by Gerhard Horn
The Lexus LS is an odd hybrid proposition, sitting at the top of the LS range in the USA. Add a few features, and it easily breaches the $100,000 mark. What's odd is that the hybrid powertrain spoils this car. Unlike the ordinary LS, which uses a twin-turbo V6 engine, the LS 500h uses a naturally-aspirated 3.5L V6 and two electric motors to provide a rather disappointing 354 horsepower. This results in an unrewarding, unrefined driving experience, and that's not something you want in a large luxury sedan. Most of its rivals offer plug-in hybrid models, but Lexus doesn't. For a company that prides itself on being a leader in the hybrid powertrain business, that's a little nonsensical. Finally, the difference in fuel consumption between the much faster and more refined twin-turbo model and the hybrid isn't that significant. Well, not enough for a wealthy person to notice.
The hybrid benefits from the same upgrades as the rest of the LS range. These some new headlamps and exterior adornments, and a new active noise canceling system inside - we're not 100 percent sure why Lexus deemed this necessary when the 2020 model was already eerily quiet. Improvements to the suspension setup have also been made, and tweaks to interior comfort mean the LS is more lounge-like than ever before. Mercifully, Lexus finally saw the light and equipped the LS with a 12.3-inch touchscreen display, rendering the annoying touchpad interface useless.
See trim levels and configurations:
3.5L V6 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
While the base LS may be a brilliant car, the 2021 Lexus LS Hybrid isn't. It's fundamentally flawed, with a lot of drawbacks we experienced on first- and second-generation hybrid vehicles: an unrefined driving experience, and fuel consumption figures that aren't that much better than the standard car. The new norm is a plug-in with at least 30 miles of all-electric range, but Lexus doesn't offer that. Modern plug-in hybrids are also designed from the ground up to form part of a range, which means they don't impact cargo capacity - and this car still does.
The LS 500 is a much better proposition with a twin-turbo V6. In fact, in that guise, it's a hard car to fault. It might even be class-leading, but we won't know until we drive the all-new Merc S-Class. Considering the fuel consumption is only moderately better, there's no real reason to purchase the Lexus LS Hybrid sedan unless you want to brag about having a hybrid. Even then, there are much better, greener cars you could instead spend your money on.
There's only one hybrid model in the LS Hybrid sedan range, and it's the flagship. As such, it's handsomely equipped with the majority of safety and convenience features available to the range, with not much left to add. The rear-wheel-drive model has an MSRP of $90,500, while the all-wheel-drive model will cost $93,750. The $9,000 Luxury Package is worth adding if you intend to be driven instead of doing the driving. The MSRP price of the new Lexus LS Hybrid excludes the US destination charge of $1,025.
The most popular competitors of 2021 Lexus LS Hybrid: