2011 Lexus LS Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Lexus LS Hybrid was new.


Performance: 7.4

The 2011 Lexus LS Hybrid tries to provide the best of both worlds: using its electric motor to provide more power and better fuel economy. Not all reviewers are convinced that the LS 600h meets these goals adequately. Most are impressed with the LS Hybrid’s powerful engine and ultra-smooth quiet ride, but not all of the automotive press thinks that this hybrid flagship’s small increase in fuel economy is worth the $111,000 price tag.

Additionally, the LS Hybrid isn’t the most nimble choice if you’re looking for a driver’s car with impressive handling. Its adjustable air suspension soaks up the smallest road imperfections with ease, but can’t compete with cars like the BMW 7-Series Hybrid or the Porsche Panamera when the road gets twisty.

There are also super luxury cars with better fuel economy. They’re both less powerful, but the Mercedes S-Class Hybrid and the base Panamera V6 have lower annual fuel costs according to the EPA.

  • "Lexus claims that the 2011 LS 600h L will perform at the level of a V12-powered premium luxury sedan while delivering the fuel economy of a V8. In reality, the Lexus trails behind the 12-cylinder competition by a significant margin and offers little fuel economy benefit compared to the regular gas-only LS." -- Edmunds 
  • "When it comes to the performance numbers game, the L in the LS 600h L stands for Lagging, as in lagging behind the competition." -- Motor Trend 
  • "This is one hybrid that aims more at smooth, vigorous performance over frugality. On the road, there's little evidence of the hybrid powertrain. Drivers actually have to concentrate to discern whether the engine has shut off at a stoplight." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Hybrid 600h models are heavier than conventional LS models, so they are only slightly quicker 0-60 mph. The gas/electric drivetrain calls little attention to itself." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Blends luxury, performance and ecologically efficient innovations to make a unique luxury car." -- New Car Test Drive

Acceleration and Power

A 5.0-liter V8 engine and an electric motor both live under the LS Hybrid’s hood, producing a total of 438 horsepower. That gives the LS 600h 58 more horses than the non-hybrid Lexus LS and 143 more than the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid, though the BMW 7-Series Hybrid is more powerful at 455 horsepower. Reviewer opinion is mixed on the power available in the LS Hybrid. Many say that it accelerates quietly and effortlessly, though a few reviewers say that the LS Hybrid does not deliver the winning combination of power and fuel economy that could make it a serious contender among hybrid super luxury cars.

The LS Hybrid also features an all-wheel drive system and a continuously variable transmission. Few reviewers have commented on either system, although some say that they like the smooth acceleration provided by the LS Hybrid’s transmission. And speaking of smooth, the automotive press loves how the Lexus LS 600h switches effortlessly between its gas and electric motors.

According to the EPA, 2011 LS 600h L gets 19 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. These numbers don’t come close to matching those of iconic hybrids like the Toyota Prius, but among powerful super luxury cars they’re impressive figures. Still, if fuel efficiency is your goal, not all reviewers are impressed. If you’re looking for a super luxury car with best-in-class fuel economy, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid or the base Porsche Panamera might better suit your needs.

  • "The LS 600h L has an EPA-estimated combined average of 20 mpg, just 1 mpg ahead of the LS 460 L's 19 mpg combined figure. The hybrid also sets your bank account back quite a bit more, with an MSRP approximately $40,000 higher than a comparably equipped LS 460 L." -- Edmunds 
  • "We aren't completely sold on this powertrain. It doesn't have the power to take on the V-12s, and its mpg rating, while better than its 12-cylinder-powered foils, isn't exactly stellar considering its hybrid credentials." -- Motor Trend 
  • "Touch the gas pedal and the LS 600h L simply moves relentlessly and smoothly ahead as rapidly as the driver wishes - exhibiting little evidence that the gasoline engine is on or off." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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
  • "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 2011 Lexus LS Hybrid features an adjustable air suspension that lets the driver choose between comfortable and sporty settings. However, reviewers say that even when the suspension is in Sport mode, the LS 600h can’t match the nimble handling of cars like the BMW 7-Series Hybrid. So it’s not the most agile, but if you’re looking for a super luxury car with an extremely quiet ride and a suspension that soaks up even the slightest road imperfections, you’d be hard pressed to find a better choice than the LS Hybrid.

  • "The supple suspension easily absorbs any road imperfections, while the sound insulation isolates all occupants from the world outside." -- Edmunds
  • "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
  • "The steering is light though direct, and the turning circle is impressively tight. Steering feel is quick at low speeds for easy parking-lot maneuvering; it firms up nicely at highway speeds. LS is no sport sedan, however." -- Consumer Guide

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