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Lexus LS 600h L Part 2: Interior & User Experience

A car so advanced it feels more like an executive jet

By Emile Bouret   
The Lexus LS 600h L is the most expensive Japanese production car currently on the market. It's also the technology and luxury flagship of the world's largest automaker's premium division. As such, it must compete with the elite luxury cars from all of the world's top manufacturers.

But the big Lexus has a unique advantage in that it isn't a conventional luxury car like the others. Part of its advanced technology arsenal includes a hybrid drivetrain that provides it with seamless, surging power while consuming less fuel than cars with comparable performance.

The Lexus Hybrid Drive system, while performance focused, still provides better mileage than the LS 600h L's competitors. But lets not kid ourselves here, this is still a 5200-pound car with a V8 engine. So while its mileage is about 10 percent better than its non-hybrid competition, it still has quite the appetite for dead dinosaurs.

The advanced technology isn't all in the drivetrain though, there's plenty of it inside the cabin of the Lexus flagship as well:

- Adaptive cruise control
- Adaptive lighting
- LED front lighting (a production car first, with nine LED lights per headlight!)
- Heated and air conditioned seats all around
- Reclining seats... in the back
- A hard-drive-based navigation system with real time traffic information and voice activation
- A much publicized and, it must be said, ridiculously slow and aggravating self-parking system
- Adaptive air suspension with three modes
- Speed sensitive steering
- An amazing Mark Levinson digital audio system that can play DVDs, has 19 speakers and 450 watts of power

There is also a system onboard designed to help save you once you've been distracted by all that technology. The pre-collision warning and mitigation system will tighten the seatbelts, quicken the steering ratio, apply up to 40 percent braking - which is more than you think - and even increase the power steering boost! All to better help you make an evasive maneuver and avoid an accident.

But enough about technology, that capital "L" at the end of this car's name stands for long wheelbase, but it could just as easily stand for "limousine" as the LS 600h L provides an ample amount of perhaps the ultimate luxury: space. In fact, there is such an abundance of space and so much technology and so many gadgets to show off, that you could probably film an episode of MTV Cribs in this car.

You could almost live in the back seat of the LS 600h L, but you'd have less storage space than you might expect. Its trunk is just barely acceptable for such a large car due to the 288-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack sandwiched between the back seat and the trunk. This is in addition to the added complexity and weight of the hybrid system and AWD.

The hybrid LS will cost you just over $100,000, which is about what you'd pay for a well equipped Mercedes-Benz S550 4matic or an Audi A8L and a bit less than a BMW 760iL. Now, in the past this decision would have been a no-brainer for me: buy one of the Germans. But having experienced the LS 600h L, I'm not so sure.

If what you want is a big sedan that's driver focused with rear wheel drive dynamics, then you buy the 7 series BMW.

But if you're less concerned with the experience from the driver's seat and more interested in having an opulent, serene, technologically advanced and eco-conscious transportation module that makes land travel feel more like executive air travel, then friends, go by your nearest Lexus dealer with a briefcase full of hundred dollar bills and get yourself into the Lexus LS 600h L. You won't be disappointed.

Watch the video
Read Part 1: Design
Read Part 3: Performance

Lexus LS 600h L

- Acceleration: Seamless surge feels like an executive jet at take-off - passing acceleration most impressive
- Handling: Given its size, pretty darn good - doesn't like to transition from side to side however
- Braking: Strange noises from regenerative system at times - still, very effective

- Exterior: Lexus design language finally evident in LS sedan - still a bit anonymous
- Interior: No breakthroughs in design, but amazing tech spec and fit and finish

- Comfort: Your favorite arm chair cruising down the road - not a bad seat in the house
- Space: MASSIVE rear accommodations, only slightly less spacious in the front - trunk loses space to battery pack

- Dynamics: Better than you might expect, but it won't be mistaken for a sports sedan (or a BMW 7-series)
- Technology: Quite possibly the industry's technology flagship

- Price: Without any real competitors, looks to be well priced against its nearest rivals - Lexus residuals always strong
- Mileage: No Prius, still about 10% better than other large, executive sedans

Emotional Appeal
- Heart thumpin' factor: Not really, unless you're a tech-geek
- Fun to spank: Come on now...


Layout: Front engine / All-wheel drive
Engine: 5.0 liter, V8†w/high-output, permanent magnet, electric-drive motor
Power (SAE): 438 (total system)
Torque: n/a
Gearbox: CVT
Curb Weight: 5,049 lbs.
0-60 mph: 5.5 sec.
1/4 mile: 13.8 sec. @ 106 mph
Top Speed: 130 mph†(electronically limited)
Mileage: 20 city / 22 highway
Base Price: $104,900
Competitors: Mercedes-Benz S550 4Matic, Audi A8L, BMW 760Li

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