Here's how it was justified.
The updated 2021 Lexus LS 500 debuted last summer with a number of upgrades inside and out as part of an overall modest refresh. The LS 500h was shown as well with similar updates. Both versions retained the same powertrains as before, meaning a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 with 416 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque for the LS 500 and a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 linked to a pair of electric motors for the hybrid. Pricing for the 2021 LS 500 now begins at $76,000 but Lexus, somewhat oddly, did not reveal pricing for the hybrid.
While we still lack the official word on the matter from the luxury brand, CarsDirect claims it's viewed a dealer order guide indicating the 2021 Lexus LS 500h costs over $10,000 more than last year.
The regular LS has just a $550 increase over 2020 but the hybrid still commands a $14,500 premium. What gives? Here are the facts: the 2021 model starts at $91,525, including the $1,025 destination, exactly $10,490 over 2020. All-wheel-drive requires an additional $3,250, bringing the total to at least $94,775, or a $10,520 boost. However, there's justification for the increases. Lexus has increased the number of standard features, details of which have been confirmed by a company spokesperson.
"The 2021 LS 500h will feature a new simplified package strategy which reduces build complexity and provides guests with popular specs. Interior Upgrade Package content as well as Panoramic View Monitor (PV), Air Suspension (AS), Mark Levinson (ML), 20in Premium Wheels, Wood trim and Wood Steering Wheel are now standard."
Add all of that up and it comes to around $10,400 in newly standard equipment that was previously optional. That's all fine and good on paper, but the ultimate question is whether customers will respond. One way to gauge this is by looking at the competition. The Audi A8e plug-in hybrid is priced from $96,945 though buyers are eligible for tax credits that'll slash off over $6,000 plus a $5,000 incentive.
Lexus, like all automakers, carefully watches how customers spec their new vehicles. In the case of the LS 500h, it wouldn't be surprising to learn a majority of buyers packed on the features anyway, justifying the price increase.