If you need proof that the Japanese can build a competitive, full-size luxury sedan, look no farther than Lexus’ flagship LS models. Available with both hybrid (LS 600h) and conventional (LS 460) drivetrains, the range-topping Lexus models are as refined and competent as their European rivals.
Opt for the LS 600h
, and you’ll get a 5.0-liter V-8 supplemented with Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, which produces peak output of 438 horsepower. The combination helps the big, all-wheel-drive sedan sprint from 0 - 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds, which is impressive given the car’s bulk and non-sporting focus. Despite the power output, the LS 600h is also capable of returning an EPA-estimated 19 mpg city and 23 mpg highway fuel economy.
If you prefer a more conventional drivetrain, the Lexus LS 460
may be more to your liking. Its 4.6-liter V-8 is still good for 380 horsepower, which enables the rear-wheel-drive version to run from 0 - 60 in just 5.4 seconds. Opting for the AWD version will add a full half second, producing a 0 - 60 mph time of 5.9 seconds. Expect to see fuel economy of 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway in rear-drive LS models, with AWD versions rated at 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.
While all LS 600h models are long-wheelbase versions, it’s worth noting that the LS 460 is available in both conventional and stretched-wheelbase variants. Despite a 4.8-inch difference in wheelbase between the models, the longer wheelbase L models only add an additional 88 pounds (in RWD versions) or 99 pounds (in AWD versions), so the EPA-rated fuel economy remains unchanged.
All models come with an eight speed automatic transmission, which aids in both acceleration and fuel economy. While all LS models are softly sprung to emphasize ride comfort, Lexus now offers a Sport Package option for LS 460 models that includes Brembo brakes, 19-inch wheels, variable ratio steering, a sport-tuned air suspension, sport front seats and paddle shifters with a rev-matching feature for downshifts. We’d stop short of calling this a legitimate sport sedan, but it’s the most engaging of the LS offerings.
For a detailed look at the at the 2012 Lexus LS 460
or the 2012 Lexus LS 600h
, you’ll find our complete reviews on The Car Connection