Lexus’ all-new flagship LS 500 series, built on the automaker’s new Global Architecture-Luxury (GA-L) platform, includes the LS 500h hybrid powered by the latest Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System. It features a sleek, coupe-like silhouette in a package that’s longer and lower than the previous LS model, at a premium price that’s still worlds lower than the former flagship model.
The exterior is striking, a blending of aggressive yet sophisticated elements with a distinctive shoulder line, flared fenders, and a bold front fascia featuring dramatic three-projector headlamps and L-shaped LED running lights. Lexus’ signature spindle mesh grille features thousands of hand-adjusted surfaces to lend a jewel-like quality in changing light. Those who want to go even more upscale can opt for an LS 500h F-Sport variant.
n keeping with the Lexus philosophy, the LS 500h accommodates driver and passengers in a welcoming and luxurious cabin replete with the high-end features desired by premium car buyers. The dash is designed at a uniform height so a driver can comfortably access all controls without changing body posture. Nearly all surfaces are leather-wrapped, and the interior’s artisan wood is created through intricate sliced wood and laser-cutting processes.
Both driver and front passenger can enjoy available 28-way power adjustable front seats, while rear passengers also get special attention like heated seats that integrate two heaters focused on the shoulder and lower back areas, thus providing warmth in these areas rather than heating the entire body. A Shiatsu massage feature is also available. We tried that feature in the model’s optional rear reclining ‘Relaxation Seat,’ that features a raised ottoman and front passenger seat that articulates forward to provide substantial space and ideal positioning for a massage. Trust us…once you’re in that seat you won’t want to get out.
The Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System in the LS 500h combines a naturally aspirated, Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V-6 engine with two electric motor/generators that together deliver 354 horsepower. That’s plenty of juice for serous driving sessions on twisty roads, as we can attest from our time behind the wheel in Northern California.
This system essentially incorporates a four-speed automatic transmission coupled to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). A first for any Lexus hybrid is the inclusion of a selectable ‘M’ (manual) mode controlled by steering wheel paddles, which simulates driving with a 10-speed transmission and provides a more dynamic driving experience. Dual Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (Dual VVT-i) ensures ample torque across the engine's speed range.
Driver assist systems are replete in the 500h. Lexus' Integrated Safety Management safety systems include Pre-Collision, Pedestrian Alert, and Lexus CoDrive, the latter combining All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with Lane Trace Assist. There’s also Front Cross Traffic Alert, Road Sign Assist, Intelligent High-beam with Adaptive Front Lighting, and Lane Departure Alert plus a continuing list of intelligent and driver assist/safety systems. Side clearance and cornering views have been added to the vehicle’s Panoramic View Monitor to provide periphery safety checks, imaged on the car’s 12.3-inch display monitor.
The fifth-generation LS flagship sedan accomplishes its mission by providing impressive design and high levels of premium content, combined with dynamic performance and a hybrid powertrain that nets estimated fuel economy up to 33 highway mpg. Slated to go on sale later this month, the LS 500h luxury hybrid delivers all this goodness at a premium price that’s yet to be announced, but is expected to be in the high $90,000 range.