2018 Lexus LS 500h Preview
- New gas-electric hybrid luxury sedan
- Based on redesigned Lexus LS that arrives at the same time
- New Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System drivetrain
- V6 engine, two electric motors, lithium-ion battery
- Innovative transmission solution for impressive performance
- Rear-wheel or all-wheel drive
- Next-generation infotainment, driver assistance, and collision avoidance systems
- On sale in early 2018
At the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, Lexus rolled out the second of its two new LS flagship sedans, the 2018 Lexus LS 500h. That lowercase “h” indicates the presence of a hybrid powertrain, a new one that delivers power, performance, and efficiency gains. Other than the drivetrain and a few details, the LS 500h is identical to the LS 500.
Like the LS 500, the new LS 500h is a long-wheelbase luxury sedan with what Lexus characterizes as “emotional and sensual appeal” to its styling. For the LS 500h, distinctive wheels, blue-accent badges, and Multi Stage Hybrid markings reveal its unique powertrain.
The LS 500h’s interior design is influenced by Japanese hospitality, or omotenashi. Key tenets of the approach include anticipating occupants’ needs, attending to their comfort, and protecting them from hazards. The result is a zen-like cabin that Lexus describes as “advanced, luxurious, and innovative.” The company also claims that the car is “whisper-quiet.”
Natural wood and premium leather are standard for the Lexus LS 500h, but owners can upgrade with origami-inspired, hand-pleated door coverings reflecting the Lexus “L” styling motif. Kiriko-style glass ornamentation is also available, which the company says “looks beautiful and sensual from any angle.” Sliced, laser-cut wood treatments are also available for a custom appearance.
Comfort enhancements also include heated, cooled, and massaging front and rear seats. The front seats offer up to 28-way power adjustment, while rear passengers enjoy more rear seat legroom than any LS in history. An optional rear seating arrangement provides ottoman-style leg rests, a center console with rear touch-panel controls, and backrests that recline 48 degrees.
Under the Hood:
The heart of the new LC 500h is its Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System, which combines a 3.5-liter V6 engine, two electric motors, a powerful lithium-ion battery, and a “4-stage shifting device” which is a euphemism for a sophisticated continuously variable transmission. Combined, these components develop 354 horsepower, which is transferred to the rear wheels or all four wheels. Acceleration to 60 mph takes just 5.4 seconds, according to Lexus.
The “4-stage shifting device” is designed to maximize refinement, responsiveness, and acceleration. In Drive, it feels like a 10-speed transmission, and in top gear range it operates at much lower engine rpm for maximum efficiency. Lexus also says the fancy CVT enhances responsiveness and provides more direct, linear, and continuous acceleration characteristics.
Artificial intelligence shift control technology ensures optimum gear selection based on driver inputs and existing driving conditions. As a result, according to Lexus, the transmission always delivers the expected performance without requiring that the driver choose a specific driving mode. There is an M mode, for manual gear ratio selection via paddle shifters.
Compared to the outgoing LS 600h L model’s nickel-metal hydride battery, the new LS 500h model’s lithium-ion battery is 20 percent smaller, is lighter, and has higher power density. It also employs new construction methods that help to save space. It is nestled within a vehicle platform engineered for a low center of gravity and optimal weight distribution.
To improve handling, the LS 500h is offered with Lexus Dynamic Handling, which features independent front and rear steering and active stabilizer bars.
As far as safety is concerned, Lexus has announced that the new LS models will offer the Lexus Safety System+ and an available Advanced Safety Package. The latter upgrade features a new intuitive pedestrian detection system with active steering, which allows the car to automatically steer around a pedestrian without departing from the lane and causing an accident.
A next-generation infotainment system with a 12.3-inch display screen is standard for the LS 500h, controlled by a touchpad with handwriting recognition capability. Configurable digital instrumentation conveys a wealth of information to the driver, while an available Mark Levinson Reference 3D surround sound audio system fills the cabin with lush music. A rear seat entertainment system with dual viewing screens is an option, along with a full color, 24-inch heads-up display.