Daily Driver: 2023 Lexus LS 500h AWD

February 13, 2024
3 mins read

The demand for large luxury sedans is dwindling. More people are finding that the equivalent SUV has more rear-executive space for that VIP treatment. When the LS came onto the scene, Lexus had revolutionized the large luxury sedan with power, style, and build quality. Thirty years later, can the LS still compete with the Germans and up-and-comers such as the Genesis G90 and Volvo S90?

Lexus hasn’t done too much to the LS 500h’s exterior since it debuted back in 2018. This means the grille is large with a spindle pattern and slanted headlights. Painted in Nightfall Mica blue paint and with 20-inch wheels, the LS at least looks stately. You’ll see plenty of chrome around the windows and below the doors. At the rear are oversized taillights along with the Lexus logo being blue since this is a hybrid. Hybrid LS models come with a standard sunroof and hands-free power opening and closing trunk.  I won’t say the LS 500h looks boring, but it’s time for a redesign. 

It may be an older design, but I love some of the Japanese-themed design elements in the interior. You can get various wood designs, but the interior package on this one is great. It was a white semi-aniline leather with black matte laser wood trim. It’s a lovely combination and includes extremely comfortable heated, ventilated, and massaging seats. This also includes power rear and side window sun shades. In front of the driver is Lexus’ older steering wheel with buttons for the safety systems and media. A small driver’s display doesn’t give too much information other than speed and basic information. A large head-up display gives you the information the digital display doesn’t and takes up a good amount of the windshield. 

Climate control buttons are almost all buttons and work well. There’s even a button to get you straight to the massaging seats! The only complaint is, when you want to adjust where the fan is blowing, you have to go into the infotainment system. This 12.3-inch infotainment system is crisp, gets rid of the terrible touchpad user interface, and has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The real estate of the touchpad now houses buttons for heated and ventilated seats as well as the heated steering wheel. Every surface feels premium and has high build quality.

The back seats are where you want to be. There’s a control panel between the seats for audio, seat controls, and the various blinds. These are even more comfortable than the front seats and the best seat is behind the front passenger. Press and hold a button and the front seat moves forward for more space. The rear seats are heated and ventilated, but I couldn’t find any massaging feature. Although surprised since this was available in the regular gas model,the $15,000 option isn’t available for the hybrid. Still, no big loss with how great the rear seats are.

 Powering the 2023 Lexus LS500h AWD is a hybrid 3.5-liter V6 creating a total of 354 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. Using a CVT with four fixed ratios and AWD, the LS500h gets from 0-60 MPH in 5.3 seconds. It is a bit slow for the segment, but this car is all about being smooth. Since this engine is similar to the LC500, I thought it would have plenty of power and I was correct. The engine may drone a little, but the LS 500h is a comfortable place to be. Don’t push it too hard or the LS 500h will get a bit cross with you. A hybrid getting 22-24 MPG is usually bad, but it beats the regular V6 LS500 by at least four MPG.

Lexus offers a myriad of driver modes including, comfort, eco, sport s, sport s +, individual, and snow. Most of the time I was in comfort because this is a luxurious vehicle. When the drive mode is Sport S or Sport s +, the hybrid dial turns into a tachometer. You can shift yourself with the paddle shifters but there’s no use. Let the transmission do what it does best. Lexus includes their safety technology including Lexus Safety System + 2.5. This has pre-collision safety, adaptive cruise control, road sign assist, adaptive high beams, and land departure assist. Other than the Luxury Package at no cost, everything is standard and out-the-door at $115,000. 

Here’s my qualm. There’s another full-size premium sedan on the market that is some seriously stiff competition. That’s the Genesis G90. Putting away my bias towards the G90, the Lexus does have it beat in a few areas. Fuel economy, brand cache, and dealership network. Where does the Genesis win? Everywhere else. Comparing the two, I would go with the G90 except in one area. If you run a fleet of limos or more comfortable transportation, I would go with the Lexus. It’s comfortable rear sears and better fuel economy means you can go over 600 theoretical miles. V6 or hybrid? I’m usually a non-hybrid person but in this instance, both are good choices. 

The Gentleman Racer by Michael Satterfield

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