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2019 Lexus LS 500h: A hybrid heart yields a more efficient luxury sedan

The 2019 Lexus LS 500h is more fuel efficient with a hybrid drivetrain, but isn't without trade-offs.

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Jon Wong

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On the outside, the LS, that was all-new last year, strikes a distinctive, but polarizing pose. The majority of the front is the spindle grille with the sides dressed with wavy character lines.

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The rear of the LS is filled with numerous creases to give it a distinctive look compared to its German competition.

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The most important aspect of the 2019 Lexus LS 500h is the hybrid drivetrain. It combines a 3.5-liter V6 with two electric motors producing a net output of 354 horsepower.

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When equipped with all-wheel drive, the LS can hit 60 mph in 5.2 seconds according to Lexus.

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The LS 500h does have an EV mode that can get the car going at slower speeds when feathering the throttle pedal. However, when dipping even a little deeper into the right pedal, the gas engine quickly fires up.

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The oddest aspect of the LS 500h is the transmission. It's a continuously variable transmission mashed with a four-speed automatic that together do their best to simulate a 10-speed transmission.

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When the car is in Normal mode, throttle response is sluggish and it gets caught up deciding on what gear to select.

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Shift performance does get better in Sport and Sport Plus modes. However, there's still some noticeable lag during gear changes.

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The benefit of you getting a hybrid LS over the normal gas model is better fuel economy. With all-wheel drive, it returns an EPA-estimated 23 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. That betters the gas-only LS 500's 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway figures.

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The 2019 Lexus LS 500h with all-wheel drive begins at $83,180, not including $1,025 for destination.

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Click or scroll through for more of the 2019 Lexus LS 500h.

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