2023 Lexus LS 500h
2023 Lexus LS 500h in Nightfall Mica

Consumer Guide Automotive 2023 Lexus LS 500h AWD

Class: Premium large Sedan

Color: Nightfall Mica

Miles driven: 207

CG Report Card
Room and Comfort B-
Power and Performance B
Fit and Finish A
Fuel Economy B+
Value B
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide’s impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big Guy B
Tall Guy B
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. “Big” rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, “Tall” rating based on 6’6″-tall male tester.
Drivetrain
Engine Specs 354-horsepower 3.5-liter
Engine Type Turbocharged V6
Transmission CVT automatic
Drive Wheels AWD

Observed fuel economy: 23.2 mpg

Driving mix: 65% city, 35% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 22/29/25 (mpg city/highway/combined)

Fuel type: Premium gas

Snow Performance: N/A

Base price: $112,785 (not including $1150 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: 19-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels (replacing 20-inch wheels) (-$920), door edge guards ($155), rear-bumper applique ($95), illuminated door sills ($450), dash camera ($375)

Price as tested: $114,090

 

Quick Hits

The great: Top-notch assembly quality, long-trip comfort, quiet cabin

The good: decent fuel economy, ample power, modern design

The not so good: Hybrid only offered in more-expensive fully loaded trim

 

Tom Appel:

Ask around. Ask someone with even a casual knowledge of the auto world which Mercedes-Benz model is the brand’s flagship. Odds are the answer you receive will be the S-Class. The big, luxurious sedan has for years represented the finest in comfort and technology. That said, the S-Class doesn’t actually sell all that well. No fault of the car, but the market has shifted, and big European sedans are no longer in vogue. Through the first six months of this year, Mercedes has sold just 6000 S-Class sedans, roughly a sixth the volume enjoyed by the brand’s GLE midsize crossover.

2023 Lexus LS 500h
2023 Lexus LS 500h

This is true across the board, as the Audi A8 and BMW 7-Series large sedans have suffered even greater sales retreats as luxury shoppers increasingly opt for crossovers instead of old-school sedans.

This defection isn’t limited to German-brand luxury sedans, either. Genesis, the Korean luxury brand owned by Hyundai, builds an excellent large sedan, and literally cannot give it away. Sales of the G90, through the first six months of 2023, came in at around 700 units, making the stylish sedan the slowest-selling vehicle in the brand’s lineup.

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2023 Lexus LS 500h
2023 Lexus LS 500h

Then there’s Lexus. First seen in 1990, the LS 400 was the brand’s inaugural model. Along with a Camry-based sedan dubbed ES 250, the big, V8-powered LS literally launched the Lexus brand, and played to media praise and robust sales.

Now deep into its fifth generation, the LS is still a great vehicle, albeit a great vehicle in search of an audience. Redesigned for the 2017 model year, the big Lexus was significantly freshened for 2021, and was treated to suspension updates that improved both handling and ride quality.

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2023 Lexus LS 500h
2023 Lexus LS 500h

For 2023 the LS is offered in 500, 500 F Sport, and 500h trim levels. The Entry 500 starts at about $80,000 and is powered by a turbocharged 3.4-liter V6 mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Next up is the 500 F Sport ($84,000), which includes unique trim, bolstered front seats, and unique instrumentation. The F Sport features the same drive train as the base 500.

The top-of-the-line 500h (the “h” is for hybrid) starts around $114,000, and features a 3.5-liter V6 mated to a pair of electric motors and a CVT automatic transmission. The 500 and 500 F Sport are available with standard rear-wheel drive or optional AWD. The 500h is offered only with AWD.

Consumer Guide recently spent a week behind the wheel of a 2023 500h in Nightfall Mica. The well-equipped 500h includes as standard the Luxury Package optional on other LS models. The package, which goes for $12,460, is responsible for much of the 500h’s price bump over other 500 models.

The indulgent package includes such features as 28-way adjustable massaging front seats, loads of semi-aniline leather trim, Ultra Suede-brand sun visors and headliner, heated rear seats, leather center-console trim, and a rear-seat center armrest touchscreen.

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2023 Lexus LS 500h
2023 Lexus LS 500h

The Luxury Package’s impact on cabin ambiance is profound. Though there is always a restrained dignity to Lexus interiors, the opulence of the premium leather and high-gloss wood elements is undeniable. Likewise, the general cabin design is modern in a muted way. Not as bold as an Audi or Volvo cabin, the LS interior is both organic and mature, and the parallel dashboard lines, which begin at the instrument panel and flow to the passenger-side door, work to pull the cabin motif together.

Front seat occupants sit low in the car, and getting into and out of the LS is complicated somewhat by the drop. That said, there is plenty of long-leg space up front once seated, and tall-guy headroom is more than adequate. The same can be said for the rear-seat accommodations, though entering and exiting is a little easier.

A cabin note: the white interior on our test car was already showing some signs of use fatigue, we might opt for a different interior color, especially if children are part of the picture.

Worth noting, too, is that while all good luxury vehicles feature high-quality trim elements, there is, and always has been, something special about Lexus assembly quality. The LS especially feels as if it was carved from a solid ingot of steel, and the tight tolerances inside the car go a long way towards building buyer confidence.

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2023 Lexus LS 500h
2023 Lexus LS 500h

As for performance, you can forget the word “hybrid.” The beefy V6-centric drivetrain launches with robust authority, and packs plenty of reserve power for passing and merging. Though the hybrid drivetrain is rated at only 354 horsepower, compared to the 500 and 500 F Sport’s 416, the extra torque provided by the electric motors compensates with plenty of additional low-end muscle. As an added bonus, we averaged a reported 23.2 mpg during our evaluation week.

Our sole powertrain complaint is an occasional shudder felt during coast-down deceleration. The effect is not pronounced, though folks finicky about refinement may take notice.

Around town the LS handles well. Thought not actually sporty, even in the most-aggressive S/S+ drive mode, the big Lexus holds its own. Lean is corners is well controlled, and brake feel is excellent.

As a premium large sedan should be, the LS 500h is a highway star, settling in comfortably on the open road. At speed the ride quality is superb, and cabin noise well squelched. Worth noting, too, is that the 23-speaker Mark Levinson audio system is top-notch stuff, and ideal for the mid-century jazz favored by this author.

Shoppers in this category looking for strong value are likely to eschew the German brands, which leaves the just the Lexus LS and the Genesis G90. Cadillac and Lincoln ended big-sedan sales in the U.S. years ago.

We’re big fans of the Genesis, with its fresh design, refined power delivery, and its cutting-edge graphic displays and digital control interface. Though we named the G90 a 2023 Consumer Guide Best Buy in the class, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Lexus LS in its stead.

The Lexus LS is a high-value alternative to the big German sedans. The LS boasts similar dynamic qualities, and craftsmanship that would humble the world’s finest watchmakers. The car is luxurious, roomy, powerful, and to some extent predictable—in the best possible way. While the 500h gets a little pricey, the base 500 is an outstanding value in the class. We’re kind of bummed that there aren’t more LS examples on road, as the crossover craze has diverted too many would-be-customers away from this excellent sedan.

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2023 Lexus LS 500h
2023 Lexus LS 500h

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2023 Lexus LS 500h Gallery

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