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2009 Lexus LS 600h L Hybrid Sedan: The Ultimate Lexus Review

November 2008
Filed under: LEXUS Car News | LEXUS Headlines
The Lexus LS 600h L luxury sedan was the first vehicle to bring fuel-efficient gasoline-electric hybrid technology to the prestige luxury segment. The LS 600h L provides the brand's highest level of performance and technology, and the truest expression of luxury.

Engine/Transmission/ Drivetrain /Performance
The LS 600h L is powered by the ultra-quiet Lexus Hybrid Drive system, which was the world's first to combine a V8 gasoline engine with an all-wheel-drive (AWD) hybrid drivetrain. The system combines a 5.0-liter V8 gasoline engine with two powerful electric motors and a large-capacity battery pack.

The hybrid powertrain generates a peak combined output rating of 438 horsepower and can effortlessly accelerate the LS 600h L from zero-to-60 mph in just 5.5 seconds. Mid-range acceleration is even more impressive. The system's electric motor is capable of delivering maximum torque on demand and is most beneficial during passing maneuvers. The LS 600h L can accelerate from 50-70 mph in a rapid 3.5 seconds. Its combined EPA fuel economy rating of 21 mpg is equal to or better than the combined fuel-economy ratings of some V6 all-wheel-drive mid-sized luxury sedans.

The innovative V8 features an electric motor-driven Variable Valve Timing with intelligence and Electrically controlled intake cam (VVT-iE). This combination of VVT-i with electric-motor driven intake and an oil controlled VVT-I exhaust system achieves superior engine-startup operation and high-output performance. A specially developed Hydrocarbon Adsorber and Catalyst (HCAC) system is linked to the two-way exhaust to help prevent hydrocarbons contained in the exhaust from being released into the atmosphere during cold start up when the catalysts are not up to temperature.

The LS 600h L meets the Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle II ( SULEV II) certification, meaning it has nearly 70 percent fewer smog-forming emissions than vehicles the average new car. Its emissions are cleaner than the ambient air in some major cities.

The NVH levels in the LS 600h L make it one of the quietest automobiles ever built. The LS 600h L is a full hybrid, capable of operating in electric-only mode or with a combination of the gas engine and electric motor. Lexus hybrid technology allows electric-mode-only operation at low speeds or stop-and-go driving conditions, reducing fuel consumption and noise.

A 288-volt DC Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) compact battery pack is installed behind the rear seat. The trunk also contains a 12-volt auxiliary battery that powers the audio, navigation, and other systems. The battery's power is directed through a "boost converter" that efficiently raises voltage to a maximum 650V DC. An inverter changes this to AC, providing its elevated power to a 165-kW electric motor that turns at up to 10,240 rpm.

The LS 600h L powertrain uses two motor generators: MG1 and MG2. Each performs specific functions and can operate as either a motor or a generator, although MG1 is used as a starter motor and provides no motive force. The engine-driven generator, MG1, can charge the battery pack or provide additional power to the drive motor, MG2, as needed. A regenerative-braking system further boosts efficiency. When the vehicle is coasting or the brakes are applied, the electric motors function as generators, capturing kinetic energy that would normally be lost as heat through the brakes and transforming it into useable electricity to recharge the batteries.

A state-of-the-art full-time all-wheel drive system adapts to road surface conditions to help provide excellent vehicle stability during acceleration, high-speed driving and cornering. The AWD system employs a compact, ultra-quiet transfer case equipped with a TORSEN limited-slip differential (LSD) that is 30 percent lighter in size and weight than previous TORSEN systems. The LSD provides rear biased torque distribution of 40:60 under normal straight-line driving, automatically and continually adjusting power distribution according to changing speed and road conditions.

An eight-speed sequential braking mode, activated when the shift lever is in the "S" position, allows eight different stages of response. When up-shifting, engine speed is controlled by the selected range, offering an exhilarating boost in acceleration during each of the eight shift stages. When downshifting, brake-force increases to provide powerful deceleration.

The driver can select "hybrid" (normal), "power," or "snow" options. The "hybrid" mode provides the smoothest operation and is ideal for city or suburban driving; "power" sharpens accelerator pedal response and "snow" mode softens accelerator pedal response, making it easier to accelerate on slippery road surfaces. By pushing an EV switch, power reverts to full electric mode for short-distance, slow driving situations such as residential areas or parking garages.

Multi-link front and rear air-suspension systems help maintain superb vehicle posture and stable driving performance while maintaining the ultra-comfortable ride that has become synonymous with all Lexus vehicles. An Active Power Stabilizer Package is also available and features 19-inch summer tires, and high-friction brakes and an active-stabilizer system to help reduce body roll.

The LS 600h L is equipped with large front- and rear-ventilated disc brakes and standard 19-inch, seven-spoke aluminum alloy wheels with all-season tires. These special wheels receive extensive buffing, and their shape is meticulously analyzed to create a form with shade depths that shift when the vehicle is in motion.

Electronic Power Steering (EPS) delivers a smooth steering feel and reduces parasitic losses to the engine. Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS) optimizes the steering gear ratio according to vehicle speed, enhancing responsiveness and driver control. Integrated with the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system, VGRS can make minor adjustments to the front-wheel angle to help provide improved stability in challenging road conditions.

Safety/Security Features
The Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) stability system assimilates and manages all of the car's dynamic handling sub-systems, including: the Electronically Controlled Brake (ECB) system, EPS, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Antilock Braking System ( ABS ), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and engine torque via the electronically controlled throttle. Monitoring a variety of sensors, the system anticipates the onset of a vehicle skid or slide while cornering, and then helps correct the situation with a combination of braking, throttle and steering control in a way that is essentially transparent to the driver. VSC can be turned off by experienced drivers via the Trac Off button.

In addition to the active safety features, the LS 600h L is standard-equipped with eight standard airbags , with a maximum of 11 airbags available through option packages. The world's first low-beam LED headlamps provide superior road illumination, and the standard Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS) helps to illuminate a turn or curve as the driver steers into it.

The Advanced Pre-Collision System (APCS) on the Pebble Beach Edition LS 600h L is the world's first system designed to help detect pedestrians in the vehicle's path. Using two small cameras mounted at the front of the car that work in conjunction with millimeter-wave radar, APCS is sensitive enough to detect certain nonmetallic objects.

As part of APCS the LS also offers the world's first Driver Monitor System. A third camera, mounted on the steering column, monitors the orientation of the driver's face. If the camera detects that it appears the driver is not looking directly ahead for a few seconds or more, and if an obstacle is detected ahead, then it alerts the driver first with a warning chime and a flashing light. As the car gets closer to the obstacle, APCS can begin to gently apply the brakes on its own. To assist the driver in maneuvering around the obstacle, the system reprograms the steering ratio, amplifying the intensity and quickness of the steering response. At the same time, the system automatically retracts the front seatbelts and prepares the brake system to respond with full force when activated by the driver in anticipation of a possible impact.

The LS600h L is based on the long-wheelbase LS chassis, delivering nearly five inches more legroom than the standard LS 460. This flagship model provides the highest level of comfort and convenience features in the LS series. Standard features include a hard disk drive (HDD) Lexus Navigation system with a backup camera and Bluetooth technology with voice activation, plus XM factory-installed satellite radio with real-time traffic displays and dynamic route guidance.

For theater-level entertainment, the LS 600h L features a standard 19-speaker 450-watt Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound audio system. A portion of the HDD is dedicated to storing as many as 2,000 (128-bit) digital songs. An auxiliary jack located in the front center console allows for iPod or MP3 digital music players.

Additional standard features include a climate-controlled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, power rear sunshade, one-touch open/close power trunk, power door closers, headlamp washers, SmartAccess with push-button start and card key, electronic parking brake, Intuitive Park Assist, and laminated side glass.

Luxury Options
The optional Advanced Parking Guidance System (APGS) is designed to assist with parallel and back-in parking. Once the driver has correctly positioned the car and identified the desired parking spot via the navigation screen, APGS utilizes the rear back-up camera parking sonar sensors and electric power steering system to guide the car into the space, while the driver controls speed via braking.

The Premium Package includes climate comfort rear seats with a heat/cool knob, rear power seats with memory, rear power headrests, rear seat side airbags, Lexus Link and APGS. The rear power seats have a built-in 28-degree angle and recline up to 38 degrees; the rear seat moves front to back approximately three inches.

The Premium Package II includes all features in the Premium Package and a heater control panel, four-zone climate control, rear audio controls, additional wood trim, rear air purifier, rear cool box, rear headliner and side air ducts, power rear-door sunshades, and a rear seat entertainment system equipped with a power ceiling-mounted nine-inch screen for DVD viewing.

The Executive Class Seating Package II includes all features in the Premium Package II and includes a power right rear seat with ottoman that reclines up to 45 degrees with an upper-back recliner featuring a 17-degree angle adjustment. A multi-function massage feature for the right-rear seat recliner can be used separately or in conjunction with the seat heater and cooler.

The package also includes a rear-seat wood-trimmed table and the rear-seat entertainment system features wireless headphones. The rear climate control is upgraded with an infrared sensor located in the headliner that measures lap, upper body and seat surface temperatures on each side and then adjusts airflow accordingly.

Exterior Design
The LS 600h L flagship hybrid luxury sedan showcases the brand's L-finesse design philosophy, revealing a family resemblance that conveys elegance, refinement and a strong emotional appeal. Minimal body gaps, a low front grille and deep-drawn fenders all contribute to the car's distinctive, muscular profile. Lexus' attention to detail is seen in the integrated dual chrome exhaust tips and the one-piece chrome window surround.

Projector-type headlamps with blue crystal rings, which introduced the world's first night-time LED low beams, provide excellent visibility and contribute to the design theme. Blue accents on the front headlamps, taillamps, badging, engine cover and the SmartAccess key fobs and Smart Card key are unique to the LS 600h L.

Interior Design
Passenger space and comfort were the primary focus of the interior cabin design. Genuine semi-aniline leather is featured throughout the cabin, its rich appearance softened and structured with additional stitching to create a relaxed atmosphere. The leather-trim extends beyond the seats and onto the instrument panel, upper front doors and door armrests. An Alcantara headliner adds a pleasing touch point, and the center console adds to passenger comfort and convenience through perfect angle placement for ease of use from either the driver or front passenger seat; it is placed at the same height as the door armrests for a comfortable balance. Additional luxury touches unique to the LS 600h L includes a wood-trimmed and chrome-plated shift knob and wood-trimmed assist grips.

All new Lexus vehicles come with a 48-month/50,000-mile basic limited warranty with roadside assistance for 48 months/unlimited miles. Powertrain and restraint system coverage is provided for 72 months/70,000 miles. Corrosion perforation protection is covered for 72 months, regardless of mileage. The hybrid-related components, including the HV battery, battery control module, hybrid control module and inverter with converter, are covered for eight years/100,000 miles.


Overall Exterior Styling/Body Design
L-finesse design cues
Long, sleek cabin look; strong stance that hugs the ground; front and rear views that emphasize the elegant cabin silhouette; strong hood and commanding fenders
19-inch split seven-spoke alloy wheels; buffing time meticulously analyzed to create shade depths that shift with vehicle movement
One-piece chrome molding for side window surrounds
Integrated dual-chrome exhaust tips
World's first low beam 3+1 projector LED headlights
Hybrid-specific characteristics using blue accents in front headlamps, front and rear "L" badges, "HYBRID" side badging, taillamps, "600h" in rear "LS 600h L" badge, engine cover, SmartAccess key fob and Smart Card key
Arrowhead-shaped parking lamps and wrap-around L-shaped taillights
Thin profile-integrated LED high-mount stop lamp
Lower body side chrome molding

Body Structure and Paint
High-strength steel alloy and ultra-high strength sheet metal used in body structure
Aluminum crush boxes reduces damage from light impact and improves serviceability
Body hand-sanded twice during the application of alternating layers of paint and coatings on critical areas
Acoustic glass windshield
Thinsulate insulation for more effective sound absorption
Elimination of lead additive in paints, coatings and ceramic components
Narrow and precise body panel gaps
Laminated side window glass
Exterior colors (all 3-4 coat multi-bake process): Black Opal Mica, Smoky Granite Mica, Mercury Metallic, Starfire Pearl, Verdigris Mica, Obsidian, Golden Almond Metallic, Noble Spinel Mica, Opaline Pearl and Truffle Mica (Previously only available on MY08 Launch Edition)

Convenience Features
Headlamp washers
Power door closers
One-touch open/close power trunk lid with jam protection
Intuitive Park Assist (IPA)
Heated electrochromic outside rearview mirrors with puddle lamps (mounted on the underside of mirror housing), and power folding function
SmartAccess key Fobs with Smart Card


Interior Trim
L-finesse interior design theme
Semi-aniline leather trimmed seating
Leather-trimmed instrument panel, door panels and armrests
Grain-matched wood trim for center console and door panels
Wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel
Wood-trimmed and chrome-plated shift knob
Wood-trimmed assist grips
Heated steering wheel
Interior leather/wood trim colors: Cashmere/Medium Brown Walnut, Alabaster/Dark Brown Ash Burl, Light Gray/Dark Gray Bird's-eye Maple, Black/Medium Brown Walnut
Carpeted floor mats
Alcantara headliner

L-finesse inspired design theme
16-way power driver seat and 12-way power front seats
Three-position memory system for driver seat and passenger seat
Power seatbelt shoulder height adjusters for front passengers
Climate-controlled front seats and heated rear seats

Instrumentation and Controls
SmartAccess with push-button start/stop
Electroluminescent (Optitron) gauges
Gated shifter with sequential sport-shift mode
Electrochromic inside mirror
Cruise control
HomeLink programmable garage door opener
Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio, brake hold function and multi-information display controls
TFT (Thin Film Transistor) color multi-information display indicates: driving range of remaining fuel in tank, average fuel consumption, average fuel consumption since refueling, current fuel consumption, average speed since vehicle started, outside temperature, elapsed time, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control settings (if equipped), maintenance/diagnostic messages, and "Lexus Hybrid Drive" illuminates at start-up.

Comfort/Convenience Features
30 GB Hard Disc Drive (HDD) Navigation System with voice activation, Bluetooth (including steering wheel controls, rear back-up camera)
Power tilt-and-slide moonroof with one-touch closure
Dual-zone front climate control with smog sensor and automatic recirculation control
LED interior lighting with spot-lamp illumination in front and rear
Charcoal-activated clean air dust and pollen filter
First Aid kit
Heated steering wheel
Power rear sunshade
Individual vanity mirrors in rear seat area
Rear B-pillar vents

XM Satellite Radio with NavTraffic displays and dynamic rerouting (with subscription)

Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound
In-dash six-disc DVD changer
HDD music server stores up to 2,000 songs
AM/FM Tuner
Digital Sound Processor (DSP)
Automatic Sound Levelizer (ASL)
MP3/WMA compatibility
19 speakers (7.1 channel speaker architecture)
MP3/iPod audio input plug
450 watts, all channels driven (15 discrete channels), 20-20kHz @ less than 0.1 percent Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)


Dual stage driver and front passenger airbags
Front passenger twin-chamber airbag
Side curtain airbags
Front seat-mounted side airbags for driver and front passenger
Knee airbags for driver and front passenger
Force limiters and seatbelt pretensioners
Three-point seatbelts and headrests for all three rear seating positions
Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS)
Front passenger Occupant Classification System

Two-stage Electronically-controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT) with eight-speed sequential shift
Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-iE) with electrically controlled intake
Direct Ignition System (DIS)
Acoustic Control Induction System (ACIS)
Aluminum block and cylinder heads with aluminum-magnesium alloy cylinder head covers
High-grade plastic water jackets to improve cylinder cooling and performance
Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS)
Electronic Parking Brake and brake hold function
Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system: includes Electronically Controlled Brake (ECB) system, Electronic Power Steering (EPS), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Antilock Braking System (ABS), and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD)
Liquid-filled engine mounts to reduce noise and vibration
Increased use of aluminum in suspension components
Air Suspension with three settings
All-Wheel-Drive with Torsen Limited Slip Center Differential


Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control

Active Power Stabilizer
19-inch summer tires
Larger high-friction brakes

Premium Package
Rear Power Seats and Headrests with Memory
Rear Heated/Cooled Seats
Rear Seat Side Air Bags
Lexus Link
Advanced Parking Guidance System (APGS)

Premium Package II
Rear Power Seats and Headrests with Memory
Rear Heated/Cooled Seats
Rear Seat Side Air Bags
Lexus Link
Advanced Parking Guidance System (APGS)
4-Zone Climate Control with Air Purifier
Additional Air Ducts
Rear Cool Box
Rear Seat Entertainment System with Power 9-inch Screen and
Wireless Headphones
Rear Audio Control Panel
Twin Power Rear Door Sunshades and
Additional Wood Trim

Executive-Class Seating Package II
Right-Rear Power Recliner with Multifunction Massager and Leg Rest
Rear Seat Wood Trimmed table
Rear-Seat Entertainment System with Wireless Headphones and Rear DVD player
4-zone Climate Control with Air Purifier and Rear Infrared Temperature Sensor
Rear-Seat Cool Box
Power Rear-Door Sunshades
Rear-Seat Audio Controls
Climate-Comfort Rear Heated/Cooled Seats
Power Seats with Memory and Power Headrests
Rear Seat Side Airbags
18-inch 9-Spoke Wheels
Additional Wood Trim
Lexus Link
Advanced Parking Guidance System (APGS)

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