2019 Lexus LS 500h review: Full-size hybrid offers luxury with tradeoffs

    Fun truth: The Lexus LS was the primary full-size luxurious sedan to supply a hybrid drivetrain when the 600h L mannequin launched greater than a decade in the past. Fast ahead to at the moment and the sphere has grown a bit; the LS 500h now competes with plug-in hybrids just like the BMW 745e and upcoming Mercedes-Benz S560e. But in contrast to the plug-in hybrid Germans, Lexus makes an attempt to win folks over with a multistage hybrid drivetrain, to not point out smooth exterior styling and a completely beautiful inside. The result’s a automobile that simply stands toe-to-toe with its German rivals, however nonetheless has a number of notable flaws.
    Standout styling in and outThe 2019 LS wears a particular but polarizing exterior. The majority of the entrance is occupied by the automaker’s spindle grille that I’ve really warmed as much as in recent times. Around again there is no scarcity of creases that, mixed with flowing physique sides, give the LS loads of visible pizazz.

    Open the motive force’s door and you will uncover one of the best attribute of the LS: the cabin. The format is enticing and contemporary with a flowing sprint and floating-look of the armrests on the doorways. The total craftsmanship is outstanding, and you will find very nice supplies like super-soft stitched leather-based protecting the seats and sprint panels, and extremely suede cloth on giant swaths of the door panels and headliner.Front and rear passengers will not complain about house, because the LS affords oodles of room for all occupants. There’s no lack of creature comforts, both, with heated and cooled entrance seats, and heated rear outboard perches that’ll absolutely turn out to be useful within the useless of winter. As spacious and opulent because the again row is, one of the best seat in the home is the motive force’s, which is provided with a therapeutic massage function that I gleefully hearth up each time I climb aboard.
    Depressing techUnfortunately, the worst a part of the LS can also be discovered contained in the cabin. The Lexus Enform infotainment system with its dreaded Remote Touch controller remains to be its awful, cumbersome self. Since the 12.3-inch heart show is not a touchscreen, controls primarily fall to the middle console pad. It’s very distracting to make use of when rolling down the street — you continuously need to make minor changes to pick out the proper icon. At least the display screen is high-res and shiny.

    Thankfully, the Lexus multimedia suite packs a hearty serving to of options, together with an embedded navigation system, satellite tv for pc radio and a Wi-Fi hotspot. For 2019, Amazon Alexa integration and Apple CarPlay are added to its capabilities listing, however Android Auto disappointingly remains to be absent. For tunes, a 12-speaker unit comes normal on all LS 500h fashions, whereas my check automobile is outfitted with an out there 23-speaker Mark Levinson setup that merely sounds incredible.Like any good premium luxurious sedan, the energetic security know-how lineup is sizeable, with adaptive cruise management, lane-departure warning, lane-tracing help, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, street signal help, and auto excessive beams coming geared up on each hybrid LS. Customers may add ahead collision warning with automated braking, pedestrian detection, entrance cross-traffic alert, a large 24-inch head-up show and lane-change help as choices.
    Hybrid coronary heart for a comfortable tripThe LS’ hybrid drivetrain pairs a 3.5-liter Atkinson cycle V6 engine with two electrical motors, for a web system output of 354 horsepower. Rear-wheel drive is normal, however my tester is provided with all-wheel drive, which tacks on a further $3,220 to the underside line. Lexus says the 5,100-pound sedan can speed up to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, which makes it a smidge slower than the BMW 745e, which does the identical dash in 4.9 seconds.If you feather the throttle, an EV mode is able to getting the electrified LS shifting round at slower speeds with out utilizing gasoline. But the minute you dig into the proper pedal, the V6 wakes up, and delivers a seamless rush of energy.

    But it isn’t all nice. The gearbox is a repeatedly variable transmission mashed along with a four-speed automated that, collectively, do their finest to simulate a 10-speed gearbox. With the LS in Normal mode, throttle response is sluggish and kit swaps are gradual, the transmission typically having a tough time deciding what to do. Things do get higher in Sport and Sport Plus modes, with barely extra decisive shifts. Still, you possibly can inform that there is a lot occurring beneath the hood with these oddly timed, laggy gear adjustments. The 745e that I just lately examined makes use of a traditional automated gearbox, and felt noticeably higher by comparability.The LS 500h packs good energy, however transmission efficiency is disappointing.
    Nick Miotke/Roadshow
    Fuel financial system, in fact, is the profit for coping with LS hybrid’s wonkier drivetrain. A traditional fuel LS with all-wheel drive returns an EPA-estimated 18 miles per gallon within the metropolis and 31 mpg on the freeway. The hybrid does a bit of bit higher, with 23 mpg metropolis and 31 mpg freeway scores.

    When geared up with the out there air suspension, the LS swallows up nearly all bump you will encounter. The steering is mild, however responsive sufficient, and the well-tuned, regenerative brakes aren’t overly grabby or squishy, offering a easy and relaxed driving expertise.Sport and Sport Plus settings tighten up the chassis some, however efficiency remains to be removed from enthralling. There’s numerous physique roll and total, the LS’ reflexes aren’t all that nice. Of course, a sporty driving expertise in all probability is not on the prime of the want listing for many LS hybrid patrons. On the opposite hand, consolation probably is, and this Lexus positively delivers that in spades.The LS’ cabin is supremely comfy and trimmed in top-notch supplies.
    Nick Miotke/Roadshow
    A greener luxurious sedanAn all-wheel drive LS 500h begins at $83,180, not together with $1,025 for vacation spot. For most trip consolation, the $1,500 air suspension is a must have, as is the  $3,730 Interior Upgrade Package for the 23-way energy massaging driver’s seat. And to spoil my ears, I’ll throw within the $1,940 Mark Levinson audio setup. All in, a properly spec’d LS 500h is available in at $91,375, which undercuts the $97,645 automobile pictured right here.What would I do if I used to be out there for an enormous, plush sedan with a hybrid powertrain? If I had the means, I’d go together with the BMW 745e, which begins at $95,000. It is not fairly as comfy or well-trimmed because the Lexus, however the smoother drivetrain and extra composed dealing with win me over.Lexus could have been first to the sport with the unique LS hybrid, however till its wonky transmission and dangerous infotainment interface get an improve, it is not the chief of the pack.

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