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2010 Lexus LS 600h L Preview

2010 Lexus LS 600h L Preview

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2009
2010 Lexus LS 600h LCritical Facts:
  • Fourth-generation, long-wheelbase platform
  • Unique 5.0-liter V-8 gasoline engine
  • Continuously-variable transmission (CVT)
  • Standard full-time all-wheel drive
  • Available Advanced Pre-Collision System (APCS)
Green Facts:
  • Hybrid gasoline-electric powertrain
  • Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) rating
  • Twin electric supplemental drive motors
  • Nickel-metal hydride battery packs
  • "EV" mode for full electric driving at low speeds
Introduction
Introduced to the world for the 1990 model year-the same year that Toyota's luxury brand debuted-the Lexus LS is the automaker's full-size luxury sedan. A popular model since its introduction, the Lexus LS consistently receives accolades for quality, reliability, technology, safety, and comfort-it remains the automaker's flagship.

While the first several iterations of LS models were gas-powered, rear-wheel drive sedans, the automaker broke through several barriers at the 2006 New York International Auto Show when it introduced the Lexus LS 600h L, the world's first full-hybrid all-wheel drive sedan with V-8 power. It went on sale shortly thereafter as a 2007 model. Built upon a fourth-generation platform, with a standard long-wheelbase extension, the 2010 Lexus LS 600h L represents the automaker's pinnacle of luxury, technology, comfort, and safety engineering in a large 4-door sedan.

Model Lineup
While the LS 460 is available in both standard- and long-wheelbase models (which offer an extra 4.8 inches of rear legroom), the hybrid Lexus LS 600h L is offered only in long-wheelbase configuration.

The flagship Lexus is appointed with a comprehensive list of standard luxury features. These include standard semi-aniline leather upholstery contrasted with walnut, maple, or ash wood trim, an Alcantara headliner, wood and leather steering wheel, leather-trimmed instrument panel, and a 16-way power-operated driver's seat (the passenger seat is 12-way power-operated).

A multi-zone climate control system with a smog sensor and automatic air recirculation is standard. The audio system on all hybrid models is the premium Mark Levinson 19-speaker stereo with 450-watts of power. It includes standard 7.1 surround sound architecture, a 6-disc CD changer, XM Radio, XM NavTraffic, XM NavWeather, USB port, AUV port, and iPod compatibility. The standard Bluetooth system supports phone connectivity and streaming audio.

Options on the Lexus LS 600h L include a Premium Package with four-zone climate control, rear-seat air purifier, rear-seat DVD, rear-seat audio controls, and more. An Active Power Stabilizer Suspension system adds performance brakes and tires. The Advanced Pre-Collision System (PCS) is offered in a package bundled with Active Pedestrian Detection System, Lane Keep Assist, and Driver Attention Monitor. The options list also includes a special-order Executive-Class Seating Package with four-person seating and includes a fixed rear console and individual power rear seats with lumbar massage, heating, and cooling. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system and four-zone climate control is standard with the package.

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2010 Lexus LS 600h LTechnology
The Lexus LS 600h L is offered with an Advanced Pre-Collision System (APCS) with Active Pedestrian Detection System, Driver Attention Monitor, and Lane Keep Assist. The electronic system is built around several small cameras mounted on the exterior of the vehicle. Some of the electronic "eyes" are tasked with watching the lane, while others are designed to operate in conjunction with a very sensitive millimeter-wave radar system. Another camera is mounted inside the cabin on the steering column watching the orientation of the driver's face.

If the camera pointing at the driver's face detects that the driver is not looking directly ahead for more than a few seconds-and if an obstacle is noted in the path of the vehicle-the system will alert the driver with a chime and a flashing light. If the driver fails to react with appropriate measures, the PCS can gently start to apply the vehicle's brakes. To further assist the driver in an emergency avoidance maneuver, the system will also immediately make adjustments to many of the vehicle's mechanical systems-it quickens the steering ratio (so the driver inputs will be met with faster responses), removes the slack from the seatbelts, and it prepares the brake system for impending activation by readying the hydraulic boost.

Hardware
Standard Lexus LS 460 models are fitted with a traditional 4.6-liter V-8 rated at 380 horsepower and 367 lb.-ft. of torque (344 lb.-ft. with all-wheel drive) that sends its power to the rear- or all-wheel drive powertrain through a traditional 8-speed automatic transmission.

In sharp contrast, the Lexus LS 600h L is fitted with a very unique hybrid gasoline-electric powertrain. Its gasoline engine is a 5.0-liter V-8 that has been specifically constructed for its hybrid mission. While it shares the same displacement as the engine in the performance-oriented Lexus IS F, the engine in the hybrid LS 600h utilizes magnesium alloy cylinder heads to save weight over the standard aluminum cylinder heads.

With direct fuel injection and Toyota's VVT-i and VVT-iE (variable valve timing) on the intake and exhaust cams, the engine is rated at 394 horsepower and 383 lb.-ft. of torque. The gasoline powerplant is mated to two electric motors with nickel-metal hydride battery packs. The smaller motor is tasked with starting the engine (thus replacing a traditional starter) and generating electricity. The second motor is larger and capable of generating 221 horsepower by itself. According to Lexus, the combined total system power is 438 horsepower (with hybrid powertrains it is not possible to simply sum up the engine and motor horsepower figures).

The power is sent to a two-stage continuously-variable transmission (CVT) with three different operator-selected driving modes (normal, power, and snow). There is also an "EV" mode for driving under full electric power at low speeds. All LS 600h L models feature standard all-wheel drive with a Torsen limited-slip differential-the automaker says it is the first application of a CVT transmission mated to a permanent all-wheel drive powertrain. The EPA fuel economy ratings are 20 mpg city and 22 mpg highway (21 mpg combined) for the Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) sedan.

The hybrid LS 600h L shares its independent multi-link suspension (front and rear) with the standard models, but height-adjustable Adaptive Variable Air Suspension (AVS) with electronically modulated damping is standard. Disc brakes are found on all four corners, as are standard 19-inch seven-spoke aluminum alloy wheels wearing 245/45R19 all-season tires.

Safety
Like all Lexus models, the 2010 LS 600h L is equipped with a long list of standard safety features. Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Anti-lock brakes (ABS), and advanced active headrests are standard. In addition, the Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) includes 10 standard airbags (dual front and side air bags, window curtain air bags on each side, second row side air bags, and driver and front passenger knee air bags), says the automaker. Lexus also offers its innovative Pre-Collision System (PCS), Lane Keep Assist, Active Pedestrian Detection System, and Driver Attention Monitor as options. There is a standard first aid kit in the trunk.

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