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2013 Lexus LS 600h L Hybrid Review & Driving Impressions

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Filed under Automotive, Hybrid, Lexus, Test Drives

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What if there was a way to reverse the effects of aging and we all naturally became better, more intelligent and refined year after year? Basically, the dream of getting better with age much like a fine wine seldom happens unless we are talking about a vehicle like the all-new Lexus LS.

The all-new 2013 Lexus LS 600h L Hybrid, the pinnacle of Japanese luxury, is a masterful feat that I was able to experience on a pleasurable drive from Jacksonville to Miami, Florida.

In 1989 the Lexus LS set its sights on redefining the automotive luxury segment in America by competing with the big dogs from Germany. With year-after-year runs of successful pursuits of perfection, Lexus now considers its perfection an ongoing expectation in the brand and the newest LS is evident of that as it plays alongside of its German competitors with a slightly different approach.

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The new Lexus LS 600h L Hybrid is the top-level trim for the LS, which is only available in a long-wheelbase variation. The new 2013 Lexus LS 600h L builds upon the LS460’s long wheelbase trim level including many standard features and the most powerful drivetrain for the large luxury sedan. The LS 600h L is powered by an exclusive 5.0-liter DOHC V8 engine (only available on the LS 600h L) and pair of electric motors all mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission. The mesh of its powertrain comes together to produce a total output of 438 horsepower and 385 ft-lbs of torque for all 4 wheels. The advanced all-wheel-drive system is a seamless wonder as is the hybrid powertrain deliverers what seems to be near V12 oomph with the smoothness of a baby’s bottom.

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Toyota’s synergy drive hybrid systems remain to be among the best in the business with the latest iterations of the powertrains operating no different than any well-balanced and vibration-free gasoline engine. After-all, Toyota introduce America to the hybrid world, and continues to pioneer the segment. For the new Lexus LS 600h L the performance output from its hybrid setup is surprisingly transparent to the driver. With the expectations of a CVT transmission to traditionally sap the grunt out of most vehicles, it shockingly works well in the LS 600h L. There is hardly any time that the transmission gives away those expected negative connotations and traits of what us enthusiasts have experienced with most CVTs. With the Lexus LS 600h L being one of the most powerful vehicles equipped with a CVT transmission, the transition of the pulleys never really become a nuisance. In other words, the robust amount of power available across the full RPM band in conjunction with the electric motor’s instant torque gives off the impression of a normal transmission with actual gears instead of a steadily adjusting pulley landing the rpms in a comatose state while you wait for acceleration to take place.

Even though the LS 600h L is without doubt a hybrid, it still uses copious amounts of premium fuel when the 400-plus ponies are put down to the pavement on long hauls. Though, during my 300-mile highway drive I saw a steady 25.4 mpg average figure surpassing the EPA estimated 23 mpg highway figure. Around the city in the LS 600h L the EPA estimates 19 mpg, which I was able to best with 21 mpg and an astonishing 27 mpg in heavy traffic. Though, I will admit to having an aggressive mental conception on how to keep the vehicle in EV mode for as long as I could. Basically, I was hypermilling a total of about 14 miles out of 20 total miles to get that figure. The powertrain, much like other Toyota and Lexus hybrid systems, will find times where it utilizes electric power exclusively all the way up to 45 mph. Most times this is accomplished on a level strip of road or a slightly downhill grade considering the weight of the LS hybrid.

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The electric motors, aside from aiding in propulsion, act as the engine starter and an active generator to recoup energy with regenerative braking. The pair of electric motors are quite robust as they are responsible for making up the gap of the V8 engine’s 383 horsepower to reach a total of 438 horsepower.

The power surges on strong in the LS 600h L making a dash to 60mph in just 5.5 seconds. The Lexus-trait Drive Select Mode switch gives you the option of selecting a Sport mode, Comfort mode, Eco mode and Normal mode. Each of the settings change a set of perimeters of the vehicle, such as the throttle sensitivity, damper stiffness, steering effort and hybrid drivetrain mapping. You can expect Comfort mode to be a mix of economy and a soft setting for the suspension dampers. Sport mode adds an aggressive deceleration mapping for when you let off of the throttle through the regenerative braking while steering wheel effort increases and throttle response is advanced. A Sport+ mode puts the dampers into an aggressive setting but still proves to emanate a rather smooth ride with a bit less body roll.

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Of course with the LS 600h L tipping the scale at a hefty 5,159 pounds, things tend to get a bit dicey with the body motion in any Drive Select Mode. The LS 600h L isn’t overly sloppy handling the robust power in a straight line; however, it does tend to wallow around like a whale at the slightest turn of the steering wheel when you power out of the hole. The adaptive air suspension system does its best to keep the massive amount of weight at bay but somewhat falters under extreme stress of lateral g-forces. What the suspension does do good in, and I mean really good, is provide all of its 4 passengers with a supple ride accompanied by active dampening that basically reads the road to limit unnecessary bounce or rebounds on just about any paved surface all the way up to trip-digit speeds. It is like you are riding on air, which in a way you are… literally.

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The suppleness of the Lexus LS 600h L doesn’t stop with its adaptive air suspension system, it is clearly emitted throughout its plush cabin. Inside of the new Lexus LS 600h L is an estate setup cabin with room for only 4 passengers. Although it may seem like a waste of space, the 4-passenger setup is ideal for a worthy owner to get ushered around in style. The rear passenger side seating laces the occupant in a serenity and his/her’s own controls for ac/heat, ventilated/heated seating, radio controls, and full seat controls featuring reclining, power ottoman and a seat massager to rival expensive shiatsu setups at your local furniture store. To add insult to injury for those who have never experienced pure luxury on four wheels, bamboo trim throughout the cabin set the soft tranquil mood. Lexus didn’t hold back with the bamboo trim either, you will find it throughout the dashboard, door trim, center and rear console and even inset in the rear swivel and stow-way tray table. To put the icing on the decadent cake, my LS 600h L test vehicle was equipped with a Blue ray/DVD player and roof-mounted high-resolution screen. The system has the option to feed sound to a set of wireless headsets or the 19-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound stereo system. Toting around a couple of friends in the back who were watching the movie Casino Royal when the Aston Martin DBS meets its demise, played havoc on my abilities to focus on the road but at the same time captivated their audible senses to the point of utter astonishment.

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To put things in context, the LS 600h L isn’t exactly a vehicle for those looking to get anything near Prius fuel consumption numbers. Nevertheless, the all-new 2013 Lexus LS 600h L is a luxury-appointed land yacht to get you where you need to go with discreet style on the outside yet allows you to sink into the lap of luxury on the inside. It just so happens that the LS 600h L is a hybrid by design but that is just the bonus aspect of such a vehicle, as buyers won’t be merely seeking fuel savings per se. They will, however, seek the serene isolation from the road and outside world in one of the quietest cabins on the automotive market today in a vehicle that uses gasoline and enough high-tech eco-friendly gadgetry to remain in good standing with your environmentally engaged friends.

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My 2013 Lexus LS 600h L hybrid was loaded up with the Executive package but still had room for the optional pre-collision system and heads-up display. The 2013 Lexus LS 600h L starts at a base price of $119,910. My tester checked out at $128,610 including an $895 destination charge. The price tag is a hard pill to swallow for some venturing into Lexus’ best luxury foot forward. If the BMW 7 series Active Hybrid, Porsche Panamera Hybrid or Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid is on your list for potential ownership, then the Lexus LS 600h L should get a last-minute write-in before making any hasty decisions.

Copyright: 2013 AutomotiveAddicts.com

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: MSRP LS 600h L $119,910 / As-Tested $128,610
  • Engine: 5.0 liter DOHC, all-aluminum V8 with Dual VVT / Electric – 2-Motor Voltage-650-DC – Nominal Voltage-288-volts- 221 horsepower – Total output = 438 horsepower
  • Wheelbase: 121.7 inches
  • Overall length: 205 inches
  • Overall height: 58.3 inches
  • Overall width: 73.8 inches
  • Track: f/r-63.6/63.4 inches
  • Ground clearance: 5.1 inches
  • Headroom: f/r-38/38 inches
  • Cargo volume: 13 cu.ft.
  • Curb weight: 5,159 lbs.
  • Fuel tank: 22.2 gallons
  • Turing circle: 38.8 ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 5.5 seconds

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