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    William Maley

    Review: 2013 Lexus LS 600h L

      This or a House?


    Author's Note: With 2013 coming to a close in a couple of weeks, we've decided to clear out the remaining 2013 vehicle reviews this week. Everyday a new review will appear on the front page. If you miss one day, don't worry, we'll have links to the previous reviews just below. -WM

    Monday: Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV

    Tuesday: Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD

    Wednesday: Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD

    Thursday: Toyota Land Cruiser

    Toyota's hybrid lineup here in the U.S. covers both extremes. On one end is the Toyota Prius c, the cheapest and most fuel efficient hybrid model in the lineup. On the other end is the Lexus LS 600h L, the pinnacle of Toyota and Lexus engineering. Here is a model that is the most powerful hybrid that is on sale and the most expensive one as well. The 2013 LS 600h L starts off at $119,910. Let's dive into an alternate reality and figure out whether or not LS 600h L is worth the coin or not.

    2013 saw Lexus giving the LS lineup a bit of a facelift to make it look more dynamic. Up front, the now common spindle grille has been fitted and features a metal slat insert with chrome trim running along the outer edge. A new set of LED headlights sit on either side of the grille. The side profile retains the greenhouse as seen on the 2006 model, but now features chrome trim along the sills and a set of nineteen-inch wheels. The back end gets a bit of a nip and tuck, along with a set of LED lights.

    2013 Lexus LS600h L 2

    Now the L in the LS 600h L means that this model is a long-wheelbase. A standard LS has a length of 200 inches and rides on a wheelbase of 116.9 inches. The LS 600h L has a length of 205 inches and rides on a wheelbase of 121.7 inches, increases of 5 and 4.8 inches respectively. The only way you can tell that you're looking at the long-wheelbase LS besides parking it next to a standard LS is looking at the longer rear door.

    The LS 600h L's interior is a lesson in how to build one that is very luxurious and elegant. Materials are all high-quality choices ranging from cream leather on the seats and dash to real wood trim along the door panels and dash board. The front seats have to be the most comfortable I have ever sat in with the balance between comfort and firmness being just right. There are a number of adjustments available via the sixteen-way power seat and power adjustable seatbelt to make yourself fit right in.

    The center stack features a high-resolution 12.3 inch screen and houses Lexus' Enform infotainment system. Much like the GS 350 F-Sport I drove earlier this year, the LS 600h L's screen is divided into two parts. The majority of the screen is dedicated to navigation, media, climate, and trip information. The remaining part is dedicated to what's playing and climate. I really like this setup and hope more automakers who put bigger screens into vehicles consider this. What I don't like about the infotainment system is Lexus' Remote Touch. As I have said before in the RX 350 and GS 350 reviews, the system is good in theory, but in the real world it falls flat. The joystick controller is finicky to use, and you have to pay close attention to make sure the cursor is over the item you want and not something else. On the move, the problems are exacerbated since you have to take your eyes off the road to make sure you are going into the selection you want. There is some hope though as Lexus revealed a new Remote Touch system in the upcoming RC coupe that features a touchpad and not a joystick. I can only hope that this version makes its way into other Lexus vehicles.

    2013 Lexus LS600h L 14

    If you think the front is impressive, you haven't seen what's in store for the back seat passengers. For starters, the extra length gives you loads of legroom to stretch out and relax. This particular tester came equipped with the Executive-Class Seating Package. For the asking price of $7,555.00 , the LS 600h L becomes a vehicle you want to be driven in and not drive. This package nets you the following:

    • Adjustable Rear Seats (Backseat passenger gets an ottoman)
    • Heated, Cooled, and Massaging Seats
    • Blu-Ray Entertainment system
    • Controls for media and climate control system
    • Electric Sun Shades
    • Pop-Up Table
    • Cool Box

    With this package, it's a fight of who gets to sit back here. Anyone can find a comfortable position in the back thanks to the number of adjustments on offer. The ottoman is more of a gimmick than something you'll actually use since there isn't enough space to fully have it up, even with the front passenger seat moved all the way forward. Other features such as the sun shades and blue-ray player are nice and make the experience of riding in this car magical.

    2013 Lexus LS600h L 13

    Your Seat is Waiting

    See the next page for powertrain and driving impressions.


    Under the hood of the LS 600h L is the most powerful version of Lexus' Hybrid Synergy Drive system. A 5.0L V8 engine with 389 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque is paired with a 165 kW electric motor. Total output stands at 438 horsepower. A Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery pack provides the power to the electric motor. Lexus employs a CVT to get the power down to all four wheels.

    Despite the LS 600h L weighing 5,202 pounds, the powertrain is more than capable of getting this off the line quickly. As I was told at the launch of the 2013 LS, the hybrid powertrain has the power delivery of a V12 engine and I can attest that it does. Power comes on very smooth and effortless. If you decide to floor the pedal, you're rewarded with the LS 600h L moving like a bat of out of hell. As for the CVT, it is very smooth and unobtrusive. For a few times, I thought I was driving an automatic and not a CVT. The only giveaway that you are driving a CVT is the pitch of the transmission getting louder and louder if you floor the pedal.

    2013 Lexus LS600h L 11

    Being a hybrid vehicle, you would expect amazing fuel economy coming from this big sedan. But in the case of the the LS 600h L, that isn't true at all. The EPA rates the 2013 LS 600h L at 19 City/23 Highway/20 Combined. To put that into perspective, the the 2013 LS 460 L with AWD is rated at 16 City/23 Highway/18 Combined. Not that much improvement compared to the standard gas model. Somehow I was able to get an average of 22 MPG for the week.

    Ride and handling duties are done with an air suspension and Lexus' Drive Mode Selector. For the LS 600h L, you have the choice of six different modes:

    • Normal: Standard throttle mapping and suspension tuning, gearshifts tuned for comfort.
    • Comfort: Softens Suspension Tuning
    • Eco: Slower throttle mapping, reduced operation of the climate control
    • EV Mode: Allows a vehicle to travel on electric power for a short distance
    • Sport: Quicker throttle mapping, stiffer suspension tuning
    • Sport+: Much quicker throttle mapping, even stiffer suspension tuning, heavier steering, number of powertrain enhancements

    Now I only tried Sport and Sport+ briefly in the LS 600h L and wondered why these setting were even put in. There is a noticeable difference in the stiffness of the suspension and throttle response, but trying to push around a vehicle that has an overall length of 205 inches isn't a good idea at all. The passengers in the back seat who are getting flung around would agree with this.

    2013 Lexus LS600h L 15

    Where's the Rinse Cycle?

    Instead, I found myself switching between Normal, Comfort, and Eco for the week and being surprised at how comfortable this vehicle can be. In Normal or Eco, the air suspension isolates bumps and kinks on the road. In Comfort, the suspension takes that a step further, proving a ride that feels like you're driving on glass. Wind and road noise in the cabin are non-existent.

    As for the LS 600h L's steering, it has a surprising amount of weight and feel. I was expecting the steering to be light and have no feel. Not so in the LS and I appreciated that very much.

    After spending a week in the alternate-reality field of the LS 600h L, I have come to this conclusion: most reviews of the LS 600h L focus on the hybrid part and say that for fuel economy improvements the hybrid system offers, the LS 600h L doesn't make any real sense and you would better off with the standard LS 460 L or a competitor. I would agree with this, but I think the LS 600h L needs to be looked in a different light. The LS 600h L wasn't built for to be driven in. It was built for those who want be driven and not have everyone notice you. That's where the LS 600h L succeeds.

    I just wonder how many people who fit this classification exist.

    2013 Lexus LS600h L 7

    Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the LS 600h L, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2013

    Make: Lexus

    Model: LS 600h L

    Trim: N/A

    Engine: Lexus Hybrid Synergy Drive: 5.0L 32-Valve V8 with VVT-iE, 650 Volt Electric Motor, Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) Battery Pack

    Driveline: All-Wheel Drive, CVT

    Horsepower @ RPM: (Gas) 389 @ 6,400; (Electric) 221 @ 0; (Combined) 434

    Torque @ RPM: (Gas) 385 @ 4,000

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/23/20

    Curb Weight: 5,202 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan

    Base Price: $119,110.00

    As Tested Price: $135,029.00 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    Executive-Class Seating Package - $7,555.00

    Advance Pre-Collision System - $6,500.00

    Trunk Mat - $105.00

    Cargo Net - $64.00

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    Nice write up, Bill hit the nail right on when he said this is a car for those that want to be driven around in, not for the driver.

    With that said, I am sure based on the pictures that the fit, finish, and quality is there, but the car is just blah to look at and the interior dash to me looks like a warp back in time. I know this is aimed at the conservative business person who gets driven around in but still I was left unimpressed.

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      Both of the Sonatas on test came in the Limited trim which means a bountiful selection of technology. It begins with a 10.2-inch TFT display for the instrument cluster which provides all of the key information needed at a glance. A clever trick is when you engage the turn signal, the respective 'dial' brings up a camera mounted underneath the side view mirrors to provide a blind-spot view. I found this system to be helpful as it gave me an extra set of eyes whenever I needed to change lanes.

      Next up is another 10.25-inch screen housing Hyundai's latest infotainment system. I like the three-window layout on the home screen that you can customize to your needs. Navigating around the system is a breeze with a response touchscreen and capacitive touch buttons sitting on either side. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
      The next two tech features are exclusive to the standard Sonata. First is what Hyundai calls a digital key. Using the BlueLink application on a compatible smartphone, you can use this instead of the key to start the car and drive away. At the time of this writing, this is only available on Android phones. Hyundai did provide a loner Samsung Note smartphone for the week to try this out. I did not have the best experience with this feature at first because I found you need to be pretty close to the vehicle to make a connection. Trying to connect from my room upstairs, just above where the vehicle was parked, the application would throw up a connection error. I found that if I moved to the living room or just outside the front door, the phone was able to make the connection. This sours some of the appeal of this feature. 
      At least using the phone as the vehicle's key does work a bit better. It only takes a few seconds for the phone to make the connection to the vehicle and you can start it up. Although, I found myself wondering wouldn't it be easier and faster to have the key. The only feature that makes any sense to me is the ability to share the key with other people, but lock down certain aspects.
      Second is Smart Park (or smart parkh as made famous by the Super Bowl commercial from last year). Using the key, you can have the Sonata move forward or back out of the parking spot to allow for easier access to get into the vehicle. It's simple to operate, just hold down one of two buttons for a few seconds; the Sonata starts up and goes into the correct gear to move in the desired direction. I can see the appeal in urban areas where space is limited. But in the current pandemic times all of us find ourselves in, this seems to be more of a gimmick.
      Power Selection
      Hyundai offers two engines for the regular Sonata; a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.6L four. A more potent turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder is available on the upcoming Sonata N Line. My tester featured the turbo 1.6 which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That puts it in line with some of the base engines found in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
      I wouldn't call this engine quick, but it handles most driving situations with aplomb. This comes down to most of the torque being situated at the lower end of the rpm band. The only area where you might be wishing for more power is merging onto a freeway or keeping up traffic. The eight-speed automatic does an excellent job of maximizing the engine's output.
      Under the Sonata Hybrid's hood is a system comprised of a 2.0L four-cylinder and electric motor to provide a total output of 192 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. The Sonata Hybrid feels just as fast as the standard Sonata around town and on country roads. It does struggle slightly on the highway due to the smaller torque figure. The six-speed automatic doesn't stumble when the change over from electric-only to hybrid mode like I have experienced on other Hyundai/Kia hybrid models.

      Opting for Limited on the Sonata Hybrid brings a solar panel for the roof which acts as a trickle charger for both the 12-volt car battery and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion pack for the hybrid system. Hyundai says that the panel can add an extra two miles of range with adequate sunlight. I can't attest to this claim, but will say the solar panel did add an extra bit of charge to the battery, even on an overcast day.
      Fuel economy for both models are as followed,
      Sonata 1.6T: 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined Sonata Hybrid: 45 City/51 Highway/47 Combined My week saw an average of 29 mpg in the Sonata and 39 mpg for the Sonata Hybrid.
      Calm and Collected
      Hyundai has done some work on the Sonata's chassis and suspension to make it more rewarding to drive. It shows on a winding road as both versions show little body roll and feel more agile than the outgoing model. Steering feels direct and has a decent amount of weight. I will say the Mazda6 is still the one to beat if driving pleasure is your key goal.
      But the Sonata has an ace up its sleeve. It is also one of the most comfortable cars in the class. Driving over some of the roughest roads in Metro Detroit, the Sonata's suspension soaks up most bumps and imperfections to provide a serene ride. The minimal amount of road and wind noise that comes inside also helps.
      Rising To The Top

      The previous generations of the Sonata were always so close to being at the top of the class. But there always something that held it back whether it was the design, handling, or powertrains. But this new model shows how much Hyundai has put in. There is a nice balance between ride and handling; powertrains are very competent, and the interior is best in the class. Plus, the Sonata still retains Hyundai's trademark of offering a lot for not much money.
      Where most people will stumble on the Sonata is the exterior. It is very much a love or hate it affair. Plus, some of the tech features feel more like a party trick to show to friends than something you'll use. 
      Nevertheless, I think Sonata moves up to the top of the midsize sedan pecking order. 
      But there is one more question to answer. Between the regular and hybrid versions, which one I would drive away with. The answer which surprised me is the hybrid. I found it to be a little bit more well-rounded and deliver some excellent fuel economy figures during my time.
      Alternative:
      Kia K5: Like the idea of the Hyundai Sonata, but not to sure on the design? Then the Kia K5 may be the answer. Based on the same bones as the Sonata, the K5 takes a more evolutionary approach to the design. The basic shape may remind you of the previous-generation Optima, but its the little details such as a new grille and revised rear deck lid that help it stand out. From reviews, the K5 proves to be a bit sportier. We hope to get our hands on this challenger in the near future. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Sonatas, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata
      Trim: Limited 1.6T
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 180 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31
      Curb Weight: 3,336 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Montgomery, AL
      Base Price: $33,300
      As Tested Price: $34,365 (Includes $930.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Sonata Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 150 @ 6,000 (gas); 51 @ 1,800 - 2,300 (electric motor); 192 (total output)
      Torque @ RPM: 139 @ 5,000 (gas); 151 @ 0 - 1,800 (electric motor)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 45/51/47
      Curb Weight: 3,530 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Asan, South Korea
      Base Price: $35,300
      As Tested Price: $36,430 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: 
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00

      View full article
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