Lexus LS saloon
Price £71,995 - £101,510
- Excellent reliability
- Extremely comfortable
- Impressive equipment list
- Poor economy
- Low resale values
- Expensive hybrid version
At a glance
"The Lexus LS is comfortable, loaded with equipment and extremely reliable. It's one of the most luxurious saloons around, but the top-spec model is expensive."
Conceived as the pinnacle of Lexus' range, the huge LS was updated in 2013 and both the entry-level petrol and a top-spec hybrid models are packed with hi-tech equipment and offer a huge amount of passenger space plus unrivalled comfort – even in F Sport trim.
Pitched as a limousine for environmentally-aware executives, the LS 600h hybrid can run on electric power alone at town speeds, yet rocket from 0-62mph in just 6.1 seconds when you put your foot down. However, the petrol-only LS 460 is nearly as economical and £25,000 cheaper than the hybrid – negating any savings you'll make at the petrol pumps.
The big Lexus looks more adventurous than before, while build quality is sublime and the solid interior can rival anything from Mercedes or Jaguar. Standard cars come well equipped, while F Sport models get bigger alloy wheels and a subtle bodykit. Lexus has an unrivalled record for reliability, too, making the LS a luxury limo you can rely on for many years to come.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Expensive LS 600h hybrid is pricey to run
Even for a hybrid, the Lexus LS 600h is a thirsty machine. In a car this big, the benefits of the electric motor are almost negligible and economy gains are offset by the extremely high list price. Officially Lexus claims the hybrid will do 32.8mpg, but in real-world motoring, the huge 5.0-litre V8 is much thirstier, making the cheaper LS 460 petrol a much more sensible purchase.
Insurance costs are high and servicing won't be cheap, but given that Lexus finished first in our Driver Power 2013 customer survey, unscheduled repairs should be few and far between.
Engines, drive & performance
Quick and refined, but sloppy handing lets the LS down
There are only two engines to choose from in the flagship Lexus: a 4.6-litre LS 460 petrol and a 5.0-litre LS 600h petrol-electric hybrid. The former replaced the old LS 400 and is available in Luxury and F Sport trim, doing 0-62mph in just 5.7 seconds. It feels extremely quick in a straight line, but rivals like the BMW 7 Series and Audi A8 offer similar performance with more driver enjoyment thanks to a firmer ride and more responsive steering.
Elsewhere, the expensive LS 600h hybrid only comes in long-wheelbase Premier specification and is fitted with four-wheel drive as standard, giving it plenty of grip. There's no escaping the fact this is a long, heavy car that can feel cumbersome and unstable when driven fast. Add in the slow and hesitant CVT automatic gearbox and you realise this is a car more suited to long motorway trips than narrow country roads.
Interior & comfort
Refined, quiet and comfortable, the LS is exceptionally smooth
This is the trump card for the LS. It offers an exceptionally smooth ride and is supremely relaxing, rivalling the class-leading Mercedes S-Class for passenger comfort. There's virtually no wind or road noise and if you choose the LS 600h hybrid, you can drive in electric-only mode up to 30mph. However, the hybrid uses a noisy CVT automatic gearbox, while the LS 460 petrol has a more conventional eight-speed automatic transmission as standard.
Ride quality is superb in all models, yet the soft suspension does compromise driver enjoyment somewhat. However, legroom is generous and if you choose the top-of-the-range long-wheelbase car, you get electrically reclining rear seats for superb comfort.
Practicality & boot space
Electric motor eats up boot space, but cabin is spacious and LS can virtually park itself
The standard Lexus LS boasts a decent 560-litre boot. Compare that to the 510-litre Audi A8 and 500-litre BMW 7 Series and it looks like a practical executive car, with decent interior space, too. However, plump for the long-wheelbase hybrid version and although there's plenty of room in the back, the boot shrinks to just 420 litres to accommodate the battery packs under the boot floor.
Inside, there's a useful selection of cubbyholes and a pair of large door bins, as well as plenty of adjustment for the well bolstered leather seats. In the long-wheelbase car, you get reclining rear seats, making the LS feel more like a business-class airliner than a car.
Reliability & safety
Extremely well built, with plenty of safety kit
A total of 10 airbags, electronic stability control and a tyre-pressure monitoring system are just part of the Lexus LS safety package. Adaptive cruise control mantains a safe distance from the car in front, while a pre-crash sensor system prepares the car for an impact before it actually happens. A lane-departure warning system is also available. This alerts you if the car veers out of its lane – useful at motorway speeds.
Lexus has a strong reputation for reliability, too, consistently finishing well in our Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. Although the LS itself didn't feature due to its relative exclusivity, the manufacturer finished first overall in 2013.
Price, value for money & options
More expensive than rivals, but standard equipment is good
The LS is very expensive and you can have a more traditionally desirable luxury car – such as a Jaguar XJ or Mercedes S-Class – for less. The trade-off is that you won't get anywhere near as much standard equipment as Lexus. Its spec sheet lists everything from voice-operated sat nav to electric rear blinds and air-conditioned seats. There's virtually nothing missing, so optional equipment is limited.
Lexus LS used values aren't good though, with the top-spec LS 600h hybrid likely to shed value rapidly due to its prohibitively high list price. Lease deals are worth looking at, but we recommend the 'entry-level' LS 460 petrol if value for money is top of your priority list.