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2018 Lexus LS 500h First Look Review

Hybrid LS Flagship Basks in the Geneva Spotlight

Hybrid LS Flagship Basks in the Geneva Spotlight

Lexus wowed attendees of the 2017 Detroit auto show when it unveiled the radically different 2018 LS 500 flagship sedan. It’s showing off the equally shocking hybrid variant, the Lexus LS 500h, at the Geneva auto show.

The LS 500h rides on the same Lexus Global Architecture-Luxury (GA-L) platform as its LS 500 sibling and the LC coupe. Instead of a 415-hp twin-turbo V-6, the LS 500h is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 and two electric motors that produce a combined 354 hp. The setup is taken almost directly from the Toyota LC 500h, which means the gas engine utilizes dual VVT-i (intelligent variable valve timing) technology, narrower and lighter rocker arms, a low-friction timing chain, and D-4S direct injection. Meanwhile, the hybrid system gets a compact lithium-ion battery pack, which is 20 percent smaller yet has a higher power density than the nickel-metal hydride unit of the outgoing LS 600h L.

Just like the LC 500h, the LS hybrid receives Lexus’ Multi Stage Hybrid System, which is essentially a four-speed automatic transmission coupled to a CVT in order to simulate 10 gear ratios. The unit helps the hybrid accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. It also offers a manual mode that Lexus says delivers the feel of driving with a 10-speed gearbox, and it allows the driver to hold gears via steering wheel–mounted shift paddles, a first for any Lexus hybrid.

The LS 500h shares its dimensions with the standard LS, meaning it’s even bigger than the previous long-wheelbase LS 600h L. Exterior styling doesn’t change much from the LS 500, with the hybrid version maintaining the raked roofline, large spindle grille, and narrow LED headlamps. Inside, Lexus again showcases its takumi craftsmanship through several unique trim options, including Art Wood/Organic, Art Wood/Herringbone, and Laser Cut Special. The pleated door panels are inspired by origami, and Lexus tapped kiriko artisan glassworkers to design the cabin’s carved glass ornamentation.

Pricing and availability have yet to be announced for the 2018 Lexus LS 500h, but expect the model to arrive sometime after the standard LS lands later this year.