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2013 Lexus LS600h L Review

2013 Lexus LS600h L Review

July 12, 2013

The verdict

The Lexus LS600 hL is Japan’s flagship sedan to the world. It’s built by Japan’s biggest automotive brand, powered by the world’s best-selling hybrid drive technology, and loaded with everything Toyota and Lexus know about luxury, technology and design. A reputation for high resale values and reliability add confidence and long-term value to the equation.

Recent updates have created an even more upscale cabin and body, though the graceful performance and excellent tranquility of the LS continue to reinforce its position as one of the industry’s foremost luxury sedans.

For shoppers prioritizing mileage, extreme comfort and an effortlessly serene flagship driving experience, the 2013 Lexus LS600h L should be considered a priority test drive.

The premise

Ultimately, relaxation is the name of the LS game. The nomenclature sees this variant of the popular Japanese flagship fitted with an “h” badge to indicate the presence of its hybrid drive system, while the “L” references its extended-wheelbase configuration, which turns in huge rearseat legroom. The “600” suggests performance on par with comparable model with a 6.0L engine.

The 2013 Lexus LS600h L focuses, without shame, on a simply comfortable, purely luxurious motoring experience.

It encourages relaxation, unwinding and socialization. These goals are met, partly, because the only element of the outside world typically making its way into the cabin is the scenery. Unwelcomed sounds and sensations from the road and wind are largely left out of the cabin.

Refreshed world-class cabin

As it is with the recently updated GS and ES, drivers of the 2013 Lexus LS600h L will find a new pallet of colours, textures, and materials layered thickly throughout the cabin. The stitching, panel intersections, and overall assembly is as perfect as you’ll likely see on the road today, and the leather is so fragrant you’ll smell it on your clothes hours after you leave the car. Here’s a cabin that fully pulls its weight towards the massive price tag.

A complicated, high-tech look results from the plethora of interfaces and controls in the 2013 Lexus LS600h L. There are several of these on the centre console, doors, and rear-seat armrest. The central command interface consists of a small, fingertip-activated joystick that clicks to on-screen buttons for full system manipulation via a few millimeters of finger movement. If you’re not 87, you’ll figure it out in 3 minutes.

If you’re a big-dollar shot-caller, there’s even a reclining rear seat with an ottoman that delivers massages while your driver transports you. Privacy screens erect from the rear windows if you’d like to keep prying eyes from watching you get your daily Shiatsu treatment while watching a Blu-ray movie.

Absolutely effortless

Instant, noiseless torque is on perpetual standby in the 2013 Lexus LS600h L from any flick of the throttle, and especially when drivers engage Sport or Sport+ mode from the drive-selector dial. Give it the boot, and the LS sails speedily away from any bend as the better part of 440 combined horsepower ooze to life. At full-rip, a hint of the 5.0L V8 engine’s sound is allowed into the cabin -- though it’s muted heavily and sounds like its coming from 7 miles away. Never, even for a moment, does the LS ever feel like it’s actually working.

Driven gently, the acceleration is electrically generated, smooth and firm, and all but noiseless. Since it’s a hybrid, there’s no starter, meaning the 2013 Lexus LS600h L even fires up without making a peep. The CVT transmission furthers the liquid-smooth performance without any perceptible shifting, and puts the engine’s full output at the end of the driver’s right foot at all times.

Driving notes

So, you’ve got a big gas engine tuned to be quiet, covered with sound-deadening, and teamed up with a silent electric motor system with great big torque output. It’s a mostly noiseless powertrain and a mostly noiseless cabin. Add in the lightweight steering, velour shock absorbers and plush, pillow-y seats, and here’s a machine that turns in a relaxing drive like nothing else I’ve ever driven.

I appreciated fuel mileage in the 2013 Lexus LS600h L landing at 10.8L/100km -- or about the same as a sporty midsize family sedan. Given the 438 horsepower, all-wheel drive, and sizing on par with your local shopping centre, that’s an appreciable figure.

Headlight performance at night was fantastic, and the 19-speaker Mark Levinson stereo turned in a potent, concert-hall listening experience ideal on long drives.

Complaints were minimal, though I did leave the 2013 Lexus LS 600h L wishing for more headroom, and a bigger forward view. Further, trunk space is infringed upon by the battery -- meaning a four-person weekend shopping trip may require some creative packing.

Comparing the LS 600hL

Your writer found the LS to be even more comfortable and peaceful than a comparable 7-Series or A8—both of which have sporting brand pedigrees to satisfy, if even slightly, in flagship luxury sedan form. The LS has no such sporting bloodlines to nod to, so it focuses on a purely luxurious driving experience without shame. The 2013 Lexus LS600h L isn’t as urgent a performer as the comparable European models, though when it comes to turning in mile after mile of soothing, high-efficiency cruising, there’s nothing else like it.

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