Arthur St. Antoine on the Lexus LS 600hL

Motor Trend Editorial on the Lexus LS 600hL

Perhaps as a way to counterbalance his incredibly glowing editorial of the Lexus LS 460 last year, Arthur St. Antoine took some time in this month’s Motor Trend to badmouth the LS 600hL:

For many buyers, a hybrid car is nothing more than the four-wheeled equivalent of a yellow LiveStrong wristband-a conspicuous, self-satisfying, effort-free membership card into the “I Care” club.

…how can you justify paying almost 50 percent more-some $33,000-for the hybrid LS when it nets you only a 15-percent gain in output (438 gas/electric horsepower for the 600hL versus 380 horses for the 460L) and almost no improvement in fuel efficiency (20/22 city/highway mpg for the hybrid versus 16/24 mpg for the 460L)?

You can’t. In a revealing lux-sedan comparison last December, the LS 600hL finished fourth out of four, the test drivers (I was one) docking points for its compromised trunk (much of the space is eaten up by hybrid bits), a hugely complex powerplant that overheated when we charged up our mountain loop, and real-world fuel economy barely 15-percent better than the average posted by the rivals from Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and Maserati-each of which happily romped all day.

The limitations of the LS 600hL are well-documented, but using that fairly uneven super-sedan comparison as the basis of proof is rather suspect. Also, and I find it surprising that it wasn’t mentioned, the LS 600hL has several unique features (particularly the all-wheel drive) that cut into the $33,000 price difference versus the LS 460. This isn’t just a case of pointless hybrid markup, no matter how often it’s repeated.


As a sidenote, the buying public sure isn’t phased by the negativity — Lexus was only expecting to sell 2,000 LS 600hL’s in 2008, and the car is currently moving 1,000 units a month.



  1. Now we are a few months later, and I still think that the LS600h is an excellent car and it set a statement exactly what Lexus was aiming for and explains the good sells.

    Buyers in this class think different: they want style, the best and maybe something "trendy" with a benefit, so even when "only" 15% less fuel is used, it is less and a good sign to your enivironment*! They dont care about the price difference compared to a LS460, but to a S550 and since Lexus doesnt look like a Mercedes copy, has break-through features and lets you experience performance in a new way, it is a real alternative to Mercedes or BMW.

    *) when Lexus sells 50′000 units in 6 years lifecycle and each drives 20.000miles per year average for 3 years we save already 50 million kg = 50.000 ton CO2 compared with a Mercedes S550 - 4matic !
    btw this online dutch car magazine had an average of 21.5 mpg (10.9l/100km) and managed also 27mpg (8.7l/100km click on the pictures in the story to see it). with the LS460 they reached an avarage of just 17mpg (13.9l/100km), worst was 14.7mpg and best 21mpg, so the LS600h is clear 20% better than the LS460.

    And about the trunk, the dutch also noticed that many where negative about it, so they just demonstrated it this way (and she is tall - forward to 3:30):
    And I think it is big enough for its task.

    clear why or 750i, and styleland even they dont care that a LS600 is 35% more expensive, be

  2. oops, forgot the link to the dutch online mag:

    Here I have the add that is really noticeable that those countries that have no car industry or are not active in the high end, are much more objective and postive in general about the Lexus LS600h