2009 Lexus LS Hybrid


2009 Lexus LS Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Lexus LS Hybrid was new.


Performance: 8.5


The 2009 Lexus LS 600h was designed to outperform its gasoline-powered sibling, squeezing V12-like performance from the combination of a V8 and an electric motor. Reviewers say the two work together seamlessly, but some say the combination falls a little short of the manufacturer's claims. The car handles comfortably, with speed-sensitive steering. Its adaptive suspension allows the driver to select levels of athleticism.

  • "Hybrid 600h models are heavier than conventional LS models, so they are only slightly quicker 0-60 mph." -- Consumer Guide
  • "What's remarkable is the detail refinement and how seamlessly it all works together." -- Road and Track
  • "Blends luxury, performance and ecologically efficient innovations to make a unique luxury car." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "A poised, polished high-tech machine" -- San Jose Mercury News

Acceleration and Power

The 2009 Lexus 600h L hybrid combines a 5.0-liter V8 engine with an Electric-Drive Motor. The system delivers 438 total horsepower. The result, reviewers say, is V12-like power. Test drivers say the two propulsion systems are seamlessly integrated - the driver rarely ever detects the car switching between the two. Power is sent through a Continuously Variable Transmission. The 600h's fuel economy numbers reflect its designers' intentions. This is not a Prius-like hybrid designed with environmental concerns in mind. It's a V8 with an electric engine added to boost the power. It has an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon in the city and 22 on the highway - not bad for a V8.

  • "In our testing, we only managed a 0-60-mph time of 6.0 seconds, as opposed to the manufacturer's claimed time of 5.5 seconds and a 10th of a second slower than the gas-powered LS 460 L we tested." -- Edmunds
  • "Lexus engineers have made the complex powertrain work as a seamless whole," with "the faintest degree of nonlinearity in response, mostly when you lift off the throttle, but under most circumstances, this is an exceptionally smooth propulsion system, and one that's almost eerily quiet." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Deceptively fast. When you floor the gas pedal, the tach needle flicks almost instantly at the bidding of the continuously variable transmission to 6000 or more rpm, a point at which the new 5.0-liter V-8 pumps out about 389 horsepower." -- Car and Driver
  • "Ample power to propel this two-and-a-half-ton Lexus along interstates at take-me-to-jail speeds." -- Forbes
  • "The full-hybrid drive system delivers performance on a par with a 6-liter V12 engine, yet with mileage comparable to a V6 powered sedan." -- New Car Test Drive

Handling and Braking

The Lexus LS has never been tuned to compete with the sportiest premium sedans, but the LS 600h comes close. Its standard electronically-controlled Adaptive Variable Air Suspension allows the driver to select a sporty or a luxuriously soft ride. Its standard all-wheel drive is unshakably firm. Reviewers say, however, that even the suspension's sport settings don't make this car the performance equivalent of the BMW 7-Series.  

  • "Tolerates being thrown around, but it's much more content doling out a luxurious ride and secure handling while soothing its occupants with highly polished wood and meticulously stitched leather." -- Road and Track
  • "The LS600hL is still too much of a limousine to be any kind of a playmate for an enthusiastic driver." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "At low speeds, steering is light and responsive, and the turning radius is surprisingly short for a car in this class." -- New Car Test Drive

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