Unlike its German rivals, Lexus has never played in the big sedan diesel game, opting instead to use hybrid technology. The 2018 Lexus LS 500h, which made its debut at the 2017 Geneva Auto Show, is the automaker’s second effort at a hybrid large sedan and uses the same powertrain as the 2018 LC 500h sports coupe.
That powertrain consists of 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 295 horsepower (compared with 415 horsepower from the 2018 LS 500’s twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6). Combined with the hybrid motors, the LS 500h’s rating is 354 horsepower. Torque is 258 lb-ft, versus 415 lb-ft for the conventional engine.
Like the LC, the LS has a bespoke Lexus Multi-Stage Hybrid System with a “four-stage shifting device,” essentially a four-speed automatic that the company says feels and acts like the 10-speed automatic in the conventional gas-powered LS 500, plus two electric motors with a 310-volt, lithium-ion battery. The new car’s battery is 20 percent smaller, yet denser, than the battery in the outgoing Lexus LS 600h L.
Lexus isn’t talking fuel efficiency numbers or whether the big sedan will run for any amount of time on pure electric power, though it cites an in-house 0-60 mph sprint of 5.4 seconds versus 4.5 seconds for the rear-wheel-drive LS 500 and 4.8 seconds for the all-wheel-drive LS 500. The hybrid will be available with RWD or AWD.
Of course, well-heeled green consumers won’t give up any thing by adding an “h” to their Lexus LS500s. Lexus touts its omotenashi interior design, “taking care of the driver and passengers,” featuring hand-pleated door trim “inspired by origami and glass ornamentation using Japanese kiriko techniques,” including myriad wood trims using “sliced wood and laser-cutting techniques.”
The LS 500h goes on sale along with the rest of the LS line late this year.