Lexus LS600h: Save Your Money, buy the LS460

*Sigh*

A Toyota fanatic (such as myself), couldn’t ask for anything more than a LS600h? Am I right?

Well, it should be the perfect variant of the Lexus LS, but sadly, I do not feel that is. You wouldn’t believe how much I wanted to love the LS600h, you wouldn’t believe how much I wanted to say “Ha, take that Germany!”

However, I cannot say I share the enthusiasm around the LS600h that fellow Lexus fanatics have, because I feel Lexus has let me down. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not insinuating the LS600h is a bad car by any means, but when the lesser LS460 offers comparable options and equal performance for far less money, I see an issue.

You’re probably thinking that none of that matters anyways because the 600h is aimed at a demographic which will not care for any of that anyways. Sadly, I think you’d be right. I think the average LS600h buyer will not be focusing on these particular aspects and that in my opinion, is a shame. You see, as far as I care, the LS600h offers no real advantage over its counterpart.

Gas mileage? Ha, please! I highly doubt the demographic of people buying vehicles with price tags creeping over $100k USD are going to care about fuel economy. After all, they never have before, so then why are they going to start now? I suppose there is always going to be that one person that does in fact care about the fuel economy, but remember, in order to have that piece of mind you’ll need to be prepared to shell out an extra $35,000. All for what, exclusivity? The right to say you have the world’s first saloon with a hybrid 8 cylinder engine?

In the general sense of the word, the LS600h is a bloody rip-off.

Now to be fair, when compared to BMW’s executive saloon, the 760i, the 600h does look like a great deal. It offers all of the comparative toys and lap luxury with an identical 438 horsepower figure – all for around 15k less. Now I suppose the next question could be how does the V8-powered LS600h compare to the V8-powered BMW 750i? Well, not that well, really. An extra $29,000 (MSRP) does indeed get you more power, but nearly the same technological specifications and performance figures.

Although arguably, when comparing either the 8-cylinder BMW or the 8-cylinder Lexus, the 760i does offer that crucial ingredient any true luxury car should have, that is, a 12 cylinder motor. Ahh, is that the true Achilles heel of the LS600h? The lack of a true 12 cylinder, like its rivals from Stuttgart and Munich? Should Lexus have just shoved a V12 in the new LS, proclaimed victory, and done the hybrid in a smaller car? Time will tell.

However the more one digs deeper into the comparison of the two LS variants, the worse it looks for the new flagship.

For starters, the hybrid system is going to cost you lot more than just money, it’s going to cost you space. The fitment of the hybrid drive train and battery system has compromised luggage space within the trunk by 6.3 cubic feet (11.7 complete cubes compared to 18 on the 460)

For that fact alone, would one not just consider buying another upscale luxury car? I can view this as potentially being an issue for “Mr. Executive” who might buy an LS600h. “Sorry sir, there’s no room in the trunk for your suitcase. You’ll have to enjoy its company in the backseat as I chauffeur you around New York City”. Is that overly dramatic? You be the judge.

Yet it doesn’t stop there. As I mentioned above, the LS460 has equal performance to the LS600h. Figures from both vehicles vary around the five and a half mark when it comes to the sixty mph, but how could that be? Especially with that the Hybrid motor churning out an extra 50bhp. Well quite simply, the addition of the hybrid technology, as well as a mostly-superfluous AWD drivetrain, makes the Lexus 600h a ridiculous 887 lbs heavier than the 460.

Further to that, everything available on the 600h, save for the hybrid V8, can be found on the LS460. So then, I let you be the judge. Does the 600h really offer any true advantage over the lesser LS460?

Personally, I don’t think so, but then do any of the other flagship models (from BMW, Audi, etc) that have engines with more than eight cylinders honestly offer any advantage over the base 8 cylinder models? For the most part, I’d say no.

However, to further muddy the waters, this is where I believe Mercedes and their S-Class are a step above the competition in this segment. While the extra $54,000 (MSRP) premium over the S550 doesn’t necessarily get you any more technical toys, it does offer a clear power advantage of 128bhp. Not to mention, performance that is clearly a step above not only the competition, but above the base model.

Back to the Lexus LS460 and the Lexus LS600h: the summing up is that there is not enough extra value for the extra money the LS600h costs. Get the LS460.

Author: Bruce McCulloch

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15 Comments

  1. Great article. While the value proposition for most hybrids is dubious (at least in terms of dollars and cents), it’s taken to an extreme in the LS600h. For about $40 grand over the price of an LS460, you get a car that has some additional convenience features and all wheel drive, but no performance benefits and few if any fuel economy benefits (the 2007 ratings on the 460 are 19/27; from what I’ve seen of the 600h, Lexus has said it will be “around 25 mpg” combined). So, let’s split the difference in the 460 and say that it’s getting 23 mpg – you’re getting TWO mpg better in the hybrid? Seems like a lot of technology for technology’s sake.

    Not only does the LS600h lose a third of its trunk space, but I’m guessing that it also loses some handling sharpness thanks to the 500 pounds of extra battery, motor, and AWD hardware that it has to lug around.

    I’m with you – I think the LS460 is a much better buy, and probably a better car.

  2. Here’s an even better idea – get the Audi S8.

  3. It is strange how something so expensive that uses up so many resources when manufactured could be thought of as an environmentally responsible choice. The whole idea is ridiculous.

    You could take the money, buy five compact cars that got 30 mpg each, give four to your friends, and all five of you together would save a lot more gasoline in the next five years than one person driving around a hybrid Lexus.

  4. Very helpful, thanks. I was thinking about the hybrid, but it just doesn’t seem as if the hybrid gets you much of a payoff.

  5. I agree, I can’t see how this makes any sense over the standard LS. It’s different, but different doesn’t automatically mean better.

  6. A Lexus is a great car if you don’t care about what you drive just as long as it’s expensive. It’s not in the same league with BMW or Mercedes as far as driving pleasure.

  7. I have a Lexus ES and I care what I drive. Also, it is not a boring car as a lot of people that are “into” cars claim. And I think it’s really nice-looking, too. I’m sure you must drive something European, probably German. I think my car is just as good to drive as a BMW. I’ve always had Japanese cars and the Lexus is by far the nicest car I’ve ever owned.

  8. I agree with the article and the comments but the point is (as mentioned) that this vehicle will be bought as a “guilt offset” (sort of like a carbon offset) by the very rich, so they can say “Yes I drive a hybrid.” A Rolls-Royce salesman in the LA area told me 75% of all Roller owners also own a Prius… now they can trade up for something cushier. Worth it? Not for you and me. Just syndicated your sitcom and the residuals are piling up faster than snow on Everest? Sure, why not!

    But yes, if it comes to saving the planet we should all trade into 10-year-old Geo Metro’s and stop buying new cars entirely, right? (grin)

    Glenn Mercer

  9. While I can’t totally disagree with your conclusion, I feel you left out some major difference, primarily the additional exclusive features and environmental impact of the LS 600h.

    I wrote more about this here.

  10. People that don’t like cars very much, don’t know about cars, and don’t want to know anything about cars buy Toyotas.

    Rich people that don’t like cars very much, don’t know about cars, and don’t want to know anything about cars, but want to let other people know they drive something expensive, well, they buy a Lexus.

    Rich people that don’t like cars very much, don’t know about cars, and don’t want to know anything about cars, but want to let other people know they drive something expensive, and really, really, care about the environment, well, they buy a Lexus LS600h.

    I call on the automotive gods to save us from such people. Hopefully the gods will hear my pleas and pour their wrath upon these banal but corrosive entities.

  11. Whether it’s a Lexus or not is irrelevant. The main question is: where is the gain? There is no performance gain, there is no meanignful gain in fuel effieciency, you lose trunk space, and you mess up the handling. The only gain seems to be in price.

  12. It is stunning that Lexus is able to provide so little extra to their customers for a huge increase in price, and their customers don’t seem to mind in the least.

  13. The car has a market, who are we to call it a rip-off?

    I think any vehicle trying to break the mold in the 100+ year old engine paradigm is a brave one.
    The LS 600h allows the well off to participate in and directly support the revolution, and they won’t mind the price difference if it’s a worthy cause – and everyone can have their own definition of “worthy.”

    The car is laden with luxuries, and more weight means less mileage. You wouldn’t expect anyone to criticize the F-14 for doing less airmiles per gallon than an F-16, would you? If you need more trunk space, don’t get the rear-seat A/C option. That is, if you are in the market for one anyway.

    (Disclaimer: I do not own Toyota stock, nor can I afford it, much less their cars – just an enthusiast)

  14. Only a fool would feel better about himself after buying one of these. It’s a ridiculous notion to call this a good environmental choice. It’s patently ridiculous.

  15. Still, it’s wonderful technology even if it’s not utilized correctly. It seems like you’re being too critical.

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