2008 Lexus LS 600h: All-out luxury with hybrid fuel-efficiency
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Noted conservationist Paul McCartney, the former Beatle, was in the news recently for having his 2008 Lexus LS 600h Hybrid shipped to him by cargo plane rather than by ocean vessel. Environmentalists complained that he offset any ecological gains he would have made with the car, by using an airplane. Shipping aside, if this vehicle is good enough for a billionaire conservationist, it certainly is worthy of a strong look by the rest of us.
The LS 600h Sedan combines Lexus’ trademark luxury with the green-friendliness of a hybrid engine. The highest-priced Lexus ever, the LS 600h merges lavishness, technology and sophistication with high-performance, top-notch handling and good gas mileage in a six-figure package.
Exquisitely designed, the LS 600h is a study in rounded features, L-finesse design cues, ground-hugging stature, a long, sleek form with athletic hood and fenders. Its badges are in color, with “Hybrid” in blue, “600h” in a blue in-set and the grille-mounted “L” for Lexus in blue. A four-lens headlight array and sweeping front end whispers out motion and the integrated dual-chrome exhaust tips in the rear thunder out “sporty”. With exterior dimensions of 202.8 inches in length, 73.8 inches in width. 58.3 inches in height and ground clearance of 5.3 inches on a 121.7-inch wheelbase, the LS 600h stands proud and elegant, ready to pamper its occupants while cruising in confidence.
The body is reinforced with high-strength steel alloy and ultra-high strength sheet metal, while aluminum crush boxes reduce damage from light impact and improve serviceability. The high-gloss paint undergoes a 4-coat multi-bake process and the body is hand-sanded twice during the application of alternating layers of paint and coatings on critical areas. An acoustic glass windshield, laminated side window glass and Thinsulate insulation keep road noise outside and my test LS 600h delivered one of the quietest overall rides I have taken this year
It is, at all angles, a luxury car, but Lexus has also created a driver’s car with the LS 600h. The 5049-lb. vehicle is powered by a 5.0-liter 438hp, 32-valve V-8 DOHC engine with dual VVT-iE, mated to an E-CVT Hybrid transmission with sequential shiftmatic. Pumping out 385 lb.-ft. of torque, the all-wheel-drive LS 600h utilizes a Torsen limited slip differential and conveys a responsive ride with silk-like movements in town and on the highway. When switched to the sport suspension, there is great grip, little yaw and excellent shock absorption.
On the track, I was able to quietly rocket from zero-to-60mph in a smooth 5.6 seconds. My quarter-mile time was 14-flat, and while on the highway I experienced solid, dependable acceleration from 45-to-60 when called upon.
Lexus hasn’t calculated the combined horsepower and torque figures when putting the engine and 650-volt electric motor together. The magnet motor and generator can distribute 49bhp and the V-8 seamlessly shuts off and the electric motor takes over at all stops and when coasting. The motor charges when the gas engine is used and the motor helps out the gas engine when the engine is either not needed or not fully needed.
The 2008 LS 600h has received EPA estimates of 20mpg in the city and 22mpg on the highway, though my tests yielded better results. I averaged 24.9mpg over a weeklong examination.
Inside the LS 600h is a monument to Lexus luxury. With seating for five, headroom is average at 38 inches in front and 38 behind; legroom is spacious at 45 and 45 and in providing comfort, ease, entertainment and toys, Lexus has spared no add-on to create an opulent driving experience.
My Smokey Granite Mica test vehicle was mated to an Alabaster and Black interior. The seats were plush and covered in soft hides. The dash was covered in hand-sewn leather dash and there were wood inserts on the grab handles. The seats were heated and cooled and the outside rearview mirrors are also heated. Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio, brake hold function and multi-information display controls are within and the information system is easy to read and comprehensive. Dual-zone front climate control with smog sensor and automatic recirculation control, rear B-pillar vents and a charcoal-activated clean air dust and pollen filter keep you comfortable and clean-breathing. A heated steering wheel, power rear sunshade an individual vanity mirrors in rear seat area add to the experience as do the power tilt-and-slide moonroof with one-touch closure and touch-screen 30gb hard-drive disk navigational system with voice activation, Bluetooth®, steering wheel controls and rear back-up camera.
Entertainment is afforded by a 19-speaker 450-watt sound system with XM Satellite radio, Mark Levinson audio, and AM/FM/CD/DVD system.
Safety features are abundant and include multiple advanced airbag system, ABS, traction control, brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution.
The LS 600h has a base price of $104,000. The price as tested came to $115,425 after adding such options as the premium package for $7570, the preferred accessory package for $2850, trunk, mat, cargo net and wheel locks for $240 and delivery fees of $765.
With luxury and green-friendliness in a Lexus package, regardless of how it is shipped …”Baby you can drive that car.”
Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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