The LS 600h L is the most expensive Lexus model, and we can't see why.
It is very uncommon for a manufacturer to build a car that we simply don't understand. Usually, if a model no longer makes any sense, the automaker will discontinue it. However, like the Audi A8 W12 last week, some cars are completely irrelevant, and incredibly expensive. This week we are taking a look a the most expensive model in the Lexus lineup, the LS 600h L. There is a lot to love about the smooth-as-butter Lexus LS, but we can't figure out why the company continues to build this pointless, massively expensive hybrid version.
Let's set the stage with the base Lexus LS 460, which is a perfectly good car. The LS 460 starts at $72,52 and comes with a 386-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 with RWD, or AWD for $75,465. If you want the extended wheelbase model, which comes with more rear legroom and an executive class seating option, it will cost you $78,820 (RWD) or $82,305 (AWD). This is very good value for a car that rivals more expensive flagships from BMW, Mercedes and Audi. The LS is extremely comfortable and can hold its own in terms of performance with a 5.4-second 0-60 mph time. All of this sounds perfectly adequate, so why would anyone ever want to spend nearly $40,000 more to get a car that isn't any better?
We are referring to the top-of-the-line LS 600h L. Judging by the number 600 in its name, it is safe to assume that Lexus believes that this car is superior to the LS 460, but let's dissect exactly what the LS 600 is. Right off the bat, thing get a bit weird with the LS 600's engine. The LS 460 keeps true to the displacement-equals-name mantra that so many manufacturers have ditched. The LS 460 uses a 4.6-liter V8, but the hybrid LS 600 actually uses a bigger, more powerful 5.0-liter V8. This is actually the same engine that Lexus developed for the high-performance IS-F and it is also found in the RC-F and GS-F. This is an odd engine choice for a hybrid, which are typically meant to be more efficient.
If you think that a hybrid should be a lot more efficient than its gas-only counterpart, then the LS 600 is not for you. The regular LS 460 can get 24 mpg on the highway (23 mpg with AWD), compared to the LS 600 which gets 23 mpg.
Clearly, Lexus didn't build the LS 600h with fuel economy in mind. So what about performance? Well, that 5.0-liter V8 is paired to a hybrid drivetrain for a total of 438 horsepower. That is more than the base car's 386 horsepower, but the LS 600 is hampered by a CVT transmission. That means that the much more powerful hybrid LS is actually 0.1 second slower to 60 mph than the standard car. The LS 600h does come with some impressive comfort options like executive rear seats with recline and shiatsu massage, but is any of that really worth a nearly $40,000 price premium over an LS 460 L with AWD? Lexus will eventually replace the current LS, but until it does, we will continue to be baffled by the pointless LS hybrid.