- Useful technology—self-parking!
- Rides like it’s on air
- Ultra-spacious passenger accommodations
- Doesn’t drink gas for its size
- Lively hybrid powertrain
- Front center console is thick
- Indistinctive cabin styling
- Doesn't make an entry like its German rivals
The 2009 Lexus LS 600h L is the most expensive Lexus model and the technology flagship of the luxury brand's line.
The 2009 Lexus LS 600h L is the grandest hybrid sedan on the market, with some of the world's most advanced technology features and luxuries that rival those in top German sedans.
The LS600h L is quite conservatively styled inside and out, and that’s a mixed bag depending on what buyers expect. The $106,000 LS600h L doesn’t stand out, at least from a distance, versus the $70,000 LS460, so for buyers who want to make that strong hybrid statement to the world, it might not be the best choice—although its street recognition is growing thanks to celebs. Another positive is that the simple, organic, and elegant L-finesse design language in the LS will likely age well, as it’s not at all gimmicky.
The 2009 Lexus LS 600h L accelerates quickly in real-world driving. Powered by a 5.0-liter V-8 engine mated to a hybrid drive system, the LS 600h aims to provide power and refinement that rivals competing V-12 models. The gasoline V-8 makes 389 horsepower on its own, but altogether the system kicks up as much as 438 horsepower. Altogether, the LS 600h moves quickly, with an almost eerie quiet; the only time you hear the gasoline engine is when accelerating hard. Surprisingly, the LS 600h delivers better fuel economy than many V-8s, at 20 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.
The hybrid system dispatches its power through a full-time all-wheel-drive system and a "shiftless" continuously variable transmission (CVT). The 2009 Lexus LS 600h L can bolt to 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds, with especially quick passing power. For more control during sporty driving, the CVT can simulate eight manually shifted gears. The full-hybrid system can operate for short distances, almost silently, on electric power alone. There's even an EV button—a feature never before used on a Toyota hybrid in the U.S. market—that forces the system to use only electric power for several minutes. It recharges its nickel-metal-hydride battery packs either via the engine or through a regenerative braking system.
The handling of the 2009 Lexus LS 600h L doesn't feel sporty and remains buttoned-down, smooth, and sedate. However, it steers well and corners surprisingly flat, thanks to the three modes—Comfort, Power, and Sport—that afford different ranges of response for the throttle, steering, and suspension.
Front seats in the 2009 Lexus LS 600h L are ample and comfortable, but a very wide center console makes the seating area feel unexpectedly narrow. The interior is also quite conservatively styled but attractive; the only downside is that some of the switchgear mimics the type used in much cheaper Lexus models.
The LS 600h L affords limousine-like space in the backseat area because it is only offered with the long-wheelbase body style, designated "L," which stretches the backseat about five inches versus the standard-length LS 460. If seating space doesn’t impress, consider the ottoman-style option with built-in massage features.
The options list brings features such as the power active stabilizer, to improve cornering performance without any detriment to ride; an ottoman-style backseat with built-in massage; a rear cooler box; a backseat entertainment system; an infrared skin-temperature sensor system; climate-controlled rear seats; a fold-out wood table; and dynamic laser cruise control. Yet another innovative feature—or toy, depending on your perspective—is the Advanced Parking Guidance System, which requires you to ride the brake while it steers and parks itself. Virtually every feature available in the base LS 460 is standard in the LS 600h L, such as heated rear seats, Bluetooth hands-free, a backup camera, intuitive park assist, a 19-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, and a wonderfully executed voice-activated navigation system with live traffic updates and dynamic traffic rerouting.
The LS 600h L has not yet been crash-tested, but the insurance industry rated the LS 460 "good" for frontal impact though only "marginal" in the seat-based rear-impact test. Standard features include front side airbags, dual front knee bags, and full-length side-curtain bags, plus available rear-seat side airbags. A Pre-Collision System (PCS) comes with the available laser cruise control and prepares vehicle safety systems if it anticipates a collision. Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), an advanced version of electronic stability control, is standard.