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Roadshow Video Reviews
2013 Lexus LS600hLThe top of the line Lexus makes a statement that is more sybaritic than compelling.
If you want everything Lexus knows how to put into a production car, this is your Huckleberry, but are you a dumb ass for buying one? Let's drive the 2013 Lexus LS600hL Hybrid and check the tech. Now before we get inside 3 things that make an LS Hybrid a hybrid aside from being a hybrid. First of all they're all long wheelbase, 5 inches more and that's all about the backseat. Second of all, they all have the bigger V8, not a smaller engine by being a hybrid. And third, they're all all-wheel drive. Now I categorize the interior under 2 buckets, wood and won't. The wood is everywhere. This bamboo wood, sure it's an optional color scheme but man there's a lot of it especially down here at this big chunky piece on the wheel. Looks like somebody was drunk when they were driving hot the curve and drove through a flooring store. Now let's get to won't. I won't be using most of these drive controls. This car is amazingly busy in that area. Let's go through them. First of all, at your shifter you've got drive of course then sport. Within sport, shiftable gate for up and down. No paddles by the way which is interesting. Now down here you've got your drive controller which gets you a push for normal mode of suspension, transmission, and engine. One turn left gets you to comfort mode which moderates down the throttle response and softens the suspension. Another turn counterclockwise takes you to eco mode which really dials things back and also turns down the accessories to use less fuel. Now let's go clockwise. Our first stop is the land of sport. That's going to sharpen throttle response, transmission behavior, and the suspension, but another one takes you to sport plus and on top of that you've got an EV mode button but the car will also go into EV mode on its own so by pressing this you make it do more of it more often. That's an awful lot to choose from. How about just 3 simple modes? Go normal, go fast, or use less gas. Now right adjacent to our drive controls is the Lexus Remote Touch controller which I'm becoming less a fan of every time I drive it. You really have to think about your hand motions, where you are and where you're going to land and that's just too much of a diversion from what I should be doing. On top of that, the Lexus interface is a little bit ragged. It lacks the sort of structure that Audi has with 4 corners or BMW has with a left menu. Here it's kind of different on every screen, the way things are organized and it just gets a little bit chaotic. Now once you do get into your radio and media setups, you got everything you could want here, HD radio with tagging, AM, FM, satellite radio, your apps suite through Entune will bring you some music but also you've got lots of media choices. You've got SD card, USB, streaming, Bluetooth, iPod connections, standard aux jack. It's all here and luckily there's no dumb hard drive to rip to so they've made some hard choices. Unfortunately meta tag information for Bluetooth streaming just isn't happening and that dates the system rather seriously. This one has 19 speakers around the cabin including 2 over the rear passenger's heads, 450 watts and it's 7.1 surround. The screen as you can see is huge. I believe it's a 12.1-inch display. Nothing is in small type. It doesn't need to be. Now under apps here is where you're gonna find your Enform suite of apps, Bing, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, Pandora, Open Table, so you've got a mix of media information services and things that are contextualized to driving. Now of course you do have voice command on this guy and the recognition is excellent, but it still requires you to enter an address one little chunk at a time. That's pretty old school. -Say only the city name. -San Francisco. -San Francisco. -We have what they call the Executive Class backseat. For example here's our Shiatsu massage controller with more settings and choices that even the most hoity-toity spa in your neighborhood. Now the seat over here on the right where I'm sitting does some amazing stuff. As I push that, my seat is reclining now. That seat is getting out of my way. The downside about the ottoman is unless you're pretty damn short you can't use it. If I put the ottoman up it starts to push your legs up. Your feet get trapped underneath the front seat and your legs get broken somewhere about 6 inches north of your ankles. On the other hand if you're 2 foot 1 like the bear, you'll find it palatially spacious. We've got a big old motor in here, even bigger than the V8 and the conventional LS. It's a 5-liter. This is clearly a car not using hybridity for efficiency but mostly for performance, 438 horsepower, 385 foot pounds of torque. The only transmission here is a CVT. Interesting choice. CVT's don't normally handle massive torque all that well. Zero to 60 for this 5150-pound sedan is a remarkable 5.6 seconds. While the MPG is 19/23 for an average of 20, not exactly a fuel sipper, is it? This car is only 4/10's of a second faster than a gas L all-wheel drive. Now a big part of the virtual wash on those numbers is because this guy weighs 460 pounds more than a standard LS long wheelbase with all-wheel drive. This is a lot of extra weight because of the hybrid gear and really its battery. This is what they do that no one else does. I really think this is one of the great comfortable luxurious driving cars of all time. That said, this model is just not working for me. There's no particular efficiency here. The hybrid numbers are not great on that front. It's got plenty of power but it's crippled by the fact that initial tip-in on the accelerator and initial decel when you back off are both numb and kind of buttery, doesn't work. Even in sport plus there is no sharp heel and toe on this car. So why have those modes? The other thing you notice about sport plus is it never really conquers body roll. It should do that. It doesn't. Another reason for it not to exist. Now we do not have but there is this advanced collision package which brings you active lane drift prevention, forward adaptive cruise control; that same technology gives you low speed collision avoidance not on the highways but around town it will break and keep you from running into something. And a few other technologies it will basically keep you out of trouble. Okay. Let's price our Lexus LS600hL. It's a big piece of change to start with, about 121 base. Now to go CNET style, you gotta add that Executive Class backseat. That's just plain fun, but it's gonna add $7500. The collision avoidance package which we didn't have is definitely interesting at $6500. Now you're up around 135 grand. With those numbers, this car makes no sense at any point. In fact by my calculations it takes 115 years or 1.8 million daily driver miles to earn back the penalty on this hybrid versus a conventional engine LS L with all-wheel drive. So you don't do this logically. You do it because you're in love with an LS that happens to be a hybrid and because you're paying for it without the company's money or the taxpayer's.