design statement, like the 760Li. It doesn't announce, "I have a huge wallet" like a Mercedes S600. The LS design is much more Audi A8 W12, only without the goatee. The restrained yet handsome lines strike the same chord as VW's Phaeton. Only this time they're brand correct.

08_lexus_ls600h_l_015.jpgThe LS600hL is a handsome package. At a distance, the big four-door appears clean and reserved. It's only when you pull up next to (and dwarf) anything else on the road that the long-wheelbase Japanese pseudo limo makes aesthetic sense. In a word: presence. In two: killer headlights.

Inside the LS600hL offers a hilarious split between grasping at straws luxury and techno overkill. You've never seen so many buttons. Lexus engineers loaded a shotgun with 'em and blasted away. The last LS I drove-complete with the mid-level rear-seat overkill option-boasted 166 buttons. This time out, the car was down to about 130 pieces of Camry-quality plastic to press. Still, you'll go crazy. And you'll never even notice the gaudily lacquered wood or hand stitched yet still not that rich leather because your attention will 100 percent focused on the AFS button. Whatever that is. 

Y08_lexus_ls600h_l_092.jpgou want the truth about this car's mileage? Can you handle the truth? But before we discuss how much gas it sucks, I need to tell you about yet another button…

A toggle switch below the gear lever controls the LS600hL's throttle response. In the "Hybrid" setting, the first 10 percent-ish of peddle travel only engages the car's electric motor. "Snow" ups that to an almost undrivable level. Seeing as how this was my second fling with the LS600hL, I knew to stick it in "Sport" (about 3 percent pedal motion) before I pushed the start button. And that was that.

"That" means about 10 mpg around town. Terrible, yes. In both my and the car's defense, the massive, battering-ram acceleration from the 5.0-liter V8 plus the 221 hp electric motor is so addictive that I was forced to bury the pedal every chance I got. But here's the thing — after 300 miles the computer let me know that I had averaged 24.8 mpg. Say what?

As you may have guessed, there's a bit of ideal circumstances involved. The first piece of the puzzle is a lot of open road. The next is the radar cruise control, which does perform impressively (slowing the car down to a stop and setting off again in traffic). Forget the radar part. Just set the cruise to 80 mph and watch in sheer amazement as the tachometer registers a paltry 1,100 rpm and the computer claims 40 mpg.

08_lexus_ls600h_l_058.jpgNow for the part you can't handle… Setting the cruise control at 110 mph returns 25 mpg as the engine just crests 2,000 rpm.

I briefly mentioned the rocket sled-esque forward thrust but it merits repeating. Holy runaway train, Batman! This 5,219 monster flies like a Bentley. Rumor has it that Lexus can't quite figure out how much torque the car produces. They claim "just" 385 ft-lb of the stuff. However, the IS-F kicks out 371 ft-lb and it's the same (gas) engine. And the electric motor offers up 100 percent of what it's got at any rpm. Based on the seat of my pants, I say they're severely underrating the twist.

In his review, Mr. Montgomery described the following as bad manners; when you lift your foot off the gas, the electric mill provides an extra dollop of shove. I find it reassuring. And fun. You think that sounds dangerous? Perhaps, but Lexus did see fit to (uh) fit the LS600hL with some of the most serious stoppers in the luxo-barge biz.

The world's biggest hybrid weighs more than Oprah in her heavier years, but stretches over 17 feet. Which means the handling is about what you'd imagine. To be fair, the world's most expensive hybrid handles commendably. But you'd never know, as gauze-wrapped steering and active anti-roll bars dial out all sensation. Good or otherwise. Of course, you can't hear either engine, the CVT (literally — no whine), the wind, rocket attacks or anything.

08_ls_600h_l_09.jpgSo, should you buy one? Yes, absolutely. Look, it ain't going to save the earth or your checking account. But the LS600hL does get appreciably better mileage than the competition. And goes like a jet plane with a silencer.

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71 Comments on “2008 Lexus LS600hL Review – Take Two...”


  • avatar
    James2

    How can there be a Take two when I don’t see a Take One? Is this a case of premature Take-ation?

  • avatar
    offroadinfrontier

    Finally, a proper review on such a vehicle.

    Hybrid = Green can be compared easily to Stick = Sports Car. Sure, a lot of the time. But we do have a free market. From the reviews I’ve read, Toyota took every bit of technology and crammed it into this car NOT to be green, but to be a flagship Luxury cruiser… not a Green cruiser (that’s what the Prius is for, duh).

    Hell, if I could, I’d buy one.. park it right next to my [if only] GT-R.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Maybe it was designed to go against 12 cylinder Germans….but Lexus still tries to sell this car as “green”. I think that’s why so many people take issue over it.

    If they said 12 cylinder performance for 8 cylinder fuel economy, maybe it wouldn’t stand out so much.

    But claiming this car will somehow save the earth is just disgusting marketing.

  • avatar
    ayyub

    I’ve always thought this car a bit of an oddity. But wow, those back seats are ridiculous!

  • avatar
    NetGenHoon

    James2: Take one:
    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/lexus-ls400hl-
    review/

  • avatar

    Lexus are getting better at hybrids with each new model – we can’t be far off a 220 hybrid which will make greener sense.

  • avatar
    Antone

    I’m still stuck on the Scarlett Johansson headlight reference. Great review. I am not a fan of isolation automobiles but if I were to be discretely driven, this would be a great choice.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    My grandfather owned Cadillacs through the ’60’s and ’70’s. If he were alive today, he would buy this car for the same reason he bought his Cadillacs; it’s comfortable, powerful and silent.

    And he loved gizmos. The more the better. The Cadillacs had station-seeking radios, automatic headlight dimmers, cruise control, power seats and other stuff that other cars didn’t have. So does this.

    Radar-guided cruise control? He’d be all over that.

    And he’d think the gas/electric drivetrain was too cool for words (he greatly admired the Wankel engines of the Mazdas).

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    To be fair, when driven conservatively (ie, not in sport mode) and in an urban environment, it thoroughly trounces its competition in terms of mileage. If I was commuting from a Manhattan law office to my apartment overlooking Central Park, this is probably what I’d choose to drive.

    On a winding country road at full whack it won’t do well, but, unlike a V8 or V12 Mercedes, it won’t completely suck in the city, either.

    This is all academic, though. I wish I had the means to agonize on the choice of supersedans.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    KixStart:

    Very funny you say that. My Grandfather also owned Caddies, and for the exact reasons you mentioned.

    I still remember my father explaining how in 1953, auto-dimming headlights were Buck Rogers-type gizmos.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    They should really offer more colors, like Bentley and Mercedes if they’re going to offer a 100k car.

  • avatar

    It is an insult to 2 and 1/2 ton cars to compare them to Oprah in her heavy years.

    This is the interesting aspect of electric-hybrid assist motors, when they are used to gain performance not just a few mpgs. Today’s Turbo- boosted engines could turn into tomorrow’s electric-boosted engines.

    —warning: blantant website pimping—
    http://www.caroftheday.org

  • avatar

    The Honda Accord Hybrid was the fastest Honda Accord you could buy. But it was done in by crap tires. How’s the rubber on this bad boy?

  • avatar
    phil

    so the gas mileage is of no importance,this thing is built to duke it out with the S600 and the other big boys. i don’t recall the numbers (0-60, 1/4 mile, etc) but my recollection of the magazine reviews was that this thing gets its clock cleaned by any Merc or BMW with 12 pots ablazin. so i really don’t get it, it can’t handle worth crap, it’s not as fast as the Germans, and the mileage is not the nut, so who would buy the thing? you’re right about the camry plastics, they’re in the LS 460 also and it’s decidedly downmarket in comparison to the Merc or Audi interiors. this is a 2 star car IMHO.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Farago: Rubber is very good. As is the AWD system. EDIT: I should say that because they are not going for a low drag coefficient, the tires are very good.

    Phil: The LS600hL hits 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. Which is faster than the Audi (5.8) or the BMW (5.4) and 0.1 second slower than a Mercedes-Benz S600 with a twin-turbo V12.

    Sure, there’s the S8 (4.9 seconds) and the AMG S63 and S65 (about 4 flat), but, well, you know.

    Here’s a little point to remember — Hybrids don’t work very well in cold climates. Below 40 degrees, the batteries just don’t function properly.

    So, if a magazine is in Ann Arbor and reviewing the hybrid in the fall or winter, take it with a grain of salt.

  • avatar
    casper00

    Beautiful car but with a price tag above 100k, I’ll get something in my price range, maybe when i win the lotto……

  • avatar

    In New York recently I saw an S600 and LS600hL parked, complete with uniformed drivers. in front of a brand new downtown office building. Of the two, the Lexus exuded “presence” and by comparison the Mercedes looked like a Korean imitation of the last generation S-class. I happen to agree with Jonny that all of the criticism about this car centered on the fact that it is not a “driver’s” car, when most of the folks using it will not be front seat passengers. And I have to believe that Toyota has tongue firmly in cheek when they refer to this as a ‘green’ alternative; that the car uses a hybrid power train as a means to create a rapid and very handsome large sedan.

    It’s easy to forget that Toyota did not engineer this car for the Autobahn (although it sounds like the fuel mileage at 200kph is not bad), but for wealthy citizens who want to look as if they’ve arrived and be very comfortable in doing so. Given that they sold nearly 7000 around the world from July through October (the latest figures I could find), apparently there are more than a few people who found this one right on target. And if it helps the green-leaning rich to feel they are doing something for the environment, who cares? It beats the hell out of an Escalade.

    Great review Jonny.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    I totally agree with this review. People hear the word “hybrid” and expect a 40 mpg car when they forget that there are different classes these cars are built to compete in. The LS600hL does get decent gas mileage for what it is: a 5000lb, $100k luxo barge that can run with the best that Germany has to offer. And in typical Lexus fashion, it does so quietly and serenely. So what if it’s not a driver’s car? The Prius certainly isn’t a driver’s car but it is built to a price and it’s sole purpose is to ship its passengers around and do so while using the least amount of gas regardless. The LS600hL was built to compete with the German V12 blue bloods. Sure Toyota could’ve grabbed a V12 from it’s JDM Century car and called it a day. But how original would that be?

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    The end of the baroque era.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Stick the motor from this in the LF-A with a manual and watch that 7 min barier at the Nurburgring blow apart – take that Nissan.

  • avatar
    thoots

    Yep, two thumbs up for this review.

    Please, for the love of God, will SOMEBODY save me from the Car and Driver “let’s see which $100,000 long-wheelbase ultra-luxury car handles the best?” insane mindset?? And all of the other misguided mindsets, wherein “what the car was really built to do” is the utterly farthest thing from the reviewers’ minds?

    Thanks, Johnny — it’s sure nice to see a car reviewed with an appropriate perspective for a change!

  • avatar
    RGS920

    The best Cadillac GM never made?

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    If not Exhibit A, then perhaps at least Exhibit C for the “What is Ugly” QOTD. Ugly is lack of grace, and worse, lack of character. This is a graceless blob of a car that returns Toyota to its older sins of being relentlessly derivative. I won’t hold against it that the Maserati Quattroporte defines grace and beauty in this price realm, since everything else looks ham-handed by comparison, but no aspect of this car’s visual design saves it from viewer indifference.

    The LS600hL is a handsome package.

    …says Lieberman as he sings, “Doctor, My Eyes…”

    But that’s the least of it. The claimed “most advanced luxury sedan” weighs over Five Thousand Two-Hundred pounds!! Bzzzt….get the long hook and yank this imposter off the awards stage. So Toyota can scale up a dead-end parallel hybrid motive architecture to weld a V8 to a torque-happy electric motor and it humps Five Thousand Two-Hundred pounds to life. Big deal. In the spirit of Germans who adopt aluminum to field 4,400 lbs. cars that outweigh an old-school steel body-on-frame Crown Vic, let’s file this in the pointless indulgence folder. Real engineering would focus on making this car lighter yet stiffer, and therefore able to perform with less power. Its handling would improve too.

    Speaking of which, does the forgiveness for this car’s tepid handling, numbness, and – oh – the Camry-grade switchgear, mean we’re making apologies for the Cadillac DTS too?

    A $100K car that’s blandly ugly or certainly wholly uninspiring, grossly overweight, having as its primary advantage a back seat with legroom isn’t rendered impressive because it has a geeky drivetrain. It was an opportunity to field a testbed for progress against the real enemy, wieght. I can get 24.8 mpg putting my boot deep into a Cadillac STS-V with open road in the mix too. I’m unimpressed. This muscled-up hybrid locomotion is so 2006, or 2005, no 2004. If Toyota or anyone else wants to give me a 2015 car in 2009, they should show me some chops on reducing useless mass while still delivering a strong car.

    Phil

  • avatar
    James2

    NetGenHoon,

    Thanks. I didn’t have the time to scour the site for the first take. Not that I would have sought to read about a car I don’t care about at all in the first place.

  • avatar
    tom

    @Phil:

    I agree with everything you said. I fail to see the point in this car. There’s nothing this car does which the competition isn’t better in doing.

    The only thing it’s superior at is marketing. Selling it as “green luxury sedan” really was a smart move, even though it’s not based in reality.

  • avatar
    chanman

    This marks the fourth LS review out of ten reviews of Lexus vehicles. I suppose you know your flagship works for the brand when…

  • avatar
    Adamatari

    They should have called it an “electric supercharger” instead of a “hybrid”. Same with the old Accord hybrid. The idea is good, and similar to a supercharger (just add umph from the bottom), but rather than having a efficiency loss it’s an efficiency gain. On the other hand, hybrid is chic now so it’s a good idea for Lexus. The Accord didn’t know what market it was vying for (Sporty? Efficient? What?) and came out when hybrids were still somewhat new and suspect.

    I think this is a great idea, and it fits the Lexus brand perfectly – ultra quiet, ultra luxury, innovative technology, conservative Lexus looks. Plus it pulls like mad. Being a hybrid sets it apart from its competitors in a very Japanese way, and that’s the point.

  • avatar
    ApexAlex

    Ressler: The claimed “most advanced luxury sedan” weighs over Five Thousand Two-Hundred pounds!! Bzzzt….get the long hook and yank this imposter off the awards stage. So Toyota can scale up a dead-end parallel hybrid motive architecture to weld a V8 to a torque-happy electric motor and it humps Five Thousand Two-Hundred pounds to life. Big deal. yes, it IS A BIG DEAL when said behemoth also gets some 50% BETTER MILEAGE than comparable luxobarges in the city.  it’s a FLAGSHIP; you think toyota/lexus would SKIMP on weighty options and doodads? they did not, and it STILL gets amazing mileage for its weight. now, they could drop the AWD feature (likely thrown in because it IS a “see what we can do” flagship). and that mite save a few pounds and improve mileage even more. but not unlike MANY other mfgrs, an ‘economy move’ like that will come later. they know you only make ONE first impression.

  • avatar
    JJ

    Meh…Still not convinced.

    In the end it is still the ultimate Toyota. The concept of what makes a Toyota, executed to the highest level of perfection they could achieve. The über-vanilla.

    Unfortunately, I don’t really like what makes a Toyota, because I think a car should be something more than an appliance, especially in the higher price range.

    Power. Beauty. Soul.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Thank You ApexAlex.

    Apparently, people miss the point of this luxo-barge. Hey, I like handling just as much as the next guy, but recognize a car for what it is. Lexus could’ve enhanced the handling for the LS but realized that doing so would alienate loyal customers who look on the LS as what defines Lexus: smooth, quiet, efficient and ultra-luxurious. ITS A FLAGSHIP and in order to drive the point home you have to make it different. Since Toyota was already on the warpath with hybrid technology, what better way to differentiate yourself in this class than to match/beat the German blue bloods with technology?

    I think people are just mad because Lexus finally stepped up to the plate and put the other marques in check.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Jonny,

    Way back when on Jalopnik, I commented that the LS looked just like a Camry. You responded and told me to wait to see it in person because it actually looked nothing like that at all.

    I’m sorry, but now that the affluent Chicago suburbs are thoroughly infested with LSes, I still say it looks just like a plumped-up Camry. The tail-lights look great when they’re on, but otherwise the design is identical to those on the Camry Hybrid. The headlights have nothing on Audi’s new LED strip or even BMW’s angel-eyes.

    This is a deeply, deeply bland car. The sins of the S class don’t justify this machine – not when the infinitely better-looking A8 is out there.

    The only thing I’m confused about is who’s buying these things. I thought we were in the middle of a recession? They’re all over the place now! Did a whole bunch of people turn in the keys on their leased Cayennes and jump into leased LSes?

  • avatar
    mart_o_rama

    Good review, i also like the perspective used.

    One thing I have yet seen posted in the comments is the fact that flagship cars are also a lab for what the common man (or woman) will find in its “normal” car in a couple of years. This LS makes it promising.

    I wonder how would the luxury auto market would be like in a couple of years. By then perhaps all luxobarges will sport hybrid technology and have much better mileage for roughly the same or better performance. People are becoming sensitive to mileage because of gas price and environmental impact, which may ultimately see legislations over the “unnecessary” impact of low-mileage vehicles. If an automaker could take the environmental impact out of the equation in the high-end market, than you just saved that market and continue turning huge profits from it.

    So there is hybrid=green in the lower-end market, and hybrid=justification in the high-end/low-mileage market.

    My 2 cents.

  • avatar
    coupdetat

    Stop complaining about the green marketing, it just reeks of bitterness. I feel like half the people who bitch about the Prius are just mad they paid $80 the last time to fill up, so they pronounce that the hybrid drivers are “smug”, etc. Just appreciate the car for what it is, and acknowledge what it isn’t!!

    Plus, rarely do reviews mention that the emissions of a hybrid will trounce almost any gas engine car. The intangibles like cleanliness matter to many people, especially since the super-rich aren’t going to be worrying about fuel economy much anyways.

    I’m glad that on a place like this, a hybrid can get a fair review at least on occasion.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Et tu, Jonny?

    Well, since you brought it up, let me reiterate my objections to the Hybrid LS. For $32k less you can get the V8 that is quicker to 60, handles better, accelerates and brakes with much greater refinement, and gets 2 mpg BETTER fuel economy on the highway (you know better than to trust the gas mileage reported by the onboard computer).

    Everything that is great about the Hybrid’s looks and luxury, inside and out, and ride quality is the same on the LS460 L which is an extraordinary car (again, more than $30k LESS). The LS600 L is for suckers who think that just because it has a hybrid badge it must be better.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    I can dig it. Still, if i had the cash (and could thus afford the gas) I would spring for a one-year-old S600 with the monsterous twin-turbo V12. The interior is much nicer and while I like the way the Lexus looks better, you spend more time inside than outside staring at it. The way an S600 covers ground is rather alarming.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    The Hybrid badge on cars is becoming the symbol for elitists. This car proves it so that someone doesn’t have to be scene in a Prius yet can still claim that they care more to their neighbors and co-workers. LOL

  • avatar
    alex_rashev

    William,

    First of all, it’s 24K, not 32 – don’t forget the extra options that 600 comes standard with (and that’s just out of what I could see, there’s also minor stuff like heated steering wheel and what not). And AWD is thrown in as well.

    Second, with LS600hL you get an advanced (AWD!)drivetrain with bulletproof transmission. Anyone who ever paid 40K to change a clutch on an F40 knows that in the expensive car world, the initial price tag is just the beginning. If Prii reliability is to be used as a reference point, LS600hL might even end up costing you less over the years.

    Third, you get more option choices and better packages; in other words, you can load the 600 with more stuff AND cut down the price margin even further. Not to forget the extra AWD that you get.

    Fourth, being a flagship, the car will hold value much better than the 460. Case in point: good luck buying the classic “Brick” S600 for under 20 grand. It’s lesser sibling can be had for under 10K. And that’s just for a lesser engine and a few gadgets. The LS600 offers not only that, but also a hybrid drivetrain (quite important for price-sensitive used luxury car buyers), and AWD.

    Fifth… It’s a flagship. The best of the best. If you’ve got 100K to blow on a car, and your options are S600, 760, or LS600, you’re not even looking at the 460.

    Oh, and did I mention, free AWD?

  • avatar
    AGR

    Luxury cars are the ideal breeding ground for new technologies. Lexus is walking the talk, compared to other luxury manufacturers.

    That being said, in typical Lexus fashion its a very conservative effort on their part.

    At this stage of the game one would expect Toyota/Lexus as the global big dog to push the innovation envelope in a compelling fashion.

  • avatar
    alex_rashev

    And speaking of handsomeness, those headlights are exactly what luxury car eyes should look like. Second only to the abovementioned Mercedes “Bricks” from the mid-90’s.

    Headlights on flagship salons must be big, glassy, and… like that. Otherwise, what you have is an overgrown boy-racer car.

  • avatar
    JJ

    The LS600 L is for suckers who think that just because it has a hybrid badge it must be better.

    I don’t know if they even care about the hybrid badge really…Maybe only because the sales guy tells them it’s a hybrid…but I doubt they go for a test drive because it’s a hybrid in the first place.

    I think it’s more like, hey, it’s called 600…It must be about the same as a S600 right??? :)

    I’ll take an A8 or rather, a new 7-series…

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    News Flash: Your chicy little bottle of “fine gormet” water is filled at the same bottling plant (from the same tap)where those big one gallon jugs of “regular” water are filled.
    I know some of you guys think you are special because you are willing to part with $2.00 for a drink of water but get a grip already!

    I guess some of you just hate anything automotive coming out of the land of the rising sun because cars like this Lexus LS600 and the Nissan GT-R just simply rain all over your “I paid more than you so what I have must be better” parade.
    Kinda like that guy that needs to constantly fiddle with his expensive european watch beacuse it wont keep time, while the dude with the $500 Seiko has a watch that will keep acurate time, looks good, is extremely durable and will last forever.

    Look if one wishes to look at their ride in the same light that a woman would admire a real couture dress than hey, I guess you do need to spend a bit more coin to be exclusive and that little extra bit of “styling” does matter. It is all about the form and not about the function.

    But if we are concerned about technical things (like cars) the best tech will always rule the day. Designer labels mean nothing! Notions of prestige and heritage do NOT necesserily equal technical excellence. Toyota and the Lexus brand paradoxically makes many well-healed folks feel foolish and stupid when they do discover that their “Uber” German sedan “aint really all that” and that someway, somehow, a “lowly” Toyota (come on, TOYOTA????) product is kicking a$$!
    THAT CAN”T BE BECAUSE I SENT MORE FOR MY BENZ, SO IT MUST (IT JUST HAS TO BE) THE BEST. HEY THAT IS WHAT THE DEALER TOLD ME?

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    yes, it IS A BIG DEAL when said behemoth also gets some 50% BETTER MILEAGE than comparable luxobarges in the city.

    If your driving is 70% highway, the city mileage advantage is minor. If it’s tilted in favor of city driving, then the 50% better mileage overall is a small gain for a hybrid. “Behemoth” is the right word and that’s what makes this car already dated. If flagships are testbeds for what will trickle down, putting resources into weight loss is the path to universal value regardless of drivetrain.

    now, they could drop the AWD feature (likely thrown in because it IS a “see what we can do” flagship). and that mite save a few pounds and improve mileage even more. but not unlike MANY other mfgrs, an ‘economy move’ like that will come later. they know you only make ONE first impression.

    Reducing mass while retaining luxury would not be an “economy move”. And I’m not talking a few pounds. A truly advanced $100K 5,200 lbs. flagship would make quite an engineering statement if it demonstrated ability to provide luxury at half that weight. Even more so if it were beautiful instead of puffy and derivative. Just getting it to 3,800 lbs would likely force materials adoption that would give it a story.

    This is a cynical car, ignoring the central problem with current cars, which is escalating bulk. It’s only pretty in the way that Ali was still the prettiest heavyweight boxer after a misshapening bruising from Joe Frazier. I’ve seen it up close and this Lexus looks worse, or at least less interesting, than photographs lead you to fear.

    Giving the car’s handling and numbness a pass because some of its owners will be riding in the back seat misses a key fact. SOMEONE has to drive it. In this case, Toyota dumbed down the rest of the car to showcase a drivetrain. *Everything* else, including said drivetrain, is compromised by the surplus ton of material in this vehicle.

    We need to get to a world where luxury cars weigh ~3,000 lbs., mainstream sedans are ~2,400 lbs., and sports cars tip in at ~1,800 lbs., all without unduly sacrificing strength. Flagships are the place to start making cars light, strong and quiet.

    Phil

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    The LS600 L is for suckers who think that just because it has a hybrid badge it must be better.

    Based on this kind of logic any car costing more than a Corolla is for suckers that do not know what to do with their money.

    I know some of you guys just cant see it but 20 years from now people will remember this car while the S-class, 7 Series, A8, and XJ8 will al be forgetten as “so-what” cars of this era. Honesty when you compare them to an LS600h they are old news already. MB, and BMW want you to get excited about automotive attributes that do not matter for sqwat in a 4500lb+ “luxury” car while Toyota is making the most advanced auto available. What will be MBs next trick, another 200hp or will they make to 1000lb ft of torque?

    Like it or not Toyota has already taken a big bite out of MBs prestige and heritage. back in 1989 before Lexus the best Toyota you could buy in the USA was the Cressida, which was no match whatsoever to a top of the line 560sel. Unless MB wants to move the S-class up to the $200,000+ category whatever they do WILL be matched or exceeded in the future by Toyota.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    alex_rashev:

    Options – LS600h L options add just like they do on the LS460 L. Okay, you don’t get AWD. Otherwise it’s the same stuff.

    Depreciation – Say an $80K LS460 L loses 15% of its value during the first year, you lose $12K in depreciation. Let’s assume that an $120K LS600h L’s depreciation is significantly better, say 10%. It still loses $12K. I’m not seeing any value here. In fact I’m being generous. The more expensive car has further to fall and ultimately the owner will suffer greater depreciation losses.

    Bulletproof transmission – Does the LS460 L’s tranny have a problem?

    Flagship best of the best $100K car – The problem with comparing the LS600h L with the S600 and 760 is that it isn’t even any better than it’s conventionally powered doppelganger sibling. The only thing it has in common with the other guys is price. Are you saying it is better simply because it is more complex and expensive?

    Free AWD – My friend, it ain’t free.

  • avatar

    Good point about comparing the LS600hL to an S600 or A8 W12 — but who wants a German *or* Japanese mini-limo with absolutely no trunk space? The LS is going to look awfully silly with a roof carrier.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Based on this kind of logic any car costing more than a Corolla is for suckers that do not know what to do with their money.

    That’s not what I’m saying. Other cars have greater space, towing capacity, higher performance, etc. that can justify cost variances. However, if you compare a $20k Corolla to a Corolla that looks identical, is identically appointed, drives worse in many respects, gets similar fuel economy (better in town, worse on the highway), and costs $30k, then yes, I would say that the more expensive Corolla is for suckers.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    William: 2 points.

    1) I don’t know where you are getting your numbers from, but the LS600hL is significantly faster than the LS460 despite weighing half a ton more. 5.2 seconds to 60 mph for a 5,200 pound car (without twin-turbos) is flabbergasting. Moreover, the real acceleration in this car happens between 30-80 mph. Few cars are this quick. Rocket-like

    2) You can call me naive for “believing” the on-board computer (the same computer that tells tales of 8 mpg after heavy acceleration) but I would like you to calculate the car’s mileage for me. Again, I went 80 mph for around 20 miles with the tachometer registering 1,100 rpm. That’s the tach for the gas engine, mind you.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    OK, let be real here! In over 20 years of paying close attention to everything automotive I have yet to see anyone drive a full-sized luxury sedan in a highly spirited manner. When I was in college my friend’s father had a 560sel that we would drive alot. Other than flooring the gas to feel the rush of torque there really was not much “fun” to be had piloting that barge. That car and every other large car I have driven has been designed to promote effortless cruising.

    Face it the LS600h makes far more sense than any 4500lb+ AMG S-class. In all honesty an AMG s65 is a true clown car! A car full of worthless potential, sold to daydreamers with limited class! I commend Toyota/ Lexus for actually keeping it real here with a car that is simply designed to be a luxury car. Big, comfortable, powerful, quite, conservative styled, well-built, technically advanced, all the things that a MB S-class used to be before Lexus made them blink and lose focus.

  • avatar
    fellswoop

    *Typo*

    221 hp electric motor is so addictive that I was forced to bury the pedal every chance I got. But here’s the thing — after 300 miles the computer let me know that I had averaged 24.8 mph.

    MPG, no?

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    whatdoiknow1 said Unless MB wants to move the S-class up to the $200,000+ category whatever they do WILL be matched or exceeded in the future by Toyota. MB tried that with the Maybach and I don’t think they have been as successful as Toyota has with its Lexus.

    Toyota is also learning important information by have this car available for sale in its dealerships. Every customer and buyer that looks seriously at this car is providing Toyota information they need to design and market the next luxury model.

    Now if they could just design these cars so they don’t resemble the Avalons and Camry’s of the Toyota fleet.

  • avatar
    Yuppie

    Paragraph 6, line 3 – pedal travel? This LS does not have the understated elegance of the previous model, which, in black, is renowned as the Yakuza ground transport of choice.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Yuppie,

    Not sure what you mean about pedal travel.

    Also, Yakuza roll in white S-classes. Everyone knows that.

    http://www.welcometowallyworld.com/frontpage/2006/4/5/yakuza-stylin-in-mercedes-s-class.html

  • avatar
    alex_rashev

    William,

    For the stuffed versions of each, I got numbers of 120K vs 95K. The 600 gets some extra goodies, like heated steering wheel, real wood trim, and minor stuff like that. So, in essence, you’re paying ~23-24K for an AWD system, a more powerful engine, and a highly efficient, smooth, and reliable transmission.

    For comparison, a base 760Li will set you back a nice $30K over a loaded 750Li, giving you a whooping 78 extra horsepower, 4 more cylinders, 3mpg less, 500 extra pounds and… not much else.

    As for depreciation, having an expensive car that looses about as much value in dollars (not percent) as a lesser model is rarely heard of in the automotive world. It only happens when the more expensive model has something truly exclusive to offer. Something like a diesel (80’s diesel S-class comes to mind, which has been selling higher than 420SEL for over 15 years now). Or a hybrid drivetrain ;)

  • avatar
    BEAT

    For short;

    Landlords who didn’t pay his/her mortgages are dragging their tenant out in the streets.

    Lexus made a car to make wealthy people save on gas and to save the environment.

    We Americans suppose to be GLAD that a company like Lexus is making an effort to be more luxurious with a twist of being environmentally
    friendly.

    yes it is expensive but are you going to buy this car? No so let the rich people buy this car and the same time let them save on gas.

    Let me us you something Where are BMW,Audi or Mercedez Hybrid cars are they out in the street in America?

    NO

  • avatar
    chrishs2000

    A minor correction to Mr. Farago’s comment “The Honda Accord Hybrid was the fastest Honda Accord you could buy. But it was done in by crap tires. How’s the rubber on this bad boy?”

    The Accord V6 Hybrid is capable of the 1/4 mile in the 15.1-15.2 second range, while the Accord V6 Coupe (03-07) and Sedan (06-07) with the 6 speed manual is capable of the feat in 14.3-14.5 seconds. The Hybrid was the fastest automatic transmission equipped Accord.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Look if Lexus really wanted to be greener with this model they could easily offer up an Hybrid LS equiped with the 3.0 or 3.5l v6s offered in the GS model. The electric motor would still have enough torque to move a v6 equiped LS hybrid with authority. I am sure the gas mileage would also be a good bit better.

  • avatar

    I know I am late to the game, but how on earth did you get such great mileage on the highway?

    In my GS-Hybrid, the best I got at a 65mph cruise was 25mpg.

    I’ll refrain from commenting on power delivery, but if the LS is anything like the GS, its way too artificial to be a driver’s car and too crude/jarring as a relaxed cruiser.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Thanks for pointing out the cruising RPM, Jonny. That’s a detail that others have overlooked. 1100 rpm at 80 mph is incredibly low, even lower than in a 6 speed Corvette, which turns about 1700 rpm at that speed. This is obviously made possible by the prodigious low end torque you spoke of.

    Sajeev’s GS wasn’t geared quite so tall…that may be a big reason why it didn’t pull the fuel economy numbers your LS did.

    I wish the V12 Benzes were geared like that for highway cruising. Unfortunately, 80 mph in an S65 corresponds to a little over 2000 rpm….while not bad compared to some of the other Germans (cough, M5), it has the torque to support a much taller top gear.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    DoctorV8 and Mr. Mehta:

    Wait… that’s redundant. Anyhow, there’s only one gear — and it’s infinitely variable.

    And the key is cruise control… keep your foot away from that throttle and the LS600hL just gobbles the miles.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    infinitely variable? I think not…there are still physical limitations of the chain/pulley system in a CVT….if that were the case, why not have the car cruise at 11 rpm instead of 1100? ;-)

  • avatar
    jayparry

    if you dont understand the car, you arent its target market. Should say 5,219 pound…

  • avatar
    Carzzi

    Finally! Someone gets the point about this car: Guilt-free indulgence… like the fat-free yogurt of Seinfeldian yore.

    I’ll have mine in garnet red please.

  • avatar
    asterix

    A Japanse imitation of the VW Phaeton. :)

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    quote: Here’s a little point to remember — Hybrids don’t work very well in cold climates. Below 40 degrees, the batteries just don’t function properly.

    We have around -25 Celsius during winters, Hybris work fine. Zero problems due to the cold weather, everything works properly.

    Benz S600 is rwd, which is crazy for a heavy car with 600+hp and around 1000Nm. In the real world when flooring it from zero, you got ASR light flicking constantly up to 150kmh, AWD A8 V12 and LS600h will be long gone. At autobahn spees form the rolling start Benz ofcourse is faster.

    Critics of the LS600h haven’t usually never driven it, with awd, cvt and endless/seamless electric torque, the car is so quiet, fast and stable, it feels like a nuclear powered stealth curise ship. The future of luxury automobiles. The qualities that a potential buyer is looking in a ultra-premium sedan, and the Germans haven’t achieved this level.

    Give me a break about the interior Camry refenrences. Every German manufacturer has a sekelton in the closet when you closely examine their cabins – shared buttons with lower class models, cheaper materials in the not so obivous places etc. Those times are in the past, when similary priced german car had better quality interior than japanese.

  • avatar
    wsn

    JJ said:
    In the end it is still the ultimate Toyota. The concept of what makes a Toyota, executed to the highest level of perfection they could achieve. The über-vanilla.

    Power. Beauty. Soul.

    I’ll take an A8 or rather, a new 7-series…

    Do you realize that the A8 is still the ultimate VW junk?

    I see more soul in the ultimate Toyota, than I see in the ultimate VW.

  • avatar

    For all of the worship, good and bad, of German machinery, I’ll quote Bernd Pischetsrieder, BMW CEO. When asked several years ago if BMW was worried about Mercedes’ intrusion their “territory”: “Mercedes is not who we’re worried about. Toyota is today building the highest quality cars in the world. We either learn to build cars which compete with theirs or we will no longer be in business.”

    The LS600 may not have a “soul” which matches the S600 or 7-series. It may not have the tradition of either Mercedes or BMW and for some lack the elegance of the A8. It may be that the LS600 is not everyone’s cup of tea. Yet Jonny’s point is well taken. It is a technological tour-de-force and, given Toyota’s reputation should be an extremely reliable machine.

    The mediocre resale values on S-class, 7-series and A8’s are all indicative of the market recognition that the flagship models from Mercedes, BMW and Audi are very costly to maintain as they re-enter the market as “pre-owned” vehicles. Surely there is some merit in the higher resale which appears built in to most Lexus models.

    One can argue that the current Rolls is “the ultimate BMW”, or that the current Bentley is “the ultimate VW” (it does share the Phaeton chassis), but both cars have attracted followings who will pay for the privelege of owning a far more reliable and technologically proficient Rolls or Bentley. The fact that both are also products of German manufacturers whose product line includes some very pedestrian offerings appears to be no deterrent to laying down several hundred large (in the case of the Roller) for what is arguably a classed-up 7-series, or to laying down two hundred large for a car which almost directly uses the Phaeton (all Volkswagen) chassis.

    Lexus is in general a little soft and plush for my tastes. Yet I harbor no illusions that the BMW I drive will offer Toyota reliability once it is out of warranty.

  • avatar
    ApexAlex

    The mediocre resale values on S-class, 7-series and A8’s are all indicative of the market recognition that the flagship models from Mercedes, BMW and Audi are very costly to maintain as they re-enter the market as “pre-owned” vehicles. Surely there is some merit in the higher resale which appears built in to most Lexus models.

    it can be instructive to look at the classified ads in newspapers, to see how few Lexi are offered for sale, vs. the german trio.

    and most of what you see, are dealer ads. very few OWNERS of Lexus cars seem desirous of ‘unloading’ them.

  • avatar
    Malhaar

    I totally agree with your review! A lot of people have just totally misunderstood the whole point of the LS600h and just started thrashing it, because of its “Low” mileage. People do not get the point that it has power like a V12, but offers V8 economy! I have been for a test drive in one of these, with my father. And it was the most amazing car I had ever been in. The ride was very smooth and of course very quiet a lot more than the LS460. Also when you start the car, you don’t realize its actually on, it took us a while to figure it out, eventually the dealer told us it was indeed already on! It is a car my father has been considering as his next car now. Our second Lexus! we have a 1995 LS400 now and unsurprisingly its still running (it is a Lexus after all) but within good time, we are going to replace it, and it seems very very likely that it will be the LS600h.

  • avatar
    Mr. Gray

    I don’t get it. Who exactly does Toyota expect to buy this car? It seems to me that like other high-priced hybrids, this Lexus is an oxymoron. Is the hybrid system supposed to save the consumer’s gas money? Then why does the car cost over $100,000.00? Why would somebody pay $37,000.00 more over the cost of a normal LS just to change the car’s fuel economy from “not very good” to “okay”?

  • avatar

    Mr. Gray:

    Drive it and you will understand the car’s inherent worth.

    As for what the market’s worth, look for ridiculous depreciation. When it hits $65k, I’m buying.

  • avatar
    gibbleth

    I have to point out that it is precisely weight that is needed in a luxo-barge. Eliminating weight and increasing stiffness in the frame will lead to a much harsher ride. Sports car enthusiasts will appreciate it, but the kind of people who will be driven around in this thing will be decidedly put off. In order to achieve the cloud-like ride and near-silent cabin, the engineers have to add mass all over the place, mass to resist impulse from the suspension and mass to absorb sounds. Sure, you could beat the performance this car has with a much lighter and more efficient design, but the only reason a car like this has any performance in the first place is a combination of bragging rights and the ability to ‘get out of trouble’ in the hands of what is probably a professional driver, so handling is not all that important so long as the car can be driven hard in a pinch.


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